The Science Of The Nation, 1937

excerpts IIINations usually develop within the boundaries of a specific territory, their fatherland. The relationship established between these nations and their fatherland can take various forms. There are nations that populate the land only after having left a previous territory, where their traditions and worldviews had already been fixed. That is why this territory bears no mark that would be characteristic of them, while they themselves reveal no signpost that would indicate the direction of the land. Other nations have grown apart from their geographical setting by later developments through which their own civilization was placed in a fading background in favor of an imported one. In both these cases there appears a discrepancy between the nations and their geographical determinations, while civilization becomes an inorganic reality, with no connection to the geographical background in which it has developed. But there are also nations that have been born in this land, continuing a life stretching back to times immemorial, nations whose being is a continuation of their outer environment, and whose customs and civilization become, in turn, embedded like a seal upon their land. Such is, for example, the Romanian nation. Romanians are Carpathian people, and the Carpathians represent a Romanian world. Without taking this relationship between the land and our people into account, an essential, organic one this time, we will never be able to understand Romanian contemporary history and civilization. It is indeed true that capitalism has been a disruptive force in this natural process but, all late developments considered, the new Romanian society that is still in a process of development will no doubt go back to the previous state organization and will preserve the unity of nation and land that has always been present with Romania. In any case, a scientific study of nations is by no means possible without a thorough investigation of the relationship between the nation and the land it occupies. It is in the field of spiritual pursuits that a certain nation's creative manifestations are more apparent, and constitute themselves not only in elements of well being and national strength, but also in a continual pursuit for betterment and enlightenment as human values. No other human creation can compare itself in value and beauty to spiritual creations such as cultural values, which comprise: religion, art, science, and philosophy. That is why no nation can rid itself of these values and cannot stop free expression within these fields. A nation's greatest achievement and the most unambiguous reason for its existence are spiritual values. It now becomes obvious why it is important to study these when trying to lay the foundations for a science of nations. Firstly, even if a nation is part of a universal religion, it will always have a unique, own way of conceiving of God and of relating to him. Dogmas may well be universal but religious feeling will differ from nation to nation, depending on their specific characteristics and capacity for understanding religion and for reaching religious illumination. Although we have lately begun to glimpse the crucial importance of religion in the creation and development of the Romanian nation, we do not to this day have concrete knowledge either of the extent of this influence or, even less so, of the characteristics that distinguished Christianity in Romania from Christianity at large. Nations' forms of art have been luckier in this respect; the profuseness of folk collections, popular literature and music, architecture, sculpture and painting, folk dress and designer arts as well as the large number of art galleries and museums clearly demonstrates this. Although a part of the whole, without which they could not have evolved and shifted towards individuality, these collections have only provided us with descriptions and insufficiently verified preliminary data, without helping us reach any thorough scientific explanation. Lastly, the science and philosophy of specific nations are quite well known individually, from the point of view of a culture that is, like the great majority of spiritual manifestations, called superior, but have only been vaguely analyzed from an ethnic perspective; little is known about the relationship of cause and effect, of mutual influence between these and the soul of each nation, the environment, and specific destiny seen as existence respectively. We are aware that each nation has its own worldview and that each philosophical belief has an ethnic undertone, but the deep-seated correspondence and interdependency between them have escaped current research. The need for authenticity in national manifestations does not limit itself to the fields of economy and spiritual life. The unlimited power of the law and of political reforms has for a long time not been contested. Many have entertained the belief that the voting of a constitution in a state would be enough for that particular state to become a constitutional state with constitutional habits. This experience has proved disastrous. Law and politics are formal activities, which impose certain norms, and that is why they cannot ignore social life, economic and spiritual activity without assuming a certain risk. Legal and political factors may also take initiative for change, and they should undoubtedly be used to that end, but they will never be able to go beyond social reality, beyond the natural, initial, structural aspirations and capabilities of a particular nation. Legal and political reforms must, therefore, follow the direction imposed by organic growth within a nation. That way, politics as well as the law will stop being imported activities, but will achieve local color. The origin of law is to be found in the legal tradition of the nation, in the morals and manners of the people, and in the way the nation conceives of justice and ethics. The law should gather the centuries-old legal experience of each nation and comprise essential ethical rules based on the life experience and customs of its people. When this does not happen, we are faced with the curious phenomenon