NATIONAL IDENTITY AND
IN MODERN ROMANIA
The State of Romania, being the result of the downfall of three empires, has
never had a well-defined identity or stable borders. The nation developed long
before the state, although both are constructed identities.
The fact that national identity has been a permanent concern for Romanian intellectuals is not surprising.
Modern Romania took shape while obsessively trying to define the national essence and identity. The path to development, and implicitly the legitimacy of a national policy, was definitely tied to the way in which the essential features of history of Romanian spirituality were defined. The supposition that a certain conception of national identity automatically legitimates the political discourse was meant to mark the evolution of Romanian intellectual life in a paramount way. From this perspective, the historical controversy between modernists and traditionalists centered around a nationalist type of political thinking, which still exists today, although in a more sophisticated manner. The issue was the implementation of a ‘legitimate’ nationalist discourse. When the discussion of which political path to follow, is transformed into a choice between a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ nationalism, it is quite difficult to avoid the trap of a collectivist exclusivism. The theoretical and practical consequences of such a discourse are extremely important. In fact, the way in which one analyses the relationship between individuality and collectivity, between the politics of individual rights and that of collective identity, depends precisely on these consequences. Liberalism, in its essence, is the assertion of individual autonomy, while traditional conservatism and nationalism, in its different form presupposes the imposition of communitary values. What this essay is attempting to prove is that the Romanian public space had – and still has – profound collectivist marks due to a deep national obsession: the politics of identity. This fact was a considerable obstacle in the building of an articulated political discourse about individual rights and liberties and implicitly of a culture of individualism in Romania.
AUTOCHTONISM VS. MODERNISM
The year 1848 and its ideology represents without any doubt the beginning of the modern Romanian civilization. The historical importance of Kogalniceanu, Bolintineanu, Russo and Balcescu arises from their attempt to impose the cultural, institutional and juridical models of Europe onto the Romanian society. The modernization of Romania was synonymous with the adoption of European capitalist civilization and the promise of national emancipation. The movement of 1848 became the ‘black sheep’ of the traditionalists and a national curse because it was ‘revolutionary’ and ‘atheistic’ and meant the exiting of the specifically ‘Romanian’ element in the ecumenical spirit. The movement was nationalist, but no longer orthodox. Europeanization now meant, in fact, "capitalist selfishness, ‘politicianism’ or the sacrifice of everyone for the sake of an oligarchy . . . [and] deceit in the political and cultural institutions."3 Moreover, Eliade considered it a "European aping" because it borrowed the model of an "anti-spiritual Europe," of an "abstract apology of Man" and therefore it was "a great threat to Romanian spirituality."4 Its historical guilt was the fact that it tried to impose alien ideas on the Romanian people. Briefly, these ideas were: parliamentary liberalism, rationalism, atheism, internationalist ‘revolutionarism’, romanticism, civilization versus culture, industry versus ‘anthropological-geography’. Essentially, the 1848 movement was guilty of trying to impose an alien path towards civilization and culture, which did not fit the native ‘Eastern’ and ‘Orthodox’ spirit.
Besides providing a radical critique of ‘strong’ traditionalism [nationalist-Orthodox], the 1848 movement was, in fact, one which asserted, in Kogalniceanu`s words, a ‘national spirit’. Its spirit was closer to Risorgimento, to the native ‘orthodoxist’ than to integral nationalism. The differences referred to the way in which the essence of the national spirit was conceived and, implicitly, their appeal to the two founding myths: ‘Romanity’ and ‘Dacity’.5
Maiorescu, as a moderate traditionalist and supporter of the organic development, viewed the 1848 movement as an attempt to "imitate and reproduce the superficial forms of Western culture in the rush of some enthusiastic young men willing to arrive immediately to literature, science, beautiful arts and, above all, liberty in a modern state."6 This modernization was not a natural process, well suited the Romanian society, because it was the result of the contagious influence exerted by the ideas of the French Revolution. The exponents of this innovating attempt were students blinded by the ‘grand phenomena of modern culture’, who thus borrowed the forms and effects of Western civilization, but not its substance. The development of the Romanian social organism had been a paradox since all of its major institutions were constructed without a solid foundation, the so called ‘forms without a content’. The solution was the reestablishment of an equilibrium between forms and content. This was to be found only by following the path of organic development in conformity with our cultural tradition which meant, to a large extent, an agrarian social structure.
Paradoxically, the obsession with ‘the peasants’ was not strange, not even to the 1848 generation. They complained about the fact that urban people "are no longer Romanians"7 and the times when the landowner and the peasant "understood each other . . . in language and ideas"8 were already past.
