By Maurizio Viroli
Religion and liberty are frequently regarded as mutual enemies: if faith has a ordinary best friend, it truly is authoritarianism--not republicanism or democracy. yet during this e-book, Maurizio Viroli, a number one historian of republican political notion, demanding situations this traditional knowledge. He argues that political emancipation and the safety of political liberty have constantly required the self-sacrifice of individuals with non secular sentiments and a non secular devotion to liberty. this is often quite the case while liberty is threatened via authoritarianism: the staunchest defenders of liberty are those that consider a deeply non secular dedication to it.
Viroli makes his case by way of reconstructing, for the 1st time, the heritage of the Italian "religion of liberty," protecting its complete span yet targeting 3 key examples of political emancipation: the unfastened republics of the past due heart a while, the Risorgimento of the 19th century, and the antifascist Resistenza of the 20 th century. In each one instance, Viroli indicates, a non secular spirit that appeared ethical and political liberty because the maximum items of human lifestyles was once primary to developing and conserving liberty. He additionally exhibits that once this spiritual sentiment has been corrupted or suffocated, Italians have misplaced their liberty.
This e-book makes a strong and provocative contribution to modern day debates in regards to the compatibility of faith and republicanism.
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Additional resources for As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy
After having sworn to serve, he must go to church, hear Mass, and pray to God and the saints. ”13 What emerges from the first writings on government in the thirteenth century is a republican religion founded on the principle that the commune is under the protection of God, Christ, and the patron saints. Divine help is the true bulwark against sedition, discord, tyranny, and war—the mortal enemies of republican liberty. The man who undertakes the task of governing acquires a dignity that renders him godlike while also compelling him always to follow a virtuous path, in both the political and the theological domain.
Hoping to obtain it, the ruler must have a sincere fear of God and must observe the Catholic faith, remembering the scripture “But Yahweh’s face is set against those who do evil, / to cut off the memory of them from the earth” (Ps. 34:16). 4 Within the council, he who rules must above all heed the advice of the wise and elderly, as again the Bible teaches us: “Do not dismiss what the old people have to say, / for they too were taught by their parents; / from them you will learn how to think” (Sir.
When he explains what he means by “government,” he quotes, after Horace, the Psalms (124:1) to emphasize that only God can protect cities. To clarify what he means by “podestà,” he mentions, following Marcus Tullius Cicero’s De Officiis, the Gospel of John (19:11)—”You would have no power over me at all if it had not been given you from above”—as well as Old Testament sources that attest to the divine foundation of sovereign power. 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.