names, but that takes the prize.”nNock spent the waning years of the 30’s recapitulating hisnearHer themes. There were many essays, none major, asnwell as Henry George: An Essay, a curious tribute to thenVictorian single-tax advocate. It was only when a publishernproposed his autobiography that Nock got out of his rut andntried something new. Nock had mulled over an autobiographynin the past, but rejected the confessional or gossipynFor Nock, the robber baron was as much a mass-man asnthe poor people who were nominally his slaves. For anmass-man to worship an Andrew Carnegie or a HenrynFord was to worship a mirror; the rich were “mass-men,nevery mother’s son of them; unintelligent, ignorant,nmyopic, incapable of psychical development, butnprodigiously sagacious and prehensile. “n16 / CHRONICLESnapproach: “I have led a singularly uneventful life,” he wrotenin the preface to the Memoirs, “largely solitary, have hadnlittle to do with the great of the earth, and no part whatevernin their affairs or for that matter, in any other affairs.”nThe Memoirs is the most reticent American autobiographynsince The Education of Henry Adams. Nock’s family isnnever mentioned: His friends only exist to provide philosophicalnnuggets. Even The Freeman is never cited bynname. The Memoirs is, in Nock’s words, “the autobiographynof a mind in relation to the society in which he foundnitself”nThe Memoirs of a Superfluous Man is the story of annordered mind in a disordered world, the story of a man whonmomentarily found Eden and spent the rest of his life tryingnto regain it.nEden, for Nock, was at St. Stephen’s College, “situatednon the blank countryside” of upstate New York. St. Stephen’snwas paradise, because it taught the permanentnthings; case-hardened by more than 500 years of testing,nSt. Stephen’s curriculum—Greek, Latin, logic, classicalnphilosophy—allowed Nock to see the world with “a feelingnof intense longevity” granted by relentless analysis of thenliterature of Greece and Rome.nWhat undermined St. Stephen’s, in Nock’s eyes, was thendominance of the masses in everyday life. Nock thoughtnAmerica was a country in which everyone was equally freento be equally dull. The mass-man, in Nock’s eyes, lived fornvicarious violence and invincible ignorance. “The ideals Inhave seen most seriously and purposefully inculcated (sincen1914) are those of the psychopath on the one hand; and onnthe other, those of the homicidal maniac, the plug-ugly andnthe thug.” (One wonders what Nock would have thought ofnSylvester Stallone.)nNock saw two ideologies competing for the appetites ofnthe masses. The more evil was worship of the State. ThenState’s only purpose, for Nock, was “continually absorbingnthrough taxation more and more of the national wealth.”nTo do this, it dulled the masses by inflating threats posed bynoverseas menaces. “What best holds people together innpursuance of a common purpose is a spirit of concentratednnnhate and fear.”nThe State, through government-run schools, strove tonkeep the citizens as ignorant as possible. Intelligence wasnmore of a threat to the growth of the State than foreign foes;nan intelligent mind knows that the State is not omnipotentnand omniscient, and this knowledge is dangerous. “Whatnwas the best that the State could find to do with an actualnSocrates and an actual Jesus when it had them? Merely tonpoison the one and crucify the other; for no reason but thatnthey were too embarrassing to be allowed to live anynlonger.”nIf the State thrived on dull citizens, capitalists thrived onngreedy ones. Nock was a harsh foe of what he calledn”economism,” the belief that the only purpose in life was tonacquire and distribute goods. An America where the primenvirtue was to “scuffle for riches” was, for Nock, uncivilized,na country “without savour, without depth, uninteresting,nand withal horrifying.”nFor Nock, the robber baron was as much a mass-man asnthe poor people who were nominally his slaves. Eor anmass-man to worship an Andrew Carnegie or a Henry Fordnwas to worship a mirror; the rich were “mass-men, everynmother’s son of them; unintelligent, ignorant, myopic,nincapable of psychical development, but prodigiously sagaciousnand prehensile.”nNock believed in an elite—the Remnant—but he didnnot feel that the elite in America should control the masses.nLusting for power was a specious reason to live. He believednin a philosophy of “egoistic hedonism,” of performing deedsnnot for the sake of improving others, but for the delight thatnderives from doing a deed.nWorking for the benefit of “society,” in Nock’s opinion,nwas not possible. Society does not exist in anything morenthan “a concourse of very various individuals about which,nas a whole, not many statements can be made.” Annindividual cannot “do good” towards an anonymous mass,nbecause “good” is something that can only be transferrednfrom individuals to other individuals. “Society” does notnhave any organs capable of appreciating worthy deeds.nIf “society” remains impervious to individual acts, then anlife devoted to political action is not fruitful. Rather thannlobbying to change the State, the Remnant should adoptnCandide’s motto—11 fait cultiver notre jardin.n”These few words sum up the whole social responsibilitynof man,” Nock concluded. The “garden” of the mind,nnourished through judicious reading and conversationsnwith stimulating friends—this was the only “garden” thatncounted. To let the mind lie fallow while “prescribingnimprovement for others … to organize something, toninstitutionalize this-or-that, to pass laws, multiply bureaucraticnagencies, form pressure-groups, start revolutions,nchange forms of government,” was the gravest form ofnself-inflicted damage.nNock is not entirely pervasive on this point. Good deedsnmay, in fact, be useful, provided they are given fromnindividuals to other individuals. There is a differencenbetween giving food to a starving neighbor and lobbyingnagainst cuts in the food-stamp budget, between helpingnrefugees from Communism adjust to American life andncampaigning for Star Wars. It is the difference betweennliving for yourself and living for a cause.n