Farsi    Arabic    English   

Mazzini's New Manifesto

Karl Marx

London, Sept. 21, 1858

The Genoese Dio e Popolo, the last republican paper edited on Italian soil, having finally succumbed before the incessant persecution of the Sardinian Government, Mazzini, nothing daunted, has got up an Italian paper at London, to appear twice a month, under the title of Pensiero ed Azione (Thought and Action).

It is from the last number of this organ that we translate his new manifesto, which we consider a historical document enabling the reader to judge for himself of the vitality and the prospects of that part of the revolutionary emigration marshaled under the banner of the Roman triumvir. Instead of inquiring into the great social agencies on which the Revolution of 1848-9 foundered, and of trying to delineate the real conditions that, during the last ten years, have silently grown up and combined to prepare a new and more powerful movement, Mazzini, relapsing, as it appears to us, into his antiquated crotchets, puts to himself an imaginary problem which, of course, cannot but lead to a delusive solution. With him the all-absorbing question remains still—why the Refugees, as a body, have failed in their attempts at renovating ,the world; and still he busies himself with advertising nostrums for the cure of their political palsy. He says:

"In 1852 I declared, in a memorandum addressed to the European Democracy, what ought to-day to be the watchword, the rallying cry of the party? The answer is very simple. It is comprised in the single word of action, but united, European, incessant, logical, bold action. You can get liberty only by getting the conscience of liberty, and that conscience you can conquer only by action. You keep your destinies in your own hands. The world is waiting for you. The initiative is everywhere where a people shall rise, ready to fight and to die, in case of need, for the salvation of all, writing upon its banners the signal: God, People, Justice, Truth, Virtue. Rise for all and you will be followed by all. It is necessary that the whole party moralize itself. Every one may pursue the study of the solution which he believes he has caught a glimpse of, but let him not stand by his exclusive colors, let him not desert the great army of the future.... We are not Democracy; we are but its vanguard. We have but to clear its way. All we want is unity of plan, superintendence of labor.... Six years have elapsed since that appeal, and the question remains unaltered. The forces of the party have numerically increased, the unity of the party is not yet constituted. Some organized minorities, by their inexhaustible vitality and the horrors which they inspire to the heart of the enemy, prove the power of union; the great bulk of the party continues to be given up to disorganisation, insulation, and, consequently, to inactivity and impotence. Small groups of devoted men, unable to bear the disgrace of inactivity, fight here and there as tirailleurs[a], over the whole extent of the line, every one on his own account, for his own country, without a common understanding; too weak to vanquish, on any given point, they protest and die. The bulk of the army cannot come to their rescue; it has neither plan, nor means, nor chiefs.... The alliance of Governments had been broken for a moment. The Crimean war offered to the oppressed peoples an opportunity, which they ought to have seized upon with the rapidity of lightning; for want of organization they have allowed it to faint away. We have seen true revolutionists expect the emancipation of their countries from the presumed designs of a man who cannot touch on national questions and bid insurrections to rise without the certitude of perishing. We have seen Poles make themselves Cossacks in the service of Turkey[17] forgetting Sobieski and the historical mission Poland has fulfilled in Christian Europe. There were people, like the Roumans, fancying that diplomacy would build their unity[18], as if ever in the history of the world any nationality had originated in anything else than the battles of its sons. Others, like the Italians, resolved to wait until Austria had engaged in the struggle, as if Austria could take up any other position than that of armed neutrality. Greece alone rushed to action[19]; but without understanding that, against the accord of the Governments, no Greek national movement is possible without an accidental revolution, dismembering the forces, and without an alliance of the Hellenic element with the Slavo-Rouman element, in order to legitimate the insurrection. The want of organization and plans which I denounce, had never become more evident. Hence the mortal discouragement which sometimes spreads throughout our ranks. What can an individual, single-handed, insulated with weak means or no means at all, do for the solution of a problem which embraces Europe? Association alone can conquer it.... In 1848 we rose on ten points, in the name of all that is great and holy. Liberty, Solidarity, People, Alliance, Fatherland, Europe belonged to us. Later on, deceived, fascinated—I know not by which cowardly and culpable delusion we allowed the movements to become localized.... We repeated, we who had overthrown Louis Philippe, the atheist phrase which resumes his reign: Chacun pour soi, chacun chez soi[b]. It was thus that we fell. Have we nothing learned from that bitter experience? Do we not know at this time of the day that union, and union alone, gives power?

