How Far Do You Agree with the View That the Limited Appeal of Mazzini's Idea Was the Cause for the Slow Progress of Italy's Unification?

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  • Topic: Italy, United States, Naples
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  • Published : November 22, 2012
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Mazzini was an important figurehead for the unification of Italy, historians such as Pearce and Stiles state that that 'no one else campaigned for so long or so tirelessly in the cause of a united Italy'. He had extremely radical and liberal ideas about how Italy should be unified, and some historians

Mazzini’s ideal was that Italy should be unified ‘from below’. He wanted the people of Italy to rise up from their high-powered oppressors, while still maintaining the opinion that if monarchs were prepared and wanted to fight against the Austrian domination, then they should be supported and not hindered. He wanted a ‘brotherhood of the people’ to all move toward greater social equality (Denis Mack Smith described him as having ‘contempt for xenophobia and imperialism) so that all of the people of Italy would unite in order to unify their country. Mazzini also stressed that Italy should be unified ‘by its own efforts’, wanting to avoid any outside help- especially from France- in fear that they may just replace one outside domination by another. However, the limited appeal of his ideas were shown when Italy was eventually united and done more-so from above than it was below- he was described as being ‘disgusted’ by this and criticized the new Italian unified state, describing it as a ‘dead corpse’. It could be argued that Italy could have been unified earlier under Mazzini’s watch if it had not been for how his ‘one overriding aim’ distracted from the main goal of a united Italy.

It could also be argued, as Robert Pearce details, that Mazzini was ‘absent from Italy’ for such a long and extended period of him (totalling in ‘all over 40 years’) that he became ‘out of touch’ with this situation. This then caused him to over-exaggerate the ‘national identity’ of Italians. This meant that he dis-appreciated the revolutionary potential of the peasants/ the common people, as he had little to none contact with them and knew little about them. As a result of this...
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