Traditions of War: Occupation, Resistance, and the Law

By Karma Nabulsi | Go to book overview

philosopher Eugène Pelletan argued that the only war a republic could wage was a defensive one, as compared to the aggressive war of monarchies.216 Garibaldi was even invited to attend the Geneva peace conference in 1867 where he announced (to loud acclaim): 'the slave alone has the right to wage war against tyrants'. This argument was embedded within a cluster of republican values: 'All nations are sisters. Wars between them are impossible. Democracy and the propagation of democracy by instruction, education and virtue. Only democracy can remedy the evil of war and reverse the lies of despotism.'217


CONCLUSION

This chapter has advanced a number of claims concerning what has been termed the republican tradition of war. Both the expansive and defensive strands of the republican tradition shared a number of features. They came to life and were embedded in situations of wars of conquest, military occupation, and foreign rule. It was exclusively in such conditions that republicans such as Mazzini and Stolzman, Bianco and Harro Harring constructed their theories of popular sovereignty, the good life, and practices of insurrectionary war.

Much of the current study of republicanism tends to ignore the centrality of martial values in the construction of modern republics. By examining the historical practices of republicans in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is hoped that a broader account of the intellectual foundations of republicanism has emerged. Modern republicanism was not constructed merely within national boundaries (and by liberal nationalists). It expressed a vision of the human subject through the agency of republican patriotism rather than nationalism. And finally, war is often seen as destructive of social and civic identities, whereas it is possible to see its constructive--and even creative--character for the republicans who waged it. War was not, in other words, a means to achieving the good life of the peaceful republic, but the good life in itself.

Next, republican war can be seen to be intricately implicated in core republican principles. Accordingly, if freedom is to be understood as independence, and dependence as any kind of slavery, then one needs to find the means to avoid becoming dependent not only on tyrants who

____________________
216
Eugène Pelletan, La Tragédie italienne ( Paris: Pagnerre, 1862), 29.
217
A. Campanella, "'Garibaldi and the First Peace Congress in Geneva in 1867'", International Review of Social History, 5 ( 1960), 468-9.

-238-

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