Year XLIX, 2007, Number 2, Page 77



Mario Albertini, Theorist and Militant*
Such is the breadth of the topics covered in the writings of Mario Albertini — these range from deeply pondered treatises to roughly outlined ideas, from theoretical works to “militant” papers, and also include his correspondence and his many newspaper and journal articles — that it is impossible, in a brief introduction, to do justice to the contribution he made to political culture, and in particular to federalist thought and the federalist struggle.[1] This contribution also includes his teaching, at the University of Pavia, on the topics of ideology, politics, the raison d’état, and (in his original interpretation of the texts of Marx) the materialistic conception of history. These topics were also progressively developed in the context of the “cadre schools” for young federalists to whom, as we shall see, Albertini wanted to make it clear that one had to be equipped with the necessary theoretical instruments in order to be able to engage, completely consciously, in the struggle for the European federation.[2]
It is also worth underlining another aspect — less tangible, but nevertheless real and not without its consequences — of his enormous cultural and political vitality: his great belief in dialogue, which he saw as fundamental to the advancing of knowledge, and which turned each meeting or conversation with him into a moment of reflection, characterised by exchange and by the utmost respect for his interlocutor, regardless of whether the latter was an eminent politician or a young federalist.
In fact, Albertini would often quote from Plato’s Fedro on the subject of the limitations of the written as opposed to the spoken word, before concluding that the only truly productive form of communication — that which generates ideas — is oral communication, precisely because it is the medium of dialogue. He recognised, of course, that written language serves a regulating function, once certain points have been established. But, for Albertini, underlining the value of the spoken word meant pointing out the need for language to enter a process in which every affirmation can be considered from the many angles that are opened up by the asking and answering of questions: in short, by dialogue. And this becomes particularly crucial when, in an era of transition like the one we are living through, there is a need to tune into, and interpret, an evolving reality, so as to be able to plot paths and develop designs to be followed.
Albertini, in several autobiographical accounts, some published and some not, of his intellectual development and his pre-federalist political activity, described the moral and intellectual journey that had led him to federalism: “Since I belonged to a generation that had grown up under a dictatorship, and knew no life other than one characterised by enforced and stagnant uniformity, my political inclinations grew out of a simple love of freedom. In a situation of oppression, this sentiment could not produce solid ideas, or rather, could manifest itself tangibly only as a state of mind of absolute opposition that set good (freedom) against bad (fascism), and left no scope for mediation between the two… I joined the Liberal Party in the belief that I was following a religion of freedom… It was there that my abstract battle unfolded, but as my experience continued to belie my ideas… I found myself needing to reflect upon the whole question of politics”.[3]
This reflection was, at first, a reaction to Benedetto Croce (his “first master”[4]) who recommended rejecting ratification of the peace treaty in the name of Italian honour: “The ideal of Italy and its national dignity is dead; we view it as respectable in an old man who shared that ideal during his lifetime; however it is a dead letter, entirely devoid of historical relevance, when recalled now, to fight today’s battle”.[5] But it was to take a long odyssey of reading and reflection (Machiavelli, Meinecke, Dehio, Ranke, Schumpeter, Robbins, Bobbio, etc.) before Albertini, as a result of his contact with Spinelli in 1953, chose to focus on the European sphere.[6]
In actual fact, Albertini had begun to approach the European question as early as the years immediately following the end of the Second World War, but at that time he still regarded Europe, within the ambit of his engagement in national politics, as a cultural issue.[7] It was to be sometime before he came to see that the Italian setting was no longer adequate for the pursuit of democratic objectives and did not allow one to pursue progressive policies: “My feelings towards political issues changed. I began to reconsider the great problems of southern Italy, of national unity and of democracy in Italy, and to see my old values — the values that had driven me when I believed I was concerning myself with mankind, as well as more general values — in much more relative terms. Why on earth, when making my moral choices, should I see southern Italians as my priority when there were two billion people in the world worse off than them?… The bond I felt with my country was based on nothing more than the simple fact that it was where I happened to have been born, any other meaning it had for me had to be attributed to it by reason and by political opinion… Thus, I rebelled not only against nationalism… but also against the concept of national loyalty.”[8]
This revelation, this new capacity to “weigh up the world” from a different perspective, had consequences both cultural and intellectual: “…other cultural revisions followed. I had learned to criticise ideology, thus I was able, on reading Mannheim, to understand his arguments on a level even deeper than that on which he himself had understood them, and I believed myself to be working, culturally, within the scope of politics as an empirical science; it is in this sense that I am assembling all these different elements, of Marx, of the rule of law, of Ranke, of the political class, through the thought and illuminating maxims of Hamilton (“the best security for the fidelity of mankind is to make their interests coincide with their duty”), which reveal the full meaning of founding institutions and of using them correctly.”[9]
It became crucial, for Albertini, to analyse in depth the different categories of politics in order to “define” a new choice, a break with the obsolete reality that the parties were slaves to (“the parties tend to mistake reality for the current political equilibrium, since that is what they are busy manipulating and, ultimately, seeking to conserve”[10]) and the intellectuals struggled to recognise. As Albertini’s “dispute” with Norberto Bobbio showed, in periods of historical change, it is the figure and the role of the intellectual that need to be reconsidered. Whereas Bobbio saw the intellectual as someone who “neither withdraws, nor waits, but endeavours to be present wherever positive values are present”, in Albertini’s view the intellectual should not limit himself to affirming the positive aspects of the various sides. If he does, he simply “goes with the general political flow and thus becomes parasitical, living off the politics of the day and depriving society’s general equilibrium, as well as its present and, in particular, its future political equilibrium, of the active influence of truths spoken by intellectuals, both on political matters, where they represent the most accurate possible understanding of the situation, and on the need to review the existing models of political action, and establish new ones”.[11]
These are the considerations on which, throughout his life, Albertini based his thought and his action, endeavouring to examine our times “with the mindset of an active man, a man concerned with the future, and with the present only in terms of its bearing on the future”. “The present — the historical situation in progress — should not be considered separately, as something to be accepted, but rather as something that must be integrated into plans that are underpinned by a definite will… Thus, in one way, it may be seen as a means by which to achieve the precise ends of a struggle, and in another as a meaningful situation, whose meaning lies precisely in the fact that it harbours the seeds of its own evolution into a new situation, one capable of improving the destiny of mankind. The future, in turn, does not take on the form of a simple description…, but rather that of definite new principles of action and of the consequences that derive from these.”[12]
This tending of thought and action towards the future culminated in Albertini’s realisation that we are living in a historical phase that constitutes a radical turning point, a phase in which “we have to get rid of some of the old in order to make room for the new”,[13] and to allow the process of mankind’s emancipation to advance. “In times such as these, history, with its relentless evolutionary complexity, will reach an extremely simple point: a point at which there is room only for the old or only for the new, and thus at which something has to be rejected absolutely. This was true of liberalism vis-à-vis absolutism, of democracy vis-à-vis class-based political privilege…, of socialism vis-à-vis class-based economic privilege… and it seems that it is about to be true of federalism vis-à-vis the nations’ monopoly on political and economic power, in which the brute force of the armed forces is used in order to preserve the hierarchy among nations, a hierarchy that has become incompatible, on account of the growing interdependence between national and international processes, with the spread of freedom, justice and equality.”[14]
That which Albertini called the theoretical line is based on precisely this: the establishing of a specific relationship between a political ideology and the point reached by the historical process.
