Nock, Enemy State

/ Reading Notes /

Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy, The State, 2012

Re: judicial reivew, literacy, authority, interpretation … the Bible … “Anything can be read to mean anything”!

Gee, you mean the Bible is just like the Constitution? and visa versa?
But you gotta have lawyers, just like you gotta have priests: and the priests can always outvote Jesus, sandbag anybody who turns over the money tables.

quotes Hegel: The state alone has rights: because it is the strongest.
Expand:

Indeed, it is by this means that the aim of the collectivists seems likeliest to be attained in this country; this aim being the complete extinction of social power through absorption by the State. Their fundamental doctrine was formulated and invested with a quasi-religious sanction by the idealist philosophers of the last century; and among peoples who have accepted it in terms as well as in fact, it is expressed in formulas almost identical with theirs. Thus, for example, when Hitler says that “the State dominates the nation because it alone represents it,” he is only putting into loose popular language the formula of Hegel, that “the State is the general substance, whereof individuals are but accidents.” Or, again, when Mussolini says, “Everything for the State; nothing outside the State; nothing against the State,” he is merely vulgarizing the doctrine of Fichte, that “the State is the superior power, ultimate and beyond appeal, absolutely independent.”

Personal Government
State power has not only been thus concentrated at Washington, but it has been so far concentrated into the hands of the Executive that the existing regime is a regime of personal government. It is nominally republican, but actually monocratic; a curious anomaly, but highly characteristic of a people little gifted with intellectual integrity.
Further:
… notoriously preoccupied, inattentive and incurious
… in respect of the relation between the theory and the actual practice of public affairs, the American is the most unphilosophical of beings.

expropriation must precede exploitation

land-speculation may be put down as the first major industry established in colonial America.

Wow, what a triple whammy: Oppenheimer, Nock, Chodorov!

I pause the Oppenheimer to read the Chodorov, I pause the Chodorov to read the Nock. Such important stuff, these notes will need editing the moment I’ve finished a good skim of all three.
Some materials are quoted here.
Damn frustrating on my side because though the text loads to my kindle, it’s defective on my Mac: so I can’t process data from the book to this post without copying each character.

In respect of the relation between the theory and the actual practice of public affairs, the American is the most unphilosophical of beings.

Michel Chevalier, the American people have “the morale of an army on the march.” … the mentality of an army on the march is merely so much delayed adolescence; it remains persistently, incorrigibly and notoriously infantile.

All so wonderful, I wish I could quote vast swathes of it, but: I just stumbled in a big philosophical hole I’ll have to find time to quote and argue against: a theory of human behavior limited to economic behavior: my life refutes it, or would if anyone were paying sensible attention.

The Remnant
Nock explains that the reason he writes isn’t that he thinks he can change anybody’s mind, isn’t that the society is savable; he writes to help the remnant who may survive, intelligent, educated people, who can rebuild human society after all the states collapse on top of us.
That’s so charming! Naive. Wouldn’t it be nice. I wish I could believe it.

If the State has made such matters its business, and has confiscated the social power necessary to deal with them, why, let it deal with them. We can get some kind of rough measure of this general atrophy by our own disposition when approached by a beggar. Two years ago we might have been moved to give him something; today we are moved to refer him to the State’s relief-agency. The State has said to society, You are either not exercising enough power to meet the emergency, or are exercising it in what I think is an incompetent way, so I shall confiscate your power, and exercise it to suit myself. Hence when a beggar asks us for a quarter, our instinct is to say that the State has already confiscated our quarter for his benefit, and he should go to the State about it. …

… Moreover, underlying these assumptions and all others that faith in “political action” contemplates, is the assumption that the interests of the State and the interests of society are, at least theoretically, identical; whereas in theory they are directly opposed. …

… Indeed, it is by this means that the aim of the collectivists seems likeliest to be attained in this country; this aim being the complete extinction of social power through absorption by the State. …

… the merchant- State’s fundamental doctrine that the primary function of government is not to maintain freedom and security, but to “help business.” …

So wonderful, I read, and reread.
Sorry, I keep reading this and rereading it, and quoting it … could loose track, duplicate.

Reading Notes

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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