The article deals with several closely related problems. Firstly, it presents a concise analysis of the particulars of the formation of the Lithuanian intelligentsia – a modern social élite in the country. It is maintained that in Lithuania (as well as in the other states of Central and Eastern Europe) the intelligentsia’s special role in society was conditioned by its modernization process and the level of its development and manifestation in public life. It was no accident that the pattern of the national ideal, shaped by the intelligentsia, as well as the proposed programme for the modernization of society were of ethnocentric nature.
The second half of the study relates to the project for modernizing society, offered by Vincas Kudirka, a prominent figure in the Lithuanian national movement, a publicist and publisher. It was his belief, supported by many other Lithuanian intellectuals, that the processes of modernization – its social and economic development had to entail and presuppose the development of national self-consciousness. The proposed programme was intended for the lowest and most numerous social layer the peasantry, and it actually expressed that group’s interests. At the same time the modernization programme contained contradictions, acquired ethnocentric features and in future was liable to encourage social and ethnic tensions.