by Ludwig von Mises
IV. ETATISM AND NATIONALISM
I. The Principle of Nationality
In the early nineteenth century the political vocabulary of the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland did not differentiate between the concepts state, people, and nation. The conquests which expanded the realm and brought countries and their inhabitants into subjection did not alter the size of the nation and the state. These annexed areas, as well as the overseas settlements of British subjects, remained outside the state and the nation. They were property of the crown under the control of Parliament. The nation and the people were the citizens of the three kingdoms, England, Scotland, and Ireland. England and Scotland had formed a union in 1707; in 1801 Ireland joined this union. There was no intention of incorporating into this body the citizens settled beyond the sea in North America. Every colony had its own parliament and its own local government. When the Parliament of Westminster attempted to include in its jurisdiction the colonies of New England and those south of New England, it kindled the conflict which resulted in American independence. In the Declaration of Independence the thirteen colonies call themselves a people different from the people represented in the Parliament at Westminster. The individual colonies, having proclaimed their right to independence, formed a political union, and thus gave to the new nation, set up by nature and by history, an adequate political organization.
Even at the time of the American conflict British liberals sympathized with the aims of the colonists. In the course of the nineteenth century Great Britain fully recognized the right of the white settlers in overseas possessions to establish autonomous governments. The citizens of the dominions are not members of the British nation. They form nations of their own with all the rights to which civilized peoples are entitled. There has been no effort to expand the territory from which members are returned to the Parliament of Westminster. If autonomy is granted to a part of the Empire, that part becomes a state with its own constitution. The size of the territory whose citizens are represented in the Parliament at London has not expanded since 1801; it was narrowed by the founding of the Irish Free State.
For the French Revolutionists the terms state, nation, and people were also identical. France was for them the country within the historical frontiers. Foreign enclaves (like papal Avignon and the possessions of German princes) were according to natural law parts of France, and therefore to be reunited. The victorious wars of the Revolution and of Napoleon I temporarily relegated these notions to oblivion. But after 1815 they were restored to their previous meaning. France is the country within the frontiers fixed by the Congress of Vienna. Napoleon III later incorporated into this realm Savoy and Nice, districts with French-speaking inhabitants for whom there was no longer room left in the new Italian kingdom in which the state of Savoy-Piedmont-Sardinia had been merged. The French were not enthusiastic about this expansion of their country; the new districts were slow to be assimilated to the French commonwealth. The plans of Napoleon III to acquire Belgium, Luxembourg, and the left bank of the Rhine were not popular in France. The French do not consider the Walloons or the French-speaking Swiss or Canadians members of their nation or people. They are in their eyes French-speaking foreigners, good old friends, but not Frenchmen.
It was different with the German and Italian liberals. The states which they wanted to reform were products of dynastic warfare and intermarriage; they could not be considered natural entities. It would have been paradoxical indeed to destroy the despotism of the prince of Reuss Junior Branch in order to establish a democratic government in the scattered territories owned by that potentate. The subjects of such princelings did not consider themselves Reussians of the Junior Branch or Saxe-Weimar-Eisenachians, but Germans. They did not aim at a liberal Schaumburg-Lippe. They wanted a liberal Germany. It was the same in Italy. The Italian liberals did not fight for a free state of Parma or of Tuscany but for a free Italy. As soon as liberalism reached Germany and Italy the problem of the extent of the state and its boundaries was raised. Its solution seemed easy. The nation is the community of all people speaking the same language; the state's frontiers should coincide with the linguistic demarcations. Germany is the country inhabited by German-speaking people; Italy is the land of the people using the Italian idiom. The old border lines drawn by the intrigues of dynasties were doomed to disappear. Thus the right of self-determination and of government by the people, as expounded by Western liberalism, becomes transformed into the principle of nationality as soon as liberalism becomes a political factor in Central Europe. The political terminology begins to differentiate between state and nation (people). The people (the nation) are all men speaking the same idiom; nationality means community of language.
