Image Credit: Albert Jay Nock
Remembering the Right

Remembering Albert Jay Nock

Conservative Anarchist

As a conservative “anarchist” and non-interventionist with anti-vocational views on education, Albert Jay Nock (1870-1945) can seem paradoxical. His influence was lasting and he took unconventional stances on many topics. He viewed conservatism as primarily cultural, anarchism as radical decentralization, education as a non-economic activity, and foreign policy as a noninterventionist endeavor.

Raised in Brooklyn and rural Michigan, Nock attended St. Stephen’s College and became an Episcopal clergyman in 1897. In 1909, he left his ministry, his wife, and two sons, and took up writing in New York, where he associated with Progressives, including Senator Bob LaFollette and historian Charles A. Beard, whom he counted among his friends. He served as associate editor of The Nation—a magazine founded in 1865 as an organ of liberal and later mildly progressive reform—as its editorial stance became increasingly critical of American wartime policies.

Along with Englishman Francis Neilson, a former Liberal MP, Nock founded the libertarian magazine The Freeman, which published from 1920 to 1924. Nock and Neilson favored American reformer Henry George’s “single tax” on rents, meant to foster genuinely free markets. Their publisher was B. W. Huebsch, a German-Jewish American who published works from a coalition of literary and political radicals, including a clique of...

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