"Man consists of thought and action. Thought not embodied in acts, is but the shadow of man; action not directed and sanctified by thought, is but the galvanized corpse of man—a form without a soul. God is God, because he is the absolute identity of thought and action. Man is only man, on the condition of approaching incessantly as far as possible to that ideal.... We cannot triumph by dividing our party into thinkers and workers, into men of intelligence and men of action, by I know not what sort of immoral and absurd divorce between theory and practice, between individual and collective duty, between the writer and the conspirator or fighter.... All of us preach association as the watchword of the epoch of which we are the forerunners, but how many of us do associate themselves to their brothers to work with them in common? We all have on our lips the words, tolerance, love, liberty, and we separate from our companions because on this or that special question their solution diverges from our own. We clap our hands in enthusiasm at those who die in order to clear us the way for action; but we do not march on their footsteps. We find fault with the imprudence of attempts undertaken on a small scale; but we try not to realize them on vast and powerful proportions. We all deplore the want of material means in the hands of the party; but how many of us do periodically contribute their penny to a common chest? We explain our failures by the powerful organization of the enemy; but how few work to found the omnipotence of our party by means of a general uniform organization, which, while domineering the present, would reflect in itself the future?... Is there no means to get out of the present, deplorable, disorganized state of the party? All of us believe that thought is holy, that its manifestations ought to be free and inviolable; that the social organization is bad, if, from excess of material inequality, it condemns the workman to the part of a machine, and deprives him of intellectual life. We believe that human individual life is sacred. We believe that association is equally sacred; that it is the watchword expressing the special mission of our epoch. We believe that the State ought not to enforce but to encourage it. We look forward with enthusiasm to a future in which universalized association between the producers shall have put participation in the place of wages. We believe in the sanctity of labor, and think every society culpable in which a man willing to live by his labor is unable to do so. We believe in nationality, we believe in humanity.... By humanity we understand the association of free and equal nations on the double basis of independence for their internal development, and of fraternity for the regulation of international life and general progress. In order that the nations and humanity, such as we understand them, be able to exist, we believe that the map of Europe must be remade; we believe in a new territorial division, supplanting the arbitrary division, operated by the treaty of Vienna[20], and to be founded on the affinities of language, tradition, religion, and the geographical and political condition of every country. Now, do you not think that these common creeds will suffice for a fraternal organization? I do not tell you to surrender one single doctrine, one single conviction. I say only. Let us together give battle to the negation of every doctrine; let us united carry a second victory of Marathon[21] against the principle of Oriental immobility which to-day threatens to reconquer Europe. All men, to whatever republican fraction belonging, but approving of the sentiments I have just enumerated, ought to constitute an European party of action, of which France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Roumania and the other oppressed nations ought to form so many sections; every national section to be constituted independently, with its separate chest; a Central Committee, with a central chest, to be formed of the delegates of the national sections, &c.

"The unity of the party once conquered, the European question dissolves into the question where to begin? In revolutions, as in war, victory depends on the rapid concentration of the greatest possible number of forces on a given point. If the party desires a victorious revolution, it ought to choose on the map of Europe that point on which the initiative is most easy, most effective, and thither to throw all the forces every section may dispose of. Rome and Paris are the two strategical points from which the common action is to start. By her powerful unity, the souveniers of her great revolution and of the Napoleonian armies, by the prestige which every movement at Paris exercises over the mind of Europe, France—although every truly revolutionary rising on her part be sure to concentrate against herself all the forces of the Governments of Europe—still remains the country whose initiative would, with the greatest certitude, rouse all other oppressed nations. Save this one exception, Italy is to-day the country visibly uniting in itself the characteristics of the initiative. The universality of opinion which pushes it on need not be demonstrated; there has existed there for ten years past a series of noble protestations altogether exceptional in Europe. The cause of Italian nationality is identical with that of all nations crushed or dismembered by the partition of Vienna. The Italian insurrection, by attacking Austria, would afford a direct opportunity to the Slav and Rouman elements, which, within the bosom of the Empire, strive to emancipate themselves of it. The Italian troops, disseminated throughout the most disaffected parts of the Empire, would support their movements. Twenty thousand Hungarians, the soldiers of Austria in Italy, would range themselves round our banner of insurrection. It is, therefore, impossible for an Italian movement to become localized. The geographical position of Italy, and a population of twenty-five millions, would secure the insurrectional movement sufficient duration to allow the other nations to profit from it. Austria and France, France and England, have not in Italy that uniformity of interests which alone could create the unity of their politics. Italy, being unable to rise without overturning Papacy, would, by its insurrection, solve the problem of liberty of conscience in Europe, and meet with the sympathy of all those who cherish that liberty."

Critical remarks on Mazzini's manifesto were written by Marx on September 21, 1858
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 5453, October 13, 1858


[a] Sharpshooters.—Ed.

[b] Each for himself, each at home.—Ed.

[17] The reference is to the Polish emigrants who settled in Turkey after the 1848-49 events. During the Crimean war some of them decided to fight on the side of the Turks. p. 38

[18] The ruling classes of Moldavia and Wallachia sought to create a single Rumanian state through diplomacy, thinking this the most convenient and the safest way.

[19] During the Crimean war of 1853-56, Greece became the scene of a movement for the reunification with Greece of Thessaly, Epirus and other Greek lands ruled by Turkey. The peasants' uprisings in these regions were supported by the Greek army which occupied Thessaly and Epirus in 1854. Turkey responded with military operations. It was supported by Britain and France which occupied part of Greek territory.

[20] The reference is to the Vienna treaties—the treaties and agreements concluded at the Congress of Vienna held by the European monarchs and their ministers in 1814-15. They established the borders and status of the European states after the victory over Napoleonic France and sanctioned, contrary to the national interests and will of the peoples, the reshaping of Europe's political map and the restoration of the "legitimate" dynasties overthrown as a result of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. The Vienna treaties confirmed France's territory within the borders of 1790 and the restoration of the Bourbons in France.

[21] In the battle of Marathon (Attica) in 490 B.C., during the Greco-Persian wars, the Greeks defeated the Persians. Using a more progressive army formation the Greek general Miltiades secured a victory over the far more numerous but less organised Persian army.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 16 (pp.37-40), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
MarxEngles.public-archive.net #ME1084en.html