Essentials of Social Psychology

Chapter 13: Group Loyalties

Emory S. Bogardus

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It is assumed here that man is inherently social, that he is in a sense a product of group life, and that beneath anti-social actions there is ordinarily a deep-seated gregarious nature. It is in the play-day of childhood that social sympathy and group loyalties are developed in the individual. In associating with parents and particularly with other children, the child experiences the growth of his social nature, or social personality.

Through associating with others, the spirit of toleration and appreciation develops. As a result of associating, tolerating, appreciating, a sense of loyalty takes form. In every stable group a social consciousness and a social mind is present.

By associating with other persons, the individual learns that they have feelings, longings, problems, sufferings which are similar to his own. Consequently, a reorganization of attitudes occurs, tolerance develops, and harmonious actions ultimately follow.

The opinions of the group tend to survive and to be integrated. The strongest current opinion becomes the established opinion in later years; it gains prestige with years. It becomes a part of the social values of the group. Into the mass of integrated established

(247) opinion, and of formulating current opinion, the child is born. Within this psycho-sociological environment he grows up and from it his thinking receives its directions. Later, his matured judgment reacts against some of the elements in this combination of past and current opinions, and he may become the exponent of a change in group values, of new group values, or of the established values.

Integrated past opinion and misty current opinion center about the vital phases of group life. A fundamental social value is the life of the group itself. Each collectivity must hold its own life as an elemental social necessity. The group will fight for its own unity. Lack of group unity presages group disintegration.

Group morale consists of group self control, and self confidence among the rank and file and also in the leaders. Beneath this confidence there must be a genuine moral force of honesty, reliability, co-operation, and virility, which will constitute a driving and a resisting power.

Group life, group unity, and distinctive group possessions, both material and spiritual, compose the trinity of leading social values that have been created through human association. "An abiding affection for the fatherland and for principles of liberty, of opportunity, and of fraternity which the group may have worked out represent the highest social appraisals."[1]

1. The Social Psychology of Patriotism. Patriotism is group loyalty. It is the tangible group response which is excited by an attack upon the group valises.

(248) It is a complex sentiment; it is a specialized form of love.

Patriotism is as old as human affection. It originally was love of family or more particularly loyalty to the eater, or the patriarchal head of the family. Patriotism was at one time in its evolution synonymous with patriarchalism and with familism. It was once love of home; at another time, love of clan. In the days of Abraham it was loyalty to Abraham and his household. Among the mountaineers today in undeveloped regions of the earth where a clan organization rules, patriotism is clan loyalty.

In the hey-day of tribal society, patriotism was loyalty to the tribe; it was tribalism. Among the Bantus, patriotism is Bantu-loyalty. Among the Iroquois, patriotism was loyalty to the Iroquois.

With the rise of the state, patriotism became nationalism. Today among civilized peoples patriotism is almost synonymous with loyalty to the nation. It is a sentiment which manifests a deep attachment to geographic territory and other national values. The Psalmist illustrated the force of patriotism when he declared:[2]

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Patriotism is loyalty to patria — by birth or by adop-

(249) -tion. The individual identifies his life with that of his country. He becomes an integral and controlling factor in its aims and activities. Patriotism enables the individual to expand beyond the limitations of his individuality and partially if not fully to identify himself with interests which are larger and more important than his own.

Under national patriotism, familism continues. He who is not loyal to his family scarcely knows how to be loyal to his nation. If one is not true to a small social unit, how can he be faithful to a large collectivity?

Under nationalism, tribalism also has a place. It takes the form of loyalty to local community, city, province, or state. Community loyalty is necessary in the building of a strong nation-state, otherwise there would be too great a hiatus between the national structure and the family structures. The national roof must be sustained by large and permanent pillars as well as by a large number of small supports. Familism and communityism take subordinate but vital places in nationalism.

