Year XXXVI, 1994, Number 2 - Page 95




European Citizenship and European Identity
European federalism and the crisis of militant political thought.
The authors of the Ventotene Manifesto who, in 1941, launched an appeal for a free and united Europe were resolved to save modem civilisation, whose existence was threatened by the overwhelming and destructive violence of nazism and fascism. In this sense they formed an integral part of the great popular resistance movement in which also traditional political forces participated. But differently to those forces, the federalists put forward a completely new way to conceive of the State and international relations. In the final analysis, for the federalists, responsibility for the European disaster lay in the incapacity of traditional political thought to overcome the limitations of internationalism: the democratic, liberal and socialist parties deluded themselves that a peace treaty signed at Versailles could safeguard peace in a Europe of great powers. None of the great political traditions of the 19th century had denounced the myth of absolute sovereignty as the primary cause of tension and war, and at the moment of the clash, in 1914, all the parties lined up to support their respective governments, suppressing all internal dissension which, when it existed, was unable to go beyond the sterile protests of anti-militarists and pacifists. For this reason the Ventotene Manifesto spoke of the need to organise a “revolutionary party.”[1] This proposal was to be understood not only in the sense that the immediate post-war period was foreseen as being characterised by a period of disorder in which a well-organised and strongly-determined force would have succeeded in directing the stream of popular enthusiasm along the path of European unification, but also in the wider political sense of the continuation, albeit with new objectives and different methods, of a tradition of thought that the parties had betrayed. Through the European federation, the ideals which the pacifists and internationalists within the parties had displayed themselves totally incapable of defending and promoting, would have been realised.
This substantial continuity of action with the militant political tradition, was translated, in the post-war period, into a precise strategy. The European Federalist Movement, at the moment in which concrete possibilities of fighting for a European federation manifested themselves, chose the constituent method without hesitation, re-proposing for the construction of European unification what the revolutionary Americans at Philadelphia had previously done in their 1787 Convention. In essence, for the European federalists, the constituent process is the only available method for building the European federation in democratic countries. Under the constituent method, the representatives of the people elaborate a new constitutional charter which subsequently has to be ratified by the member states. The European federalists have always adopted this model of action through countless battles, even when an appeal to the European people may have seemed a desperate and utopian undertaking to those who know only how to follow the well-worn paths of ordinary political action. These well-worn paths are by definition national, since the struggle for power is a national one until a European federation exists.
For this reason, and due to the fact that the European governments did not want to accept the democratic means proposed by the federalists, the building of Europe began and progressed using the gradualist method of Jean Monnet. This enabled the implementation of partial transfers of sovereignty over important aspects of political life (as happened in practice for the European Coal and Steel Community) as the first step toward the construction of a real and effective European federation at the end of the process. The Jean Monnet and constituent methods are not contradictory. Steps forward toward European integration, if they lead to corresponding institutional reinforcement, can favour a subsequent constituent decision. But it is clear that the European federation will not spring from an infinite succession of partial reforms. Sooner or later it will be necessary to pose the constitutional question so that European citizens can understand that the European union represents a new form of State (an international State) only if the entire European edifice is erected on constitutional foundations, as must happen for any democratic State.
This is the political perspective that is imposing itself with ever greater clarity following the ratification of the Maastricht treaty. This treaty creates a European Union that is in substance considerably closer to the typical institutions of a federal State: the European parliament votes confidence in a Commission, which carries out the functions of a European government. Monetary sovereignty, moreover, is transferred from the national level to the European one. However these federal aspects are suffocated by the excessive powers of the Council of Ministers, within which for many crucial aspects the opposing will of one country can block the decision-making process, thus achieving in practice the real and effective dictatorship of the minority. Maastricht, then, is a partly federal and partly confederal construction, and difficult for the ordinary citizen to understand. Nevertheless, in the Maastricht treaty there exists a breech (European citizenship) through which the democratic forces favourable to the definitive transformation of the Union into a real federation can progressively infiltrate themselves.
The issue is still little understood by public opinion and politicians, but the recognition of European citizenship causes contradictions to emerge that are so strident that it will be very difficult for the European institutions to avoid long term the growing demands for European democracy. And European democracy is impossible without federalism. After Maastricht, the European federation is no longer an ideal, but rather a requirement of good government. With the decision to establish an economic and monetary union the European governments have now entrusted the European institutions, in particular the Commission, with the power to direct and determine the development of the European economy. It is an enormous power, and unthinkable that it should remain in the hands of a bureaucracy that is not answerable to anyone. In all democratic regimes, monetary and economic policy do not escape the control of parliament. On the European level, there exists a parliament with few powers, but nevertheless sufficient to claim greater ones, if the parties represented within it had the will to fight for them. In other words, all the conditions for activating a circuit consisting of European citizens, European parties, the European parliament, and the European government are present. In essence, this is the political dynamic of a federal state.
The Europeans therefore find themselves on the threshold of a European federation. With the recognition of European citizenship, the battle for democratic European government through the direct participation of citizens in its construction finally becomes possible and necessary. The federalists have fought for this objective on other occasions, and in at least two cases, those of the European Defence Community (1952-54) and the Spinelli Project approved by the European parliament in 1984, they almost achieved it. But the opposition of some European governments (initially France, later the United Kingdom) caused the initiative to fail. The current situation is different. Maastricht establishes a pre-federal union. The new, open opposition of the governments will be increasingly difficult if the federalists succeed in mobilising, at least in certain decisive European countries, the European people. But to do this, to be up to the task at hand, they must call on all their resources of thought and action – in short they must show European citizens that the European federation is the only real alternative to the crisis of democracy, which is currently betrayed by all those parties which consider the fight for national power as the priority. In Europe, the parties have forgotten their idealistic roots, and for this reason continue to ignore the democratic claims of European citizens. The most evident sign of this betrayal is the fact that the very word of revolution (i.e. the perspective of the emancipation of the entire human race) has disappeared from their political programmes.
Epitaph for the revolution.
The crisis of the traditional political ideologies, which has manifested itself all over the world as a growing scepticism toward political activity, has been further worsened in the wake of the end of the cold war. For a brief moment it was believed that the collapse of communism would represent the definitive triumph of democracy and the free market. There were even some who were able to talk about the end of history,[2] as if the “real” democracy, personified by the democratic regimes that have developed in the West, represented the destination point of modern political thought and of the political movements that have generated it. Or rather, if it is possible to admit with ease that ultimately the cold war was won by the liberal and democratic regimes of the West, it is also true that the world is very far from having achieved democracy as government of the people – so much so that some consider it more appropriate to call polyarchical[3] the regimes that currently call themselves democratic. To these considerations it is necessary to add not only that many peoples are still far from any form of representative government and political pluralism, but also that in the contemporary world there survives among the democratic countries themselves a hierarchy of powers in international politics, with a superpower that occupies a position of world leadership. It is extremely difficult for a political order in which some countries are more important than others to call itself democratic. An American citizen has on the average a much greater power to influence world politics than other inhabitants of the world. If the degree of democracy currently reached were sufficient to make the planet evolve towards a situation of greater liberty, equality and justice, it would probably also be possible to accept that, albeit imperfectly, a stage close to the “end” of universal history had been reached. But the same facts of international politics force us to come to a very modest conclusion on this subject. There has reappeared in Europe, with the practice of ethnic cleansing in ex-Jugoslavia, a form of atrocity that seemed impossible following the defeat of nazism and fascism. And equally threatening clouds are forming over the nationalities in the ex-Soviet republics. In the Third World, famine, mass poverty and war continue to cause innumerable victims. The survival of the planet is threatened by an industrialisation that is still incapable of being reconciled with respect for the environment. Mono-polarism does not seem an acceptable alternative to the bi-polarism that is now defunct. The United States is unable to offer rational solutions to world problems, either in the immediate future, or for the next century. And since a planet without government is more likely to head toward disaster than toward the reign of Utopia, history, in as much as it represents also suffering and tragedy, is far from finished.
