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Notes on Nationalism
http://www.resort.com/~prime8/Orwell/nationalism.html ^ | May, 1945 | George Orwell

Posted on 10/29/2001 6:27:39 PM PST by A.J.Armitage

Somewhere or other Byron makes use of the French word longeur, and remarks in passing that though in England we happen not to have the word, we have the thing in considerable profusion. In the same way, there is a habit of mind which is now so widespread that it affects our thinking on nearly every subject, but which has not yet been given a name. As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word "nationalism", but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation -- that is, a single race or a geographical area. It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, against something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.

By "nationalism" I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled "good" or "bad." But secondly -- and this is much more important -- I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By "patriotism" I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseperable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

So long as it is applied merely to the more notorious and identifiable nationalist movements in Germany, Japan, and other countries, all this is obvious enough. Confronted with a phenomenon like Nazism, which we can observe from the outside, nearly all of us would say much the same things about it. But here I must repeat what I said above, that I am only using the word "nationalism" for lack of a better. Nationalism, in the extended sense in which I am using the word, includes such movments and tendencies as Communism, political Catholocism, Zionism, Antisemitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism. It does not necessarily mean loyalty to a government or a country, still less to one's own country, and it is not even strictly necessary that the units in which it deals should actually exist. To name a few obvious examples, Jewry, Islam, Christendom, the Proletariat and the White Race are all of them objects of passionate nationalistic feeling: but their existence can be seriously questioned, and there is no definition of any one of them that would be universally accepted.

It is also worth emphasizing once again that nationalist feeling can be purely negative. There are, for example, Trotskyists who have become simply enemies of the USSR without developing a corresponding loyalty to any other unit. When one grasps the implications of this, the nature of what I mean by nationalism becomes a good deal clearer. A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige. He may be a positive or a negative nationalist -- that is, he may use his mental energy either in boosting or in denigrating -- but at any rate his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations. He sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens seems to him a demonstration that his own side is on the upgrade and some hated rival is on the downgrade. But finally, it is important not to confuse nationalism with mere worship of success. The nationalist does not go on the principle of simply ganging up with the strongest side. On the contrary, having picked his side, he persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him. Nationalism is power-hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also -- since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself -- unshakeably certain of being in the right.

Now that I have given this lengthy definition, I think it will be admitted that the habit of mind I am talking about is widespread among the English intelligentsia, and more widespread there than among the mass of the people. For those who feel deeply about contemporary politics, certain topics have become so infected by considerations of prestige that a genuinely rational approach to them is almost impossible. Out of the hundreds of examples that one might choose, take this question: Which of the three great allies, the USSR, Britain and the USA, has contributed most to the defeat of Germany? In theory, it should be possible to give a reasoned and perhaps even a conclusive answer to this question. In practice, however, the necessary calculations cannot be made, because anyone likely to bother his head about such a question would inevitably see it in terms of competitive prestige. He would therefore start by deciding in favour of Russia, Britain or America as the case might be, and only after this would begin searching for arguments that seemd to support his case. And there are whole strings of kindred questions to which you can only get an honest answer from someone who is indifferent to the whole subject involved, and whose opinion on it is probably worthless in any case. Hence, partly, the remarkable failure in our time of political and military prediction. It is curious to reflect that out of al the "experts" of all the schools, there was not a single one who was able to foresee so likely an event as the Russo-German Pact of 1939. And when news of the Pact broke, the most wildly divergent explanations were of it were given, and predictions were made which were falsified almost immediately, being based in nearly every case not on a study of probabilities but on a desire to make the USSR seem good or bad, strong or weak. Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties. And aesthetic judgements, especially literary judgements, are often corrupted in the same way as political ones. It would be difficult for an Indian Nationalist to enjoy reading Kipling or for a Conservative to see merit in Mayakovsky, and there is always a temptation to claim that any book whose tendency one disagrees with must be a bad book from a literary point of view. People of strongly nationalistic outlook often perform this sleight of hand without being conscious of dishonesty.

In England, if one simply considers the number of people involved, it is probable that the dominant form of nationalism is old-fashioned British jingoism. It is certain that this is still widespread, and much more so than most observers would have believed a dozen years ago. However, in this essay I am concerned chiefly with the reactions of the intelligentsia, among whom jingoism and even patriotism of the old kind are almost dead, though they now seem to be reviving among a minority. Among the intelligentsia, it hardly needs saying that the dominant form of nationalism is Communism -- using this word in a very loose sense, to include not merely Communist Party members, but "fellow travellers" and russophiles generally. A Communist, for my purpose here, is one who looks upon the USSR as his Fatherland and feels it his duty t justify Russian policy and advance Russian interests at all costs. Obviously such people abound in England today, and their direct and indirect influence is very great. But many other forms of nationalism also flourish, and it is by noticing the points of resemblance between different and even seemingly opposed currents of thought that one can best get the matter into perspective.

Ten or twenty years ago, the form of nationalism most closely corresponding to Communism today was political Catholicism. Its most outstanding exponent -- though he was perhaps an extreme case rather than a typical one -- was G.K. Chesterton. Chesterton was a writer of considerable talent who whose to suppress both his sensibilities and his intellectual honesty in the cause of Roman Catholic propaganda. During the last twenty years or so of his life, his entire output was in reality an endless repetition of the same thing, under its laboured cleverness as simple and boring as "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Every book that he wrote, every scrap of dialogue, had to demonstrate beyond the possibility of mistake the superiority of the Catholic over the Protestan or the pagan. But Chesterton was not content to think of this superiority as merely intellectual or spiritual: it had to be translated into terms of national prestige and military power, which entailed an ignorant idealisation of the Latin countries, especially France. Chesterton had not lived long in France, and his picture of it --- as a land of Catholic peasants incessantly singing the Marseillaise over glasses of red wine -- had about as much relation to reality as Chu Chin Chow has to everyday life in Baghdad. And with this went not only an enormous overstimation of French military power (both before and after 1914-18 he maintained that France, by itself, was stronger than Germany), but a silly and vulgar glorification of the actual process of war. Chesterton's battle poems, such as "Lepanto" or "The Ballad of Saint Barbara", make "The Charge of the Light Brigade" read like a pacifist tract: they are perhaps the most tawdry bits of bombast to be found in our language. The interesting thing is that had the romantic rubbish which he habitually wrote about France and the French army been written by somebody else about Britain and the British army, he would have been the first to jeer. In home politics he was a Little Englander, a true hater of jingoism and imperialism, and according to his lights a true friend of democracy. Yet when he looked outwards into the international field, he could forsake his principles without even noticing he was doing so. Thus, his almost mystical belief in the virtues of democracy did not prevent him from admiring Mussolini. Mussolini had destroyed the representative government and the freedom of the press for which Chesterton had struggled so hard at home, but Mussolini was an Italian and had made Italy strong, and that settled the matter. Nor did Chesterton ever find a word to say about imperialsm and the conquest of coloured races when they were practised by Italians or Frenchmen. His hold on reality, his literary taste, and even to some extent his moral sense, were dislocated as soon as his nationalistic loyalties were involved.

