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Our Enemy, the State

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  528 ratings  ·  45 reviews
This edition is the only one with an alphabetical and a quotation index. The introduction is by Edumund A. Opitz, founder, the Nockian Society.
Paperback, 166 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Hallberg Pub Corp (first published 1935)
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4.19  · 
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Pastor Ben
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book isn't what I thought it would be. I thought he would attack the government of his day (1935) and point back to a time when we went astray. I expected to learn some fundamentals with the hope of seeing what a better way forward might be from a libertarian point of view.

I was delightfully confounded, especially in the conclusion, by Nock's complete lack of hope. The State has got you by the balls and you're not going to wiggle out of it and don't even try to get hopeful ideas about winni
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is available for free from in audio and pdf format.

This book was pretty cynical and didn't offer any solutions (be prepared to be depressed after reading it). Written in 1935 it was fascinating to read pretty much exactly what has transpired since then. It makes you realize that we do just repeat history, over and over again. This book is a must read for anyone that wants to have a deeper understanding of human nature and "the state". Understanding history and philosophy is d
Carol Apple
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
To summarize:
There are two ways that human beings can fulfill our needs and desire: the economic means (applying labor and capital to natural resources and producing something useful) and the political means (living off the labor of others). The State – in whatever external form it takes, whether Monarchy, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, or Democratic Republicanism – exists for no other reason than to function as legally-sanctioned organization to enable its members to live by the political rath
Oct 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting book, worthy of closer study (I distractedly listened to the audio version). Nock makes several arguments about the nature of the state in general, the nature of the traditional American state, and the planting of the seeds of totalitarianism.
Nock argues that the expansion of state power always comes at the expense of what he calls "social" power. That is, power which exists across the rest of society. For example, before 9-11 (obviously not Nock's example), the need for security
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beware: your orthodoxy is about to be challenged.
Terrence Daugherty
Absolutely phenomenal in expressing Old Right views of the State. This book, as Nock later expresses, is not meant to be persuasive, but rather an articulation of a position. Those who criticize this book as being inadequately apologetic obviously missed this point. Those who criticize it as being unconvincing suffer likewise from the same illiteracy.

All in all, Our Enemy, The State is a refreshing read for those of us who need to be reminded of our condition as a people who are not living in l
Otto Lehto
Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Nock's book is a good summary of the laissez-faire liberal ideology. It is extremely readable and lucid. For someone who is relatively new to these topics, this might be a good starting point - or might HAVE been 70 years ago. Today there are probably better alternatives.

My main issue is that it doesn't do much to ADD to the tradition from which it draws its sustenance. It borrows heavily from people like Herbert Spencer, whose collection of essays, "Man versus the State", is not only referenced
An insightful analysis of the difference between the legitimate government versus the tyrannical state--both philosophical and historical, ranging upon issues such as the state's relationship with religion, property and class interests. Nock justifies libertarian values, but in the end appears pessimistic against the inevitable rise of state control in a sham democracy.
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Your view of government or The State will likely change after reading this classic. Although written in 1935, the themes ring true today. Have a dictionary on hand when reading this as Nock is a true wordsmith.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Albert Jay Knock's 1935 Our Enemy the State takes to task Paine's statement that government is a "necessary evil." It isn't government that is evil, it is the state that is unnecessary and evil, and we are better off without it. Jefferson's Declaration recognized the right of the people to alter or abolish their form of government once it becomes abusive.

Nock distinguishes between government, the means by which living together we ensure our rights and duties to one another, and the state which
Yogy TheBear
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very harsh, pragmatic and pessimistic critique of the (concept of) state.
Basically he rejects all forms of state from state as a bunch of thieves who manage human resources (feudal) to the state as an entity that can be tamed in the interest of all.
He argues that as long as there is state humans will be inclined to use it for the political power it gives in order to circumvent the economic way of being prosperous, no state no matter how pure and good it's founding principles can escape this deg
Shane Hawk
An excellent piece of political writing. Nock is lucid and accessible despite writing this 83 years ago. His discernment of FDR’s policies at the time was spot-on. It is broken down into six parts; each exploring a differentiated “State” from “government.”

One of my favorite bits out of many:

“Thus while the American architects assented ‘in principle’ to the philosophy of natural rights and popular sovereignty, and found it in a general way highly congenial as a sort of voucher for their self-este
Konrad von Pless
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book rings true and has some generally correct predictions, but on the whole it misses a more holistic approach and reduces every issue to that of state power and class division.
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent review of how the state usurps freedom. It was written in 1935, but a lot of what Mr Nock predicted came true, including some of the unintended consequences he warned about.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it liked it
As an English learner, I found this style of writing is a bit hard to follow.
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book offers the provocative and utterly reasonable thesis that the American Revolution, particularly establishment of the American Constitution, had as its purpose replacing the political-economic exploitation of the American colonies by British financial and merchant interests with political-economic exploitation of American farmers and workers by local financial and merchant interests. Every other book I've read about the American Revolution portrayed the Americans as morally superior to ...more
Eric Sexton
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the book for an introduction to the insidious nature of the state. After reading this book, a solution to the world's problems may not become clear. However, all forms of statism(democratic, fascist, socialist, etc) can be see seen as nothing more than variations of the same ugly beast.

