The difficulty raised by European political and economic development hangs chiefly on a necessary loyalty to a national tradition and organization which blocks the advance of democracy. Americans cannot entirely escape this difficulty; but in our country by far the greater obstacle to social amelioration is constituted by a democratic theory and tradition, which blocks the process of national development. We Americans are confronted by two divergent theories of democracy. According to one of these theories, the interest of American democracy can be advanced only by an increasing nationalization of the American people in ideas, in institutions, and in spirit. According to the other of these theories, the most effective way of injuring the interest of democracy is by an increase in national authority and a spread of the national leaven. Thus Americans, unlike Englishmen, have to choose, not between a specific and efficient national tradition and a vague and perilous democratic ideal—they have to choose between two democratic ideals, and they have to make this choice chiefly on logical and moral grounds. An Englishman or a German, no matter how clear his intelligence or fervid his patriotism, cannot find any immediately and entirely satisfactory method of reconciling the national traditions and forms of organization with the demands of an uncompromising democracy. An American, on the other hand, has it quite within his power to accept a conception of democracy which provides for the substantial integrity of his country, not only as a nation with an exclusively democratic mission, but as a democracy with an essentially national career.
NATIONALITY AND CENTRALIZATION