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Mazzini's Manifesto[288]

Karl Marx

Under present circumstances, any declaration on the part of Mazzini is an event deserving of greater attention than the diplomatic appeals from the contending Cabinets, or even the colored bulletins from the theater of war. However various men's opinions may be as to the character of the Roman triumvir[289], nobody will deny that for a period of almost thirty years Italian revolution has been connected with his name, and that for the same space of time he has been acknowledged by Europe as the ablest exponent of the national aspirations of his countrymen. He has now performed an admirable act of moral courage and patriotic devotion, in raising, at the peril of damaging his popularity, his solitary voice against a Babel of self-delusion, blind enthusiasm, and interested falsehood. His revelations on the real plans concerted between Bonaparte, Alexander, and Cavour, the agent of the two autocrats, ought to be weighed the more carefully, since, of all private individuals in Europe, Mazzini is known to be possessed of the amplest means of penetrating into the dark secrets of the ruling Powers. His advice to the national volunteers to draw a clear line of distinction between their own cause and that of the crowned impostors, and to never dishonor their proclamations by encumbering them with the infamous name of Louis Napoleon, has been literally acted upon by Garibaldi. The omission of the name of France from the latter's proclamation[a], as the Paris correspondent of the London Times reports, is considered by Louis Napoleon as a deadly insult; and such was the fear inspired by the knowledge of Garibaldi's secret connection with the Roman triumvir, that his corps was reduced from the 10,000 chasseurs d'Alpes originally promised him, to 4,000; that a corps of artillery allowed him was withdrawn, the one battery already dispatched at his request was stopped, and a pair of experienced policemen, instructed to report on every word and movement of his, were, under the garb of volunteers, smuggled into his following.

We subjoin a literal translation of Mazzini's manifesto, published at London in the last number of Pensiero ed Azione (Thought and Action), under the title of La Guerra (The War):

"The war has begun. We have, therefore, before us no probability to be discussed, but a fact accomplished. The war has broken out between Austria and Piedmont. The soldiers of Louis Bonaparte are in Italy. The Russo-French alliance, announced by us a year ago, reveals itself to Europe. The Sardinian Parliament has conferred dictatorial powers on Victor Emmanuel. A military insurrection has overthrown the Ducal Government of Tuscany, and accepted the dictatorship of the King (who since then has surrendered it to a Bonaparte). The general fermentation in Italy is likely to produce similar facts in other places. The destinies of our fatherland are to-day irrevocably intrusted to the decision of battles.

"Under such circumstances most of our countrymen, inebriated by the desire of action, fascinated by the idea of possessing the mighty help of regular armies, carried away by the pleasure of making war against Austrian dominion, justly abhorred, disown the opinions of the past and their principles, immolate not only their dearest convictions, but even the intention of returning to them, renounce all foresight, all liberty of judgment, have but words of applause for whoever assumes to direct the war, approve without inquiry whatever may come from France or Piedmont, and initiate the battle of liberty by rendering themselves slaves. Others, seeing every idea of political morality extinguished in the political agitators, and the mob behind them; a people, the apostle of liberty for half a century, allying itself at once with despotism; men, who till yesterday believed in Proudhon's anarchy, surrender themselves to a King, and the countrymen of Goffredo Mameli burst into the cry, 'Viva l'Imperatore', who murdered him with thousands of others[290], despair of the future, and declare our people not fit for liberty.

