Italien – fra Mazzini til Berlusconi is not a traditional history of events but a work focusing on ideologies and culture. Modern Italy and modern Italians are viewed in a historical and cultural context, and Silvio Berlusconi is seen as an expression of Italian culture. Mr Berlusconi is described as an abnormity in European political culture, but also as a typical Italian figure taken to grotesque extremes.
The book presents an in-depth analysis of the idea of national identity – at a general level and in the specific context of Italy – based on the twin concepts of patria and paese (respectively ideology/values/ and shared experiences/habits/mass culture).
One of the core problems analyzed in the book is the conflict between Fascism and Antifascism, not only in its historical form as it appeared 1922-1945, but also in its present form. The efforts to create a new democratic patriotism (akin to the German Verfassungspatriotismus) based on the Resistance are examined alongside the political Right’s use of historical revisionism to undermine its opponents and the virtual monopolization by respectively the Left and the Right of certain aspects of Italian history. Former President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi’s energetic attempts at reconciling Italians with their country’s recent history, and creating a new national identity which was to be inclusive rather than exclusive, while remaining firmly rooted in democratic ideals, is seen as comparable to David Goodhart’s idea of »Progressive Nationalism«.
Italien – fra Mazzini til Berlusconi also presents the challenges and serious problems that Romano Prodi’s government will have to deal with to generate loyalty and solidarity towards the state and society.
The book is updated to include the parliamentary election in April 2006 which brought Mr Prodi to power and Silvio Berlusconi’s subsequent second defeat at the referendum in June 2006. The differences and continuity between the pontificate of John Paul II (which is dealt with in depth) and that of Benedict XVI are described briefly.
In the event of a publication abroad, Thomas Harder would see the translation as an occasion to update the text as far as possible – if the foreign publisher should so desire.