According to these ideas, every nation should form an independent state, including all members of the nation. When this has one day been achieved there will be no more wars. The princes fight each other because they wish to increase their power and wealth by conquest. No such motives are present with nations. The extent of a nation's territory is determined by nature. The national boundaries are the linguistic boundaries. No conquest can make a nation bigger, richer, or more powerful. The principle of nationality is the golden rule of international law which will bring undisturbed peace to Europe. While kings were still planning wars and conquests the revolutionary movements of Young Germany and of Young Italy were already coöperating for the realization of this happy constitution of a New Europe. The Poles and Hungarians joined the choir. Their aspirations also met with the sympathies of liberal Germany. German poets glorified the Polish and Hungarian struggles for independence.
But the aspirations of the Poles and Magyars differed in a very important way from those of the German and Italian liberals. The former aimed at a reconstruction of Poland and Hungary within their old historical boundaries. They did not look forward to a new liberal Europe but backward to the glorious past of their victorious kings and conquerors, as depicted by their historians and writers. Poland was for the Poles all the countries that their kings and magnates had once subjugated, Hungary was for the Magyars all the countries that had been ruled in the Middle Ages by the successors of Saint Stephen. It did not matter that these realms included many people speaking idioms other than Polish and Hungarian. The Poles and the Magyars paid lip service to the principles of nationality and self-determination; and this attitude made the liberals of the West sympathetic to their programs. Yet what they planned was not the liberation but the oppression of other linguistic groups.
So too with the Czechs. It is true that in earlier days some champions of Czech independence proposed a partition of Bohemia according to linguistic demarcations. But they were very soon silenced by their fellow citizens, for whom Czech self-determination was synonymous with the oppression of millions of non-Czechs.
The principle of nationality was derived from the liberal principle of self-determination. But the Poles, the Czechs, and the Magyars substituted for this democratic principle an aggressive nationalism aiming at the domination of people speaking other languages. Very soon German and Italian nationalists and many other linguistic groups adopted the same attitude.
It would be a mistake to ascribe the ascendancy of modern nationalism to human wickedness. The nationalists are not innately aggressive men; they become aggressive through their conception of nationalism. They are confronted with conditions which were unknown to the champions of the old principle of self-determination. And their etatist prejudices prevent them from finding a solution for the problems they have to face other than that provided by aggressive nationalism.
What the Western liberals have failed to recognize is that there are large territories inhabited by people of different idioms. This important fact could once be neglected in Western Europe but it could not be overlooked in Eastern Europe. The principle of nationality cannot work in a country where linguistic groups are inextricably mixed. Here you cannot draw boundaries which clearly segregate linguistic groups. Every territorial division necessarily leaves minorities under foreign rule.
The problem becomes especially fateful because of the changeability of linguistic structures. Men do not necessarily stay in the place of their birth. They have always migrated from comparatively overpopulated into comparatively underpopulated areas. In our age of rapid economic change brought about by capitalism, the propensity to migrate has increased to an unprecedented extent. Millions move from the agricultural districts into the centers of mining, trade, and industry. Millions move from countries where the soil is poor to those offering more favorable conditions for agriculture. These migrations transform minorities into majorities and vice versa. They bring alien minorities into countries formerly linguistically homogeneous.
The principle of nationality was based on the assumption that every individual clings throughout his life to the language of his parents, which he has learned in early childhood. This too is an error. Men can change their language in the course of their life; they can daily and habitually speak a language other than that of their parents. Linguistic assimilation is not always the spontaneous outcome of the conditions under which the individual lives. It is caused not only by environment and cultural factors; governments can encourage it or even achieve it by compulsion. It is an illusion to believe that language is a nonarbitrary criterion for an impartial delimitation of boundaries. The state can, under certain conditions, influence the linguistic character of its citizens.
The main tool of compulsory denationalization and assimilation is education. Western Europe developed the system of obligatory public education. It came to Eastern Europe as an achievement of Western civilization. But in the linguistically mixed territories it turned into a dreadful weapon in the hands of governments determined to change the linguistic allegiance of their subjects. The philanthropists and pedagogues of England who advocated public education did not foresee what waves of hatred and resentment would rise out of this institution.
