Year XLV, 2003, Number 3, Page 185
Two Letters from Federalist Friends Wishing to Respond to Articles Appearing in the Last Issue of The Federalist
We have received, and are pleased to publish, two letters from federalist friends wishing to respond to articles appearing in the last issue of The Federalist.
I read with great interest and appreciation your editorial, published in number 2/2003 of The Federalist, “For a Federal Pact Among Europe’s Founder Member States”, finding myself to be in agreement, in many respects, with the title of the opening paragraph, “The Impotence of Europe and the Need for a European Foreign and Defence Policy”, albeit with some reservations (which I will enlarge upon later). Kindly allow, therefore, an old federalist — like yourself — to add a few, brief reflections to your arguments.
As old federalists, then, and leaving aside all the clearly essential theoretical premises, which you have, after all, covered perfectly well, let us imagine for a moment that we are (and thank heavens we are not!) political leaders or members of the ruling class of one of the countries involved in the current process of the building of Europe (if we might still define it as such). Or better still, members of the ruling class of the country in which both of us were born, and in which we wish, as best we can, to go on living. Let us consider the, in some ways perhaps overplayed, European intergovernmental conference recently opened in Rome.
Quoi faire? First of all, I am afraid that Cossiga has plenty of good reasons for maintaining that perhaps the best, and possibly the only, course to opt for is still that of seeking to contribute — albeit, of course, with the utmost diplomacy and political tact — to a rejection of the so-called draft constitution (or better, draft international treaty) handed down by the Convention under Giscard d’Estaing; even though to do this will probably also and unfortunately mean ultimately having to decree together the substantial collapse of the negotiations begun. That said, I also fear that it is now no longer possible — and perhaps no longer even right — simply to move in the direction of such a rejection. There has been a determination, albeit in conditions that are, to say the very least, controversial, to set the EU on the road towards its own enlargement, a noble aim certainly, and one that must inevitably, sooner or later, be placed on the agenda. Considerable sacrifices have been required of many countries, and there are a great many ineluctable demands and expectations that must now be met. But the prospect of EU enlargement has necessarily brought with it the need for revision of the Union’s institutional machinery, for changes designed to ensure that this machinery will still be able to work in the context of what will be a much larger Union. One of the most important of these changes must surely be, as you yourself have pointed out, the introduction or extension of the majority voting rule to many (which exactly?) new areas. It is possible — leaving aside other, and certainly not lesser, difficulties — that this may prevent the EU from seizing up, but it will also doubtless increase the risk of insoluble crises due to the Union’s being inflexibly subject to regulations and conditions that are modifiable only through unity of consensus.
The destiny that awaits, or will await, the European Union cannot be viewed without serious doubts and concerns. But perhaps, to we federalists of old, all this might be of only limited interest.
There remains, alternatively or in addition, the prospect — perhaps no more than a vague hope — of a serious and faithful (genuine) federalist and constituent initiative, founded on the conscious and unconditional renunciation, on the part of several of the eligible states, of their sovereignty, initially in the sphere of foreign policy and defence, given that all the rest, i.e. that measure, small or large, of residual autonomy that these states will be considered entitled to retain, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity — also provided for by the founding fathers of the United States of America, James Madison first and foremost — does not touch on essential areas.
But which of the European states might be seen as truly set on moving towards this goal, today or in the near future, and what chances would they have of succeeding in the endeavour? Perhaps one, two, or even more, of the six original founders of the old European Community? Can anyone really believe — or even merely hope — that France and/or Germany, or even only one of the two vis-à-vis the other, will, in the near future, want to undertake so much, to make such a decisive renunciation? This France, and also this Germany, that are already so openly unwilling even to effect the simple adjustment of their finances that is required in order to comply, in the euro area, with the terms laid down in the Stability Pact?
Without doubt, the people or peoples that might accomplish this step are, for the moment, lacking, and I fully understand the anxious quest to fill the gap that they have left and continue to leave. But are Chirac and Schröder really the individuals to look to?
I refer to France and/or Germany because it is with these two countries that the crux of the problem and/or the risk of murky hegemonic games (a risk to be guarded against) really lies. I must confess, sir, that around the time of the (then possible) military intervention in Iraq, the alignment of some federalist spokesmen and organisations, in the wake of the assumption by Paris, and for a time Berlin, caught up in a wave of unquestioning and dangerous anti-Americanism, of a divisive stance (divisive both for Europe and for the western world) in their defence of what were clearly their own interests, left me, and still leaves me, amazed and disappointed.