The most powerful form of group consciousness that has yet developed is that form of national patriotism which arises in connection with national defense and national attack. At first it is usually highly emotional and charged with electrical feelings, but after a time it settles down into a stubborn struggle for group existence.

The members of a nation-state may be classified under several heads in regard to their loyalty to the state in which thev live. There are several brands and

(250) grades of patriotism. (1) Pugnacious patriotism is an expression of the combative instinct. There are many individuals who are continually on the lookout for trouble. In a larger sense, many persons are willing to rush their country into a war upon the slightest provocation. If an American in a foreign country has been insulted or killed—regardless of his guilt,—these pugnacious persons would have their country declare war immediately. Jingoists abound. Combative patriotism does not wait for an investigation of causal circumstances. It works continuously for an aggressive foreign policy; it is impatient with negotiation.

(2) Professional patriotism characterizes the military class. It is valuable in a society where force predominates. Its weakness is its tendency toward arrogancy and hard-heartedness, and an exaggerated desire for promotion. The arrogancy weakness has been discussed in the preceding chapter; the promotion ambition is illustrated in the extreme case of the officer who some years ago expressed a hope that the United States would declare war upon the Republic of Panama, after she had committed a slight breach of courtesy. When asked for his reason, he candidly replied: "Because my chances for promotion would be greatly increased."

(3) Profiteering patriotism raises its bland features in spite of the need for war sacrifices. After the entry of the United States into the World War, the cry was raised, "Business as usual." But everyone knew that if the war was to be won, business could not go on as usual. Before the United States declared war, the dividends of certain companies which were

(251) manufacturing war materials rose rapidly, and after our war declaration, the war profits of these firms created millionaires. One American openly and shamelessly boasted: "This war has surely been a fine thing for me. If it lasts two years, I will have made enough money to live in leisure the rest of my life."

Another profiteering patriot sold to the government shoddy clothing for the soldiers and sailors. Still another set up wooden images of the Kaiser, and playing upon the war feelings of the passers-by, invited them to "Swat the Kaiser"—for ten cents a throw. A theater owner subscribed heavily to one of the war funds and then advertised that fact widely. His theater drew unusually large crowds of people, who felt that they should patronize such an unusually generous proprietor and "patriot." The profiteer hoists the flag, but locks up coal in his mines while women and children suffer from the cold. He buys up foodstuffs and holds them while prices rise and people starve.

(4) Faddish patriotism gives benefit "teas" in war times, despite the fact that such affairs provide an unnecessary fourth meal. A young woman who wore a service star was found to have no nearer relative iii the World War than a cousin whom she had never seen. She easily justified to herself this action on the grounds that "all the other girls are wearing service stars." In certain cases the carrying of flags upon the front of automobiles includes a degree of faddish patriotism. Shortly after the United States declared war in 1917, as high as forty per cent of automobiles carried flags, but six months later the proportion fell

(252) to less than five per cent. In the meantime, however, the real patriotism of the people had greatly increased.

(5) Patriotism is sometimes adventuresome. The slogan, "Join the navy and see the world," recognizes the adventuresome element in patriotism. In the World War there were many young men that volunteered who stated that they were moved strongly by the desire to go abroad and see "the sights," and who were willing to take a risk in returning alive.

(6) Conspicuous patriotism exhausts itself in applauding the flag or in patriotic statements, but whines when asked to observe meatless days and to refrain from using wheat bread. It carries the flag, but secretly indulges in profiteering and self-indulgence. It is generally hypocritical; it evaporates in patriotic statements. The conspicuous patriot loudly abuses others for not going to war—when he knows that he can remain safe at home.

(7) Pacific patriotism is two-fold. (a) There are group members who believe in peace at any price. As practical citizens they are mistaken and sometimes dangerous. It is necessary in times of group crisis to be willing to fight to save those social values which the group through the slow process of time has acquired. As long as powerful national wolves are loose in the world, it is folly to believe in peace at any price. In such a case a nation may be called on to fight not only for itself but for the values which civilization has slowly and painfully constructed. Peace-at-any-price individuals possess a willingness to undergo hardships and even to die for the principles they represent. They frequently possess those fine moral

(253) qualities which cannot be found in the loyal but truculent chauvinist.

