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Albert Jay Nock

Datum narození: 13. říjen 1870
Datum úmrtí: 19. srpen 1945

Albert Jay Nock was an American libertarian author, editor first of The Freeman and then The Nation, educational theorist, Georgist, and social critic of the early and middle 20th century. He was an outspoken opponent of the New Deal, and served as a fundamental inspiration for the modern libertarian and conservative movements, cited as an influence by William F. Buckley Jr. He was one of the first Americans to self-identify as "libertarian". His best-known books are Memoirs of a Superfluous Man and Our Enemy, the State.

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„As far back as one can follow the run of civilization, it presents two fundamentally different types of political organization. This difference is not one of degree, but of kind.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Our Enemy, the State (1935), p. 35
Kontext: As far back as one can follow the run of civilization, it presents two fundamentally different types of political organization. This difference is not one of degree, but of kind. It does not do to take the one type as merely marking a lower order of civilization and the other a higher; they are commonly so taken, but erroneously. Still less does it do to classify both as species of the same genus — to classify both under the generic name of "government," though this also, until very lately, has been done, and has always led to confusion and misunderstanding.
A good understanding of this error and its effects is supplied by Thomas Paine. At the outset of his pamphlet called Common Sense, Paine draws a distinction between society and government. While society in any state is a blessing, he says, "government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." In another place, he speaks of government as "a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world."

„They accepted the fact that there are practicable ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience which nature has opened to some and closed to others.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943), p. 34
Kontext: Our preceptors were gentlemen as well as scholars. There was not a grain of sentimentalism in the institution; on the other hand, the place was permeated by a profound sense of justice. … An equalitarian and democratic regime must by consequence assume, tacitly or avowedly, that everybody is educable. The theory of our regime was directly contrary to this. Our preceptors did not see that doctrines of equality and democracy had any footing in the premises. They did not pretend to believe that everyone is educable, for they knew, on the contrary, that very few are educable, very few indeed. They saw this as a fact of nature, like the fact that few are six feet tall. … They accepted the fact that there are practicable ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience which nature has opened to some and closed to others.

„Twenty, or ten, or even three years ago, no one in his right mind would have dreamed of tagging me with that designation. Why then, at this particular juncture, should it occur to a presumably well-informed person to call me a conservative, when my whole philosophy of life is openly and notoriously the same that it has been for twenty-five years?“

—  Albert Jay Nock

A Little Conserva-tive (1936)
Kontext: I was mildly astonished to hear the other day that a person very much in the public eye, and one who would seem likely to know something of what I have been up to during all these years, had described me as "one of the most intelligent conservatives in the country." It was a kind and complimentary thing to say, and I was pleased to hear it, but it struck me nevertheless as a rather vivid commentary on the value and the fate of labels. Twenty, or ten, or even three years ago, no one in his right mind would have dreamed of tagging me with that designation. Why then, at this particular juncture, should it occur to a presumably well-informed person to call me a conservative, when my whole philosophy of life is openly and notoriously the same that it has been for twenty-five years?... It seems that the reason for so amiably labeling me a conservative in this instance was that I am indisposed to the present Administration. This also appears to be one reason why Mr. Sokolsky labels himself a conservative, as he did in the very able and cogent paper which he published in the August issue of the Atlantic. But really, in my case this is no reason at all, for my objections to the Administration's behavior rest no more logically on the grounds of either conservatism or radicalism than on those of atheism or homoeopathy.

„It may now be easily seen how great the difference is between the institution of government, as understood by Paine and the Declaration of Independence, and the institution of the State. … The nature and intention of government … are social. Based on the idea of natural rights, government secures those rights to the individual by strictly negative intervention, making justice costless and easy of access; and beyond that it does not go.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Our Enemy, the State (1935), p. 49
Kontext: It may now be easily seen how great the difference is between the institution of government, as understood by Paine and the Declaration of Independence, and the institution of the State. … The nature and intention of government … are social. Based on the idea of natural rights, government secures those rights to the individual by strictly negative intervention, making justice costless and easy of access; and beyond that it does not go. The State, on the other hand, both in its genesis and by its primary intention, is purely anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him. It has always made justice costly and difficult of access, and has invariably held itself above justice and common morality whenever it could advantage itself by so doing.