Obviously there are considerable resemblances between political Catholicism, as exemplified by Chesterton, and Communism. So there are between either of these and for instance Scottish nationalism, Zionism, Antisemitism or Trotskyism. It would be an oversimplification to say that all forms of nationalism are the same, even in their mental atmosphere, but there are certain rules that hold good in all cases. The following are the principal characteristics of nationalist thought:

OBSESSION. As nearly as possible, no nationalist ever thinks, talks, or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit. It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance. The smallest slur upon his own unit, or any implied praise of a rival organization, fills him with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort. If the chosen unit is an actual country, such as Ireland or India, he will generally claim superiority for it not only in military power and political virtue, but in art, literature, sport, structure of the language, the physical beauty of the inhabitants, and perhaps even in climate, scenery and cooking. He will show great sensitiveness about such things as the correct display of flags, relative size of headlines and the order in which different countries are named. Nomenclature plays a very important part in nationalist thought. Countries which have won their independence or gone through a nationalist revolution usually change their names, and any country or other unit round which strong feelings revolve is likely to have several names, each of them carrying a different implication. The two sides of the Spanish Civil War had between them nine or ten names expressing different degrees of love and hatred. Some of these names (e.g. "Patriots" for Franco-supporters, or "Loyalists" for Government-supporters) were frankly question-begging, and there was no single one of the which the two rival factions could have agreed to use.

INSTABILITY The intensity with which they are held does not prevent nationalist loyalties from being transferable. To begin with, as I have pointed out already, they can be and often are fastened up on some foreign country. One quite commonly finds that great national leaders, or the founders of nationalist movements, do not even belong to the country they have glorified. Sometimes they are outright foreigners, or more often they come from peripheral areas where nationality is doubtful. Examples are Stalin, Hitler, Napoleon, de Valera, Disraeli, Poincare, Beaverbrook. The Pan-German movement was in part the creation of an Englishman, Houston Chamberlain. For the past fifty or a hundred years, transferred nationalism has been a common phenomenon among literary intellectuals. With Lafcadio Hearne the transference was to Japan, with Carlyle and many others of his time to Germany, and in our own age it is usually to Russia. But the peculiarly interesting fact is that re-transference is also possible. A country or other unit which has been worshipped for years may suddenly become detestable, ans some other object of affection may take its place with almost no interval. In the first version of H.G. Wells's Outline of History, and others of his writings about that time, one finds the United States praised almost as extravagantly as Russia is praised by Communists today: yet within a few years this uncritical admiration had turned into hostility. The bgoted Communist who changes in a space of weeks, or even days, into an equally bigoted Trotskyist is a common spectacle. In continental Europe Fascist movements were largely recruited from among Communists, and the opposite process may well happen within the next few years. What remains constant in the nationalist is his state of mind: the object of his feelings is changeable, and may be imaginary.

But for an intellectual, transference has an important function which I have already mentioned shortly in connection with Chesterton. It makes it possible for him to be much more nationalistic -- more vulgar, more silly, more malignant, more dishonest -- that he could ever be on behalf of his native country, or any unit of which he had real knowledge. When one sees the slavish or boastful rubbish that is written about Stalin, the Red Army, etc. by fairly intelligent and sensitive people, one realizes that this is only possible because some kind of dislocation has taken place. In societies such as ours, it is unusual for anyone describable as an intellectual to feel a very deep attachment to his own country. Public opinion -- that is , the section of public opinion of which he as an intellectual is aware -- will not allow him to do so. Most of the people surrounding him are sceptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice: in that case he will have abandoned the form of nationalism that lies nearest to hand without getting any closer to a genuinely internationalist outlook. He still feels the need for a Fatherland, and it is natural to look for one somewhere abroad. Having found it, he can wallow unrestrainedly in exactly those emotions from which he believes that he has emancipated himself. God, the King, the Empire, the Union Jack -- all the overthrown idols can reappear under different names, and because they are not recognized for what they are they can be worshipped with a good conscience. Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining salvation without altering one's conduct.

INDIFFERENCE TO REALITY. All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage -- torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians -- which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by "our" side. The Liberal News Chronicle published, as an example of shocking barbarity, photographs of Russians hanged by the Germans, and then a year or two later published with warm approval almost exactly similar photographs of Germans hanged by the Russians. It is the same with historical events. History is thought of largely in nationalist terms, and such things as the Inquisition, the tortures of the Star Chamber, the exploits of the English buccaneers (Sir Francis Drake, for instance, who was given to sinking Spanish prisoners alive), the Reign of Terror, the heroes of the Mutiny blowing hundreds of Indians from the guns, or Cromwell's soldiers slashing Irishwomen's faces with razors, become morally neutral or even meritorious when it is felt that they were done in the "right" cause. If one looks back over the past quarter of a century, one finds that there was hardly a single year when atrocity stories were not being reported from some part of the world; and yet in not one single case were these atrocities -- in Spain, Russia, China, Hungary, Mexico, Amritsar, Smyrna -- believed in and disapproved of by the English intelligentsia as a whole. Whether such deeds were reprehensible, or even whether they happened, was always decided according to political predilection.

The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness. In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one's own mind.

Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. He spends part of his time in a fantasy world in which things happen as they should -- in which, for example, the Spanish Armada was a success or the Russian Revolution was crushed in 1918 -- and he will transfer fragments of this world to the history books whenever possible. Much of the propagandist writing of our time amounts to plain forgery. Material facts are suppressed, dates altered, quotations removed from their context and doctored so as to change their meaning. Events which it is felt ought not to have happened are left unmentioned and ultimately denied. In 1927 Chiang Kai Shek boiled hundreds of Communists alive, and yet within ten years he had become one of the heroes of the Left. The re-alignment of world politics had brought him into the anti-Fascist camp, and so it was felt that the boiling of the Communists "didn't count", or perhaps had not happened. The primary aim of progaganda is, of course, to influence contemporary opinion, but those who rewrite history do probably believe with part of their minds that they are actually thrusting facts into the past. When one considers the elaborate forgeries that have been committed in order to show that Trotsky did not play a valuable part in the Russian civil war, it is difficult to feel that the people responsible are merely lying. More probably they feel that their own version was what happened in the sight of God, and that one is justified in rearranging the records accordingly.

Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be a genuine doubt about the most enormous events. For example, it is impossible to calculate within millions, perhaps even tens of millions, the number of deaths caused by the present war. The calamities that are constantly being reported -- battles, massacres, famines, revolutions -- tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. What were the rights and wrongs of the Warsaw rising of August 1944? Is it true about the German gas ovens in Poland? Who was really to blame for the Bengal famine? Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in almost any newspaper that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or failing to form an opinion. The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied. Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to feel that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.

