Albert J. Nock Quotes | Quotes by Albert J. Nock

1The mind is like the stomach. It is not how much you put into it that counts, but how much it digests...

2In proportion as you give the state power to do things for you, you give it power to do things to you.

3Above all things the mass-mind is most bitterly resentful of superiority. It will not tolerate the thought of an elite; and under a political system of universal suffrage, the mass-mind is enabled to make its antipathies prevail.

4It is interesting to observe that in the year 1935 the average individual's incurious attitude towards the phenomenon of the State is precisely what his attitude was toward the phenomenon of the Church in the year, say, 1500. It does not appear to have occurred to the Church-citizen of that day, any more than it occurs to the State-citizen of the present, to ask what sort of institution it was that claimed his allegiance.

5The civilization of a country consists in the quality of life that is lived there, and this quality shows plainest in the things that people choose to talk about when they talk together, and in the way they choose to talk about them.

6When 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.

7I am said to be difficult of acquaintance, unwilling to meet any one half way, and showing a social manner which is easy, not diffident, but formal and unresponsive, tending constantly to hold people off.

8The primary reason for a tariff is that it enables the exploitation of the domestic consumer by a process indistinguishable from sheer robbery.

9For the majority of people liberty means only the system and the administrators they are used to.

10The State claims and exercises the monopoly of crime... It forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants, whether the property of citizen or of alien.

Albert J. Nock Quotes

11The simple truth is that our businessmen do not want a government that will let business alone. They want a government they can use.

12By consequence I hold that no one ever did, or can do, anything for "society."... Comte invented the term altruism as an antonym for egoism, and it found its way at once into everyone's mouth, although it is utterly devoid of meaning, since it points to nothing that ever existed in mankind; This hybrid or rather this degenerate form of hedonism served powerfully to invest collectivism's principles with a specious moral sanction, and collectivists naturally made the most of it.

13If you do not want the State to act like a criminal, you must disarm it as you would a criminal; you must keep it weak. The State will always be criminal in proportion to its strength; a weak State will always be as criminal as it can be, or dare be, but if it is kept down to the proper limit of weakness - which, by the way, is a vast deal lower limit than people are led to believe - its criminality may be safely got on with.

14The State did not originate in any form of social agreement, or with any disinterested view of promoting order and justice. Far otherwise. The State originated in conquest and confiscation, as a device for maintaining the stratification of society permanently into two classes-an owning and exploiting class, relatively small, and a propertyless dependent class. . . . No State known to history originated in any other manner, or for any other purpose than to enable the continuous economic exploitation of one class by another.

15As Dr. Sigmund Freud has observed, it can not even be said that the State has ever shown any disposition to suppress crime, but only to safeguard its own monopoly of crime.

16The position of modern science, as far as an ignorant man of letters can understand it, seems not a step in advance of that held by Huxley and Romanes in the last century.

17It is certainly true that whatever a man may do or say, the most significant thing about him is what he thinks; and significant also is how he came to think it, why he continued to think it, or, if he did not continue, what the influences were which caused him to change his mind.

18Concerning culture as a process, one would say that it means learning a great many things and then forgetting them; and the forgetting is as necessary as the learning.

19It is easier to seize wealth than to produce it, and as long as the State makes the seizure of wealth a matter of legalized privilege, so long will the squabble for that privilege go on.

20The practical reason for freedom is that freedom seems to be the only condition under which any kind of substantial moral fiber can be developed - we have tried law, compulsion and authoritarianism of various kinds, and the result is nothing to be proud of.

Albert J. Nock Quotes

21The question of who is right and who is wrong has seemed to me always too small to be worth a moment's thought, while the question of what is right and what is wrong has seemed all-important.

22Organized Christianity has always represented immortality as a sort of common heritage; but I never could see why spiritual life should not be conditioned on the same terms as all life, i. e., correspondence with environment.

23The 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.

24Assuming that man has a distinct spiritual nature, a soul, why should it be thought unnatural that under appropriate conditions of maladjustment, his soul might die before his body does; or that his soul might die without his knowing it?

25Another strange notion pervading whole peoples is that the State has money of its own; and nowhere is this absurdity more firmly fixed than in America. The State has no money. It produces nothing. It existence is purely parasitic, maintained by taxation; that is to say, by forced levies on the production of others. 'Government money,' of which one hears so much nowadays, does not exist; there is no such thing.

26As sheer casual reading matter, I still find the English dictionary the most interesting book in our language.

27Learning has always been made much of, but forgetting has always been deprecated; therefore pedantry has pretty well established itself throughout the modern world at the expense of culture.

