Nature and Origin of the Group-sentiment
OF all appeals to which human beings respond, few are as power-
ful as that of tribal, or—in a more advanced stage—of national
feeling. Such sentiment is at the basis of life in the modern State.
It is doubtless founded upon some form of the herd impulse, which
receives satisfaction in social animals through the presence of other
animals like themselves. In Man, however, this impulse, like other
so-called "instincts," is not simple and straightforward in operation.
The likenesses upon which this "consciousness of kind" is based are
inborn in animals: but in Man they are very largely acquired, being
the product of experience and social factors.
Very many human activities, aspirations, and emotions have con-
tributed, either naturally or artificially, to build up the great synthesis
that we term a "nation"; language, religion, art, law, even food,
gesture, table manners, clothing, and sport all play their part. So
also does the sentiment of kinship, for the family has extended some
of its age-old glamour to that wholly different and much newer aggre-
gate, the national unit. I would stress the contrast between family
and nation, since the family is an ancient and biological factor, while
the nation-state is a modern conception and product, the result of
certain peculiar social and economic circumstances. The family has
been produced by Nature, the nation by Man himself.
Before the Renaissance, that is to say before the fifteenth century,
nations or national states in our sense of the word did not exist,
though there were composite human aggregates related to the tribes
of an earlier cultural stage. For the moment we will call the senti-
ment which holds tribes and nations together "group-sentiment." To
call it "racial" is to beg a very important question which it is the
purpose of this essay to discuss. It is, however, clear that even
in the pre-Renaissance stage group-sentiment was a complex thing,
certain elements being derived from the idea of kinship, certain others
from local feeling, from economic necessity, from history, from custom,
or from religion.
The transference of the idea of kinship to the "group-sentiment"
of nations has been fateful for our civilization. For while the idea of
kinship is one of the most primitive emotional stimuli, the sentiment
which it arouses is also one of the most enduring. It is for this reason
that the authors of moral and legal codes have frequently found it