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03/2021 – Tobias G. Smollett (1721-1771): tra conservatorismo e satira politica

ISSN: 2037-495X
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congetture e confutazioni

Carl Schmitt a Pechino: una «febbre» politica da interpretare Damiano Palano

L’alleanza fra Stati Uniti ed Europa dopo il 1945 e la “lega delle democrazie” oggi Cristina Baldassini

La società dell’ultra-rischio David Ragnolini

Cipro e il Mediterraneo orientale: una questione per pochi? Federico Maria Phellas


De bello civili Pier Paolo Portinaro

Pensare la guerra: natura, attori, tecnologie Andrea Beccaro

dossier: tobias george smolett (1721-1771): un illuminista scettico e conservatore

Identità nazionale, patriottismo e conservatorismo nel pensiero politico di Tobias Smollett Spartaco Pupo

La maschera del patriottismo e il vero volto della fazione Tobias Smolett

Sull’implacabile faziosità dei Whigs Tobias Smolett 

teoria politica

Massificazione e democrazia: il rischio “massocrazia” Carlo Marsonet

osservatorio italiano

Le destre italiane e il fantasma della nazione: da Corradini a Salvini (passando per Mussolini e Berlusconi) Alessandro Campi

Eroi, antieroi e supereroi: per una narrazione epica della crisi di governo che ha portato alla nascita del Governo Draghi Giovanni Barbieri

osservatorio internazionale

La frontiera dimenticata: la strumentalizzazione dell’Artico nella geostrategia americana Agata Lavorio

Il Giappone nel sistema internazionale: dalla fine del “lungo medioevo” alla “abenomics” Gennaro Sangiuliano


Notizie sugli Autori






Pier Paolo Portinaro, On Civil War

The paper makes two main points. First, it aims to cast a light on the roots (both historical and intellectual) of the lasting Italian interest in this form of extreme political conflict and his analysts (from Thukydides to Schmitt). Second, moving from Alessandro Colombo’s recent book Guerra civile e ordine politico, it offers an overview of a number of relevant studies, which have provided new elements for a better understanding of civil wars, in order to show how the end of classic warfare and the new form of asymmetrical conflict challenge for a more complex theory of disintegration of political order.


Andrea Beccaro, Thinking about War: Nature Actors, and Technologies

War is a very protean and persistent historical, political, social and cultural phenomenon: every civilization and era, albeit under different forms, has experienced it. As a consequence, it is very difficult to study and to fully understand and scholars of War and wars employ different names and concepts to refer to the phenomenon. In order to define different kinds of war distinguished by degree of violence, historical period, actors involved and geographical space, the paper suggests to use three categories, or levels of analysis. The first level delves into the nature of War, it mainly takes into account authors who reflected on War in order to highlight its true, real and intrinsic nature: its links with Politics; its essential unpredictability; the inveterate and inherent risk to proceed to extremities. The second level takes into account who fights a war and studies different actors and polities who throughout history have waged war. Consequently, this level focus on the nature of the actors and how they impact on the character of war. The third level focuses on the technology used in every war and how different technological levels impact on the character of wars.


Spartaco Pupo, National Identity, Patriotism and Conservatism in the Political Thought of Tobias Smollett on the Tricentenary of his Birth (1721-2021)

The tercentenary of Tobias George Smollett’s birth (1721-2021) provides an opportunity to revisit the political ideas that inform his main works. Smollett was one of the most influential historians, novelists, public intellectuals and political polemicists of the British eighteenth century. This essay demonstrates that Smollett as political thinker, who has remained virtually unknown in Italy, that hosts his mortal remains in the English cemetery in Livorno, should be re-evaluated above all for his contribution to the process of the formation of British national identity. This was an ideal that he embraced first as a Scot from the Lowlands, then as a political journalist and historian in London and, finally, as the author of epistolary novels around eighteenth-century Europe. Smollett was a leading intellectual figure of the Age of Enlightenment, who in a climate of general anti-Scottish hostility and heated ideological diatribes offered an ideal prism through which to view the “Britishness”, which, together with the humorous literature and critique of the politics of his time, is the most significant legacy he left us.


Tobias George Smollett, The Mask of Patriotism and the True Face of Faction

This essay appeared in the first issue of The Briton (on 29 May 1762). The author presents to the British public the political objectives of the magazine he founded, which was born to defend the line of the government of the Scottish Lord Bute in clear opposition to The Monitor, of Whig orientation, which had orchestrated a campaign of delegitimization of the newborn government. Author’s patriotic streak can be seen in the essay, which drove him to fight for a politics free from the fanatical and divisive factionalism of the new British nation.


