Manufacturing Consent

And thus when, by a series of measures undertaken everywhere and at the same time—always thanks to the power in its hands at the command of the Government—a certain portion of the people, chiefly the froth, the town crowds, is brought into an unnaturally excited state, it is said. Look at this spontaneous action of the will of the whole nation.

Such manifestations as those of Toulon and Paris, as those which take place in Germany at the receptions of the Emperor or of Bismarck, or at the manœuvres in Lothringen, as those which are always repeated in Russia at all pompously arranged receptions, only prove that the means of exciting a nation artificially which are at present in the hands of the Governments and ruling classes, can always evoke any patriotic manifestations they choose, and afterwards label it as the outcome of the patriotic sentiments of the people.

Nothing, on the contrary, proves so clearly the absence of patriotism in the people, as these same excessive measures now used for its artificial excitement and the small results attained with so much effort.

If patriotic sentiments are so natural to a people, why then is it not allowed to express itself of its own accord, instead of being stirred up by every ordinary and extraordinary means? 

–Leo Tolstoy, “On Patriotism” in Tolstoy’s Writings on Civil Disobedience and Non-Violence

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