Page:Patriotismchrist00tols.djvu/50

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44
PATRIOTISM AND CHRISTIANITY.

crosses, writing and docketing with great care, upon the best paper, their hazy, involved, altogether needless communications, advice, projects—are quite assured that, without their activity, the entire existence of nations wouldl halt or become deranged.

In the same manner miitary men, got up in ridiculous costumes, arguing seriously with what rifle or cannon men can be most expeditiously destroyed, are quite certain that their field days and reviews are most important and essential to the people.

So likewise the priests, journalists, writers of patriotic songs and class books, who preach patriotism and receive liberal remuneration, are equally satisfied.

And no doubt the organisers of festivities—like the Franco-Russian fetes—are sincerely affected while pronouncing their patriotic speeches and toasts.

All these people do what they are doing unconsciously, because they must; all their life being founded upon deceit, and because they know not how to do anything else: and coincidently these same acts call forth the sympathy and approbation of all those people amongst whom they are done. More than this, being all linked together, they approve and justify each other's acts—emperor and king those of the soldiers, officials and clergy ; and these latter in their turn the acts of emperor and king. The populace, and especially the town populace, seeing nothing comprehensible in what is being done by all these men, unwittingly ascribe to them a special, almost a supernatural, significance.

The people see, for instance, that a triumphal arch is being erected; that men bedeck themselves with crowns, uniforms, robes; that fireworks are let off, cannons fired, bells rung, regiments paraded with their bands; that papers, telegrams, messengers fly from place to place; and being unable to believe that all this is being done (as is indeed the case) without the slightest necessity, attribute to it all a special mysterious significance, and gaze with shouts and hilarity or with silent awe. And reciprocally, this hilarity or silent awe confirms the assurance of those people who are responsible for all these foolish deeds.

So, for instance, not long ago, Wilhelm II. ordered a new throne for himself, with some special kind of ornamentation, and having dressed up in a white uniform, with a cuirass, tight breeches, and a helmet with a bird on the top, and enveloped himself in a red mantle, came out to his snbjects, and sat down on