How many of us feel frustrated by the lack of progress we are making towards a republic? Yet how many of us can truly lay claim to be republican activists?
LIVING, as we do, in a country where many seem disinterested in an Australian Republic has the power to make us rethink our identity and purpose. But history has shown that men and women before us have, under these same conditions, picked up the republican banner and shaken the very foundations of their country's conservative elite.
The Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872) was one of these vortices: organising and activating Europe's struggling fledgling republican movements.
Mazzini was raised in a time where monarchies were entrenched in nearly every country in Europe. An intellectual giant, he awoke and inspired the republican conscience in Italy and throughout Europe. Russian political activist Mikhail Bukanin described him as a "...man who has given many sleepless nights to most of the crowned heads of Europe".
His most famous literary work, 'On the Duties of Man', showed that – through education – true democracy and humanity are analogous. He was a revolutionary that advocated insurrection, not assassination, to agitate the system and educate the people.
His tireless activities – fundraising, writing letters and editorials, starting newspapers and journals, and organising insurrections – made the republican movements permanent threats to European governments.
Of course, our situation is far different and this is not to propose insurrection. But, rather, as Mazzini would say: “To agitate action! To agitate discussion! To agitate change!"
Our passive approach and fear of 'ruffling feathers' is hampering the movement's passion and momentum. Italy eventually became a republic as will Australia, but unlike Mazzini and his followers will we be able to claim to have earned it.
(This article was first published in 2007 in Armlet.)