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Then according to you, Patriotism is not a virtue ?
No; it may become habitual or it may be temporary, but it is always a combination of Impulses, Passions and more constant and elemental Habits : some of them usually virtuous, others always vicious ; and, like these Impulses, Passions and Habits of which it is made up, it should be accounted virtuous or vicious according as it promotes good or evil. In earlier days it may have promoted good, say that of saving Hellenic civilization from Persia and Carthage, or the commonwealths of Lombardy from Northern feudalism, or the French Revolution from Pitt and Coburg, or the British Constitution from the French Regicides (vide Burke), and Bonaparte’s tidy tyranny ; though none of these things have been, or even perhaps can be, really demonstrated, and we don’t know what the world may have missed through the victories of those patriotic Greeks, Lombards, French or English. What seems more probable is that, in less s asmodic ways than what boys are taught as the Decisive Ba s of the World, it had the good effect of compacting languages and laws and sharpening the competition of useful varieties of civilization; although, by the way, it also snuffed out a few: the patriotism of Rome snuffing out the atriotism, and also the competition and co-operation, of arthage. Such debit and credit accounts are not accessible to mortal eyes, being (I fancy) kept under lock and key b Satan. .
Even nowatiiiys, no one except a German would suppose there could be a balance of good in German patriotism; and a biologist vaunting the spirit of the herd has had to point out that German patriotism is that of wolves, whereas English (and presumably Allied) patriotism is that of the busy, overworked but meritorious bee, devoted to its drones and queens.
So let the various belligerents, and the ghosts of ast belligerents—now enemies, then allies or vice versa, elson and Wellington and Bliicher and Hoche and Bonaparte, settle these diflicult matters each to their own intimate satisfaction. I mean when and why patriotism was quite undoubtedly an unmixed blessing or a blessing at all.
M contribution to the subject is different ; consisting chie in the recognition that, while its com onent human Imp ses, Habits and Passions, can be compare to erformers whose range and timbre and place in the scale an (like the fiddle tribe) whose affinities and even their respective delightful or distressing quality to human ears are ascertained and fairly uniform each in its kind, Patriotism itself is, as I have toId Satan to say, an orchestra wherein they all play either successive and variously important and mutually compensating parts, or oftenest extraordinarily fused tutti, sounding to the inexpert ear like one vast instrument quite sui generis, divinely, mysteriously stimulating in one’s own camp, sickeningly, terrif 'ng or ludicrous when hearo from the Enemy’s quarters.
ow this recognition on my part, that Patriotism is not one of the passions but a combination of many or most, is full of interesting detail corollaries to the moralist; and since I have mentioned that ubiquitous person, himself so very useful to the Orchestra in question, let me despatch the moral
aspect of the question before passing to others.
One of the differences between the Orchestra and the players is that, whereas the Impulses, Passions, Habits and their simpler combinations, as exemplified in parenthood, sex-relations and the ways of Homo G'corwmicus, reside in the separate individuals or smallest combinations of individuals (parent and child, lover and beloved, buyer and seller, etc.), and are therefore easily checked by the other individuals and their habits and passions, the combination called Patriotism resides in the collectivity and is therefore withdrawn from the criticism and the counteraction which are necessary to keep Impulses, Habits and Passions, I will not say virtuous, but tolerably innocuous. For instance, Heroism has to sit side by side with Widow Fear; Idealism is made to lay wonderful passages by thirds with the Harmonium of Self
Righteousness; and I have tried to show what happens to Pit and Indignation when beckoned by Satan out of their big seats in the auditorium and accepting a place in that Orchestra.
So much for the moralist. I mean this is the warning he might reasonably deduce from my discovery that Patriotism is not a Passion, but a combination of all the Passions. And now, leaving moralists and moral warnings alone, let us pass on to some more abstract deductions from that, as I conslder, indisputable but hitherto neglected fact.
I will begin by reminding you that, as is universally admitted, compounds are less stable and more variable than their components, and may even occasionally undergo transformation into something wholly different in character, or cease altogether to exist, their elements seeking other combinations ; a generalization true not only in the material universe of chemistry or physics but also in the inner domain of the spirit, memory and iological memory (what Semon calls the M nemic principle), reproducing simple combinations (such as the intervals of which eveIy piece of music is composed) more easily than the varying arger combinations, say a symphony, in which they have occurred; and as regards hereditary possibilities, aptitude for retaining words being ready made 1n the infant, but not, despite such centuries of repetition, the knowledge of any language or part of a language. Consonantly with this, the examination of Patriotism will show that, as befits a highly complex combination, it differs very much according to which of its possible constituent passions are called into activity by given circumstances, so that it
‘ is liable to various transformations. It is originalllyI exclu
sively consanguineous or tribal; racial as with the ebrews, theocratic and indifferent to place or race as with the Mohammedans ; concentrated on to smallest localities and narrowest local traditions and interests as in early Greece and mediaeval Italy; or dependent solely upon community of language and institutions in modern nations, the German-speaking Alsatian of Erckmann-Chatrian’s Napoleonic stories identifying himself with the France of the Revolution, and speaking of French civilization (even of the monuments of Paris) as the work of