"We, for our part, do not share either the blind and servile hopes of the one party, or the desperate gloom of the others. The war begins under the saddest auspices, but the Italians can, if they will, turn it to a better end; and we believe in the noble instincts of our people. And those instincts powerfully pierce through the errors to which the agitators goad them. It would perhaps have been better if, instead of rallying round the absolute standards of Powers which will betray their hopes, the volunteers had silently organized the insurrection in their own countries and proclaimed it in the name of the Italian people, by taking its initiative; but the spirit which moved them is holy and sublime; the proof they give of devotion to the common country is not to be denied, and on this nucleus of the future national army, spontaneously formed, center the greatest hopes of Italy. The acceptance of a royal dictatorship is an error which may indeed result in disappointment, and violates the dignity of a people rising for its own emancipation; that dictatorship in a country and with a Parliament devoted to monarchy, with the precedents of Rome and Venice, where the harmony of the popular assemblies with the leaders of the defense was the source of power, with the record of the long and tremendous war sustained by England against the first Empire, without the least violation of civil liberties, is evidently nothing but a concession to the exigencies of the allied despots and the first symptom of a design which intends to substitute the question of territory for the question of liberty; but the people which enthusiastically accepts the dictatorship, thinks it accomplishes an act of supreme sacrifice for the benefit of the common fatherland; and, deluded by the notion of the success of the war depending upon such a concentration of power, wants to show by its applause its firm determination to combat and to vanquish at any price whatever. The unconditional surrender of the revolted provinces to the absolute direction of the royal dictator, is almost sure to result in fatal consequences. The logic of the insurrection required every insurged province to put itself under a local revolutionary administration, and each to contribute by a representative to the formation of a national revolutionary Government; but even this immense error is a homage to the want of national unity, invincibly confuting the stupid chit-chat of the European press as to our dissensions. It constitutes the Italian common law. Patriotism is at this moment so powerful in Italy as to overcome all mistakes. Good citizens, instead of despairing, must try to give it the right direction. And for that purpose they must insist, without fear of malign interpretations, upon the true state of the situation. The moment is too solemn to care either for immediate favor or for calumny.

"The truth of the situation is this:

"As in 1848, and still more so, the Italian movement tends to liberty and national unity. The war is undertaken by the Sardinian monarchy and by Louis Bonaparte with entirely different views. As in 1848, and still more so, the antagonism existing between the tendencies of the nation and those of the accepted chiefs, which then ruined the war, menaces Italy with tremendous disappointments.

"What Italy aspires to is National Unity. Louis Napoleon cannot wish this. Beside Nice and Savoy, already conceded to him by Piedmont as the price for his aid in the formation of a northern kingdom, he wants an opportunity to set up the throne of a Murat in the south, and the throne of his cousin[b] in the center. Rome and part of the Roman State are to remain under the temporal government of the Pope.

"It does not matter whether sincerely or not, the Ministry[c] which to-day rules supreme in Piedmont has given its consent to this plan.

"Italy is thus to be divided into four States: two to be directly governed by the foreigner; indirectly, France would have the whole of Italy. The Pope has been a French vassal ever since 1849; the King of Sardinia[d], from gratitude and from inferiority of forces, would become the vassal of the Empire.

"The design would be entirely executed should Austria resist to the last. But if Austria, defeated at the outset, should offer terms like those which, at a certain moment in 1848, she offered to the British Government, viz.: the abandonment of Lombardy, on the condition of retaining Venice, peace, naturally supported by the whole diplomacy of Europe, would be accepted; the single conditions of the aggrandizement of the Sardinian monarchy, and of the cession of Savoy and Nice to France, would be insisted upon; Italy would be abandoned to the revenge of its patrons, and the full execution of the pet plan be deferred to some more favorable moment.

"This plan is known to the governments of Europe. Hence- their general armaments; hence the warlike fermentation throughout the German Confederation; hence the elements already prepared of a coalition between England, Germany and Prussia—a coalition inevitable despite the declaration to the contrary of the governments. If Italy, independent of Bonaparte's alliance, should not vindicate her national life, the defense of Austria and the treaties of 1815 will fatally form the pivot of the coalition.

"The coalition is feared by Louis Napoleon. Hence his league with Russia, an uncertain and perfidious ally, but still ready to step in on the condition of liberticide concessions, such as the absolute abandonment of Poland, and the general protectorate by the Czar of European Turkey in exchange for the Mediterranean transformed into a French lake. If the war be prolonged so as to assume, consequent upon German intervention, European proportions, the insurrection of the Turkish Provinces, prepared a long time since, and that of Hungary, would enable the alliance to assume palpable forms.

"In case things come to that point, it is intended to merge in the territorial rearrangement every idea of popular right and liberty. Russian princes would govern the States established on the ruins of the Turkish Empire and Austria; princes of the Bonaparte dynasty the new States of Italy, and perhaps others into the bargain, according to eventualities. Constantine of Russia is already proposed to the Hungarian malcontents, as Louis Napoleon Bonaparte to the monarchic agitators of the Legations[e] and of Tuscany. As Charles V and Clement VII, although mortal enemies, coalesced in order to divide among themselves the free cities of Italy[291], the two Czars, hating each other cordially, coalesce in order to stifle all aspirations for liberty and imperialize Europe. Hence the .decree which, for an indefinite period, suppresses the liberty of Piedmont, betrayed by Cavour. With a mute press, every comment upon the operations being prevented, the people kept in darkness as to everything, the field is cleared for the tactics of the patrons. And the popular mind, fascinated by the phantom of an independence which, finally, would turn out but a change of dependence, becomes disused to liberty, the true source of all independence.

