Edition: 2013
Pages: 158
Series: EL
ISBN: 9788842098706

The Freedom of Slaves

Maurizio Viroli


Princeton UP (USA)



If being free citizens means not being subject to an overriding power and exercising civil rights, it is clear that Italians cannot claim to be free; or rather, they are free but only as subjects or slaves can be. Over the centuries Italians have demonstrated a marked ability to invent unprecedented political and social systems. Even the transformation of a Republic into a great Court was an experiment that until recently had never been attempted. Compared with the courts of past centuries, the one that has taken root in Italy no longer involves a few hundred but rather millions of persons and the consequences are the same: obsequiousness, adulation, identification with the Lord and Master, obsessive preoccupation with appearances, arrogance, court buffoons and courtesans. Since the court system has shaped tradition, spreading the servile mentality almost everywhere, the remedy must necessarily be consistent with the nature of the evil, in other words to rediscover, or learn, the business of citizens. As hard as that may appear, it is the only way forward. The first step is to understand the value and beauty of civil duties.

The author

Maurizio Viroli

Maurizio Viroli is Professor of Government at the University of Texas (Austin), Professor of Political Communication at the University of Italian Switzerland at Lugano and Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University. He is the author of numerous books, all widely translated, including: Republicanism (1999); Niccolò’s Smile. History of Machiavelli (20002); For the Love of Country. Patriotism and nationalism in history(20012); Dialogue on the Republic (with Norberto Bobbio, 20036);Machiavelli’s God and Italy’s Moral Problem (2005); The Florence Years (with other authors, 2009); The Intransigent (20123);The Freedom of Slaves (201213).

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