A Cosmopolitanism of Nations

A Cosmopolitanism of Nations: Giuseppe Mazzini's Writings on Democracy, Nation Building, and International Relations

Stefano Recchia
Nadia Urbinati
Translations by Stefano Recchia
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    A Cosmopolitanism of Nations
    Book Description:

    This anthology gathers Giuseppe Mazzini's most important essays on democracy, nation building, and international relations, including some that have never before been translated into English. These neglected writings remind us why Mazzini was one of the most influential political thinkers of the nineteenth century--and why there is still great benefit to be derived from a careful analysis of what he had to say. Mazzini (1805-1872) is best known today as the inspirational leader of the Italian Risorgimento. But, as this book demonstrates, he also made a vital contribution to the development of modern democratic and liberal internationalist thought. In fact, Stefano Recchia and Nadia Urbinati make the case that Mazzini ought to be recognized as the founding figure of what has come to be known as liberal Wilsonianism.

    The writings collected here show how Mazzini developed a sophisticated theory of democratic nation building--one that illustrates why democracy cannot be successfully imposed through military intervention from the outside. He also speculated, much more explicitly than Immanuel Kant, about how popular participation and self-rule within independent nation-states might result in lasting peace among democracies. In short, Mazzini believed that universal aspirations toward human freedom, equality, and international peace could best be realized through independent nation-states with homegrown democratic institutions. He thus envisioned what one might today call a genuine cosmopolitanism of nations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3131-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION Giuseppe Mazzini’s International Political Thought
    (pp. 1-30)

    Giuseppe Mazzini (1805–72) is today largely remembered as the chief inspirer and leading political agitator of the Italian Risorgimento. yet Mazzini was not merely an Italian patriot, and his influence reached far beyond his native country and his century. In his time, he ranked among the leading European intellectual figures, competing for public attention with Mikhail Bakunin and Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville. According to his friend Alexander Herzen, the Russian political activist and writer, Mazzini was the “shining star” of the democratic revolutions of 1848. In those days Mazzini’s reputation soared so high that...

  5. Part One: Democracy and the Nation:: A Republican Creed

    • CHAPTER ONE Manifesto of Young Italy (1831)
      (pp. 33-38)

      Too much time has hitherto been spent in words among us, too little in acts.¹ Were we simply to consider the suggestions of our individual tendencies, silence would appear the fittest reply to undeserved calumny and overwhelming misfortune; the silence of the indignant soul burning for the moment of solemn justification. But in consideration of the actual state of things and the desire expressed by our Italian brothers, we feel it a duty to disregard our individual inclinations for the sake of the general good. We feel it urgent to speak out frankly and freely, addressing some words of severe...

    • CHAPTER TWO On the Superiority of Representative Government (1832)
      (pp. 39-52)

      Our newspaper,Giovine Italia[Young Italy], has now been in existence for more than three months.¹ We thus feel the need to look back at what we have accomplished and at the debates that our writings have stimulated among those Italians who desire an improvement of their country’s conditions. In addition, we feel the need to respond once and for all to some objections that have been raised against us. We want to state the principles that govern our work and the intentions that guide us in the choice of our means, so that we can quickly get back on...

    • CHAPTER THREE Three Essays on Cosmopolitan Ideals and National Sentiment
      (pp. 53-65)

      The goal of every rejuvenation effort that is taking place in the world and every movement of European renewal that characterizes our epoch should be one: to establish a general social organization that will have Humanity as its ultimate objective and the Country [Patrie] as its starting point.¹ We believe that these two terms need to be harmonized within the European system, like the two termsindividualityandassociationneed to be harmonized within every state. This is the real problem for which the nineteenth century has been seeking a solution. Every political doctrine that departs from this approach to...

    • CHAPTER FOUR In Defense of Democracy: A Reply to Mr. Guizot (1839)
      (pp. 66-79)

      Mr. Guizot’s¹ contribution has had the honor of being twice translated into english, the one quoted by us being the second and best translation.² It has also been translated into German, and here in London it has been praised and quoted by both Whig and Tory journals, which pointed it out to the public as an important tract on an important subject.

      The importance of the subject we are by no means disposed to deny. It is immense and urgent: immense, for the safety of generations depends on it; urgent, for a time is approaching when the solution of the...

    • CHAPTER FIVE On the Duties of Man (1841–60)
      (pp. 80-108)

      I intend to speak to you of your duties. I intend to speak to you, according to the dictates of my heart, of the holiest things we know—of God, of humanity, of our Country, and of the Family.¹ Listen to me in love, as I shall speak to you in love. My words are words of conviction matured by long years of study, of experience, and of sorrow. The duties that I am going to point out to you I have striven and will strive to fulfill to the utmost of my power, as long as I live. I...

