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Italy:2300

  Dr. Mark Galeotti  

Diplomat for the empire Le Comte N'Jumani was a notorious Italophile. Nevertheless, the past half-century has seen great developments in Italy, making it one of the more open and confident of the "third rank" powers seemingly fated never to break into the "space power club." Italy is one of the few continental European nations with a culture able to resist the dominant position of France in the age. And this rests primarily on her historical role, especially the recent and still powerful heritage of the so-called Neon Renaissance of the mid-23rd century.

HISTORY FROM 2000

The nuclear exchanges and conventional bloodbath of the wars shattered Europe into a patchwork of petty warlordships, city-states and communities. Remnants of the Italian Army quartered near Venice became the focus of the Nuova Italia (New Italy) movement and began, by negotiation, alliance and conquest to reunite the country.

Two tactical moves were to be of long lasting significance. One was alliance with the Italian Communist Party, the only nation-wide organization-  with the discipline to survive the fall of 20th-century civilization. Its eurocommunist stance had ensured it stood with, not against, its country and had not been tarred as unpatriotic. The second was the Tuscan Declaration, wherein the central command of Nuova Italia refused to accept the in- corporation of cities and baronies under any terms other than full acceptance of the leading role of the movement. Even the powerful city- state of Naples was eventually forced to accede to these terms after a six-month siege in 2025.

The new Italy sprang from disciplined, hierarchical organizations, uncompromising in their approach to power. This was to become a characteristic of the Italian state through the painful years of reconstruction and beyond. Government by a small group of experts wielded near absolute power, not so much representing the people as acting in their interests and in the interests of the state.

The Inauguration of 2100: The task of reconstruction demanded such a firm and authoritarian approach. And under the tutelage of Nuova Italia the country slowly recovered from the traumas and dislocations of war. The culmination was the inauguration, in 2100, with Rome as the national capital once again. The old city had to be all but rebuilt from scratch, and in its rebirth, it was a proud symbol for the whole country.

The Space Age: Through the 21st century and the first half of the 22nd, Italy muddled along like most of the other lesser nations of Europe. It was content to rely on the French Peace for security and follow in the technological, social, and cultural wake of its superpower neighbor. Despite a near war with Spain in 2168 concerning sub-Mediterranean mineral rights, and a rumbling, ill tempered border dispute with Austrovenia 2206-8, Italy was hardly in the world news. That is, not until the Neon Renaissance began.

Technocratic Humanism: This was a philosophical movement, and the art, literature and politics associated with it flowed from that basis. The doctrine of Technocratic Humanism was not, in itself, particularly novel. But it was a synthesis which managed to capture the spirit of the age and turn it into a concrete system of values and plan of action.

Its ideological roots were nothing new. The belief (generally called Hegelianism), was that the universe had its own reason for being. And once man knew his inner purpose, he would live in harmony with himself and his universe, content in his role in the grand design.

Two other forces, though, went to reshape this framework to create technocratic humanism the growth of the leisure economy and a resurgence of interest in the Twilight War.

Despite recurring fears, automation never made man obsolete, but a 20-hour working week became increasingly commonplace. Automation did allow for more leisure time and an ever-widening range of options to occupy it. This breadth of possibilities bred dissatisfaction with the situation and a feeling that life was becoming devoid of genuine purpose. In the words of one commentator, man was becoming a "polymath of trivialities, never realizing that many zeros still don't add up to anything."

After its publication in 2236, Depardieux-Lafontaine's epic portrayal of World War III triggered a general resurgence of interest in that dark chapter of history. It was particularly popular in Italy on account of its sensitive study of the formative agonies of the Nuova Italia movement One consequence was are new and critical analysis of the concept of the nation state and, in the intellectual classes at least, its rejection. Having discarded the nation-state as the basic unit of human society, philosophers (notably the radical and energetic faculty of the university of Padua) looked to other concepts. Interest focused on the concept of the unity of humanity, which contact with the alien races inevitably threw Into sharp relief. Be- sides. ease of travel and communications were beginning to marginalize the very concept of "nationality."

These various strands were tied together in compelling form by Salvatore Fulcini in 2242. His academic paper in 2240 was followed by a best-selling book, Time, Man and the Universe.

The dominant theme was that increased leisure time provided man with an unparalleled opportunity to plumb the depths of his soul and discern the wider truths of his existence. The horrors of the Twilight War had, if not discredited the nation-state system, at least shown the potential dangers it entailed, But man had survived. Was this not, it was argued, the sign that there was more to humanity than a disorganized state of political and ethnic allegiance?

