Frank Chodorov (February 15, 1887–1966) was an American member of the Old Right, a group of libertarian thinkers who were non-interventionist in foreign policy and opposed both the American entry into World War II and the New Deal. He was called by Ralph Raico "the last of the Old Right greats."
The Rise and Fall of Societyby Frank Chodorov
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The Rise and Fall of Society might be the greatest book you have never heard of. It is a full-scale manifesto of political economy, one that follows a systematic pattern of exposition, but never slows or sags from beginning to end. The book is not a difficult read in any sense. But there is so much wisdom in its pages that it cannot possibly be fully absorbed in one reading. It covers economic theory, ancient history, political theory, American history, social theory and political reality and has so many asides and pithily true statements that you find yourself absolutely stopping as you read: I must reflect on this; I must remember this.
Frank Chodorov (1887-1966) had been greatly influenced by Franz Oppenheimer's book The State, and then its follow-up by Albert Jay Nock called Our Enemy, the State. Those were two wonderful works, rare in the world of political and economic literature. Both deal with the salient point that no one wanted to talk about then or now: the state is something that exists separate from society.
Most writers in the 20th century tried to cloak its existence. They tried to pass it off as society itself or an extension of scientific planning, a realization of the idea of justice or a mere mechanism for bringing about economic stability. In fact, the state has many guises, and they change from generation to generation. The guises can be cultural and religious. They can be about law and order or staving off foreign threats or ending piracy or rebuilding after a hurricane or improving education or physical infrastructure. The beauty of Oppenheimer and Nock is that they saw through the language and pointed straight at the enemy: the state as the monopolist of violent means in the social order.
Unlike Oppenheimer and Nock, Chodorov had the benefit of watching the whole of the 1930s and 1940s and the postwar period, and he could see with even greater clarity how the state operates in different times and places. He poured his heart and soul into the book, yet he knew that the book would matter only after his death. Even the dedication suggests this: he signs it to his granddaughter, who he suggests will have "good, clean fun — trying to reconstruct a long-lost pattern of thought."
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