Nevertheless, traditional political thought seems unable to propose a rational and acceptable future for the whole of the human race. It is passively submitting to the criticism of those who would like politics to renounce its global vision, in other words ideology, and not concern itself with the destiny of the world, by projecting alternatives to the existing international order. In effect, the last political force that claimed to be the “party of world revolution” succeeded, in 1917, in achieving only the first step of that revolution. But to the extent that it consolidated the power that it had won, the global nature of that message of emancipation became weaker and weaker until it completely disappeared. The Bolshevik revolution represented the last attempt to think of the world as a community of destiny. As much as one can dissent from the Bolsheviks’ political programme, it is impossible to deny the global nature of their project. This revolution was none other than the first step of the world revolution, and would not have made sense without that perspective, as is testified to by the fierce controversy between Trotsky and Stalin over the permanent revolution. Nowadays, politics no longer seems capable of the same audacity. No party dares refer to revolutionary traditions – that, evidently, are not restricted to socialist developments, but trace back their roots much deeper, in the liberalism and democracy of the age of the enlightenment.
It is worth recalling an episode that testifies to a widely-held perception of politics nowadays: an epoch in which we should accept nothing but an ordinary way of life, a sacred respect for the existing order, notwithstanding the fact that the whole world daily experiences the tragedy of the organised violence of the states or armed bands that claim to be states. Recently, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the insurrection of the Vendee against the revolutionary and centralising power of Paris, Alexander Solzhenitsyn could assert: “The word ‘revolution’ (from the Latin revolvo) itself means ‘go backwards’, ‘return’, ‘try again’, ‘re-alight’, in the best of cases turn upside down, a sequence of meanings that is hardly enviable. These days, the epithet ‘great’ is no longer assigned to a revolution, except with circumspection and often with a certain air of complaint. By now we understand ever more clearly that the social effect that we desire so ardently can be obtained through normal, incremental developments, with infinitely less loss, and without generalised savagery. We need to know how to improve patiently what we are daily offered. And it would be useless to hope that revolution might regenerate human nature, even though this is what your revolution, and in particular ours, the Russian revolution, had strongly hoped.”[4]
This funeral oration for the idea of revolution should be considered seriously. If for revolution one intends firstly the conquest with violence of political power, it is natural that those who consider themselves to be democrats instinctively reject this point of view. Many authoritarian regimes, including fascism and nazism, have abused the idea of revolution to suppress the democratic rule of alternating power and to affirm an absolutist regime. In this case the idea of revolution is used solely for the justification of the illegal suppression of the government. But the same attempt to falsify the situation occurs when a regime defines itself as democratic or socialist without being so at all in fact. We should not renounce use of the word democracy or socialism for this reason. Hence, even if it is true that past revolutions have engendered violence against regimes that did not allow a legal opposition, it is not violence which constitutes the essence of the idea of revolution.
The idea of revolution entered the cultural patrimony of politics to indicate the overcoming of an old order, the ancien régime, by a new and progressive order. From the sphere of political action, subsequently and by analogy, the idea of revolution was applied to the economy, where one talks of industrial revolution, for example; and to the history of science, where there exists a very broad debate on the structure of scientific revolutions; to the history of art, where one talks of aesthetic revolutions to indicate the passage from one style to another, such as impressionism compared to neo-classic art, and so on. There is no reason, then, why politics should renounce using a concept coined by itself. The only explanation lies in the fact that the traditional political currents, from liberalism to socialism, are no longer able to conceive of a project that represents effective progress for the human race, one that radically changes the perception of every individual’s future, as members of a political community. The great revolutions of the past, starting with the liberal revolutions of the 17th century, continue to merit the name of revolutions in history books because they altered not only the juridical and de facto situation of certain individuals in a certain place at a certain time, but because they offered a new perspective of change and progress for the entire human race. Revolutions mark the beginning of a new era of emancipation.[5]
It is on the basis of this more profound sense of the idea of revolution that Solzhenitsyn’s assertion, according to which “it would be useless to hope that revolution might regenerate human nature”, must be rejected. Here we can ignore the philosophical problem whether human nature can alter through time or not, and limit ourselves to the simple observation that the civilisation which we are living in is the fruit of countless revolutions that have altered the way in which people organise their relationships, by placing restraints on forms of behaviour that from time to time are judged to be “uncivilised”, and therefore repressed and punished by custom and the legal system. The modern state should be considered a superior form of civil co-habitation because it guarantees greater liberty, security and well-being to its citizens, compared to what used to occur in primitive times, in the rudimentary forms of association of the horde or the tribe. Incest, rape and cannibalism are considered normal behaviour among Australian aborigines and certain tribes of the deep Amazonian forest. They are no longer considered either normal or legal in the contemporary world. And even if these crimes have not completely disappeared from civilised societies because people will probably never succeed in completely suppressing their animal and instinctive natures, it should be observed that they are manifested in statistically small percentages with regard to the mass of behaviours that can be considered the norms of a civilised society. In this specific and limited sense it can therefore be asserted that the human condition has changed for the better. We could make other observations, such as that the average life-span for a person born into a pre-industrial society was around 35-40 years, while today it reaches, and exceeds, 75 years. Nevertheless, to guarantee this average longevity an efficient health organisation is necessary, and only a State that is well-governed can manage to develop such an entity. This is demonstrated by the fact that following the social and production difficulties which took place in the collapsing Soviet Union, a drastic fall in the average life-span of its inhabitants occurred. The examples could go on. The underlying point is, however, that only through better political institutions is it possible to ensure the visible progress of the human condition. Politics is that part of social activity in which people exercise the greatest degree of liberty compatible with the existing historical conditions. The Greek city, the Roman empire, and so on, are the fruit of the passions and struggles of people that had a certain vision of the political order and that fought and won against alternative conceptions of civilised common life. Politics is impossible, or is reduced to the simple administration of the existing situation, without a vision of the world, a Weltanschauung, an ideology which explicitly expresses the values that it is intended to pursue, and the necessary means for their implementation. Only in a technical sense is politics the struggle for power. Without values, politics does not exist.
Naturally, it is possible to object at this point, along with Solzhenitsyn, that there is no intention whatsoever to deny change or progress, but that this should be pursued “through normal, incremental developments”, in other words without overthrowing any regime or existing political order. Even Kant, notwithstanding the fact that he welcomed the French revolution, later suggested that political change should come about only as a result of the proceeding of public debate and of the enlightened spirit of the prince. This viewpoint is important and can not be rejected out of hand. It is true that in many cases, particularly within democratic regimes, it would seem reasonable to hypothesize that only through the alternation of majority and opposition is normal progress possible. No radical and revolutionary change is necessary if we admit that reason makes itself progressively appreciated by citizens. This argument is nevertheless only partly true. The political institutions that have historically asserted themselves, intrinsically demonstrate varying degrees of flexibility, but also rigidity, as regards the limits that can not be crossed without putting into question the institutions themselves. Gaetano Mosca indicated in his “political formula” the grouping of ideas that legitimate a certain form of government or State. In a society that allows slavery and survives by it as a productive force, it is possible to achieve, as in classical Greece, very advanced forms of civil co-habitation, but not democracy in the modern sense that all citizens must participate freely in the political process. In the ex-USSR, the attempt of Gorbachev to reform the collective system with gradual doses of democracy and the market has, up to a certain point, called into question the principles of Leninism, on which the whole Soviet order was based. It is possible to imagine endless reforms that can be made within a certain political formula, but not those that undermine the legitimacy of established power.
