Page:The imperial peace; an ideal in European history.djvu/25

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The Imperial Peace

If we argue from the particular case which has been quoted to the general law, nationalism is good when it can be combined with a sense of a higher unity; and the first condition of such combination is that the two or more diverse nationalities can share certain sufficing aims and ideals, and can respect and admire each other, remaining conscious of their diverse individuality, regarding the idiosyncracies of the other with perhaps a humorous but not an unkindly eye, no one nationality seeking to compel the others into an unwilling similarity with itself. Such compulsion may sometimes succeed in annihilating the weaker nationality; but it can never produce a unity in which each member profits by the strength of the other, and finds its complement in the other.

I have perhaps been labouring the point too much; but it seems in my judgement of decisive importance. The growing sense of nationalism throughout Europe is not necessarily antagonistic to peace. It may, however, easily become so, when it degenerates into Chauvinism, narrow and ignorant self-love, and inability to appreciate the qualities of other nationalities. That is in Dante's phrase the failure in justice; it is the inability to give others their due; and where that is there cannot be peace.

Modern life aims at a higher ideal than Dante's Empire. To produce between two or more different nationalities that higher unity which makes and is peace—not the mere absence of war, but the positive capacity to mix with one another freely and appreciatively, rendering every man his due—that is the ideal both to Dante and to us. Dante required for this end a supreme monarch, an 'over-lord' (as Freeman would have called him) among the kings and states, like Agamemnon among the