By Maurizio Viroli
Religion and liberty are usually considered mutual enemies: if faith has a normal best friend, it truly is authoritarianism--not republicanism or democracy. yet during this booklet, Maurizio Viroli, a number one historian of republican political inspiration, demanding situations this traditional knowledge. He argues that political emancipation and the security of political liberty have continually required the self-sacrifice of individuals with non secular sentiments and a non secular devotion to liberty. this is often relatively the case whilst liberty is threatened by way of 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 background of the Italian "religion of liberty," protecting its complete span yet concentrating on 3 key examples of political emancipation: the unfastened republics of the past due center a long time, the Risorgimento of the 19th century, and the antifascist Resistenza of the 20 th century. In each one instance, Viroli exhibits, a spiritual spirit that appeared ethical and political liberty because the optimum items of human existence used to be primary to developing and maintaining liberty. He additionally exhibits that once this non secular sentiment has been corrupted or suffocated, Italians have misplaced their liberty.
This publication makes a robust and provocative contribution to contemporary debates in regards to the compatibility of faith and republicanism.
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Extra resources for As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy
However, sometimes I see the one who, for his own advantage, / disregards me and deceives my land, / and the worse he speaks the more he is praised. ”1 Siena is the Virgin’s land, and whoever offends or deceives the republic also offends the Virgin, and behaves as a bad Christian. The Virgin herself commands people not to follow men who speak against the common good. The fresco’s political and religious teaching is rendered even clearer by its inscription, titled “Responsio Virginis ad 22 • Chapter 2 dicta santorum,” which is the Virgin’s reply to the pleas of the four saints (Ansano, Savino, Crescenzio, and Vittore) who address her on the city’s behalf.
Introduction • 7 theoretical system—that inspired the political and social action of both magistrates and citizens. It molded the public sphere and prescribed the contents of civic education. It transformed neither men into gods nor the republic into a divinity, yet it taught that men, through virtue and charity, can become godlike, and republics can count on divine blessing and protection, if they respect justice. This republican religion, in sum, was a moral force that aided the birth of the Italian republics, inspired the civic statutes and laws, and triggered the organization of civic rituals—rituals of diverse magnitude and splendor in the different cities, but always capable of actively involving the people.
The exercise of sovereign power, however, can be bad: “They have set up kings, / but without my consent, / and appointed princes, / but without my knowledge. / With their silver and gold, / they have made themselves idols, / but only to be destroyed” (Hosea 8:4). Leaving aside the tricky question of the obligation to obey corrupt sovereigns, da Viterbo strongly reaffirms that the podestà must always have God and justice before his eyes. A widely distributed encyclopedia in the Middle Ages, the Livres dou Tresor (ca.