Year XXIX, 1987, Number 1, Page 3
Our Work for Federalism
In 1984, we began a new phase in the life of our review. The bases for this new phase were the theoretical and practical consequences that we drew from the very simple, yet in many ways highly problematic, observation that somebody must begin to plan their political action in world terms in order to overcome the preliminary difficulties and to prove that such a path is practicable.
The need for a world policy with a world subject (i.e. world mobilisation and deployment of forces) is clear. All mankind’s greatest problems are world-scale problems and the greatest world-scale problem of all is peace, i.e. man’s survival. But this world policy entails the passage of a growing number of men from national political behaviour to a world political behaviour. Yet, when this prospect arises, it seems so chimeric that most people immediately banish it to the deepest recesses of their mind, which remains firmly fixed at a national level while reality becomes increasingly supranational. We, on the contrary, want to take this passage as the starting point of our reflection and action, however infinitesimal our capacity and possibilities.
Endowing one’s political action with a world dimension is an imperative of reason. For such imperatives, matters of ease, difficulty or presumed impossibility are irrelevant. What matters is the rule “Do what you will, come what may”. This is the rule with which mankind has progressed and will probably continue to make progress, introducing things that still do not exist in the world, and which for the very same reason would seem impossible to achieve since they have not yet been submitted to the slow, careful and patient enquiry of reason. The first clarification we obtain with reason, if we decide to use it, is that in every case the problem is to take the first step, in other words it is always something that is within reach of will power. For this reason, the central problem of our review is examining the theoretical and pratical aspects of the first step to be taken down this path which goes beyond nations and continents. Moreover, we stress that this examination must be carried out using federalist criteria because only with federalist means is it possible to extend democracy from the national level to the international level.
After three years of work, the balance sheet we can present readers with is as follows. The English and French editions of this review respectively have 150 and 60 subscribers. The Italian edition raises no problems, because its distribution is based on a solid reality of organized federalism with a strong cultural commitment and a relatively vast influence. In three years, our expenditure has been $89,000 (77,000 ECU) while receipts from subscriptions total $12,000 (11,000 ECU). Even though our costs are not high (no collaborator, except the translators, receives any payment), the deficit is considerable but includes launching costs. Certainly we will not be able to shoulder these costs indefinitely. For the time being, the brunt is borne by the Luciano Bolis European Foundation whose statutory task is to transmit federalist culture through publications. For us, however, the very fact that we have a preliminary nucleus of readers in English and French, and the fact that we are in a position to continue the undertaking we began without any certainty of success, is already a great deal.
In presenting this balance sheet we would like to remind readers that no such undertaking has ever been attempted before: a review which, while not being academic, is methodologically rigorous, published in English and French so that it can be read throughout the world. It is written and published only by federalists, with a view to obtaining — in potential agreement with all federalists wherever they may be — the maximum diffusion possible for active federalist policy, i.e. thinking which has both a practical and theoretical capacity.
Our assumption is that to achieve this we need to develop the theory of federalism as active thinking in the same way as liberalism, democracy and socialism were at the time of their historical affirmation. Indeed, we attribute the status of an ideology to federalism, precisely because we consider it to be the continuation and updating of the great traditional ideologies, i.e. of the thinking that has introduced the attempt to found politics on every man’s liberty, equality and solidarity into the historical process.
Cultural fashion condemns the use of the term “ideology”, which is considered a term that describes an acritical and illusory form of political thinking. And if it were only a question of words no question would be raised. But the fact is that if we renounce the use of words, we also renounce the use of things and ideas. In a confused way, but without any terminological alternative that has had any real development, the term “ideology” has long been taken as denoting active political thinking, capable that is of determining action by affirming certain values, recognizing the specific character of certain historical situations and understanding the workings of new institutions. It follows that the abandonment of the term “ideology” in fact casts a shadow over the very notion of active political thinking and is as such diffused or is capable of being diffused. Casting a shadow over this notion also entails losing the sense of values and the future, as well as reducing action to squalid daily “pragmatism”, splintered into an infinity of small things which has nothing to do with philosophical pragmatism. “The rational meaning of every proposition”, Peirce wrote, “lies in the future”.
Since this is the character of our review, and given the current situation of active federalism in the world, we could not expect much in terms of initial subscriptions. But we are patient. Altiero Spinelli, who had the historical merit of being the first to conduct supranational political democratic action, died on May 23, 1986, after having dedicated his whole life to the struggle for the European federation, without ever seeing even the first political developments along the lines of the project for Union that he himself managed to get approved by the European Parliament. We know that our fate will not be different because Europe’s moment is a long way off and the world’s moment even farther away. But we are not giving up the fight to make federalism known in the world because mankind has no other alternative: either we will manage to control the historical process in its technological and military aspects, with international agreements and federal powers increasingly extended to the world level designed to bring about definitive peace, or we will be lost.
The forces unleashed by the scientific and technological revolution are so powerful that without a world plan for their control they will be catastrophic. So far, we have been able to make do without such a plan and it may be possible to go on like this for an unforeseeable number of years, maybe 50 or 100, but certainly we cannot go on like this indefinitely. We therefore need to pose the question, right now, of the formation and development of world political action, so as to be ready in the hour of need and danger.
One of the reasons why we decided to start up the French edition again and to undertake an English edition lies in a particular fact and the current limits to this fact. The fact is that there are many federalists in many countries. The limitation is that they are not able to coordinate their actions in an organized way because of the enormous cost of intercontinental meetings with sufficient regularity and representativeness. The review is obviously no substitute for this type of organization which we still need. But it does represent a reference point by which federalists scattered throughout the world, without any information about others’ activity or existence, can be linked together. And with this reference point it will perhaps be possible to tackle the problem of the first rudimental forms of organization and mutual information, with a view to learning about the results achieved in other cities and other parts of the world and upholding them in every federalist circle.
This is probably the breakthrough that active federalism needs in order to develop its potential strength, something which still needs to be explored. It is possible to hope that, with co-ordination of this kind, and with the possibility of presenting militant federalism as a world-scale political avant-garde (even though initially it may not be present in all countries), we could perhaps reach a sufficient number of subscriptions to be able to finance an effective intercontinental organization in an autonomous way. If we succeed, especially vis-à-vis the new generations, then we will be starting a new chapter in the history of political behaviour.