The writing is at long last on the wall for a world-famous migrant utopia that was founded in a tiny medieval town overlooking the Ionian Sea.
It has been a con from start to finish.
The little town of Riace in Calabria on the toe of Italy has been eulogized by the global left for quite some years now as the perfect solution to what it calls the “refugee crisis” in Europe and everyone else calls the “illegal migrant crisis.”
If only every town in Europe followed the example of Riace—they say—there would be no migrant crisis.
In 2016, Riace’s left-wing mayor, Domenico Lucano, who is the driving force behind the utopia, was even named as one of Fortune’s 50 most important world figures. In 2010, Wim Wenders, the radical chic German film director whose work includes Paris, Texas and Buena Vista Social Club had made a short movie in his honor.
But then, in October of this year, 60-year-old Lucano was arrested after a lengthy inquiry begun in 2017 by the Guardia di Finanza, which accuses him of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. He and 30 other people, including his “partner,” Tesfahun Lemlem, are under formal investigation for the alleged misuse of the taxpayer millions required to keep his multicultural migrant utopia going. He is also accused, among other things, of arranging fake marriages between migrant women and local men.
In a telephone conversation taped by the Guardia di Finanza and leaked to the press, Mayor Lucano says to someone who is presumably a migrant,
I can get you an Italian ID card immediately, because as mayor I am in charge of the registry office. I took over the job after the clerk who previously held the post retired. I did so with the intention of getting round these stupid laws. I am acting against the law but all you really need is an identity card . . . I won’t waste time checking if your papers are in order; just make an official statement saying you are free to be married; seeing as you’re an asylum seeker, I won’t examine your papers . . .
Initially under house arrest for two weeks, he is now free on bail but banned from visiting his town.
Since 2013, 750,000 migrants have arrived by sea in Italy from across the Mediterranean, nearly all from Libya. They masquerade as refugees, but even the United Nations concedes that most are not, and just ten percent are granted refugee status. However, few are deported.
There are thought to be about half a million illegal migrants currently in Italy.
It is hostility to this endless inflow of clandestini as they are popularly known that brought the populist coalition government of the radical-right Lega and Alt-Left Five Star Movement to power in the March general elections.
Indeed, the Lega’s Matteo Salvini, who is deputy premier and interior minister, has halted NGO vessels bringing migrants picked up off the coast of Libya to Italian ports. As a result, migrant sea arrivals in Italy have virtually stopped for the first time in years.
In the election campaign Salvini also promised to deport the 500,000 illegal migrants known to be in Italy.
It is easier said than done.
Lucano’s many supporters inside and outside Italy immediately accused the populist government of orchestrating the arrest, even claiming it as proof of an aim to transform Italy into a police state.
Italy’s prosecuting judges and judicial system have many faults, but they do not take their orders from the government. And generally, they are left-wing, not right-wing, especially where the liberal sacred cow of human rights is concerned.
Anyway, the Guardia di Finanza investigation into Lucano began over a year ago, well before the populists came to power.
Like many small towns in Italy, especially in the impoverished South, old Riace on the hill had been largely abandoned by its inhabitants because there was no work. Many went north, others to Canada, or to Australia. In 1972, two priceless ancient Greek bronze statues from about 500 b.c.—I Bronzi di Riace—were found by a scuba diver on the seabed just off the coast. It changed nothing. There was still no work. And there is still no work.
Mayor Lucano decided to get permission from departed owners to use their abandoned houses in the old town to house migrants and transform the town into a migrant utopia.
The Italian government pays €35 ($40) of taxpayer money per day per migrant to those who run welcome centers for migrants. It is big business—and nationally costs the taxpayer €5 billion each year. Since 2004, when Lucano was elected mayor, 6,000 migrants have passed through Riace. Currently, there are about 500 living there—out of a total population of 1,700—in the largely abandoned old town on the hill rather than in the new town down by the sea.
So that’s €6,387,500 a year ($7,266,777) just for those 500.
Forget the money. The point was and remains—it is the perfect propaganda image: a beautiful old dying medieval Italian village above the Mediterranean brought back to life by young migrants from Africa.
There are as many as 70 Italians employed by the state at an annual cost of €600,000 in Riace whose jobs revolve around its migrants, such as cultural mediators and language teachers.
The migrants themselves work as potters, dress-makers, glass-blowers, and all those sorts of things hippies used to do in the 1970’s. They also run the old town’s door-to-door trash-collection service, which comprises two carts drawn by donkeys.
The town even has its own currency, whose bank notes depict all the usual suspects—Che Guevara, Mahatma Gandhi—which can be cashed in for euros when government funds arrive.
The obvious problem with this migrant utopia is that without hefty taxpayer subsidy it could not survive. There’s not enough money in glass blowing and pottery, but nor are there any other jobs in the impoverished south, where youth unemployment is at 50 percent.
