… is from page 282 of Albert Jay Nock’s 1943 essay “Liberalism, Properly So Called,” as it is printed in Liberty Fund’s 1991 collection of some of Nock’s essays – a collection titled The State of the Union: Essays in Social Criticism (Charles H. Hamilton, ed.):
Twelve years ago, when a government made up of professing Liberals proposed a large scale positive bureaucratic intervention to relieve distress, and by use of the taxing-power brought all citizens into enforced cooperation with it, Liberals were in favour of it. They regarded only the immediate end – the relief of distress – and not at all the nature of the means; and the means did actually serve that end, though in a most disorderly and wasteful fashion.
The true Liberal, the Liberal of the eighteenth century, would at once have looked beyond that end and asked the great primary question which finally judges, or should judge, all political action: “What type of social structure does this measure tend to produce? Does it tend to improve and reinforce the existing type, or to bring about a reversion to the primary militant type? Does it tend towards advance or retrogression, towards progress in civilisation or towards re-barbarisation?” Let us take the measure apart, and see.