Faith In Democratic Nationalism Essay, Research Paper
Jason P. McCauley World Civilization II
Paper # 2 April 5, 1999
Guiseppe Mazzini, Faith in Democratic Nationalism
Before the nineteenth century, Italy was basically controlled by outside forces consisting of other powerful European nations, such as the French. At the beginning of nineteenth century however, there was a great philosophical change going on in the Italian territories that was heavily pushing Italian Nationalism. This movement was sometimes referred to as the Risorgimento. This cultural and political period of Italian history helped fortify the countrymen’s nationalism and strove for a unified Italy. Under this movement called the Risorgimento, there were also different views among the leading nationalistic advocates. One such advocate that related more to the radical side of the debate was Guiseppe Mazzini. His thoughts and writings pushed strong nationalism in Italy, as well as the idea that a unified Italy, along with a unified Europe, would provide the world with huge moral improvements and would also greatly help the progress of Humanity. His main point being that only revolution and war supported by direct public action would lead to the true unification of the Italian state. With these strong beliefs, Mazzini and other advocates of this cause provided the basic structuring of the revolutions in 1848, and also later revolutions.
Guiseppe Mazzini was born in Genoa, Italy on June 22, 1805. At the time when Mazzini was attending the University of Genoa, he was arrested for his democratic actions and was therefore exiled. As a result, Mazzini started up the “Society of Young Italy”, who’s main aim was the establishment of a free and unified Italian State. After plans for a national uprising were discovered, many of the leaders of “Young Italy” were either executed or exiled. Mazzini was condemned to death but managed to proceed in his democratic works. His ideas continued through his writings as he was forced to seek refuge in London, although he did return to Italy for the revolutions in 1848 and 1849 against the French. He did live to see the unification of Italy, although it was far from what he had envisioned in his works. Mazzini then returned to Italy once more and died on March 10, 1872.
During his childhood, Mazzini’s parents instilled many thoughts and beliefs pertaining to the idea of a free and democratic government in Italy. For the rest of his life, he then pursued his ultimate dream of a unified Italian state through his political teachings and writings. One major notion that fueled this life long quest was Mazzini’s great interest in moral improvement and the progress of humanity not only in Italy, but also throughout the world. Certain “evil governments”(840) which extend beyond their natural boundaries through conquest have slowed the progress of humanity by dividing countries and also trying to incorporate other nations into their own. Doing this will slow down or stop the ability for one country to assimilate its entire people into one nationalistic culture. This culture can solidify a country by the instilling its nation’s historical traditions, a common language, and also the idea of all people striving towards the same goals for the good of the country and humanity. As a result of these ideas, no man can really be a “part” of humanity without a country to love and fight for and without countrymen to love and support him back. As Mazzini states, “Our country is our home, the home God has given us, placing therein a numerous family which we love and are loved by ? In laboring according to true principles for our country we are laboring for Humanity;”(841), where if we fight for our country and our principles, we can only be doing good things for Humanity as a whole.
Another idea that Mazzini stresses heavily is the basis of a country’s laws and how they should be obtained and directed. He states, “There is no true country without a uniform law.”(841), meaning that if the laws you abide by are not regulating everyone in that nation the same way, because of class systems or just abuse of power by the hierarchy, you are not truly a part of a nation where the ground you live on should give you basic unbreakable rights and privileges. The country you reside in should be considered your “temple”, where you first and foremost obey the natural laws of the land and all others come second to this supreme law of the land. Mazzini also strongly believed in the idea that every single man should have say in the making of the laws that will govern over him. Letting only a certain portion of the people create these laws will cause major problems, because there is no way that the ideas of one group can fully represent the thoughts and beliefs of an entire country. In essence, the entire nation should be at least indirectly associated with the legislature of the land they belong to and obey. The greatest idea of them all associated with this is the saying, “one for all, and all for one”, where if one person is not represented correctly, educated correctly, or impoverished beyond the norm, you do not have what Mazzini refers to as a country which is free and democratic. Nor is your nation doing its part to better moral conditions and human progress throughout the world.
The work of Giuseppe Mazzini and other advocates of his cause helped raise the amount of awareness towards a country’s nationalism and what part that plays in the world surrounding them. These ideas did spark several revolutions in Italy around the middle of the century and eventually the unification of the Italian State, although not the way that Mazzini believed and hoped this would occur. His ideas helped raise a greater understanding of nationalism and the structure of a “True Country” and people that inhabit it.