Year XXXIII, 1991, Number 2 - Page 113
The Role of Federalists in the New World Situation
1. The world is changing.
The role which federalists can play in the present and future is closely tied to the evolution which has taken place in the world situation over the last two years, and to their capacity to adapt their thinking to the fact that the political order which was established after the Second World War, based on a rigidly bipolar balance of power, has ended. This political order constituted at the same time the major obstacle to the process of world integration on the one hand, and the guarantee of a stable equilibrium on the other, which, particularly for the members of the European Community, meant wealth and well-being. The reasons for its “sudden” collapse may be discussed at length, but I believe that two observations are shared by all: 1) There was no lack of warning signs that the two superpowers were no longer capable of maintaining world order (There were regional crises which ended up involving all sides; at the same time the enormous problems of energy, ecology, and the demographic explosion in the Third World have materialized, problems which cannot be tackled in the present world situation). 2) The collapse of totalitarian communism in the USSR has enormously hastened the end of a world system which already contained the seeds of crisis; in other words, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
If we take these considerations as our starting point, it is not hard to arrive at the following: the world has for some time now been in need of a government. The bipolar equilibrium simulated world government to some extent in that it stabilized the world situation. It also prevented the delay in European unification, as of other regional unifications, from prejudicing, at least ostensibly, the world’s chances of success in overcoming the challenges posed by the above-mentioned problems. The situation might be compared to a building having solid external walls (i.e. the superpowers), with interior dividing walls made of cardboard (i.e. the nation-states): the building does not collapse for want of a proper internal structure. Thus the moment bipolarism ceased to play a positive role, (by guaranteeing peace and postwar reconstruction), the inadequacies of the political system, and its inability to cope with real human needs, began to show, but it was difficult to appreciate. The system is blocked at nation-states and (because of the existence of the external walls) their fragility and incapacity to govern the present is not immediately obvious. This slows down the process of transcending the nation-state. However, as long as the external walls hold, attempts in this direction can be made again and again, apparently without disasters, and very slow progress is made towards this goal. When however a wall collapses (the USSR), then the situation finally becomes dramatically apparent not only to federalists. It is thus that people realize just how explosive the situation can become for lack of a concrete federal model. Yet, at the same time, a new possibility opens up: that of exploiting the more fluid situation to hasten the end of the nation-state where it is possible to do it immediately, for example in Europe. It should be pointed out that the beginning of the process of German unification was a chance to give a greater impulse, in parallel fashion, to that of European unification, and the fact that this did not happen may now the US heavily.
We should also consider the fact that while collaboration between the US and the USSR is an advantage for the UN on the one hand, it is becoming increasingly evident that the emerging American pre-eminence is making existing tensions harder to govern. This situation will continue, at least until it is possible to clearly demonstrate that the wishes of the UN are those of the world, and not those of the US. In this way, people are beginning to become aware not only of the historical necessity for world government, which has certainly existed for many years now, but also of its political necessity. The end of the bipolar equilibrium is thus the first fundamental fact which we must consider.
The second fact is represented by the contrast between nationalism and federalism in Central and Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Republics. The collapse of communist regimes has brought forth situations of tremendous conflict: ethnic, religious, racial, political and so on. In this context, for the first time in the history of organized federalism, there is an area in the world faced with the dramatic alternative of nationalism or federalism. Should the former win, we can expect progress towards World federation to be held up for a long time to come.
From the analysis of these two facts, it emerges very clearly that in the current context, we cannot ignore a parameter which till now has not been deemed of great importance (owing to the static nature of the world situation) in federalists’ action: the “time factor. “
2. The “time factor”.
This parameter has never really been part of the schemes which have governed federalist political action. This was because at every failure federalists knew that they could and must continue to fight, and at every partial success they considered that at least another stretch of the road had been covered. Whenever, in internal debate, an endeavour was pointed out as “the decisive battle”, it was easy to recall the permanent aspects of federalist action, linked to the concept of “trench warfare”. Another recurring argument was that a prerequisite for successful action is the historic occasion. This idea that we need external factors in order to be able to achieve the federalist plan is hard to refute: however I believe that we must not passively submit to this concept in the future. There are many reasons for this impression: first of all, at the point which the process of European unification has reached, one can, in a certain sense, speak of a permanent occasion, that is that now the question of European integration is always present in political debate. Besides, the continual negotiations among the Twelve over new appendices to the Treaty of Rome make it necessary to take up positions, to carry on debates, and to gather information, both in the political world and in that of the media. To sum up, all the ingredients are there for thinking that in these years we are really playing the final round: in other words, the fateful “decisive battle”.
