Self-Knowledge and National Culture – excerpt from Foundations of Eurasianism Vol. I

Excerpt from FOUNDATIONS OF EURASIANISM – VOLUME I, forthcoming from PRAV Publishing:

He who has not come to know himself cannot be and is incapable of being himself. Only by comprehending one’s nature, one’s essence with perfect clarity and fullness does it become possible to remain unique without self-contradiction, self-deception, or deceiving others. It is only in the establishment of a harmony and integrity of identity on the basis of clear and full understanding of one’s nature that the highest earthly happiness is attainable. At the same time, this constitutes the very essence of morality, for genuine self-knowledge allows one to hear the voice of conscience with extraordinary clarity…This is the highest spiritual beauty a person might attain, for self-deception and internal contradiction, being inevitable in the absence of true self-knowledge, always make a person spiritually ugly. In this very self-knowledge lies the highest wisdom available to man, both the practical and worldly and the theoretical, for all other knowledge is illusory and vain. Only in having achieved an identity founded in self-knowledge can a person (or people) be certain that they are truly fulfilling their purpose on earth, truly becoming that which they were created to be. This is an end in itself, but also a means…

All that has been said so far relates not only to the individual, but also to collective self-knowledge. If we consider a given people as a psychological whole, as a collective personality, we must also recognize that some form of self-knowledge is both possible and obligatory for it…“Know thyself” and “be thyself” are two aspects of one and the same position. Outwardly, true self-knowledge is expressed in the harmonious original life and activity of a given person. For a people, this takes the form of an original national culture. A people can be said to know itself if its spiritual nature or individual character finds its most complete and vivid expression in an original national culture and if this culture is completely harmonious, i.e. its individual parts do not contradict one another. The creation of such a culture is the true goal of every people, just as the goal of any individual belonging to a given people is to achieve a way of life in which their original spiritual nature is fully, brightly, and harmoniously embodied. Both of these tasks (the task of the people and the task of each individual within it) are intimately connected with each other, mutually complementing and conditioning one other…Thus, individual self-knowledge contributes to the identity of a national culture, an identity which, as we have indicated, is a correlate of national self-knowledge….

Thus, the cultures of all peoples should be different. Every people should vividly reveal its entire individuality in its national culture, but in such a way that all of its elements harmonize with each other, expressing a unified national tone. The stronger differences are between the national psychologies of particular nations, the stronger differences should be between various national cultures. Peoples which are close to one another in their national character will have similar cultures, but a universal culture, identical for all peoples, is impossible. Given the manifold diversity of national characters and mental types, such a “universal culture” would either be reduced to the satisfaction of purely material needs with total disregard for spiritual needs, or it would impose a way of life arising from the national character of a singular ethnographic type on all peoples. In both cases, this “universal” culture would not meet the requirements expected of any authentic culture. Such a culture cannot bring real happiness to anyone.

– Nikolai Trubetzkoy, “On True and False Nationalism” (1921)

Nikolai Trubetzkoy (1890-1938)