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The Idols

the endeavour to cut the bonds which bind mankind, who straightway tie them again to be more firmly enthralled. Of every liberator men make a master. Every ideal which ought to liberate is transformed into a clumsy Idol. The history of humanity is the history of Idols and of their successive reigns; and as humanity grows older the power of the Idol seems to wax greater and more destructive.

At first the divinities were of wood, of stone, or of metal. Those at any rate were not proof against the axe or against fire. Others followed that no material force could reach, for they were graven in the invisible mind. Yet all aspired to material dominion, and to secure for them that dominion the peoples of the world have poured out their best blood: Idols of religions and of nationality: the Idol of liberty whose reign was established in Europe by the armies of the sans-culotte at the point of the bayonet. The masters have changed, the slaves are still the same. Our century has made the acquaintance of two new species. The Idol of Race, at first the outcome of noble ideas, became in the laboratories of spectacled savants the Moloch which Germany hurled herself against France in 1870 and which her enemies now wish to use