Fetishism ran through all the primitive cults from the earliest belief in sacred stones, through idolatry, cannibalism, and nature worship, to totemism.
Totemism is a combination of social and religious observances. Originally it was thought that respect for the totem animal of supposed biologic origin insured the food supply. Totems were at one and the same time symbols of the group and their god. Such a god was the clan personified. Totemism was one phase of the attempted socialization of otherwise personal religion. The totem eventually evolved into the flag, or national symbol, of the various modern peoples.
A fetish bag, a medicine bag, was a pouch containing a reputable assortment of ghost-impregnated articles, and the medicine man of old never allowed his bag, the symbol of his power, to touch the ground. Civilized peoples in the twentieth century see to it that their flags, emblems of national consciousness, likewise never touch the ground.
The insignia of priestly and kingly office were eventually regarded as fetishes, and the fetish of the state supreme has passed through many stages of development, from clans to tribes, from suzerainty to sovereignty, from totems to flags. Fetish kings have ruled by “divine right,” and many other forms of government have obtained. Men have also made a fetish of democracy, the exaltation and adoration of the common man’s ideas when collectively called “public opinion.” One man’s opinion, when taken by itself, is not regarded as worth much, but when many men are collectively functioning as a democracy, this same mediocre judgment is held to be the arbiter of justice and the standard of righteousness.