Year XLVIII, 2006, Number 2, Page 97

 

 

The Manifesto of the European Federalists*
 
ALTIERO SPINELLI
 
 
The division of Europe into sovereign nation-states is like a curse on our continent.
The modern development of the forces of production, the intensification of traffic between the states, the acceleration of forms of communication and means of transport, the spread of similar forms of civilisation, and a deepening sense of human solidarity have all demanded, for some time now, the establishment in Europe of a legal system and a government that stand above the laws and the governments of the single nation-states. But the nation-states are sovereign. They make their decisions and they act without recognising any law or any power superior to their own. They are compelled to concern themselves with the safeguarding of their own interests and of those of their citizens, without having either the obligation or the opportunity to concern themselves with the interests of other states and other peoples. All the restrictions and all the controls that democratic progress has gradually imposed on public powers relate exclusively to the internal life of the states; relations between states are, and continue to be, governed by the law of the jungle. Attitudes and acts of selfishness and arrogance that are considered offensive and criminal when committed by private individuals or by small communities become laudable when they are adopted or carried out by sovereign states. It is because they have not been able to put an end to this political regime that the Europeans have been, and continue to be, struck by enormous and endless misfortunes; their future, and the future of their children, of their countries, and even of their thousand-year-old civilisation, becomes more uncertain by the day.
In order to engage in a more effective battle against this anachronistic regime, against the blind interests that defend it, and against the lies that mask it, the European federalists today feel duty bound to set out their ideas clearly in this manifesto, a document that admits no hypocritical concession to current ideas and that is intended to bear witness to their struggle.
[…]
 
 
II
 
The Profiteers of National Sovereignty
 
 
Abusive Sovereignties.
 
In the humiliating circumstances to which they have been reduced and in which they now have to live, Europe’s nation-states are reluctant to parade their old, ill-fated nationalistic ambitions. On the contrary, they claim — and in many cases have had this explicitly written into their constitutions — that they are merely instruments at the service of their peoples. The demands they make on the citizens, in order to fulfil this mission, are still same as they always were. Obeying the laws of one’s state, paying the taxes demanded by the state, giving up a portion of one’s life for military service, being ready in times of war to sacrifice one’s life — all these things continue to be the supreme political duties of the citizens of all the European states. Fulfilment of these duties is guaranteed by adequate instruments of coercion, which are necessary in any community; but respect for these duties is also impressed into the souls of everyone through countless forms of propaganda, with the result that it is now viewed, in each citizen, as the supreme manifestation of moral correctness. A few decades ago, there still existed political forces that proudly claimed to appeal to a form of solidarity superior to the solidarity engendered by the nation-state. Today, however, all the political forces operating in the countries of Europe boast that they are only national; this means that they go no further than asking the state to provide good laws, and the citizens to obey the state.
However, to demand absolute loyalty to one’s state is politically and morally justifiable only insofar as the state, in turn, is capable of guaranteeing its capacity to fulfil the fundamental public functions on which the security, the well-being and the freedom of its community of citizens depend. But Europe’s sovereign states have in fact become structurally incapable of guaranteeing, in the interests of their citizens, even the most fundamental public services, and indeed have become the main obstacles to the development of freedom, justice, well-being and security in Europe.
In eastern Europe and in the Spanish peninsula, there is now a clear contradiction between the claim, by the states, that their purpose is to serve their people and the true nature of these states. In these geographical areas, the people are denied any form of control over their governments, and their unhappy silence is broken only occasionally by desperate revolts and harsh repressions. The dominant political groups in these countries came to power through violence, and thanks to the intervention of foreign powers. They have established miserable tyrannies that continue to exist only because they are exercising power on behalf of, and under the protection of, a world power.
But if the free man’s real objection to these tyrannies is that they are built on terror, the accusation that must be levelled against the democratic states is, in a sense, even more serious. These states are still the repositories of all the hopes of a rebirth of a free European civilisation, and yet, because they are built on foundations of pretence and lies, they are condemned to inevitable decline.
 
The Profiteers of Economic and Social Sovereignty.
 
