Sunday 8 July 2012

Liberalism versus Imperialism

There is no sentiment in a nation so dangerous, there is no sentiment so easy to stimulate, as the false excess of patriotism. There is probably no country in the world from China to Peru in which the sub-conscious voices of national egotism do not persistently whisper in men's ears the same intoxicating tale: ' "We are the pick and flower of nations, and (in one sense or another) the chosen people of God! Various foreigners may or may not have their good points, but only we are really whole and right and normal. Other nations boast and are aggressive; only we are modest and content with our barest due, though it is obvious that we are by nature specially qualified for ruling others, and no unprejudiced person can doubt that our present territories ought to be increased. That our yoke is a pure blessing to all who come under it is a plain fact, proved by the almost unanimous testimony of our own citizens, our historians, our missionaries, our soldiers, our travellers, and only denied out of spite by a few envious foreigners, whom no one believes!"'

Sentiments like these call them patriotism, Jingoism, Chauvinism, or what you will form a strong and persistent force, valuable when checked, dangerous when stimulated, and charged with all the elements of exasperation and explosion whenever there is most need for patience and for care.

There is also in most civilized countries another party, inspired, consciously or unconsciously, by the older school of English Liberals, who do not accept the extravagant pretensions of their own countrymen; who judge of national honour by more or less the same standards as they apply to private honour; who believe in international morality and in the co-operation of nations for mutual help ; who, if they are to dream at all, will dream not of Armageddons and Empires, but of progress and freedom, and the ultimate fraternity of mankind.

Francis Wrigley Hirst, from the Introduction to "Liberalism and the Empire", 1900


Daz Pearce said...

Patriotism is simply irrational, and cannot be reconciled with anti-racism or the stated absence of prejudice.

You have no control over where you are born.

So unless you believe that somehow makes you 'special' or superior to someone else, then why on earth is it something to be proud of?

We're individuals - patriotism is just another of those contrived greater goods designed to make people easier to control.

Trooper Thompson said...


I think what you're calling patriotism is actually better defined as nationalism. Patriotism is just the love of your country, or the place you feel at home. It's not necessary to feel pride or superiority, only that you feel an attachment to what you grew up with.