The ‘cult’ of the peasant and the longing for a pastoral, rural idealized past descends from the romantic-conservative English tradition [Coleridge, Wordsworth, Cobbett, T.S. Elliot] and also from the German tradition [Moeser, Mueller, Novalis]. One of the central issues of traditionalist conservatism was the longing for the ‘purity’ of the past combined with an anti-individualist attitude. Liberal individualism was viewed as a threat to the established values of communitary life throughout history. The liberal economic policy was regarded as being against human nature and against a life, which was all together simple, religious and full of communitarian feelings. Industrialization and capitalist individualism meant the decline of community, of tradition, and the natural order. The state was a communal enterprise tinged with spiritual and organic features.
While for the Junimists ‘the peasant’ ideal was presented
in a moderate form, the disseminationists and the populists viewed it in a
radical way, as being the source of a change in manners and of a revitalization
of the ‘true culture’. In essence, traditionalism
regarded the modernization of Romania as not fitting with the spiritual profile of the nation. Rural life meant a type of contemplative metaphysics [which would gain the dimension of Orthodoxism through the ‘trairist’ current of thought] essentially incompatible with the industrial and Protestant Weltanschauung of an active life and of a ‘rationalized’ form of work.
The controversy between ‘Europeans’ and traditionalists came to its peak in the 20s with the publication of Lovinescu`s History of Modern Romanian Civilization [1924-26].9 The book systematically supported a modernist approach, since the adoption of European cultural and institutional models was viewed as a functional necessity for Romania. Without denying the importance of economic factors, Lovinescu considered that the development of Romania was strongly influenced by Western ideology through the historical work of the 1848 generation, in the sense of the ‘social determinism’. The idea of the synchronical development in accordance with the spirit of the time was explicitly stated by Lovinescu: "People live in a certain historical epoch; European life is synchronic. The younger countries, which develop a culture of their own only later in time, are left to accept the social and political ideology of the countries with an older civilization."10
The traditionalism preached by Maiorescu was for Lovinescu a form of German and English evolutionism, just as the movement of 1848 was a reply to French liberalism.11 Although a follower of the unconditional ideological influence in the development of social and political institutions, Lovinescu remained a supporter of the national specificity in art. However, the rebirth of the ‘Romanian soul’ could only be achieved through contact with Europe: "Out of the fusion of the alien influences with the spirit of our race, the art of the future with features that can constitute a Romanian style can be born."12
The idea of cultural identity can be found also in the view of the ‘moderate’ modernists from ‘Viata Romaneasca’ who chose the path between ‘tradition’ and ‘Europeanism’ in order to reject ‘ethnic culturalism’ and ‘extremist traditionalism’. In their conception, the national specificity in art did not include, when it comes to civilization, modernization.13 Their pro-Europeanism was combined with rural accents – the peasants were the ‘heart’ of the nation – and also with a mostly agrarian political/economic program. What Lovinescu and other "radical" modernists rejected was not the idea of a ‘national essence’, but precisely its becoming a dogma and its being a reflection of the primitive rural spirit.
Their reaction against ‘ossified’ traditionalism, therefore Europeanism, seemed to be the only possibility which could lead to national emancipation.14 Ralea, for example, in The Mission of the Young Generation considered nationalism, democracy and Europeanism as being the values that conditioned the development of Romanian civilization.15 At the same time, these are for him the social values which lead to the national dimension, through a process of ‘differentiation’ specific to the Romanian people.16 By opposing rationalism to mysticism, Ralea wanted to prove that there was no incompatibility between democracy and nationalism, but only a historical conditioning. Only rationalism and democracy could lead us to an authentic national conscience.17 Undoubtedly, Ralea had in mind the 19th century liberal form of nationalism, which the theorists called civic or legitimate nationalism.