First of all, Europe’s nation-states continue to have at their disposal all the powers they need in order to conduct an economic policy. They collect taxes, they make laws, they decide matters relating to currency, trade, credit, and production, as though they really were capable of acting for the profound and permanent good of their peoples.
Now that we have entered the era of great supranational communities of continental dimensions, and the European states no longer have the capacity to conduct a power policy, all these faculties, as a means of turning the production system into an instrument of national power, no longer serve any purpose. But since economic policy is still the province of a state whose only sphere of action is the national one, the tendency towards economic nationalism is one that cannot be overcome; indeed, it is a tendency that has become even more marked precisely as a result of the economic weakness of the single states and their fear of being overwhelmed by stronger, foreign economies.
The American aid that was generously provided in order to allow the continent to pick itself up after the war, and to facilitate the creation of a vast European market, has been used by the European states to set the old national economies back on their feet. Despite an abundance of declarations, projects, committees, and intergovernmental institutions, promising or pursuing economic union, the European governments continue to keep the national economies firmly under their own control, which means divided into stagnant compartments by customs tariffs, quota restrictions, currency controls, the prohibition of migration, and the arbitrary introduction or rejection of liberalisations.
The national scope of the economic policies precludes the creation of a vast common market that would, necessarily, be subject to a common economic and monetary policy. But the absence of such a market, by preventing both free access to resources and the rational division of labour on a continental level, makes production more expensive and the standard of living lower than they might otherwise be; it prevents the new technologies that science is putting at man’s disposal, such as atomic energy and automation, from being fully exploited, and it condemns the Europeans to a future as peoples with underdeveloped economies.
Economic policy, on a national scale, can profit from favourable economic trends; it can (unjustifiably) take the credit for these trends, and, for a while, tone down its own nationalistic tendencies. However, if society is hit by a widespread economic crisis, the national governments can intervene only with measures of national scope, once again underlining Europe’s division into a series of miserable, autarchic economies.
Today, the power of the nation-state to conduct an economic policy works to the advantage only of specific interest groups, encamped in each of our nations. In the past, beginning in the period just before the start of the First World War, these groups availed themselves of the protection of the state in order to begin transforming the national economies into economies based on monopolies, cartels, and corporations. Subsequently, under the protection of the restored national sovereignties, all these economic feudalities were quick to re-emerge, and today they continue to demand, and to obtain, the state protection that guarantees them the possibility to exploit consumers. In some cases, we are talking about the particular interests of capitalist groups, in others about the particular interests of groups of workers, and much more often, about a combination of the two. In some cases, the state certainly makes itself the executor of their requests. Other times, it seems to oppose the desire of these groups for secure and considerable earnings, bringing them under public control, and even going so far as to nationalise them. But the most frequent scenario is that in which a public administration is brought in to replace a private one, only then to retain the monopolistic methods that serve to protect the established interests. Sometimes, certainly, the state opens the national market only to groups of private or public producers. Or the large cartels, in the different nations, agree among themselves, directly or through their respective governments, on the best way to divide up the anaemic European markets. In the present historical period, in which the Europeans need, more than ever before, a powerful movement for industrial and agricultural change, and in which this has been rendered possible by the advances of science and technology, the nation-states serve only to keep the old structures rigidly in place and to protect the established interests.
With national economies such as these, weak, inward-looking, dominated by privileged groups, devoid of any form of solidarity that extends beyond national boundaries, and showing growth rates that differ from country to country, serious social justice and social security policies can be introduced only rarely, and ineffectively, by one single state or another. The economic foundations of measures meant to bring about a fairer redistribution of social income are excessively narrow and, for this reason, these measures are incapable of attenuating to any significant degree the violence of the social contrasts that manifest themselves, in particular, in the poorest countries. The working classes, instead of being encouraged to take part in and to assume some active responsibility for modernisation of production structures, simply accept the existing national economic structures as a fact. In this context, the most they can hope to achieve is to secure privileged positions for one category or another, forming alliances of different kinds with the respective monopolistic groups. Or, alternatively, they are drawn to sympathise with movements for an ever more widespread national collectivism, the ultimate outcome of which would inevitably be state tyranny. Ultimately, the more each state strives to establish a national system of social justice, the more it encourages, in its own working classes, an obtuse and selfish form of nationalism, characterised by an indifference to the difficulties of those outside their borders.
 
The Profiteers of Military Sovereignty.
 
Second, Europe’s nation-states continue to possess and to use their own armed forces, as though they really were capable of looking after the defence of their own soil. They draw off enormous portions of the national income to cover military spending; they ask their citizens to give up several years of their lives for national service and to be prepared to risk death on the orders of national ministers and generals.
Since the differences of civilisation and politics that exist in the world make the unification of the whole of mankind under a single legal system and a single democratic world government quite inconceivable, the conservation of armed forces clearly continues to be a necessity. The European nations have stopped being the main centres of military power in the world and they are no longer in a position to consider pursuing policies of imperialistic expansion. But despite the economic and social disorder to which they are prey, they nevertheless remain, as a whole, one of the most important sources of industrious and civilised people, and one of the most important production systems, anywhere in the world. And the desire to have hegemonic control over them, as well as the fear of seeing them come under the control of adversaries, constitutes the primary concern behind the foreign policy of the world powers and the most important reason for war today. Even when wars break out on other continents, the stakes are always Europe.
In the face of this threat, and given the huge discrepancy between their power and that of their possible aggressor, the European states and their national armies cannot seriously think that they are capable of defending themselves. The national armies made sense when the threat of war originated from European national rivalries; they stropped making sense when the source of the threat began to be the rivalries between world powers. The national armies are in fact an obstacle to the effective organisation of defence. All military alliances, even those rendered necessary by force of circumstance, are hazardous undertakings, since the European states have both an old and a recent history of reciprocal conflict, of mistrust and of ill-feeling, which cannot be overcome as long as they remain sovereign states; each still regards today’s ally as yesterday’s and possibly tomorrow’s enemy. Any attempt to pool the armed forces, in order to make them more efficient and better equipped with modern weapons, fails as a result of the fact that the single nation-states remain sovereign and thus ultimately concerned with only their own defence. And yet it is precisely this determination to hold on to this absurd military sovereignty that obliges them to do without the most powerful modern weapons, because on their own they do not have the economic resources to produce them, or the military power needed to use them. This means that Europe’s armed forces cannot, in truth, be anything other than auxiliary forces serving the world powers. It is only the strategy adopted by these powers, which use them to hold a position, to re-establish a partial balance, or perhaps even to conduct some small-scale local war, that gives them any meaning at all. When a European state deludes itself that it can still use its own troops for its own ends, the harsh reality of its impotence is soon brought home to it.
The national armed forces no longer serve the Europeans, who are crying out for a serious re-organisation of their defences, any useful purpose at all. They serve only to safeguard the pointless positions of political and social privilege enjoyed by a thin stratum of military leaders and politicians. In other words, of people who know perfectly well that they are no longer in a position to assume the leadership, should it be necessary, of their countries’ defence, but, not worried by this, are happy to exploit national military traditions, the patriotism of the citizens, and the interests of the armed forces’ traditional suppliers in order to conceal this humiliating truth, and to conserve and develop the national armed forces, in other words, essentially to preserve their own reputations, their own authority, their own abusive power.
 
The Profiteers of Diplomatic Sovereignty.
 
