La forza del destino

Pubblicata nel 2007, la storia d’Italia di Christopher Duggan ha l’indubbio vantaggio di essere uno strumento di comprensione immediata delle dinamiche politiche e culturali che hanno animato la costruzione dello Stato-nazione nel contesto europeo e nel corso di due secoli. La scrittura è accattivante, quasi romanzesca, ed è notevole l’attenzione costante ai processi culturali che sono alla base della dinamica storica. Al centro del discorso, Duggan pone costantemente l’identità nazionale sia in quanto motore ideologico e culturale che avvia il processo di unificazione dello Stato sia in quanto questione irrisolta alla base dello sviluppo della nazione. Per il lettore italiano, oltretutto, è interessante la sensazione di essere guardato dall’esterno, di rileggere sotto un’altra luce eventi anche molto recenti. Per esempio qui, nelle parole che concludono il libro, proprio alla fine del capitolo dedicato alla nascita della seconda repubblica. Forse è perché si tratta di un libro di storia, ma sembra davvero passato un secolo:

At the beginning of the twenty-first century Italy had been transformed beyond all recognition from the impoverished country into which Mazzini, Garibaldi and Cavour had been born 200 years earlier. Most of its inhabitants were far better fed, much better educated, and considerably richer and healthier (and possibly happier) than at any other time in history. They were also undoubtedly more ‘Italian’. But the concerns that had haunted the patriots of the Risorgimento – how to construct a nation with a shared past and a strong sense of collective destiny and purpose – remained almost as pressing in the age of Forza Italia as in the era of the Carbonari and Young Italy. The Italian nation had from the outset been difficult to define and even more difficult to build; and despite the endeavours of poets, writers, artists, publicists, revolutionaries, soldiers and politicians of varying hues and persuasions, it was clear that old patterns of thought and behaviour had remained deeply entrenched, and that faith in the ideal of ‘Italy’ had not been engendered in the way that so many patriots had hoped. Perhaps, though, the very insistence with which the project of ‘making Italians’ had been pursued down to the Second World War had contributed to the scant belief in collective national values. But if states are to function well they need an overarching sense of a greater whole to which the interests of the individual, the group or the party are ultimately subordinate; and at the start of the new millennium ‘Italy’ appeared still too uncertain and contested an idea to provide the emotional core of a nation – one at least that was at peace with itself and able to face the future with confidence.

Da Christopher Duggan, The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy Since 1796, Boston-New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007 (p. 587). L’immagine, successivamente rielaborata, è la sovracopertina del libro e proviene da qui.

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