I have examined as best as I can the mental habits which are common to all forms of nationalism. The next thing is to classify those forms, but obviously this cannot be done comprehensively. Nationalism is an enormous subject. The world is tormented by innumerable delusions and hatreds which cut across one another in an extremely complex way, and some of the most sinister of them have not yet impinged on the European consciousness. In this essay I am concerned with nationalism as it occurs among the English intelligentsia. In them, much more than in ordinary English people, it is unmixed with patriotism and therefore can be studied pure. Below are listed the varieties of nationalism now flourishing among English intellectuals, with such comments as seem to be needed. It is convenient to use three headings, Positive, Transferred, and Negative, though some varieties will fit into more than one category.

POSITIVE NATIONALISM

1. NEO-TORYISM. Exemplified by such people as Lord Elton, A.P. Herbert, G.M. Young, Professor Pickthorn, by the literature of the Tory Reform Committee, and by such magazines as the New English Review and the Nineteenth Century and After. The real motive force of neo-Toryism, giving it its nationalistic character and differentiating it from ordinary Conservatism, is the desire not to recognize that British power and influence have declined. Even those who are realistic enough to see that Britain's military position is not what it was, tend to claim that "English ideas" (usually left undefined) must dominate the world. All neo-Tories are anti-Russian, but sometimes the main emphasis is anti-American. The significant thing is that this school of thought seems to be gaining ground among youngish intellectuals, sometimes ex-Communists, who have passed throught the usual process of disillusionment and become disillusioned with that. The anglophobe who suddenly becomes violently pro-British is a fairly common figure. Writers who illustrate this tendency are F.A. Voigt, Malcolm Muggeridge, Evelyn Waugh, Hugh Kingsmill, and a psychologically similar development can be observed in T.S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, and various of their followers.

2. CELTIC NATIONALISM. Welsh, Irish and Scottish nationalism have points of difference but are alike in their anti-English orientation. Members of all three movements have opposed the war while continuing to describe themselves as pro-Russian, and the lunatic fringe has even contrived to be simultaneously pro-Russian and pro-Nazi. But Celtic nationalism is not the same thing as anglophobia. Its motive force is a belief in the past and future greatness of the Celtic peoples, and it has a strong tinge of racialism. The Celt is supposed to be spiritually superior to the Saxon -- simpler, more creative, less vulgar, less snobbish, etc. -- but the usual power hunger is there under the surface. One symptom of it is the delusion that Eire, Scotland or even Wales could preserve its independence unaided and owes nothing to British protection. Among writers, good examples of this school of thought are Hugh MacDiarmid and Sean O'Casey. No modern Irish writer, even of the stature of Yeats or Joyce, is completely free from traces of nationalism

3. ZIONISM. This has the unusual characteristics of a nationalist movement, but the American variant of it seems to be more violent and malignant than the British. I classify it under Direct and not Transferred nationalism because it flourishes almost exclusively among the Jews themselves. In England, for several rather incongrous reasons, the intelligentsia are mostly pro-Jew on the Palestine issue, but they do not feel strongly about it. All English people of goodwill are also pro-Jew in the sense of disapproving of Nazi persecution. But any actual nationalistic loyalty, or belief in the innate superiority of Jews, is hardly to be foung among Gentiles.

TRANSFERRED NATIONALISM

1. COMMUNISM

2. POLITICAL CATHOLOCISM

3. COLOUR FEELING. The old-style contemptuous attitude towards "natives" has been much weakened in England, and various pseudo-scientific theories emphasizing the superiority of the white race have been abandoned. Among the intelligentsia, colour feeling only occurs in the transposed form, that is, as a belief in the innate superiority of the coloured races. This is now increasingly common among English intellectuals, probably resulting more often from masochism and sexual frustration than from contact with the Oriental and Negro nationalist movements. Even among those who do not feel strongly on the colour question, snobbery and imitation have a powerful influence. Almost any English intellectual would be scandalized by the claim that the white races are superior to the coloured, whereas the opposite claim would seem to him unexceptionable even if he disagreed with it. Nationalistic attachment to the coloured races is usually mixed up with the belief that their sex lives are superior, and there is a large underground mythology about the sexual prowess of Negroes.

4. CLASS FEELING. Among upper-class and middle-class intellectuals, only in the transposed form -- i.e. as a belief in the superiority of the proletariat. Here again, inside the intelligentsia, the pressure of public opinion is overwhelming. Nationalistic loyalty towards the proletariat, and most vicious theoretical hatred of the bourgeoise, can and often do co-exist with ordinary snobbishness in everyday life.

5. PACIFISM The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defense of western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. It is not claimed, again, that the Indians should abjure violence in their struggle against the British. Pacifist literature abounds with equivocal remarks which, if they mean anything, appear to mean that statesmen of the type of Hitler are preferable to those of the type of Churchill, and that violence is perhaps excusable if it is violent enough. After the fall of France, the French pacifists, faced by a real choice which their English colleagues have not had to make, mostly went over to the Nazis, and in England there appears to have been some small overlap of membership between the Peace Pledge Union and the Blackshirts. Pacifist writers have written in praise of Carlyle, one of the intellectual fathers of Fascism. All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty. The mistake was made of pinning this emotion to Hitler, but it could easily be retransfered.

NEGATIVE NATIONALISM

1. ANGLOPHOBIA. Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell ore when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, e.g. el Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain. English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help getting a certain kick out of seeing their own country humiliated, and wanted to feel that the final victory would be due to Russia, or perhaps America, and not to Britain. In foreign politics many intellectuals follow the principle that any faction backed by Britain must be in the wrong. As a result, "enlightened" opinion is quite largely a mirror-image of Conservative policy. Anglophobia is always liable to reversal, hence that fairly common spectacle, the pacifist of one war who is a bellicist in the next.

2. ANTISEMITISM There is little evidence about this at present, because the Nazi persecutions have made it necessary for any thinking person to side with the Jews against their oppressors. Anyone educated enough to have heard the word "antisemitism" claims as a matter of course to be free of it, and anti-Jewish remarks are carefully eliminated from all classes of literature. Actually antisemitism appears to be widespread, even among intellectuals, and the general conspiracy of silence probably helps exacerbate it. People of Left opinions are not immune to it, and their attitude is sometimes affected by the fact that Trotskyists and Anarchists tend to be Jews. But antisemitism comes more naturally to people of Conservative tendency, who suspect Jews of weakening national morale and diluting the national culture. Neo-Tories and political Catholics are always liable to succumb to antisemitism, at least intermittently.