And so, by way of a brief conclusion, I come to one essential, and almost entirely overlooked, point regarding the issues currently on the table — a point that brings me back to the reservations I mentioned at the beginning of this letter.
I do not believe that any argument on the European Union, on European federation, on Europe and its destiny, or even on all that might affect us directly — leaving aside therefore the dreams, voiced by Muslim leaders such as Raed Misk, of one day “leading the soldiers of Islam to Rome” (to Rome, not to Paris or Berlin, mark), and leaving aside Bin Laden’s threats, and the alarmist view of Magdi Allan, published in the Corriere della Sera: “Extremists join forces, the West is our enemy” — can seriously be developed without careful consideration of the historical period that our world, now a global village, is going through. The problem we are now facing and it did not need September 11th 2001 to alert us to this fact — is that of a pouring forth, or better a flood tide, of forms of national and religious fanaticism or fundamentalism (not only Arabic-Muslim), combined with the existence and ready availability of weapons of mass destruction, not only of the nuclear variety; it is an explosive combination, entirely without historical precedent. In my view, no Europe, no Union, and no European federation can be considered acceptable or worthy of interest unless it is conceived from the perspective and within the framework of the closest possible alliance and unity, in the area of foreign and military policy (one might think of the Atlantic community or similar solutions), between our state or states and the United States of America, which is, whether or not one likes to accept the fact, a great democracy, and, again like it or not, an essential point of reference for any responsible design or action whose aim is the establishment of a free and stable world political order.
It goes without saying — even though we all now know where, perhaps poorly concealed behind some ridiculous falsity, the real obstacle lies — that this alliance must be based on conscious and mutual respect for the dignity and equality of the rights of all the participants, the latter aware of the sacrifices that the current conflict and the building of peace today render essential, i.e., the sacrifice of their (apparent) independence and perhaps of their image. All this in accordance with the known formula — Kennedy’s or Clinton’s, call it what you will — of equal, balanced participation, which I do not intend, here, to go into in any depth. One thing, however, I will say: the prospect of Europe one day having to submit to some “American hegemony” seems to me to be a highly unlikely one. The United States is aware (and at the present time is being made ever more acutely aware) that, in the business of peace-building, Europe — once Europe proves able to decide what it is, and what its role might be, and stops dreaming or fantasising about other alternatives — is every bit as essential to America as America is to European security.
Tony Blair, addressing his own party congress, and in particular the numerous members opposed to Britain’s participation in the US-led military intervention in Iraq, recently said: “We who started the war must finish the peace… terrorism can’t be defeated unless America and Europe work together”. His words were greeted by a standing ovation, even though, in my lowly opinion, to talk of working together is not to go nearly far enough.
On these points, sir, I diverge from what seems to me to be your firm view, i.e., that “were an out-and-out federal state to be formed, the question of whether or not it would be opportune to preserve institutional ties between Europe and the United States of America would be irrelevant. A European federal state would be able, independently, to provide for its own defence. It would certainly draw up agreements and enter into alliances, but the policies it would follow would be determined, in each instance, by the nature of the interests at stake, and would not necessarily always coincide with those of the United States.” I may be mistaken, of course, but I am practically certain in my belief, which you do not share, that the birth of a small federal core would signal a split, neither momentary nor secondary, within Europe: on the one side, France and Germany, and several hangers-on, including Italy (which may well be given the sop of having Rome as the venue for the signing of a few bits of paper); on the other, the United Kingdom, Spain, Poland, Turkey, and so on. This is certainly food for thought.
The question, in any case, needs to be examined in much more depth. On the political side, this means at least examining the pressing need for greater openness towards and cooperation with the new Russia, and, as regards Europe, considering the crisis of confusion into which the continent’s moral certainties have been thrown, a crisis that is undermining, to a greater or lesser degree, the feelings and beliefs that should be feeding its religious communities, in some cases now reduced — in the words of Catholic theologian Hans Küng, used in reference to the greatest (i.e., the most widespread and most influential) of these, the Church of Rome — to “…hierarchical institutions, centralised and ossified in dogmatic obedience, which are losing touch with the people”.