“An ideology has… a general relationship with history when it has already won its battle to exist and no longer corresponds to a turning point in history, but is rather an acquired and stable factor in the historical process. Once in this situation, the ideologies set the present in relation to the past (the turning point that brought their affirmation), theorise (in thought) the established factors in the life of the society…, and mobilise energies around already recognised values.”[15]
But the relentless evolution of history allows men to go on concentrating on the front of established values only until a point is reached at which real progress of any kind has become impossible: at this point, only by rethinking the future will it again become possible to exercise political responsibility and provide men with a rational basis for their moral choices. Having reached this crossroads, or conflict between values that reciprocally preclude each other, they have to ask themselves “what must be destroyed and what created… In this situation, the ideologies become the thought that sets the present in relation to the future, turning into ‘active political thought’ because they mobilise energies with a view to removing the obstacle that has been identified.”[16]
Nature and Criticism of the Nation-state.
The crisis of the traditional ideologies, which was felt particularly keenly in Europe in the wake of the Second World War and has become increasingly apparent over the years, is an alarm bell telling us how difficult it now is for the political forces that relate to them to gather consensus for their programmes, to recruit new energies, but above all to offer adequate responses to the problems and needs that are emerging in society. In attempting to get to the root of this crisis, one should be questioning not the inherent value of the political ideologies, or the capability of the politicians, so much as the political framework within which the latter are forced to act: the national framework.
Questioning the national framework is now a historical necessity: due to the increased interdependence of human relations the dimensions of the classic nation-states are now inadequate. But recognition of this fact amounts to nothing more than a barren observation unless it is also understood that nationhood is not a natural state, but rather a situation produced by men, and which men can also modify.
It is only starting from this realisation, in other words by translating a simple observation into a frame of mind, that we can start to contemplate, as feasible, the battle for the European federation, a battle founded on recognition and declaration of the illegitimacy of the nation-state and on rejection of the concept of national loyalty. It is not easy to make this psychological conversion, because it means opposing a myth that is deeply rooted in modern history, the idea of nation. It means exploring the peculiar character of the nation so as to debunk it and expose its ideological connection with the nation-state.
This is what Albertini did in Lo Stato nazionale (1958), a work in which, starting from the consideration that there existed, as yet, no serious cultural examination of it, he pointed out the need to analyse “national behaviour” as the everyday political behaviour to which, for better or worse, the majority of political choices and conducts can be attributed. “The political disasters of our century have led to a heated debate in Europe, in which the evils and mistakes it has seen have, in turn and by the different parties, been blamed on liberal policy or socialist policy, or, equally, on communist, fascist, Christian-social, or nationalist policy. They have almost never been attributed to ‘national behaviour’. And yet simple consideration of the concept of raison d’état, in other words of the fact that the character of political power depends on the way in which it is won and maintained, should be enough to show that these behaviours, liberal, communist, fascist, and so on, all adapted to the framework of national political power, and that their prevalence, or otherwise, depended on whether or not they had achieved national objectives and rendered the nation’s organisation stable and secure.”[17]
In short, we find ourselves faced with what Albertini called the “paradox of nationalism”. Nationalism “implies a doctrine of the nation, and certain human behaviours, but its principles, which in our times are the only ones that legitimatise the duty to die and to kill, and in whose name, in our century too, the violent deaths of many millions of people have been justified, have never been seriously defined, and currently do not allow us to identify precisely the groups of individuals implicated, to understand properly what it is that compels individuals when they feel and act in a ‘national’ manner, or to provide any useful justification for the value of the ‘nation’ which has, nevertheless, reached the top of the scale of human values. Millions and millions of men have died bloody deaths with the words France, Germany, or Italy, etc., on, or placed on, their lips. These words do not merely correspond to the commands of a political power, they always carry more meaning than that, yet we do not really know what this meaning is. We still do not know why it is that men are condemned by these words to make an act of supreme devotion and total sacrifice coincide with the equally complete negation of the most important of human values; in other words, we do not know why these words turn the readiness to sacrifice one’s own life, to die, into a value precisely when this readiness is also a readiness to kill, to negate the value of the life of others.”[18]
Having dealt with the topic at length from the historical, sociological and linguistic perspectives, Albertini was induced to define the nation as the ideology of a certain type of state, namely the bureaucratic, centralised state that came into being with the French Revolution, and national behaviour as an ideological, mystified behaviour. “Important conclusions can be reached if we accept that the typical character of the ‘nation’ is not the language, nor the possession of a territory, nor tradition, nor race, by virtue of the fact that these elements are too vague (tradition), or retrospective (possession of the territory), or incomprehensible (race), or not always present (language) where there are people who feel they belong to a nation; and if we also admit that the ‘nation’ in the specific sense is an ideological fact.
To begin with, a criterion can be established to judge the degree of nationalism. The national feeling… is the ideological reflection of the citizen’s ties with his nation-state. Consequently, the national feeling becomes stronger and more exclusive as these ties increase in extension (number of citizens actually involved) and depth (number of human activities linked to the state)… If state powers end up by covering the most important aspects of social life, and also concern the school system, culture, religion and so on, nationalism, through the very extension of its scale of values to all these activities, ends up by becoming exclusive, levelling, totalitarian and really turns the national group into a Horde.”[19]
It is thus arbitrary and incorrect to draw a distinction between “national sentiment, meaning good-natured, unarmed patriotism, and nationalism, meaning nothing more than a blind thirst for power and domination”,[20] maintaining that nationalism is the negation of national sentiment. In truth “nationalism springs from the nations themselves. When a nation exists, and it does so not just as an intention or a hope, it exists as a state. Its conduct — that is to say, the behaviour of the politicians that govern it — is thus subject to the law of the raison d’état, which excludes mystical international brotherhoods, establishes the harsh reality of relations of force between states, and thus implies a continuous effort to increase its own power and to reduce the power of others.”[21] In short, the paramount need for the security of the state “turns hypothetical national sentiment, understood as the simple love of one’s own nation in a world made up of friendly nations, into nationalism”.[22]
If all this is true, and if the historical process is indeed showing us a way forward based on the growing interdependence that extends beyond the confines of the nation-states, then it will be up to those who have managed to free themselves from the mystified idea of the nation to reject the existing national communities and to replace them with pluralist, or federal, communities, as it is only in these that the convergence of state with nation, and the consequences of this, can be overcome.
