Liberty, Community and the Quest for National Self-Determination: Joseph Mazzini and the Nationalist Fallacy

Anno XLV, n. 198, maggio-agosto 2010
Centro Einaudi


This article explores the enduring tension between individual liberty and communal liberty in the writings on Robert Nisbet, Elie Kedourie, and the nineteenth-century Italian nationalist Joseph Mazzini. In different ways, all three of these thinkers appreciate that individuals may be disposed to foresake individual liberty in pursuit of the communal liberty promised by nationalism. If this longing for community and solidarity is a perennial feature of human nature, as all three argue, then what are the conditions that encourage the growth of nationalism, fundamentalism, and other expressions of collective solidarity, and what challenges does this present to individual liberty?

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