Declaration of Principles

Throughout “Duties to Country”, Mazzini makes some points that would lead the reader to think that he was an ally to the working class of Italy. He talks about the poor social conditions of the working class, but the quote that caught my attention is when he says “Your emancipation can have no practical beginning until a National Government, understanding the signs of the times, shall, seated in Rome, formulate a Declaration of Principles to be a guide for Italian progress, and shall insert into it these words, Labour is scared, and is the source of the wealth of Italy” (283). While the idea that labour is sacred does sound like progress for better conditions for the working class, the other parts of this quote suggest that this might not be the case. By saying that labour is the source of Italy’s wealth, Mazzini is encouraging more hours for these workers that are already pushed to their limits. Right before this quote, he also says that “The economic problem demands, forth and foremost, an increase in capital and production” (283). Both of these statements by Mazzini suggest that in order for Italy to get wealthy, the working class must be given more hours than they are already suffering through, so this idea that “labour is scared” seems like it will do more harm than help to the working class, but do you think otherwise?

2 Replies to “Declaration of Principles”

  1. I think you make a very interesting point about how Mazzini writes about the working class and after the discussion in class today, I wanted to add on to your original post. To start, I had interpreted “labor is scared, and is the source of the wealth of Italy” (283) in a slightly different way than you. In fact, I saw this entire phrase coupled with the promise that it would be written into the country’s founding documents as a way for Mazzini to praise the working class and honor their contribution to the country. Although you are absolutely correct that he plans to solve the economic problem with “an increase of capital and production” (283) but I had seen this as another way for Mazzini trying to reassure his audience about their future under a unified Italy. He follows this with “you are not the working class of Italy; you are only fractions of that class’ powerless, unequal to the great task which you propose” (283). The point Mazzini is trying to make is that a person cannot be “the working class of Italy” if Italy is not one nation with one working class, instead they are these fractions whose financial contributions fail to fully benefit the nation. This is a good time to place Mazzini’s writing about the working class up against the writing of Marx and Engels where we can see a stark contrast on how they view the world. The former believes that a person’s place is firstly to Italy and that includes the proletariat which directly contrasts to the work of Marx and Engel who would argue that an Italian apart of the working class is firstly apart of the worldwide working class.

  2. I believe that Mazzini’s statement about work being sacred does not mean that extra hours of labor produced by the workers is sacred but rather that labor will produce wealth for Italy as a collective nation rather than a select few, such as capitalists or nobility. Before Mazzini makes this statement, he refers to how the concerns of workers to improve labor conditions should not be their main focus. For instance, Mazzini states, “Do not be led away by the idea of improving your material conditions without first solving the national question. You cannot do it. Your industrial associations and mutual help societies are useful as a means of educating and discipling yourselves; as an economic fact that they will remain barren until you have an Italy.” Thus, Mazzini believes that the workers are unable to improve their conditions if Italy is not unified because the workers will lack less unity. Since Mazzini insinuates that labor will create wealth for all of Italy and not a select few of wealthy capitalists, he offers a false sense of security to the working class. Thus, Mazzini’s sentiment about sacred labor is harmful to the working class because it could slow down the labor movements due to fall promises that a unified Italy will naturally end labor exploitation. (Mazzini, 283)

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