An extract on #airsoftinternational
Italian nationalism emerged in the 19th century and was the driving force for Italian unification or the "Risorgimento" (meaning the Resurgence or revival). It was the political and intellectual movement that consolidated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. The memory of the Risorgimento is central to Italian nationalism but it was based in the liberal middle classes and proved weak. Two major groups remained opposed, the South (called the Mezzogiorno) and the devout Catholics. The new government treated the South as a conquered province with ridicule for its "backward" and poverty stricken society, its poor grasp of the Italian language, and its traditions. The liberals had always been strong opponents of the pope and the very well organized Catholic Church. The pope had been in political control of central Italy; he lost that in 1860 and lost Rome in 1870. He had long been the leader of opposition to modern liberalism and refused to accept the terms offered by the new government. He called himself a prisoner in the Vatican and forbade Catholics to vote or engage in politics. The Catholic alienation lasted until 1929. The liberal government under Francesco Crispi sought to enlarge his political base by emulating Bismarck and firing up Italian nationalism with a hyper-aggressive foreign policy. It crashed and his cause was set back. Historian R.J.B. Bosworth says of his nationalistic foreign policy that Crispi:
pursued policies whose openly aggressive character would not be equaled until the days of the Fascist regime. Crispi increased military expenditure, talked cheerfully of a European conflagration, and alarmed his German or British friends with this suggestions of preventative attacks on his enemies. His policies were ruinous, both for Italy's trade with France, and, more humiliatingly, for colonial ambitions in East Africa. Crispi's lust for territory there was thwarted when on 1 March 1896, the armies of Ethiopian Emperor Menelik routed Italian forces at Adowa ... in what has been defined as an unparalleled disaster for a modern army. Crispi, whose private life (he was perhaps a trigamist) and personal finances...were objects of perennial scandal, went into dishonorable retirement.
Meanwhile, a third major group emerged that was hostile to nationalism as radical socialist elements became a force in the industrial North, and they too rejected liberalism. Italy joined the Allies in the First World War after getting promises of territory, but its war effort was a fiasco that discredited liberalism and paved the way for Benito Mussolini and his fascism. That involved a highly aggressive nationalism that led to a series of wars, an alliance with Hitler's Germany, and humiliation and hardship in the Second World War. After 1945 the Catholics returned to government and tensions eased somewhat, but the Mezzogiorno remained poor and ridiculed. The working class now voted for the Communist Party, and it looked to Moscow not Rome for inspiration, and was kept out of the national government even as it controlled industrial cities across the North. In the 21st century the Communists are gone but political and cultural tensions remained high as shown by separatist Padanian nationalism in the North.