Finally, one of the main aspects of the sovereignty of the European states is their continuing responsibility for relations with other sovereign countries and with territories outside Europe still under their dominion. The catastrophic world wars brought to an end the era in which world politics revolved around the foreign and colonial affairs of the European states. Today, when it comes to the world equilibrium, their diplomatic relations count for very little; their trade policies no longer determine the course of the world economy, because the European states are still built to conduct the old foreign policy of national dimensions. Their diplomatic corps thus continue to waste time and energy feeding public opinion in their respective countries with false sentiments, demanding pointless sacrifices, and concealing the truth from themselves and from their peoples, as though their manoeuvrings and their decisions really were still capable of determining their countries’ destinies.
The relative freedom of movement that the European countries still have in certain situations no longer reflects any real responsibility for their own fate, or for that of Europe and the world.
In their dealings with the world powers, the European states still regard themselves as great powers, too. In reality, they are the more or less autonomous protectorates of one of the great powers, sometimes biddable, sometimes troublesome, sometimes even capable of duplicity and of switching sides, but always absolutely dependent on them. Their belief that they can make an active and positive contribution to the great drama that is unfolding between the United States and the Soviet Union is an empty one, because they no longer have the strength either to establish a solid and constant political line, or to make themselves heard.
They are too weak to be able to help the large emerging Asian states to modernise their economies. They can do nothing to help pave the way for the emancipation of the peoples of Africa, because they still think of themselves as being at the centre of colonial empires and can think only in terms of how they might hold onto what remains of the dominions they acquired in the era of their greatness and arrogance.
In their dealings with each other, as they attempt to tackle common problems, the European diplomatic corps are driven by old jealousies; they sabotage the will to pursue unity which can occasionally manifest itself in some minister or another; they come to blows over national issues, now entirely of secondary importance; they strive to preserve a meaningless balance among themselves; and they help to keep their peoples weak and divided.
The faculty of the nation-states to conduct foreign and colonial policies undermines any attempt to find a way out of this situation; indeed, it adds to the disorder in the world as a whole. This faculty now runs contrary to the deepest interests of the Europeans; it serves only to accommodate the laziness, the privileges, the interests, and the vanity of the diplomatic corps, of the colonial administrations, and of those politicians who tie their ambitions to national diplomacy.
 
The Nation-State versus Democracy.
 
The impotence of the nation-states in matters of foreign, military, economic and social policy is not the result of errors committed by one government or another, which can be corrected by subsequent governments. It is due to the fact that the nation-states, with all their institutions, public and private — from the governments to the parliaments, the parties, the unions —, are capable of developing only political will that is bound up with the idea of the nation, that relies on national executive instruments, and that is geared towards national ends, even though the fundamental problems in the spheres of foreign, military, economic and social policy have ceased to be problems of national dimensions.
But no democracy can last for long when the mechanism for developing the political will of the community is functioning to no avail. In this situation, mental laziness spreads through the political currents that are in government and also through those that are in the opposition, which, were they to come to power, would themselves continue wearily to administer the false national sovereignties held by their states. A readiness to accept, neutral and passive, the demolition of all the fundamental values of civilisation is rife. Loyalty towards one’s own community, despite often being solemnly declared, evaporates, and the citizens tend to split into factions, according to which new foreign master they would soonest see the destiny of their country entrusted to, and which they are preparing themselves to greet. The immediate and selfish interests of nations, classes, and individuals seem to be more important than any more noble objective, which, to be realised, needs to be projected into a future that can no longer reasonably be counted upon. The only strong and constant sentiment that is still able to affirm itself in the life of the European states is the wish of the privileged groups to milk, to the very end, entirely unscrupulously and without a thought for the future, the advantages that the old regime heaps upon them. This is a regime that only looks democratic; in truth it is, and cannot be anything other than, the instrument of power wielded by monopolistic and corporative groups, by gangs of short-sighted and mean-spirited bureaucrats, diplomats, generals, and politicians.
 
 
III
 
The Federation, Expression of the European People
 
 
The Nation-States versus the European People.
 
The fate, not of one nation or another, but of all the Europeans, now depends on how policy — foreign and military, economic and social — is conducted not in this country or that country, but in Europe as a whole. Decisions and laws applicable to all the Europeans need to be established by a government that acts on behalf of all the Europeans, that involves all the Europeans, and that is subject to the democratic control of all the Europeans. The Europeans have the capacity to equip themselves with such a government, common and democratic, and to make it act coherently, because, with the variety of their different nations, they all recognise the same supreme spiritual and political values, and are all driven by the desire to guarantee their common civilisation a future; in other words, they possess the common creative spirit on which the ability to live in unity depends. The fact that the Europeans feel they have inherited a common civilisation, share a common destiny, and need free political institutions to manage common problems means that they have reached a point in their history at which they must become a single people: the European people.
The nation-states are still useful instruments, insofar as they conserve and develop that fruitful diversity of national experience that is one of European civilisation’s greatest assets. But their insistence on looking after, each on its own account, the running of affairs that in truth they are no longer capable of managing in the best and permanent interests of all the Europeans, has become an abusive position and should be seen as an out-and-out usurpation of power that is harmful to the European people. Despite cloaking themselves in the finest forms of democracy, the nation-states are in fact denying the Europeans the right to express themselves as a European people, and to administer, in the interests of all and through European democratic institutions, public affairs that have now become European public affairs.
Mankind today is tending to organise itself into continental-size political communities, each founded on a common civilisation, which may be a thousand years old or may be very young. The United States of America and the Soviet Union are merely the first of these communities, and have achieved the status of world powers. In the Asian continent, China and India, following a past characterised by humiliations and subjugations, are rising again and attempting to become political communities of civilisations. The Europeans find themselves at a crucial crossroads in their history: they too must choose whether to become a people in order, in this form, to be the continuers of what has been the most productive of the human civilisations, or whether, instead, to conserve the antiquated system of national sovereignties, allowing themselves to be transformed into political, economic and cultural appendages of other civilisations, of other peoples. The second course would put paid to any hope of a rebirth for those European nations that today find themselves reduced to a state of servitude, and it would spell ruin for those that are still free.
 
The Federation.
 