  6. Part Two: National Insurrection and Democratic Revolution

    • CHAPTER SIX Rules For The Conduct Of Guerrilla Bands (1832)
      (pp. 111-116)

      Guerrilla warfare can be seen as the first stage of a national war. Guerrilla bands should therefore be so organized as to prepare the way for, and facilitate by their action, the formation of a national army.

      The general method of organization, the authorization of leaders, and the moral and political precepts regulating the conduct of the bands with regard to the country and to individuals should be under the superintendence of a Center of action, whose duty it will be to ensure the greatest possible amount of uniformity even in their apparently most unconnected movements. The political mission of...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Toward a Holy Alliance of the Peoples (1849)
      (pp. 117-131)

      Napoleon had fallen. The tide set in motion by the French Revolution had been stopped for the time being.¹ Twenty-two years of war had worn out Europe, when the long-desired peace finally arrived. Those who brought it were praised, no matter who they were. Blessed by victory, the old dynasties resumed their interrupted domination. The Napoleonic rulers were dispersed into exile; and the echo of the rifle shots that killed Murat in Naples warned them against any attempt to regain the thrones they had once taken by force and which they had now lost forever.² Religion blessed the restoration: altar...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT From a Revolutionary Alliance to the United States of Europe (1850)
      (pp. 132-135)

      We have made important progress.¹ The idea expressed in one of our previous writings—The Alliance of the Peoples—has been translated into action. AEuropean Central Committee, composed of men from all the European nations, and who are influential in the field of Democracy, is now actively promoting the development of such an alliance.² . . .

      Theindividualand thecollectivity, theIand thewe,are both sacred and eternal elements of Life, the manifestation of God on earth. They are the two sides of the problem that since its inception has preoccupied Humanity. To achieve harmony...

    • CHAPTER NINE Against the Foreign Imposition of Domestic Institutions (1851)
      (pp. 136-140)

      Our idea is steadily advancing.¹ The active forces of revolution are growing; they are bonding together and getting organized. The European thought that led us to form the Central Democratic Committee is spreading day after day amidst the most diverse peoples.² Unfortunately, so far, from the mouth of the Danube in the East to the Iberian Peninsula in the West, the popular movements, enfeebled by their isolation in the face of united enemy forces, have succumbed one after the other. Yet those defeats have accomplished the precious work of unifying the movements internally and creating international sympathies among them. A...

    • CHAPTER TEN To the Patriots of Serbia and Hungary (1863)
      (pp. 141-142)

      You are our brothers.¹ Like us, you are seeking to establish your own Country; and as with us, the watchword that rouses your spirits is Nationality. You have suffered and fought for it, with your own heroes and martyrs. Now we must reach our hands across the Adriatic Sea to support each other. Italian populations are intermixed with yours along the eastern coast of that sea, to which both of us retain a right, and which must be open to the free exchange of our goods. It is in your interest that there be a united Italy, just as it...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Letter to a Polish Patriot (1863)
      (pp. 143-145)

      I am harboring a feeling, perhaps slightly exaggerated, of shame.¹ Because we, the other peoples and especially all of revolutionary Europe, should have risen to the call of Poland.²

      Your insurrection taught us a duty, it plotted for us the way, and furnished us with an opportunity. Hungary should have risen up as one. There were no reasons for it to fear any foreign intervention similar to that which put down its revolt in 1848. Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and all those populations whose nationality remains contested by the turks and the Austrian Government should have seized the opportunity provided...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE For a Truly National War (1866)
      (pp. 146-152)

      I would like to publicly respond to several requests that I express my opinion concerning the present political situation.¹ First of all,the country[Italy]must demand that there be war[against Austria]. The Government’s intentions today may seem clear. But the Government does not have any moral initiative of its own; it does not believe in National Duty; and throughout these past years it has openly displayed its lack of trust in the Italian patriotic forces and judged them unequal to the fight. In recent years, believing it had no allies, the Government let the opportunities of the Polish...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Neither Pacifism nor Terror: Considerations on the Paris Commune and the French National Assembly (1871)
      (pp. 153-166)

      If what has motivated me over the years was just the result of anopinionand not of a deeply heldbelief,then the orgy of anger, vendetta, and bloodshed that Paris has for many days now displayed to the world would fill my soul with desperation.¹ This spectacle reminds me of the most horrible visions of Dante’sInferno. Here a people, an entire nation, is turning its teeth on itself in a drunken fury and lacerating its own flesh while howling for victory. They dance an infernal reel around a grave dug with their own hands; they kill, torture,...

