Monday, January 30, 2023

Mazzini - Denis Mack Smith

If there is a person that every Italian should be proud of, that person, in my humble opinion, is Giuseppe Mazzini. He probably deserves that gratitude even more than Giuseppe Garibaldi, another protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento (the 19th century Italian struggle for independence). Even though the famous general - due to his action hero aura - was arguably more famous than the Genoan ideologue, he has had a less far reaching influence on Italian culture and political education. Camillo Benso, count of Cavour, the third main character of that famous era, a very skilled politician and tactician indeed, can’t even compete with Mazzini as far as moral, philosophical and literary standing is concerned.
Giuseppe Mazzini has neither fought any battle against the Austrian troops nor politically schemed and signed useful military alliances with the French or the Prussians. Yet his ideas and teachings on revolution, independence, self determination, patriotism, democracy, civil rights and freedom have had a tremendous impact on the way of thinking of not only his peers but of all the future generations of Italians to this day. Furthermore this impact hasn’t been restricted to Italy, but has extended over the whole of Europe and even beyond.
Italian readers will particularly benefit from being exposed to the point of view of a foreign expert on Mazzini’s life, as this will help shed the veil of demagogy, propaganda and doubt that characterizes the chapters on the subject of our standard school texts. Denis Mack Smith, considered one of the main authorities on contemporary Italian history in the English speaking world, is definitely a good example of that sort of foreign expert.

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