The world deserves restored access to the words of its most brilliant exponent of individual rights and responsibilities, its fiercest social critic, and the State’s most incisive antagonist. This site was conceived to conserve and impart Nock’s writing and wisdom to the curious.
His biography is readily available on line and this site will not rush to repeat it. What matters is not when and where he lived and died — (OK, 1870 to 1945) — but what he wrote and thought. Albert Jay Nock was an editor and author of many articles in well-read journals of his time. He is best known, though, for two of his enduring books, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, and Our Enemy the State. (Much of his work is available at Amazon.com.)
Besides the idea that an individual person could be superfluous, and along with many other original notions, Nock also contributed two fundamental ideas to American — indeed, worldwide — social and political thought:
1) He defined the State as a monster distinguishable from government.
2) He defined Isaiah’s job, giving the thinking person a respite from the burden of educating the world.
These three concepts — a superfluous man, the State, and Isaiah’s job — are described more fully elsewhere on this site.
While keeping these tabs permanent, the core of this web log consists of an occasional quote from Nock’s writing, some comparative ideas from other writers, and whatever I happen to add so that it all might make sense, or “come together” if that is descriptive enough, to an ordinary thinking person.
An ordinary thinking person was his target in that Nock did not presume to write a thesis or pose as a philosopher. He did not reckon himself an authority on government or an expert on law. (Law needs experts only after it has become so egregiously obfuscated by mystical inscrutability that the people for whom it was written need high priests to interpret it.)
He was an observer. With a command of languages and rare gift for eloquence he put into words that which he observed. Especially where common beliefs and habits had no discernible underpinning, and especially where stupidity paraded itself in pompous splendor, he merely pointed it out and gave his readers something to think about. And having once thought about it, his readers could never view the same thing again without seeing its naked weakness.
Nock opened my eyes. In his own words, I hope he continues to reach objective people. That is what this site is about.
David A. Woodbury, Lincoln, Maine — discovered Nock in 1970