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Albert Jay Nock

Date de naissance: 13. octobre 1870
Date de décès: 19. août 1945

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Albert Jay Nock est un auteur libertarien et journaliste américain, également théoricien de l'éducation et critique social. Son œuvre, qui représente une critique radicale de l'État, a exercé une influence importante sur le mouvement libertarien et paléo-conservateur aux États-Unis. Nock faisait partie de la Old Right américaine , un groupe d'intellectuels de sensibilité conservatrice et libertarienne, vigoureusement opposés au New Deal et à l'interventionnisme militaire.

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Citations Albert Jay Nock

„Hurt no man, and the second, Then do as you please.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: It 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. p. 36

„Isaiah, on the other hand, worked under no such disabilities. He preached to the masses only in the sense that he preached publicly. Anyone who liked might listen; anyone who liked might pass by.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: If, say, you are a preacher, you wish to attract as large a congregation as you can, which means an appeal to the masses; and this, in turn, means adapting the terms of your message to the order of intellect and character that the masses exhibit. If you are an educator, say with a college on your hands, you wish to get as many students as possible, and you whittle down your requirements accordingly. If a writer, you aim at getting many readers; if a publisher, many purchasers; if a philosopher, many disciples; if a reformer, many converts; if a musician, many auditors; and so on. But as we see on all sides, in the realization of these several desires, the prophetic message is so heavily adulterated with trivialities, in every instance, that its effect on the masses is merely to harden them in their sins. Meanwhile, the Remnant, aware of this adulteration and of the desires that prompt it, turn their backs on the prophet and will have nothing to do with him or his message. Isaiah, on the other hand, worked under no such disabilities. He preached to the masses only in the sense that he preached publicly. Anyone who liked might listen; anyone who liked might pass by. He knew that the Remnant would listen; and knowing also that nothing was to be expected of the masses under any circumstances, he made no specific appeal to them, did not accommodate his message to their measure in any way, and did not care two straws whether they heeded it or not. As a modern publisher might put it, he was not worrying about circulation or about advertising. Hence, with all such obsessions quite out of the way, he was in a position to do his level best, without fear or favour, and answerable only to his august Boss. III

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„Get up in one of our industrial centres today and say that two and two make four, and if there is any financial interest concerned in maintaining that two and two make five, the police will bash your head in.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: Get up in one of our industrial centres today and say that two and two make four, and if there is any financial interest concerned in maintaining that two and two make five, the police will bash your head in. Then what choice have you, save to degenerate either into a fool or into a hypocrite? And who wants to live in a land of fools and hypocrites?

„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
Context: 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. p. 314

„For more than a quarter of a century I have been known, in so far as I was known at all, as a radical.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: For more than a quarter of a century I have been known, in so far as I was known at all, as a radical. It came about in this way: I was always interested in the rerum cognoscere causas, liking to get down below the surface of things and examine their roots. This was purely a natural disposition, reflecting no credit whatever on me, for I was born with it.... Therefore when the time came for me to describe myself by some convenient label, I took one which marked the quality that I thought chiefly differentiated me from most of the people I saw around me. They habitually gave themselves a superficial account of things, which was all very well if it suited them to do so, but I preferred always to give myself a root-account of things, if I could get it. Therefore, by way of a general designation, it seemed appropriate to label myself a radical. Likewise, also, when occasion required that I should label myself with reference to particular social theories or doctrines, the same decent respect for accuracy led me to describe myself as an anarchist, an individualist, and a single-taxer.

„You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor what they are doing or will do.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: In any given society the Remnant are always so largely an unknown quantity. You do not know, and will never know, more than two things about them. You can be sure of those — dead sure, as our phrase is — but you will never be able to make even a respectable guess at anything else. You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you do know, and no more: First, that they exist; second, that they will find you. Except for these two certainties, working for the Remnant means working in impenetrable darkness; and this, I should say, is just the condition calculated most effectively to pique the interest of any prophet who is properly gifted with the imagination, insight and intellectual curiosity necessary to a successful pursuit of his trade. IV

„In any given society the Remnant are always so largely an unknown quantity.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: In any given society the Remnant are always so largely an unknown quantity. You do not know, and will never know, more than two things about them. You can be sure of those — dead sure, as our phrase is — but you will never be able to make even a respectable guess at anything else. You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you do know, and no more: First, that they exist; second, that they will find you. Except for these two certainties, working for the Remnant means working in impenetrable darkness; and this, I should say, is just the condition calculated most effectively to pique the interest of any prophet who is properly gifted with the imagination, insight and intellectual curiosity necessary to a successful pursuit of his trade. IV

„The judge said he disliked to sentence the lad; it seemed the wrong thing to do; but the law left him no option. I was struck by this. The judge, then, was doing something as an official that he would not dream of doing as a man; and he could do it without any sense of responsibility, or discomfort, simply because he was acting as an official and not as a man.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: Once, I remember, I ran across the case of a boy who had been sentenced to prison, a poor, scared little brat, who had intended something no worse than mischief, and it turned out to be a crime. The judge said he disliked to sentence the lad; it seemed the wrong thing to do; but the law left him no option. I was struck by this. The judge, then, was doing something as an official that he would not dream of doing as a man; and he could do it without any sense of responsibility, or discomfort, simply because he was acting as an official and not as a man. On this principle of action, it seemed to me that one could commit almost any kind of crime without getting into trouble with one's conscience. Clearly, a great crime had been committed against this boy; yet nobody who had had a hand in it — the judge, the jury, the prosecutor, the complaining witness, the policemen and jailers — felt any responsibility about it, because they were not acting as men, but as officials. Clearly, too, the public did not regard them as criminals, but rather as upright and conscientious men. The idea came to me then, vaguely but unmistakably, that if the primary intention of government was not to abolish crime but merely to monopolize crime, no better device could be found for doing it than the inculcation of precisely this frame of mind in the officials and in the public; for the effect of this was to exempt both from any allegiance to those sanctions of humanity or decency which anyone of either class, acting as an individual, would have felt himself bound to respect — nay, would have wished to respect. This idea was vague at the moment, as I say, and I did not work it out for some years, but I think I never quite lost track of it from that time. "Anarchist's Progress" in The American Mercury (1927); § III : To Abolish Crime or to Monopolize It? http://www.mises.org/daily/2714