And in this precise sense the traditional ideologies (liberalism, democracy and socialism) have lost their capacity to plan for the future, that is to give convincing answers to the problems that spur on the human race. To the extent that the major questions of our time take on a global dimension, while the political forces that look to traditional political thought continue to envisage solutions within the “internationalist political formula”, in other words through simple intergovernmental cooperation, an alternative democratic political order to the world of national states will never emerge. Those who really want to build an international order in which it is the citizens, and not governments, that are the protagonists of world politics, should call into question the myth of national sovereignty. This is the essence of the federalist message. Politics will continue to be looked on with suspicion by young people, and national democratic institutions will suffer a continuous waning of support, until citizens are able to participate in the great world decisions that put their future at risk. If the crucial choices regarding war and peace, North-South dialogue and the ecological protection of the planet remain the monopoly of a few government bureaucrats, enclosed in splendid palaces, far from indiscreet eyes, and from the criticisms of public opinion, national politics will increasingly bore the ordinary citizen. The crisis of politics is the crisis of those who think that democracy is unable to go beyond the boundaries of the national state.
Federalism and the great revolutions of the past.
The great revolutions of the modern age represent the final stage of a long period of intellectual and social turmoil in which new political thinking was displayed, and a new way of organising relationships between individuals ultimately asserted itself. Today, the world is upset by shocks and violence, such that it will be possible to return to normal civilian life only by a radical reworking of the international order. For this reason it is necessary to rethink the potentiality of contemporary political ideologies, and return to their revolutionary origins. It was while the great revolutions were underway that the language of politics itself (right and left, conservatism and progress, for example) was shaped and the fundamental institutions of modern associative life were born (the State based on law, representative democracy, and so on). Revolutions represent moments of supreme tension when mankind asserts a new beginning in history. The revolution is the start of a new era in which a novel way of organising political and social power is achieved, and the human condition itself is altered both as an immediate effect of the institutional reforms and through a new way of thinking about the future that pervades the whole of associative life. Revolution is inseparable from the idea of progress and the course of history. For this reason every revolution that is conscious of its worth establishes profound roots in the past.
Contemporary politics has lost the memory of its past. With the collapse of the USSR and communism, the last ideology that boasted of a direct link with the revolutionary tradition has also been overcome. This does not solely concern relationships between the Soviet regime and the October revolution. There is an evident historical continuity between the great revolutions of the modern age. The Bolsheviks claimed to be the legitimate descendants of the French revolution, bringing to conclusion a historical development that had seen, initially, the bourgeoisie triumph over the aristocracy and, finally, the liberation of the proletariat and the disappearance of the class struggle itself. The strength of communism as a political idea consisted in large part of its constant call to continuity with the revolutionary tradition. It was partly for this reason that the USSR was able for decades to fulfil the role of a great power, and successfully counter the Western order that was relegated to the conservative camp.
An awareness of the continuity of the historical process is therefore a mobilising and strength-giving factor per se. Every revolution, imposing itself as the motor of contemporary history, interprets and renews all previous political thought. The American revolution was mainly inspired by the English revolution of 1688, and the French revolution by the American one. It is as if people, in their untiring search for a better world, are concerned always to depart from the outpost that has already been conquered. An appreciation of the revolutionary roots of political action provides a measure of the capacity to innovate. Those who lack the courage to speak of revolution, renounce the concept of radical politics itself, that is of a politics that does not solely pursue the changes that are made possible from previous victories, but that would introduce into political life a new way of conceiving of relationships between individuals.
The American revolution, whose significance is not yet fully understood, marks an important milestone in the history of the world. In 1787, the first federal constitution in history represented the climax of a long process, begun with the claim to independence of the thirteen American colonies. Without union, the independence and self-government won by the colonies would have been impossible to maintain, both because of the conflicts that would have undoubtedly emerged among the colonies themselves, and because of the policy of interference practised by the European powers in America.
The American federal constitution, nevertheless, became part of the political culture of those times only because of its democratic content, and not as a possible new way to organise international relations peacefully. The outbreak of the French revolution, which occurred in the same year that the government in Washington was established, attracted the attention of the world to much more dramatic and disturbing events. The fall of the ancien régime called into question the whole social and political structure of the European States. It threw down the gauntlet to the old world. The same rights of independence and self-government were asserted in the French revolution that the American colonies had claimed, but the new achievements concerned a great European power, and the rights were proclaimed in the name of the entire human race. For this reason the French revolution spread everywhere and marked the start of a new area, overshadowing the federal aspects of the American revolution.
The French revolutionaries that had overcome the old monarchical institutions established the authority of the new republican government on the national principle, and the identity of the State and the nation represented the new paradigm of international political existence. The innovative meaning of the American federal constitution remained a message to posterity, entrusted to the pages of The Federalist, and did not become an active principle of political life. In time the Americans themselves moved away from the original federal aspirations of their constitution, both in foreign policy, where imperialism was substituted for the practice of enlarging the union, and in internal policy, where progressive centralisation strongly reduced the original autonomy of the States. In Europe the destiny of federalism was to oppose weakly, and unsuccessfully, triumphant nationalism. In France, federalism was fought against as a principle that would disintegrate the centralised state. In Italy, federal projects were proposed to achieve political unity, but in reality, in a Europe dominated by power politics, the centralised state model imposed itself. In Germany, federalism followed a similar fate; in fact the Germany of Bismarck set up a federal constitution only in name, in which Prussia stood above the other German States. In Great Britain, federalism was proposed as a possible solution to avoid the collapse of the colonial empire, but without overcoming the national concept of a Greater Britain, in which the individual colonies of the Commonwealth would have enjoyed lesser powers than those of the mother country. In all these instances, the federal project was therefore subordinated to the nationalist perspective. Even the federations that were born in the era of nationalism (Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and others) became, in turn, nations. The Bolshevik revolution asserted itself in dispute with democracy and with federalism, notwithstanding the fact that the first Soviet constitution had had to be defined “federal” in an impossible attempt to reconcile the single-party regime with the republics’ hopes for autonomy.
The legacy of the revolution: the rights of man and of the citizen.
One of the most significant phases of the revolutionary tradition, for the consequences it had on the course of world events, consisted of the proclamation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (26th August, 1789). With this solemn gesture, the French constituent assembly placed the old political and social order, based on divine power and class divisions, definitively into crisis, and opened the era of democracy and equality. The subject became a citizen, that is a holder of rights and duties. From then on only the people would be the legitimate depository of power. This simple idea, but one pregnant with innovative consequences, impinged on all those regimes that, in France and throughout the world, had attempted to suppress, usurp or limit the fundamental liberty of individuals to choose their own government.
