Sunday, October 29, 2006

Now Here's a Good Read...

Albert Jay Nock (this article is something I guess you could call a life review).

Three quotes:

[t]he practical reason for freedom is that freedom seems to be the only condition under which any kind of substantial moral fiber can be developed -- we have tried law, compulsion and authoritarianism of various kinds, and the result is nothing to be proud of.

Another strange notion pervading whole peoples is that the State has money of its own; and nowhere is this absurdity more firmly fixed than in America. The State has no money. It produces nothing. It existence is purely parasitic, maintained by taxation; that is to say, by forced levies on the production of others. 'Government money,' of which one hears so much nowadays, does not exist; there is no such thing. One is especially amused at seeing how largely a naïve ignorance of this fact underlies the pernicious measures of 'social security' which have been foisted on the American people. In various schemes of pensioning, of insurance against sickness, accident, unemployment and what-not, one notices that the government is supposed to pay so-much into the fund, the employer so-much, and the workman so-much…. But the government pays nothing, for it has nothing to pay with. What such schemes actually come to is that the workman pays his own share outright; he pays the employer's share in the enhanced price of commodities; and he pays the government's share in taxation. He pays the whole bill; and when one counts in the unconscionably swollen costs of bureaucratic brokerage and paperasserie, one sees that what the workman-beneficiary gets out the arrangement is about the most expensive form of insurance that could be devised consistently with keeping its promoters out of gaol.

One of the most offensive things about the society in which I later found myself was its monstrous itch for changing people. It seemed to me a society made up of congenital missionaries, natural-born evangelists and propagandists, bent on re-shaping, re-forming and standardizing people according to a pattern of their own devising – and what a pattern it was, good heavens! When one came to examine it. It seems to me, in short, a society fundamentally and profoundly ill-bred. A very small experience of it was enough to convince me that Cain's heresy was not altogether without reason or without merit; and that conviction quickly ripened into a great horror of every attempt to change anybody; or I should rather say, every wish to change anybody, for that is the important thing. The attempt is relatively immaterial, perhaps, for it is usually its own undoing, but the moment one wishes to change anybody, one becomes like the socialists, vegetarians, prohibitionists; and this, as Rabelais, says, 'is a terrible thing to think upon.

For the most part, there's only one legitimate way to "change" anyone who is not acting in an overtly coercive manner--and that's by convincing them, which is to say, only when such change is a voluntary result of their free inquiry.

Anyways, I don't agree with everything Mr Nock has to say, but I agree with lots of what he had to say.

Evidently, Nock was a friend of H.L Mencken (about whom you can read about here, or check for a quote in "About Me" on the sidebar). I don't doubt they were friends. ;-)

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