Despite the fact that there now exist many federations, “federalism, as an idea, is more known than understood”[23] due to the fact that its realisation preceded its formulation. “The Constitution of the USA was not created as a design for a new type of state, but only as a compromise between two apparently irreconcilable political factions: one that wanted to leave sovereignty entirely in the hands of each of the thirteen American states… and the other that wanted to transfer it completely to the Union, to prevent this from disintegrating”.[24] Only Hamilton understood, at the time of its founding, that the new American federal state embodied a new means of democratic government, a means with the capacity to extend its sphere of action from one to many states.
In actual fact, Europe is the region where, as from the time of the French Revolution and the emergence of nationalism, the foundations were laid that allowed federalist thought to acquire its theoretical autonomy. Recourse to the ideal values of federalism, in the form of ideas of unity and brotherhood among peoples, in fact served to provide a response, albeit on a purely utopian level, to the contradiction that exists between, on the one hand, the universality of the values of Christianity, liberalism, democracy and socialism and, on the other, loyalty to the nation, which instead divides peoples and sets them against one another. And it is through reflection upon the criteria of federalism that one can gain an understanding both of the historical crisis of the European states between the two World Wars, and of their political crisis after the Second World War.
The great theoretical contribution that Albertini made to the definition of federalism was, first of all, to clear away the ambiguities of the partial theories — one of these identified federalism with the theory of the federal state (this idea was initially even shared by Albertini himself) and another, developed by Alexandre Marc, provided a “metahistorical global vision of society” based on the thought of Proudhon[25] — that, not having established a link with reality, appear somewhat arbitrary. Progressively, he developed his conception of federalism, ultimately defining it as the theoretical-practical awareness underlying an independent social behaviour.
This particular framing of federalism, that is, this definition of federalism as founded on human behaviours — and it is to be noted that the other great ideologies, namely liberalism, democracy and socialism, can also be framed in this way —, makes it possible to escape the realm of vagueness and to apply the theory that has been developed as a criterion of knowledge and action.
To this end, Albertini developed a scheme of reasoning based on a tripartition: “To define a… social behaviour it is necessary to divide it, from the analytical point of view… into three aspects: value, i.e. the goal to which it is directed, which explains the manifestation of man’s passions and ideals; structure, i.e. the particular form which the behaviour takes on in order to realise its aims; and a socio-historical aspect, i.e. the complex of historical and social conditions in which this behaviour can spread and consolidate”.[26]
The essential reference for defining the value aspect of federalism, i.e. peace, is Immanuel Kant. Kant’s analysis of the terms “peace” and “war”, together with his introduction of the concept of “truce”, makes it possible to overcome the serious mystification, fixed in the minds of men, that leads them to equate peace with the absence of war. In fact, that which is often defined a situation of peace, is in fact one of truce, in which the states continue to base their conduct on violence, accumulating weapons to guarantee their own security and instilling in the citizens the idea that they must always be prepared to kill, or be killed, for the good of their country. The states do this because there lack, in international relations, the legal mechanisms and powers that, in all political communities, are used to settle disputes between individuals amicably; in other words, there lacks the prerequisite — the presence of the state, the federal state — that would allow this false peace (truce) to be transmuted into true peace. Only the uniting of mankind in a global federation can guarantee Kant’s “perpetual peace”.
If the state, which guarantees the overcoming of anarchic relations between members of the international community, is the basis of peace, this means that the theories which argue that peace is a consequence of the affirmation of the values of freedom, or democracy, are wrong, even though these theories do contain elements of truth: “If the realisation of peace requires a legal order, a state encompassing the whole human race, only when freedom, democracy and social justice are assured will that law, and the state which enforces it, be stable and uncontested. These are not sufficient conditions for peace, but they are certainly necessary.”[27]
The meaning of peace cannot be understood fully unless it is considered in relation not only to the great values of social and political life, but also to the human condition in general. Only once the supremacy of war has been abolished does the emergence of moral and rational behaviours in human conduct become feasible: “Bearing in mind the relationship that Kant established between federalism, peace, and autonomy of reason and will, one can reasonably envisage, in the context of a global expansion of federalism, a change in the human condition capable of promoting the generalised social behaviours that are needed for the universal realisation of the human city, in which relations will be built on solidarity, not on power”,[28] on the “ethic of conviction” rather than on the “ethic of responsibility.” Put another way, “in the ambit of groups in which the other person is someone we know, or who falls directly within our range of action”, all people will be ends and no one will be means, and the sense of community will become “a normal part of the human spirit”.[29]
This forecast is different from the prediction that the increase in extension of human interdependence will make it possible to overcome mankind’s division into nations, a prediction based on historical materialism used as a sociological-type analytical approach. To envisage a future in which the sense of community becomes a part of the human spirit means considering it in the light of the philosophy of history, which we cannot do without. “It is true, wrote Albertini, that through this philosophy one does not arrive at absolute certainties. But, as far as we know, it is only in conditions of risk and uncertainty that men prove able to act. This is not to say, however, that they advance in utter darkness. They advance towards clearly defined aims, even though they cannot be certain of reaching them, and the illustration of these aims, the philosophy of history, is the only means by which we can grasp the significance of their progress…”[30]
The structure aspect of federalism, the federal state, finds concrete expression in a historical reality, i.e. in the various federations founded over the course of recent centuries. But, above all, it is by reflecting on the birth of the American federation, and in particular on Hamilton’s lucid analyses in The Federalist, that we can begin to define a complete theory of the federal state. A federal state is born upon the voluntary creation of a union that exercises sovereignty over an area encompassing a number of states, but that still conserves a number of decision-making centres. As such, the federation is the right instrument through which to extend the sphere of statehood even until, in theory, it embraces the whole of mankind, replacing hierarchical and violent relations among states with democratic and peaceful ones.