3. TROTSKYISM This word is used so loosely as to include Anarchists, democratic Socialists and even Liberals. I use it here to mean a doctrinaire Marxist whose main motive is hostility to the Stalin regime. Trotskyism can be better studied in obscure pamphlets or in papers like the Socialist Appeal than in the works of Trotsky himself, who was by no means a man of one idea. Although in some places, for instance in the United States, Trotskyism is able to attract a fairly large number of adherents and develop into an organized movement with a petty fuerher of its own, its inspiration is essentially negative. The Trotskyist is against Stalin just as the Communist is for him, and, like the majority of Communists, he wants not so much to alter the external world as to feel that the battle for prestige is going in his own favour. In each case there is the same obsessive fixation on a single subject, the same inability to form a genuinely rational opinion based on probabilities. The fact that Trotskyists are everywhere a persecuted minority, and that the accusation usually made against them, i.e. of collaborating with the Fascists, is obviously false, creates an impression that Trotskyism is intellectually and morally superior to Communism; but it is doubtful whether there is much difference. The most typical Trotskyists, in any case, are ex-Communists, and no one arrives at Trotskyism except via one of the left-wing movements. No Communist, unless tethered to his party by years of habit, is secure against a sudden lapse into Trotskyism. The opposite process does not seem to happen equally often, though there is no clear reason why it should not.

In the classification I have attempted above, it will seem that I have often exaggerated, oversimplified, made unwarranted assumptions and have left out of account the existence of ordinarily decent motives. This was inevitable, because in this essay I am trying to isolate and identify tendencies which exist in all our minds and pervert our thinking, without necessarily occurring in a pure state or operating continuously. It is important at this point to correct the over-simplified picture which I have been obliged to make. To begin with, one has no right to assume that everyone, or even every intellectual, is infected by nationalism. Secondly, nationalism can be intermittent and limited. An intelligent man may half-succumb to a belief which he knows to be absurd, and he may keep it out of his mind for long periods, only reverting to it in moments of anger or sentimentality, or when he is certain that no important issues are involved. Thirdly, a nationalistic creed may be adopted in good faith from non-nationalistic motives. Fourthly, several kinds of nationalism, even kinds that cancel out, can co-exist in the same person.

All the way through I have said, "the nationalist does this" or "the nationalist does that", using for purposes of illustration the extreme, barely sane type of nationalist who has no neutral areas in his mind and no interest in anything except the struggle for power. Actually such people are fairly common, but they are not worth the powder and shot. In real life Lord Elton, D.N. Pritt, Lady Houston, Ezra Pound, Lord Vanisttart, Father Coughlin and all the rest of their dreary tribe have to be fought against, but their intellectual deficiencies hardly need pointing out. Monomania is not interesting, and the fact that no nationalist of the more bigoted kind can write a book which still seems worth reading after a lapse of years has a certain deodorizing effect. But when one has admitted that nationalism has not triumphed everywhere, that there are still peoples whose judgements are not at the mercy of their desires, the fact does remain that the pressing problems -- India, Poland, Palestine, the Spanish civil war, the Moscow trials, the American Negroes, the Russo-German Pact or what have you -- cannot be, or at least never are, discussed upon a reasonable level. The Eltons and Pritts and Coughlins, each of them simply an enormous mouth bellowing the same lie over and over again, are obviously extreme cases, but we deceive ourselves if we do not realize that we can all resemble them in unguarded moments. Let a certain note be struck, let this or that corn be trodden on -- and it may be corn whose very existence has been unsuspected hitherto -- and the most fair-minded and sweet-tempered person may suddenly be transformed into a vicious partisan, anxious only to "score" over his adversary and indifferent as to how many lies he tells or how many logical errors he commits in doing so. When Lloyd George, who was an opponent of the Boer War, announced in the House of Commons that the British communiques, if one added them together, claimed the killing of more Boers than the whole Boer nation contained, it is recorded that Arthur Balfour rose to his feet and shouted "Cad!" Very few people are proof against lapses of this type. The Negro snubbed by a white woman, the Englishman who hears England ignorantly criticized by an American, the Catholic apologist reminded of the Spanish Armada, will all react in much the same way. One prod to the nerve of nationalism, and the intellectual decencies can vanish, the past can be altered, and the plainest facts can be denied.

If one harbours anywhere in one's mind a nationalistic loyalty or hatred, certain facts, although in a sense known to be true, are inadmissible. Here are just a few examples. I list below five types of nationalist, and against each I append a fact which it is impossible for that type of nationalist to accept, even in his secret thoughts:

BRITISH TORY: Britian will come out of this war with reduced power and prestige.
COMMUNIST. If she had not been aided by Britain and America, Russia would have been defeated by Germany.
IRISH NATIONALIST. Eire can only remain independent because of British protection.
TROTSKYIST. The Stalin regime is accepted by the Russian masses.
PACIFIST. Those who "abjure" violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.
All of these facts are grossly obvious if one's emotions do not happen to be involved: but to the kind of person named in each case they are also intolerable, and so they have to be denied, and false theories constructed upon their denial. I come back to the astonishing failure of military prediction in the present war. It is, I think, true to say that the intelligentsia have been more wrong about the progress of the war than the common people, and that they were more swayed by partisan feelings. The average intellectual of the Left believed, for instance, that the war was lost in 1940, that the Germans were bound to overrun Egypt in 1942, that the Japanese would never be driven out of the lands they had conquered, and that the Anglo-American bombing offensive was making no impression on Germany. He could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool. When Hitler invaded Russia, the officials of the MOI issued "as background" a warning that Russia might be expected to collapse in six weeks. On the other hand the Communists regarded every phase of the war as a Russian victory, even when the Russians were driven back almost to the Caspian Sea and had lost several million prisoners. There is no need to multiply instances. The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also. There is no crime, absolutely none, that cannot be condoned when "our" side commits it. Even if one does not deny that the crime has happened, even if one knows that it is exactly the same crime as one has condemned in some other case, even if one admits in an intellectual sense that it is unjustified -- still one cannot feel that it is wrong. Loyalty is involved, and so pity ceases to function.

The reason for the rise and spread of nationalism is far too big a question to be raised here. It is enough to say that, in the forms in which it appears among English intellectuals, it is a distorted reflection of the frightful battles actually happening in the external world, and that its worst follies have been made possible by the breakdown of patriotism and religious belief. If one follows up this train of thought, one is in danger of being led into a species of Conservatism, or into political quietism. It can be plausibly argued, for instance -- it is even possibly true -- that patriotism is an inocculation against nationalism, that monarchy is a guard against dictatorship, and that organized religion is a guard against superstition. Or again, it can be argued that no unbiased outlook is possible, that all creeds and causes involve the same lies, follies, and barbarities; and this is often advanced as a reason for keeping out of politics altogether. I do not accept this argument, if only because in the modern world no one describable as an intellectual can keep out of politics in the sense of not caring about them. I think one must engage in politics -- using the word in a wide sense -- and that one must have preferences: that is, one must recognize that some causes are objectively better than others, even if they are advanced by equally bad means. As for the nationalistic loves and hatreds that I have spoken of, they are part of the make-up of most of us, whether we like it or not. Whether it is possible to get rid of them I do not know, but I do believe that it is possible to struggle against them, and that this is essentially a moral effort. It is a question first of all of discovering what one really is, what one's own feelings really are, and then of making allowance for the inevitable bias. If you hate and fear Russia, if you are jealous of the wealth and power of America, if you despise Jews, if you have a sentiment of inferiority towards the British ruling class, you cannot get rid of those feelings simply by taking thought. But you can at least recognize that you have them, and prevent them from contaminating your mental processes. The emotional urges which are inescapable, and are perhaps even necessary to political action, should be able to exist side by side with an acceptance of reality. But this, I repeat, needs a moral effort, and contemporary English literature, so far as it is alive at all to the major issues of our time, shows how few of us are prepared to make it.


