E. Belfort Bax

Patriotism v. Socialism

(9 September 1911)

E. Belfort Bax, Patriotism v. Socialism, Justice, 9th September 1911, p.6. (letter)
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Comrade, – Mr. Storey in his letter in your issue of the 36th ult. would like to rescue the word) “patriotism” from the obloquy into which it has, as I think, justly fallen among logically minded Socialists. The term “patriotism” in the present day, for the “average man,” implies imperialism or jingoism. You cannot get out of that. It means the backing of the action in external policy of your country through thick and thin. Failing this, you are unpatriotic to the “average man.” And it is useless to attempt to impose a definition of your own upon a common (i.e., non-technical) term in the teeth of the meaning understood of the “average man.”

But the above is not all. Says Mr. Storey, “Patriotism is just love of native land.” Now if we stop for a moment to analyse this definition, we find that it is utterly vapid and jejune from an Internationalist-Socialist point of view. I, a Socialist, love my native land. Good! But I love other people’s native lands too. I love the Englishman (sometimes). But I love the Frenchman and the German (also sometimes). In fact, I love the average French or German Socialist better than I love the average English Philistine. What practical line of conduct, then, does my loving my “native land” impose upon me? To help it to gain an advantage at the expense of the “native lands” of other people? This is repugnant alike to my feelings and to the international principles of my Socialism. What practical meaning, then, has my love of my native land as such?<</p>


E. Belfort Bax


Last updated on 16.9.2004