  7. Part Three: International Politics, Military Intervention, and a New World Order

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN On Publicity in Foreign Affairs (1835)
      (pp. 169-177)

      I know of only one decisive means to foil all diplomatic tricks—that is, to never rely on those questionable means in the first place.¹ There are some individuals who are so feeble-minded and so prone to misunderstand the true meaning of words, that they confuse theLaw of peoples² with diplomacy, although the two are of course utterly distinct. This confusion is indeed a very serious mistake. The Law of Peoples is as old as the world itself: it is an expression of the necessary relations that exits between different populations and different nations; it is the inevitable consequence...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Foreign Despotism to Civilize a People? Italy, Austria, and the Pope (1845)
      (pp. 178-192)


      I thank you much for having afforded me the long desired opportunity to lay before a free nation, full of generous instincts, the sorrows of a brave, unhappy, misunderstood people.¹ I would like to submit to your judgment the complaints of 20 or 22 million men, whose ancestors headed the march of civilization in Europe, and who now demand for themselves the right to participate in the free, active, and continually progressive life that God has ordained for his creatures. Domestic and foreign oppressors have deprived the Italian people of all liberty of thought, speech, and action.

      Your nation,...

      (pp. 193-198)

      I am not aware that many Englishmen in the present day occupy themselves with the condition of the peoples of Europe and their probable future.¹ What I see of the opinions on foreign affairs uttered by the press inclines me to rather think the contrary. But one thing I know, and all serious men on the Continent know it too: it is thatEurope rapidly approaches a tremendous crisis, a decisive struggle between the peoples and their despots, which no human power can henceforth hinder, but which the active cooperation of all the brave and good could render shorter and...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN On Public Opinion and England’s International Leadership (1847)
      (pp. 199-207)

      An association has recently been formed in London, called the “People’s International League,” which we think deserves the attention of the public.¹ . . . The association is just taking its first steps, and it is evident that we must see it at work for some time before we can judge it. So for now I merely want to talk about itsobjective: “To enlighten the British public as to the political conditions in foreign countries, as well as international relations between those countries; to disseminate the principles of national freedom and progress; to engage in public advocacy in favor...

    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Concerning the Fall of the Roman Republic (1849)
      (pp. 208-212)

      Rome has fallen!¹ It is a great crime and a great error.² The crime belongs to France; the error to civilized europe, and above all to your England. I sayto your England, for in the three questions that are now at issue in Rome and that cannot be stifled by brute force, England appears to me—as it appeared to us all—to be especially concerned. All three of these questions had already been raised in Rome long before the French entered the city: first, the question of principle, of international right, of European morality; second, the political question,...

    • CHAPTER NINETEEN On Nonintervention (1851)
      (pp. 213-218)

      The principle of Nonintervention in the affairs of other nations is a product of the negative and purely critical spirit of the last century.¹ It was originally a useful and righteous protest against the lust of conquest and the appetite for war, which had until then characterized the activity of Europe. As such, it was a step forward; a real step in the intellectual progress of the human race. First put forward by thinkers of the European liberal movement, it would have been capable, had it been actually followed, of serving that movement in a most effective manner. Had it...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY America as a Leading Nation in the Cause of Liberty (1865)
      (pp. 219-221)

      Dear Conway,

      You ask for my opinion regarding the question of the right to vote for colored men.¹ Can you have the slightest doubt about it?

      You have abolished slavery. Abolition is the crowning moment of your glorious struggle, the religious consecration of your battles, which otherwise would have been nothing but a lamentable carnage. You have decreed that the sun of the Republic will shine for all; that whoever breathes the air of the Republic is free; and that, just as God is one, so wherever liberty is not a mere haphazard fact but afaithand gospel, the...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE To Our Friends in the United States (1865)
      (pp. 222-223)

      If it is true that duties are proportionate to power, today new duties are arising for the United States. After the Civil war and the abolition of slavery, the power of the United States has become immense, not only on the American continent but also in Europe. Now you can—and therefore you must—be a guiding and instigating force, for the good of your own country and that of Humanity. To fulfill your duty it is sufficient that you stand for the principle of your own national life, both within your geographic boundaries and beyond. The principle of your...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Principles of International Politics (1871)
      (pp. 224-240)

      As I have already said on several occasions: one must judge the social and political acts that constitute the life of nations, as well as the different doctrines that presumably direct them, on the basis of the Moral Law.¹ The spectacle that we have before our eyes today of a great nation fallen to the depths for having deviated from that Law should glaringly confirm our principle.² What applies to all nations is especially true of rising nations. The morality of their social orders and of the standards that guide their political conduct is not just a matter of duty;...

  8. Index
    (pp. 241-249)