Albert Jay Nock, 20th-Century DemiGod


Albert Jay Nock, 1870-1945

There are a number of writers who both inspire and humble me.  Albert Jay Nock, perhaps the most individual of individualists, almost always floors me when I read him.  He enlivens my soul and my mind, but he especially inspires me to be a better man.  He, himself, was nothing if not a man of absolute integrity.

Thanks to Daniel McCarthy, I’ve been re-reading Albert Jay Nock like mad. The more I read of him, the more I love him.  Happily, I’ve been reading him since college, but it was brilliant Walter Grinder who first made me realize just how great a man Nock was.

If Nock’s remembered, it’s generally for his anti-New Deal book, Our Enemy, The State (1935), but really, this is probably not his best book.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a truly fine book and, certainly, he’s not incorrect in his assessment of that wretched FDR, but because Nock is simply too angry when he’s writing it.

His other books are deeply genteel and liberal (in the sense of the liberal arts).  Like so many of us, Nock is best when he writes about what he loves rather than what he despises.

Thankfully, I’m not unique in loving Nock and his writing.

Here are the folks from the past who claimed to adore Nock and, to one degree or another, were inspired by him. Not just inspired, but so inspired as to become better writers (of a certain type) and better thinkers because of his example.

  • Rose Wilder Lane
  • Isabel Paterson
  • Henry Regnery
  • Bernard Iddings Bell
  • Russell Kirk
  • William F. Buckley
  • Frank Chodorov
  • Suzanne LaFollette
  • Robert Nisbet

Nisbet had actually read Nock’s MEMOIRS so many times that he’d memorized it!


It’s rather clear, he is the single most important nexus between pre-WWII non-leftist thought and all modern conservatism and libertarianism.

Much more to come. . . .

3 Comments on “Albert Jay Nock, 20th-Century DemiGod

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Dr. Birzer. I too return to him often, and every time I do, he elevates my mind, he refreshes my soul, he strengthens my resolve, and, despite his sometimes melancholy mood, he restores my faith. If humanity can produce a specimen like Nock, then perhaps we are not as bad as I am sometimes wont to believe.

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