Year XXVIII, 1986, Number 2-3, Page 73
The Roads towards World Federation
Ever since the birth of the European federalist movements in the Resistance, those among their militants who felt the need to reflect on the historical sense of their undertaking have viewed the struggle for the European federation as the beginning of the federalist phase of mankind’s history destined to be completed with the foundation of a world federal government. Not by chance Kant’s works have been our guiding light from the outset.
From the very start the objective of the world federation has been of considerable significance as regards placing our action into the right perspective, and hence in determining the specific style of our political behaviour. But it ought not to remain a pure idea with no definite content any longer. Since the time of the foundation of the federalist movements many things have happened. The danger of mankind’s destruction in a nuclear war has shifted the boundaries between utopia and reality, creating precisely that situation which Kant considered as the essential prerequisite for the creation of a universal Völkerbund. In sectors such as the exploitation of the resources of the seabed, an awareness of the need to create a world authority to replace national governments is becoming widespread. The Chernobyl accident has brought home to Europeans vividly and dramatically the stupidity of borders that no longer defend us from anything, but which obstruct the circulation of information and prevent international collaboration. Finally, the very relationships among federalists have also undergone a significant change for the better — thanks in part to this review. For the first time, federalists in the other continents have become real partners for European federalists. The premises are being laid for debate, and among the crucial themes in this debate, discussion on the way or ways to achieve world federation figures prominently.
It is not a question of writing the history of the future, because the timetable of world political integration is not predictable, and hence the forms that it will take are also unpredictable. But we can begin exploring the field, seeing what roads are possible, studying the conditions under which one or the other can be followed and deciding whether they are compatible or not with each other.
There are, however, some features in the process of development towards world federation that can be identified with a reasonable degree of certainty even now. The first is that the world federation will only be born from a pact between great continental federations, and that its creation will thus be preceded by intermediate stages of regional political unification. It is clear, on the one hand, that the evolution of the means of production will create the need for political unification with different degrees of urgency and intensity in the different areas of the world, depending on their geo-strategic position and their level of economic development. It is equally clear, on the other hand, that a world federal pact will be realistically negotiable only between a restricted number of states, and that the awareness of the need for such a pact will only develop adequately in pluralistic nations, which have run the full course of the national phase of their history and who fully realize that they have entered the path towards progressive supranational expansion of the state's scope.
The second is the democratic nature that the regimes in the great regional federations making up the world federation must necessarily have. This is a requirement which is part of the very nature of a federal world government. Without fulfilling this requirement, the covenant by which the world federation would be established would not be a pact among free peoples, but the result of the imposition of certain groups, classes, or states, on all others. It would not thus be a federation, but an empire that, not being based on freely given agreement, would be destined to dissolve rapidly again into a series of sovereign states under the weight of rebellion of peoples forced to belong to it against their wishes.
The third and final characteristic of the process concerns its beginning. There is today only one region in the world where — thanks to the profound crisis in the national state formula — steps towards integration have advanced to the point where the plan for federal unification is a topic in current affairs and has hence become the strategic objective of a realistic though difficult political struggle. This region is Western Europe. These steps in the process of European unification are thus destined in a subsequent phase to make other paths towards world unity, that can currently only be imagined, concretely pursuable. If this process should be checked, becoming a historical failure, and should Europe once more be turned into a theatre of nationalistic confrontations, then it is difficult to see from what other sources the embryonic forces encouraging the drive towards unity that exist in many other regions of the world could derive their ideal inspiration.
Any attempt to go beyond identification of these compulsory stages on the road towards world unification is risky. All we can realistically do is to draw up an inventory of the possible scenarios. It is, moreover, of vital importance to bear in mind that the roads are not necessarily incompatible, and that they do not necessarily imply alternative directions in the process. It is, on the contrary, highly probable that the different scenarios represent distinct stages in the process, the precise sequence of which cannot be predicted today or, rather, which cannot be predicted with a reasonable degree of certainty. These paths are, therefore, options which, when seen in the context of implementation over a period of time, are not irreconcilable and hence can be followed at the same time.
History, in its complex unfolding, while experiencing one stage in its path, prepares the way for the subsequent stages so that the entire journey in a certain sense is contained in germ in each individual step. Those who struggle to bring about change must be able to recognize these signs. Those who do not know how to recognize these signs, in the name of a linear conception of history and an empirical conception of politics, concentrate only on the first step, and gravely prejudice the effectiveness of their action by limiting from the very beginning the number of those whom their message can reach and involve and by failing to activate the deepest motivations of those who are actually reached by it.