„The Remnant, on the other hand, want only the best you have, whatever that may be. Give them that, and they are satisfied; you have nothing more to worry about.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Isaiah's Job (1936), III
Kontext: If a prophet were not too particular about making money out of his mission or getting a dubious sort of notoriety out of it, the foregoing considerations would lead one to say that serving the Remnant looks like a good job. An assignment that you can really put your back into, and do your best without thinking about results, is a real job; whereas serving the masses is at best only half a job, considering the inexorable conditions that the masses impose upon their servants. They ask you to give them what they want, they insist upon it, and will take nothing else; and following their whims, their irrational changes of fancy, their hot and cold fits, is a tedious business, to say nothing of the fact that what they want at any time makes very little call on one’s resources of prophesy. The Remnant, on the other hand, want only the best you have, whatever that may be. Give them that, and they are satisfied; you have nothing more to worry about.

„I have always been singularly free of envy, jealousy, covetousness; I but vaguely understand them.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

"Autobiographical Sketch" (1939) http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~ckank/FultonsLair/013/nock/biography.html; published in The State of the Union : Essays in Social Criticism (1991), edited by Charles H. Hamilton, p. 26
Kontext: I may mention one or two characteristic traits as having no virtue whatever, because they are mine by birth, not by acquisition. I have always been singularly free of envy, jealousy, covetousness; I but vaguely understand them. Having no ambition, I have always preferred the success of others to my own, and had more pleasure in it. I never had the least desire for place or prominence, least of all for power; and this was fortunate for me because the true individualist must regard power over others as preeminently something to be loathed and shunned.

„So far are they from displaying any overweening love of freedom that they show a singular contentment with a condition of servitorship, often showing a curious canine pride in it, and again often simply unaware that they are existing in that condition.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943), p. 314
Kontext: According to my observations, mankind are among the most easily tamable and domesticable of all creatures in the animal world. They are readily reducible to submission, so readily conditionable (to coin a word) as to exhibit an almost incredibly enduring patience under restraint and oppression of the most flagrant character. So far are they from displaying any overweening love of freedom that they show a singular contentment with a condition of servitorship, often showing a curious canine pride in it, and again often simply unaware that they are existing in that condition.

„It originated for the purpose of maintaining the division of society into an owning-and-exploiting class and a propertyless dependent class — that is, for a criminal purpose.
No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

"The Criminality of the State" in American Mercury (March 1939) http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~ckank/FultonsLair/013/nock/criminality.html
Kontext: The State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscation—that is to say, in crime. It originated for the purpose of maintaining the division of society into an owning-and-exploiting class and a propertyless dependent class — that is, for a criminal purpose.
No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose. Like all predatory or parasitic institutions, its first instinct is that of self-preservation. All its enterprises are directed first towards preserving its own life, and, second, towards increasing its own power and enlarging the scope of its own activity. For the sake of this it will, and regularly does, commit any crime which circumstances make expedient.

„Our preceptors were gentlemen as well as scholars. There was not a grain of sentimentalism in the institution; on the other hand, the place was permeated by a profound sense of justice.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943), p. 34
Kontext: Our preceptors were gentlemen as well as scholars. There was not a grain of sentimentalism in the institution; on the other hand, the place was permeated by a profound sense of justice. … An equalitarian and democratic regime must by consequence assume, tacitly or avowedly, that everybody is educable. The theory of our regime was directly contrary to this. Our preceptors did not see that doctrines of equality and democracy had any footing in the premises. They did not pretend to believe that everyone is educable, for they knew, on the contrary, that very few are educable, very few indeed. They saw this as a fact of nature, like the fact that few are six feet tall. … They accepted the fact that there are practicable ranges of intellectual and spiritual experience which nature has opened to some and closed to others.

