It can attach itself to a church or a class, or it may work in a merely negative sense, something or other and without the need for any positive object of loyalty.
By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
On the contrary, having picked his side, he persuades himself that it the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him.
Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. In theory it should be possible to give a reasoned and perhaps even a conclusive answer to this question.
He may be a positive or a negative nationalist – that is, he may use his mental energy either in boosting or in denigrating – but at any rate his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations.
He sees history, especially contemporary history, as the endless rise and decline of great power units, and every event that happens seems to him a demonstration that his own side is on the up-grade and some hated rival is on the down-grade.
Its most outstanding exponent – though he was perhaps an extreme case rather than a typical one – was G. During the last twenty years or so of his life, his entire output was in reality an endless repetition of the same thing, under its laboured cleverness as simple and boring as ‘Great is Diana of the Ephesians’.
Every book that he wrote, every paragraph, every sentence, every incident in every story, every scrap of dialogue, had to demonstrate beyond possibility of mistake the superiority of the Catholic over the Protestant or the pagan.
However, in this essay I am concerned chiefly with the reactions of the intelligentsia, among whom jingoism and even patriotism of the old kind are almost dead, though they now seem to be reviving among a minority. as his Fatherland and feels it his duty to justify Russian policy and advance Russian interests at all costs.
Among the intelligentsia, it hardly needs saying that the dominant form of nationalism is Communism – using this word in a very loose sense, to include not merely Communist Party members but ‘fellow-travellers’ and russophiles generally. Obviously such people abound in England today, and their direct and indirect influence is very great.