This was an upbeat and dynamic message keeping with the essentially optimistic mood of the mid-23rd century which could provide a raison d'Ítre for those unmoved by the colonization of the stars. Artistically it fostered the "humanist romantic" movement, which stressed internal harmony over appearances. Literature saw a resurgence of concern with motivation and human growth over the rather sterile obsession with form and style which had characterized the early decades. Politically the effects were liberalizing and progressive Technocratic humanism had no set creed but concerned the discovery of the inner plan whatever it was. By lack of any firm direction. it became a very tolerant force. It was manifested in a new laissez faire culture and an eager embrace of cultural, social and political change. Italy's effects were much stronger. The Italy of the Neon Renaissance underwent a cultural explosion. It was known for a passion for the exploration of the human psyche and purpose that frequently veered into the self indulgent.

Post-Humanism: Technocratic humanism was to decline in importance under a number of influences, many of their own creation. In Hanover, Westphalia, Saxony and Brandenburg, the quest for a hidden destiny was soon turned to nationalist ends and used as a rationale for the reunification of the German nations. The War of German Reunification of 2292-3 dismayed adherents across the globe.

But the optimism they represented had already begun to dwindle. The Third Rio Plata war of 2275-9, the Cantonese-Indonesian War of 2264-8 and finally the vicious, hard fought Central Asian War in 2292-3 all seemed to presage a new age of conflict and nationalism.

Besides the very concept of the unity of humanity, given such a boost by the discovery of the sung, was soon infected with an ugly xenophobia with the discovery of their treatment of the Xiang. The Slaver war and contact with the less-advanced Ebers prompted a smugness which struck act the very heart of the philosophy about human growth and change. Fortunately this never realized its ugly potential for an new sense of manifest destiny, but it had already undermined one of the bases of the Neon Renaissance.

 

THE NATION

Italy is still governed on very corporatist and rational lines. It is run by experts whose powers are tempered by close supervision and open discussion by the people and their elected representatives. The president is elected every six years but fulfills an essentially ceremonial role. Real power is vested in the Consiglio, or executive council elected from the Council of Representatives which, in turn faces the electorate every five years. The prime eonsigliere, effectively the prime minister, chairs the eight person body which wields considerable and far reaching powers through a series of ministries.

A wide range of groups and individual views are present in the council of Representatives, but most fall into one of three political blocs. The dominant Social Reformers are an essentially traditionalist grouping. They are benevolent bureaucrats who want the population to have every intellectual freedom imaginable while leaving the actual business of politics to the professionals The Liberals are relatively libertarian and free-market oriented. while the Progressives veer toward various collectivisms and socialisms.

Citizenship: Anyone living or working In Italy must pay taxes, but every resident in the country or of Italian descent can petition for citizenship. citizens can vote and pay reduced taxes, but all have to spend 18 months in the service of the state sometimes as a soldier. but usually as a specialist. bureaucrat or the like.

The Law: Nothing demonstrated the duality of modern Italy more than her criminal code. In keeping with the individualistic tenants of technocratic humanism, all sons of sexual, social, even narcotic practices have been legalized. However, the authoritarian tradition is visible in the state security laws. On even the slightest suspicions. the state has almost absolute powers of surveillance, arrest and detention all for the "public good." This tension is particularly evident in Italy's liberal freedom of information laws. Her system of government depends on an informed people. But an elitist bureaucracy often feels practical considerations demand secrecy. The result is usually a running battle between judges and journalists on the one hand and civil servants on the other, with neither ever winning as ascendant for long. The police and the Guardia Nazionale customs service are obliged to consult the Servizio Segreto in every instance a case may have an internal security implication.

International Relations: Pragmatism and traditional friendships combine to keep Italy on good terms with France. But abortive Italian attempts at establishing a leading role among the secondary powers of the Mediterranean have led to some friction. The continuing presence of a traditionally German speaking minority in northern Italy has defied attempts at integration and remains a ground for sporadic dispute with Austro- venia. In the face of an increasingly aggressive UAR, old disputes with Spain have been settled, and the two nations signed a treaty of friendship in 2286.

Security: The Italian Army (the Celeri) is a small formation, divided among an all- professional rapid deployment force. It protects Italy's frontiers. A large territorial army of conscripts and reservists trained in techniques of guerrilla warfare make occupation too expensive a task for any invader. The army also sponsors three small mercenary units, both for the currency they earn and the opportunities they offer to provide combat experience for Celeri. The Secret Service's espionage counterpart is the Servizio di Sicurezza Statale (State Security Service or "S3").

