The Herd Mind

The ascension of the State in the stampede of war

“Country is a concept of peace, of tolerance, of liv­ing and let­ting live. But State is essentially a concept of power, of competition: it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects.”

“Government is the idea of the State put into practical operation in the hands of definite, con­crete, fallible men. It is the visible sign of the invisible grace. It is the word made flesh. And it has necessarily the limitations inherent in all practicality. Government is the only form in which we can en­vis­age the State, but it is by no means identical with it. That the State is a mystical conception is some­thing that must never be for­got­ten. Its glam­or and its significance linger be­hind the frame­work of Government and direct its activities.”

The State is the organization of the herd to act offensively or defensively against another herd similarly organized.

“…proceed to allow them­selves to be regimented, coerced, de­ranged in all the environments of their lives, and turned into a solid manufactory of destruction to­ward whatever other people may have, in the appointed scheme of things, come with­in the range of the Government’s disapprobation. The cit­i­zen throws off his con­tempt and indifference to Government, identifies him­self with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an au­gust presence, through the imaginations of men.”

E pluribus unum.

“War sends the cur­rent of purpose and activity flow­ing down to the lowest lev­els of the herd, and to its re­mote branches. All the activities of society are linked together as fast as possible to this central purpose of making a military offensive or military defense, and the State be­comes what in peace­times it has vainly struggled to be­come — the inexorable arbiter and determinant of men’s businesses and attitudes and opinions.”

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

“The State is a jealous God and will brook no rivals. Its sovereignty must pervade every­one and all feel­ing must be run into the stereo­typed forms of romantic patriotic militarism which is the traditional expression of the State herd-feel­ing. (…) In this great herd-machinery, dis­sent is like sand in the bearings. The State ideal is primarily a sort of blind animal push to­wards military unity. Any interference with that unity turns the whole vast impulse to­wards crush­ing it.”

“In every country we have seen groups that were more loyal than the King — more patriotic than the Government — the Ulsterites in Great Britain, the Junkers in Prussia, l’Action Francaise in France, our patrioteers in America. These groups exist to keep the steer­ing wheel of the State straight, and they pre­vent the nation from ever veer­ing very far from the State ideal.”



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