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tions, we may say that anything which stimulates sympathy between the units of society is good; and to this extent the services rendered by patriotism are quite beyond question.

Finally must be acknowledged the function of patriotism as a means of encouraging emulation and rivalry. Where the national reputation is at stake, men and communities are spurred to make efforts which, under ordinary conditions they would regard as futile. Thus is the best of which they are capable brought out; the native talent is specialised and quickened. There is hardly any branch of human activity which may not be affected in this way. It is not necessary to dwell upon the importance of this feature of competition. Other things being equal, the keener it is, the greater the results from the point of view of evolution. It has played a great part in the past, it is destined to play a far greater part in the future, and there seems to be every reason for regarding this international feeling of emulation as, in itself, a strong factor in the progress of civilisation.

Now underlying the view that the influence of patriotism is, in these several ways beneficial, there is one great assumption: that the influence is not opposed to those fundamental principles of right and wrong which are the basis of all ethical truth. Thus, it is only on a most rigorous interpretation of the principle of art for art's sake, that the æsthetic uses of the patriotic spirit may be placed beyond suspicion. None will deny that under the influence of this spirit, the artists of all countries are constantly producing work which, however faithful an expression of their own ideas, is false in fact, base in feeling, and unjust in sentiment. The physical courage in support of one's own country compels admiration, but if the cause happens to be a bad one, the admiration descends sharply to a lower plane-such, for instance, as is evoked by blind obedience, or the sense of unreasoned duty. Lifelong services to one's country may be characterised by habits of deceit, unfairness, or deliberate wrong-doing. The sense of unity of interest may have its inspiration, not so much in mutual well-being, as in common enmity to others. Or the spirit of emulation may be confined to the grosser

instincts of the race, and may thus tend, not towards development, but towards degeneration.

It seems impossible to escape from the conclusion that the problem of the function of patriotism is, at the bottom, a moral problem. It is the moral view, and not the intellectual or the æsthetic, which on an ultimate analysis, will be found to determine the legitimate limits of the patriotic feeling. The only patriotism which may hope to withstand the criticism of the future is that which gives an ever-increasing prominence to the broad principles of ethical truth.


Considering the important part played by patriotism in the history of society, it is remarkable that no serious attempt has been made to define its position. Is it, as is commonly thought, a virtue? Virtue itself is hard to define. are still to be found some who believe in a sort of unconscious virtue-that it is possible to show moral strength, where there is no temptation against which this strength is exercised. On this view every man could claim unbounded credit for the non-commission of sins to which he had ceased to have, or never had, the slightest inclination. Holding such a belief it is impossible for an individual to get even the roughest measure of his own culpability, whilst of that of his fellows, he cannot form the faintest idea. The only rational view would appear to be that virtue is the moral power which resists temptation to do wrong. Some such conception is necessary to explain the different degrees of culpability of men in different places and at different times, and of the same men at different periods of life and under different circumstances. Temptation and virtue are inseparable.

Now if this principle or anything resembling it be admitted, it is clear that patriotism cannot make good its claim to be ranked among the virtues. Under ordinary conditions, the temptations are all in the opposite direction. There is surely nothing particularly meritorious in cherishing a love for one's native land. Such a feeling is to a great extent instinctive. It may be regarded in most essentials as an extension of that family affection which forms the basis of

all society. The feeling is perfectly normal and natural. It is remarkable only in its absence.

But, it may be urged, it is not so much the sentiment that is in question, as the conduct resulting from it. How shall we describe the conduct of those who have sacrificed their own interests to the good of their country, who have laid down their lives for it? If this is not virtue, where, indeed, are we to look for it? The question is by no means a simple one. It leaves out of account the existence of a possible motive higher than the immediate interest, or good of the country to which one happens to belong. The man who, believing his country to be engaged in a bad cause, yet voluntarily gives his life in its support, may be in some sort a hero, but on strictly moral grounds his conduct cannot be defended. On the other hand, he who sacrifices himself, believing his country to be in the right, is acting under the influence of a motive which is independent of all nationality -the cause of justice. This distinction seems to be vital. How far the purely moral motive is quickened and humanised by the love of country is a psychological question into which it is not necessary to enter. It may even be granted that it is this passion which, in the vast majority of cases, supplies the incentive; but the point to be noted is, that regarded strictly from the ethical point of view, this love is not the determining factor. No matter how weak the national cause may be, resistance to an enemy is always founded upon so-called rights; an appeal solely to the love of country would at once excite suspicion, and would be effective only where reason had been quite eclipsed by passion.

