Page 10 - spring21
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This uneasy alliance between professional agitators, the professional middle classes,

            workers, peasants and assorted misfits was the context of the many revolutionary
            outbreaks that occurred in many parts of Europe in the 1820’s and 30’s, to the anger
            and distress of Metternich, culminating in the Year of Revolutions, 1848. However,
            these divisions also help explain the failure of 1848 when liberal and nationalist
            revolutions broke out in almost every country in Europe (not Britain: but there were
            huge Chartist petitions and demonstrations demanding votes for all working men).

            1848 was the high-water mark of Mazzini’s influence. As the “Year of Revolutions”, it

            was famously dismissed by historian A.J.P. Taylor as a turning point in European
            history, except that “Europe failed to turn”. Mazzini returned to Italy and was
            enlisted to help run a short-lived revolutionary republic in Rome. He was said to have
            impressed many with his competence in government. But in 1849, at the Pope’s
            invitation, the new French President Louis Napoleon, keen to please French Catholics,
            sent in troops to crush it the uprising and restore the Pope. This was the pattern
            everywhere, established monarchies such as Austria and Prussia kept their nerve,

            and control of their armed forces, and intervened, often brutally, to suppress
            revolution. Crucially the liberal middle classes, scared by the violence and radicalism
            of popular uprisings, gave their tacit support. It was a victory for Metternich’s policy,
            though he himself had to flee from the revolutionary crowd in Vienna in a cab, and
            never returned to power (he had an enjoyable stay in London, then Brighton; many
            public figures visited him, but he was snubbed by Victoria.)

            Mazzini’s influence began to decline. There were fundamental issues about his vision

            of nationalism. Ambitious as it was, Mazzini’s programme of establishing nation-
            states was only the first step towards European unity and even world peace. He
            foresaw a future where the new democratic national republics would join together in
            mutual respect and regard, creating a voluntary federation, ushering in a new
            democratic era of international peace and cooperation. But by the time Mazzini died,
            in 1872, nationalism had morphed into a far from peaceful, assertive and aggressive

            version. Many working people were increasingly turning to alternative creeds like
            socialism to pursue their democratic aspirations.  Mazzini had always opposed
            socialism and was a fierce critic of Marx for dividing the cause of nationalism by
            basing everything on class.

            In a later session, we’ll explore the reasons why Mazzini’s dream of nationalism as a
                                                                             th
            force for peace and cooperation in the first half of the 19  century gave way to a
            darker, more aggressive vision in the second half of the century. Could this be a case
            of Paradise lost rather than regained?
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