It is useful to mention that the inter-war fight was carried on essentially around the concepts of ‘national essence’ and ‘national uniqueness’ in art and also in social life in general. The discourse which was used is not articulated and specific to an individualist methodology but it has more a collective-normative feature. ‘Essence’ and ‘uniqueness’ are concepts which precisely determine the theoretical frames of an existentialist metaphysics, and consequently they do not allow a rational approach to individuality. Any type of essentialist-collectivist rhetoric subordinates or views as secondary the issues of individual rights and liberties, but without a constant reference to them it is hard to imagine a ‘culture of individualism’ and a coherent liberal conception. The case of Radulescu-Motru is illustrative since he proposed an ‘ethnical’ form of conscience specific to Romanians but different from the style of European nationalism. By invoking the laws of heredity, he demonstrated the necessity of a "politics of the hereditary order," the politics of the Romanian spirit, which could be the only ideology to bring the modernization of the state into being. This approach was supposed to be the solution to the problems of a political life based on "the abstraction of the social contract," on juridical norms and on conventionalism.18 In other words, what was necessary was a politics capable to achieve "the ethnic being," through the refusal of parliamentarism and an organization of the state which started from the biological determinations of the life of people.19 The individual was supposed to "integrate in the collective activity of society"20 because "the contemporary state is achieved by organizing the functions of the nation itself".21 The final goal of this revolutionary politics was to eliminate both the individualism of the elites and the instinct of the masses. The Romanian way of being was to "end the antagonism which alienated the upper-class Romanians from those below. It will thus diminish the individualism of those above and will illuminate the mysticism of those below."22
Autochthonism in its pure form is the creation of Nae Ionescu and of the 30s generation. In what concerns ideology, the change consisted in the building of a ‘new’ ‘organic’ nationalism as an expression of the synthesis between the ethnic and religious. The dominant feature of the Romanian intellectual life in the 30s was to justify in theory the essential terms of the nationalist discourse: ethnicity, nationality, national uniqueness, native tradition, etc.23
Nae Ionescu considered ethnicity as "the formula of todays Romanian nationalism,"24 while for Nichifor Crainic the "biological homogeneousness," the "historical identity," and "the blood and the soul" were the defining elements of the "ethnocratic state."25 ‘Ethnical nationalism’ represented for Nae Ionescu the historical reply to ‘liberal nationalism’ and generally to parliamentary democracy and individualism.26 More, it was the expression of Orthodox spirituality which was specific to the Romanian people, while Catholicism meant a "different way to value existence" expressing a "universalistic" thinking, opposed to "national particularity."27 Orthodoxy and ethnicity were considered the defining features of national identity because "being Romanian meant also being Orthodox."28
The project of the young generation [Noica, Eliade, Cioran] was intended as a synthesis going beyond the division between traditionalists and modernists, their solution being "an actual Romania."29 Traditionalism, as regarded by Noica, had tied the Romanian people to their past, to their anonymity and folklore, thus making their participation in history impossible and condemning the Romanian people to exist within the confines of a minor culture. Modernism opened for them the way to history, but the danger consisted in losing their identity in the overall uniformity of the way of life. The path to be chosen had to reject both a modernity of liberal roots and conservative traditionalism. This path referred again to ‘us’, ‘our people’, to a ‘collective identity’, while individuality was viewed as a consequence of materialist rationalism in order to be stigmatized.30
Nae Ionescu saw the individualism born out of Cartesianism and reform as the principal cause of the crisis of modern man. As a consequence, his philosophy wanted to "destroy the values of modern rationalism." He noted that "through its reductionism, Cartesian rationalism turns the rationalist truth on its head and falsifies it. We destroy it: in philosophy through the new anti-intellectual currents . . . ; in politics, by scrutinizing the parliamentary and democratic regime and through the victory of the organic conception over the contractualist conception."31
In opposition to "contemporary democracy" and to the individualism born out of the mixture between the "philosophical subjectivism of Descartes" and the mathematical, uniformizing and scientific method," the idea of national community is seen as "the only alive and creative reality" in which the individual can organically integrate.32 Although it cannot be said that an articulated liberal discourse existed in that epoch, there is instead an excessive criticism of its values.
Rationalism, Cartesianism, Kantianism and their social-political consequences, contractualism, liberalism and egalitarianism on which the political thinking of the democratic and modern state is built, led to the "intellectual breakdown of the West."33 More than that, rationalism and liberal democracy meant the denial of our mystical and irrational heritage.34 The alienation of the Romanian people from their historical being started with the Revolution of 1848. The reforms of the 1848 generation changed the course of the national organism from the ‘truths’ of the Orthodox world to the "European nihilism, which means the denial of our creative potentialities."35 The West with its standardizing civilization of an urban/industrial type meant a denial of the East, where communitary and rural tradition were preserved, and where culture as an expression of organic interior life still existed. For Nae Ionescu, the idea of appropriation of Western civilization was based on historical prejudice: Latinity, the creation of the Transylvanian school of thought. None of the defining elements of the Romanian soul is Latin: neither the idea of right, nor that of state, even less that of God.36
The coming into being of a Romanian version of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, as a politically relevant movement was crucial in the attempt to consolidate a Romanian identity centered around anti-Western and anti-individual trends. Ethnical and religious identity became identical. Rationalism, positivism and tolerance were viewed as decadent manifestations. In the inter-war period the attempt to bring about the cultural rebirth of the Romanian nation led to a political rhetoric with a strong authoritarian accent, especially regarding the Iron Guardist [Legionary] movement.37 This first contact with mass populism played a crucial role in the marginalization of liberal individualism.
