Germany, the recovery by France of her lost provinces, or the concession of such a part of one State to another State, do not interest the working man, not only because, for the most part, he is unacquainted with the circumstances which evoke such questions, but also because the interests of his life are altogether independent of the State and of politics. For a labouring man is altogether indifferent where such-and-such a frontier may be delimitated, to whom Constantinople may belong, whether Saxony or Brunswick shall or shall not be a member of the German Federation, whether Australia or Montebello shall belong to England, or even to what Government they may have to pay taxes, or into what army to send their sons.
But it is always a matter of importance to them to know what taxes they will have to pay, how long to serve in the army, how much to pay for their land, and how much to receive for their labour—all questions entirely independent of State and political interests. This is the reason why, notwithstanding the energetic means employed by Governments to inculcate patriotism, which is not natural to the people, and to destroy Socialism, the latter continues to penetrate further into the labouring masses, whereas patriotism, though so assiduously inculcated, not only makes no headway, but disappears constantly more and more, and is now solely a possession of the upper classes to whom it is profitable. And if, as sometimes happens, that patriotism takes hold of the masses, as lately in Paris, it is only when the masses have been subjected to some special hypnotic influence by the Government and ruling class, and such patriotism only lasts as long as the influence is continued.
Thus, for instance, in Russia, where patriotism, in the form of love for and devotion to the faith, Tsar, and country, is instilled into the people, with extraordinary energy by every means in the hands of the Government—the Church, schools, literature, and every sort of pompous ceremony—the Russian working-man, the hundred millions of the working people, in spite of their undeserved reputation for devotion to faith, Tsar, and country, are a people singularly unduped by patriotism and such devotion.
They are not for the most part, even acquainted with the orthodox official faith to which they are supposed to be so attached, and whenever they do make acquaintance with it they leave it and become rationalists—that is, they adopt a creed which