In 1971, I went to America for the second time. My plane went directly to San Francisco. From there I randomly explored some places of the American mythology and of my curiosities, in a coast to coast journey which ended in New York. There was a friend with me. It was the first travel to the States for him. I had been reading Hemingway and Kerouac. He loved the Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin. We were both 15. In our mind, America was the land of the future.
In 1974, I went to the Urss for the first time. I went to Leningrad and Moskow. It was snowing. The places were magnificent. I had been reading Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. There were some strange shops only for foreigners, where I found tons of books in Italian about what the Soviet policy was about. I was not able to believe in that vision. In my mind, the Urss was not Russia: the Urss was busy building the land of the past.
Italy was in the middle of the Cold War. I had no doubts about our being on the right side. I still have no doubts about that. But for different reasons.
In 1969, Milan was bombed. A bank downtown was destroyed and many people were killed. I was 13. From there on, other bombings would happen all around Italy. Italians understood what happened only decades later. Now we know that it had been an episode of the Cold War. A couple of years before, the Greek democracy was overwhelmed by the military and Greece became a dictatorship. Three years later, the Chilean democracy was overwhelmed by the military and Chile became a dictatorship. Italy had a very important Communist party. There were also many small revolutionary communist parties. A communist terrorism was starting to organize. Somebody in America, with the help of somebody in Italy, wanted a dictatorship in Italy, too, or at least they wanted to keep control in the country with some undemocratic decisions. And they planned to get their objective by the means of fear and tension. Italy managed to stop that plan. With the help of its incredibly reasonable people.
The black American and Italian powers that wanted to push Italy towards a new Fascism had lost in front of the people that was non-violently suffering in front of the Duomo.
Those powerful obscure forces learned fast.
They won their battle by misinformation. Too many years passed until some truth was discovered. Americans know how people feel when they don’t know the truth: the JFK murder is still some sort of mistery.
Figures collected now show that young Italians have forgot all about that first bombing. A majority of them think that the bombing was a communist attack. Secret services and television have managed to erase the memories. A good movie can help remembering. We have to improve our history teaching if we want to get rid of bad information. To understand the present we need to remember the past.
Between 1969 and 1989 the Cold War was hard and the West won. But to win freedom we need also some truth. We still have to win the fight for a better information: it will never end.
The land of the future and the land of the past have merged, in a sense: we still have to win the Cold War on ourselves.