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Political morality in the Mezzogiorno Hancey, James Orlo

Abstract

The politics of the Mezzogiorno represent an interesting point in the politics of modernization. Existing as essentially an enclave of 'backwardness' within a western industrialized country, the people of the Mezzogiorno continue to carry out political functions within a network of arrangements which are generally viewed as 'apolitical' in nature by many observers. Edward Banfield's assertion (in his book, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society) that the society is 'amoral familist' in nature is dealt with in this study, and an attempt is made to formulate a 'moral code' of the Mezzogiorno, portraying political morality as seen through the eyes of the people in that culture. The nature of this 'moral code' is based upon the experience of 'statelessness' in the Mezzogiorno, and the outcome is that the tenets of the moral code are debilitating to change in the sense of moving toward a western democratic form of government. The rules of political morality in the Mezzogiorno dictate that the individual view the government with distrust and attempt to fend for himself. In contrast to Banfield who claims that "political incapacity" is due to "amoral familism", I argue that it is due to the code of political morality at work in the Mezzogiorno.

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