„The State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

"The Criminality of the State" in American Mercury (March 1939) http://alumnus.caltech.edu/~ckank/FultonsLair/013/nock/criminality.html
Kontext: The State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscation—that is to say, in crime. It originated for the purpose of maintaining the division of society into an owning-and-exploiting class and a propertyless dependent class — that is, for a criminal purpose.
No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose. Like all predatory or parasitic institutions, its first instinct is that of self-preservation. All its enterprises are directed first towards preserving its own life, and, second, towards increasing its own power and enlarging the scope of its own activity. For the sake of this it will, and regularly does, commit any crime which circumstances make expedient.

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„An assignment that you can really put your back into, and do your best without thinking about results, is a real job; whereas serving the masses is at best only half a job, considering the inexorable conditions that the masses impose upon their servants.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Isaiah's Job (1936), III
Kontext: If a prophet were not too particular about making money out of his mission or getting a dubious sort of notoriety out of it, the foregoing considerations would lead one to say that serving the Remnant looks like a good job. An assignment that you can really put your back into, and do your best without thinking about results, is a real job; whereas serving the masses is at best only half a job, considering the inexorable conditions that the masses impose upon their servants. They ask you to give them what they want, they insist upon it, and will take nothing else; and following their whims, their irrational changes of fancy, their hot and cold fits, is a tedious business, to say nothing of the fact that what they want at any time makes very little call on one’s resources of prophesy. The Remnant, on the other hand, want only the best you have, whatever that may be. Give them that, and they are satisfied; you have nothing more to worry about.

„This story is much worth recalling just now when so many wise men and soothsayers appear to be burdened with a message to the masses. … I can not remember a time when so many energumens were so variously proclaiming the Word to the multitude and telling them what they must do to be saved. This being so, it occurred to me, as I say, that the story of Isaiah might have something in it to steady and compose the human spirit until this tyranny of windiness is overpast.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Isaiah's Job (1936), I
Kontext: This story is much worth recalling just now when so many wise men and soothsayers appear to be burdened with a message to the masses. … I can not remember a time when so many energumens were so variously proclaiming the Word to the multitude and telling them what they must do to be saved. This being so, it occurred to me, as I say, that the story of Isaiah might have something in it to steady and compose the human spirit until this tyranny of windiness is overpast. I shall paraphrase the story in our common speech, since it has to be pieced out from various sources; and inasmuch as respectable scholars have thought fit to put out a whole new version of the Bible in the American vernacular, I shall take shelter behind them, if need be, against the charge of dealing irreverently with the Sacred Scriptures.

„Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Isaiah's Job (1936), I
Kontext: In the year of Uzziah's death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. "Tell them what a worthless lot they are." He said, "Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life."

„The thing that interested me, as it interested Emerson and Whitman, was a general philosophy of life which regards human personality as the greatest and most respect-worthy object in the world, and as a complete end-in-itself; a philosophy, therefore, which disallows its subversion or submergence, whether by force of law or by any other coercive force.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

A Little Conserva-tive (1936)
Kontext: My individualism was a logical extension of the anarchist principle beyond its narrow application to one particular form or mode of constraint upon the individual. The thing that interested me, as it interested Emerson and Whitman, was a general philosophy of life which regards human personality as the greatest and most respect-worthy object in the world, and as a complete end-in-itself; a philosophy, therefore, which disallows its subversion or submergence, whether by force of law or by any other coercive force. I was convinced that human beings do better and are happier when they have the largest possible margin of existence to regulate and dispose of as they please; and hence I believed that society should so manage itself as to leave the individual a maximum of free choice and action, even at a considerable risk of results which from the short-time point of view would be pronounced dangerous.

„In every civilization, however generally prosaic, however addicted to the short-time point of view on human affairs, there are always certain alien spirits who, while outwardly conforming to the requirements of the civilization around them, still keep a disinterested regard for the plain intelligible law of things, irrespective of any practical end.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Our Enemy, the State (1935), p. 209
Kontext: In every civilization, however generally prosaic, however addicted to the short-time point of view on human affairs, there are always certain alien spirits who, while outwardly conforming to the requirements of the civilization around them, still keep a disinterested regard for the plain intelligible law of things, irrespective of any practical end. They have an intellectual curiosity, sometimes touched with emotion, concerning the august order of nature; they are impressed by the contemplation of it, and like to know as much about it as they can, even in circumstances where its operation is ever so manifestly unfavourable to their best hopes and wishes.