Some of the earlier reviews of this book are obviously tainted by personal ideological bias. Constitutionalists may be offended by the way in which Nock treats that particularly hallowed document. But the
May 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually didn't end up liking this book nearly as much as I thought I would, especially after the first several sections. Don't get me wrong, the beginning and the ending are excellent. They deal with the theory and ethics of statism and non-statism. However, it is in the middle where Nock dives into historical analysis where I find a lot of his narratives and conclusions somewhat suspect. Nock makes the same mistake as most anarcho-capitalists in dismissing many of the positive movements towa ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I agree with the principles in general, but Nock is overly cynical, which made for a fairly unpleasant read. His point that the State is a dangerous force is something I can agree to, but wading through chapter after chapter if ridiculous cynicism is too much, and a waste of time. I don't like wasting my time reading obvious untruths, just to get to some final nugget of truth. I'm as cynical as anyone when it comes to Big Government, but Nock applies a cynical, conspiratorial view to nearly ever ...more
John Boettcher
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A pretty scathing take on the State, or in today's terms, any form of government that has power over you. Nock puts in pretty convincing terms why the state has power over us, why we let them have that power, and what we can do about it at this point. Which is basically nothing. He offers no solution and sees no way out of the problem, human nature being what it is. And this was when he wrote the book back in 1935. However, if you are a statist, maybe you should pick up this quick read and re-an ...more
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A great work of history and libertarian thought written in 1935 and in only 100 pages. Nock says he wrote it only for those " . . .alien spirits who, while outwardly conforming to the requirements of the civilization around them, still keep a disinterested regard for the plain intelligible law of things." Indeed. If you don't know the difference between government and The State, read this book. If you don't understand the important difference between social power and state power, read this book. ...more
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Too essentialist in its style of analysis. Purports to identify the nature of "government" versus "the state" and the "economic means" versus the "political means." In doing so, it begs all the questions central to the issues at hand.

The bulk of the book is spent with the author obnoxiously rambling (all the while thinking himself far more erudite than he is) and popularizing a questionable restatement of Beard's revisionist American history. There are much better individualist anarchist books
Steven Peterson
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Nock was an original American libertarian thinker. At the outset fo this work, he juxtaposes social power with state power. He disapproves the latter, consistent with his libertarian position. On the other hand, he supports the notion of social power, in which people voluntarily work with one another. One quotation well illustrates his view (Page 99): ""[The human] desire for freedom has but one practical object, i.e., that men may become as good and decent, as elevated and noble, as they might ...more
Eric Chevlen
Apr 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Nock combines ham-handed historiography with a bracing pessimism to produce his analysis. His seminal insight is that state power grows pari passu with the shrinking of social power. He writes, "It is a curious anomaly. State power has an unbroken record of inability to do anything efficiently, economically, disinterestedly or honestly; yet when the slightest dissatisfaction arises over any exercise of social power, the aid of the agent least qualified to give aid is immediately called for."
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It is incredible just how applicable this scathing review of America can be almost 100 years after Nock wrote it! I highly recommend you read this well-researched and well-reasoned history by Nock... just remember the time in which is was written, so it's a little higher level than many books out these days.
Michael Brown
Aug 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Fantastic look into the State and Government. Although published in 1935, many of the concepts discussed in the book are relevant to today's political and socio-economic environment.

A must read for anyone interested American politics!

Mar 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Nock writes well, but his style will seem archaic to some. His discussion of the State as an anti-social institution is eye-opening, as is his analysis of the early American state as a continuation of the British merchant-state; it's hardly the radical departure we've been induced to believe.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A concise book attacking the state as an instrument of plunder to those powerful enough to hold its reins, and gives evidence for this thesis citing recent events in Nock's lifetime (the New Deal era), the Ancient world, Renaissance and even the American Revolution.
Sylvester Kuo
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, law, politics
An attack on the New Deal, Fascist Italy, National Socialist Germany and Communist Russia. I would have to say Nock was not the best libertarian writer ever but his work still contains a lot of warning about what's to come if we allow progressivism/liberal fascism to grow.
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American libertarian author, Georgist, social critic of the early and middle 20th century, outspoken opponent of the New Deal.

He served as a inspiration for the modern libertarian and Conservative movements.

He was one of the first Americans to self-identify as "libertarian"
“When a beggar asks us for a quarter, our instinct is to say that the State has already confiscated our quarter for his benefit, and he should go to the State about it.” 13 likes
“All the power [the State] has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power.” 9 likes
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