Between Revolution and Reaction

European Journal of Political Theory 5 (1):22-33 (2006)
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Abstract

The article focuses on Vincenzo Cuoco’s attempt to learn theoretical and political lessons from the failed Neapolitan Revolution of 1799. His Saggio storico sought to steer a course between revolution and reaction, arguing that practical reforms should be couched in terms that reflected traditional understandings within Neapolitan popular culture. He highlighted the responsibility of political leaders to shape popular culture rather than to impose ‘ideal’ solutions to political questions. The position he espoused became a dominant motif in later liberal nationalist positions, enabling moderates to champion constitutional reform without embarking on radical economic and social change.

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