Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

some

our feeling for our country is noble and Further, we see the absurdity of the disinterested, although the peculiar de claims of any other country clearly light we take in admiring it could not be enough, and the vulgarity of its boastif it were not our country. Thus we get ing. Look at the comic papers of anoththe best of both worlds, the pleasures of er country and their patriotic cartoons; egotism without any sense of its vulgar- as Americans, look at Punch, and espeity, the mental intoxication without the cially at the cartoons in which it expressmental headaches.

es its sense of the peculiar virtues, the But I will give an example of the pro- sturdy wisdom, the bluff honesty, of cess which, I hope, will convince better John Bull, or the lofty aims and ideal than any description of it. Most Eng- beauty of Britannia; or those other, less lishmen and, no doubt, most Americans, frequent, cartoons, in which it criticizes would sooner die than boast of their own or patronizes the behavior of Jonathan goods. Yet, if someone says

and the ideals of Columbia. Does it not Englishman in an English newspaper seem to you incredible, as Americans, - that the English are a handsome that any Englishmen should be so sturace, unlike the Germans, who are plain, pid as to be tickled by such gross flattery, an Englishman, reading it, will say to or so ignorant as to be deceived by such himself, 'That is true,' and will be grat- glaring misrepresentations? Have you ified by his conviction that it is true. He never itched to write something sarcaswill not rush into the street uttering the tic to the editor of Punch, something syllogism: ‘The English are a handsome that would convince even him that he race; I aman Englishman; therefore Iam was talking nonsense? Well, Englishhandsome'; but, unconsciously and un- men have just the same feelings about expressed, the syllogism will complete it- the cartoons in American papers; and self in his mind; and, though he says just the same blindness about their own. nothing of his good looks even to himself, Disraeli said that everyone likes flathe will feel handsomer. Then, if he sees tery, but with royalty you lay it on with a plain German, he will say to himself, a trowel; and nations are like royalty, or will feel without saying it, “That poor only more so: they will swallow anyGerman belongs to a plain race, where thing about themselves while wonderas I belong to a handsome one.' Amer- ing at the credulity of other nations. icans may be different, but I doubt it. What is the cause of this blindness?

So, if we read the accounts of our great You and I, as individuals, have learned feats of arms in the past, we ourselves at least to conceal our self-esteem; we feel braver and more victorious. We are made uneasy by gross flattery; we teach children in our schools about these are like the Duke of Wellington, who, feats, and that they are characteristic of when grossly flattered by Samuel WarEnglishmen, or Americans, or Portu- ren, said to him: 'I am glad there is noguese, as the case may be; and we never body here to hear you say that.' warn them, because we never warn our- “Why, your Grace?' asked Warren. selves, that there is egotism in their pride 'Because,' answered the duke, 'they and in their belief that such braveries might think I was damned fool enough are peculiarly characteristic of their

to believe you.' own country. Yet every country feels the But when our country is flattered, and same pride and delight in its own pecu- by one of our countrymen, we do not liar virtues and its own preëminence; feel this uneasiness; at least, such flatand it is not possible that every country tery is a matter of course in the newspashould be superior to all others. pers and at public meetings in all coun

а

tries; there is such a large and constant there is a great demand for dangerous supply of it, that there must be an equal drugs, it is not enough to talk indigly large and constant demand. Yet no nantly of the drug-habit. That habit is one can doubt that it is absurd and dan

but a symptom of some deeper evil, gerous, if not in his own country, in something wrong with the lives of the others. Believe, if you will, that all the drug-takers, for which the drug is their praises of your own country are deserve mistaken remedy; and the right remed, and all the more, because of that be- edy must be found if the habit is to be lief, you will see that the praises of other extirpated. countries are not deserved. If America National egotism, I believe, is a kind is superior to all other countries in all of mental drug, which we take because essential virtues, then, clearly, all the of some unsatisfied need of our minds; other countries cannot be superior; and and we shall not cure ourselves of it unthere must be some cause for their blind til we discover what causes our craving belief in their superiority. Englishmen, for national fattery and also our disfor instance, however bad their manners, like and contempt of other countries. do not proclaim, or even believe, that Somewhere, as in the case of all drugthey are individually superior to all oth- taking, there is suppression of some kind; er men — indeed, you hold that the bad and the suppression, I suggest, is of inmanners of Englishmen come from their dividual egotism. We are trained by belief, not in their individual superiori- the manners and conventions of what ty, but in the superiority of England; if we call our civilization to suppress our they could be rid of that, they might be egotism; good manners consist, for the almost as well-mannered as yourselves. most part, in the suppression of it. HowIt is a national vanity, a national blind.

ever much we should like to talk of ness, that makes fools of them.

