“Impostor-Terms” and the Disorder of Expediency: Albert Jay Nock’s Insights on Language and Moral Conduct

In his 1937 collection of perceptive essays, entitled Free Speech and Plain Language, a classically educated master of English prose, Albert Jay Nock (1870-1945), presents many insights about the use and abuse of language which remind us of the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. For, in his The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.), Thucydides also showed a keen attentiveness to the concept and reality of Justice, and to the proposed distinction between the Just (“to dikaion”) and the Expedient (“to sympheron”), and he implicitly raised the question of the extent to which something can ever be truly “expedient” (disencumbering and advantageous) if it is not just. The cynical and fateful Melian Dialogue (416 B.C.–Book 5) took place just before the hubris-blinded, self-aggrandizing Athenians rashly made their fateful strategic decision to launch their destructive and humiliating “Sicilian Expedition” (415-413 B.C.–Books 6 and 7). Something for us gravely to think about still.

Click here to VIEW full size, DOWNLOAD as PDF file, and/or PRINT.