PATRIOTISM AND INTERNATIONALISM
Many Socialists and sympathizers with the Labour movement over the world belittle Patriotism, and seem to think that by decrying and discouraging the love of one’s country one will bring nearer the day of Internationalism.
I do not agree. Of course we all know there is a lot of sham and false Patriotism—such as, for instance, Pressmongers magnify and make use of in order to sell their papers, or such as comfortable, well-to-do folk with big dividends do so heartily encourage among the poorer classes, who can thus be persuaded to fight for them; we know, indeed, that there is a good deal of very mean and unworthy Patriotism—the flag-waving variety, for instance, which we saw in the Boer war—exultant over a small nation of farmers defending their homes, and whipped up deliberately by a commercial gang for their own purposes; or the narrow-minded, lying, canting variety which blinds a people to its own faults, and credits itself with all the moral virtues, while at the same time it gloats over every defamation of the enemy. There is a good deal of that variety in the present war. And it is easy to understand that many people, sick of that sort of Patriotism, would go straight for a ready-made denial of all frontiers and boundaries.
Still, allowing to the full all that can be said in the above direction, one must admit also that there is such a thing as a true Patriotism, and I do not see why—however socialist or cosmopolitan we may be—we should not recognize what is an obvious fact. There is a love of one’s own country—a genuine attachment to and preference for it—“in spite of all temptations to belong to other nations”—which after all is very natural, and on the whole a sound and healthy thing. There may be some people whose minds are so lofty that to them all peoples and races are alike and without preference; but one knows that the vast multitudes of our mortal earth are not made like that. “If a man love not his brother whom he hath seen, how shall he love God whom he hath not seen?” It is certainly easier and more natural to make an effort and a sacrifice for the sake of your own countrymen whom you know so well and with whom you are linked by a thousand ties than for the sake of foreigners who are little more than a name—however worthy you may honestly believe the latter to be. It is more obvious and instinctive for a man to work for his own family than to give his services to his municipality or his county council. Charity begins at home, and the wider spirit of human love and helpfulness which passes beyond the narrow bounds of the family hearth has perhaps to find an intermediate sphere before it can unfold itself and expand in the great field of Humanity among all colours and races.