**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Monopolist Instincts
by [?]

In the first of these after-dinner causeries I ventured humbly to remark that Patriotism was a vulgar vice of which I had never been guilty. That innocent indiscretion of mine aroused at the moment some unfavourable comment. I confess I was sorry for it. But I passed it by at the time, lest I should speak too hastily and lose my temper. I recur to the subject now, at the hour of the cigarette, when man can discourse most genially of his bitterest enemy. And Monopoly is mine. Its very name is hateful.

I don’t often say what I think. At least, not much of it. I don’t often get the chance. And, besides, being a timid and a modest man, I’m afraid to. But just this once, I’m going to “try it on.” Object to my opinions as you will. But still, let me express them. Strike–but hear me!

Has it ever occurred to you that one object of reading is to learn things you never thought of before, and would never think of now, unless you were told them?

Patriotism is one of the Monopolist Instincts. And the Monopolist Instincts are the greatest enemies of the social life in humanity. They are what we have got in the end to outlive. The test of a man’s place in the scale of being is how far he has outlived them. They are surviving relics of the ape and tiger. But we must let the ape and tiger die. We must begin to be human.

I will take Patriotism first, because it is the most specious of them all, and has still a self-satisfied way of masquerading as a virtue. But after all what is Patriotism? “My country, right or wrong; and just because it is my country.” It is nothing more than a wider form of selfishness. Often enough, indeed, it is even a narrow one. It means, “My business interests against the business interests of other people; and let the taxes of my fellow-citizens pay to support them.” At other times it is pure Jingoism. It means, “My country against other countries! My army and navy against other fighters! My right to annex unoccupied territory over the equal right of all other people! My power to oppress all weaker nationalities, all inferior races!” It never means anything good. For if a cause is just, like Ireland’s, or once Italy’s, then ’tis the good man’s duty to espouse it with warmth, be it his own or another’s. And if a cause be bad, then ’tis the good man’s duty to oppose it tooth and nail, irrespective of your “Patriotism.” True, a good man will feel more sensitively anxious that justice should be done by the particular State of which he happens himself to be a member than by any other, because he is partly responsible for the corporate action; but then, people who feel deeply this joint moral responsibility of all the citizens are not praised as patriots but reviled as unpatriotic. To urge that our own country should strive with all its might to be better, higher, purer, nobler, juster than other countries around it–the only kind of Patriotism worth a brass farthing in a righteous man’s eyes–is accounted by most men both wicked and foolish.

Patriotism, then, is the collective or national form of the Monopolist Instincts. And like all those Instincts, it is a relic of savagery, which the Man of the Future is now engaged in out-living.

Property is the next form. That, on the very face of it, is a viler and more sordid one. For Patriotism at least can lay claim to some expansiveness beyond mere individual interest; whereas property stops dead short at the narrowest limits. It is not “Us against the world!” but “Me against my fellow-citizens!” It is the final result of the industrial war in its most hideous avatar. Look how it scars the fair face of our England with its anti-social notice-boards, “Trespassers will be prosecuted!” It says, in effect, “This is my land. God made it; but I have acquired it and tabooed it. The grass on it grows green; but only for me. The mountains rise beautiful; no foot of man, save mine and my gamekeepers’, shall tread them. The waterfalls gleam fresh and cool in the glen: avaunt there, you non-possessors; you shall never see them! All this is my own. And I choose to monopolise it.”