How to Destroy a Nation

In The Possessed, Dostoyevsky has his character Shatov exclaim: If a great people does not believe that the truth is only to be found in itself alone (in itself alone and exclusively); if it does not believe that it alone is fit and destined to raise up and save all the rest by its truth, it would at once sink into being ethnographical material, and not a great people… Put another way, if a nation has confidence in itself, it continues as a viable political entity. Once it loses that, it lacks cohesion and becomes only a collection of random people living together. In the 19th century, the British people believed in themselves. This confidence fueled their impetus for Empire; they embraced the need, the duty, even, to bring democracy, Christianity, and the British way of life to the entire world. No one doubted their heaven-sent mandate to do so. So much so, that Britain almost singlehandedly assumed the mission of ending the slave trade. As much as one-sixth of...(Read Full Article)