The suggestion, therefore, is, that there is no reason to dissociate patriotism from other forms of love; it is simply an emotion. In a great number of cases it never gets beyond the emotional stage. It is often a mere habit of mind which affects our sentiments, gives warmth to our opinions, and excites our interest, but it is not necessarily translated into conduct. When it is so translated, the conduct may be highly virtuous, for there is no limit to the personal sacrifice which may be called forth; but it may be

almost equally vicious, for in the name of patriotism are constantly committed injustice, bloodshed, and oppression. It cannot be too clearly understood that the point of importance is not the possession of the patriotic feeling, but the uses that are made of it.

It follows from the foregoing line of argument that the principle, "My country, right or wrong," is one of pure expediency. It pertains to the gentle art of quarreling. When an appeal to force is once made it is better for everybody-spectators as well as belligerents-to get through with the business as speedily as possible. To try to make war and peace at the same time is foolish; to show two minds to an enemy is to court disaster. Accordingly a nation having once pronounced for war it is expedient that dissentients should be passive or, in the case of extremity, even actively hostile to an enemy. We need not discuss how far such an equivocal proceeding would be necessary in a more perfect state of society; we have simply to admit that, at the present stage of development of human nature in most civilised countries, any greater freedom allowed to opponents of the national policy at such times would add many fresh evils to those already existing.

But this doctrine of "My country, right or wrong" applied to other times than those of actual warfare is irrational and pernicious. Who speaks in the name of the country? The statesmen? History is one long confession of their mistakes. The Governments? The autocratic ones are clearly disqualified; the democratic speak with widely different voices, a few thousand votes converting the yea into nay. The newspaper press? Even in the most democratic countries it is hard to say how far it is disinterested, moreover it works at high pressure, and is content to satisfy the demands of the moment. The people? They are easily carried away by passion; their judgment is but too often hasty and superficial. There is obviously nothing particularly sacred in these interpreters of the nation's needs at critical periods of its history. Taken together they may represent the prevalent opinion, but the loudest voice in

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each or all may prove to be wrong. Against all the force of such authority the right of private judgment remains as strong as ever.

The only sense in which "my" country can truly be mine, is that of personal conviction. At such moments it is not a material but an ideal country; it stands for my countrymen, not at their worst, but at their best; not for what they are, but for what I conceive they may be, and ought to be. "My" country is that part of it of which I am proud. If it is to be articulate, it must be so in the persons of those men— irrespective of their number-in whose insight and judgment I have faith. It is the country whose genius I wish to see asserting itself along the lines of its higher evolution; whose conduct should be most in harmony with the best traditions of the race, most likely to be justified by the verdict of an impartial posterity. It is clear that in all this, there is room for the utmost difference of opinion; to no two persons will the best and worst features of national character appear the same. From which it follows that it is both illogical and unjust to set up one ideal of conduct as essentially patriotic, and another, claiming to be founded on the same affection, as essentially the reverse. One fact should be at least evident: opinions formed at the expense of popular favour must have a strong personal foundation. They may, of course, be wrong; but they have been tested. They are at least honest, and represent conscious judgment in the face of difficulty. At times of national excitement there is little hope of such opinion making itself heard, but under normal conditions it furnishes a body of counsel which, in the long run, is to no nation an element of weakness, but of strength.


There can be little doubt that the excessive bias of modern patriotism is in the main due to the backward state of knowledge in certain directions. It is not, of course, suggested that the feeling of patriotism is in itself bad, still less that it is due to ignorance. Patriotism, like all other affections, is largely an affair of temperament, and is clearly

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