In a federation, democracy does not only extend its sphere; it also achieves its full realisation. Whereas in unitary states the division of powers, cited as one of the fundamental characteristics of democracy, tends to remain a purely formal division, and — as the experience of the European states has shown —the executive power is easily able to override the will of the parliament and the judiciary, in a federation, it acquires its full effectiveness, becoming a territorially-based division in practice.[31]
Looking beyond the dual loyalty that is a typical characteristic of existing federations (in the United States of America, for example, an individual is as much a citizen of the US as he is of his own state), Albertini saw, in the singularity of the European situation — Europe constitutes a complex territorial system on account of its many local and regional traditions — the possibility of establishing a new model of federal state and of democratic life. With the creation of a number of independent and coordinated levels of government, from the district and the city up to the European federation (ultimately, even, from the district to the world), the foundations would be laid for the taking of truly democratic decisions, which must necessarily be based on a real understanding of the problems to be dealt with, starting precisely at the level closest to the citizens, that of their own community, the level at which a coincidence of the general will with government (self government) becomes feasible.[32]
A federal-type state community (thus we come to the historical-social aspect) “can arise and endure only in a society that is, in a territorial sense, highly complex, and in which the presence of two, or even more, poles of common political behaviours produces — in the heart of every citizen — a balanced division of loyalty between the union and the states”.[33] This means that the citizens must feel a strong sense of belonging to the state community from which they originate, so strong that they are unwilling to give it up it completely, but also, at the same time, a bond with the citizens of the other states (based on a sense of their sharing a common destiny) that makes them willing to forgo exclusive citizenship of their own state in order to be able to part of a broader community.
There are, nevertheless, obstacles to the development and continuation of this dual allegiance, and analysis of these throws light on the very problems, relating to the historical-social framework, that make the federation conceivable. One of these obstacles is the struggle between opposing classes; the class struggle, by replacing territorial division (and thus the loyalties that are created on the basis of this) with social division, generates hostility between members of the same community, as well as a sense of loyalty to one’s own social class that extends transversely beyond the confines of the single states. As a result, the states lose the social foundations on which their power rests, and are weakened in relation to the central power.
But it is the internal repercussions of international relations that constitute the real obstacle to the creation and maintenance of a territorially-based bipolar society. The ever-present threat of war and the need to have a strong military machine, which is inevitably subordinate to the federal government, on the one hand produces centralisation and, on the other, upsets the citizens’ balance of loyalties (their loyalty to the central power increasing at the expense of their loyalty to the unarmed member states).
This explains the progressive decline of American federalism after the United States became involved in world politics and is a demonstration of the fact that it is only through its global affirmation that federalism will be able to reach its complete and definitive form.
If federalism, defined in this way, allows us to imagine the future of mankind as a future of peace and solidarity, at the same time its categories make it possible, in the context of the transition from a world of division and war to one of unity and peace, to overturn the prevailing view of international politics. This is a conservative view, based on the idea that the nation-states are a permanent fact of history. From this perspective, international politics can be thought of only in terms of raison d’état, “that is, in terms of the convergence in an equilibrium of various raisons d’état. This implies regarding this equilibrium as possible, gaining the support needed in order to identify it and bring it about, and existing efficaciously within it. Or, put another way, it means imagining an absurdity, seeing an illusion, a Baconian idol. Those who think in this way… are no longer directing the political process, because they do not understand it; rather, they are allowing themselves to be caught up in a chaotic and irrational flow”.[34]
It is impossible to establish “rational” relations between sovereign states, even though, in clearly-defined geographical areas and in certain historical phases, there have been long periods characterised by a reasonable degree of equilibrium. In the experience of the European system of states, for example, application of the balance of power principle, while unable to prevent war, did allow “a positive evolution of the political reality in which an element of rationality could be introduced (i.e. the traditional ministers of the raison d’état advanced a chapter in the history of reason)”.[35] “The raison d’état, Albertini explains, when this is distinct from the blind thirst for power, certainly constituted an application of reason to the sphere of politics, in the sense that it identified an area of [human] knowledge — that of the relations of force between states… — and took clinical appraisal of these relations as the supreme criterion for political conduct, thereby and within certain limits controlling, in one way, precisely the blind thirst for power, and in another, liberty, or casual conduct”.[36] But the presence of reason, which can mitigate conflicts, is a very different thing from its affirmation, which will be possible only when the raison d’état no longer conditions international relations, that is, when these relations, based on the presence of a world federal power, will be of a purely legal nature.
The Historical Significance of the Process of European Unification.
Federalism will be able to become a proper “political culture” only when it is no longer just a theory, or a reflection on a turning point in history, but also “a historically realised, empirical fact, which can be a point of reference for everyone… Political culture is, in fact, related to the criteria of behaviour that accompany the major events in history. These criteria become models of behaviour that set themselves up in comparison, and even in conflict, with the usual social criteria of behaviour… and they thus come to be taken as ideal and moral principles of historical importance, and as stages in the growth of freedom and in the emancipation of mankind, etc.”[37]
It is true that what happened in North America after the War of Independence resulted in the “invention” and concrete realisation of federalism as a system that allows the democratic unification of a number of states. However, the significance of this invention remained limited, since it was concerned exclusively with the need for good government and with the destiny of the American people.[38] In other words, the birth of the American federation did not, in itself, give rise to a new political culture. Whereas, in the course of the past two centuries, men and peoples the world over have been mobilised in the name of the great liberal-democratic and socialist revolutions, the same cannot be said of the American Revolution, since this was not perceived as the overcoming of a stage in the evolution of history. “The American federation came into being in what was still a side road of history, sheltered from the great conflicts between states and classes. And it negated… thirteen small states that had no state or national history.”[39]
In truth, until we witness the birth of a federal state in an area covered by a group of established nation-states, there will be no overcoming the prevalence of the traditional approach to, and outlook on, political life, whose normal development is understood to be an evolution of the states or of relations between the states, but not a process leading to the merging of a number of states. The replacement of the legal systems of established nation-states with a pluralistic system, the federal system — this would amount to an interruption of the juridical status quo, and thus a “revolution” — entails a redistribution of power. And it is precisely this new distribution of power that allows the emergence of new criteria of social behaviour that, having entered the historical picture, influence its evolution.
The European federation, if it comes into being, will represent the negation of the great historical nations. “These great historical nations have turned the concept of the nation as the organic division of mankind into a typical idea; they are the secular, historically concrete expression of the culture of the political division of mankind. Their negation will thus be the negation of this culture…
National culture… is the culture that, by mystifying liberalism, democracy and socialism, has, in fact, legitimatised the duty to kill. The culture of the negation of the political division of mankind is the historical negation of this duty; it constitutes the affirmation, in the sphere of thought, of the political, not just spiritual, right not to kill, and is thus the historical framework of the struggle to affirm it in practice — beyond the European federation — through world federation.
This interpretation of the historical-cultural significance of the European federation… may seem… over-ambitious and too arbitrary. But man, in the making of his history, which evolves and is not simply a pattern of repetition, is right to be ambitious, given the enormity of the gap that separates what is from what should be. Anyway, there is something non-arbitrary in this interpretation: the fact that it is not a solitary excogitation, but reflects, rather, the growing significance of the reasons for the federalists’ struggle.[40]
Reflection on the ultimate historical significance of the problem of European unity thus assumes enormous theoretical and practical importance: theoretical because it is a reflection on the ultimate ends of a process of historical significance; practical because it concerns the human action that influences, or that is necessary to influence, this process, which still being open and uncertain, bears witness to the difficulties encountered by attempts to introduce “new orders”.