The significance of the 1789 declaration lies in the effort made by the constituents to draw up a text of a universal nature. The Bill of Rights had already been approved in the course of the English revolution, and many American colonies had founded their institutions on similar texts. But the French constituents wanted to go beyond this; they did not seek to affirm rights only for their own fellow nationals, but for the entire human race. For this reason Kant could assert that the French revolution had aroused “a participation of aspirations that borders on enthusiasm” and that “such a phenomenon in the history of humanity will never be forgotten, since it has revealed in human nature an openness toward, and a force for, improvement.”[6]
Nowadays it is said that we live in an age of rights.[7] Liberalism has progressively asserted itself through the affirmation of liberal rights (freedom of expression, of the press, of association, etc.); democracy through the affirmation of political rights (universal suffrage, political pluralism, etc.); and socialism through the so-called social rights (controls on child labour, night work, and the right to work and health assistance, etc.). These represent gains that, depending on the period and the country, are making progress everywhere. Nobody openly questions these rights any longer, in as much as they are national rights, even if some dictatorial regimes deny them. But precisely because they are placed in opposition to the flow of history these regimes are weak; they survive only due to military bullying and they live on the margins of the international community.
The sole rights that are ignored in the “age of rights”, that remain solely a declaration of principles, without any significant implementation, are cosmopolitan rights. The rights to liberty and to political and social equality can not concern only national citizens, but must be valid for people as human beings, for the citizens of the world. In theory, the universality requirement has made progress through history. Indeed, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that derived in essence from the 1789 declaration, but it then entrusted enforcement to individual national governments. The countless violations of these rights by not only authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, but also by democratic ones (restricting migratory movements, denying the right to vote to “foreigners”, and so on) are more than evident enough. The political reality is therefore very far from the ideal world that these same national states proposed to achieve. What is rational is not yet real. The contemporary world is for this reason scarred by a profound gulf between facts and values.
Natural law and positive law.
The basis of the declarations of the rights of man is the doctrine of natural law. Rousseau began the Social Contract with the assertion, “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” But during the course of the 19th century this doctrine was severely criticised by legal positivists, and progressively fell into disrepute. Natural laws do not exist, the jurists of positive law maintain, because there are no citizens in the state of nature, prior to the formation of the State as a juridical organism and fount of law. Only the foundation of the State, thanks to its powers of government and coercion, can ensure respect for the rights of individual citizens. It is the State that creates law, not natural law that creates the State. Kelsen goes as far as to argue for the identity of State and juridical order: the state is the legal system.[8]
Very similar criticisms, nevertheless, had already been made by Hamilton, concerning the demand to precede the American constitution by a charter of rights. According to Hamilton, the bills of rights “would sound much better in a treatise of ethics than in a constitution of government”. Consider the freedom of the press. This can be enforced only if the constitution recognises as legitimate also the power to punish those who violate it. Otherwise the declarations of rights remain a pure invocation, a prayer that everybody can ignore, as happens today for the universal declaration of the rights of man. It is nonsense to proclaim a certain action illegitimate for which there exists no corresponding power of punishment. For Hamilton, “the Constitution is itself, in every national sense, and to every useful purpose, a bill of rights.”[9]
Hamilton’s objections are entirely pertinent and can only be superseded within a wider cultural context than the doctrine of positive law. It is true that natural rights do not exist in the state of nature prior to the emergence of the State as a political organism, but it is also true that they exist as claims of reason. Since reason is universal, what holds for an individual must hold for all individuals. People want justice. Positive law must on the contrary conciliate justice with interest and power relations. For this reason, the dialectic between positive law and just law is unsuppressible.[10]
In declarations of rights certain demands relating to the established powers are laid down, and these powers should commit themselves to respecting these demands, and to enforcing them. They represent an effective or potential restraint on the power of one man over another. It is for this reason that declarations of rights often concern a group of attitudes that goes beyond the field of action of the existing constitutions. No constitution is perfect. This is the limit of Hamilton’s observations. Even the American constitution, in which the freedoms of expression and the press are recognised and explicitly protected, did not manage to guarantee these rights in their entirety during the years of McCarthyism, since the defence of American raison d’état with regard to the USSR allowed a chauvinistic movement to orchestrate a real and effective witch-hunt against individuals suspected of communism.
The issue is dealt with in its entirety by Kant: “The problem of establishing a perfect civil constitution depends on the problem of law-governed external relations among states and cannot be solved unless the latter is.”[11] This means that declarations of rights will not possess a definite significance until the world federation is established. Every right, if it must be truly valid for all individuals, prefigures the claim toward a world power that today does not yet exist, and that therefore is unable to guarantee universal rights. Only in a world federation will cosmopolitan rights exist. Nowadays, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is none other than the foreshadowing of cosmopolitan law, or, for those who want to translate the declaration into a political programme, a starting point for the elaboration of a manifesto for action on a global scale.
European citizenship is the first positive affirmation of cosmopolitan law.
To measure empirically what concrete progress the process of human emancipation can gain from the realisation of European unity, let us consider the meaning of European citizenship, as foreseen in the Maastricht Treaty, compared to the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
Art. 1– Men are born and remain free and have equal rights. The universality of this assertion, as mentioned above, has been clearly violated by the national principle. No national State recognises foreigners as legal subjects. The UN’s attempt to affirm the universal nature of the principles of 1789, runs up against the insurmountable obstacle of absolute national sovereignty. Only recently, and in particular circumstances, has the so-called “right of interference” made any headway, namely the attempt through UN-directed action to impose respect for individual rights that are violated by despotic governments. But we are still very far from effective juridical guardianship, with the rights of citizens supported on a world scale by coercive power.
The Maastricht treaty asserts that “anyone who has the citizenship of a member State is a citizen of the Union.” This means that European citizens can make claims to the European Court of Justice hold against anyone (including a national government different from their own one) who violates their rights. European citizenship, in this way, is added to the national ones, establishing a real and effective post-national political community. In essence, the European Union has achieved the first pacific form of co-habitation between citizens of different nations in history. The US also represents a melting pot, that is a multi-ethnic and multi-racial society very similar to the European one.[12] But the substantial difference is that Europe unites national States, in other words the national political communities that are territorially organised. The prerogative of the national States has always been that of asking their citizens to die for the fatherland and to kill for its defence. In the European union, the right not to kill other Community citizens in war has been asserted de facto, since controversies between member states are by now no longer resolved through military confrontation. Nevertheless it would be opportune if this implicit right were cited explicitly in the European constitution, so that even non-Community peoples can become aware of the profoundly innovative nature of the European Union. European citizenship establishes a post-national, but pre-cosmopolitan, legal status, in as much as other peoples must necessarily remain excluded from the European Union.
Art. 2 – The goal of all political association is the preservation of the natural and inalienable rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance against oppression. In this article, the main liberal rights are set out. Over the two centuries since the French revolution, political and social rights have been added to these fundamental rights. Let us examine them in order. a) In the Europe of the internal market (a market without frontiers), the so-called four liberties have by now been almost completely realised: namely, the freedom of movement of peoples, goods, services and capital. The achievement of post-national civil rights has been implemented, then, even with the weak European power of the current Community. But it should be recalled that many rights connected with the implementation of the internal market (such as the mutual recognition of academic qualifications, the freedom of market entry throughout the territory of the Community, impossible without a single currency) are still very far from effective realisation. b) The set of European political rights is summed up in the power of citizens to elect their own government. Under this aspect, therefore, we find ourselves faced with the problem of the “democratic deficit” of the Community and with the need to overcome it through the implementation of an effective federal constitution. On this subject it should only be noted that the existence of a European parliament elected by universal suffrage clearly indicates the path along which to proceed. c) The achievement of social rights in the Community is more a formal, rather than a substantial, fact. Indeed, the group of social rights (the right to work, to balanced regional development, to the safeguarding of the natural, urban and cultural environment, etc.) depends on active ad hoc policies. The case of employment, for which satisfactory results can be reached only through a combination of monetary, fiscal and social policies at the European level, is typical. This concerns the effective powers of political economy, which the Community will have fully at its disposal only to the extent that the democratic deficit is overcome.
