Overview

Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy, the State (1935) is the prize taker for the founding book of the modern liberty movement. Nock was the editor of the original The Freeman magazine. He was a famous and admired intellectual figure all through the interwar period. He was an influential critic and a well-read author. And certainly, this book is his most famous of many that he produced through his long career.

It goes way beyond opposing the New Deal, ...
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Our Enemy, the State (LFB)

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Overview

Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy, the State (1935) is the prize taker for the founding book of the modern liberty movement. Nock was the editor of the original The Freeman magazine. He was a famous and admired intellectual figure all through the interwar period. He was an influential critic and a well-read author. And certainly, this book is his most famous of many that he produced through his long career.

It goes way beyond opposing the New Deal, though the New Deal serves as his template for the shape of statism in the 20th century. It is a corporate state that curries favor with private power while narrowing the range of influence of the private sector generally. It tends toward regimentation, confiscation, and war making. It circumscribes economic opportunity for all. It panders to the lowest and basest of human moral failings. It crowds out the development and cultivation of private society.

All of these points are argued thoroughly here, but Nock goes further. It's his conviction that the whole of civilization extends from individual action and is built by voluntary human action that is the prevailing motif of this text. This book includes a surprisingly revisionist account of the Founding Fathers, perhaps one of the first written in the 20th century. It includes warnings against warfare and welfare. It ends with a plea to the remnant to retain as much liberty and learning as possible in the darkest of times.

Nock writes here as a fully formed intellectual with the clearest possible view of the world. He gives us a model for understanding how the state drains the rest of society of money, energy, and power. Indeed, everything written in the libertarian tradition after could be consider a follow-up to this wonderful text. And of course, the book has a title that is unbeatably clear.

This is a classic, which, in our times, sadly means that many people don't feel that they need to read it. This is a grave error because the book contains powerful insight on every page. Its wisdom has yet to be absorbed into any sector of public life today, including the libertarian sector. Nock's style, clarity of expression, aristocratic air, and even temperament can serve as a model for us all.

Stefan Molyneux has written the new introduction. The result is the most accessible edition of this essential book in the history of ideas ever published. Nock spoke for the ages, very powerfully in his and even more so in ours. It is always and everywhere true that there is a trade-off that we face in the decision to expand the state. It always comes at the expense of the social forces that make life wonderful, prosperous, and worth living. May we look to Nock as a model for how to argue and think as we continue to build liberty in our times, despite all odds.

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Editorial Reviews

http://mises.org/daily/3614/Rereading-Our-Enemy-the-State
This very great book reminds us that the State is at once a myth and a terrible reality. It is a myth in the sense that it has no validity outside the twisted, crooked mentalities of totalitarians. It is also a reality in the sense that, whenever it is allowed to usurp the throne of Government, it not only commandeers the power that corrupts but, in order to give finality to its ascendancy, it must acquire for itself, and for itself alone, the absolute power that corrupts absolutely.
http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0603b.asp
The book is considered a libertarian classic, and despite its brevity it overflows with insights — political, sociological, and historical. Unfortunately, like many classics, it is less read than cited. The libertarian movement might look different today if libertarians read this book closely. They might find parts unsettling.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940015596274
  • Publisher: Laissez Faire Books
  • Publication date: 10/10/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 220
  • Sales rank: 463,235
  • File size: 877 KB

Meet the Author

Albert Jay Nock (October 13, 1870 – August 19, 1945) was an influential American libertarian author, educational theorist, and social critic of the early and middle 20th century.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 30, 2014

    Here's a book that is easy to read, easy to understand, and one

    Here's a book that is easy to read, easy to understand, and one of the most important books written on the subject of the legitimate role of government in our lives. Should be required reading for every college student.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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