The emphasis of the unique qualities of the Romanian tradition became the dominant theme of the current of thought called ‘trairism’, upon which the Iron Guardist [Legionary] movement was based and which, through Noica, continued to exert a philosophical influence.38 One of the most remarkable features of the history of ideas in 20th century Romania was the existence of a mostly irrationalist philosophy, in spite of a state which embraced an official rationalist ideology and a bureaucratic apparatus, at least after 1848.
In a certain way, the Communist regime should be seen as an extreme version of the collectivist politics which was implicit in the nationalist discourse going back to 1848. What was new was the fusion of the profound rationalist conception of the ‘new man’ [homo collectivus], with the traditional conception of the moral significance of the peasant, which inspired the idealization of the native and rural culture. In philosophical terms, trairism and Marxism were not compatible, but what they did have in common, at least in these versions, was contempt for the values of liberal individualism. These two conceptions were paradoxically united in the doctrine of protochronism, which wanted to find the pure origins of scientific and philosophic innovations in the structure of the Romanian culture and language.39
MYTHS AND MODELS OF IDENTITY
The controversy between traditionalists and modernists constitutes, through its extent, participation and the fields of knowledge that it includes, a point of reference in the cultural Romanian space. Its consequences are of a paramount importance: on the one hand, it helped to crystallize the historical ‘obsessions’ related to the definition of national identity, while, on the other hand, it influenced in a decisive way the evolution of cultural ideas from the public space. This fact became obvious after 1989, when the controversy between nationalists and anti-nationalists and also the more general debates in political life brought again to the fore the older obsessions regarding Romania’s path of development. The new element is represented by the actors on the political scene and their attempts to justify the theoretical suppositions, belonging to paradigms, which used to diverge decades ago. I consider that these suppositions can be summed up, from a methodological standpoint, in two different paradigms:
Besides its unavoidable reductionism, I consider that the suppositions this methodological model incorporates have functioned in a ‘latent’ way in the space of public culture and have influenced, to a certain extent, both the intellectual discussions around the issue of identity and implicitly the different practical arguments. They influenced the choice of a certain type of norms and values and they carried the whole intellectual dispute around the concept of national identity.
For the nationalist rhetoric, these models were included in a real political mythology. Latinity and/or Dacity were the terms of a historical dispute, which was systematically used in order to justify a certain type of political thinking. Invoking the origins and the ‘founding myths’ is the best way to legitimate the idea of a nation.40 The role of these myths is important in two respects: on the one hand, it consolidates the national ethos, and, on the other hand, they become essential reference points for the social/political projects of the community, due to the fact that they respond to the ‘needs’ of the present. Their axiomatic force can hardly be questioned, even by an extremely critical mind. Also, if you ‘deconstruct’ the myths, something else has to be put in their place. The idea at stake is that of affiliation, and without it no community can be imagined.41 The problem is that the way these ‘founding myths’ were ideologically valued in the nationalist discourse created a type of ‘residual collectivism’ which favored the progressive development in the Romanian public space of a nationalist mentality. More exactly, it imposed the conviction that an adequate political strategy should be based on a certain conception of national identity. This fact became a constraining reality after 1989, when political discourse was centered, almost obsessively, around two magical concepts: consensus and/or national interest. They are magical, because their simple pronunciation has incredible effects: they create a kind of sudden and ephemeral concord between the opposing parties which otherwise have different views of national interest or, more generally, of identity. Implicitly, the main concern of political life was to determine as exactly as possible the ‘true’ national interest depending on the presumed concept of identity. What is questioned is not the legitimacy of the concept of national identity, but the way in which it can constitute a political strategy.
The point I am attempting to make here is that any type of nationalist political discourse should be considered both as a type of argument and as a normative commitment, which delineates priorities and emphasizes certain values rather than others. As a normative discourse it presupposes a set of values and principles which assert a certain concept of collective identity. Its usage as a political weapon and not as a cultural reference point makes out of any nationalist politics one of identity.