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1 posted on 10/29/2001 6:27:39 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: *Paleo_list; *libertarians; *History_list; OWK; Anthem; Publius; diotima; Aristophanes...
.
2 posted on 10/29/2001 6:33:07 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: A.J.Armitage
Will anyone actually read all this? Come on, now. Really?
3 posted on 10/29/2001 6:36:15 PM PST by gcruse
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: A.J.Armitage
He defines nationalism and patriotism well, but then he throws in that nasty little word, 'jingoism'. What the *^%^@%!#(&^)(&(_&*&%@%!!! blazes is that word??? People throw that around like its worse than Nazism, a seeming reaction to someone who boasts of the accomplishments and virtues of their country, a reaction that is one of revulsion and dismay and shock.

I hate that word!! Its thrown into every conversation of patriotism for the last 30 years...and its usually mouthed by someone of European/UK origin.

5 posted on 10/29/2001 6:41:46 PM PST by Alkhin
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To: gcruse
I hope so. It's worth reading. There are people who read my classical threads, so I don't see why not.

I guess you could say the more serious posters will go to the trouble of reading long, but important, articles. Others might not.

6 posted on 10/29/2001 6:46:11 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: Alkhin
I think "old-fashioned British jingoism" expresses the meaning he had in mind pretty well. It's no more perjorative than the other forms he discusses.
7 posted on 10/29/2001 6:50:52 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: A.J.Armitage
Bump
8 posted on 10/29/2001 7:03:08 PM PST by AndrewSshi
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To: AndrewSshi
And a bump back to you.
9 posted on 10/29/2001 7:03:57 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: A.J.Armitage
Okay, but the definition of jingoism is someone who professes their patriotism loudly and excessively...and I think it is that concept that bothers me, because this definition smacks of thought policing...I mean, someone could be simply saying they love being British, and while anyone else would take that as a natural view of someone born and raised in the UK, another whose sensitivities are slighted by this mere expression would call it excessively braggadocious.

all too often I have run across non-Americans who not only bristle, but bloviate over the fact that I expressed pride in the country of my birth and gave specific reasons why...and I think jingoism is a slam towards those who have the audacity to express that pride. As someone who is proud of her own country, I would not find fault in say, someone from Madagascar expressing great love for that African island. Why would I consider it an insult to hear him brag of it?

The only time *I* would get offended is if they started putting down America without ever having experienced the country. How could I put down Madagascar without having ever been there???

On the same note, I have heard one or two British slam America...that's to be expected considering our historical relationship. But since I am well educated in both my own history and that of Great Britain, the insults and slams do not affect me...because I happen to have such a high opinion of America...and I believe I have the better deal.

I really hate the word 'jingoism.' Nothing more than New Speak for the 1984 era.

10 posted on 10/29/2001 7:06:09 PM PST by Alkhin
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To: A.J.Armitage
Some day I may actually read this. I don't know what to make of Orwell. He was right about Communism, but as Communism has receded his relevancy has waned. Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" seems to have been a better guide to the future than Orwell's 1984. Orwell offends both right and left -- and often goes out of his way to offend one or the other or both. The question is whether that is a strength or a weakness. Once it seemed an unquestionable strength, and perhaps it will again some day. During the post-Cold War period it looked more like posturing and an annoyance than anything else.

Orwell's distinction between patriotism and nationalism is valid. The nationalist often doesn't have much love for his actual country. But this was a distinction that Orwell had to work out for himself. For many of those who came afterwards this distinction has been just be a way of making an easy condemnation of those one disagrees with -- more armament for political argument than something to really reflect upon.

I enclose more "Notes on Nationalism" that someone posted on the Internet.

THE SEVEN RULES OF NATIONALISM.

1. If an area was ours for 500 years and yours for 50 years, it should belong to us -- you are merely occupiers.

2. If an area was yours for 500 years and ours for 50 years, it should belong to us -- borders must not be changed.

3. If an area belonged to us 500 years ago but never since then, it should belong to us -- it is the Cradle of our Nation.

4. If a majority of our people live there, it must belong to us -- they must enjoy the right of self-determination.

5. If a minority of our people live there, it must belong to us -- they must be protected against your oppression.

6. All the above rules apply to us but not to you.

7. Our dream of greatness is Historical Necessity, yours is Fascism.

11 posted on 10/29/2001 7:06:31 PM PST by x
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To: gcruse
Will anyone actually read all this? Come on, now. Really?

I did. Excellent article. Amazing how the pro and anti Israeli, pro-Southern (there are few true pro-Northerners), and pro and anti Catholic groups here on FR (among others) illustrate his points perfectly. All rationality disappear when "their side" is viewed as under attack.

I have seen numerous people, who one presumes are normally decent human beings, call for the slaughter of more than a billion humans for having the nerve to be of the same faith as that claimed by the killers of 9/11.

12 posted on 10/29/2001 7:14:25 PM PST by Restorer
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To: A.J.Armitage
"The interesting thing is that had the romantic rubbish which he habitually wrote about France and the French army . . ."

I just skimmed this briefly, but will print, read, and comment tomorrow (time and mid-terms permitting). I found the above passage curious. Is he confusing Chesterton with Belloc? I know the latter actually served a hitch in the French army -- artillery, if I am not mistaken.

13 posted on 10/29/2001 7:18:07 PM PST by Goetz_von_Berlichingen
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: x
I like your Rules of Nationalism. Amazing how well they apply to most of the territorial problems in the world, notably to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
15 posted on 10/29/2001 7:18:22 PM PST by Restorer
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To: Agrarian
Yes, ma'am.
17 posted on 10/29/2001 7:22:37 PM PST by gcruse
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To: Alkhin
You make some good points, but I think Orwell had a slightly different meaning in mind. After all, the British still had the empire, so the contents of boasts about Britain at that time and earlier would often have had a distinctly(and unpleasantly) militaristic bent. Think Victorian neocons. I think the perjorative use of "jingoism" for all patriotism is meant to blur the distinction between regular love of country and less worthy emotions.
20 posted on 10/29/2001 7:40:41 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: x
I don't know what to make of Orwell. He was right about Communism, but as Communism has receded his relevancy has waned.

