An attempt at an examination of the social and intellectual roots of the Polish version of integral nationalism, the national democracy, treated as a form of rightist radicalism. The initial premise is the recognition that although Polish nationalism emerged as one of the experiences of the independence-oriented generation of the 1890s it was also part of a wider European phenomenon from the turn of the century. The popularity of modern nationalism is analysed against the backdrop of a crisis of earlier political forms, predominantly the insurrection tradition together with its culmination - the socalled Kilinski current (kilinszczyzna), with due attention paid to the conditions predominating in particular partition areas. The case of Galicia is subjected to a detailed analysis. The article grants pride of place to Roman Dmowski, the founder and main ideologue of the national democracy, analysed via his activity in the nationalist movement and his publicistics, including the chief manifesto 'Mysli nowoczesnego Polaka' (The Thoughts of a Modern Pole). The example of Dmowski's writings illustrates both the transference of ideas from the West (i.a. racist theories, idealistic motifs in culture) and an attempt at a holistic revision of Enlightenment traditions carried out by modern nationalism. Such an interpretation places emphasis on the crucial role played by racist anti-Semitism.'Mysli nowoczesnego Polaka' is presented as a response to the challenges of modernisation faced during the titular period, and conceived as a complex vision of the regeneration of the Poles.