Page:The voice of an oppressed people.pdf/28

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On the whole, the so called national frontiers are political, they were chosen by the states for strategical reasons. The nations spread regardless of natural frontiers; these frontiers are losing more and more their political importance, for culture and the progress of culture means the control and mastery of nature and her blind forces.

States and nations, even when small, have been able to protect their independence; take, for instance, small Montenegro and the other Balkan nations against Turkey, Holland against Spain, Switzerland (in its smaller size) against Austria, etc. The biggest states have been unable to resist small but determined nations, whose spirit is expressed in the famous words of the Bohemian patriot, Dr. Rieger: "We won't give in!"

The physical, mental and moral qualities of smaller nations are just as good as those of their greater neighbours and oppressors. Are the Serbians less brave than the Austrian-Germans? the Czechs less energetic and strenuous for having conserved and strengthened their nationality against the Germans? Denmark is probably the most cultured country in Europe, Bohemia has fewer illiterates than the Austrian-Germans.

Such instances could easily be multiplied; but I am ready to concede that on the other hand small nations labour under certain disadvantages. A small nation has a more limited number of hands and heads: the division and organisation of labour, physical and mental, is less adequate. There is a smaller number of specialists, wealth and comfort are more restricted. But here, too, there are exceptions: take Holland, Switzerland, Bohemia, etc. Some small nations are apt to acquire a peculiar form of timidity, a lack of daring and enterprise; occasionally even a kind of cringing want of frankness. But are these qualities not due to the effect of prolonged oppression? To be sure, these and other drawbacks, in so far as they exist, exist only under given circumstances, under the pressure of the