Page:History of Freedom.djvu/332
ESSAYS ON LIBERTY
same reason it is the chief weapon of the last against the first. In pursuing the outward and visible growth of the national theory we are prepared for an examination of its political character and value. The absolutism which has created it denies equally that absolute right of national unity which is a product of democracy, and that claim of national liberty which belongs to the theory of freedom, These two vie\vs of nationality, corresponding to the French and to the English systems, are connected in name only, and are in reality the opposite extremes of political thought. In one case, nationality is founded on the perpetual supremacy of the collective \vill, of which the unity of the nation is the necessary condition, to which every other influence must defer, and against which no obligation enjoys authority, and all resistance is tyrannical. The nation is here an ideal unit founded on the race, in defiance of the modifying action of external causes, of tradition, and of existing rights. It overrules the rights and wishes of the inhabitants, absorbing their divergent interests in a fictitious unity; sacrifices their several in- clinations and duties to the high r claim of nationality, and crushes all natural rights and all established liberties for the purpose of vindicating itself.l Whenever a single definite object is made the supreme end of the State, be it the advantage of a class, the safety or the power of the country, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or the support of any speculative idea, the State becomes for the time inevitably absolute. Liberty alone demands for its realisation the limitation of the public authority, for liberty is the only object \vhich benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition. In supporting the claims of national unity, governments must be subverted in whose title there is no flaw, and whose policy is beneficent and
1 It Le sentiment d'indépendance nationale est encore plus général et plus profondément gravé dans Ie cæu. des peuples que l'amour d'nne liberté constitu- tionnelle, Les nations les plus soumises au despotisme éprouvcnt ce sentiment avec autant de vivacité que les nations Iibres; les peupies les plus barbares Ie sentent même encore plus vivement que les nations poIicées" (L'ltalie dU Dix 4 neuvÜme SUe/e, p. 148, Paris, 1821).