Robert K. Merton, in Science Technology and Society in XVII Century England makes the point that Reformation, since it helped promote the idea that one had to follow his judgement as regards faith and not official doctrine, at the same time created the right subversive attitude towards traditional culture in general, by giving men the input to use their own reason to investigate the Ipse Dixit. Catholic Countries, as well as missing this positive feedback, got also the negative one of a institution that programmatically enforced double think, lying and undefensible positions. See Brecht, Leben des Galileo.That is why Southern European Countries lost their lead.
See als Russell, HWP. D. Cantimori, Eretici Italiani and A. Prosperi, Tribunali Della Coscienza
F. De Sanctis knew all of this (of course) very well. The fact is, post 1861 Italian state was under the control of optimates who had a clear agenda of reforms based on the French Revolution. See Legge Casati and Leggi di Eversione dell’Asse Ecclesiastico.
With the entrance of “people without history” in the political arena, ``hoi polloi” (compare Ortega’s “Rebellion of the masses”), the average level of consciousness about such issues lowered dramatically and in Italy we landed into Art. 7 in the 1948 Constitution.
Capitano Ercoli – i.e. Palmito Togliatti, leader of PCI – was in Spain in 1936-1939, so he knew what it would mean to attempt a secular government in Italy. He understood it right – according to me, and forced the PCI to vote for art 7. That was Gramsci’s “Guerra di posizione”, i.e “Attrition Warfare”.