A Very Private Person

When Albert Jay Nock died in 1945, American civilization had known saner times. Having just conquered the world through the Final Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the new colossus had a growing appetite, undaunted-by expanse or expense. It was something on the order of: Today the earth, tomorrow the universe!

The author of Our Enemy, the State had not so much warned as observed what every victorious state will inevitably do; and the author of Memoirs of a Superfluous Man entertained no illusions about the implications of total victory in the last war he lived to witness. The recently terminated enemy had been hamstrung by its Weltanschauung, bound to an exclusivist racial fantasy. The new enemy had a similar weakness, with class taking the place of race. These ideologies hobbled themselves. They were parochial. Not so the victorious American empire with a vision that excluded no one and nothing from its all-devouring hopes. The mystery is how such an indiscriminate machine as 20th-century American culture could coexist with as discriminating a native son as Albert Jay Nock.

Charles Hamilton has brought together essays never before included in a book with others taken from books long out of print, as well as a number of classic essays. In the wake of the uproar produced by the publication of H.L. Mencken's diaries several years ago, the new Nock collection arrives on the scene at an interesting...

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