THE NORMATIVE DEFINITION OF
The normative significance of the nationalist discourse is constituted by a series of moral models and values which are part of the historical practice and tradition. They are goods of the community, ‘verified’ by history and as such they are widely shared. The fact that they are consensually recognized as such gives them the status of ‘prime’ and unquestionable truths. The myth of the common origin, national heroes, the glorious past, the unmistakable spiritual features and a certain feeling of solidarity between certain important social groups are elements which define the ethnic communities.42
They are types of cultural collective identities, and they are the ground for the definition of national identity. Using these models of identity in the nationalist type of normative reconstruction implies a certain ‘instrumentalization’ of them. They become definitions and models which condense the national ‘essence’. Through participation in these ‘ontological realities’ the national identity is distributed. The definition given by Blaga to ‘Romanianism’ seems illustrative to me. The Romanian Volksgeist is confined to a geographical framework – the plain ["a high and open plain, on a green mountain slope, slowly flowing to the valley"].43 There is "a certain inalienable stylistic matrix of our ethnical spirit."44 That is why the Romanian is more open to the cosmic essences than Western people: "In the West the tradition is made up from the pedantic summing up of a past, from forebears’ galleries, from the chronicle of some facts . . . . Tradition has a historical and museum-like character in the West. . . . Our tradition has a more invisible nature; it allows only a metaphorical or a metaphysical wording. Our tradition is more timeless since it becomes one with the creative stylistic potentialities, which are inexhaustible and magnificent like in the first day. . . . Smoldering sometimes, always alive, it is always present in time, although contained in our ephemeral horizon, it is above time."45
Coming from a deep intellectual horizon, Mircea Vulcanescu spoke about the ‘Romanian man’. In his essay "The Romanian Dimension of Existence" the Romanian man was defined through seven fundamental attitudes:46
- there is no non-being
- there is no absolute impossibility
- there is no alternative
- there is no imperative
- there is no irreparable
- the easiness in facing life
- lack of fear of death
The Romanian being in its living reality is more open and richer: "The
neopositivist perspective of the Western world with its forgetfulness of being
or even, other times, with the reconsidering of being in other philosophies
seems poor in comparison to our complex and fairy-like mode of being."48
The historical advantage of the Romanians is that they are neither Western nor
Eastern, but a connecting bridge between the two; "We are between far and
also near East . . . and West. Neither of them marked us, but as we are
geographically in the middle, could we not be also spiritually in the
middle?" As we can better combine tradition with modernity, we have the
chance to have "a closer connection with the values of the spirit."49
Finally and without claiming that I have exhausted the characteristics of the ‘Romanian being’, I will also mention the essay of Constantin Noica, "The Romanian Feeling of Being."
Firstly, one notices that the definition of the Romanian spirit is given in ‘terms of the relationship’ with others: their culture, their tradition and their spirituality. Secondly, this relationship suggests an untranslatable specific way of Romanian existence: it is longing and melancholy, an existence that flows towards ‘something’,50 it is ‘for’ existence. Its uniqueness means a kind of richness and superiority ‘in relationship’ with other cultures. Ultimately, these spiritual features represent the ‘true’ and essential nature of the Romanian tradition. Such an ‘essentialist’ definition is put in exclusive terms. It is ‘exclusive’ in relation to other types of ethnic identities which differ in language, religion and culture. It is ‘exclusive’ in relation to the other values and norms, which are constitutive to individuality. The individuals as members of a community [beginning with the family and ending with larger social-professional or confessional groups] share a number of values and customs, and they have a certain conception of what counts as a personal good and a certain vision of morality.
It is ‘exclusive’ in relation to the idea of individual autonomy and with individual rights and liberties. It is hard to dispute the fact that there is, at least theoretically [beside the classical controversies between liberals and conservatives, libertarians and communitarians] the possibility of building an autonomous ‘technical’ discourse of rights, which does not include a certain image of the individual as an absolute criterion for grounding it. If an essentialist definition, like the one discussed above, is used, it will be difficult to accommodate it with the ‘claims’ of the same kind which are made by the others. Once again, it is not the legitimacy of the concept of national identity which is questioned here. This legitimacy is one of the features of individual identity. A universal and absolute cosmopolitanism could lead us to even more difficult theoretical and practical obstacles. What I want to stress here is the idea that in building this identity one cannot work with eternal spiritual reference points, which can be fixed once and for all in an absolute paradigm. In the process of gaining knowledge and self-knowledge, people revise and rearrange the different constitutive values in accordance with the life contexts which determine the definition of their individual identity. National values are important, but they are not the only ones.
The building of individual identity puts at stake a multitude of values [moral, religious and cultural] which are out of the question. The normativity of the nationalist discourse sets priorities and stresses certain values at the expense of others. It is difficult to work out a political strategy on the basis of the concept of national identity. The difficulties are both theoretical and practical. The theoretical ones refer to the possibility itself of building such an all-embracing concept. There are competing perspectives on the individual in relation to the community as a whole. These also require other more general founding theories whose suppositions have to be made clear. The practical difficulties refer to the way this kind of strategy could solve the inevitable confrontations between the multiple individual identities.
The Romanian case suggests that the attempt to justify a politics of identity minimizes the discourse about individual rights and creates social tensions. The conflict between collectivism and individualism regained force in the post-Communist period. The attempt of rebuilding the public space as a crossing realm between politics and religion, the attempt to put together a new type of discourse about identity and collectivity, while trying to de-mythologize the old habits of thinking, has confronted Romanian society with new and conflicting situations. The discourse of national identity served as a pretext for defending the interests of the old regime. The reaction was inevitable in the context created by the gap between expectations and achievements.