(b) The other type of pacifist patriot tries all honorable methods of solving international controversies before resorting to war. In ordinary peace times practically every American would come within this category. Such persons believe in the principles of peace rather than of war as means of progress. In time of war, however, such a declaration is likely to be grossly misunderstood. At such a time any type of pacifist is anathema.

(8) Provincial patriotism is exaggerated partisanship. It praises the tenets of one political party and denounces the entire programs of other parties. It magnifies and places the interests of one section of the country ahead of the welfare of the whole nation. It measures long distances with the yard-stick that it uses in its own provincial area. It opposed the Louisiana Purchase and the acquisition of the Philippines. It would settle the Japanese problem in the United States irrespective of international justice. It would prevent our nation from functioning fully in the League of Nations. Today, as in the time of Epaminondas there are too many provincial patriots in the world.

(9) Chauvinistic patriotism is dominated by watchwords and phrases. It is the direct descendant of the boastful attitudes of lower races. It wildly shouts, "My country, right or wrong," when its country may be already on the rocks. It forgets that the slogan, "My country, right or wrong," made Germany a menace to the world. It does not possess the courage

(254) to face national evils and to assist constructively in righting maladjustments. thereby strengthening the nation.

(10) True national patriotism is based on the belief that there must be nation-groups as necessary intermediate structures between the family and the community on one hand and the world order on the other. It begins more or less irrationally and is closely connected with the accident of birthplace. One comes to love his native land, even though its faults may be many. Wherever one finds food and shelter and kindly ministrations, one feels patriotic.

True national patriotism is national love divorced from all selfish motives. It develops with the recognition that one's nation group is playing a rôle of unselfishness in the world. It is expressed not only in exciting war times, but in the most monotonous days of peace. True patriotism functions in both peace and war, but it is far more difficult to be patriotic in peace than in war. In the routine days of the work-a-day world, private interests press forward and command attention. As a result, the individual forgets to go to ile polls, neglects to study the merits of candidates, pails to keep in touch with his representatives in legislative and administrative positions—in short, to be truly patriotic.

(11 ) Super-patriotism is a high order of true national patriotism. It gives all for the sake of its nation when fighting in a righteous cause. Superpatriots include the Joan of Arcs and the George Washingtons, the heroes of Zeebrugge and the Argonne, and the unknown, brave mothers and fathers

(255) who have given up sons and daughters anywhere in a righteous national cause.

(12) Besides loyalty to family, to community, to nation-state, the trend of social evolution is producing another type of collective loyalty—internationalism. The world is now on the verge of forming an international consciousness and a sense of planetary values. President Wilson's now famous pleas for world-wide democracy and the organization of the friendship of the world are forerunners of the rise of a new world society.

Unfortunately, international patriotism is divided into two opposing types. (a) Industrial internationalism holds that the industrial classes throughout all countries should organize in a world order and renounce the existing national governments which are the tools of capitalism. Industrial internationalism is an outgrowth of Marxian socialism and closely allied to Bolshevism. Industrial internationalism fails to recognize that its program runs counter to the laws of social evolution and of democratic growth. No stable international order can be built on class consciousness alone. A permanent world structure cannot be suspended in mid-air, supported chiefly or only by individual, familial, or communal units.

(b) Democratic internationalism is scientifically founded. Upon individuals, the family rests. Upon family groups, the community, city, or province depends. Upon individuals, families, and communities, the nation relies. Upon all these constituent elements, and only so, an enduring world organization can be constructed. Ordinarily family loyalty fits harmoni-

(256) -ously into national loyalty, without disrupting or weakening the former. Similarly, there is no reason why national loyalty should suffer by locating it properly within the boundaries of democratic internationalism. An individual who has learned rationally to be loyal to his nation will be no less a national patriot by catching a vision of the larger internationalism.