In conclusion, cosmopolitan rights widen the scope and reinforce the content of liberal, social and political rights. Thanks to the conquest of cosmopolitan rights, citizens can finally be freed from the condition of moral and civil minority in which the ideology of nationalism relegated them.
Art. 3 – The origin of absolute sovereignty resides fundamentally in the nation. With this article, the French constituent assembly substituted for the principle of divine right, an equally arbitrary principle, that of the nation (in other words, a natural phenomenon or a myth), as the fount of legitimacy for the republican government. In any event this concerns the past, namely the nation-States. It is now clear that the European Union can not derive any source of legitimacy from a hypothetical “European nation”. To talk of Europe as a “nation of nations” is a nonsense, since the principle of nationality imposes one and only one national identity on its citizens (they are Italians or Germans, etc.).
Whence, then, does the European Union’s legitimacy derive? The answer can be found in a shrewd assertion of Thomas Paine: “Government without a constitution is power without a right.”[13] For this extremely simple reason, neither the Community, nor the Europe of Maastricht, represent solid political institutions. They are entities that do not derive from the popular will. Only the European parliament, the sole legitimate representative of European citizens, would have been able to draw up a constitutional project that respected the popular will. Maastricht is an octroyée constitution, granted by governments that are concerned solely to yield the smallest amount of powers possible to European citizens. Through the Maastricht treaty, the national governments (the ancien régime) have created the semblance of European democracy (citizenship, a tiny amount of co-decision, etc.), but not its substance – a democratic government. Hence it ought to be concluded that the entire European Community power system, until such time as it is based on popular consent through a real federal constitution, must be considered illegitimate.
European identity.
The components of a political community (a party, a city, a State) must possess certain shared and distinguishing characteristics. Identity is defined in relation to others. The identity of a people, therefore, regards those aspects of their own cultural life that are recognised as their specific contribution to the patrimony of the understanding of the human race.
From this viewpoint, European history has shown how in Europe certain scientific facts and forms of political (thanks to the great ideologies of liberalism, democracy and socialism) and legal life (the nation-state included) have developed that have progressively become the common patrimony of the human race. It is possible then to assert that European identity consists of the universal aspects of European culture. It is from Europe that the enlightenment, rationalism, scientific research and modem technology, emerged. The whole world has made this culture its own, thereby widening ever more the material bases of global interdependence. Even the Third World, which in many ways finds itself currently at the other extreme from the so-called industrialised world, provides testimony through its struggles of the extent to which the universal values of European culture allow all people, however abject their material living conditions may be, to join progressively a community of free and equal people. It is in the name of the universal rights of man that the emancipation of the Third World becomes possible.
Nevertheless, this world that is unified by culture, the market and political interdependence, remains unable to think out and achieve concrete forms of equality among peoples, namely international democracy. The answer lies in federalism. The European federation is the institutional model to organise relations between the nations peaceably. As Albertini has written, the European federation, by becoming a subject of world politics, would represent also “a great cultural fact”. This would concern “the establishment of the multinational model, which is truly human, in the historical seat of the nations itself; the first appearance of the political culture of the unity of the human race... At this point, there would no longer be European culture, but simply the culture of all, a universal human culture, at the second stage of its appearance.”[14]
This now concerns being aware that European citizens will necessarily have a political identity and a cultural identity that will enter into fruitful contradiction with each other. The political identity of European citizens will be defined from day to day by the debate that will be fed, in the context of the European Union, by the European political parties, cultural forces and the mass media. Hence a European public space will be formed with regard to the battle for European power. It will be participation in the Union government, through debate, that will shape the character of European citizens, and hence their political identity. The parties will be able to conquer the trust of European citizens to the extent that they will be able to demonstrate a capacity to fight for the defence of Europe’s interests and vocation. European political identity will be unable to coincide completely with its cultural dimension, since European politics will only be partially identified with the cosmopolitan ambitions of its culture. The identity of culture and political system has been a requirement of nationalism which the European Union will no longer be able to satisfy. Hence, any effort to generate European patriotism, notwithstanding the fact that Europe, in as much as it will be a sovereign state, will certainly strive for the defence of its own interests against the interests of the rest of the world, will be in vain. Eventually, it will be possible to talk, as Habermas maintains, of constitutional patriotism,[15] namely of a loyalty towards the democratic constitution of the European Union. Constitutional patriotism is a form of public behaviour, of respect for democracy and its institutions.
This contradiction between the political and cultural identities of European citizens represents the seed of a federalist world dynamic that deserves to be analysed in its fundamental aspects.[16] The nation-states of the past exploited the institutions of national defence and education to impose the national identity on their citizens. This represented the real occult manipulation of consciences, through national ideology, by the political authority. The army and schools were the longa manus of governments for directing the individual lives of citizens who were reduced to the state of passive subjects, as is demonstrated by the fact that in the army “passive and absolute” obedience is demanded. Let us now consider the meaning of these institutions in the European Union.
European defence and European identity.
The nation-State was able to ask its citizens to “die for the fatherland”. The State, which emerged in the modem age as a means to guarantee the life and well-being of its subjects, was in this way transformed into an instrument of death. The extreme sacrifice of life was historically justified by the inevitable battle for power within the system of sovereign states. A people’s combined achievements of civilisation were threatened with destruction if the State was overthrown by foreign aggression. In the world of sovereign states only the strong survive. These are the explanations that justified the search for maximum power in foreign policy, and the formation of well-trained national armies as the sole possible means to guarantee security.
The European Union is emerging into a world context in which, albeit still with unsure steps, a policy of detente among the industrialised countries that confronted each other during the era of the cold war, is asserting itself. This does not yet represent peace, but rather only the necessary recognition of common rules for managing new forms of cooperation and integration between East and West. But it is sufficient to eliminate from the international scene, barring a dramatic and illusory return to the past, the image of the superpower as a mortal enemy. Micronationalism, that has returned to the spotlight of history the nazi principle of ethnic cleansing, seems unable to disturb the larger process of European integration that is currently underway. Micronationalism shares with classic nationalism the idea of ethnic and racial purity. It is a form of exclusivity and political fundamentalism. However, unlike the nationalism of the past it does not propose the domination of the world through military conquest and imperialism. The cold war is over because mankind has recognised the folly of a policy of military supremacy in the nuclear age. Micronationalism can not upset the course of world politics.
The structural characteristics of international politics will define the fundamental aspects of Europe’s foreign policy, and its military security. Europe no longer has enemies to fight against among the countries of the North of the world. There are no superpowers which can reasonably aspire to hegemonic pretensions and launch a potentially fatal attack against Europe. It is only in the South of the world, particularly from the Mediterranean, that threats to its security arise: terrorism is the weapon of the poor. In any event, the politics of military confrontation must be subordinated to policies of co-operation and detente, not for humanitarian reasons, but because of simple political calculation. Europe is a happy island surrounded by poor and desperate peoples. It is impossible to prevent the assault of the dispossessed from Asia and Africa by building ever more impenetrable borders. Europe’s best response to its security problem is an effective contribution toward the development of the South.