But the school is not the only instrument of linguistic oppression and tyranny. Etatism puts a hundred more weapons in the hands of the state. Every act of the government which can and must be done by administrative discretion with regard to the special merits of each case can be used for the achievement of the government's political aims. The members of the linguistic minority are treated like foes or like outlaws. They apply in vain for licenses, for foreign exchange under a system of foreign exchange control, or for import licenses under a quota system. Their shops and plants, their clubhouses, school buildings, and assembly halls are closed by the police because they allegedly do not comply with the rules of the building code or with the regulations for preventing fires. Their sons somehow fail to pass the examinations for civil service jobs. Protection is denied to their property, persons, and lives when they are attacked by armed gangs of zealous members of the ruling linguistic group. They cannot even undertake to defend themselves: the licenses required for the possession of arms are denied to them. The tax collectors always find that they owe the treasury much more than the amount shown on the returns they have filed.
All this indicates clearly why the attempts of the Covenant of the League of Nations to protect minorities by international law and international tribunals were doomed to failure. A law cannot protect anybody against measures dictated by alleged considerations of economic expediency. All sorts of government interference in business, in the countries inhabited by different linguistic groups, are used for the purpose of injuring the pariahs. Custom tariffs, taxation, foreign exchange regulations, subsidies, labor legislation, and so on may be utilized for discrimination, even though this cannot be proved in court procedure. The government can always explain these measures as being dictated by purely economic considerations. With the aid of such measures life for the undesirables, without formal violation of legal equality, can be made unbearable. In an age of interventionism and socialism there is no legal protection available against an ill-intentioned government. Every government interference with business becomes an act of national warfare against the members of the persecuted linguistic groups. With the progress of etatism the antagonism between the linguistic groups becomes more bitter and more implacable.
Thus the meaning of the concepts of Western political terminology underwent a radical change in Central and Eastern Europe. The people differentiate between the good state and the bad state. They worship the state as do all other etatists. But they mean only the good state—i.e., the state in which their own linguistic group dominates. For them this state is God. The other states in which their own linguistic group does not dominate are, in their opinion, devils. Their concept of fellow citizens includes all people speaking their own language, all Volksgenossen, as the Germans say, without any regard to the country where they live; it does not include citizens of their own state who happen to speak another language. These are foes and barbarians. The Volksgenossen living under a foreign yoke must be freed. They are the Irredenta, the unredeemed people.
And every means is believed right and fair, if it can accelerate the coming of the day of redemption. Fraud, felonious assault, and murder are noble virtues if they serve the cause of Irredentism. The war for the liberation of the Volksgenossen is a just war. The greatness of the linguistic group and the glory of the right and true state are the supreme criteria of morality. There is but one thing that counts—their own linguistic group, the community of men speaking the same language, the Volksgemeinschaft.
2. The Linguistic Group
Economists, sociologists, and historians have provided us with different definitions of the term nation. But we are not interested here in what meaning social science ought to attach to it. We are inquiring what meaning the European supporters of the principle of nationality attach to the concepts nation and nationality. It is important to establish the way in which these terms are used in the vocabulary of present-day political action and the role they play in actual life and in contemporary conflicts.
The principle of nationality is unknown to American or Australian politics. When the Americans freed themselves from the rule of Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal their aim was self-determination, not the establishment of national states in the sense that the principle of nationality gives to the term nation. Linguistically they resembled the old countries overseas from which their ancestors once came to America. The people who now form the United States of America did not want to annex English-speaking Canada. Nor did the French-speaking Canadians who opposed the British system of administration fight for a French-speaking state. Both linguistic groups coöperate in a more or less peaceful way within the Dominion of Canada; there is no Irredenta. Latin America is also free from linguistic problems. What separates Argentina from Chile or Guatemala from Mexico is not the idiom. There are many racial, social, political, and even religious conflicts in the Western Hemisphere too. But in the past no serious linguistic problem has troubled American political life.
Neither are there any grave linguistic antagonisms in present-day Asia. India is linguistically not homogeneous; but the religious discrepancy between Hinduism and Islam is much more important there than the problem of idioms.
Conditions may perhaps soon change. But at the present moment the principle of nationality is more or less a European concept. It is the main political problem of Europe.
