"The superficial distinctions of Fascism, Bolshevism, Hitlerism, are the concern of journalists and publicists; the serious student sees in them only one root-idea of a complete conversion of social power into State power."
Albert Jay Nock
(1870-1945) American libertarian author, editor, educational theorist, Georgist, social critic
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Reader comments about this quote:
As a stand alone statement, the overview is to simplistic. All of the here isms (could include communism, progressivism, etc.) operates under the auspices that social power is State power. The probably reference here was the time relative or era sensitive nomenclature / narrative of liberal capitalism / laissez faire free market verses collectivist economies.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    oops, editor, would you please change the above probably to probable? thanks.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Isms aside, the frailty remains one of fallen human character, particularly as it expresses itself in the pride and fear animated will to monomaniacally accrue power.
     -- Patrick Henry, Red Hill     
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    There is always danger in strong centralized power.
     -- Cal, Lewisville, TX     
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    Spoken by a Georgist, seemingly against centralized power, but actually promoting central power of the state and the right to tax. The reconstruction period, post Northern war of aggression against the South. LVT, land value tax, for the "common good", income tax, progressive tax, lending itself to the Progressive Era and the collectivist economics, practiced today. A bleeding heart, seeing the rural labor far better off than those in the likes of NYC. Steal from the land owner to, perhaps, give to the poor. Progressive socialism and its inherent corruption. No stars for this guy. He is certainly not a friend to individual sovereignty and laissez faire economics.
     -- Ronw13, Oregon     
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    It would be absurd for a person who objects to the wearing of shoes to lump all shoe wearers together and conclude there is no difference in the philosophies or methods of such people, as IMO Nock does here. Yet people who imagine the primacy of the individual over society and therefore categorically reject coercion of the individual by society to enforce minimum standards of compliance (as all societies do), not only make that mistake, they seem to genuinely relish doing so. My theory is that it is done not as serious social commentary or criticism, but for rhetorical purchase, as when leftism and fascism are conflated by the enemies of the Left.

    There are meaningful differences between states. States can be dictatorial or Democratic. They can have as their goal social good, or kleptocracy. They can be directed at economic growth or military conquest. They can have wide-ranging views on private property, from disallowing private property, to worshiping private property as a God, and in some cases even allowing the owning of one human by another as private property. They can be captive to a single religion, or tolerant, or intolerant, toward all religion. This is not idle observation or trivial distinction. States have existed at the intersection of these principles for millennia, and they have risen or fallen, or both, based on them. Citizens have left one for another, based on these distinctions. Usually, when citizens object to the constitution of a state, when it's not just compete foolishness, it is usually over exactly these kinds of distinctions.

    If you want to live in a state that is never coercive, I suggest you find one and move there. I claim they don't exist in nature, and with good reason. The idea that the rights of an individual should take precedence over the social whole, is a case of mistaking cause for effect. We have rights because our fellow citizens, i.e. society as a whole, defines and protects them for us. It is absurd to imagine that the resulting set of necessarily-circumscribed rights would include the right for such an individual to demand foundational changes to society itself (against the will of a majority) that bestowed those rights on the individual to begin with. It's not that you don't have a choice; you do. But your right or remedy in this regard is limited to leaving that society.

    In any case, since all modern states employ coercion, isn't it pointless to act like that is a useful, let alone essential, distinguishing feature or taxonomic difference among them? It would be like insisting that the fundamental axis of classification of people is whether they can fly like birds. So few of us can do that, that no sensible person would seriously propose it. It's just not a distinction that helps, or even affects, say, a tailor, an athletic coach, or a physician. Otherwise, of course, they'd be all over it.
     -- William F. Quinlivan, Hawthorne, Fl.     
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    The kicker, for me, is that the people who complain most about state coercion are not fighting the Stalins and Hitlers of this world. They are fighting mild taxation and regulation imposed by social democracies. In their minds, these minor annoyances have supplanted property confiscation, beatings, shootings, disappearances, imprisonment, and enslavement, as our Top Bad. That's just how oppressed these people are.
     -- William F. Quinlivan, Hawthorne, Fl.     
    Good comments above. "State-power" implies to me supremacy of the state over the individual. The Declaration of Independence negated the claims of the Church and State of England upon the PEOPLE. As far as I can tell, America is the only collection of States founded upon the rights of the individual for the protection of the people's freedom and responsibility to take care of themselves without compulsion from either side. (Switzerland may be an exception.) In the context of Statism, the quote rings true for me. The consolidation and centralization of power is the tendency of statism while independence and the distribution of power and responsibility respects the sovereignty of the People and the republican states formed out of republican counties. Dependence and obligations to the State can take on many forms of government, except in a free republic.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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