To the extent that Europe will have to intervene militarily beyond the European continent, it will only be able to do so legitimately under the insignia of the UN. Europe’s colonial past does not permit it any other choice. European security will increasingly depend on the military strengthening of the UN. The creation of a world army must therefore become the priority of European foreign policy. The specific contribution that the European Union can give to its security is the formation of a European contingent of “blue helmets”, the European section of a world force for peace.
Young Europeans will not be called to die for a European fatherland. A European federal State, not a national community, will exist. The European political class will not be able to invoke a common ethnic and blood identity in order to demand absolute loyalty from European citizens. European foreign policy will be based on the pure and simple defence of the interests of Europeans, not of a mythical “fatherland”. It will not therefore be possible to conceal the real motivations for mobilising a European peace force behind ideological veils. Clearly, it will be impossible to eliminate the temptation for a European government to resort to force to defend its own interests. But it will be extremely difficult to find young people willing to sacrifice their lives to defend interests rather than ideals. An occasional imperialistic impulse will not suffice to overturn the great trends of world politics. Imperialism and power politics are no longer the order of the day in history in the wake of the collapse of the USSR and the unstoppable decline of the US as a superpower. Europeans will be called on to construct a fairer and more peaceful international order, through the gradual strengthening and democratisation of the only institution that possesses a world vocation, the UN – in whose government not only rich countries, but also poor ones, can participate.
The school system and European identity.
The school system is the institution through which culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. Even though scholastic systems differ from country to country, it seems possible to assert that there are two causes that condition progress in the field of education. The first concerns constraints deriving from work conditions, and that often impose on young people studies which are limited to professional ends, when there does not exist the much more dramatic constraint of having to renounce studying completely or in part (as in many poor countries of the South, that have extremely low education levels). Secondly, education is conditioned by the political authority which, by imposing curricula with a nationalist misrepresentation of the facts of history (the French celebrate Napoleon, the English Wellington, etc.), manipulate culture to obtain maximum loyalty from its own citizens. The subordination of schools to the political authority is a phenomenon that is so pervasive in the history of the European nation-States that Ortega y Gasset could even put forward a “principle of education”, according to which “the school, as a normal institution of a country, depends much more on the public atmosphere in which it exists as an integral part than on the pedagogical atmosphere that is produced artificially within its walls.”[17] Therefore, according to Ortega y Gasset, it follows that it is impossible to have a good school in a State that is unable to promote the universal values of culture. The European educational systems, however pedagogically effective, have all been poisoned by the ill-fated culture of nationalism, whose major aberration consisted of placing the idol of the nation above the values of religion, liberty and equality.
With the achievement of the European Union and a supernational scholastic system the “principle of education” can finally be overcome, in the sense that European scholastic institutions will no longer find insurmountable obstacles to the promotion and development of cosmopolitan culture. With the reciprocal recognition of academic qualifications within the European Union and the free circulation of people in the internal market, the national monopoly of the State school has now been undermined. The national scholastic systems will be forced to compare themselves, and to compete in guaranteeing the best cultural training to young people that, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the local and social circumstances, will be able freely to enter any national education system. Schools therefore will have to liberate themselves progressively from the shackles imposed by the national bureaucracy. Schools denationalise by becoming free to concern themselves with history as history of the human race, with literature as the expression of the taste and aesthetic of a certain age, and so on. In the European Union, the national States become, in turn, simply States of “national dimensions” since they no longer have to resort to the ideology of nationalism to survive. In effect they are losing functions towards the top (the European government) and towards the bottom (the regions and local authorities). The principle of subsidiarity holds for the member States of the European federation too: they should not try to implement policies that can be carried out with greater effectiveness at other government levels. The school system, therefore, can become an articulated educational institution at different government levels, according to its territorial relevance. For example, it is opportune that primary schools are run mainly by a municipal or city-district government, while universities can probably best be organised at the regional level. In educational matters, the national and European government levels should mainly fulfil co-ordinating and promotional roles, as in the case of advanced scientific research. But the concept of an education ministry that dictates scholastic programmes and regulates the minutiae of scholastic life is obsolete. In a post-national society there is no longer a role for the paternalistic State that maintains the institutions of culture in a minority condition. Schools must programme their educational activity in full independence, fully respecting scientific truth and the great civilising orientations laid down by the democratic constitution.
European schools will only become aware of their potential very slowly, because in the initial stage the European authority will find it difficult to avoid the temptation to imitate the old stereotypes of nationalism (it is sufficient here to recall the European Commission’s clumsy attempt to promote the drawing-up of scholastic texts with a “European” vision of history[18]). But it is easy to predict that these attempts will come to nothing, since the European scholastic system, once freed from the harness of the national bureaucracies, will certainly not allow itself to be easily gagged by an authority that lacks the ideological tool of a European “national” identity to defend. Moreover, thanks to improvements in economic conditions, the school-leaving age could be extended and a growing number of young people will be able to go on to university, which is already profoundly integrated into the world university system.
Thus, European schools will not find insuperable obstacles to implementing finally that educational plan which Kant discussed in his lessons on pedagogy: “Parents think of home the princes of the State. Neither the ones nor the others have as final objective the universal good and the perfection for which mankind is destined and they are gifted. And yet the concept of an educational plan must have a cosmopolitan bent.”[19] This represents a challenge. If European schools are able to present the educational plan proposed by Kant as their goal and the supreme ideal, then the education of European citizens will be able to proceed until the point at which even European political life will be able to liberate itself from the bonds imposed by the defence of selfish interests, so as to reconcile them with the common good, which in a world strictly interdependent can be none other than the summum bonum of the entire human race.
European federal society.
The concept that society is made up of a mass of isolated individuals, closed within their restricted family circle and daily interests has undergone, starting in the 19th century following the first social breakdowns caused by industrial development, growing criticisms from socialist political thought and the teachings of Christian solidarity. The liberal concept of the State recognises respect for certain fundamental citizen rights. But these rights, such as that to property and to the search for happiness, remain a dead letter for those who are deprived of the material means for their enjoyment. Without solidarity, a society of rights remains profoundly unjust.
The affirmation of the concept of solidarity (brotherhood, according to the revolutionaries of 1789) proceeded in stages, gradually, as socialist criticism managed to demonstrate effectively the limitations of individual charity and the need for corrective intervention by the State. If we exclude the collectivist experience, whose failure is recognised by the societies that experimented with it, it is possible to assert that the concept of solidarity has progressively established itself through the construction of the social State (the Etat providence in France, the welfare State in the Anglo-Saxon countries, and the Sozialstaat or social market in Germany).
The rise of the social State occurred in roughly three different stages, even if these partly overlap, depending on the countries and the time periods. The first stage, begun towards the end of the last century in Bismarck’s Germany, consisted of the introduction of initial forms of social security for illness, injury at work and the guarantee of a minimum pension to the elderly. If to these measures is added free elementary school education, it is possible to see how the ideal of social solidarity was realised not by transferring directly the wealth of the richest to the poorest, but through the guarantee to all citizens of a minimum of social services such that nobody was completely excluded from participating in collective life. This means guaranteeing the equality of opportunity. Differences in income remain, even if progressive taxation tends at least to smooth out the peaks, but these differences must not impede the less fortunate from a dignified life.
