by Ralph Raico
Unlikely as it may seem to some, one of the most vigorous libertarian movements in the whole world is now active in Italy. This my friend Hans-Hermann Hoppe and I can attest to from personal experience.
In the past couple of years, we've attended conferences in Milan and come to know many of the academics and younger intellectuals who comprise this heartening and delightfully unexpected phenomenon.
The professors write their libertarian books and articles and spread the word among their peers. Meanwhile, the younger people also arrange for public exhibitions of libertarian history (one was viewed by tens of thousands at the great Civic Center of Milan), put out quite respectable periodicals, keep up attractive websites, run small publishing houses, publish books, somehow get access to the major newspapers, and generally make a huge splash for an admittedly still limited group of activists.
Some of their names are becoming better known in America: Marco Bassani, more or less the leader of the group, another accomplished scholar Carlo Lottieri, the indefatigable youngster Alberto Mingardi, and Roberta Modugno, a devoted Rothbardian scholar.
An up and comer is Carlo Stagnaro, who has just edited and published a little book on — of all things — Waco, the first work to appear on the subject anywhere in Europe. Its title translates WACO: An American State Massacre, and it contains pieces by Jim Bovard, Alan Bock, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell (who confesses he never even realized he could write Italian), and others.
It's typical of the aggressive spirit of these young Italians that Stagnaro approached and obtained for the Introduction to his book one of the most famous Soviet dissidents, Vladimir Bukovsky. After Bukovsky left Brezhnev's Russia for the West, his books exposing the sham of Soviet Communism became best sellers world-wide. The review of To Choose Freedom by the Old Rightist John Chamberlain, in The Freeman, is available in English on Stagnaro's website, and shows how much this former Soviet subject has to teach us on the evils of socialism and egalitarianism.
Here is Bukovky's Introduction to WACO: Una Strage di Stato Americana.
"They came for the Branch Davidians, but hardly any of us sympathised with those weirdoes. Will they stop there?"
This is how one of the authors, whose works are collected in this book, ended his discussion of the tragic events in WACO, Texas, seven years ago. Today, seven years after, his question sounds even more rhetorical than it must have seemed then. Of course, they did not stop. On the contrary, violent attacks by the State against people it disapproves became widespread and endemic. We have just seen on our TV screens how agents of the State, armed to the teeth, conducted a commando-style operation against unarmed elderly people in Florida, all of that just to return to Castro's paradise a six-year-old asylum seeker. And that was done in a widely publicised case, in front of TV cameras, in the face of the whole Cuban refugee community's emotional plea for the boy. Less publicised cases are just a daily occurrence, so common now that most of them don't even make it to the national press.
I have just read a story of a couple in Ohio, who were subjected to a pre-dawn raid just because they loved to photograph their 8-year-old daughter, and two of their shots (out of thousands!) were deemed by the authorities to be "sexually oriented in nature". The girl was removed from parents' custody, the couple was arrested and faced a prospect of 16 years in jail for "child abuse", "child pornography", etc. Luckily, the entire population of their small town took their plight to heart and campaigned on their behalf for the whole year. Still, as a "compromise", the couple was given a suspended sentence and, of course, was obliged to undergo "counselling". (See International Herald Tribune, June 9, 2000, p.13).
And this is not an exception, it becomes typical of our life, be it in America or in Europe. We have already had several cases like it in Britain. Will they stop there? Hardly likely. Let me safely predict that such practices will become a norm in a few years after European integration is finalised. Perhaps, I will be raided one night in my house in Cambridge just because I stubbornly continue to smoke despite repeated warnings by the authorities that it is bad for my health? Or, perhaps, someone suspects I mistreat my cat?
Frankly, I will not be surprised. Rulers of today's world are so obsessed with controlling us, with saving us from our own bad habits and primitive instincts they'll stop at nothing. They are a new breed of ideological dictators, the New World Order Utopians. And no utopia is complete without its own GULAG.
Indeed, we tend to think of the totalitarian regimes of the past century as some kind of aberration, a time-related madness which cannot be repeated in our days. But was it? Those who created the nightmares of Auschwitz and Kolyma were not Martians, and many of them also believed they are acting for the good of the mankind. Quite a few were utterly shocked later when they finally saw a hell instead of a paradise they intended to build. Few even tried to oppose it belatedly, only to fall victim to the very monster they have created. Alas, this was too late for the tens of millions.
Sure enough, we condemn those regimes of the last century now, and those who created them. We bemoan the victims and build memorials. But did we really learn our lessons? I doubt it. This is why a famous phrase pronounced some 60 years ago suddenly becomes so topical: "When they came for my neighbours, I did not stand for them because I did not like them. But when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up."
Ralph Raico is a senior scholar of the Mises Institute and resides in Buffalo.
© 2001 LewRockwell.com