The federation, the United States of Europe, is, for the Europeans, the only possible response to the challenge that history has thrown down before them.
Federating Europe means responding both to the call of the past, which divided it into national populations, and to that of the future, which is crying out for it to become a single European people. Federating Europe means uniting the free peoples of Europe under an irrevocable pact which decrees that public affairs pertaining to the single nations be administered by each of the respective nation-states in the manner they choose, and the affairs of common interest be administered by a common government.
The federation is not a league of federated states. It does not exercise its power over the states, and nor do the states exercise their power over the federation. Both the federation and the states have jurisdiction that is restricted to certain areas of public life. But within these limits both remain fully sovereign entities, being equipped with the institutions and the means needed to take and to implement decisions independently of one another.
The federal community and the federated states share a common basis: the citizen. The federation is the political-legal organisation of the citizens of the whole of Europe, just as the nation-state is the political-legal organisation of the citizens of the single nations. Each individual is, at once, a citizen both of his own nation-state and of the federation. As a citizen of his own state he has a set of rights and of obligations towards the state in the spheres of public life that are the province of the nation-state. In the same way, as a citizen of the federation, he has a set of rights and of obligations towards the federation in those areas that are its province. In both, he elects, directly and freely, his own representatives; of both he demands that his rights be respected and that he be guaranteed justice; to both he pays, directly, the taxes that are needed to guarantee the provision of the respective public services; he obeys, directly, the laws of both of them. He is the meeting point of two political communities — the federal one and the national one —,whose sovereignties are separate and parallel. This solution is the only one that makes it possible to guarantee the simultaneous independence of the nation-states and of the federation, and the free and orderly life of the nations and of the European people.
To allow this body to function as an expression of the European people, the Constitution of the United States of Europe, while leaving the nation-states free to retain and modify their own institutions, must establish explicitly which public functions are to be transferred from the nation-states to the federation, what the institutions of the federation are to be, and what legal guarantees need to be in place against the risk of usurpations of powers, either by the European authorities or by the national authorities.
The functions that must be transferred from the nation-states to the federation are determined by the desperate crisis afflicting the old European system. They are the power to decide and to act in all matters relating to the creation of a common economy, to the establishment of a common system of justice and social security, to relations with the other peoples of the world, and to the creation of a common defence against possible attack. And since respect for the fundamental rights of men constitutes the supreme value of any political community that is built on the ideals of European civilisation, the legal safeguarding of the freedoms of all Europeans must also be the responsibility of the federal authority. Everything that lies outside these ambits must remain the province of the single states.
 
The Federal Government.
 
Since there are matters that must be managed by the Europeans together, there needs to be, first of all, a European federal government with its own administrative body. Many of its constitutional characteristics will depend on the ideas and interests that will come to the fore when the European Constitution has been established. The definition of these characteristics, in this direction or the other, will be the result of inevitable political compromises and will not influence particularly the subsequent life of the federation. But two characteristics are essential. First of all, the European government must be appointed by a European political entity, and answerable to a European political entity. It cannot be appointed and controlled by the nation-states because, if it were, it would not have the necessary independence from them; it would not be the government of the European people. Second, it is not reasonable to imagine that the federation can have a parliamentary-type government. The federal government has limited powers, it does not have absolutist traditions, and it would be too weak and fragile if it were composed in the same way as the governments of the present European nation-states. Its continuity and its capacity to operate can be guaranteed only through its appointment for a limited, but clearly determined, period of time. Its members must be made responsible for the application of the Constitution and the laws, and must be dismissed and condemned if they violate them, but their remaining in office cannot be dependent on fickle parliamentary votes of confidence or no-confidence.
 
The Federal Parliament.
 
A European popular assembly, helped by one or more councils of representatives of the various national, territorial and social communities that make up the European people, will vote on the laws that the government and the citizens must obey, the taxes that the government is entitled to collect from the citizens, and the financial plans that the government must adhere to in the spending of public money. Since the European citizens are obliged, directly, to obey federal laws and to pay federal taxes, they must also have the right to elect, by direct, equal and secret suffrage, their own legislators, and to replace them from time to time. Free European elections are the supreme proof of the democratic legitimacy of the European federal state. Through them, and through the life of the European Parliament, thoughts, feelings, interests and political currents will determine the policy of the federal government, grouping themselves according to new expressions of solidarity and new distinctions that will ignore the old national boundaries; a European political consciousness will awaken and find its way into the souls of the citizens; a European political class will take shape and duly go through cycles of change; the European government will belong to the European people; the European people will be a living political reality.
 
The Federal Judicial System.
 
Respect for federal law must be guaranteed by a federal judicial power that is independent of the European government and the national governments. It will decide all the disputes arising in relation to the application of the Constitution and the federal laws. The citizens, the nation-states and the federal government will all be able to have recourse to it whenever they should feel that their rights, guaranteed them by the Constitution and the federal laws, are being undermined. Above all, it will be the task of the federal judge to decide whether laws or acts of the federal government or of the national governments stray outside the limits established by the Constitution, and to declare invalid any act deemed unconstitutional and thus a usurpation of power. All this will put a definitive end to violence and wars within the federation. The independence of all the nations, large and small, that for centuries was pursued in vain in Europe through the law of force, will finally be guaranteed through the force of the law — the law which will prevent the federal government from tyrannically oppressing the nations, and the nations from anarchically attempting to take the place of the federal government. The European people, albeit politically united, will continue to be a people of free European nations.
[…]
 
