Saturday, October 26, 2019



G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), "The Patriotic Idea," § II, in Lucian Oldershaw, ed., England, a Nation: Being the Papers of the Patriots' Club (London: R. Brimley Johnson, 1904), pp. 1-43 (at 15-16):
What I am concerned to point out at the moment is the more or less self-evident fact that this Imperial idea or plan for the consolidation and identification of an increasing number of different commonwealths cannot seriously be called patriotism according to any sense that that word has ever actually had among men. If patriotism does not mean a defined and declared preference for certain traditions or surroundings, it means nothing whatever. A thing like an empire, like the Roman Empire, which contained Greeks and Goths and ancient Britons; a thing like the British Empire, which contains Dutchmen and Negroes and Chinamen in Hong Kong, may be a perfectly legitimate object of a certain kind of intellectual esteem, but it is ludicrous to call it patriotism, or invoke the ancient deities of the hearth and the river and the hill.
Id. (at 19):
Spiritually, then, we hold that a healthy man does not demand cosmopolitanism, and does not demand empire. He demands something which is more or less roughly represented by Nationalism. That is to say, he demands a particular relation to some homogeneous community of manageable and imaginable size, large enough to inspire his reverence by its hold on history, small enough to inspire his affection by its hold on himself. If we were gods planning a perfect planet, if we were poets inventing a Utopia, we should divide the world into communities of this unity and moderate size. It is, therefore, not true to say of us that a cosmopolitan humanity is a far-off ideal; it is not an ideal at all for us, but a nightmare.

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