Spirit of Unity

“It was not for a material interest that the people of Vienna fought in 1848; in weakening the empire they could only lose power.” -From Giuseppe Mazzini’s “On Nationality”

This quote, I believe, has the greatest influence in his argument for the unification of the various European states. He aims to inspire unification because it would give the people a greater sense of community by being able to call themselves “German” or “French”, to commonly identify with one another. It also demonstrates what lengths people will go to in order to officially conceive a country. “In weakening the empire they could only lose power.” So, then, why did they fight? They wanted a self-defined nationality, not one given at the discretion of some emperor. This logic applies to Mazzini’s theory. He knew that many states had much to gain if they fought to create a national identity. By sacrificing and ¬†settling for a lower standard of living that comes with living in a revolutionary state, the population would ultimately benefit from having a nationality and a government that supported the preservation of the state. The alternative is driven by egotistical self-interest; a monarch or emperor’s ultimate goal is to keep what they have and to try to gain more by doing so. While they certainly wanted to give their subjects a decent standard of living, they still sought power for themselves. If a nation were established, the focus would become serving the people. This held true, at least, for the French. They wished to eliminate an oppressive nobility because their interests were self-serving, not for the good of the state. Upon eliminating the monarchy, the French were able to create a nation with a body of law drafted with the common man in mind and a government which did just what they set out to do: served, and continues to serve, the people.

3 thoughts on “Spirit of Unity

  1. I think you are right in pointing out that although they would lose power from fighting, they were fighting for a larger goal – a nationality that was defined by the people. By initially sacrificing they would ultimately gain from being better representation from governments that were interested in their lives and in society’s well being.

  2. It is almost as if Italy realized France’s trend of revolution then putting another monarch on the throne. Therefore they desired a revolution for the right reasons. They acknowledged that the sacrifice would be worthwhile if the result was a unified democratic state.

  3. Good analysis on the relationship between the third estates and the monarchies. Although weakening the monarchy would potentially lower their standards of living in the short run, there is a great investment for long term power by willingly making sacrifices in the present for ultimate gain.

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