The Strategy of the Struggle for European Unification.
“Everything spontaneously done for the good of European unity is useful and, in the most diverse ways, everyone can make a contribution, both within the sphere of what they themselves do, or within any other field of social activity… but the crucial question is that of the strategy to adopt”.[41] If, in fact, the theoretical line can be defined as using the categories of federalism to identify the historical phase we are living though, and thus the direction in which history is moving, if the political line means pointing out the obstacles behind which there pile up problems, needs and demands to which the normal political instruments and a given institutional system are unable to respond adequately, then the strategic line identifies the means with which to take on the national power that must be overcome in the creation of the new supranational power, and the manner in which this must be done.
In this regard, several preliminary considerations are called for, the first of which, of a very general nature, concerns the relationship between, on the one hand, the possibility of developing a strategy and, on the other, the existing social order: in Europe “it will, in fact, be possible to destroy the closed and centralised institutions, and to found ones based on openness and federalism… only if the conduct of the Europeans really is, to some extent, in the most important sectors of social life, assuming these traits”.[42] In other words, it is a question of taking into consideration, in the context of the question of strategy, what Albertini defined the historical-social basis of federalism, not to draw precise strategic indications from it so much as to establish the feasibility of a strategy, given that “no human behaviour which gives rise to a particular organisation of political relations can manifest itself without a basis in society and in a particular historical phase which allows it to spread and consolidate”.[43]
The second consideration is that it is impossible to conduct a political battle without understanding the nature of it, and in particular the nature of its objective. In the case of European unity, this means deciding whether it is a revolutionary or a normal objective, so as to define the operation that needs to be conducted, the means that need to be used, and the role of the protagonists. The nature of the decision to found the European federation is such that it cannot be considered a normal political decision: “it represents the most serious decision that can be taken in the realm of political activity, since it implies the foundation of a new state in a new geographical area, in other words a decision which will determine the destiny of the inhabitants of numerous countries for many generations to come”.[44] It is a radical choice, in which sovereignty is at stake and which throws into question the political formula, or structure, that governs the struggle for power.[45] In short, the nature of the decision, and thus of the battle, is revolutionary, and this cannot fail to have repercussions on the strategy.
This revolutionary nature of the battle — and here we come to a third consideration — implies the exclusion, from the strategic debate, of the question of Europe’s political content, i.e. of whether to choose a Europe that is liberal, socialist, etc. Fighting for European unity means fighting for the creation of a state (or rather, for certain institutions, not for one political current or another) that, by definition, must allow all the political currents complete freedom of action without identifying with any of them: in other words, it must be, quite simply, democratic. “The fact that the federation, being a state, must be open to all the political currents is not to say, however, that it does not exclude certain political and social outcomes, or that it does not favour others. It is a fact that the solutions to the biggest political and social problems depend not only on the type of government but also, and above all, on the type of state, even though this is not usually realised because the question of changing the form and dimensions of the state arises very exceptionally and only in the context of major historical change.”[46] These considerations have important strategic implications also in relation to the forces to be mobilised: a constituent endeavour must involve the entire population and all the political forces (without distinction between right and left), and the only division that must emerge is that which separates the national from the supranational field of interest.
A fourth preliminary consideration concerns the meaning of the terms unity and division in a process of unification of states, because only if this is clear is it possible to identify the final objective to be pursued and thus to develop a strategy, whose success or failure will subsequently be measured. “For this purpose, it is enough remember a truth as simple as it is generally ignored: with regard to the essential thing, that is, the supreme decision-making power, there is division up to confederal level. Up to this level, the states conserve absolute sovereignty, that is, they do not acknowledge a superior political decision-making centre, and therefore they divide the peoples that are part of the confederation. Institutionally, there is unity only upon reaching federal level, where decisions valid for everyone can be taken autonomously. In all other situations, that is to say in all those associations of states in which the association itself is not the holder of power, there is division. The difference between unity and division, therefore, does not lie in the absence or presence of an association of some kind, but in the federal or non federal nature of the association. States, being unable to exist in isolation, nearly always present phenomena of association, but these phenomena do not prevent deep divisions and major differences from arising”, except in cases in which sovereignty is transferred from the states to a federation.[47] It is only by confronting the question of sovereignty that the strategy underpinning the struggle for European unification really can target unity.
The fifth consideration dispenses with the functionalist view according to which the decision to found the European federation will be the spontaneous culmination of progressive advances in the process of integration.[48] On the contrary, there is nothing spontaneous at all about this final step, which must instead stem from the precise, political will to create a new power, distinct from the national powers. From this perspective, “the decision to found the European federation… entails the transfer… of foreign and military policy, and of part of economic and social policy, from the national states to a federal state”. And “this decision cannot be gradual…. In order to transfer these matters, it is necessary also to transfer the ‘sovereignty’ at issue…; but the ‘sovereignty’… cannot be gradually transferred but only handed over in a specific moment”.[49]
The final consideration concerns the conditions that make it possible to think of deciding to found the European federation. It is clear that had it not been for the historical crisis of the European nation-states (the eclipsing of their sovereignty), which began with the First World War and came to its head with the dramatic collapse of the European system of states in the wake of the Second World War, we would have seen “no attempts to achieve European unity after World War One, nor the process of integration that began in the wake of the Second World War”.[50] However, while the presence of a historical crisis is a necessary condition, it is not sufficient for carrying the process of unification through to its completion. As long as the existing power situation makes it possible to manage (albeit in a provisional and inadequate manner) the common problems in an area of interdependence, then there will prevail what Albertini termed the “convergence of the raisons d’état”, which produces collaboration, but preserves the status quo. Only a severe crisis of national power, in other words, an incapacity on the part of the nation to respond to the citizens’ problems of wellbeing and security, has the potential, dramatically, to undermine a now inadequate power framework. If such a crisis is neither in progress, nor perceptible to public opinion or the government, because the instruments of collaboration that have been activated are, temporarily, continuing to work, then the relinquishing of national power, of sovereignty, will not be on the agenda.
All this has clear strategic implications, if it is considered that “the strategic opportunity is ascertained, not chosen”,[51] and that outside a viable political context, it is impossible to mobilise and deploy the forces needed to fight and to throw down the final challenge.
Starting from these premises, the aim of the federalists’ strategy is to force the national powers to take the decisive step of renouncing their absolute sovereignty in those fields (foreign and military policy, and economic and fiscal policy) that are central to statehood.