I've been reading more of his stuff lately. Maybe he'll come back into fashion.

Orwell's distinction between patriotism and nationalism is valid. The nationalist often doesn't have much love for his actual country. But this was a distinction that Orwell had to work out for himself. For many of those who came afterwards this distinction has been just be a way of making an easy condemnation of those one disagrees with -- more armament for political argument than something to really reflect upon.

That happens to a lot of interesting thought.

22 posted on 10/29/2001 7:47:03 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: Alkhin
The context of the coining of jingoism was British foreign policy of the late 1870s: the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, favored sending in gunboats to halt the advance of the Russian fleet out of their own waters into the Mediterranean; this gave rise to a music-hall song, written in 1878 by G.W. Hunt, the refrain of which went: "We don't want to fight, yet by Jingo! if we do, We've got the ships, we've got the men, and got the money too"; opponents of the policy picked up on the word jingo and used it as an icon of blind patriotism
24 posted on 10/29/2001 7:49:12 PM PST by Eagle74
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To: Restorer
I like your Rules of Nationalism. Amazing how well they apply to most of the territorial problems in the world, notably to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

I think the first two were written with that conflict in mind.

25 posted on 10/29/2001 7:50:54 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: A.J.Armitage
Orwell was writing at a time when strong and violent nationalist passions were still alive. Today, we'd probably talk more about "ideology" than about "nationalism," but some of the basic thought patterns Orwell found are alive today as restorer remarks, and they show up on some of the debates we've seen right here.

As an example of Orwell's annoying quality -- how much does Chesterton really have in common with Communism? Maybe our reaction is influenced by the fact that we don't take Chesterton wholly at his word (and maybe Orwell does mean Belloc, rather than Chesterton), but still it does look like an outrageous comparison from where we sit today.

Also, Orwell's distinction between patriotism and nationalism captures something real, but also distorts or at least shapes reality to suit Orwell. By definition, in his view, the nationalist seeks power and wishes to impose his way on others. By definition, if you are not obsessive, unstable, and indifferent to reality you are not a nationalist. But this imposition of one's own categories can do violence to reality. What to make of Madison, Hamilton, Marshall, or Monroe, who were all nationalists to varying degrees and in ways, but who didn't have all these characteristics? One could say they were patriots, but that doesn't quite get at one side of their active life, which "nationalist" does. Perhaps what Orwell is talking about is frustrated nationalism, which feels its wounds intensely, rather than a healthier form, which doesn't focus on wounds and victimization and doesn't have to prove itself.

26 posted on 10/29/2001 7:56:34 PM PST by x
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To: Agrarian
The perfect illustration of jingoism was Jonah Goldburg's idea that we should conquer Africa. It can't really be called patriotic because it would do the United States no good whatsoever. That fact, if I recall correctly, was actually a selling point. It was supposed to be more moral or something if we didn't have a selfish interest. Ayn Rand might have something to say about that, but in any event we'd be screwed now if we'd taken his advice to ship large portions of the military off to Africa.
27 posted on 10/29/2001 8:02:54 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: Agrarian
Thanks.
28 posted on 10/29/2001 8:05:19 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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Comment #29 Removed by Moderator

To: A.J.Armitage
The perfect illustration of jingoism was Jonah Goldburg's idea that we should conquer Africa. It can't really be called patriotic because it would do the United States no good whatsoever.

I don't think there was anything jingoistic about this proposal at all. It was to be undertaken not in a mood of nationalistic exaltation, to show the world what a wonderful country the US is, but rather as a dirty job that needed doing to prevent avoidable human suffering.

I don't agree with Jonah about the advisability of such action. Frankly, I suspect he proposed it primarily to stimulate wholesome debate about what could be done about the deterioration of Africa, which is an undeniable fact. It was quite successful in this regard. (Not that anybody has noticed Africa since September.)

I believe that one long-term result of the present war will be some form of (disguised) recolonisation of much of the third world.

30 posted on 10/29/2001 8:13:14 PM PST by Restorer
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To: x
Also, Orwell's distinction between patriotism and nationalism captures something real, but also distorts or at least shapes reality to suit Orwell. By definition, in his view, the nationalist seeks power and wishes to impose his way on others. By definition, if you are not obsessive, unstable, and indifferent to reality you are not a nationalist. But this imposition of one's own categories can do violence to reality. What to make of Madison, Hamilton, Marshall, or Monroe, who were all nationalists to varying degrees and in ways, but who didn't have all these characteristics? One could say they were patriots, but that doesn't quite get at one side of their active life, which "nationalist" does. Perhaps what Orwell is talking about is frustrated nationalism, which feels its wounds intensely, rather than a healthier form, which doesn't focus on wounds and victimization and doesn't have to prove itself.

I think he takes that criticism into account somewhat when he said that nationalism doesn't exist in a pure form, but in degrees(although sometimes in very large degrees) and often intermitantly. If I can answer you on the Founding Fathers the way Orwell might have, it operated on them only at times, and in relatively small amounts, as a tendency within their overall patriotism. The effect was to push them against compromise at key moments.

31 posted on 10/29/2001 8:22:26 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: A.J.Armitage
Looks like a very good read, book marking for later.
32 posted on 10/29/2001 8:25:57 PM PST by WolfsView
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Comment #33 Removed by Moderator

To: A.J.Armitage; gcruse; x
Thanks for the Orwell moment!

Come, come, gcruse; this is hardly a tome.

And x, smack yourself! Orwell is not less relevant since the collapse of the Soviets. His insights perfectly describe the political situation of all modern 'war-states', including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and the rest. ;^)

34 posted on 10/29/2001 8:33:16 PM PST by headsonpikes
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To: A.J.Armitage
As always thanks A.J. I posted an excerpt from this piece referring to pacifism recently. I'm glad to see the whole thing posted here.
35 posted on 10/29/2001 8:40:13 PM PST by nunya bidness
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BTW, what does longeur mean?
36 posted on 10/29/2001 8:43:49 PM PST by A.J.Armitage
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To: A.J.Armitage
Great when I first read it, and great today. Thanks.
37 posted on 10/29/2001 8:45:47 PM PST by Mortimer Snavely
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To: A.J.Armitage
^^^^-
38 posted on 10/29/2001 9:38:52 PM PST by prognostigaator
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To: A.J.Armitage
Thanks for the bump! Looks like some things haven't changed:

Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defense of western countries.

For a contemporary variation on the same theme, see:

Anti-American Anthems: Singing Songs of Solidarity -- for the Enemy

39 posted on 10/29/2001 9:43:01 PM PST by mrustow
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To: A.J.Armitage
It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance.

Is this supposed to be a bad point? Open allegiances are necessary for an open society.

Chesterton's battle poems, such as "Lepanto" or "The Ballad of Saint Barbara", make "The Charge of the Light Brigade" read like a pacifist tract: they are perhaps the most tawdry bits of bombast to be found in our language.