ourselves, our own achievements and But what is the cause of a folly so emp- deserts, we do not wish to hear others ty of either moral, or æsthetic, or even talking about theirs. The open egotist is biological value, so dangerous indeed, shunned as a bore by all of us; and only not only to the rest of the world, but even the man who, for some reason, is unable to themselves? For the danger of this to suppress his egotism, remains an open folly, its biological uselessness, has been egotist and a bore, persists in the I-Iproved to us in the most signal and fear- I of childhood, and provokes the impaful manner lately by the Germans. tience caused by the persistence of all They cultivated national vanity until it childish habits in the grown-up. became madness; and we are all aware of But this suppression of egotism is not the results. But, if we suppose that they necessarily the destruction of it, any behaved so because they were Germans more than the suppression of the sexual and therefore born mad or wicked, we instinct is the destruction of that. And, shall learn nothing from their disaster. in fact, our modern society is full of peoThey were, like ourselves, human beings. ple whose egotism is all the more exorThere, but for the grace of God, goes bitant and unconsciously troublesome England, goes America even;and whence to themselves, because it is suppressed. comes this madness from which the Their hunger for praise is starved, but Grace of God may not always save us? not removed; for they dare not even Because it exists everywhere, and is not praise themselves. Ask yourself, for inonly tolerated but encouraged, it must stance, whether you have ever been satisfy some need of the mind, however praised as much as you would like to dangerously and perversely. Where

Where be? Are you not aware of a profound

[ocr errors]

desert in yourself which no one, even in but not consciously, for in conscious selfyour own family has ever fully recog- esteem there is no consolation. If I said nized? True, you have your faults, but, to myself, ‘No one else esteems me; unlike the faults of so many other people, therefore I will practise self-esteem, — they are the defects of your qualities. the very statement would make the pracAnd then there is in you a sensitiveness, tice impossible. It must be done uncona delicacy of perception, a baffled crea- sciously and indirectly, if it is to be done tive faculty even, in fact, an unrealized at all and to give us any satisfaction. genius, which might any day realize itself Most of us have now enough psychology to the surprise of a stupid world. Of to detect ourselves in the practice of all this you never speak; and in that self-esteem, unless it is very cunningly you are like everyone else in the stupid disguised: and, what is more, we are world; for all mankind shares with you, quick to detect each other. It is, indumbly, this sense of their own profound deed, a convention of our society, and desert and unexpressed genius; and if, a point of good manners, to conceal our by some ring of Solomon or other talis- self-seteem from others, and even from man, we were suddenly forced to speak ourselves, by a number of instinctive out the truth, we should all proclaim our devices. One of the chief of these is our genius without listening to each other. humor, much of which consists of self

I, for my part, believe in it, believe depreciation, expressed or implied; and that it does exist, not only in myself, but we delight in it in spite of the subtle in all men, and the men of acknowledged warning of Doctor Johnson, who said, genius are those who have found a tech- 'Never believe a man when he runs nique for realizing it. I say realizing, himself down; he only does it to show because, until it is expressed in some kind how much he has to spare.' of action, it does not fully exist; and the By all these devices we persuade ouregos of most of us are exorbitant, how- selves that we have got rid of the exorbiever much we may suppress their out- tant ego, that we live in a happy, free, ward manifestations, because they do civilized, de-egotized world. We are not not succeed in getting themselves born. troubled by the contrast betweenour perThe word in us is never made flesh; we sonal modesty and our national boaststammer and bluster with it, we seethe ing, because we are not aware of the and simmer within; and, though we connection between them. But the conmay submit to a life of routine and sup- nection, I believe, exists; the national pression, the submission is not of the boasting proves that we have not got rid whole self: it is imposed on us by the of our self-esteem, but only pooled it, so struggle for life and for business pur- that we may still enjoy and express it, if poses: and, unknown to ourselves, the only in an indirect and not fully satisfyexorbitant, because unexpressed, unsat- ing manner. The pooling is a pis-aller, isfied ego finds a vent somehow and like the floating of a limited company somewhere.

when you have not enough capital to

finance some enterprise of your own; III

but it is the best we can do with an egoSelf-esteem is the consolation we of- tism that is only suppressed and disfer to the self because it cannot, by full guised, not transmuted. expression, win esteem from others. If I have an exorbitant opinion of Each one of us is to the self like a fond myself, it is continually criticized and mother to her least gifted son: we make thwarted by external criticism; I learn, up to it for the indifference of the world; therefore, not to express it, and even that I have it; but all the while I am then also it was the command of Heavseeking, unconsciously, for some means en that we should in due course be born by which I can give it satisfaction. It Britons, and share in the glory of the becomes impossible for me to believe mariners of England who guard our nathat I am a wonder in the face of sur- tive seas;

and there is not one of us who, rounding incredulity; so I seek for some crossing from Dover to Calais for the thing, seeming not to be myself, that I first time, does not feel that he is more can believe to be a wonder, without at home on his native seas than any seaarousing criticism or incredulity; in fact, sick Frenchman. something which others also believe to All this is amusing enough to Ameribe a wonder, because it seems to them cans in an Englishman, or to Englishnot to be themselves.