 
V
 
The false European solutions
 
 
A series of false European solutions are proposed that are all expressions of the dream harboured secretly by the profiteers of the national sovereignties and by their political spokesmen. These people all know that their states now retain only the appearance of sovereign states; they know that the nation-states can no longer master the problems of foreign and military policy, or those of economic and social policy; they know that these have now become problems of European dimensions. And so they dream of an unlikely Europe in which, instead of the European people, it is they — the national politicians, the profiteers of national sovereignty, the national governments — that hold in their hands, intact and unchanged, what in reality they have lost, and are able to bring it once more under their own control.
Let us take a look at the most important of these false European solutions:
a) the national reorganisation solution is the most popular within the national parties, and whenever those that proclaim it are on the point of coming to power, it proves highly seductive to public opinion. While the beauty and merits of European unity are solemnly acknowledged, unification is presented as a distant ideal, which, to become truly desirable and possible, presupposes the completion or near completion, in all the European countries, of a process of reorganisation of national life. This way of thinking makes it possible to conceal, under a benevolent pro-European guise, whatever national policy its proponents might have in mind for their country.
In truth, with the exception of the odd minor measure that the presence of some favourable trend or another might make it possible to introduce, the national structures impede any profound and genuine action of national reform in the fields of economic and social policy and of foreign and military policy. The most ambitious national reformers, as soon as they come to power, inevitably put themselves at the service of the profiteers of the national sovereignties and of their desire for constancy and inertness. In this way, the day when it might prove possible to proceed with European unification remains as distant and unreachable as ever.
b) The international treaties solution is the one most widely put into practice by the governments. While holding on to their sovereignty, the states all undertake, using the normal diplomatic methods (intergovernmental agreements and treaties of alliance, friendship, cooperation and trade, etc.), to act in a similar manner, so as to be able to tackle in the same way and at the same time problems deemed to be of common interest. The British Commonwealth is the most perfect example of this form of integration among states and is often held up as a model for the European states. But the Commonwealth is nothing other than the slow and judicious dismantling of an empire; it is not a process that is leading to the unification of powers that were once independent. Another much praised model is that of the Atlantic Treaty. In this treaty, all the countries are equal on paper, but the truth is that one of them has overwhelming power. If, to date, this treaty has not turned into a total subjugation of the European states to the United States of America, this is due solely to the reluctance of the latter to assume the role of imperial power vis-à-vis other, dependent powers. Moreover, the smaller of the allied nations repay this reluctance with an attitude of diffidence towards the main allied state and are always ready to take advantage of any opportunity to lessen this trans-Atlantic solidarity.
In truth, no international treaty, being inherently fragile, can make it possible to tackle, methodically and together, common problems, unless this is for extremely short periods of time or in certain circumstances, such as when the countries face a severe common threat, when the nation-states’ different interests coincide absolutely, or when one of the allied states becomes disproportionately and overwhelmingly powerful.
c) The international institutions solution is the speciality of governments inspired by internationalist ideals. It consists of the creation of permanent international assemblies on which sit representatives of the member states. The range of issues that these organisations debate can even be very wide. The organs that debate them may be diplomatic (committees of ministers, of ambassadors, of experts) or they may be quasi-parliamentary (assemblies of delegates elected by the national parliaments, but which, it is occasionally suggested, could even be elected by the citizens directly). In any case, these assemblies only ever issue recommendations, which the states remain completely free to accept or to reject. It is mistakenly believed that the custom of sitting down and conducting discussions in the ambit of institutions with prestigious sounding names, like the League of Nations, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the Western European Union, is enough to induce the states gradually to obey a superior entity, even one totally devoid of powers. In fact, these institutions, not having any decision-making capacity, are entirely impotent, and this impotence turns the debates that are conducted within them into meaningless chat. No common will can be born of institutions that, by definition, are unable to act.
d) The functionalism and “specialised authorities” solution is advocated above all by functionaries in public administrations, who are able to recognise the crisis afflicting the nation-states, but not their own ignorance of the fundamental problems of politics. In some clearly defined sectors, the states can entrust a supranational technical body, not equipped with powers of coercion, the task of carrying out a mandate that they themselves have, in a treaty, drawn up in the most minute detail. During the two world wars, the allies frequently had recourse to supranational authorities, such as single military commands and common funds for the purchasing and distribution of raw materials. The belief is that as these authorities are developed, one after the other, the entire terrain of affairs needing to be pooled will gradually be covered, and that Europe will be united without it ever having been necessary to tackle directly the problem of the limitation of national sovereignties. The European Coal and Steel Community is the only recent example of creations of this kind. But in fact there exists no European problem for the solution of which some technician, blessed with a fertile imagination, has not dreamed up some specialised authority. Some of these have remained firmly in the realm of dreams, whereas others have been taken up by governments in search of false European solutions, turned into (more or less elaborate) draft treaties, only, in many cases, to disappear into thin air even before coming into being. The green pool, the pharmaceutical pool, the transport pool, the European army, Euratom, and the common market are the most famous of these projects.
In actual fact, the functional approach works only in a few clearly limited cases that do not really lend themselves to further developments. In wartime, when all the political will of a coalition’s member states is geared towards the relatively straightforward objective of victory, it is possible to increase the number of military, economic and even diplomatic supranational agencies. But when this absolute coincidence of political will is no longer there, because victory has been won, or because one of the members of the coalition has broken away, the supranational authority always ceases immediately to exist. In peacetime, when it cannot be taken for granted that the political will of the different states will be simple and congruent, it is easier to plan specialised authorities than actually to create them.
The sectors that are to be brought under the control of a supranational authority cannot be established arbitrarily; it is a question of taking basically coherent areas of public affairs and deciding whether these should be left under the control of the nation-states, or brought under that of supranational authorities. The common coal and steel market will never be able to grow in strength as long as the harmonisation of the economies as a whole remains in the hands of the states; the common market of all factors of production cannot even come into being as long as general monetary and economic policy remains the province of the states; the common European army is meaningless if it is an instrument of autonomous foreign policies; and a rational atomic energy policy is impossible if the competent European authority has no scope for controlling its industrial and military applications.
It is for all these reasons that all the designs for specialised authorities so far drawn up have all been conceived by technical bodies, executors of precise mandates issued by the states, and on which the states are always careful not to confer power of coercion. These specialist authorities have to be content with the states’ promise that their decisions will be respected. Devoid, as they are, of any power of their own, they cannot become centres for the progressive gathering of interests, feelings, and European will, while they do allow national interests and sentiments to gather around the respective states, the only ones endowed with real strength. These authorities thus fall into a state of paralysis and evaporate as soon as the states no longer wish to keep them alive.
Functionalism deludes itself that the problems relating to the organisation and implementation of force can be resolved without actually being tackled. In other words, it believes that it is possible to deal only with the way in which certain affairs are administered, without raising the question of who, in fact, holds the effective power of execution. When these attitudes manifest themselves in civil servants, one can accept that these people are merely ingenuous; when politicians, whose job it is to concern themselves with the correct use of force in society, declare their support for the functionalist approach, then we can only conclude that they are either fools or liars.
e) The free exchange and international cartels solutions are the ones supported, sometimes as alternatives to one another and sometimes together, by capitalist groups who believe that the sum of their business relations can replace politics. It is imagined that by allowing international trade to develop freely, both under the effect of competition and through the actions of international monopolies, a level of interdependence will be reached between the nations that will render their union an absolute necessity. According to this view, the unity that is so difficult to achieve through the states and through politics can spontaneously come about through the unification of the markets. But in reality, far from taking the place of politics, a market presupposes the presence of a political power, responsible for establishing the general legal and political rules by which it operates, and for ensuring that these rules are respected. If this power is not unitary, but divided among many sovereign states, then the market becomes extremely fragile and is able to operate only as long as these states are willing to have the same laws, the same currency, and the same economic policy. The history of Europe over the past century is the proof of the incapacity of free markets and international cartels to withstand the destructive influence of the sovereign states.
f) The solution of the Internationals is advocated above all by those militant members of national parties who have, in some way, understood the need for European unity, and think that their parties can be important factors in the building of it.
Since the socialist, liberal and Christian democratic parties have supranational ideologies, it is often imagined that it is possible, within them, for similar tendencies present in different countries to achieve a unity of action. The socialists have produced many Internationals, and more recently the Christian democrats and liberals have done the same; there have also emerged European movements inspired by these three political currents, in the mistaken belief that the respective parties might finally be induced to engage in an effective European action.
In reality, the ideology that characterises each of Europe’s democratic parties is a propagandistic superstructure that does not alter in the slightest their true nature, which is that of national parties engaged essentially in promoting the national political agenda of their respective states. This explains why the Internationals and the European movements that have grown up out of the national parties, not daring to highlight the contradiction that exists between their ideological appearance and their political reality, not only formulate their requests in extremely vague terms, but are condemned to witness regularly the falsity of their parties and of their men: each time these reach positions of responsibility within the government they are obliged to set appearances aside and display their true nature as servants of the nation-state and of its deepest aspirations.
All the attempted solutions presented here are false European solutions, because without exception they forget that the problem of European unity lies in the creation and development of a European political force that is different from those of the states, and that has the capacity to set itself in opposition to them and to their claims. These so-called solutions, on the other hand, all rest on national political forces and on the institutions of the nation-states, counting on their good will and failing to realise that this good will can only be the will to preserve their character as national political forces and institutions.
[…]
 