The role of the reforming intellectuals was to impose the conception of a civil society and individual rights over the growing tendency of reasserting the collectivist values. What is still problematic is the way in which a politics of national priorities can legitimate itself.
Translated by Diana Marian
1Ovidiu Caraiani, New Europe College Fellow, Assistant Professor, Politechnical School in Bucharest.
2For a historical perspective see Iordan Chimet, Dreptul la memorie [The Right to Memory], Four volumes, Dacia, Cluj, 1992.
3N. Crainic, Spiritualitate si romanism [ Spirituality and Romanianism], in the volume Ortodoxie si Etnocratie [Orthodoxy and Ethnocracy], 1937, p.143, see also Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, Extrema dreapta Romaneasca [The 30s. The Romanian Extreme right], Bucharest, Editura Fundatiei Culturale Romane, 1996, p.28.
4M.Eliade, Pasoptism si umanism, Floarea de foc [The Ideology of the 1848 Generation and Humanism, The Flower of Fire], II, nr. 1, 25 February 1933, see also z. Ornea, p. 33.
5The geographic area which constitutes modern Romania, more or less, was in the closing days of Roman expansion, inhabited by a people known as the Dacians. Rome conquered Dacia, and it became a province of the Empire for a time, until the Roman authorities withdrew south of the Danube. It is believed that modern Romanians are descended from a mixture of the original inhabitants of Dacia and settlers from other parts of the Roman Empire. The latter are thought to have brought Latin to this part of the world, out of which the Romanian language is believed to have evolved.
6T. Maiorescu, In contra directiei de astazi in cultura [Against the Nowadays Direction in Culture] 1868, Critice [Critical Studies], Bucharest, Editura Tineretului, 1967, p.1, p. 115.
7Dimitrie Bolintineanu, quoted in R. Patapievici, "Metafizica natiunii in act este o politica," Gabriel Andrescu, Ed., Romania versus Romania, Bucharest, Clavis, 1996, p. 182.
8Alecu Russo, quoted in ibid.
9E. Lovinescu, Istoria civilizatiei romane moderne [The History of Modern Romanian Civilization], [1924-26], Bucharest, Editura Stiintifica, 1972.
10E. Lovinescu, Istoria civilizatiei romane moderne [The History of Modern Romanian Civilization], [1924-26], Bucharest, Editura Stiintifica, 1972, p.153.
11Ibid., p. 295.
12E. Lovinescu, Etnicul, Sburatorul, Serie noua, nr. 11-12, p. 2.
13Z. Ornea, Traditionalism si modernitate in deceniul al treilea [Tradition and Modernity in the Third Decade] Bucharest, Eminescu, 1980 p. 359.
14It has to be mentioned, the innovating program of Eugen Fillotti, taken over both by Lovinescu and Viata Romaneasca: "Under the banner of Orthodoxy and tradition some people flirt with the static ideal, ossified in hieratical Byzantine and Muscovite forms, of a primitive culture without evolution and horizon. Our ideal of a culture is dynamic, willing to grow, innovating and fruitful. The meaning of culture that we intend to preach is European. Our light comes from the West. This country, rotten in its vital limbs before it reached maturity, can find its salvation only in Westernization. When it comes to becoming known, we only see a productive and active way of becoming so, which is the recognition of our specific uniqueness in forms of European culture, not abolishing or eliminating everything that is specific to us or that makes the beauty of our national soul, but making it a part of the whole of contemporary culture." See E. Filloti, Gandul nostru [Our Thought], Cuvantul liber[The Free Word], see also Z. Ornea, Traditionalism si modernitate in deceniul al treilea, pp. 351-2. The quotation seems to me illustrating for the way in which the solution of Europeanism was perceived in that epoch.
15"Our civilization is conditioned by our becoming European with the help of the democratic regime. We think that our close connection with the West will help us to progress. Rationalism, democracy and Europeanism are the cultural values which Viata Romaneasca will support." M. Ralea, Misiunea generatiei tinere [The Mission of the Young Generation], Viata Romaneasca, 1930, see also, Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, p. 62.
16I will quote a few illustrating fragments: "Specifying the national soul is the perception of an individualization, of a differentiation based on discrimination. Mysticism which hates individualization and which mixes and melts together everything does not allow differentiation. There is an enormous incompatibility between mysticism and national uniqueness." Also "National uniqueness without conscience and reason is not possible. The specific national character is a matter of differentiation, and the perception of the difference requires reason. Being good Europeans will ultimately mean being good Romanians. Romanian spirit can be learned through the European spirit." See M. Ralea, Scrieri vol. 7 [Writings, vol. 7], Minerva, 1989, pp. 175080, Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, p.63.