The second stage, corresponding roughly to the period following the second world war, consists of the recognition that the State must do what it can to guarantee a job to all citizens. A market-based economic system is unable to guarantee full employment to all those who are looking for a job. There can exist long phases of stagnation in the economy during which certain businesses go bankrupt and plant remains inactive due to a lack of demand. To avoid these negative effects of the market, the State can intervene using a combination of fiscal and monetary policies. This is the new Keynesian economic policy, based on the control of the great macroeconomic aggregates. Thanks to this active intervention by governments, the western economies in the post-war period enjoyed a long phase of stability and growth. The fundamental instruments of the full employment policies were the anti-unemployment funds, public investment and wages policy (to translate increases in productivity into new jobs). In recent years, due to growing international economic interdependence, Keynesian stabilisation policies required ever closer international co-ordination. In fact, this is one of the reasons that has induced European governments to launch the project of economic and monetary Union.
The third stage of the social state is only beginning, and the outline can be defined with difficulty. It seems to comprise of the need to change over to policies of solidarity between one individual and another, through the State, and going beyond the generic solidarity towards entire categories or social groups. The modem post-industrial society, while enabling an increase in material well-being and life-span (compared to time at work), to such an extent that people talk of an “opulent society”, also generates a series of problems and needs that were unknown in traditional societies. For example, the elderly are becoming considerably more numerous in relation to the working population. Mass communications destroy the residual social prejudices of the past, but uproot individuals from their communities of origin (the family, village, etc.), creating problems of insecurity and a lack of identity (drugs, child crime, illness without care, etc.). Hence, a difficult dynamic is established in which the great structures of collective assistance (for example, hospitals) no longer seem enough. Rather it has become increasingly necessary to intervene comprehensively with tailor-made solutions that only the voluntary and non-remunerated sector can provide (possibly backed up by traditional professional workers). This is the case for home assistance for the elderly, for the handicapped, for young people in search of a useful social role, and so on. If this type of assistance were to be met by expanding the traditional structures, public funds would rapidly be exhausted, or citizens would have to support an increasing fiscal pressure, that would in any event be insufficient to supply the type of personal assistance that only the individual knows how to provide. In reality, the public sector should in these cases only guarantee co-ordination among the growing groups of volunteers by introducing legislation and the minimum indispensable frameworks to match up those who seek help with those who offer it. In some cases, this concerns improving and broadening community service structures, that in certain instances arose as palliatives or substitutes for other public activities in decline (such as military service).
It should now be noted that while the first two phases of the development of the social state required the ever greater centralisation of the State, since only the national government could develop suitable health or pension services, or the combination of policies needed to reach full employment, the third stage requires the progressive strengthening of the local structures’ power to intervene, since the closer the public authorities are to individual citizens, the better they will satisfy their specific and personal requirements. To this end, a movement is underway in Europe opposite to the one in favour of the transfer of certain competences from the national level to the European one. Many centralised powers of the national bureaucracies (in particular certain powers in fiscal matters) need to be progressively transferred to the local communities so as to put them in the condition of exercising true self-government. Federalism represents the institutional model through which regions and municipal governments can reorganise the life of territorial communities smaller than the nation-State. In particular, regional planning and the rebirth of urban centres represent a key feature of this project, since the urban structure, and the town district within it, represent the expression of spontaneous solidarity, in other words the neighbourhood and street communities. In the town district the rebirth of the solidarity that in pre-industrial societies only the patriarchal family and the little mediaeval borough knew how to guarantee is possible (the elderly can undertake to help in the kindergartens, contribute to education in the elementary schools, supervise the public parks, and so on; the young can experiment with concrete forms of solidarity toward other needy young people, the elderly, the ill, and so on).
In addition, the federal State allows the realisation of a type of solidarity that is completely foreign to the ideology of the centralised nation-state, namely solidarity among different political communities. Indeed, it can happen, once political and fiscal autonomy is guaranteed to the local structures, that some cities or regions find themselves in a position of clear advantage over others, since they manage to guarantee their own citizens a better standard of living and social services. To avoid this drawback, federal States have established policies of territorially balanced growth; for example, federal grants in the US or Finanzausgleich among the German Länder. In Europe there exists the regional policy of the European Union, and the Maastricht treaty has established a fund in the Union budget for economic and social cohesion, with the goal of guaranteeing compensation to States with an income lower than a certain level. In federal States, therefore, not only vertical solidarity among rich and poor citizens, but also horizontal solidarity among territorial communities with different levels of per capita income, is possible.
To this different conception of solidarity in the federal State corresponds a different conception of citizenship. The French revolution, with its idea of the equality of all citizens, let democracy take an enormous step forward, since the republic overturned all social privileges, and economic (education for all) and political (ever broader suffrage) obstacles that still impeded the equal participation of all individuals in participating in the government. But the nation-State idea created at the same time borders, excluded foreigners from the political community and suffocated any pretensions to local autonomy. Federal citizenship is the exact opposite of this centralising and monolithic concept of community. National citizenship, in the framework of European citizenship, must not prevail either over the European one, or over the regional and local ones. The national level is one of the spheres in which solidarity among citizens is displayed. It is right that certain social services be organised at the national level, but this is simply a question of suitability and efficiency. The citizens themselves (who are simultaneously inhabitants of their own city, the region, national State, and Europe) will decide, by an open debate, which level is best for organising solidarity policies. The federal model of government is, moreover, essential for facing up to, and resolving, the problem of protecting the environment and sustainable development. The safeguarding of the interests of future generations can be guaranteed only globally, at the world level, but many other issues call for action at lower government levels, even at the neighbourhood or the village level, if the goal is to defend the integrity of the places we live in daily.
It does not presently seem that this model of society is about to be established in other parts of the world. In the ex-Soviet bloc countries the crucial problem is the transition from the command economy to a market economy. The issue of a federal constitution was posed in Russia, but democracy is still fragile and the problems of economic reconstruction are too big to imagine that it would be possible to pose in a short space of time the typical problems of a post-industrial society. In the US, the level of material well-being has in many respects overtaken the European standard. Nevertheless the US, the first example of a federation in history, has undergone a long period of centralisation, such that the major policies typical of the welfare State have been created at the federal level, while the individual member states have progressively lost power and autonomy. Nowadays, while the need for greater decentralisation is increasingly felt, some social policies, such as that of health, are still being implemented at the federal level, hence further augmenting the powers of the central government.[20] Japan seemed for many years to be the most advanced industrialised country, due to its industry’s high levels of competitiveness and because of the extraordinary stability of its society, which has always registered extremely low rates of unemployment. All the same, Japan’s social model is based on the grafting of Western technologies onto a feudal-style social structure, in which workers enter into a sort of contract-for-life with businesses, and in which considerable discrimination between the sexes and prejudice towards immigrants survive. This model has now entered into crisis and it seems increasingly likely that, with the drive toward the international integration of the economy and society continuing, Japan will proceed down the path already followed by countries in the West.[21]
In any event, however imperfect the European social model may be, it does not seem for the moment that significant alternatives exist. It is the result of centuries of debate and battles for a more just society. Therefore even this particular conception of solidarity among individuals and among different political communities defines European identity.
The European Union, an imperfect federation.
The European federation will make the culture of the political unity of the human race come alive in international politics. But the European government will necessarily be the expression of the needs, interests and aspirations of European citizens and their parties. And since Europe will be unable to give anything more than partial answers to the needs, interests and aspirations of non-European citizens, there will inevitably survive in Europe a democratic deficit and an identity deficit.