According to the principle of nationality, then, every linguistic group must form an independent state, and this state must embrace all people speaking this language. The prestige of this principle is so great that a group of men who for some reason wish to form a state of their own which would otherwise not conform to the principle of nationality are eager to change their language in order to justify their aspirations in the light of this principle.
The Norwegians now speak and write an idiom that is almost identical with that of Denmark. But they are not prepared to renounce their political independence. To provide linguistic support for their political program, eminent Norwegians have wanted to create a language of their own; to form out of their local dialects a new language, something like a return to the old Norse used up to the fifteenth century. The greatest Norwegian writer, Henrik Ibsen, considered these endeavors lunacy and scorned them as such in Peer Gynt.
The people of Ireland speak and write English. Some of the foremost writers of the English language are Irishmen. But the Irish want to be politically independent. Therefore, they reason, it is necessary to return to the Gaelic idiom once used in their country. They have excavated this language from old books and manuscripts and try to revive it. To some extent they have even succeeded.
The Zionists want to create an independent state composed of those professing the Jewish religion. For them the Jews are a people and a nation. We are not concerned here with whether the historical arguments brought forward for the justification of these claims are correct or not, or whether the plan is politically sound or unsound. But it is a fact that the Jews speak many different languages; from the viewpoint of the principle of nationality the aspirations of Zionism are no less irregular than those of the Irish. Therefore the Zionists try to induce the Jews to speak and write Hebrew. These plans are paradoxical in the face of the fact that in the days of Christ the inhabitants of Palestine did not speak Hebrew; their native tongue was Aramaic. Hebrew was the language of the religious literature only. It was not understood by the people. The second language generally known was Greek.
These facts demonstrate the meaning and prestige of the principle of nationality. The terms nation and nationality as applied by the advocates of this principle are equivalent to the term "linguistic group." The terms used in the Habsburg Empire for these conflicts were die nationale Frage (the national question), and synonymously die Sprachenfrage (the linguistic problem), nationale Kämpfe (national struggles), and synonymously Sprachenkämpfe (linguistic struggles). The main subject of conflict has always been which language should be used by the administration, by the tribunals, and by the army, and which language should be taught in the schools?
It is a serious error of English and French books and newspapers to refer to these conflicts as racial. There is no conflict of races in Europe. No distinct bodily features which an anthropologist could establish with the aid of the scientific methods of anatomy separate the people belonging to different groups. If you presented one of them to an anthropologist he would not be able to decide by biological methods whether he was a German, Czech, Pole, or Hungarian.
Neither have the people belonging to any one of these groups a common descent. The right bank of the Elbe River, the whole of northeastern Germany, eight hundred years ago was inhabited only by Slavs and Baltic tribes. It became German-speaking in the course of the processes which the German historians call the colonization of the East. Germans from the west and south migrated into this area; but in the main its present population is descended from the indigenous Slavs and Baltic peoples who, under the influence of church and school, adopted the German language. Prussian chauvinists, of course, assert that the native Slavs and Balts were exterminated and that the whole population today is descended from German colonists. There is not the slightest evidence for this doctrine. The Prussian historians invented it in order to justify in the eyes of German nationalists Prussia's claim to hegemony in Germany. But even they have never dared to deny that the Slav ancestry of the autochthonous princely dynasties (of Pomerania, Silesia, and Mecklenburg) and of most of the aristocratic families is beyond doubt. Queen Louise of Prussia, whom all German nationalists consider the paragon of German womanhood, was a scion of the ducal house of Mecklenburg, whose originally Slav character has never been contested. Many noble families of the German northeast can be traced back to Slav ancestors. The genealogical trees of the middle classes and the peasantry, of course, cannot be established as far back as those of the nobility; this alone explains why the proof of Slav origin cannot be provided for them. It is indeed paradoxical to assume that the Slavonic princes and knights should have exterminated their Slav serfs in order to settle their villages with imported German serfs.