Certainly this will have been said other times, but the end of the bipolar equilibrium, the context in which until now the MFE has conducted its campaigns, makes the “time factor”, as I have already mentioned, essential. In the present context, in fact, the struggle between nationalism and federalism takes on all the dramatic connotations of a true dilemma. We can no longer wait for the peoples who have not yet experienced nationhood to experience it in its entirety, just as we cannot wait for the Third World to begin its own industrial revolution, or for all countries to gradually become democracies. We cannot wait because there is no time: the problems facing humanity are enormous, and it is imperative that we begin tackling them with adequate measures, namely with resources which go well beyond those of single nation-states, if we want to avoid a dismal retrogression to medieval conditions. It appears that this is beginning to become obvious not only to groups of scientists, but also to all the countries linked to the CSCE; the problem is that their capacity to govern the events and explosive tensions present all over the planet is extremely modest, often resulting in the use of military force. If disruptive nationalist forces emerge victorious from this context, then the consequences will be disastrous: not only will world government, and thus peace, be no longer thinkable as a political objective, but the lasting incapacity to solve vital problems will lead to self-destruction. Thus we must recognize the importance of the “time factor”, and find effective answers that are as immediate as possible to confound nationalism.
In this context it appears to me right and proper that the MFE ask itself two fundamental questions: the first concerns how Central and Eastern Europe can be involved as early as possible in political integration of a federal nature; while the second concerns the problem highlighted by Saddam Hussein, namely to ensure that the UN becomes an effective embryonic world government, capable of proposing federal unification to the world, but also of imposing its will (and in this connection it seems to me an interesting suggestion to put at the service of the UN the military forces of the European countries without creating a European army).
3. The role of federalists.
Having looked at these new facts and having examined the “time factor”, it remains to identify the role of federalists. To do this we must take as our starting point not only the preceding considerations, but also two fundamental facts concerning the MFE’s raison d’être: 1) the MFE exists because it has been up to now a politico-cultural avant-garde, that is it was able to understand the evolution of the world sooner than others, and it was aware that the course of history was leading towards the unity of mankind (without which the human race would incur the risk of self-destruction). Therefore it oriented its political action and cultural reflections around the idea of World federation as a means for achieving peace and global democracy. 2) The MFE exists because it has had a specific role in the battle for the unity of Europe; without the presence of the federalists, in fact, the battles that have brought us to the threshold of European federation would not have been fought. And if in these campaigns we have sometimes been helped by others, nevertheless no political force has ever acted having this specific objective, and has therefore never had the same determination as federalists in pursuing it.
These two elements are essential to the existence of the MFE. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, federalists have lost the capacity to be the political vanguard, because they have not concentrated on the emerging priority of giving an answer to Eastern Europe; and they have lost the specific nature of their role in the construction of European unity, by supporting prevalently, during the period of the Italian presidency, the Economic and Monetary Union, which is today supported by other forces. This position was not wrong (with a European currency the sovereignty of the nation-state is defeated), but now, while watching out for possible obstacles to a single currency, it is necessary to assume a more “radical” role in upholding Political Union and the constituent mandate to the European Parliament. This is also important for growth in the Movement’s strength and for the sections’ activity; it also allows the Movement to operate in Eastern Europe.
Today, therefore, we must be more radical in maintaining our traditional constituent position, supporting campaigns all over Europe; we must enter into the debate on the relationship between the EEC and Central and Eastern European countries. We must condemn the rebirth of nationalism in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union, forcefully presenting the federalist alternative, and we must work alongside world federalists for the reform of the UN.
But above all we must act quickly: the facts examined earlier necessitate a sharp acceleration in the process towards European federation, and then towards World federation. Our task is, as always, the identification of the best possible means to influence these processes, coming up with incisive campaigns which involve all the forces that believe in the possibility and necessity of participating in building a new world order.