It is for this reason that our profound conviction that the process of political unification of the world must necessarily begin with the unification of Western Europe must not prevent us from examining very carefully all the other drives towards unification on a regional scale that exist in the world. Equally, our forecast that the federalist phase of world history, even after the political unification of Europe, will pass through the creation of other great continental federations cannot justify our disinterest in the first efforts to strengthen the UN as a supranational body which are currently being attempted, for example in the field of the law of the seas.
But let us now turn to the various imaginable scenarios. The first is based on the forecast that the birth of the European federation will deeply alter the world balance of power, eliminating the main hurdle that prevents the trend towards multipolarism (which is currently visible, but which remains potential) from being fully achievable. In particular, the mediating and stabilizing role carried out by Europe, attenuating the rigidity of current USA-USSR antagonism, will make it possible to consolidate definitively the emerging poles such as China and India and will favour a salutary process of regionalization of spheres of influence. Moreover, both the stability of the strategic balance, brought about precisely by its multipolar nature, and the less extensive spheres of influence could lead to radical changes in the management of the latter, eliminating the dominance of the military factor in the exercise of leadership. Development aid and the contribution to the creation of integrated markets would become the main instruments of influence. The drive towards integration, firstly economic and subsequently political in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, the primary condition for their real independence, would receive a decisive impulse.
The second scenario is that of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals. It is based on two hypotheses. The first is the progressive democratization of the Soviet Union's regime encouraged by the transformations brought about by the scientific and technological revolution. The second is the “break-up" effect that the new world multipolar equilibrium, inaugurated by the birth of the European Federation, would have on the Russian Empire. A united Western Europe would exercise a very strong attraction on the Eastern European states, which are currently satellites of the Soviet Union. The strengthening of a possible Middle-Eastern Islamic pole would encourage strong centrifugal drives in the Asiatic moslem republics to the point where their independence would become possible. Thus, the conditions for widening the European Federation would be created not only in the direction of Eastern European states, but also in the direction of those republics which make up the European part of Russia itself and whose European identity would be strongly revalued by the end of the imperial character of the Russian regime.
The third possible scenario is the Union of democracies, prepared for by forms of institutionalized integration between Europe — after it has achieved unity — and the United States. This option is made very likely not only by the cultural affinities existing between Europe and the United States but also by urgent need for reform of the international monetary system and the need to ensure an effective government for world trade. Both these objectives would be unthinkable in any stable form without deep agreement — guaranteed by common supranational institutions — among the commercial and monetary policies of the regions of the world with both highly-developed economic systems and democratic regimes.
The fourth and final scenario is what we might call the Russian-American axis. It is based on the hypothesis that the growing awareness of world public opinion vis-à-vis the reality of the danger of the extinction of the species in a nuclear conflict and the ever acuter alarm arising from this might change the nature of the world balance precisely as the Second World War changed the nature of the European balance by triggering the process of European integration under the aegis of the Franco-German agreement. In this respect, the European Union would be the natural mouthpiece for these fears owing to its geographic position and its role as a mediator that would arise from the circumstances of its birth. Also within the world context, therefore, the reconciliation —encouraged by Europe — between the two superpowers (around whose rivalry the current world equilibrium revolves) might act as a driving force in the process of unification making it possible, by means of the “inversion" of the arms race, to achieve a massive and rational use of resources to end the North-South divide and favour regional unification projects wherever they arise. It goes without saying that this scenario also presupposes a concrete start to the process of democratization in the Soviet Union, but not necessarily its conclusion. It is the very need to collaborate created by the urgency of removing the danger of a nuclear holocaust that will encourage the forces of renewal in that country.
Today it is not possible to foresee which of the roads that we have attempted to describe will be the one that the historical process will follow: the more so since, as we have said, it is perfectly conceivable that they will not be possible alternatives, but rather successive stages on the same path, or that they may be complementary. It is obvious that, for example, federal development of the first scenario (European, African Federation etc.) might not be incompatible with a triangular confederal development (Europe, Japan, USA) on an economic and monetary level or with the direct strengthening of world monetary agencies.
There are many possibilities and it would be pointless to choose today. For the time being, our immediate choice is for the European Federation. But setting the problem — and encouraging debate — seems to be important. Today there are many forces — small, certainly, but highly important inasmuch as they herald much greater future developments — and many as yet unconscious ferments which, in one way or another, work in the same direction towards the unification of mankind. It is essential that, by means of a debate which might be difficult, but not for this reason less necessary, these forces look patiently for an area of agreement and hence the ways by which to link up to achieve a single result. “The Federalist” hopes to be able to contribute effectively to the success of this undertaking.