The European Federalist Movement (Movimento Federalista Europeo, MFE) has tried out basically two strategic approaches designed to exploit the possibilities presented by the phases in the process of European unification. In the papers presented at the XIV national congress of the MFE, held in Rome in 1989, Albertini analysed these through a few reflections on Altiero Spinelli and Jean Monnet. Considering the situation in which Europe found itself immediately after the Second World War, Albertini pointed out two ways in which the power vacuum created at that time might have been filled: “by a federal-type European government, or by a process leading towards this federal outcome as a concrete means of bringing about convergence of the states’ policies… The first of these solutions, which is the one Altiero Spinelli fought for, places federation at the start, in the sense that it sees the federation as the objective of an immediate constitutional-type battle, and not as the outcome of a gradual process of building Europe… The second solution… is the one pursued by Jean Monnet. If we want terms to define these approaches, we can talk of the weak federalism of Monnet, as opposed to the strong federalism of Spinelli. These definitions may be justified by the observation that Monnet’s strategy, given that it places the federal power at the end of a gradual process, and does not envisage a European government as the driving force of this process, can be conducted only through an intergovernmental mechanism (like that which Monnet in fact created, the European Community)…
The advantage of Monnet’ s strategy is that it is capable of engaging the active forces of the nations without first having to pose the constitutional question. The result is full exploitation of the states’ normal European policy, meaning the policy they pursue when the European objectives on the agenda do not demand a transfer of the states’ sovereign powers… The disadvantage of this strategy lies in the fact… that it is a strategy that keeps the issue of European unity alive, but not one that can carry it through to its completion. Effectively, it amounts to nothing… when the European objectives are such that they demand the transfer of sovereign powers to Europe.
One need only consider this analysis in reverse in order to see the advantages and the disadvantages of Spinelli’s strategy. The advantages derive from the fact that the presence of the federal power from the outset means that it is European democracy that has determined the manner, form and time frame of European unification. Its disadvantage lies in the extreme difficulty of calling a constituent assembly at the start of the process, with the parties still so closely bound to national powers. However, it is necessary to bear in mind a decisive point. When European objectives cannot be pursued without a transfer of sovereign powers, which is the same as saying in those situations in which the battle for Europe can actually be won, the only valid strategy is Spinelli’s.”[52] In Spinelli’s strategy the strategic objective and the political objective (the European federation) are the same; in Monnet’s approach, the strategic objective is an expedient adopted with a view to achieving the political objective.
The constituent strategy, which sets the federation as the direct objective, on the basis of the consideration that power cannot pass by degrees from the nations to Europe, aims to achieve recognition of the European people’s constituent power through their demand for a constituent assembly. This strategy characterised the federalists’ battles from the end of the ‘40s through to around the middle of the ‘60s, battles that initially sought to exploit the climate of the post-war period, or rather the extreme weakness of the European states, and that later, as the federalists grew progressively more radical in their contestation of the nation-states, which they defined “illegitimate”, became reactions to the stinging defeat of the European Defence Community (EDC) project and to the subsequent policy of the governments, which endorsed the functionalist theory. The success of this policy, measured in terms of the economic growth that followed the creation of the Common Market and allowed the states to regain, apparently at least, a certain degree of stability, led Albertini to rethink the question of strategy. The resulting change of direction, which characterised the last years of the transition period of the Common Market (the late ‘60s) and went on to accompany the long process that has culminated in the creation of the single currency, was called constitutional gradualism.
The new strategy drew inspiration from a passage of Jean Monnet’s Memorandum of 28 April, 1950 in which he explained the nature of the strategic design of the ECSC. Having first observed that nothing but blind alleys were being met across the full spectrum of the political front, he continued: “There is only one way out of such a situation: a concrete and resolute action on a limited but decisive point, that will bring about a fundamental change in relation to that point and help to modify the very terms of the problems as a whole”.
It is from this affirmation that Albertini developed the idea of the need for the pursuit of gradual strategic ends as a subtle way of driving politicians onto a “downward slope” from the nations to Europe. This could be done by identifying a “slippery point,” or problem, …that could potentially render “thinkable the decision to transfer power: basically problems in the areas of “purse” and “sword”.[53] The downward slope concept, Albertini explained, is “a paradigm that is applied to many historical events, in their individual uniqueness, but also to many of the happenings of normal life: the paradigm… of the false step. If I take a false step, the consequences will be automatic; they will follow whether or not I want them to. It is something that can happen to anyone, that is often seen on a historical level, and that does not depend on any form of general determinism. The idea of the false step just means that some consequences, which constitute a result, are already inevitable at a point when one was not actually thinking of, definitely did not want, or did not yet want, that result.”[54]
When this mechanism is triggered, the action of the national leaders tends to go beyond confederal limits and to become, consciously or otherwise, European action. “It is a recurring situation that emerges when national solutions are found to be impossible. In these circumstances, national leaders act as European leaders… It is a widely known fact, but it is one that cannot be understood fully until it is admitted that what is activated in these cases is true occasional European leadership. This leadership emerges, naturally, in a context defined not by the institutions but by an objective situation (widespread fears, great problems, strength in unity, weakness in division), and it exerts a force of traction on the political class as a whole (which is thus allowed to pursue a European action without having to abandon the field of national politics).”[55]
According to this definition, occasional European leadership may be considered the answer to the question of whether or not the power to build Europe actually exists. If we consider this power in a static sense, then we can affirm that it does not exist, given that, in a process of unification of states, the latter have and retain their sovereignty until such time as the process of unification has been completed. And for this to happen, a very difficult decision needs to be taken simultaneously by all those involved. Occasional leadership, however, can allow the power to build Europe, potentially at least, to start to manifest itself, if an endeavour initiated by one or more governments proves able to win the consensus of the others. The concept of occasional leadership is thus the dynamic element that could, in a rather crystallised power situation (that of divided sovereign states), trigger a process that might lead the holders of the old powers to decide to create a new, supranational power. And when such a decision is taken, all those unitary solutions compatible with the maintenance of sovereignty disappear from view and it becomes possible for the full force of the constituent will to manifest itself.[56]
Identifying the role of the governments and the mechanism that can activate their will to make the federal leap forward does not mean that this role is actually being fulfilled, or that the objective need for unification is sufficient to ensure that it will be fulfilled. Drawing a parallel with Italian unification, Albertini wrote: “This was a problem at once simple and terribly difficult… Simple, because it was perfectly easy to see that the regional states divided Italy, and that Italy could be united only by an Italian state. Terribly difficult, because it was terribly difficult for the ruling class to understand a policy — that of Italian unification — that was going to threaten, reduce or even destroy their own positions of power. The moderates — after vacillating for some considerable time — pursued this policy. But they were undoubtedly spurred on by the whip of Mazzini, by the action of a small revolutionary class that exploited moral and cultural forces rather than any power situation. We see something similar to this in the case of European unification: it is slowed down by the fact that the problem lies precisely where the driving force should be, with the politicians. This problem will be overcome only if the federalists prove able to crack… the federalist whip.”[57]
Strategically, the federalists have two fundamental tasks: the first is to take the initiative, vis-à-vis the governments and political forces, in order either to point out intermediate strategic objectives arising from objective situations, or to pursue the objective of the European state when the manifest precariousness of the power situation, which could culminate in a severe crisis, makes it both feasible and possible that the holders of national power will finally display the highest level of historical and political responsibility. The other task is to act as guides, in other words, to gather the citizens, defined by Albertini as the “European people in the making”, around the strategic or around the political objective so that they can voice their consensus for unification.[58] In every strategic phase, therefore, it is a question of setting up an efficient and autonomous action that gets men acting in an effective and productive way.