"Such are the designs of the allied despots. They may be denied by some exactly because they are working out their execution, in the same way as Louis Bonaparte disowned the idea of the coup d'état; by others from credulity as to every word that falls from the great, or from a blind desire darkening their intellect; they are not the less real for all that; known to myself, known to the different Governments and betrayed partly in the words, still more in the acts, of Louis Napoleon and Count Cavour. I say of Count Cavour, because I incline to think Victor Emmanuel a stranger to the bargains of Plombières and Stuttgart.[292]

"If Count Cavour had been a real friend of Italy he would have relied on the immense prestige derived from the possession of an important material force and from the general tendencies prevailing in Italy, in order to prepare Italian movements, to be immediately seconded by Piedmont. To a struggle initiated by Italian forces alone, Europe would have given applause and favor. And Europe, which to-day menaces Napoleon when he descends into Italy at her call and with the semblances of a liberator, would never have suffered him to come without provocation, in his own name, to the rescue of Austria. It would have been a holy and sublime enterprise, and Cavour could have carried it through. But it would have been necessary to fraternize, in the name of liberty and right, with the Italian revolution. Such a course did not suit the Minister of the Sardinian monarchy. Aversion to the people and to liberty spurred him to seek the alliance of tyranny—and of a tyranny which, by dint of old traditions of conquest, all nations abominate. This conception has changed the very nature of the Italian cause. If it comes out victorious, with the ally accepted as its patron, the national unity is lost—Italy is made the field of a new division under the French protectorate. If it succumbs with the man of December, Italy will have to pay damages and to undergo reactions without end; and Europe, instead of complaining of us, will say, 'Serves you right'. (Voi non avete, se non quello the meritate.) All calculations, all human tactics, are swayed by moral laws, which no people can dare violate with impunity. Every guilt drags inevitably behind itself its expiation. France—and thus we told her at the time—expiates the expedition to Rome[293]. May God exempt Italy from the severe expiation deserved by the Sardinian monarchy for having coupled a cause sanctified by half a century of sacrifice, of martyrdom, and virtuous aspirations, with the banner of egotism and tyranny!

"Nevertheless, the war is a fact—a powerful fact—which creates new duties, and essentially modifies our own proceedings. Between the conception of Cavour and the menace of a coalition, between Louis Napoleon and Austria, equally fatal, there stands Italy—the more serious the dangers of the situation are, the more the efforts of all must concentrate themselves to save the common fatherland from the perils it incurs. If the war was carried on between Governments, we might remain spectators, watching the moment when the combatants having weakened each other, the national element could come forward. But that element has already exploded. Deluded or not, the country trembles in a feverish state of activity, and believes it is able to accomplish its purpose by making use of the war of the Emperor and the King. The Tuscan movement[294], spontaneous movement of Italian soldiers and citizens, the universal agitation, and the rush of volunteer corps, break through the circle of the official intrigues, and they are beatings of the national heart. It is necessary to follow them on the field; it is necessary to enlarge, to italianise (italianizzare) the war. The Republicans will know how to accomplish this duty.

"Italy, if she will, may save herself from the perils we have set forth. She may win from the actual crisis her national unity.

