Galileo was torn between the possibility of being excommunicated and the need to
uphold the truth. He succumbed to the pressures of his inquisitors and declared
at his trial that his brash denial of the Aristotelian view of the world and
thus support of Copernicus had been the result of “vain ambition, pure ignorance
and inadvertence.”(4) He was hoping for a slap on the
wrist and truly wished to avoid excommunication from his beloved Church. Despite
this recantation, he was sentenced to house arrest for life.
Galileo continued his research, while many followers studied and spread his
discoveries all over the great universities of Europe. Within a few years, the
Copernican shift was complete in the minds of scientists, yet the Papacy did not
drop its geocentric view until 1835!
I see many parallels between the struggle for acceptance of a heliocentric solar
system and the acceptance of a free-market, stateless society. The cast of
characters has changed somewhat: Galileo’s Papal State is today’s democratic
state; Catholic doctrine has been replaced by statist, democratic doctrine; the
geocentric view is now the leviathan central government; the religious
intelligentsia have been replaced by high level bureaucrats; and the illiterates
can now read but they are ignorant of economics.
The scientific intellectuals, who furthered Copernicus’ work, are today the
anti-intellectual intellectuals(5), striving to spread the
notion of liberty. They continue to work and expose the evils of majority rule,
often at the expense of advancement in their careers, subjecting themselves to
ostracism, ridicule and sometimes, even being jailed for refusing to obey the
laws of the state.
Galileo’s premise was accepted as truth because the predictions that it made
were ultimately visible. As his followers perfected the technology required to
observe the phenomena he had described, they became evident and accessible to
more and more people. It was then impossible for the (Papal) State to deny the
This is what I see happening with the freedom movement. Our technology is the
Internet and the Mises Institute, the centre for development of free-market
theory. The predictions that were made by Mises, Rothbard, Hazlitt and so many
others are coming true and we, the ignorant masses of today, are finally being