17"Not only that between democracy and nationalism is no possible antinomy, but nationalism is an invention of democracy. The same democratic principle, asserted by Wilson, implied the right to self-determination which also made possible the Great Romania. We can also assert more, that only democracy can be truly national. Only where the love for one’s country is uttered by the great majority in full consent, can one talk about an authentic national conscience." See M. Ralea, Doctrina dreptei [The Doctrine of the Right Wing], see also, Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, p. 66.
18C. Radulescu-Motru, Romanism, catehismul unei noi spiritualitati [Romanianism, the Catehism of a New Spirituality] Bucharest, Fundatia pentru literatura si arta "Regele Carol II", 1939, p. 31.
19See Al. Laignel-Lavastine, Filosofie si nationalism, Paradoxul Noica [Philosophy and Nationalism; The Noica Paradox] Bucharest, Humanitas, 1998, p. 96.
20C.Radulescu-Motru, Romanismul, catehismul unei noi spiritualitati, p. 164.
21Ibid., p. 139.
22Ibid., p. 114-16.
23In 1937, Nichifor Crainic referred to the role the journal Gandirea played in defining the theoretical elements of nationalism: "The term "ethnic" with its meaning of "ethnical specificity" imprinted in all sorts of expressions of the people, as a mark of its original properties, has been spread for 16 years by the journal Gandirea. The same thing applies to the terms of autochthonism, traditionalism, Orthodoxy, spirituality and many more which became common goods of our current nationalist language." See N.Crainic, Ortodoxie si etnocratie, Bucharest, 1937, p. 277, see also L.Volovici, Ideologia nationalista si "problema evreiasca" [The Nationalist Ideology and the "Jewish Question"] in Romania anilor `30, Bucharest, Humanitas, 1995, p.99.
24Nae Ionescu, Nationalismul de import [Imported Nationalism], Cuvantul, nr. 3183, 25 marite 1938, see also, L.Volovici, op.cit., p.104.
25Nichifor Crainic considered that the essential element of the nationalist doctrine was that "not the demos but the ethos, namely the people or the nation create their own political expression in the national state. The ethos or the people is something well-defined, which has historical identity and biological and psychological homogeneousness, spiritual unity and its own power and will. The people, in its well-defined biological and psychological unity, can only be ethnocracy and not democracy in its political manifestation. The will of a people to live politically is grounded on certain constant and permanent elements of its specific character, taken over and expressed by the State. A state is national because it reflects the specific permanence of that nation." N. Crainic, Ortodoxie si etnocratie, Bucharest, 1937, p. 276, see also, Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, Extrema dreapta romaneasca, p. 257.
26"[E]thnical nationalism as a political formula is the expression of a certain historical structure. This ethnical nationalism cannot exist in a world dominated by liberalism with all its corresponding terms: rationalism, democracy, idealism, Protestantism and who knows what else. That is why ethnical nationalism could not take over and fertilize the political scene before the war. However, the war hurried this process of dissolution. Organic mentality took control of everything and threw out the juridical mentality, while liberalism had to make room for a collective understanding of life. The individual was therefore replaced by the nation." See N. Ionescu, Nationalismul de import, Cuvantul, nr. 3183, 25 martie, 1938, see also L. Volovici, p. 105.
27"Catholicism and Orthodoxism are not only denominations with dogmatic and cultural differences, but two essentially different ways of valuing existence in general. The dogmatic differences are the least differentiating. The great misunderstanding, incompatibility and impenetrability between Catholicism and Orthodoxy has its origins somewhere else: in the concrete spiritual structures, which make up the framework, where these gain their reality. This is the truth according to the soul when it comes about the issue of nation and religion: they are related and complementary realities. Therefore, we are Orthodox because we are Romanians, and we are Romanians because we are Orthodox..." See N. Ionescu, A fi "bun roman" [To be a "good Romanian"], see also, Z. Ornea, p. 94.
28N. Ionescu, A fi "bun roman", see also, Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, p. 93.
29C. Noica, Ce e etern si ce e istoric in cultura romaneasca [What Is Eternal and What Is Historical in the Romanian Culture], in Pagini despre sufletul romanesc, pp. 7-8.
30Breaking up with tradition meant breaking up with Maiorescu who had been the first to bring a critical spirit in the Romanian culture." We live in an epoch which has eliminated the critical spirit" said Nae Ionescu while Eliade saw in the critical spirit an incompatibility with the "mystical" vocation of his generation.