 
VI
 
The Federalists’ Battle for the European People
 
 
The Federalists and the National Parties.
 
The European federalists differ radically from all the other political currents present in Europe today. These currents, albeit sometimes professing to believe in Europe, all set out to administer and serve the nation-state; they invite their fellow citizens to respect the nation-state as their nation’s powerful idol and protector, since they all view the nation as the Europeans’ only natural form of society, and the nation-state as their natural and insuperable form of political organisation.
The European federalists, on the other hand, regard the sovereign nation-states as the main enemies of the Europeans’ civilisation, freedom, security and progress. Accordingly, they call upon the Europeans to unite in protest against their now abusive powers, and to force them to relinquish them.
Contrary to those who see, in Europe, only the nations, with their permanent and insurmountable differences, the federalists recognise the existence of the European people — a people that has inherited a common civilisation, that is bound by a common destiny (which maybe rebirth or decline), that is capable of tackling its common problems with common democratic institutions, and that is held captive by the system of sovereign nation-states, which deny it the chance to express itself and to act, thereby preventing the birth of a European democracy.
The question has often been raised of whether the European federalists are, or should be, a party. The European federalists are much more than a party, at least in the sense the term has now acquired in European political language.
All the parties in Europe today, be they in government or in the opposition, be they democratic or anti-democratic, serve to mobilise national forces, in the national framework, in the service of national life. When they do talk of Europe, they see it only as a part of national foreign policy. Thus they continue to work out national social and economic, foreign and military policies, without ever entertaining even the vaguest doubt that the governments, which they intend should implement these policies, are no longer equipped to manage public affairs in these spheres.
The federalists know that European problems are no longer only problems of international relations between the old European states, but rather all the problems of economic, social, foreign, and military policy of Europe as a whole. And they contest the capacity of the governments, parliaments and national parties to tackle these problems successfully. They regard the nation-states’ assumption of the role of policy-maker in these areas as a usurpation of power, and the national parties’ claim to be able to develop and implement the nation-states’ policies as a deceptive illusion.
The aim of the federalists is not to become part of and to serve the national governments, and they therefore do not set out to compete with the national parties in this regard. Their aim is to plant, in the very souls of the Europeans, a rejection of the nation-states’ position, which has become abusive, and an awareness of a European democratic legitimacy. They aim to take political energies away from the framework of national life and to organise them in a European framework. They set their request for the construction of a European democratic government and a European programme of government in direct opposition to the programmes of the national governments. Their opposition, not being directed against a specific policy of one national government or another, but against the nation-states system itself, is more radical than any opposition that accepts the national framework.
To conduct their action successfully, the federalists cannot therefore be organised along the lines of the traditional parties, that is to say organised with a view to rising to national government.
Not wishing to suppress, only to limit, national political life, the federalists do not interfere in the affairs of national politics that should rightly remain national affairs. Once the nation-states have been released from all the functions that currently weigh them down, and are able to concentrate on the administration of national affairs, political life will alter profoundly in all the countries; however, the federalists do not, by definition, have a clear stance in relation to these affairs and, in the national sphere, can even belong to opposing currents.
But in the battle for a federation, the federalists do not recognise any role for the national parties, and they need to find their own form of political organisation, one which is consistent with the objective they intend to pursue.
The federalists come from all countries, from all walks of life, from all parties and from all spiritual, moral, religious and political families that acknowledge the value of human freedom. They do not demand the breaking of any of these bonds. Unlike the ideological parties, they do not point out an ultimate goal for mankind. They merely want to create the institutional instruments that will allow the European people to formulate and pursue its goals. The federalists wish to be builders of institutions, not leaders of souls.
But, like all human action, theirs, too, demands self-limitation and a strong concentration of will. The federalists know that human reality is infinitely complex and that what they wish to achieve is only a part of that reality. They know that their contribution does not embrace all human values. While aware, then, that reality is not simple, they are determined to make, for the good of their contemporaries, a simple political contribution: the European federation. To succeed in this, they have decided to arm themselves with a strong, simple will, leaving to others all that does not pertain to the attainment of this goal, fighting relentlessly against those who oppose it, and stirring up all that they can in order to promote its realisation.
To make this battle possible, the federalists accept, for their own part, the need to subordinate their political action in the national field to their European action, all national political schools to the European school, and even their loyalty as citizens of their nation to their loyalty as European citizens.
 