Shifting from one of these linguistic groups to another occurred not only in earlier days. It happened and happens so frequently that nobody remarks upon it. Many outstanding personalities in the Nazi movement in Germany and Austria and in the Slavonic, Hungarian, and Rumanian districts claimed by Nazism were the sons of parents whose language was not German. Similar conditions prevail all over Europe. In many cases the change of loyalties has been accompanied by a change in family name; more often people have retained their foreign‑sounding family names. The Belgian poets Maeterlinck and Verhaeren have written in French; their names suggest a Flemish ancestry. The Hungarian poet Alexander Petöfi, who died for the cause of the Hungarian revolution in the battle of Schässburg (1849), was the son of a Slavonic family named Petrovics. Thousands of such cases are known to everyone familiar with European soil and people. Europe too is a melting pot, or rather a collection of melting pots.
Whenever the question is raised whether a group must be considered a distinct nation and therefore entitled to claim political autonomy, the issue is whether the idiom involved is a distinct language or only a dialect. The Russians maintain that the Ukrainian or Ruthenian idiom is a dialect, like Platt-Deutsch in northern Germany or Provencal in southern France. The Czechs use the same argument against the political aspirations of the Slovaks, and the Italians against the Rhaeto-Romanic idiom. Only a few years ago the Swiss Government gave to the Romansh the legal status of a national language. Many Nazis declare that Dutch is not a language but a German dialect—a Platt which has arrogated to itself the status of a language.
The principle of nationality has been late in penetrating into the political thought of Switzerland. There are two reasons why Switzerland has up to now successfully resisted its disintegrating power.
The first factor is the quality of the three main languages of Switzerland: German, French, and Italian. For every inhabitant of continental Europe it is a great advantage to learn one of these languages. If a German-Swiss acquires command of French or Italian he not only becomes better equipped for business life but gains access to one of the great literatures of the world. It is the same for the French-Swiss and for the Italian-Swiss when learning Italian or German. The Swiss, therefore, do not object to a bilingual education. They consider it a great help for their children to know one or both of the two other main languages of the country. But what gain can a French-Belgian derive from a knowledge of Flemish, a Slovak from a knowledge of Hungarian, or a Hungarian from a knowledge of Rumanian? It is almost indispensable for an educated Pole or Czech to know German; but for a German it is a waste of time to learn Czech or Polish. This explains why the educational problem is of minor importance under the linguistic conditions of Switzerland.
The second factor is the political structure. The countries of eastern Europe were never liberal. They jumped from monarchical absolutism directly into etatism. Since the 1850s they have clung to the policy of interventionism which only in the last decades has overwhelmed the West. Their intransigent economic nationalism is a consequence of their etatism. But on the eve of the first World War Switzerland was still a predominantly liberal country. Since then it has turned more and more to interventionism; and as that spread the linguistic problem has become more serious. There is Italian Irredentism in the Ticino; there is a pro‑Nazi party in the German-speaking parts, and there are French nationalists in the southwest. A victory of the allied democracies will doubtless stop these movements; but in that case Switzerland's integrity will be safeguarded by the same factor to which it owed its origin and its maintenance in the past, namely, the political conditions of its neighbor countries.
There is one instance in continental Europe in which the characteristic feature that separates two nations is not language but religion and the alphabetical types used in writing and printing. The Serbs and the Croats speak the same idiom; but while the Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet the Croats use the Roman. The Serbs adhere to the orthodox creed of the Oriental Church; the Croats are Roman Catholics.
It must be emphasized again and again that racism and considerations of racial purity and solidarity play no role in these European struggles of linguistic groups. It is true that the nationalists often resort to "race" and "common descent" as catchwords. But that is mere propaganda without any practical effect on policies and political actions. On the contrary, the nationalists consciously and purposely reject racism and racial characteristics of individuals when dealing with political problems and activities. The German racists have provided us with an image of the prototype of the noble German or Aryan hero and with a biologically exact description of his bodily features. Every German is familiar with this archetype and most of them are convinced that this portrait is correct. But no German nationalist has ever ventured to use this pattern to draw the distinction between Germans and non-Germans. The criterion of Germanism is found not in a likeness to this standard but in the German tongue.Breaking up the German-speaking group according to racial characteristics would result in eliminating at least 80 per cent of the German people from the ranks of the Germans. Neither Hitler nor Goebbels nor most of the other champions of German nationalism fit the Aryan prototype of the racial myth.
