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Albert Jay Nock
1870 - 1945

American political philosopher, variously described as "conservative", "objectivist", and "libertarian", but most often the latter, author of Our Enemy, The State (1935) and other works


The important thing is not who is right but what is right.

Many now believe that with the rise of the 'totalitarian' State the world has entered upon a new era of barbarism. It has not. The totalitarian State is only the State; the kind of thing it does is only what the State has always done with unfailing regularity, if it had the power to do it, wherever and whenever its own aggrandizement made that kind of thing expedient. Give any State like power hereafter, and put it in like circumstances, and it will do precisely the same kind of thing. The State will unfailingly aggrandize itself, if only it has the power, first at the expense of its own citizens, and then at the expense of anyone else in sight. It has always done so, and always will.

Mar. 01, 1939 - from "Criminal State", an essay published in H.L. Mencken's American Mercury
You get the same order of criminality from any State to which you give power to exercise it; and whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you.

Mar. 01, 1939 - from "Criminal State", an essay published in H.L. Mencken's American Mercury
Statism postulates the doctrine that the citizen has no rights which the State is bound to respect; the only rights he has are those which the State grants him, and which the State may attenuate or revoke at its own pleasure. This doctrine is fundamental; without its support, all the various nominal modes or forms of Statism which we see at large in Europe and America - such as are called Socialism, Communism, Nazism, Fascism, etc., - would collapse at once. The individualism which was professed by the early Liberals, maintained the contrary; it maintained that the citizen has rights which are inviolable by the State or by any other agency.

Politicians leap with joy on this-or-that proposed advance in 'social legislation,' not out of any primary interest in social welfare, but because it means more government, more jobs, more patronage, more diversions of public money to their own use and behoof; and what but a flagrant disservice to society can accrue from that?

One of the main elements [of education] is the power of disinterested reflection. One unmistakable mark of an educated man is his ability to take a detached, impersonal and competent view of something that deeply engages his affections...