The Federalists and the Governments.
 
When, following the catastrophes of the Second World War, some of the European nation-states’ heads of government attempted for a few years to pursue a policy of European unification, the European federalists, despite being aware of the ambiguities and the reservations that lay behind this policy, calculated that the gravity of the general situation and the extraordinary coming together of favourable circumstances would facilitate a turning of words into deeds, and they took it upon themselves to point out the best route to follow. They paid a price for this approach: much of public opinion ended up confusing the reforming spirit of the federalists with the conservative spirit that ran through the pro-European governments. But it was a price that the federalists were willing to pay, convinced as they were that upon the eventual birth of a European democracy all the ambiguities would disappear and the true nature of their thought and action would emerge loud and clear. Indeed, up to a point and for a certain period of time they were heeded, because they gave voice to the profound logic of the action that those governments were seeking to carry out, but when they expressed the bold and thus more provocative elements of their thought they were listened to carelessly, with ill-concealed irritation, and even with profound dislike. When these governments’ pro-European interlude ended in failure, all of sudden the federalists stopped being listened to altogether, and began to be regarded as visionaries entirely out of touch with reality.
At this point, some of them, by now trapped by this tactic, lacked the courage to break a political alliance that had lost all its meaning and preferred to relinquish their mission, surrendering their own federalist thought and accepting one of the false European solutions. But, stripping away this dead wood, the European federalists have decided to reclaim their freedom of action. Having verified that European unification will never come about as long as it remains the prerogative of experts, diplomats, governments, parliamentarians and national parties, and realising that the United States of Europe can be the creation only of the European people, they have set about organising a European popular political force.
 
The Vanguard of the European People.
 
The federalists know that they are the conscious vanguard of the vast majority of the Europeans. From whatever perspective they consider the interests of European civilisation, they see that almost all Europeans have everything to gain from the creation of the federation, and that only very small minorities are definitely hostile to it, and interested in keeping alive the old system of the nation-states. In opposition to the false nationalist culture that can thrive only if national divisions and enmities remain, there stands the glorious European culture which, having no boundaries of its own, is deformed or distorted by national boundaries. In opposition to the narrow military, diplomatic and administrative frameworks of the higher echelons of the national bureaucracies, the forces that truly dominate the state apparatuses, there are the countless local, municipal, regional and even national administrations, which are suffocated by the centralising demands of the sovereign state. In contrast to the groups that run the political organisations, whose only concern is to become part of the national governments, we can set the vast masses of their followers and electors, who actually believe in the universal ideals preached by these parties. Against the monopolistic and corporative groups, which the state guarantees reserved national markets, we can set all those entrepreneurs and workers who would benefit from the opening up of large markets, and all the consumers who, were the trade barriers to be brought down, would see their standard of living raised. Against the profiteers of the tensions and the risk of war caused by national divisions, we have huge masses of men and women whom European unity would offer greater guarantees of peace. Against the social groups in the different countries who enjoy privileged positions that could not be maintained in the absence of national sovereignty, we can set the social groups that are damaged by the existence of these privileges, and those who are condemned, within the national framework, to languish in depressed circumstances. Whereas, on the one hand, we have the old generations, who have grown used to conceiving of the nation-state as the only form of political existence, on the other we have the young generations, for whom nation-state is synonymous with political and social inertness, international humiliation and impotence, and a progressive narrowing of the horizons of ideals. Against the interests of some administrations and enterprises, selfishly attached to the continued pursuit of their nations’ colonial policies, we can set the aspirations of the more developed groups in the overseas territories, whose ideas have been shaped by European civilisation and which are keen to see relations between their peoples and Europe based on equality of rights and human solidarity.
Yet as long as they remain framed, deformed and dominated by the national structures, even the groups most interested in European unity are unable to see how this might be achieved, and they continue, in vain, to attempt to pursue their ideals and interests in the national setting. The federalists aim to awaken the knowledge, in all these groups within European society, that Europe is the alternative to national political life, and to stir up the desire to realise it.
The federalists are asking all those who recognise that the time has come to mount a European protest against the abusive positions of the nation-states, and all those who refuse to accept that all their political life should unfold in the national sphere, to unite in a single large permanent Congress of the European People, which would allow men and groups from different countries to get to know one another, to recognise the profound solidarity that, beyond national boundaries, binds them together, and to get ready, as one, for the battle to abolish the abusive national sovereignties and create a European federal democracy.
The Congress of the European People cannot and must not respect either national divisions, or the divisions that exist within the single national societies. The Congress appeals to workers and to entrepreneurs, to intellectuals and to common people, to local communities and to professional groups, to religious and to non-religious groups, to those on the political left and also to those on the political right. It accepts no criterion defining progressive as opposed to reactionary forces, other than the one established by the battle for Europe: progressive forces are those that promote the federal unity of the European people, whereas reactionary forces are those that, even in spite of their words, favour of the conservation of the abusive national sovereignties.
The federalists know that the enormous pro-European feeling will not be able to transform itself into full political awareness before the European political institutions have been created. Until such a time, their action will meet with widespread incredulity; many will be drawn to them in the good times, only to abandon them when the struggle seems hazardous and difficult. For a long time, the Congress of the European People will represent only the most conscious minority of the European people. But it is important to realise that whereas the normal lives of the peoples are, as a rule, influenced by the average consciousness of the majorities, the major changes in their lives are never wrought by majorities, or by the average consciousness. They are wrought by active minorities that represent and express the latent sentiments and interests of the majorities. The Congress of the European People is the first instrument of European political action that, thanks to the work of the federalists, will be at the disposal of the European people as, gradually, they become aware of their own existence.
 
The European Constituent Assembly.
 