The Hungarians are proud to be the descendants of a Mongolian tribe which in the early Middle Ages conquered the country they call Hungary. The Rumanians boast their descent from Roman colonists. The Greeks consider themselves scions of the ancient Greeks. Historians are rather skeptical in regard to these claims. The modern political nationalism of these nations ignores them. It finds the practical criterion of the nation in the language instead of in racial characteristics or in the proof of descent from the alleged ancestry.
3. Liberalism and the Principle of Nationality
The foes of liberalism have failed in their endeavors to disprove liberalism's teachings concerning the value of capitalism and democratic government. Have they succeeded better in criticizing the third part of the liberal program—namely, the proposals for peaceful coöperation among different nations and states? In answering this question we must emphasize again that the principle of nationality does not represent the liberal solution of the international problem. The liberals urged self-determination. The principle of nationality is an outcome of the interpretation which people in Central and Eastern Europe, who never fully grasped the meaning of liberal ideas, gave to the principle of self-determination. It is a distortion, not a perfection, of liberal thought.
We have already shown that the Anglo-Saxon and the French fathers of liberal ideas did not recognize the problems involved. When these problems became visible, the old liberalism's creative period had already been brought to an end. The great champions were gone. Epigones, unable successfully to combat the growing socialist and interventionist tendencies, filled the stage. These men lacked the strength to deal with new problems.
Yet, the Indian summer of the old classical liberalism produced one document worthy of the great tradition of French liberalism. Ernest Renan, it is true, cannot really be considered a liberal. He made concessions to socialism, because his grasp of economic theories was rather poor; he was consequently too accommodating to the antidemocratic prejudices of his age. But his famous lecture, Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?, delivered in the Sorbonne on March 1l, 1882, is thoroughly inspired by liberal thought.It was the last word spoken by the older Western liberalism on the problems of state and nation.
For a correct understanding of Renan's ideas it is necessary to remember that for the French—as for the English—the terms nation and state are synonymous. When Renan asks: What is a nation? he means: What should determine the boundaries of the various states? And his answer is: Not the linguistic community, not the racial kinship founded on parentage from common ancestors, not religious congeniality, not the harmony of economic interests, not geographical or strategical consideratiocns, but—the right of the population to determine its own destiny.The nation is the outcome of the will of human beings to live together in one state.The greater part of the lecture is devoted to showing how this spirit of nationality originates.
The nation is a soul, a moral principle ("une âme, un principe spirituel").A nation, says Renan, daily confirms its existence by manifesting its will to political coöperation within the same state; a daily repeated plebiscite, as it were. A nation, therefore, has no right to say to a province: You belong to me, I want to take you. A province consists of its inhabitants. If anybody has a right to be heard in this case it is these inhabitants. Boundary disputes should be settled by plebiscite.
It is important to realize how this interpretation of the right of self‑determination differs from the principle of nationality. The right of self‑determination which Renan has in mind is not a right of linguistic groups but of individual men. It is derived from the rights of man. "Man belongs neither to his language nor to his race; he belongs to himself."
Seen from the point of view of the principle of nationality the existence of states like Switzerland, composed of people of different languages, is as anomalous as the fact that the Anglo-Saxons and the French are not eager to unite into one state all the people speaking their own language. For Renan there is nothing irregular in these facts.
More noteworthy than what Renan says is what he does not say. Renan sees neither the fact of linguistic minorities nor that of linguistic changes. Consult the people; let them decide. All right. But what if a conspicuous minority dissents from the will of the majority? To that objection Renan does not make a satisfactory answer. He declares—with regard to the scruple that plebiscites could result in the disintegration of old nations and in a system of small states (we say today Balkanization)—that the principle of self-determination should not be abused but only employed in a general way (d'une façon très générale).
Renan's brilliant exposition proves that the threatening problems of Eastern Europe were unfamiliar to the West. He prefaced his pamphlet with a prophecy: We are rushing into wars of destruction and extermination, because the world has abandoned the principle of free union and has granted to the nations, as it once did to the dynasties, the right to annex provinces contrary to their desires.But Renan saw only half the problem involved and therefore his solution could be but a half-way one.