28Instead of recognizing the State as 鈥榯he common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men,鈥?the run of mankind, with rare exceptions, regards it not only as a final and indispensable entity, but also as, in the main, beneficent. The mass-man, ignorant of its history, regards its character and intentions as social rather than anti-social; and in that faith he is willing to put at its disposal an indefinite credit of knavery, mendacity and chicane, upon which its administrators may draw at will.

29Someone asked me years ago if it were true that I disliked Jews, and I replied that it was certainly true, not at all because they are Jews, but because they are folks, and I don鈥檛 like folks.

30The business of a scientific school is the dissemination of useful knowledge, and this is a noble enterprise and indispensable withal; society can not exist unless it goes on.

Albert J. Nock Quotes

31Personal publicity of every kind is utterly distasteful to me, and I have made greater efforts to escape it than most people make to get it.

32The superficial distinctions of Fascism, Bolshevism, Hitlerism, are the concern of journalists and publicists; the serious student sees in them only one root-idea of a complete conversion of social power into State power.

33The competition of social power with State power is always disadvantaged, since the State can arrange the terms of competition to suit itself, even to the point of outlawing any exercise of social power whatever in the premises; in other words, giving itself a monopoly.

34There's only one way to improve society. Present it with a single improved unit: yourself.

35Perhaps one reason for the falling-off of belief in a continuance of conscious existence is to be found in the quality of life that most of us lead. There is not much in it with which, in any kind of reason, one can associate the idea of immortality.

36When politicians say "I'm in politics," it may or may not be possible to trust them, but when they say, "I'm in public service," you know you should flee.

37It would seem that in Paine's view the code of government should be that of the legendary King Pausole, who prescribed but two laws for his subjects, the first being, Hurt no man, and the second, Then do as you please.

38Perhaps the prevalence of pedantry may be largely accounted for by the common error of thinking that, because useful knowledge should be remembered, any kind of knowledge that is at all worth learning should be remembered too.

39According 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.

40Americans have a strange notion that the ordinary laws of economics do not apply to them. So doubtless they will think they are prosperous if the boom starts, and that deficits and indebtedness are merely signs of how prosperous they are.

Albert J. Nock Quotes

41We have two distinct types of political organization to take into account; and clearly, too, when their origins are considered, it is impossible to make out that the one is a mere perversion of the other. Therefore when we include both types under a general term like government, we get into logical difficulties; difficulties of which most writers on the subject have been more or less vaguely aware, but which, until within the last half-century, none of them has tried to resolve.

42The only thing that the psychically-human being can do to improve society is to present society with one improved unit.

43Like Prince von Bismarck in diplomacy, I have no secrets.

44Useless knowledge can be made directly contributory to a force of sound and disinterested public opinion.

45The mentality of an army on the march is merely so much delayed adolescence; it remains persistently, incorrigibly and notoriously infantile.

46As a general principle, I should put it that a man's country is where the things he loves are most respected. Circumstances may have prevented his ever setting foot there, but it remains his country.

47It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own.

48As far as I know, I have no pride of opinion.

49The glossary of politics is so full of euphemistic words and phrases - as in the nature of things it must be - that one would suppose politicians must sometimes strain their wits to coin them.

50The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner.

Albert J. Nock Quotes

51Diligent as one must be in learning, one must be as diligent in forgetting; otherwise the process is one of pedantry, not culture.

52The State always moves slowly and grudgingly towards any purpose that accrues to society's advantage, but moves rapidly and with alacrity towards one that accrues to its own advantage; nor does it ever move towards social purposes on its own initiative, but only under heavy pressure, while its motion towards anti-social purposes is self-sprung.

53There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man's needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means.

54The worst of this ever growing cancer of Statism [ie big 'paternal' government - socialism, communism and fascism] is its moral effect. The country is rich enough to stand its frightful economic wastage for a long time yet, and still prosper, but it is already so poverty-stricken in its moral resources that the present drain will quickly run them out.

55It is easy to prescribe improvement for others; it is easy to organize something, to institutionalize this or that, to pass laws, multiply bureaucratic agencies, form pressure groups, start revolutions, change forms of government, tinker at political theory. The fact that these expedients have been tried unsuccessfully in every conceivable combination for 6,000 years has not noticeably impaired a credulous unintelligent willingness to keep on trying them again and again.

56Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class.

57When we speak freely, let us speak plainly, for plain speech is wholesome; especially, plain speech about public affairs and public men.

58I have often wondered why the sounds of the beating drums do not make the marching soldiers shoot their officers and go home.

59The 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.

60You 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.