Nationalism, in the extended sense in which I am using the word, includes such movements and tendencies as Communism, political Catholicism, Zionism, Antisemitism, Trotskyism and Pacifism.
It does not necessarily mean loyalty to a government or a country, still less to country, and it is not even strictly necessary that the units in which it deals should actually exist.
As the nearest existing equivalent I have chosen the word ‘nationalism’, but it will be seen in a moment that I am not using it in quite the ordinary sense, if only because the emotion I am speaking about does not always attach itself to what is called a nation – that is, a single race or a geographical area.
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.
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.
Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also – since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself – unshakeably certain of being in the right. In practice, however, the necessary calculations cannot be made, because anyone likely to bother his head about such a question would inevitably see it in terms of competitive prestige.
The nationalist does not go on the principle of simply ganging up with the strongest side.
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.
And when news of the Pact broke, the most wildly divergent explanations were of it were given, and predictions were made which were falsified almost immediately, being based in nearly every case not on a study of probabilities but on a desire to make the U. People of strongly nationalistic outlook often perform this sleight of hand without being conscious of dishonesty.
In England, if one simply considers the number of people involved, it is probable that the dominant form of nationalism is old-fashioned British jingoism.