„And so we see that the term conservative has little value as a label; in fact, one might say that its label-value varies inversely with one's right to wear it.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

A Little Conserva-tive (1936)
Kontext: Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, managed to make himself a most conspicuous example of every virtue and every grace of mind and manner; and this was the more remarkable because in the whole period through which he lived — the period leading up to the Civil War — the public affairs of England were an open playground for envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. … He could not see that there was any inconsistency in his attitude. He then went on to lay down a great general principle in the ever — memorable formula, "Mr. Speaker, when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change."
Here we get on track of what conservatism is. We must carefully observe the strength of Falkland's language. He does not say that when it is not necessary to change, it is expedient or advisable not to change; he says it is necessary not to change. Very well, then, the differentiation of conservatism rests on the estimate of necessity in any given case. Thus conservatism is purely an ad hoc affair; its findings vary with conditions, and are good for this day and train only. Conservatism is not a body of opinion, it has no set platform or creed, and hence, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a hundred-per-cent conservative group or party … Nor is conservatism an attitude of sentiment. Dickens's fine old unintelligent characters who "kept up the barrier, sir, against modern innovations" were not conservatives. They were sentimental obstructionists, probably also obscurantists, but not conservatives.
Nor yet is conservatism the antithesis of radicalism; the antithesis of radical is superficial. Falkland was a great radical; he was never for a moment caught by the superficial aspect of things. A person may be as radical as you please, and still may make an extremely conservative estimate of the force of necessity exhibited by a given set of conditions. A radical, for example, may think we should get on a great deal better if we had an entirely different system of government, and yet, at this time and under conditions now existing, he may take a strongly conservative view of the necessity for pitching out our system, neck and crop, and replacing it with another. He may think our fiscal system is iniquitous in theory and monstrous in practice, and be ever so sure he could propose a better one, but if on consideration of all the circumstances he finds that it is not necessary to change that system, he is capable of maintaining stoutly that it is necessary not to change it. The conservative is a person who considers very closely every chance, even the longest, of "throwing out the baby with the bath-water," as the German proverb puts it, and who determines his conduct accordingly. And so we see that the term conservative has little value as a label; in fact, one might say that its label-value varies inversely with one's right to wear it.... It covers so much that looks like mere capriciousness and inconsistency that one gets little positive good out of wearing it; and because of its elasticity it is so easily weaseled into an impostor-term or a term of reproach, or again into one of derision, as implying complete stagnation of mind, that it is likely to do one more harm than it is worth.

„I thought our youth could manage to bear up under a little corrupting — they always have — and if they were corrupted by Communism, they stood a first-rate chance to get over it, whereas if they grew up fools or hypocrites, they would never get over it.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Free Speech and Plain Language (1936)
Kontext: I had a desultory talk with one devotee of expediency not long ago, a good friend and a thoroughly excellent man. He was all worked up over the activities of Communists and what he called pink Socialists, especially in the colleges and churches. He said they were corrupting the youth, and he was strong for having them coerced into silence. I could not see it that way. I told him it seemed pretty clear that Mr. Jefferson was right when he said that the effect of coercion was "to make one half the people fools and the other half hypocrites, and to support roguery and error all over the earth"; look at Germany and Italy! I thought our youth could manage to bear up under a little corrupting — they always have — and if they were corrupted by Communism, they stood a first-rate chance to get over it, whereas if they grew up fools or hypocrites, they would never get over it.
I added that Mr. Jefferson was right when he said that "it is error alone which needs the support of government; truth can stand by itself." One glance at governments anywhere in the world proves that. Well, then, the surest way to make our youth suspect that there may be something in Communism would be for the government to outlaw it.

