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LegateLivius

Why is Italy so weak compared to her predecessor, the Roman Empire?

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A friend of mine told me its because Italians lacked the qualities that made the Roman people create the one of if not the greatest civilizations in the history of the world:

1)Industriousness 2)Stoicism 3)Frugality 4)Toughness 5)Discipline 6)Militarism and above all: 7)Willingness to sacrifice everything(including one's self and one's entire family) for the country.

Is my friend right?If not,then what are the reasons why Italy is so weak today?
 

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There is no simple answer to a very complicated question.

Basically, you are asking why Italian unification (Il Risorgimento) has taken many decades and is (in many ways culturally, at least) still in progress.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_unification

 

It is thought that only 2.5% of Italians could speak Italian at the time on Italian unification in 1861. Most people spoke a regional dialect unintelligible to other regional dialects.

Over simplistically, I would say there has been no nation identity. Since the collapse of the Rome Empire there have been rival city states, foreign intervention (most notably French and Austrian), as well as a Church that had interjected itself into regional politics. These factors help explain Italy's relatively late formation of a nation state in 1871.

 As late as 1975, more than half the households in Italy spoke a dialect at home and not standard Italian. This lack of national identity still affects Italy today. As an Italian cousin told me, the only time the Italians feel united as a country is when they win the World Cup in Soccer. 

A good read on the subject is Christopher's "The Force of Destiny: A History of Italy since 1796."

 

guy also known as gaius

 

 

 

Edited by guy

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14 hours ago, LegateLivius said:

A friend of mine told me its because Italians lacked the qualities that made the Roman people create the one of if not the greatest civilizations in the history of the world:

1)Industriousness 2)Stoicism 3)Frugality 4)Toughness 5)Discipline 6)Militarism and above all: 7)Willingness to sacrifice everything(including one's self and one's entire family) for the country.

Is my friend right?If not,then what are the reasons why Italy is so weak today?
 

On another site, others (including UNRV members) answered a very similar question (possibly yours).

http://historum.com/european-history/124788-why-italy-so-weak-compared-her-predecessors-roman-empire.html

I do not believe in ethnic or racial superiority. That said, cultural institutions are very important. There would be no reason, therefore, to think that an Italian citizen from Rome in 1888 would be exactly the same as a Roman citizen from 118 AD as the cultural milieus and historical contexts are very different.

Similarly, a modern educated citizen of Mexico would be quite different from a a bloodthirsty resident of the Aztec Empire in Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City) in 1500. 

Mussolini tried to reinvigorate mythology of ancient Roman values. Superficially, at least, he was able to create the facade of a new "Roman Empire." Unfortunately for him, he was not confronted with the usually-disorganized and poorly-coordinated barbarian incursion. He faced, instead, the disciplined and lethal onslaught of a professional and technologically advanced Allied military. Did not end up well for him. 

 

guy also known as gaius

 

 

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Italy wasn't that far behind at the war's beginning, and indeed, had produced examples of technology that were in some respects more sophisticated than it's competitors, such as the MC72 racer, or the ill fated Bugatti aeroplane. Britain had the advantage of some inspired designers, such as Barnes Wallis, Reginald Mitchell, Sidney Camm, Roy Chadwick, and others, and some superior engine development courtesy of Rolls-Royce, and America had some advanced thinking from Lockheed and a very inspired design team at North American who responded to British needs with an aeroplane destined to be considered the best all round fighter of WW2, the P51 Mustang (Once a Canadian built and British designed Merlin engine had been fitted of course).

That said, Italy was not subject to the same threat levels prior to the war having aligned themselves with Germany, and suffered both from 'victory disease' and unenlightened leadership in technological paths. Nonetheless Italian designers were capable. Although their tanks were never competitive, later Italian aeroplanes were seriously good. The issue was that like the French, the Italians were not temperamentally geared for war or martial pursuits and thus in action suffered against the more committed Allies.

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