Yet it would be wrong to say that liberalism has failed in this field. Liberalism's proposals for the coexistence and coöperation of nations and states are only a part of the total liberal program. They can be realized, they can be made to work only within a liberal world. The main excellence of the liberal scheme of social, economic, and political organization is precisely this—that it makes the peaceful coöperation of nations possible. It is not a shortcoming of the liberal program for international peace that it cannot be realized within an antiliberal world and that it must fail in an age of interventionism and socialism.
In order to grasp the meaning of this liberal program we need to imagine a world order in which liberalism is supreme. Either all the states in it are liberal, or enough are so that when united they are able to repulse an attack of militarist aggressors. In this liberal world, or liberal part of the world, there is private property in the means of production. The working of the market is not hampered by government interference. There are no trade barriers; men can live and work where they want. Frontiers are drawn on the maps but they do not hinder the migrations of men and shipping of commodities. Natives do not enjoy rights that are denied to aliens. Governments and their servants restrict their activities to the protection of life, health, and property against fraudulent or violent aggression. They do not discriminate against foreigners. The courts are independent and effectively protect everybody against the encroachments of officialdom. Everyone is permitted to say, to write, and to print what he likes. Education is not subject to government interference. Governments are like night-watchmen whom the citizens have entrusted with the task of handling the police power. The men in office are regarded as mortal men, not as superhuman beings or as paternal authorities who have the right and duty to hold the people in tutelage. Governments do not have the power to dictate to the citizens what language they must use in their daily speech or in what language they must bring up and educate their children. Administrative organs and tribunals are bound to use each man's language in dealing with him, provided this language is spoken in the district by a reasonable number of residents.
In such a world it makes no difference where the frontiers of a country are drawn. Nobody has a special material interest in enlarging the territory of the state in which he lives; nobody suffers loss if a part of this area is separated from the state. It is also immaterial whether all parts of the state's territory are in direct geographical connection, or whether they are separated by a piece of land belonging to another state. It is of no economic importance whether the country has a frontage on the ocean or not. In such a world the people of every village or district could decide by plebiscite to which state they wanted to belong. There would be no more wars because there would be no incentive for aggression. War would not pay. Armies and navies would be superfluous. Policemen would suffice for the fight against crime. In such a world the state is not a metaphysical entity but simply the producer of security and peace. It is the night-watchman, as Lassalle contemptuously dubbed it. But it fulfills this task in a satisfactory way. The citizen's sleep is not disturbed, bombs do not destroy his home, and if somebody knocks at his door late at night it is certainly neither the Gestapo nor the O.G.P.U.
The reality in which we have to live differs very much from this perfect world of ideal liberalism. But this is due only to the fact that men have rejected liberalism for etatism. They have burdened the state, which could be a more or less efficient night-watchman, with a multitude of other duties. Neither nature, nor the working of forces beyond human control, nor inevitable necessity has led to etatism, but the acts of men. Entangled by dialectic fallacies and fantastic illusions, blindly believing in erroneous doctrines, biased by envy and insatiable greed, men have derided capitalism and have substituted for it an order engendering conflicts for which no peaceful solution can be found.
Act IV, scene in the lunatic asylum.
Kenyon, "The Bible as Christ Knew It," The History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge (London, 1929), p. 172. Some Zionists advocated Yiddish as the national language; but they did not succeed in establishing it. Yiddish is a German dialect with some words borrowed from Hebrew and more from the Slavonic languages. It is the dialect spoken by the Jews of German origin in northeastern Europe. The newspapers in Hebrew type printed and distributed in America are not written in Hebrew but in Yiddish.
We shall consider in Chapter VIII the alleged racial factors in nationalist Jew baiting.
Renan, Qu'est-ce qu'une nation? (ed. Paris, 1934).
Renan, idem, p. xi.
Idem, pp. 84, 88
Idem, p. 83.
Idem, pp. viii ff.; 89–90, 95 ff.
L'homme n'appartient ni à sa langue, ni à sa race; il n'appartient qu' à luimême." Idem, p. ix.
Renan, op. cit., p. 91