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The Liberty of ServantsBerlusconi's Italy$
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Maurizio Viroli

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151823

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151823.001.0001

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The Prerequisites of Servitude

The Prerequisites of Servitude

(p.77) 4 The Prerequisites of Servitude
The Liberty of Servants

Maurizio Viroli

, Antony Shugaar
Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on servitude. Although Italian history has had moments and examples of moral greatness and a sincere love of liberty, for many centuries it has been a history of servitude, variously in thrall to foreign masters, despotic governments, and the spiritual and temporal dominion of a church that employed both the word and alongside it the sword and the gallows; at times the Italians have been oppressed by all three at once. Indeed, a long familiarity with servitude has shaped Italian mores, which—it is well known—constitute the most tenacious of all social forces. The principal trait of the servile soul is how little respect it has for itself and for others. Even if it may seem strange, servants have no self-respect; they sense that they have little worth and so they willingly accept their condition. This lack of self-respect brings with it indifference, which, in turn, generates a full and continuous cynicism.

Keywords:   servitude, Italian history, Italian mores, self-respect, servants, indifference, cynicism

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