"It is necessary that Austria should succumb. We may deplore the Imperial intervention, but we cannot deny that Austria is the eternal enemy of every national Italian development. Every Italian must cooperate in the downfall of Austria. This is demanded by the honor, by the safety of all. Europe must learn that between us and Austria there is an eternal war. It is necessary that the people of Italy maintain intangible its dignity, and convince Europe that, if we can undergo the aid of tyranny, because it was claimed by an Italian Government, we have not asked for it, and have not renounced for it our belief in liberty and the alliance of peoples. The cry of 'Viva la Francia!' may issue without guilt from Italian lips; not so the cry of 'Viva l'Imperatore!'... It is necessary that Italy arouse, from one end to the other, ... in the North to conquer, not to receive liberty; in the South, to organize the reserve of the national army. The insurrection may, with due reserve, accept the military command of the King wherever the Austrian has pitched his camp, or is at hand; the insurrection in the South must operate and keep itself more independent.... Naples and Sicily may secure the Italian cause, and constitute its power, represented by a National Camp.... The cry of insurrection, wherever it is heard, must be, 'Unity, Liberty, National Independence!' The name of Rome ought always to accompany that of Italy. It is the duty of Rome, not to send one man to the Sardinian army, but to prove to Imperial France that it is a bad bargain for any power to combat in the name of Italian Independence, while declaring itself the support of Papal absolutism.... On Rome, Naples, and the conduct of the volunteer militia, depend to-day the destinies of Italy. Rome represents the unity of the fatherland: Naples and the volunteers can constitute its army. The duties are immense; if Rome, Naples and the volunteers do not know how to fulfill them, they do not merit liberty, and will not get it. The war abandoned to the Governments, will end with another treaty of Campoformio.[295]

"The discipline preached to-day as the secret of the victory by the same men who betrayed the insurrections of 1848, is nothing but servility and popular passiveness. The discipline understood by us, may require a strong unity for everything concerning the progress of the regular war; it may require silence on all questions of form; but never that Italy should rise or sink according to the will of a dictator without a programme, and a foreign despot, never that it should keep back its resolution to be free and united!"

Marx's introductory remarks to Mazzini's manifesto were written late in May 1859
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 5665, June 17, 1859;
reprinted in the New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 1467, June 17, 1859
and the New-York Weekly Tribune, No. 928, June 25, 1859
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune


[a] "Garibaldi's Proclamation to the Lombards", The Times, No. 23319, May 30, 1859.—Ed.

[b] Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte.—Ed.

[c] Of Camillo Benso Cavour.—Ed.

[d] Victor Emmanuel II.—Ed.

[e] The provinces of which the Papal States were composed.—Ed.

[288] Marx's introductory remarks to Mazzini's manifesto "The War" published in the present volume show that Marx and Engels supported Mazzini in his correct stand on the question of Bonaparte's interference in the liberation of Italy. At the same time they continued to criticise Mazzini's views and tactics as a whole.

[289] In March 1849 Mazzini became the head of the triumvirate (Mazzini, Saffi, Armellini) invested by the Constituent Assembly of the Roman Republic with full executive authority and extraordinary powers for the defence of the republic.

[290] The Italian poet and patriot Goffredo Mameli was killed in July 1849, during the defence of the Roman Republic against the French troops sent by Louis Bonaparte.

[291] This refers to the treaties Emperor Charles V concluded with Pope Clement VII in Barcelona in 1529 and in Bologna in 1530. From then on the imperial government and the Catholic Church acted hand in hand to abolish the remnants of the Italian cities' independence.

[292] On July 21, 1858, at Plombières, a secret agreement was reached between Napoleon III and the Piedmontese Prime Minister Cavour which envisaged the liquidation of Austrian rule in Lombardy and Venice, the creation of a North-Italian state headed by the Savoy dynasty, and the cession of Savoy and Nice to France. In January 1859 the agreement was formalised by a Franco-Sardinian treaty concluded in Turin.

The Stuttgart meeting of the Emperors, Alexander II and Napoleon III, took place on September 25, 1857. It was a sign of rapprochement between France and Russia after the Crimean war.

[293] The reference is to the abolition of the Roman Republic and the restoration of the temporal power of the Pope in July 1849, as a result of French military intervention initiated by Louis Bonaparte after his election as President of the French Republic.

[294] The reference is to an anti-Austrian uprising in Tuscany that began on April 27, 1859, on the eve of the Austro-Piedmontese war.

As a result of this uprising Duke Leopold II and the Austrian occupation forces were driven out of Tuscany.

[295] The Treaty of Campoformio, signed on October 17, 1797, concluded the victorious war of the French Republic against Austria, a member of the first anti-French coalition. Under this treaty part of the Venetian Republic's territory, including Venice and Istria and Dalmatia, was given to Austria in exchange for concessions on the Rhine frontier. Another part went to the Cisalpine Republic formed by Napoleon I in the summer of 1797 out of lands he had captured in Northern Italy. The Ionian Islands and the Venetian Republic's possessions on the Albanian coast were also annexed to France.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 16 (pp.354-359), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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