The primary and permanent objective of the Congress is to claim, for the European people, the right through democratic methods to equip itself with the federal constitution that it needs. The Congress is not asking the national governments to draw up the European Constitution and to get it approved by their parliaments. The political institutions of the nation-state, being the place in which the particular national interests come together and are expressed, are by their very nature and as they have amply demonstrated, incapable of fulfilling this task. The building of the United States of Europe will begin on the day on which, put under pressure by the federalist action, the national governments recognise that they are ill-equipped to decide Europe’s fate, and put the power to do so into the hands of the European people.
In precise legal terms, the Congress will have to ask the national governments to draw up and approve a treaty — this will be the last international treaty that they will be called upon to establish — decreeing the birth of European democracy. The single states will undertake to get a European constituent assembly elected, on their soil and by their citizens, through free and direct suffrage. This assembly will be the only body qualified to define the constitution of a federal European government responsible for running the economic and social, foreign and military affairs of the European people, and for guaranteeing all the European citizens the highest legal protection of their freedoms. The constitution approved by the European Assembly will be ratified, through free plebiscite, by the single states, which will thus decide, without intermediaries, whether or not to transfer to the federation some of their state’s sovereign prerogatives. The constitution will immediately come into effect in the countries that ratify it, and will remain open to adoption, in the future, by all the others.
The day on which, through the first European elections, the European democracy comes into existence is the day on which the destiny of Europe will have been wrested from the hands of its opponents. Without doubt, the latter will continue to fight tooth and nail to defend their privileges, but the old national political balances, which ensured that nationalist points of view automatically prevailed, will be turned upside down by the European elections. European sentiments and interests, finally having come into possession of their natural and legitimate means of expression, will gain a growing awareness of themselves, will ignore national boundaries, will group together according to European affinities, will have a decisive influence on the composition of the assembly, and will remain vigilant throughout the work of the latter.
The European constituent assembly, being the product of a massive popular vote, and thus feeling itself to be the legitimate representative of the European people and of its aspirations, will have a strong and proud sense of its mission, will be unwilling to succumb to the nations’ flattery or pressure, and, however it is comprised, will be capable of reaching the agreements and compromises needed to arrive at the ratification of the federal constitution.
Finally, the European constitution, by showing how the nations can be guaranteed both their own permanence and an efficient European government, will throw into such sharp relief the absurdity and the meanness of the system of national sovereignties that the citizens of the different nations will very likely be induced to approve it with large majorities in all or almost all of the countries.
 
The Strategy of the Federalist Action.
 
The opponents of European federal unity, who may be more or less open about their position, and the defenders, sincere or hypocritical, of the national sovereignties know that the day on which the European people are given their say is the day on which the movement towards the federation will become unstoppable. They therefore doggedly resist this request, and will cave in only under the dual pressure of a strong action mounted by the Congress of the European People and a clear and serious demonstration of the inadequacy of the old order.
Neither the Congress of the European People, nor its life-givers — the federalists — must allow themselves to be under any illusion that this is a battle that can be won easily.
The gradual disintegration of the old European system of national sovereignties is now a constant and irreversible process. Every day that passes inflicts new diplomatic humiliations on one country or another, endangers and destroys the independence of one country or another, threatens one national economy or another, halts the social progress of one country or another, and stirs up one colonial revolt or another. The individual national governments can no longer change this historical course, but they constantly come up with new devices for establishing new and transient balances that serve only to conceal from themselves and from their peoples the terminal disease that afflicts them. But the contradiction between the dimensions, now European, of the problems with which history has brought Europe, as a whole, face to face, and the dimensions, still national, of the governments that have to tackle these problems, continues to be rife and to deepen, and occasionally it bursts to the fore in the form of a crisis not of one state or another, but of the whole nation-states system.
It is only when the current European regime finds itself in these moments of severe and widespread crisis that the forces and groups intent on national conservation suddenly become aware of their impotence, and incapable of thinking, acting, or imposing their point of view; the bewildered leaders search in vain for an alternative policy, which, because it does not exist, they are no longer able to find on a national level. These are the serious and decisive moments in which the Congress of the European People, guided by the federalists, have to intervene with all their strength and with all their determination to oppose the claims of the nation-states, to obtain from the latter the first abdication of their sovereignty and the first recognition of the sovereignty of the European people: its right to elect the European constituent assembly and to ratify, through direct vote, the federal constitution.
Should the Congress of the European People fail to be sufficiently strong and resolute, should it allow itself to be taken in by the assurances of the governments and the national political forces, these will promise to build European unity themselves, will convene diplomatic assemblies for this very purpose, will prepare treaties, and will put these treaties to the national parliaments for ratification. If this happens the battle will necessarily be lost. The only objective of such moves would be to take control of the process of building Europe out of the hands of the European forces so as to place it in those of its natural opponents. As long as the situation is critical, the national diplomatic corps, governments and parliaments let it be believed that they can and intend to keep their promises. But as soon as the critical moment is over, they reveal their true intentions: national diplomats and experts refuse to draw up treaties that go against their usual approach to international affairs; the governments are incapable of reaching agreements; and the parliaments are no longer willing or able to find the majorities that would allow them to strip themselves of a large share of their prerogatives. Like all acute crises, those of the old system of national sovereignties are, because of their nature, transitory. In the wake of a brief period of tension, during which it would have been possible to break the vicious cycle of the national sovereignties, a new social, economic, diplomatic and military balance is usually formed within the old national frameworks. Diplomats, chiefs of staff, large monopolies and corporations, and nationalists of all colours reorganise their forces around the nation-state and regain full control of it. The crisis of the European system is not unfolding along a straight line, but following a spiral that, while nevertheless following a downward motion, continues to turn back on itself. Periods of anxiety, humiliation, disorder and desperation are followed by short-lived periods of detente, tranquillity, prosperity in business, and minor social progress.
Neither is the struggle for the European people a linear and progressive series of small, partial victories. Because it follows a cyclic pattern, like that of the crises afflicting the system of national sovereignties, it goes through periods in which, running counter to all the appearances of the moment, it swims against the tide. In these periods it cannot succeed, only extend its influence, strengthen its position and voice increasingly loudly its opposition. But finally there comes the critical moment in which its constructive force, coinciding with the growing disorder into which the old European system is plunged, turns the nation-states’ first — and decisive — capitulation into a real possibility. If this capitulation does not come, then defeat is inevitable, and the federalists are left with no choice but to start from the beginning, doggedly drawing strength from their knowledge that there is no path to Europe’s future other than that of the federation.
[…]


* Parma, Guanda 1957. Here we publish several chapters.

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