The Economy: Social ownership or partial state control is the norm in Italy, and all but a few of the largest Italian enterprises have sizable state shareholdings. For this reason Italy and the large multinationals do not see eye to eye, and the country is largely free of the zaibatsus and multinationals. Italy is known for its thriving, light industrial and fashion sectors, and still excels in design. It has a small spacecraft construction sector Michelangelo SPA's range of freighters and various in system short haulers.

The unit of currency is the Scudo (sc.), which is generally pegged at about sc.1 0 to the livre. The three main banks the Banco d'ltalia, Fondo Nazionale Veneziana and Banca Commerciale Lombardaail issue personal finance cards and are partly owned by the state's Banca Nazionale. They are, therefore, backed by the Banca Nazionale's reserves and, more importantly, data processing resources.

 

THE COUNTRY

The Nuova Italia movement was based in Venice, the only city to escape nuclear attack. Nevertheless, Rome remained the focus for the "idea of Italy," and the return of central authority to a largely rebuilt Rome in 2100 represented the climax of over a century's work.

History has left its mark on the political structure of Italy. Whereas Rome is the legislative and ceremonial capital of the country, Venice remains its administrative center. After all, it is an epoch characterized by its communications revolution, and the two cities are less than an hour's tube journey away.

Urban Italy: Like most of the other nations of Earth, Italy is predominantly urbanized, and the countryside is characterized by myriad small towns and villages, linked by an excellent network of over and underground airfilm train lines. Padua is known for the unconventionality of its university, Genoa Nuova for its magnificent new airport, and Naples for the surviving criminal traditions of its inhabitants. Florence, still the Mecca of millions of tourists every year, is domed in a protective bubble dating from pollution scares of the 21 40s. Naturally defensible Perugia became the retreat of what was left of the papacy during World War III and has remained the papal city ever since. The Cathedral of St. Joan, completed in 2243, remains one of the great sights of the religious world.

Rome: The Eternal City is a grandiose monument to the Italy of the past and the present. The old Roman forum was largely undamaged in the wars, but the coliseum was destroyed, and a replica, cunningly aged, has replaced it. Nearby is the Palace of Representatives where the Italian elected legislature meets, as well as the Palazzo Ebraico the so called Hebrew Palace, official residence of the president. In Rome the streets are wide, the museums many, and tourists everywhere. It is quite a small city, with most residential suburbs out along the main commuter train and tube lines.

 

Venice: Venice, on the other hand, is a far more business-like center. Recurring problems of subsidence and pollution have been successfully dealt with, so the city remains as distinctive as it is picturesque. But all the major ministries are here, as well as most of the main banks and financial institutions . The city of St. Mark is unquestionably the powerhouse of the country.

Milan: The third city in Italy is Milan, primarily an industrial center. The original city was effectively razed by direct nuclear attack and secondary fires, so Milan is the most modern and most planned city in Italy. Generous development grants and the opportunity to start from scratch attracted a large proportion of the country's industries to Milan. It dominates the domestic, light industrial sector.

 

LIFE IN ITALY

Italy is still heavily influenced by the spirit of technocratic humanism. As a consequence, people usually work only 15 to 20 hours a week, and they are free indeed, encouraged to discover their true metier or purpose in life. Clubs, societies, and mystic. groups abound. Transferring between jobs of widely different nature (or, indeed, holding several at once) is regarded as perfectly normal as people continue in the endless quest for the "right" one. It should be noted that this does not revolve purely around fields such as the arts or sciences. Those, for example, who feel their vocation is fighting are welcomed in the Celeri or the mercenary units, while a successful chef can be feted just as highly as a top engineer. , Education: In keeping with the humanism of the age, the Italian educational system is both flexible and very capable of allowing a pupil to progress as far and as fast as possible. If the required aptitude is there, a citizen can make a career of studying! On the other hand, the Ministry for National Defense has steadfastly refused to brook any interference with the Italian's traditional two hours a week of paramilitary training.

National Service: Every Italian citizen is required to serve the nation for 18 months before the age of 26 (or within five years of citizen ship, in the case of people petitioning later). Only in a few cases does this involve serving in the army, police, Guardia Nazionale, navy, or air force. More often it is in some aspect of the civil service, from teaching to sanitation to working as a clerk or an accountant. Considerable effort is made to match the individual with an appropriate job (both the efficient and humanist approach), and many elect to stay afterward, if only for awhile. The state also retains the power to co-opt the services of any of its citizens in times of war or "in the national need" and all embracing clause.