To this end, it is necessary to activate, in a political sense, the following categories: organised Europeanism (the Movements), organisable Europeanism, i.e., “the impact the eclipse of the national sovereignties has had on the most aware citizens”, and diffuse Europeanism, “the impact that de facto European unity has had on individual citizens”, so as to create a “balance between the confederal policy of the governments and the federal objective of the organised Europeans, between the myths of integration and the United States of Europe idea, and between nationalist distortion… of reality and awareness of the federalism-nationalism contraposition”.[59]
If, indeed, the new European state will come about only if the governments relinquish their sovereignty irrevocably through a pact of union, then this step must be promoted and sanctioned through the exercising of the will of the sovereign people, that is, through an end to exclusive consensus for the national powers and an expression of consensus for the birth of the new European power.
Focusing on the people does not mean attributing the people with the capacity and role of an organised political movement, fully aware of the nature of the political struggle needed to reach the federal objective, and completely unconditioned by the national power framework. Instead, it means being aware that the transfer of sovereignty is not a purely institutional matter and that the life and significance of this institutional construct must “stem from an act of will, whose subject is the people and whose content is based on a different way of living together.”[60] Those who write off the European federation an unrealisable project, because there exists no European people, no European demos, as the precondition for the birth of the European state, fail to appreciate that “a new people is born at the moment in which it becomes aware of the need for the birth of a new state and that a new state is born out of this awareness”.[61] The concept of the European people in the making (a consequence of the long process of integration), which will become the “European people” proper upon the creation of the European state, allows us to envisage that, should circumstances allow it, there could emerge the common will to create the European state: “European people and a European state will therefore come about at the same time”.[62]
The Organisation and the Militants.
The effective action of a political movement depends absolutely on the identification of an adequate strategy; it is equally important that the individuals who carry out this strategy, and indeed their whole organisation, are up to scratch. For this reason, the organisation and training of militants were among Albertini’s most pressing concerns from the very start of his federalist militancy.[63]
However, it was not until after the collapse of the EDC that he began to channel most of his energies in this direction. Prior to this setback, the MFE was entirely different compared to what it was progressively to become in the period following it. It had tens of thousands of members, most of whom belonged to national political parties. The movement was the reflection of the enormous pro-European feeling (encouraged by American support for the idea of a United States of Europe) that dominated the political class in the post-war period and allowed the MFE to become a point of reference for the parties and a “prompter” heeded by the leaders.
After this stage and, as we shall see, the setting out of a new strategy (the European People’s Congress), it was necessary to rethink the organisation. The radical opposition to the nation-state that accompanied this new strategy necessarily put a distance between the MFE and the vast majority of the notables and of the political class, for whom Europeanism was strictly conditioned by the national power framework. As a result the movement needed to be rebuilt, so to speak, on different foundations, through the recruitment of new, highly motivated forces and the creation of militants who think and act autonomously.[64]
“Building Europe is difficult… To engage in the attempt is to set oneself, bravely and modestly, at the crossroads of all the political and economic crises that the past forty years of Europe’s political and economic life have brought. Europe is an alternative to the ideological crisis of communism, to the passivity of socialism, and to the stagnation of national political life. Militants are those who have this calling and who realise the noble nature of their task, which must make them, pioneers of a small organisation, feel that they are the alternative to everything else that currently occupies the stage. Because either this is how it is for them, or, as federalists, they are worthless”. And, as such, federalists must be capable of making their presence felt in their own environment, of “winning small, but effective, slices of power”, thereby making “the birth of an organisation coincide with the birth of genuine positions of leadership at local level”.[65] Several years later Albertini reiterated and expanded on these ideas, stating that “we cannot start again under a leader who points out the way and leaves followers to travel it. This is the kind of leader that is needed only when power is within reach, certainly not when it is still remote, when it is still a question of creating a force, and when it is companions, not followers, that we need. To create a force, moral and intellectual energies need to be unleashed. It takes people with autonomy, people who can do things by themselves, who can do new things… the leadership we need has to be sought in the collective experience of all these independent contributions.”[66]
The basis for the creation of these independent militants was identified as the capacity to rid one’s subconscious of the national sentiment, of the national point of view fed by the continuous inputs from the existing social-political order: “Militants are formed in the course of the struggle, not in study groups. However, one is not born a militant, and one does not become a good militant without acquiring a clearly defined political character”, and this can be done through study and debate. “It might seem strange that to succeed in any political enterprise, it is necessary to build the struggle upon a foundation of serious study, with rules and structures that bear a closer resemblance to those of schools of philosophy than political associations. Yet, in all revolutionary enterprises something of this nature has always existed, because the hardest challenge for the revolutionary is precisely that of making the best use of rationality to direct the struggle towards a new objective in a world in which habit, conventional wisdom and clichés steer men towards old objectives.”[67] Hence, the federalist vanguard becomes “the theoretical and practical consciousness of the European nature of the fundamental political alternative. As a specifically theoretical awareness, it is founded on the theory of federalism and on the demystification of the nation… As a specifically practical awareness, the federalist vanguard signifies opposition to the community, which is different from the typical opposition to governments or regimes since, instead of refuting a particular government or regime, the federalist vanguard rejects the national community as an exclusive political community. Only at this point does the decision in favour of a European federation abandon the vagueness of good intentions to become a definite will, a real and effective political attitude, that is, a daily relationship with the power structure.”[68]
The intellectual autonomy of the individual, and the autonomy of the organisation, can nevertheless be guaranteed only through a definite breaking away from the logic of the system. “The revolutionary… cannot and must not have a role in the system. Staying within the system means accepting its logic, not questioning its basis, carrying out more or less correctly the tasks inked to one’s role, and seeking the consensus of those who have an elevated position in politics or society, in short, telling them what they want to hear… renouncing one’s prerogative to speak the truth.”[69] “A position is secure when interests coincide with duty (Hamilton)… Those with pre-established positions that depend on the existing political and economic balance… have interests that are in conflict with their duty”:[70] great enterprises can be based only on “exclusive devotion”.[71] And finally, to complete the picture, we cannot ignore the material aspect that can condition the autonomy of an organisation: its relationship with money, one of the instruments most capable of corrupting individuals and groups. Militants must be self-financing if they are to respect an unassailable principle of true independence, which must, by definition, be moral, intellectual, political and financial. Obviously, not all the members of an organisation can be militants in the strict sense of the word; having said that, the MFE will be able to tackle the task of founding a new state only if there is, within its ranks, a well prepared group, a hard core devoted exclusively to the cause. It cannot be ignored that the governments and the citizens will also take the field, but both of these groups are conditioned by the national framework and therefore it is up to the militant to work constantly and, with determination, to display the “skills of the pilot”, in other words, to point out, at every junction reached, the right road to take.
