By Maurizio Viroli
Religion and liberty are frequently considered mutual enemies: if faith has a common best friend, it truly is authoritarianism--not republicanism or democracy. yet during this publication, Maurizio Viroli, a number one historian of republican political concept, demanding situations this traditional knowledge. He argues that political emancipation and the protection of political liberty have continually required the self-sacrifice of individuals with non secular sentiments and a spiritual devotion to liberty. this can be rather the case whilst liberty is threatened through authoritarianism: the staunchest defenders of liberty are those that believe a deeply non secular dedication to it.
Viroli makes his case by means of reconstructing, for the 1st time, the heritage of the Italian "religion of liberty," overlaying its complete span yet concentrating on 3 key examples of political emancipation: the unfastened republics of the overdue center a long time, the Risorgimento of the 19th century, and the antifascist Resistenza of the 20th century. In each one instance, Viroli exhibits, a spiritual spirit that looked ethical and political liberty because the optimum items of human lifestyles used to be primary to constructing and conserving liberty. He additionally exhibits that after this non secular sentiment has been corrupted or suffocated, Italians have misplaced their liberty.
This ebook makes a strong and provocative contribution to cutting-edge debates in regards to the compatibility of faith and republicanism.
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Extra info for As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy
Man’s end is not to know God but rather to obtain eternal beatitude by means of his good deeds on earth. Laws serve as a safe guide to acting well. 11 In his Libri della famiglia, Alberti presents caring for one’s country as a difficult and demanding job, but one that a good citizen must accept to prevent the arrogant from dominating the republic and making all others their servants. 12 According to Matteo Palmieri, author of that true compendium of civic humanism Vita civile, civic duties are religious duties.
In support of his thesis, Tolomeo quotes the classic tales of Marcus Curtius, who hurled himself into the abyss; Attilius Regulus, who preferred to save his country rather than his own life; and Fabricius, who was not corrupted by gold. He who really loves his country and diligently fosters the common good becomes God’s deputy, and shares in divine nature, thereby fulfilling God’s commandment to love God along with one’s neighbor with all one’s heart, soul, and strength. 13–14). For Dante, the love of country is a love that God instills in some men, rendering them divine: If we consider, then, [Rome] in its adolescence, after its emancipation from royal tutelage , from the time of Brutus, first consul, to that of Caesar, first supreme prince, we find her exalted through citizens not human, but divine, in whom a love not human, but divine, was inspired in loving [her].
Aware of the sacred character of his office, the podestà must solemnly swear on the Gospels and invoke God’s help to honorably perform the difficult task that he has agreed to undertake. Da Viterbo assures the podestà that he can count on God’s help, but only if he sincerely fears him. The Book of Wisdom affirms that “by me monarchs rule and princes decree what is right” (Prov. 8:15). If God did not help them, all men’s efforts would be vain. This concept, of the utmost significance for the republican ideology of the thirteenth and subsequent centuries, is drawn from the Bible: “If Yahweh does not guard a city / in vain does its guard keep watch” (Ps.