Page:Patriotismchrist00tols.djvu/51

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PATRIOTISM AND CHRISTIANITY.

this new throne, perfectly assured that his act was most necessary and important; and his subjects not only saw nothing ridiculous in it, but thought the sight most imposing.

XVI.

For some time the power of the Government over the people has not been maintained by force, as was the case when one nation conquered another and ruled it by force of arms, or when the rulers of an unarmed people had separate legions of janissaries or guards.

The power of the Government has for some time been maintained by what is termed public opinion.

A public opinion exists that patriotism is a fine moral sentiment, and that it is right and our duty to regard one's own nation, one's own State as the best in the world; and flowing naturally from this public opinion is another, namely, that it is right and our duty to acquiesce in the control of a Government over ourselves, to subordinate ourselves to it, to serve in the army and submit ourselves to discipline, to give our earnings to the Government in the form of taxes, to submit to the decisions of the law-courts, and to consider the edicts of the Government as divinely right. And when such public opinion exists, a strong govermental power is formed possessing milliards of money, an organised mechanism of administration, the postal service, telegraph, telephone, army, law-courts, police, submissive clergy schools, even the Press; and this power maintains in the people the public opinion which it finds necessary to its own existence.

The power of the Government is maintained by public opinion, and with this power the Government, by means of its organs—its officials, law-courts, schools, churches, even the Press—can always maintain the public opinion which they need. Public opinion constitutes the power, and the power public opinion. And there appears to be no escape from this position.

Nor indeed would there be, if public opinion were something fixed, unchangeable, and Governments able to manufacture the exact opinion they were in need of.

But, fortunately, such is not the case; and public opinion is not, to begin with, permanent, unchangeable, stationary; but, on the contrary, constantly changing, moving with the advance of humanity; and public opinion not only cannot be produced at will