Tobias George Smollett, On the Relentless Factionalism of the Whigs

This essay, published in The Briton (on 9 October 1762), is set in the climate of heated political controversy between the Whig and Tory parties in the early 1760s. The author traces the history of the Whigs’ “sect”, accentuating its political incoherence starting from the demagogic action undertaken already at the time of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). He strongly criticizes the ideological fury and partisan spirit of the Whigs, which prevented the formation of an opinion among the British people free from ideological prejudices and factionalism towards the government.


Carlo Marsonet, Massification and Democracy: the “Massocracy” Risk

As Alexis de Tocqueville noted in the Nineteenth Century, when we speak about democracy we do not refer only to a political regime, but rather to a more complex social system. It tends to permeate every single aspect of the individual as well as of collective life, causing the degeneration of equality into equalitarianism, and of liberty into licence without any sort of self-constraint. Levelling, conformism, communitarian deterioration constitute the key elements of the so called “massocrazia” (Giovanni Sartori): a type of degenerated democracy that has lost the difficult and precarious equilibrium required to both an individual and collective self-government.


Alessandro Campi, The Italian Right and the Ghost of the Nation: from Corradini to Salvini (passing through Mussolini and Berlusconi)

The Italian right – from Mussolini to Salvini, from Corradini to Berlusconi – has had an ambiguous, contradictory, instrumental, and polemical relationship with the concept of “nation”. A relationship that has never produced an articulated and coherent political project. The “patriotism” of the Italian right, in other words, has never translated into an effective defense, on political level, of Italy’s nation interests.


Giovanni Barbieri, Heroes, Anti-heroes and Superheroes: for an Epic Narration of the Crisis that Led to the Birth of the Mario Draghi’s Government

The deep political crisis occurred at the turn of 2020 provoked the fall of the Conte’s government and the subsequent birth of the new government ruled by Mario Draghi. As it is well known, a number of reasons, all internal to the political system, caused the crisis: the weakness of the governmental alliance; some uncertainties and some not very good decisions made by the government; the contrasts regarding the allocations of the Recovery funds; and finally, the political conflict  that arose between Matteo Renzi, leader of the party Italia Viva, and the premier Giuseppe Conte.

It should be recognized that the mass and social media, as well as the ordinary citizens, focused their attention right on this conflict. It is therefore possible to offer an epic narration of the crisis based on the characters of the hero and the anti-hero, and then to introduce the character of the superhero. It is indeed possible to find traces of this narration, aimed at depicting the crisis as a struggle between two leader-heroes (Conte and Renzi) with opposite personalities and orientations, in many reports of the newspapers and journalists.


Agata Lavorio, The Forgotten Frontier: the Strategic Exploitation of the Arctic in US Geostrategy

Historically, the US Arctic has experienced regular ups and downs in its geostrategic valorization, switching from heavy militarization to general disinterest. This article argues that such an alternation can be explained by considering that in US grand strategy the Arctic has been generally considered a means (and not a goal) so that the continental north has assumed different meanings according to the context the US pictured at the global level – at least from the age of polar exploration to the worsening of climate change effects.


Gennaro Sangiuliano, Japan in the International System: from the End of “Long Middle Ages” to “Abenpomics”

The economic history of Japan has been deeply affected by the cultural trait and the peculiarities of its tradition, possibly more than any other country in the world.

The economic and industrial rise of the “Land of the Rising Sun” constitutes a uniqueness in the history of the economy, at least for two different aspects that clearly stand out: one is the speed and one is the ability to maintain a society with a strongly identity-based and traditional culture, where the contemporary technological modernization has barely affected the philosophical inspiration.

But there is more: in some ways, the economic evolution of Japan shows that its development has certainly been determined by climatic, demographic and social factors, but also by the spirit of the peoples and their profound tradition, and this last element seems to plays a central role.

Japan participates at the G7 summits, and the country has the third largest economy in the world by gross domestic product and the fourth largest by purchasing power; it holds the fourth position in the world among the main exporters. On the basis of per capita GDP, it occupies the twentieth position in the world, a higher ranking compared to Italy.

But above all this, Japan’s economic strength has some other remarkable features. In the country the gap between rich and poor is less wide than in other countries, the number of illiterates people is near to zero, and one in four citizens is highly educated and has a University degree. The solid economic system of Japan is almost exclusively the result of the human factor. It is important to highlight that the nation has almost no raw materials, therefore, an essential role is played by the selective and meritocratic education system, carefully managed by the state.