Hardly anyone considered the possibility that the state was not fixing society but destroying it bit by bit.
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- Albert J. Nock, Our Enemy, the State () | SpringerLink.
And so Albert Jay Nock came forward to write what needed to be written. And he ended up penning a classic of American political commentary, one that absolutely must be read by every student of economics and government.
The theory is good enough and strong enough for the forging of an entire apparatus of libertarian thought, which he does here. But then he pushes the envelope. He discusses American history in a way that you will never read in the civics texts. He praises the Articles of Confederation as the closest model of American freedom.
Our Enemy, the State
And he blasts the men who hammered out the Constitution as nothing but usurpers engaged in a coup d'etat. Far from heralding the drafters, he exposes them as public creditors, land speculators, money lenders, and industrialists looking for privilege. They tossed out the Articles and used unscrupulous methods to ram the Constitution down the public's throat.
It was in this stage of American history, Nock says, that the state was unleashed. Next came the party system, and the dynamics of statism that causes "every intervention by the State" to enable another so that "the State stands ever ready and eager to make" interventions through deceit and lies. One realizes many important points about Nock when reading this. First, he was brilliant, original, and courageous.
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Second, he hated politics — indeed he hated politics so much that he wanted a society that was completely free of it. This is why he is often described as anarchist. Third, he surely was one of the great stylists of the English language in the history of 20th century writing. Do you already have iTunes?
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Click I Have iTunes to open it now. View More by This Publisher. Description Nock looks through the fantasy of the state as the great protector and summarizes the essentials of politics, and finds it is no friend of the individual. Listeners also subscribed to. Murray N.
Rothbard View in iTunes. Customer Ratings We have not received enough ratings to display an average for this podcast. Links Podcast Website Report a Concern. More by Mises Institute. These armored protectors of the state are necessary to prevent an individual, or worse, an aggregate of individuals, from attempting to re-assert the previous myths that everyone and everything held hands, and that no one person should have dominion over another.
The first line of defense is to fool people, but ultimately the state can be defined as men at arms in service to the ruler and his class. Beneath them in the pyramidal beehive is a mid-class of administrators. They develop numbers for warehousing and slave counting, transforming formerly convivial tasks of providing sustenance into bureaucratized categories of work and distribution. Beneath them are the slaves of the early societies.
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Here, finally are people who actually engage in activity that has something to do with providing for human needs, although they are also pressed into service to build megaliths, actual pyramids, ziggurats, etc. The surplus of the wealth they produce is looted by the master class; the slaves are left with only the necessary amount to reproduce themselves.
Beneath the slaves are the animals. Once the brothers and sisters of the human family, now reduced to meat machines with no character other than to be consumed. Beneath the animals, the inanimate objects.
Again, previously connected to humans as family, they now exist only to serve the pyramid. All wealth flows upwards; all authority flows down. The entire apparatus is created to protect and extend the wealth, power, and privilege of a few at the expense of the many and the planet itself.
There was no Golden Age of the state; it emerged as a racket for the rich and has never relinquished its criminal character. Its form is that of a racket. By the way, the schematic representation of these two models of society on the preceding page are highly out of proportion, and, hence, misleading. In relative size, the circle would appear alongside the pyramid thusly:. Actually, the proportion is even greater between the two, but if presented accurately it would make the circle almost invisible to the eye, while the pyramid would fill the entire page.
Societies of the Circle are small and convivial; Societies of the Pyramid are marked by their gigantism in every regard; another aspect which crushes the individual beneath its weight, and makes its presence in human affairs appear immutable. Although previously, tribal and band association marked most of human history, 6, years after their emergence, Societies of the Pyramid dominate the planet.
Along the way, a few of the ruled objected to rulers having absolute power and wealth and devised schemes variously called democracy or socialism.
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These well-meaning Reformers accepted the Pyramid as a given but hoped if their system was installed, it would function more fairly toward people. Nothing was mentioned about the other parts of the circle — the other creatures, all of nature, since the Reformers saw them little differently than the rulers they hoped to replace.
On two continents in the West, experiments were tried over several hundred years along lines proposed by the Reformers. But, ultimately, little has changed.