men in an American; but it is also very There are many such things, but the dangerous. In fact, it is the chief danger largest, the most convincing, and the that threatens our civilization, that most generally believed in, is Our Coun- prevents it from being civilized, and so, try. A man may, to some extent, pool secure. We are all aware of private vices, his self-esteem in his family; but the even of individual self-esteem and its moment he goes out into the world, he dangers; but this great common vice, is subject to external criticism and in- this pooled self-esteem, we still considcredulity. Or he may pool it in his er a virtue and encourage it by all town; but, as I have heard, the Boston

means in our power. And this we do beian-born is subject to the criticism and cause we are not aware of its true nature incredulity of the inhabitants of other and causes. We think that it is disintowns. What, therefore, we need, and terested, when it is only the starved ego, what we get, is a something which at consoling itself with a pis-aller; we supthe same time distinguishes us from a

pose that it is necessary to the nationgreat part of the human race, and yet is al existence, when the Germans have shared by nearly all those with whom just proved to us that it may ruin a most we come in contact. That we find in our

prosperous nation. Still we confuse it country; and in our country we do most with real patriotism, which is love of successfully and unconsciously pool our something not ourselves, of our own self-esteem. True, there are other coun- people and city and our native fields, tries also pooling their self-esteem in the and which, being love, does not in the same way, and apt to criticize us and to least insist that that which is loved is question our preëminence; but they are superior to other things, or people, unfar away and we can think of them loved because unknown. We know that as an absurd, degenerate horde or rab- where there is real affection, there is not ble; we can look at their newspapers this rivalry or enmity; no man, because and cartoons in our own atmosphere, he loves his wife, makes domestically and laugh at them securely. They have, patriotic songs about her, proclaiming indeed, a useful function in the height that she is superior to all other wives; ening of our own pooled self-esteem; for nor does he hate or despise the wives of we are able, from a distance, to com- other men. In true love there is no selfpare ourselves, en masse, with them, esteem, pooled or latent, but rather it inand to feel how fortunate we are, with a creases the capacity for love; it makes kind of hereditary merit, to be born dif- the loving husband see the good in all ferent from them

women; and he would as soon boast of When Britain first, at Heaven's command,

his own wife as a religious man would Arose from out the azure main, —

boast of his God.

So the true love of country may be thing that can end war is psychology clearly distinguished from the patriot- applied to its proper purpose of selfism that is pooled self-esteem, by many knowledge and self-control. If once it symptoms. For the patriotism that is can convince us that, when we boast of pooled self-esteem, though it make a man our country, we are suffering from poolboast of his country, does not make ed self-esteem, then we shall think it as him love his countrymen. Germans, vulgar and dangerous to boast of our for instance, before the war, showed country as to boast of ourselves. And, no great love of other Germans, how- further, we shall be ashamed of such ever much they might sing 'Deutsch- boasting, as a symptom of failure in land über Alles'; and in England, the ourselves. For pooled self-esteem is selfextreme Jingoes, or nationalists, are al- esteem afraid to declare itself, and it ways reviling their countrymen for not exists because the self has not found making themselves enough of a nui- a scope for the exercise of its own sance to the rest of the world. To them faculties. the British Empire is an abstraction, Why did the Germans suffer so much something to be boasted about and in- from pooled self-esteem before the war? trigued for; but real, living Englishmen Because they were a suppressed and are, for the most part, unworthy of it. thwarted people. The ordinary GerTheir patriotism, because it is pooled man was wounded in his personal selfself-esteem, manifests itself in hatred esteem by all the social conventions of rather than in love; just because it can- his country; he was born and bred to a not declare itself for what it is, because lifeofsubmission;and, though consciousit is suppressed and diverted, its symp ly he consented to it, unconsciously his toms are always negative rather than self-esteem sought a vent and found it positive. For, being suppressed and di- in the belief that, being a German, he verted, it can never find full satisfaction was in all things superior to those who like the positive passion of love. So it were not Germans. The more submis. turns from one object of hate to another, sive he was as a human being, the more and from one destructiveaim to another. arrogant he became as a German; and, Germany was the enemy and Germany with unconscious cunning, his rulers is vanquished; another enemy must be reconciled him to a life of inferiority by found, another danger scented; and there encouraging him in his collective pride. are always enough patriots in every So, even while he behaved as if he were country, suffering from pooled self-es- the member of an inferior, almost conteem, to hail each other as enemies, and quered, race, to his military caste, he told

, to play the game of mutual provocation. himself that this was the price he gladly

So no league of nations, no polite paid for national preëminence. speeches of kings and presidents, prime Before and during the war the Gerministers and ambassadors, will keep us mans were always saying that they had from hating each other and feeling good found a new way of freedom through diswhen we do so, unless we can attain to cipline and obedience; unlike the vulgar, enough self-knowledge to understand anarchical, democracies of the West, why it is that we hate each other, and to they stooped to conquer; and, since they see that this mutual hate and boasting did it willingly, it was freedom, not serare but a suppressed and far more dan- vitude. But their psychology was as gerous form of that vanity which we primitive as it was dangerous. That have learned, at least, not to betray in willingness of theirs was but making the our personal relations. In fact, the only best of a bad job. If only they had known

« ZurückWeiter »