of a disparity between the law of written rules and of state courts and the living law of the people, improvised by local communities because called forth by day to day necessity and prevailing over the other, artificially imposed law. A science of nations should primarily deal with this latter, living law of the people, sprung from everyday experience and aspirations towards betterment. Politics should also take the national ideal and the nation's means of accomplishing it into consideration rather than speculate about foreign considerations, unsuitable to it. The State, the highest expression of the national political life can sometimes act against current reality, and that is when conflict ensues between the people and the state – a fight, history shows, always won by the people. Only nations prevail, state organizations come and go, fitting national need. That is why the state should never go against the nation, but should support it, endorse its historical development. The state nowadays is no longer perceived of as an end in itself, but as a means of support and endorsement for nations in their quest for the fulfilling of a national ideal. IVWe would like to propose the sociological monograph as a means to understand the nation scientifically, a method which only shares the name with other similarly denominated procedures. Let us see what we understand by this sociological monograph and what we have so far accomplished in this respect, so as to then be able to apply it in order to lay the foundations for a science of the Romanian nation. What characterizes the Romanian sociological monograph is the fact that it is at the same time a method and a system of sociological thought. Indeed, monographic research arises from and is guided by a complete sociological system, and it is expected to bring forth new evidence to support a theory which would be useful to those who steer reality. In a nutshell, our sociological system states that: 1) Society is made up of social units, that is, of groups of people connected by an active organization and a spiritual interdependence. 2) The essence of society is social will. 3) Social will is involved in: an economic activity and a spiritual one, kept under check by a legal activity and a political activity. 4) Social will is cosmically, biologically, psychologically and historically conditioned in its manifestations. 5) Changes brought forth in a society by its activities over the course of time and under the influence of factors of change are called social processes. 6) Current developments still in their primary stages, which we can therefore foresee with a certain precision, are called social tendencies. We may have three scientific attitudes towards a thus perceived reality, attitudes which make possible the setting up of three branches of science: sociology, ethics and politics, subjects which, together with the individual social sciences (political economics, law, etc), form the system of social sciences. The analysis of society as it is, the attempt to observe facts and to explain them without any other end in mind, makes up the science of sociology. We speak of ethics if we, on the contrary, think about and judge this reality by reference to the social ideal: not by trying to present it as it is at a certain moment, but as it should be. Lastly, if we study the means by which society can achieve this social ideal, we speak of political science. The monograph, as it is understood by Bucharest scholars, is derived from this sociological concept and from social sciences. If we take into consideration the fact that sociology is the science of social reality, and concrete social reality is made up of social units, we have no other suitable method but to analyze in depth as many existing social units as possible. For the study of Romanian social reality, we considered it proper to start with the village. Greater social units are harder to study; they must be analyzed later on, after smaller units have been sufficiently understood. Towns also imply exhausting work, as they are not only quantitatively more demanding, but also more complex. This is the reason why the sociology of towns must follow the sociology of villages, based on the data and especially on the experience gathered in optimal conditions in monographs about the countryside. Our agenda nevertheless also comprises these units from the very beginning, monographs about the countryside, town monographs, company monographs, county monographs, ethnic areas monographs and eventually, as a final result, the monograph or science of the entire nation. In studying each social unit, we apply the presented system. That is, we study all social sub-units as they are to be met with in the village: the family, the household, classes of age and gender, bees, the local cultural institution, the school, the church, economic associations, taverns, etc.; all spiritual manifestations: religion, arts, sciences and popular philosophy; all legal manifestations: implementing the law, instances of law-breaking, law suits, juridical customs, and all political manifestations: community administration, political parties, political concepts. At the same time we will be studying the geographical conditions of village life: the relief, the quality of the earth, the climate, the hydrographic network, wildlife; the biological conditions: racial traits, disease, nutrition, hygiene; historical conditions: local tradition, documentation, surviving former organizations, and psychological conditions: customs, mentality, spiritual inheritance, social practice. Finally, we are interested in the social processes and tendencies: the process or tendency to urbanize, to individualize, and to socialize. To conclude, the Romanian sociological monograph, although it appears to resemble other similar monographs in its methodology, i.e. research by means of direct observation of narrow fragments of social reality, distinguishes itself substantially from other monographs by the sociological system it applies, which constitutes itself in a new working apparatus and through which much more has been achieved in the field than ever before.

by Dimitrie Gusti (1880-1955)