Thursday, October 13, 2005

Albert Jay Nock

Albert Jay Nock 10/13/1873-1945) was, no doubt, one of the greatest libertarians of the last century. He was the author of such classics as Our Enemy, The State, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (the first libertarian work that I read in high school--what an introduction to liberty that was!), Isaiah's Job, On Doing the Right Thing (which may have been a response to Pearl S. Buck) and numerous other works on history, philosophy, education, fine living, and living freely.

As Jim Powell said of him,
"American individualism had virtually died out by the time Mark Twain was buried in 1910. Progressive intellectuals promoted collectivism. Progressive jurists like Oliver Wendell Holmes hammered constitutional restraints as an inconvenient obstacle to expanding government power, supposedly the cure for every social problem. Progressive education theorist John Dewey belittled mere learning and claimed that social reconstruction was the mission of schooling. Progressive hero Theodore Roosevelt glorified imperial conquest. Progressive President Woodrow Wilson maneuvered America into a European war, jailed dissidents, and pushed through the income tax which persists to this day. Great individualists such as Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson were ridiculed, if they were remembered at all.

Yet author Albert Jay Nock dared declare that collectivism was evil. He denounced the use of force to impose one’s will on others. He opposed military intervention in the affairs of other nations. He believed America should stay out of foreign wars that inevitably subvert liberty. He insisted individuals have the unalienable right to pursue happiness as long as they don’t hurt anybody."

Nock's prose was poetry, with each word, each turn of the phrase, carefully crafted and clearly encased. Editor of the great The Freeman of the 1920's (1920-24), Nock set the mold for both literary and libertarian periodicals of the time.

If there was an intellectual leader of the Old Right, Nock was the indisbutable leader. This "lost legacy" has now come back in the forms of paleoconservatism and libertarianism in general. For its birth, Nock is to be credited, for its rebirth, Nock is to be recognized.

CLASSical Liberalism


Post a Comment

<< Home