But there is another problem. What is the point of Riace?
If the point is to provide asylum-seekers with a comfortable situation in which they can be potters and glass-blowers while their asylum applications are being processed (which can take years), well, OK—up to a point.
But that is not the point, is it?
The point is to convince the world that Italy and Europe should allow all these migrants to stay forever, whether or not they are genuine refugees.
Look at the renaissance they have caused in dead, old Riace!
And not just the migrants in Riace. Migrants everywhere should be allowed to stay.
Dying Riace is a metaphor for a dying country and a dying continent.
We must set up thousands of Riaces in Italy and Europe.
Behind this mind-set is a very powerful and unholy global alliance between two forces that were traditionally sworn enemies: open-borders left-wingers who see the nation-state as the root of all evil and global capitalists who see it as an obstacle to profit.
Both are pro-mass-immigration: the one, in order to create a multicultural internationale; the other, to guarantee cheap labor and rising consumer demand.
Few countries in Western Europe have a fertility rate high enough to maintain their populations at current levels. Most will see their populations rise over the course of this century. But this will be thanks only to immigration.
I have been involved in research by an independent Dutch think tank (Gefira) on what would happen to the populations of Europe’s larger countries if there were no more net inward migration. (Net inward migration is immigration minus emigration.) They crunched the numbers for each year up to 2100 using a computer program they had developed.
The results were especially dramatic for Italy, which once had one of the highest fertility rates in the world but now has one of the lowest (1.34 children per fertile woman). They demonstrate that, if there were no more net inward migration, Italy’s current population of 60 million would collapse to 21 million by 2100.
Yet according to ISTAT, the Italian government statistics department, Italy’s population is projected to remain more or less stable at 60 million. ISTAT takes into account projected net inward migration in its estimations, but avoids drawing attention to it.
But as the Dutch computer research shows, the 29 million shortfall must be made up of immigrants and their off-spring. And it means that, by 2080, half the Italian population will be immigrants who arrived after 2018, or the child or grandchild of those immigrants.
Naturally, these official statistics refer to legal immigration—not illegal immigration by sea across the Mediterranean.
Yet in Japan, which has a similarly low fertility rate, demographers predict that, by 2100, the population of 127 million will collapse by 60 percent. The reason is simple. Japan, unlike European countries, refuses to take in immigrants.
So in a sense those who support mass immigration are right.
We need migrants, or else our populations will die out, and with them our economic prosperity and our civilization. Or so most economists keep telling us.
But migration will mean the death of our civilization, if not of our economies.
Italy’s new populist government has stopped migrant arrivals by sea, but only for the moment. The problem can only get worse as the demographic pressure grows inexorably.
The global population is growing at a terrifying rate. It shot up from one billion in 1900 to seven billion in 2000, and is projected to reach eleven billion by 2100. Much of the most explosive growth will be in Africa, whose population is expected to double to 2.5 billion by 2050, and to reach 4.7 billion by 2100. Nigeria, for example, went from 40 million in 1955 to 180 million today, and is projected to reach 410 million by 2050.
Yet Africa produces less than three percent of global GDP.
But here is the truth, however cruel and unpalatable. The moral argument against illegal mass immigration cannot be won.
Every illegal migrant has a story to tell about the terrible life he (most are men) had in his country of origin and the journey across the Sahara and the time in Libya waiting for a boat. It does not win the argument to say that these people are “bad” or “lazy” or “incompetent” or “spongers.”
We are in Europe and they are in Africa by chance. It is not their fault that they were born there.
Nor does it win the argument to say we should help them in their own countries. We know that we can never give enough help, and what help we do give will be pocketed by local tyrants.
The only way to stop mass immigration is to confront the issue as a question not of sympathy but of self-interest. Otherwise, they will nearly all get in.
The moral argument does not triumph even as a winning response to the endless stream of horrific crimes committed by illegal migrants in Italy, such as the case at the end of October of Desirée Mariottini, a 16-year-old drug user who was gang-raped for hours on end and then murdered in an abandoned palazzo on the outskirts of Rome where she had gone to buy drugs. Police have so far arrested four illegal immigrants from Senegal, Gambia, and Nigeria for her murder and rape.
We know what the response will be from Mayor Lucano. If only those three migrants had been sent to Riace and given proper hospitality when they arrived in Italy from across the sea—the sort of welcome that would have afforded them stability and hope for the future—then they would not have become feral drug-dealing gang-rapists on the edge of town.
It would be fascinating to take three illegal-migrant drug pushers at random (every town has them) and put them in the migrant utopia of Riace to see what effect it would have on them, if any. But of course Mayor Lucano would never allow anyone independent to conduct the proper evaluation.
Mass migration is destined to be the biggest story of the 21st century. The epicenter is Africa, and so Italy and Spain are the front line.
The only way to stop it will be with arguments of self-interest—existential self-interest.