The European federation, unlike the US and Swiss ones, will be an international State. There are no clear limitations to its enlargement, beyond the fact that only countries that have a democratic constitution can ask to join. Indeed, there are already many countries that have requested to enter the European Union: not only those of Central and Western Europe, but also Morocco, Turkey, Cyprus and some of the ex-Soviet republics. To the extent that democratic reforms will take place within these countries, it will become practically impossible for the Community to prevent further enlargement. In reality, the borders of Europe coincide with the borders of democracy. But since it is also unthinkable that the European federation will progressively grow until it becomes a world federation, the tension between European democracy and international democracy will become the fundamental dynamic of the European federation’s foreign policy. Europe will be coherent with itself only if it acts positively to promote the establishment of other regional federations in the various continents, and to favour the gradual strengthening of the UN until real democratic world government is created.
Similar considerations hold for the identity deficit. Immigration from the countries of the East and the Third World is already provoking serious social tension, and European governments are continually forced to switch between policies of restriction and benevolent openness. In effect, the principle on which the European federation is based (the abolition of national frontiers) itself prevents the drastic solution of complete exclusion. Clearly, if Europeans concede the benefits of the welfare state to all non-Community citizens too easily, they would encourage a migratory flow that would be insupportable in the long term, both for public budgets, and for the tensions that would be generated within the urban and social network. An excess of laissez-faire could not avoid sparking off a crisis of rejection among the public. Hence, these new problems of identity should be managed in the awareness that the issue is nevertheless one of compromise and a transition phase in which Europe must facilitate democratic transformation and development in the Third World. Today one of the principle obstacles to international co-operation derives from a refusal to discuss, and from the prejudiced sectarianism, of certain religions and cultures in their relations with the Western world. A history of war and mistreatment is certainly not easily overcome. But in Europe signs of a new spirit of tolerance among peoples is beginning to emerge, that will increasingly establish itself until transformed into a real and effective cosmopolitan spirit. In France, for example, the State has promoted the foundation of an Islamic church of France, which exists side by side with the older and more established Catholic church. This represents no more than a first step in the right direction, since it is clear that a vast number of co-habitation difficulties will arise among lifestyles that are often based on irreconcilable principles (for example, Islamic polygamy with Western culture’s principle of sexual equality). But if Europeans show that they favour the creation of a multi-ethnic and multiracial society, they will also accelerate the opening up and democratisation of those regimes which, in defence of an exclusive and intolerant identity, still reject peaceful international co-habitation.
European citizenship will represent the most visible and inspiring aspect of the cosmopolitan civilisation that is in the making. The world of cosmopolitan rights will nevertheless exist in a contradictory and problematic way as long as certain States base their existence on the evil desire of separation, discrimination and dominion. The federal revolution will advance through the world as slowly as reason wins over the forces of authoritarianism. But the European Union will not be able to accelerate the process of the spread of federalism through power politics. Even if the European Union is allowed to become a great international power (it already is in the economic sphere, and it could become so in the military one), it will certainly not be able to construct international democracy through expansionist and imperialist policies. Neither democracy nor federalism can be imposed by force. The European Union will be all the more influential in world politics the more it establishes itself as a model of universal civilised co-habitation. The strength of Europe lies in the reasonable nature of a civilisation founded on cultural and national pluralism, and on tolerance and respect for people’s rights.
The arrival of the European federation in international politics will not signify, therefore, the complete affirmation of federalism. The forces opposed to federalism in the world are extremely powerful. Nationalism, racism and all the ideologies that legitimise authoritarian and violent governments will continue to lie in wait and call into question the world of cosmopolitan rights. But to the extent that Europeans begin to think and act as citizens of the world, they will very soon find allies among other peoples, first of all in the Unites States where the federal idea was born and where, albeit in a different form, the same ideals reside. Gradually, by force of argument alone, the idea of a world united in peace and democracy should come to be accepted as reasonable also among the rest of the human race.

[1] The possibility of the federalists organising as a party was elaborated at Ventotene on the occasion of the drafting of the Manifesto, and discussed at length. It was abandoned, however, because it was seen as being incompatible with the aim of European unity, which needed to be shared by all the great democratic political groups. Hence, on 27-28th August 1943 in Milan, the European Federalist Movement, not a party, was founded. On the subject of the debate about the choice of party or movement, see Altiero Spinelli’s account in Come ho tentato di diventare saggio. La goccia e la roccia, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1987.
[2] Cf. F. Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, The Free Press, 1992.
[3] Cf. R. Dahl, Polyarchy. Participation and Opposition, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1973.
[4] A. Solzhenitsyn’s speech in the Vandee was published in Le Monde, 28th September 1993.
[5] The term is used this way, for example, in H. Arendt, On Revolution, The Viking Press, 1963.
[6] This assertion is contained in Der Streit der Fakultäten (1798), in the chapter entitled “Erneuerte Frage: ob das menschliche Geschlecht im beständigen Fortschreiten zum Besseren sei?”
[7] Cf. N. Bobbio, L’età dei diritti, Turin, Einaudi, 1990.
[8] Cf. H. Kelsen, Reine Rechtslehre, Vienna, Franz Deuticke Verlag, 1934.
[9] Essay no. 84 in The Federalist.
[10]In this perspective see for instance L. Strauss, Natural Right and History, The University of Chicago Press, 1953.
[11] Seventh Thesis of the 1784 essay, “Idea for a universal history with a cosmopolitan purpose.”
[12] In the United States, widespread and worrying particularist claims, based on imaginary ethnic differences, particularly among non-European groups that reject the traditional European culture, have recently emerged. This crisis of the American model of social integration seems, however, to derive from incidental phenomena such as the decline of US world leadership, the rebirth of micronationalism in Europe and the lack of cooperation policies for the development of Latin-American and Pacific Rim countries, rather than from an intrinsic inability of the federal model to adapt to the new situation. On these issues, cf. A.M Schlesinger, Jr., The Disuniting of America. Reflections on a Multicultural Society, New York, Norton & Company, 1991, and the survey “Diversity and Its Dangers”, in the New York Review of Books, 7th October 1993.
[13] T. Paine, Rights of Man (1791-2), Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1969, p. 207.
[14] This passage comes from the essay “L’identità europea e la crisi della ragione”, in M. Albertini, Il Federalismo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1993, p. 289.
[15] J. Habermas, Staatsbürgerschaft und nationale Identität. Überlegungen zur europäischen Zukunft, St. Gallen, Erker Verlag, 1991.
[16] On this subject cf. also the collection of essays edited by J. Lenoble and N. Dewandre, L’ Europe au soir du siècle. Identité et démocratie, Paris, Editions Esprit, 1992.
[17] J. Ortega y Gasset, “Mision de la Universidad” (1930), in Obras completas, IV, Madrid, 1966 (quoted from the Italian translation, La missione dell’Università, Naples, Guida Editore, 1972, p. 17).
[18] This refers to the justified protests of certain Community countries against the European Commission’s attempt to ask a working group, headed by the historian Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, to elaborate a “European” history text. Cf. “A Eurohistory for the United European”, in International Herald Tribune, 16-17th February 1991.
[19] I. Kant, Education, The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1960.
[20] A.M. Rivlin’s, Reviving the American Dream. The Economy, the States and the Federal Government (Washington D.C., The Brookings Institution, 1992), is a very interesting analysis of this subject.
[21] L. Thurow, Head to Head. The Coming Economic Battle among Japan, Europe, and America, New York, William Morrow and Company, 1992, and P. Kennedy, Preparing for the Twenty-First Century, New York, Random House, 1993, also express this opinion.


Share with