This fact seems, moreover, to be a decisive element both in the inability of the entire western world to grasp, consciously, its own identity and, as a result, in the current impossibility of profitable cultural exchange and dialogue (crucial in whatever form) between the Euro-Atlantic community and the Islamic world. Such dialogue must be open to all religious aspirations, but divorced from the demands of paralysing mythology and/or vague ideology, and conducted in full recognition of and respect for the principle from which it arises and the conditions needed for it to take place, first and foremost full recognition on the part of all of the supremacy of reason; the only form of dialogue able to contribute, or at least to hope to contribute, to a movement towards forms of democratic cohabitation in those countries and among those peoples (Muslim) that today find themselves in a state of permanent revolt, even against themselves.
We have come, as you can see, to the basic question and essential theme that runs through our entire history of struggles, and our tradition of freedom: in other words, to the question of the relations between reason and faith, from Ancient Rome and Greece to Berengario of Tours (XI century…);a question dear to the humanists, the Socinians, to Bruno, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Kant, right up to Giuseppe Mazzini and Piero Martinetti: “A faith that is original and absolute is inconceivable” (an affirmation, in my view perfectly valid in itself, and one that must be accepted if there is to be fruitful dialogue).
But all this leads us on to questions of an altogether different nature which, if you wish, we might discuss at some future time.
My warmest good wishes,
Editor’s note: This letter was written at the end of October and thus refers to the situation and events at that time.
I would like to express my gratitude to you and the editorial team for the publication of Albertini’s hitherto unpublished text in No. 2/2003 of the review. Reading a text written by Albertini in 1964 was an emotional experience for me and gave rise to certain considerations which I wish to share with you in my open letter.
Albertini indicates the task which the Movement must carry out and shows that the Movement will only be able to grow as an organisation and make its mark on the course of history if it can carry out this task adequately. Albertini explains this task within the context of scientific research which the Movement must conduct in order to be able to “understand the structural aspects” of our modern society and to be able to formulate its own “theory of federation”. The Movement must thus study the knowledge society in order to understand its structural aspects and therefore it must analyse the course of contemporary history so as to be able to construct the theory of federalism.
It is clear that if the scientific laboratory of the Movement produces a political thought steeped in truth, the number of its followers will increase and its influence on civilised society and the very raison d’être of the Movement will be clear in its political importance.
Albertini points to the fact that the object of research which the Movement must undertake is represented by the study of the “course of history”, and that this study must be a carried out with a scientific spirit. That is to say, the course of history must be studied “for what it is”, without deforming it, without the false consciousness of ideologies, without prejudice and only for the purpose of understanding it.
Furthermore the course of history should not be studied in economic terms, or rather within the Marxian simplification of class struggle, but should be studied while mindful that the mode of production of each society influences society’s total way of being, its scale of moral values, its legal principles, its institutional organisation. Albertini writes that “the mode of production far outweighs the economy” because it involves all the modes of producing and reproducing social life. This notion of production is far broader than that of economic science.
Albertini’s thought (which dates back to 1964!) is so amazingly anticipatory and profound as to be able to predict that the mode of production of modernity is about to undergo structural change because a scientific-technical (post-industrial) mode of production is already in its gestation. His words on the matter are revelatory: “the mode of production in gestation is a scientific-technical one” and this new mode of production will determine new ways of cultural and political existence in modern society. New society will produce behavioural models different from those of the world of manufacturing and will break the ties with roles that until now have prevented us all from “having an open, free and scientific mentality”.
The new mode of production will change roles in society: work will no longer consist of the availability of muscle power, but will be a time for the agents of innovation, for researchers, academics and scientists to come together; the cultural level of civil society will be incomparably and generally higher that that of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. About this Albertini writes: “the new scientific-technical mode of production will transform the workers into technicians, just as industry had changed most farmers into workers”; so a civil society, first European and then global, will be born and will be the cultural and political referent of federalism.
Therefore to build the “federalist theory” Albertini tells us what the object of our studies must be and that it is the new mode of production of the society of the scientific-technical revolution, which is to attempt to intercept the course of history, to understand its new values in their gestation, to be able to point the way towards European and World Federation.
This great, exciting and demanding task which Albertini has set us requires the Movement to concentrate on an effort of study and elaboration. It needs to launch itself once again as a scientific laboratory in order to be able to be a political movement capable of gathering consensus and having an influence on civil society.
If Albertini were still among us he would certainly be able to reconstitute that laboratory of political thought the Movement used to be in its day, and which we all, with our same moral and political values, remember as unforgettable days. I therefore maintain that it is our duty to try and take up the constructive debate again just as it had been put on the agenda by Albertini 40 years or so ago. I am sure dear Editor that your Review will succeed in providing the place and the occasion for this constructive debate to be re-proposed and thoroughly undertaken.
Yours with affection,