31N. Ionescu, Sufletul mistic [The Mystical Soul], Roza vanturilor [1926-1933], Bucharest, 1990, pp. 23-24.
32N. Ionescu, Descartes, parinte al democratismului contemporan (Descartes, father of the contemporary democratism) [text from 1921], included in N. Ionescu, Nelinistea metafizica [The Metaphysical Anxiety], Editura Fundatiei Culturale Romane, Bucharest, 1993. See also. A. Laignel-Lavastine, Filozofie si nationalism, pp. 97-98. The critique of Cartesian rationalism was a constant concern for Nichifor Crainic as well: "Cogito ergo sum is the false dogma on which the modern individualism is grounded . . . . Descartes is the philosophical father of individualism and his doctrine is the starting point of the modern error that has turned the world into a hell, Gandirea, XI, 1931, nr. 2, see also, Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, Extrema dreapta romaneasca, pp. 73-74.
33N. Rosu, Kant si fictiunea revolutionara [Kant and the Revolutionary Fiction], in Dialectica nationalismului [The Dialectics of Nationalism], Bucharest, 1936, pp. 86-87.
34N. Ionescu, Romania tara a rasaritului [Romania, country of the East], see also, Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, p. 90.
35N. Crainic, Puncte cardinale in haos [Cardinal Points in the Chaos], ed. a II-a, Cugetare... pp. 44-45.
36N. Ionescu, Romania tara a Rasaritului, see also, Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, p. 90.
37See Constantin Davidescu, Totalitarian Discourse as Rejection of Modernity: The Iron Guard, a case-study, in this volume.
38For a more complete image see Z. Ornea, Anii Treizeci, Extrema dreapta romaneasca Bucharest, Editura Fundatiei Culturale Romane, 1996; Constantin Noica, Pagini despre sufletul romanesc, Bucharest, Humanitas, 1991; Constantin Noica, Sentimentul romanesc al fiintei Bucharest, Eminescu, 1978; Constantin Noica, Cuvant impreuna despre rostirea romaneasca Bucharest, Eminescu, 1987; and Constantin Noica, Istoricitate si eternitate Bucharest, Capricorn 1989. A detailed analysis of the relation between nationalism and Noica‘s philosophy can be found in A. Laignel-Lavastine, Filosofie si nationalism, Paradoxul Noica. Some of the Noician issues that exerted a paramount influence on several generations of intellectuals and also on the space of public culture are: the linking of ontology to the national dimension, the necessity to think anew the concept of modernity, the critique of the "ethos of neutrality," "the protest against the tyranny of general meanings," the critique of the model of Western civilization and "the salvation through culture."
39See Edgar Papu, Protocronismul romanesc [Romanian Protochronism], Secolul XX, nr. 5-6 1974, pp. 8-11; Edgar Papu, Protocronism si sinteza [Protochronism and Synthesis], Secolul XX, nr. 6 1976, pp. 7-9; Edgar Papu, Din clasicii nostri. Contributii la ideea unui protocronism romanesc [From our Classics. Contributions to the Idea of a Romanian Protochronism] Bucharest, Eminescu, 1077; Ilie Badescu, Sincronism european si cultura critica romanesca [European Syncronism and Critical Romanian Culture] Bucharest, Stiintifica si Enciclopedica, 1984; and the commentary of Katherine Verdery, National Ideology under Socialism, pp. 169-214.
40A well-documented commentary of the role the ‘founding myths’ have in the building of the Romanian national identity and conscience can be read in L. Boia, Istorie si mit in constiinta romaneasca [History and Myth in the Romanian Conscience], Bucharest, Humanitas, 1997, cap. 2.
41Eric J. Hobsbawn considered that " nation" or the "ethnic group" becomes the only guarantee when the society fails. You must do nothing to belong to it and you cannot be expelled. You are born as its member and you remain its member. See E. J. Hobsbawn, Etnicitate si nationalism [Ethnicity and Nationalism] in Europa contemporana [Contemporary Europe], Polis, nr. 2-1994, pp. 59-69.
42The distinction between ethnic group and nation and its consequences on the way in which national identity is built was minutely analyzed by Anthony D. Smith in National Identity London, Penguin Books, 1991, pp. 1-43.
43L. Blaga, Spatiul mioritic[The Myoritic Space], Bucharest, Humanitas, 1994, pp. 165-66.
46M. Vulcanescu, Dimensiunea romaneasca a existentei Bucharest, Fundatia Culturala Romana, 1997, pp. 130-49.
47C. Noica, Sentimentul romanesc al fiintei, Bucharest, Humanitas, 1996, p. 57-58.
49Ibid, pp. 8-9.
50L. Blaga, supra note 43, p. 164.