„In general I wish we were in the habit of conveying our meanings in plain explicit terms rather than by indirection and by euphemism, as we so regularly do. My point is that habitual indirection in speech supports and stimulates a habit of indirection in thought; and this habit, if not pretty closely watched, runs off into intellectual dishonesty.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Free Speech and Plain Language (1936)
Kontext: In general I wish we were in the habit of conveying our meanings in plain explicit terms rather than by indirection and by euphemism, as we so regularly do. My point is that habitual indirection in speech supports and stimulates a habit of indirection in thought; and this habit, if not pretty closely watched, runs off into intellectual dishonesty.
The English language is of course against us. Its vocabulary is so large, it is so rich in synonyms, it lends itself so easily and naturally to paraphrase, that one gets up a great facility with indirection almost without knowing it. Our common speech bristles with mere indirect intimations of what we are driving at; and as for euphemisms, they have so far corrupted our vernacular as to afflict us with a chronic, mawkish and self-conscious sentimentalism which violently resents the plain English name of the realities that these euphemisms intimate. This is bad; the upshot of our willingness to accept a reality, provided we do not hear it named, or provided we ourselves are not obliged to name it, leads us to accept many realities that we ought not to accept. It leads to many and serious moral misjudgments of both facts and persons; in other words, it leads straight into a profound intellectual dishonesty.

„Here we get on track of what conservatism is.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

A Little Conserva-tive (1936)
Kontext: Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, managed to make himself a most conspicuous example of every virtue and every grace of mind and manner; and this was the more remarkable because in the whole period through which he lived — the period leading up to the Civil War — the public affairs of England were an open playground for envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. … He could not see that there was any inconsistency in his attitude. He then went on to lay down a great general principle in the ever — memorable formula, "Mr. Speaker, when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change."
Here we get on track of what conservatism is. We must carefully observe the strength of Falkland's language. He does not say that when it is not necessary to change, it is expedient or advisable not to change; he says it is necessary not to change. Very well, then, the differentiation of conservatism rests on the estimate of necessity in any given case. Thus conservatism is purely an ad hoc affair; its findings vary with conditions, and are good for this day and train only. Conservatism is not a body of opinion, it has no set platform or creed, and hence, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a hundred-per-cent conservative group or party … Nor is conservatism an attitude of sentiment. Dickens's fine old unintelligent characters who "kept up the barrier, sir, against modern innovations" were not conservatives. They were sentimental obstructionists, probably also obscurantists, but not conservatives.
Nor yet is conservatism the antithesis of radicalism; the antithesis of radical is superficial. Falkland was a great radical; he was never for a moment caught by the superficial aspect of things. A person may be as radical as you please, and still may make an extremely conservative estimate of the force of necessity exhibited by a given set of conditions. A radical, for example, may think we should get on a great deal better if we had an entirely different system of government, and yet, at this time and under conditions now existing, he may take a strongly conservative view of the necessity for pitching out our system, neck and crop, and replacing it with another. He may think our fiscal system is iniquitous in theory and monstrous in practice, and be ever so sure he could propose a better one, but if on consideration of all the circumstances he finds that it is not necessary to change that system, he is capable of maintaining stoutly that it is necessary not to change it. The conservative is a person who considers very closely every chance, even the longest, of "throwing out the baby with the bath-water," as the German proverb puts it, and who determines his conduct accordingly. And so we see that the term conservative has little value as a label; in fact, one might say that its label-value varies inversely with one's right to wear it.... It covers so much that looks like mere capriciousness and inconsistency that one gets little positive good out of wearing it; and because of its elasticity it is so easily weaseled into an impostor-term or a term of reproach, or again into one of derision, as implying complete stagnation of mind, that it is likely to do one more harm than it is worth.

„As against Jesus, the historic choice of the mass-man goes regularly to some Barabbas.“

—  Albert Jay Nock

Zdroj: Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943), p. 131
Kontext: I could see how "democracy" might do very well in a society of saints and sages led by an Alfred or an Antoninus Pius. Short of that, I was unable to see how it could come to anything but an ochlocracy of mass-men led by a sagacious knave. The collective capacity for bringing forth any other outcome seemed simply not there. To my ideas the incident of Aristides and the Athenian mass-man was perfectly exhibitory of "democracy" in practice. Socrates could not have got votes enough out of the Athenian mass-men to be worth counting, but Eubulus easily could, and did, wangle enough to keep himself in office as long as the corrupt fabric of the Athenian State held together. As against Jesus, the historic choice of the mass-man goes regularly to some Barabbas.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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