Readers, judge for yourself: Lepanto makes an appearance on this thread

Thus, his almost mystical belief in the virtues of democracy did not prevent him from admiring Mussolini. Mussolini had destroyed the representative government and the freedom of the press for which Chesterton had struggled so hard at home, but Mussolini was an Italian and had made Italy strong, and that settled the matter. Nor did Chesterton ever find a word to say about imperialsm and the conquest of coloured races when they were practised by Italians or Frenchmen. His hold on reality, his literary taste, and even to some extent his moral sense, were dislocated as soon as his nationalistic loyalties were involved.

This is simply false.

When I went to Italy I had one dark suspicion in my mind, which prejudiced me against Mussolini and his government. It was not the statement that he was reactionary or militaristic, for I knew that such terms may mean anything and generally mean nothing. It was not the fact that journalism is not free in Italy; for, being a journalist myself, I am of course aware that it is not free in England. Naturally it was not, in my case, the fact that Mussolini has declined to act in the accepted and normal capacity of a Free Thinker; which is persecuting all those who think that Catholicism is true...

Before attempting, even in the vaguest way, a description of fascism which may be mistaken for a defence of fascism, I think it well to state that I doubt whether in the actual original Italian conflict I should have been for the Fascists. The party I should naturally have chosen is that called the Popular Party, which was specially the party of the Catholic Democrats. I have heard criticisms of it from reasonable critics; and I am exceedingly proud of the fact that the Catholic Democrats are chiefly criticized for having been too democratic...

When people try to thrust mere internationalism down the throat of Catholic nations, there is always a violent national reaction; so there was when English Socialists tried to do it during the Dublin Strike, so there will always be when cosmopolitan diplomacy tries to disarm the eternal vigilance of Poland. For Catholics know in their bones that men are citizens of a city, and not merely of a cosmos; and that the hearth is sacred as well as the altar. Anyhow, that is the only doubt I should myself have had about the original Catholic Popular Party; I should have had many more doubts about the Fascists; and I have a good many doubts still...

I know too little about the facts to bear witness to them. I know too much about the modern newspapers to accept them as complete witnesses. It seems fairly certain that the [fascist] revolution, like most revolutions, was stained by many infamous crimes and indefensible acts of violence; though they were not all on one side. But as I have passed much of my life in trying to persuade my fellow-countrymen that their fortunate immunity from revolution is rather an accident for which to be thankful than a virtue of which to boast, I am bound to say the same of the Fascist Revolution as I have always said of the French Revolution or the Irish Revolution. I can hardly in honesty play the Pharisee over Mussolini when I refused to do it over Michael Collins; and it is just as easy, and in one sense quite as just to call Michael Collins a murderer as to call Mussolini a murderer. The fact is that they both did a number of things that nobody would think of defending except on the ultimate theory of national self-defence; that is, the theory that society was in dissolution and the fatherland at the point of death. That the readers of the Morning Post would denounce the Fenians and excuse the Fascists, while the readers of the Daily News would denounce the fascists and excuse the Fenians, does not concern me. But since I have so often protested against this English self-righteousness about foreign violence, since I have so often suggested that Danton was not a gory baboon because he made the Terror or used the guillotine, that Irish rebels were not dirty assassins because they conducted a guerilla war, in the only way in which it can be conducted, against a much more powerful army--I do not propose to treat the Fascists as fiends, merely because their rebellion was as nasty as rebellions always are.
All that concerns my argument is that there certainly is a New Italy as there certainly is a New Ireland. I do not approve of all the things that were done for the resurrection of Ireland; and I think it exceedingly improbable should I approve of all the things that were done for the resurrection of Italy. But I have no personal information about the details of those things; the development of my own thesis did not bring me in contact with them; and as I cannot give a personal verdict of my own, I will not repeat all the partisan verdicts of other people.

...In short I resent British superiority to foreign fury; because it always assumes that the British have gained placidly all that the foreigners would gain furiously. In truth, it is not that English conditions are not so infuriating, but only that English people are not so infuriated. There is a great deal of good in their attitude; but there is good also in the other. And nobody can begin to understand Fascism, who does not know that it was not so much a revolt against the Communism prevailing in Russia as against the Cosntitutionalism prevailing in England.

Orwell apparently dislikes Chesterton because he tried to see some good in every system, rather than systematically chucking the actions of whole peoples. Moreover, Chesterton was a localist, who thought that one should no more force democracy upon a people than force coercive education upon them. I get the feeling from Blair that this should not always be so.

Obviously there are considerable resemblances between political Catholicism, as exemplified by Chesterton, and Communism.

Ironically, Chesterton addressed this very point:

I remember especially the views of an Italian friend of mine, who is a moderate and critical supporter of Fascism, and who certainly would not dislike the Popular Party[Catholic Democrats] merely for being popular; or for sympathizing with the populace. He used the strong expression that the Popular Party was merely Bolshevism dressed in white instead of red; that is, Communism masquerading as Catholicism. It may be very perverse of me; bu tI heard this also with a deep feeling of pride; of pride in the party that I never had the chance to belong to. If the charge was false, it was only another of the endless contradictory charges with which Catholics are pelted whatever they may do; called slaves if they are loyal to a king, or rioters if they are compassionate to a multitude. If the charge was true, it was at least enough to refute and flatten out a good many other charges. When we next hear the Roman Catholic religion called the opium of the people, or charged with keeping the poorer classes in subjection by the hypnotism of superstition, we shall not forget that in the terrible hour of trial and division priests were blamed for going only too far in their denunciation of capitalism; and were blamable, if they were blamable, for yielding only too much to their indignation at the oppression of the poor. If this was indeed the excess by which the Popular Party failed, it was assuredly a most glorious and Christian failure; the sort of Christian failure which can generally in the long run be counted as a Christian triumph. For the time, it has failed; and many without sympathy with it seem resigned, on arguable grounds, to its failure. But let it always be remembered that it was not put down by ecclesiastical authority, as so many would eagerly anticipate; it was put down by secular, scientific, highly modern and rational authority; not by the Church but specially and specifically by the State.

Most of the people surrounding him are sceptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice: in that case he will have abandoned the form of nationalism that lies nearest to hand without getting any closer to a genuinely internationalist outlook. He still feels the need for a Fatherland, and it is natural to look for one somewhere abroad. Having found it, he can wallow unrestrainedly in exactly those emotions from which he believes that he has emancipated himself.

Here is my problem: why precisely is Orwell speaking of internationalism as though it were the "good view"? He defines patriotism as "devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people." So our local devotions are in no way to be infused into local law, lest we "force" our views on others? This is simply repeating that "cosmopolitain diplomacy" of English Labour gentlemen and American Liberals, and it is that internationalist democracy which motivates, for instance, our bombings in Yugoslavia or our forays in Somalia, or the UN's lobbying for "liberal" abortion laws. Not exactly "defensive," is it? Despite his disavowal of ComIntern, I fear Orwell would allow a castrated sort of localism only within the context of a worldwide government, thus destroying any possibility of Federalist republicanism. Has he written any "Notes on Internationalism"?