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„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
Context: 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. I

„This idea was vague at the moment, as I say, and I did not work it out for some years, but I think I never quite lost track of it from that time.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: Once, I remember, I ran across the case of a boy who had been sentenced to prison, a poor, scared little brat, who had intended something no worse than mischief, and it turned out to be a crime. The judge said he disliked to sentence the lad; it seemed the wrong thing to do; but the law left him no option. I was struck by this. The judge, then, was doing something as an official that he would not dream of doing as a man; and he could do it without any sense of responsibility, or discomfort, simply because he was acting as an official and not as a man. On this principle of action, it seemed to me that one could commit almost any kind of crime without getting into trouble with one's conscience. Clearly, a great crime had been committed against this boy; yet nobody who had had a hand in it — the judge, the jury, the prosecutor, the complaining witness, the policemen and jailers — felt any responsibility about it, because they were not acting as men, but as officials. Clearly, too, the public did not regard them as criminals, but rather as upright and conscientious men. The idea came to me then, vaguely but unmistakably, that if the primary intention of government was not to abolish crime but merely to monopolize crime, no better device could be found for doing it than the inculcation of precisely this frame of mind in the officials and in the public; for the effect of this was to exempt both from any allegiance to those sanctions of humanity or decency which anyone of either class, acting as an individual, would have felt himself bound to respect — nay, would have wished to respect. This idea was vague at the moment, as I say, and I did not work it out for some years, but I think I never quite lost track of it from that time. "Anarchist's Progress" in The American Mercury (1927); § III : To Abolish Crime or to Monopolize It? http://www.mises.org/daily/2714

„Reading implies a use of the reflective faculty, and very few have that faculty developed much beyond the anthropoid stage, let alone possessing it at a stage of development which makes reading practicable.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: Reading implies a use of the reflective faculty, and very few have that faculty developed much beyond the anthropoid stage, let alone possessing it at a stage of development which makes reading practicable. As I said, the fact that few literate persons can read is easily determinable by experiment. What first put me on track of it was a remark by one of my old professors. He said that there were people so incompetent, so given to reading with their eyes and their emotions instead of with their brains, that they would accuse the Psalmist of atheism because he had written, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." The remark stuck by me, and I remember wondering at the time whether the trouble might be that such people hardly had the brains to read with. It seemed possible. p. 39

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

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: 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. "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

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„There 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.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: There 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. The primitive exercise of the political means was, as we have seen, by conquest, confiscation, expropriation, and the introduction of a slave-economy. The conqueror parcelled out the conquered territory among beneficiaries, who thenceforth satisfied their needs and desires by exploiting the labour of the enslaved inhabitants. The feudal State, and the merchant-State, wherever found, merely took over and developed successively the heritage of character, intention and apparatus of exploitation which the primitive State transmitted to them; they are in essence merely higher integrations of the primitive State. The State, then, whether primitive, feudal or merchant, is the organization of the political means. Now, since man tends always to satisfy his needs and desires with the least possible exertion, he will employ the political means whenever he can – exclusively, if possible; otherwise, in association with the economic means. p. 59

„Likewise, also, when occasion required that I should label myself with reference to particular social theories or doctrines, the same decent respect for accuracy led me to describe myself as an anarchist, an individualist, and a single-taxer.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: For more than a quarter of a century I have been known, in so far as I was known at all, as a radical. It came about in this way: I was always interested in the rerum cognoscere causas, liking to get down below the surface of things and examine their roots. This was purely a natural disposition, reflecting no credit whatever on me, for I was born with it.... Therefore when the time came for me to describe myself by some convenient label, I took one which marked the quality that I thought chiefly differentiated me from most of the people I saw around me. They habitually gave themselves a superficial account of things, which was all very well if it suited them to do so, but I preferred always to give myself a root-account of things, if I could get it. Therefore, by way of a general designation, it seemed appropriate to label myself a radical. Likewise, also, when occasion required that I should label myself with reference to particular social theories or doctrines, the same decent respect for accuracy led me to describe myself as an anarchist, an individualist, and a single-taxer.

„A prophet of the Remnant will not grow purse-proud on the financial returns from his work, nor is it likely that he will get any great renown out of it.“

—  Albert Jay Nock
Context: If you can tough the fancy of the masses, and have the sagacity to keep always one jump ahead of their vagaries and vacillations, you can get good returns in money from serving the masses, and good returns also in a mouth-to-ear type of notoriety … Taking care of the Remnant, on the contrary, holds little promise of any such rewards. A prophet of the Remnant will not grow purse-proud on the financial returns from his work, nor is it likely that he will get any great renown out of it. Isaiah’s case was exceptional to this second rule, and there are others, but not many. III

„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
Context: 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." p. 35

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