I've been trying to make some sense of the world, and have been revisiting the writings of Nock. I've dug up a few of his quotes off the Internet and from my notes that provide a 28 course meal for the rational individualist…

1. It is an economic axiom as old as the hills that goods and services can be paid for only with goods and services.

2. Diligent as one must be in learning, one must be as diligent in forgetting; otherwise the process is one of pedantry, not culture.

3. Learning has always been made much of, but forgetting has always been deprecated; therefore pedantry has pretty well established itself throughout the modern world at the expense of culture.

4. Considered now as a possession, one may define culture as the residuum of a large body of useless knowledge that has been well and truly forgotten.

5. It is unfortunately none too well understood that, just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own.

6. Life has obliged him to remember so much useful knowledge that he has lost not only his history, but his whole original cargo of useless knowledge; history, languages, literatures, the higher mathematics, or what you will — are all gone.

7. Like Prince von Bismarck in diplomacy, I have no secrets.

8. The mind is like the stomach. It is not how much you put into it that counts, but how much it digests.

9. Useless knowledge can be made directly contributory to a force of sound and disinterested public opinion.

10. The university's business is the conservation of useless knowledge; and what the university itself apparently fails to see is that this enterprise is not only noble but indispensable as well, that society can not . exist unless it goes on.

11. Someone asked me years ago if it were true that I disliked Jews, and I replied that it was certainly true, not at all because they are Jews but because they are folks, and I don't like folks.

12. The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner.

13. Assuming that man has a distinct spiritual nature, a soul, why should it be thought unnatural that under appropriate conditions of maladjustment, his soul might die before his body does; or that his soul might die without his knowing it.

As far as I know, I have no pride of opinion.

15. As sheer casual reading matter, I still find the English dictionary the most interesting book in our language.

16. The 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.

17. The conservative is a person who considers very closely every chance, even the longest, of "throwing out the baby with the bath-water," as the German proverb puts it, and who determines his conduct accordingly.

18. The State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal.

19. The mentality of an army on the march is merely so much delayed adolescence; it remains persistently, incorrigibly and notoriously infantile.

20. An assignment that you can really put your back into, and do your best without thinking about results, is a real job; whereas serving the masses is at best only half a job, considering the inexorable conditions that the masses impose upon their servants. They ask you to give them what they want, they insist upon it, and will take nothing else; and following their whims, their irrational changes of fancy, their hot and cold fits, is a tedious business…

21. There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man's needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means.

The surest way to make our youth suspect that there may be something in Communism would be for the government to outlaw it.

23. The glossary of politics is so full of euphemistic words and phrases — as in the nature of things it must be — that one would suppose politicians must sometimes strain their wits to coin them.

24. Bad as euphemism is, however, indirection is worse.

When we speak freely, let us speak plainly, for plain speech is wholesome; especially, plain speech about public affairs and public men.

Our preceptors were gentlemen as well as scholars. There was not a grain of sentimentalism in the institution; on the other hand, the place was permeated by a profound sense of justice…

27. Considering mankind's indifference to freedom, their easy gullibility and their facile response to conditioning, one might very plausibly argue that collectivism is the political mode best suited to their disposition and their capacities. Under its regime, the citizen, like the soldier, is relieved of the burden of initiative and is divested of all responsibility, save for doing as he is told.

28. Above all things the mass-mind is most bitterly resentful of superiority. It will not tolerate the thought of an elite; and under a political system of universal suffrage, the mass-mind is enabled to make its antipathies prevail.

Jeff Watson, surfer, speculator, poker player and art connoisseur, blogs as MasterOfTheUniverse.


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