By John Dickie (auth.)

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Extra resources for Darkest Italy: The Nation and Stereotypes of the Mezzogiorno, 1860–1900

Sample text

The political priorities that shaped government policy, the confusion to which it was subject, and the objective difficulties of the situation left the moderates with little option but to try and follow the well-established practice of using the crisis of order to legitimate and consolidate their authority. But this was a risky path to take: failure to impose law and order would severely undermine the state’s credibility. The means of repression, at least in the early stages, proved unable to meet the demands for energetic measures which came from some local notables and the government’s men on the ground.

Ah! Calabria is not the only place where there are powerful scoundrels! It’s the same the whole world over. 36 Bianco di Saint Jorioz restates the problem: “Here we are amongst a population which, although in Italy and born Italian, seems to belong to the primitive tribes of Africa” (Bianco di Saint Jorioz 12). He sees the repression involved in combating brigandage as a spiraling waste of the nation’s moral and financial substance, leading to a national debt crisis that threatens its very existence.

Permeating the writing of officers on the brigand campaign is a sense of the fragility of the national identity. One young officer, Enea Pasolini, sees Italy’s spatial self-definition as being in crisis: The state of our country is enough to make one blush. Ah! Calabria is not the only place where there are powerful scoundrels! It’s the same the whole world over. 36 Bianco di Saint Jorioz restates the problem: “Here we are amongst a population which, although in Italy and born Italian, seems to belong to the primitive tribes of Africa” (Bianco di Saint Jorioz 12).

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