Friday, September 23, 2016

Seeing things as they are …

… The Counsel of Despair? Albert J. Nock on Self-Government - The Imaginative Conservative.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Nock concluded that very little could, in fact be done about the state. He retreated into a philosophy of “intelligent selfishness, intelligent egoism, intelligent hedonism.”[24] As America lurched toward involvement in World War I, Nock would listen as acquaintances, swept up in war fever, raged against the Kaiser. When their tirade ended, he would simply agree with them “and let it go with that.” After the war, Nock made no effort to join a now-chastened public in anti-war efforts, despite his abhorrence of war, because “I knew, as they apparently did not, that if you go in for education you must first make sure of having something educable to educate and second, you must have some one with a clear and competent idea of what he is about to do the educating. I saw no prospect that either condition would be met.”[25] Indeed, when confronted with any such efforts Nock was inclined to refer to them as “Uplift,” with an ironic upper-case “U.”[26] Despite his eloquent writing against the modern state and on behalf of human liberty, he concluded that most people displayed no interest in liberty at all, and indeed often displayed a “curious canine pride” in their “servitorship.”[27] Indeed he complained that “a status of permanent irresponsibility under collectivism would be most congenial and satisfactory” to the “psychically-anthropoid majority.”[28]
I think Nock regarded himself as a realist, not a pessimist. And the great number of people around today who have been sufficiently trained to obtain credentials provide strong evidence that what he said about educability may well be true.

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