Our Enemy, the State

I’m currently reading Albert Jay Nock’s Our Enemy, the State for a Ron Paul book club I’ve joined, so I was happy to see a post about it on the Mises Institute blog.  As is explained there,

There are two political institutions, Nock held: government and the state. Government is an agency of society limited to negative interventions aimed at protecting individuals against force and fraud; governments are established to secure persons in their rights and to punish any trespass on them.

The state, on the other hand, intervenes positively in society; it dragoons people into the chase after various national goals, wars on poverty, provides welfare, pays out subsidies, offers cradle-to-grave security, and so on.

Nock opposed the state, but not government.  He argues that appropriate and severely limited government (but not the state) can effectively preserve liberty.  Meanwhile, unfortunately, “the general public, however disillusioned with politicians, still has faith in politics as the means of curing all the ills of society and improving the quality of life. Hopefully, people will someday realize that what counts is the overextension of state power, not who holds public office.”

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