Here are some Nockian inspired divagations, speculations, theories, fragments, rantings, and what-have-yous sometimes pontifical and usually uninformed that have crossed my mind recently (as of 1997) that would be fun to look into more seriously.

On coup d'etats and revolutions

If you accept the Nockian theory that a true revolution will liberate some principle from obscurity and release it as an animating social force and if you further accept the Luttwakian theory that coup d'etats involve no such process but rather are a bare seizure of power and its associated mechanisms by the 'outs' from the 'ins', and thereby reversing their previous relationship, then some conclusions follow.

Namely, there hasn't been a revolution in the West in a long, long time. The spread of Frederick Winslow Taylor's principles of scientific management might qualify. After all, in making us work more effeciently, consumerism and its associated mechanisms of propaganda had to be invented. Social relations haven't been quite the same since. However, that is another story for another time. Anyway, who would be the 'ins' and who the 'outs'?

The American War for Independence, on the other hand, was clearly a revolution. This deserves to be emphasized because much of the historical establishment rejects such a notion and prefers to call it 'not a real revolution', probably because the principle it liberated was so short-lived, lasting pristine at most for thirteen years, from 1776 to 1789, and in all likelihood less. Probably it didn't exist at all outside the heads of a few revolutionaries who expected the most from the world.

Why does it merit status as a revolution? Because it released the notion that each person in and of himself is a sovereign, able and bound to lead his life as he sees fit. No previous social organization had ever dreamed of such a hopeful vision. Inspiration, of course, derived from European philosophers who lacked a trial ground to test it out.

Among countless other powers, but just to give myself a flavor of its significance as I write this, individual sovereignty means that each person can coin money if he so chooses. The definitive document of this revolution was the Declaration of Independence.

However, at the Constitutional Convention, the founding fathers, so-called, knowingly laid the ground-work for a coup d'etat. In this particular coup, the 'ins' were the sovereigns, that is to say the people, and the 'outs' were the lawyers, bankers, and land-speculators. This coup, lacking any crisis — any epiphany characteristic of modern coups — isn't even recognized as one. But a piecemeal coup is still a coup.

Just read what James Madison said during the constitutional convention about how the main goal of the new system has to be "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority," and has to be designed so that it achieves that end. This is the founding of the constitutional system.

Accumulation. Usurpation. Centralization. These are the hallmarks of the The Two Hundred Years Coup, as it might be affectionately called. It began with seemingly harmless accumulations until it got its fill from that hoary practice and then graduated to usurping. Centralization superintended both processes. Its definitive document was and is The Constitution of the United States.

Upon drafting the Constitution, the founding-fathers, so-called, entered a Strange Loop, the consequences of which have been playing out since its inception and continue to unfold even today. By granting power to the federal government to establish a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility..., albeit limited and clearly delineated power, they codified a new political entity that would eventually use the powers granted to it as the tools for amassing more powers and usurping still others, eventually establishing a less perfect Union, corrupting justice, insuring domestic turmoil...

The Strange Loop was of more than first order, too, because without granting these two-faced powers, all the States might have engaged in mutual self-destruction anyway, if you choose to believe all the evils that young, competitive nation states will resort to, nay, devolve to, so touchingly enumerated in the Federalist Papers. In case you've forgotten, they boil down to bickering, back-stabbing, scheming, politicking, quarreling, and a million other triflings. The writing of these political hack-works were the first serious attempt to persuade the sovereigns of the necessity and therefore legitimacy of a new federal political entity.

In retrospect, there was a choice to be made: destruction by tyranny or destruction by anarchy. The founding fathers, so-called, being upstanding patriarchs, opted for tyrannical destruction.

Eventually, rendered impotent in the face of the federal entity, sovereigns lost all feelings of sovereignty. Today, we have come to this, but, in the words of David Burne, 'My god, how did we get here?' Well, as the days went by and 'eternal vigilance' was relaxed, the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase by Th. Jefferson in 1803 and a thousand other quieter moves went by.

What could the sovereigns do to prevent the Louisiana Purchase? Well, this is a completely irrelevant question because sovereigns supported the purchase since it would increase their pissing ground by more than two times. But this illustrates the insidious nature of the federal unit in its early days, in its phase of accumulation. It had sufficient power, that is to say it had the capacity, even in 1803, to do what was considered good despite being extra-Constitutional. It could silently accumulate powers never given to it.

Did Hamilton have his National Bank in mind when writing the Federalist Papers? It seems likely. Being a shrewd lawyer, statesman, and father(?), he must have recognized the potential of a strong federal unit as outlined in the Constitution.


On the university system

In a McLuhanesque sense, Nock's ideal university would be a very cool place in contrast to our very hot universities. Consider these contrasting properties and think about which environment you find more appealing and dignified:

cooler hotter
inclusive universities exclusive departments
integration specialization
attracting core distracting electives
discovery revelation
independence dependence
guidance direction
spontaneous discussions lectures and office hours
library classroom
recommended reading required reading
borrowing of books ownership of books
oral exams quizzes, tests, and term papers
no syllabus lesson plans


On learning and forgetting

There are many fruitful things to say about the prescience of Nock as a critic regarding the quotes below. I'll write them down here someday after you've thought about it yourself a bit.

"Concerning culture as a process, one would say that it means learning a great many things and then forgetting them; and the forgetting is as necessary as the learning."
— A.J.Nock "The Value of Useless Knowledge" 1934

"...any intense experience [like reading] must be 'forgotten', or 'censored', and reduced to a very cool state before it can be 'learned' or assimilated."
— M.McLuhan Understanding Media 1964

"Consciously knowing something and consciously remembering something are distinct forms of awareness that produce unique patterns of activity in the brain."
— Alison Motluk in the May 31, 1997 issue of the New Scientist (pp16-16) summarizing research done by E.Duzel et al as reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences v94(11) pp5973-5978 1997


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