By Edward Bellamy, editor of The New Nation (1893)
The editor of The New Nation is very often asked for an opinion as to the merits of various plans for starting colonies, communities and exclusive settlements for the purpose of carrying out the principles of nationalism. By way of general reply we would say that the existing colonies called cities, states and nations seem to us best adapted to the illustration of our principles. The machinery of these existing organizations is strong, well proven and complete, and it belongs to the people as soon as they get good and ready to take it away from the plutocrats and the politicians. We should consider the cause of nationalism more advanced by a single step taken by the city, state or nation toward its ideal, and embodied in the law of the land, than by the complete success of some small colony founded on the full nationalist plan. The gain made by the embodiment of a nationalist idea in the laws and institutions of a state a nation or a great city, is permanent; while the most brilliant success of a petty body of reformers is likely to be but temporary, depending as it ordinarily does upon the personal qualities of particular managers or a temporary wave of enthusiasm on the part of the membership. As a test of what the main body of humanity, that is to say the average man, is capable of, the success or failure of enterprises undertaken by selected enthusiasts is of no value whatever. We nationalists are not trying to work out our individual salvation, but the weal of all, and no man is a true nationalist who even wishes to be saved unless all the rest are. A slight amendment in the condition of the mass of men is preferable to elysium attained by a few.
It is sometimes urged as an argument for colony experiments as a means of advancing nationalism, that the success of a particular enterprise of that sort would soon convert the world. There is no reason to think so. The world has had numerous examples of saints, who illustrated in their lives the beauty of holiness, but the world has thus far shown itself decidedly more inclined to admire than to imitate their examples. If you would lead men you must take them by the hand.
The same amount of steam power which will raise one pound a thousand feet, will raise a thousand pounds one foot.
In like manner the moral force which might perfect the social conditions of a selected group, would, if expended in trying to wake up and brace up the community at large, perhaps only help them upward a very little; yet the latter is the righteous and godlike way of spending that force. Jesus Christ put it in a nutshell when he said "The field is the world." What is the matter with the colony we were born into?