[quotes are from GKC's "The Resurrection of Rome" in his Collected Works vol. XXI]

40 posted on 10/30/2001 12:30:20 AM PST by Dumb_Ox
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To: Restorer
Amazing how the pro and anti Israeli, pro-Southern (there are few true pro-Northerners), and pro and anti Catholic groups here on FR (among others) illustrate his points perfectly. All rationality disappear when "their side" is viewed as under attack.

Though rationality certainly disappears among some people when their tribe is under attack, I fear this is being used as an excuse for shirking any form of loyalty whatsoever. Orwell's definition of patriotism is too brief, and seems to me a toothless one; it can't accept anything more than the most transient loyalty. A man without such loyalties is quite fit for a journalistic trade, but I fear such a man is not rooted enough to be of great use. He is like a homeless fellow who, after dispensing some wisdom here and there, will not accept an invitation to shelter for fear he'll be compromised, and so his few insights are left in abject vagrancy.

41 posted on 10/30/2001 12:47:45 AM PST by Dumb_Ox
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To: A.J.Armitage
Excellent article. Thanks for the bump.
42 posted on 10/30/2001 2:31:34 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: A.J.Armitage; Restorer
Thanks for the heads up, A.J.! I made it half way through this morning. Will print it out and read the rest sometime today.

I was thinking much the same as Restorer--but with the extension that Democrats and even Republicans have a core of this nationalism. Or am I stating the obvious here?

Are all political parties basically nationalistic at the heart?
I may sound stupid, but a good way to learn is to ask.

43 posted on 10/30/2001 4:38:35 AM PST by SusanUSA
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To: Dumb_Ox
You make good points. I guess the answer, as in so many aspects of life, is balance. At the point an attack (a genuine attack, not just criticism) of your team is underway, I can certainly understand a reluctance to be even-handed.

But those who cannot ever admit the shortcomings of their own side are doomed to have their opinion become irrelevant to any thinking person.

I had an extended discussion a couple of weeks ago on FR with a Catholic who was essentially unable to admit that anything evil had ever been done in the name of Catholicism by ardent Catholics. I finally asked him/her why the Pope seemed to have no such difficulty and received no reply.

There is only one Man, I believe, who has been without fault. The rest of us shouldn't get overly defensive when accused of wrongdoing.

We should, however, focus on the net record of an organization or individual. Another friend of mine is a Socialist (really!) and he assigns blame to America for essentially every negative trend in recent world history. America ain't perfect, but it has probably a better record of doing good than any other powerful government has ever had. (It isn't difficult for Switzerland to avoid conflict with others.)

44 posted on 10/30/2001 5:43:43 AM PST by Restorer
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To: A.J.Armitage
bump for later reading
45 posted on 10/30/2001 5:46:16 AM PST by Equality 7-2521
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To: susangirl
I think all political parties are esentially nationalistic in Orwell's use of the word. Some are obviiously far more so than others. Those who are utterly even-handed and are able to see all sides of an issue seldom get much done. They are excellent at criticism, but probably not very effective.

A subset of "paralysis by analysis."

The True Believers and the Over Analyzers are both needed by a free society.

46 posted on 10/30/2001 5:52:00 AM PST by Restorer
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To: A.J.Armitage
Jonah Goldburg's idea that we should conquer Africa.

Ha. I was just about to comment that the sorry state of the British intelligentsia in late 40's, described by Orwell, is directly responsible for their willful and outright criminal abandonment of the British Empire. We may end up recolonizing the Third World just to pick up the mess that Orwell's masochistic nationalists had left.

Ayn Rand might have something to say about that

An invasion of a nation that has no representative government is just: Defense of Liberty: Just Intervention

47 posted on 10/30/2001 6:27:12 AM PST by annalex
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To: A.J.Armitage
An interesting find. Thank you so much for posting it.

I like the civil self mockery in the first sentence--for surely the English word for longeuris analysis?

I was rather rivetted by the length of time he spent analysing (not always accurately) Chesterton's "nationalism" given the breadth of the subject he was covering. Something was stalking Orwell there, I think; something that he was trying to beat back with a garlic-dipped pen.

There's an overall quaintness about the article. A not-nice quaintness. In his fiction Orwell always escapes time and place--but not here. The dreary fact is that his intellectual and emotional ilk have run the show in England and America for the past 60 years--and what has it come to? What, perhaps, was it inevitable that it would come to?--

Domestically: A permament "inquisition" against naughty forms of nationalism from kindergarten through the glass ceiling. And in foreign affairs--that grotesque parody of the reason and probity prescibed by Orwell known as "humanitarian bombing" and "non-violent" economic sanctions.

Thank you again for an untimely, timely article.

48 posted on 10/30/2001 6:50:25 AM PST by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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To: A.J.Armitage
Fascinating post and insightful discussion.
Thanks for posting.
49 posted on 10/30/2001 8:03:39 AM PST by Marianne
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To: Dumb_Ox
Is this supposed to be a bad point? Open allegiances are necessary for an open society.

But does allegence only mean being nationalist?

Readers, judge for yourself: Lepanto makes an appearance on this thread

From what I read of it, Orwell looks like he was right.

On Chesterton: I think perhaps Orwell got close to home with that one for some people here. By comparing political Catholicism with Communism, he wasn't talking about how the two would actually rule, but the effects on the thought of British intellectuals at the time of his writing and earlier. It was on that point only, the nationalist loyalty transposed to a "unit" outside of England, and the use of thought as just a means to score points for that unit.

Here is my problem: why precisely is Orwell speaking of internationalism as though it were the "good view"? He defines patriotism as "devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people." So our local devotions are in no way to be infused into local law, lest we "force" our views on others? This is simply repeating that "cosmopolitain diplomacy" of English Labour gentlemen and American Liberals, and it is that internationalist democracy which motivates, for instance, our bombings in Yugoslavia or our forays in Somalia, or the UN's lobbying for "liberal" abortion laws. Not exactly "defensive," is it? Despite his disavowal of ComIntern, I fear Orwell would allow a castrated sort of localism only within the context of a worldwide government, thus destroying any possibility of Federalist republicanism. Has he written any "Notes on Internationalism"?

He's not, really, just noting that they don't have that view, if indeed such a view is possible. He talks about the "need for a Fatherland", so maybe he doesn't think it is possible. In spite of your jump to the conclusion that rejecting group membership as the big, or only, issue means world government, the more fanatical supporters of globalism fit into his analysis nicely. They also illustrate that the object of loyalty doesn't have to exist in the real world.

50 posted on 10/30/2001 8:56:06 AM PST by A.J.Armitage
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