Two Fundamental Elements of Culture

In the national spirit, that always takes new forms, but in the essence remains the same, one can find two fundamental elements of culture – awe and heroism, that are described by two great Latvian thinkers Zenta Mauriņa and Pauls Jurevičs. These two elements have to be cleared from the historical deposits for the regeneration of Europe.

Awe is a belief that in everything one can find divine force and order, that unites everything and to which everyone should follow. These are secrets of life, death and love, that lie outside the forces of our reason. Awe makes us to preserve those things that do not have utilitarian value – as utilitarianism is end of culture. Where awe is lacking, chaoss and nihilism is reigning. Distance and hierarchy of the living beings create the awe. Awe has two directions – honour against those who are superior and compassion towards those who need our protection. In Latvian culture superior are also notions of work, beauty and life itself. Good is only that person, who works and works beautifully. Compassion is active and with responsibilities – it is not morality of weaker beings.[1]

Heroism – it is a will to eternity by affirming oneself to some higher goal. I a battlefield it is a willingness to die for some higher cause. For woman it is a motherhood. This vitalistic will to eternity can be achieved by making one idea to gain the leading role in the consciousness of man thus dictating his behaviour. It is a task of society to teach for the youth the supra-individual elements and ideals. Ancient Rome is such an example – in this great republic virtues of the society created warriors with iron will and supra-humanistic character that allowed it to conquer the world.[2]

Military spirit itself can bring back the heroic attitude to life. It is not only readiness to die for the cause, but it also destroys the ultraliberal spirit in its essence, both the hedonism and denial of hierarchy. This is why compulsory military service is mostly non-existent in modern Europe. This is why it has to be restored. Also, without the teaching a great historical examples of leaders, warriors and teachers, rebirth of heroism cannot be achieved – for any society to prosper it needs to be homogenous, it needs to have a certain values. The trend of today is of course different – it is aimed at discrediting the historical examples, of dragging them down in the mud, so that the average “mass man” can feel a little bit better about themselves, because “there are no great man” anyway. Ideology of ultraliberalism does not accept great man and it certainly does not aim at creating man with a strong will and virtues. This situation is not something new – there have been countless cultures and civilizations that at some point decided to give away the task of creating values and instead become hedonistic. You can see the remnants of those civilizations in the museums – “cemeteries of culture”.

[1] Mauriņa, Zenta. Divas Kultūras Saknes. Kopenhāgena: “Imanta”, 1961

[2] Jurevičs, Pauls. Nacionālās Dzīves Problēmas. Rīga: “Valtera un Rapas Akc.Sab.Apgāds”, 1936