Democratic internationalism is built upon the highest virtues and the best moral characteristics of the nation. It recognizes that points of view naturally vary in different national habitats. It would not destroy nations since they are selfish, for the same reason that a nation would not destroy its citizens because they likewise are selfish.

Democratic internationalism would dignify nationalism and make it a nobler sentiment. It would end economic conflict between nations for the same reason that such conflict was stopped between the colonies when the United States was formed.3 It would eventually seal the doom of military and naval barriers between nations for the same reason that it has never been necessary to separate the United States from Canada by fortifications and dreadnoughts.

Planetary good feeling will develop concomitantly with a world-wide cultural uniformity and enlarged means of communication. While commerce and religion have strong international organizations, education is still represented on a world scale only by international congresses on various subjects.

(13) Traitorism is loyalty to an outside group. Traitorism takes several forms. It may show a hypo

(257) critical loyalty to the country to w hick genuine log alty is due, and a secret allegiance to some otber country. It sometimes flies the flag but exploits the helpless group members. It squanders money in sinful living. It evades the payment of taxes. It frequently defies the laws of the nation.

In recent years, immigrants hay a migrated to the United States from European countries where hots; political and industrial autocracy ruled and where revolution seemed to be the only method to get justice. Some of these immigrants, feeling keenly a sense of economic injustice in our country, have undertaken to spread revolutionary propaganda throughout the land. But they are traitors. They fail to see that the ballot is open and that when they and others who are now fighting against social injustice show enough cooperative spirit to elect a president of the United States they can have their way in this country where majorities and pluralities rule. When the working men of this country manifest sufficient co-operative spirit to elect a workingman president of the nation, the power to rule will be in their hands. In view of such generous possibilities in our democracy, revolutionary propaganda is atrocious; revolutionary propagandists are traitors to the principles upon which our republic has been built, and to which loyal Americans pledge their fealty and lives.

Our people need to develop in these transition (lays a new respect for law and order—this is the greatest need of the new patriotism. Persons of high or low estate must increase their interest in public welfare. People must enlarge their national patriotism by par-

(258) -ticipating in the formation of a planetary spirit.

Further, philosophy and religion have formulated still more comprehensive group loyalties. For example, Christianity has dared to project a loyalty which includes not only the present world society, but also that unnumbered host who have run well and finished this earthly race: in fact a vast society of which the living earthly group is but a manifestation. Christianity has been so radical that unto familism, tribalism, nationalism, internationalism, it has added universalism in the sense of a loyalty to a society—the Kingdom of God—infinite in size and character, without beginning and without end.



1. What is group loyalty?

2. Should the chief basis for religious fellowship be "agreement in belief or agreement in ideal"?

3. Why does the morality of diplomacy and war lag behind the morality of individuals?

4. Why do woman's legal rights "lag behind her generally acknowledged moral rights"?

5. What is the social psychology of shibboleths and slogans?

6. What is your definition of patriotism?

7. Explain: "A great deal of so-called patriotism is but the crowd emotion of the nation."


8. Name and illustrate a type of patriotism

(259) which is not discussed in this chapter.

9. Can a good patriot be a bad citizen?

10. How do you rate the patriotism in the sentiment: My country, right or wrong.

11. Distinguish between instinctive and reflective patriotism.

12. Do you agree with Thorstein Veblen's statement that "patriotism is useful for breaking the peace, not for keeping it."

13. What is "patrioteering"?

14. Should there be an international flag?

15. When is it easiest to be patriotic?

16. When is it the most difficult to be patriotic?

17. Distinguish between patriotism, nationalism, and internationalism?



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  1. F. H. Giddings, Principles of Sociology. pp. 117 ff.
  2. Psalm 137.
  3. Other phases of this type of international patriotism may be found in Chapter VI of The New Patriotism by C. E. Fayle.

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