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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the Risorgimento period intellectuals were concerned with building a constitutional nation-state. They saw their task as that of “making Italians,” transforming them into a single nation, a task which they thought the population was unable to fulfill alone. Dissatisfaction with the liberal project shifted intellectuals’ endeavors toward the transformation of society to achieve a fully inclusive state. This lies at the roots both of fascist ideology and of Gramsci’s view of intellectuals as an organic component of society that should work to emancipate it from its divisions. With the actualization of constitutional democracy, intellectuals’ transformative role was replaced by that of public critics. With the corruption scandals of the 1990s, the role of intellectuals shifted to “saving” Italy from its vices. This role became even stronger during the Berlusconi era, but it has not prevented intellectuals’ gradual loss of moral authority.

Keywords: intellectuals, Risorgimento, Gramsci, constitutional democracy, Berlusconi era

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