Culture: Italian culture is vigorous and original, still propelled by the creative vigor of the Neon Renaissance. Maroni's huge holosculpture, "The Womb," a stylized globe superimposed with impressionistic images from history, has become the unofficial symbol for Mother Earth. The Acchielli school of composers has set new standards for synthetic music. Expatriate Brazilian author Emiliado Costae Silva wrote the magnificent "Stairway" cycle in Florence, Italy remains the cradle of this new genre of art and literature, dominated by the themes of equality, liberty, and internal growth.

 

THE ACADEMIA DEl LINCEI

The academia was established in 2036, in the midst of the drive to rebuild Italy. Its members were academics and other influential people concerned lest Italy's distinctive culture and history be forgotten in the day to day struggle for more practical aims. Originally run from a small set of offices in Pisa, it moved to a larger block in Rome shortly after the inauguration in 2100.

The year 2100 marked a turning point in the history of Italy and, with it, of the academia. With the return of stable government, the trustees and benefactors of the academia looked increasingly to broadening their role. From them championing the study and reverence of the past, it was a short step to the founding of the Italian Traditionalist Party. This movement espouses a return to ancient morals and values and the revitalization of the Christian Roman Empire.

Much to the horror of the austere bureaucrats of Venice, this populist mix of nationalism and fundamentalism, heavily backed from the pulpit of the Roman Catholic Church, rapidly gained support. There was a justifiable fear that the Traditionalist Party could destroy the still precarious national consensus and plunge the country into reckless foreign adventures.

The state showed its teeth. Every weapon at its disposal, from the national news networks and the tax service to the secret police and local government, was brought to bear on the academia and its political arm. By 2183 a combination of public morals charges, vicious rumors, and open harassment led the central caucus of the Traditionalist Party to wind it up. In 2186 a very real question hung over the continued existence of the academia. The government announced that the academia's support for a political organization had jeopardized its tax free charitable status and threatened it with 123 years of back taxes and compound interest.

In the end the state settled for emasculation over elimination. An apolitical board of trustees was appointed, and the constitution of the academia was red rafted to prevent any further forays into politics. In this form the Academia dei Lincei has gone from strength to strength.

Purpose: The academia is devoted to the quest for antiquity its artifacts, its ideals, and its knowledge. This makes it essentially an Earth- based foundation, though it has, for many years, broadened its field of study beyond the borders of Italy. Nevertheless, a small but vocal contingent has begun to argue that the academia could fruitfully turn its attention to alien history, too. A sign of the times is the semiofficial outpost on Daikoku studying Eber artifacts under an eccentric academician, convinced it reveals Christian beliefs among aliens.

Resources: The academia is a rich organization, thanks to numerous   bequeathments and the fees earned by its museums and experts. In keeping with its global role, it has offices in major cities and cultural centers across the world, and a large staff of archivists and experts. In addition, the academia has contacts with all sorts of individuals and institutes, contacts which can be called on in the course of its work.

The academia often has the need for expert investigators to track down works of antiquity still held as a form of investment, frequently in breach of the law. The academia can pay well, and successful agents may find themselves approached again if the board was impressed with their resource and, particularly, tact.

 

LE COMPAGNIE DELLA BELLA MORTE

The three picturesquely named Companies of the Good Death are the official Italian mercenary units: namely, the Granatieri di Sarzana (Grenadiers of Sarzana) and Lupi d'Umbia (Wolves of Unbrtia) light infantry, and the Pugni d'Accaio (Fists of Steel) light armored companies. They are all individual joint-stock companies with a majority government shareholding, and the commanding officer is a senior Italian soldier on attachment.

In this way the government keeps a slight arm's length from the operation of the units (e.g., allowing them to under- take missions within the gray areas of legality and diplomatic nicety) without compromising their overall control.

All soldiers sign on for a four-year tour, and receive a salary and a share of profits. They are equipped to Italian standards, though individuals and units have some distinctive touches. Most are Italian citizens, but approximately 20 percent are foreign.

I would like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Mark Galeotti  and Matt Scull for making the posting of this article possible.

October 30, 1998

Dr. Galeotti has kindly  allowed us to include his email address here also.

hia15@hist.keele.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

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