What we have to do is to help on that international life and spirit to our best, and certainly clear out a lot of sham patriotism that stands in its way; but this has to be done with discrimination and a certain tact. People must be made to see that “my country, right or wrong,” is not the genuine article. They must be made to understand how easily this sort of slapdash sentiment throws them into the hands of scheming politicians and wire-pullers for sinister purposes—how readily it can be made use of directly it has become a mere unreasoning instinct and habit. If a war is wanted, or conscription, or a customs tariff—it may be merely to suit the coward fears of autocratic rulers, or the selfish interests of some group of contractors or concession-hunters—all that the parties concerned have to do is to play the patriotic stop, and they stand a good chance of getting what they want. Just now there is a good bit of fleecing going on in this fashion—both of the public and the wage-workers. Even in its more healthy forms, when delayed in too long, patriotism easily becomes morbid and delays also the birth of the larger spirit which is waiting behind it. The Continental Socialists complain that their cause has hitherto made little progress in Alsace-Lorraine and Poland for the simple reason that political circumstances have over-accentuated the patriotic devotion in both these regions.
Thus we have to push on with discrimination. Always we have to remember that the wide, free sense of equality and kinship which lies at the root of Internationalism is the real goal, and that the other thing is but a step on the way, albeit a necessary step. Always we have to press on towards that great and final liberation—the realization of our common humanity, the recognition of the same great soul of man slumbering under all forms in the heart of all races—the one guarantee and assurance of the advent of World-peace.
That we are verging rapidly towards some altered perspective I quite believe; and the day is coming when in the social and political spheres International activity will make excessive patriotism seem somewhat ridiculous—as, in fact, it has already done in the spheres of Science and Industry and Art. Still, I also do not see any reason why the two tendencies should not work side by side. The health of local organs and members in the human body is by no means incompatible with the health of the whole organism, and we may understand the great map of Humanity all the better for its being differently coloured in different parts.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF, WAR AND RECRUITING