The Strategic Stages in the Struggle for European Unification.
1. The Pact for Federal Union and the EDC.
In 1949 the Union of European Federalists (UEF) agreed to the MFE’s proposal to mount a campaign for a Pact for Federal Union, which the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe was meant to draw up and put to the member states for ratification. In Italy, in particular, this campaign involved Italy’s top politicians and led to the signing of its “Petition for a Pact for Federal Union” at the Teatro Sistina in Rome by the prime minister, Alcide De Gasperi, and the foreign minister, Carlo Sforza, in the presence of the President of Italy, Luigi Einaudi. The backdrop to this campaign was the decay and power crisis of Europe’s nation-states, whose weakness was seen to be exploitable in the bidt o get them to put their centuries and destruction behind them and unite in a federation. The fact that the federal pact never came into being only exacerbated Europe’s post-war problems, the greatest of which was that of German sovereignty, and in particular, of the German army. The EDC project was the governments’ answer to this problem, and the battle for a European political community the federalist reaction.
The fact that the federalists had to rely on the foreign policy of the nation-states constituted, in Albertini’s words, the “paradox of the EDC”: “in the EDC project, traditional policy and federalist policy coincided. The diplomats were faced with a tough problem. Federalism offered the solution. The solution was federalist, whereas the means of its implementation was the nation-state.”[72]
In truth, Albertini wrote, “if one were to look, behind the European facade, for the true reasons for the political actions in support of the EDC that were mounted in the various countries, one would see that in France they were a means of preventing German rearmament, in Germany a means of recovering the only form of sovereignty that was, at that time, possible, and in Italy a means of protecting the centre government”.[73] The federalists, aware of this, and critical of the EDC as an institution, nevertheless supported it as a “policy”, since it was, basically, a constituent policy: “it would have given us, as was indeed recognised by the 58 French socialists opposed to the project, a six-member European state… There can be no going back… when the national army has been dismantled… All the democratic forces would have been obliged to adopt a stance vis-à-vis a situation whose only possible outcome was federalist.”[74]
But the battle was lost, and the collapse of the EDC made it necessary to reconsider the alliance between traditional and federalist policy. This alliance was based on a real situation, the crisis of the sovereign state, and it had induced the most enlightened of the holders of national power to press ahead, almost up to the point of relinquishing sovereignty. The failure of the operation, which had represented one of Europe’s occasional opportunities, brought national politics once more to the fore: the opponent, the nation-state, was once more in the driving seat.
This meant that it was necessary to find a new strategy and to strengthen the MFE: while the political situation temporarily left the federalists out of the game, the contradictions inherent in national life remained, and if the federalist analysis of the situation were correct, they would be destined, fatally, to re-emerge.
2. The European People’s Congress.
With the ratification of the WEU and the restoration of Germany’s sovereignty, it was clear that the rebuilding of Europe was proceeding along national lines, and was based on the preservation of the absolute sovereignty of the states: the federalists thus set themselves the task of creating the conditions that would force the national governments to relinquish their sovereignty, their intention being to fire popular demand for a constituent assembly, the convening of which could come about only upon the creation of a supranational political force that was firmly in favour of such a step and that was strong enough to impose it on the national governments. This political force, which would serve to increase European popular will until victory was achieved, and agreement to the constituent assembly wrung out of the governments, was to be the European People’s Congress (EPC).[75] “This is not a maximalist programme”, wrote Albertini in an article on the significance of the Paris congress, in January 1955, of the European Union of Federalists, which launched the idea of the EPC. “It is a question of shifting the struggle to terrain where it can be won. Schuman himself, whose courageous address opened the meeting, said that European action must focus not on the national parliaments, but on the two spheres of opinion — public and government. National situations become crystallised in national parliaments, and even more so in national governments. But it is from national governments that public opinion must secure the first step, because national governments are the ones with the power of initiative.”[76]
“The vote for the EPC — Albertini wrote, to illustrate the meaning and the ends of the campaign — does not create a parliamentary power, but counts more as a sort of protest, a claim to the European voting right… The general political meaning of this long-term work plan is essentially as follows: it tends towards the hegemony on diffuse Europeanism. Today, Europeanism is a zero force politically… But this situation can be overturned with the primary elections… In the same way in which someone who has liberal, socialist, trade union reactions immediately reports them to a given party or trade union, thus tomorrow someone who has European reactions will report them to the European People’s Congress and no longer to the ‘Europeanists’ of the national parties. When this is done, Europeanism will be a political force. It will then be a matter of using this force appropriately and decisively when power crisis situations arise. In such situations choices become strong, the masses awaken from their usual slumber and acquire the power of choice. Then the EPC will be able to stage the decisive battle.”[77]
It was inevitable that these radical positions should be adopted. Having come to the end of a political cycle in which Europe’s weakness had been severe, and with the tragic consequences of Europe’s division still fresh in the memory, it was hard to imagine that the governments might, in the short term, have pursued the objective of the federation, which implied the destruction, at their own hands, of their positions of power: the federalists had to set out on the road of autonomy, the formation of cadres, the gathering of consensus, developing a policy of regime and community opposition.[78]
On the European front, when the governments, through the creation of the Common Market, started to move in the direction of simple economic integration, the federalists responded by denouncing the prevailing functionalist illusion, vigorously contesting the European communities and the futile hope that they might spontaneously evolve in the direction of federalism. “Evolution”, wrote Albertini, “means passing (gradually) from status X to status Y. Well, one cannot talk… of a (gradual) transfer of the power of these pseudo-communities from a national (confederal) status to a European (federal) status for the simple reason that these pseudo-communities do not have any power, and as a result cannot go from having one form of power to having another; and neither is it possible to talk in indirect terms: since they are subordinate to and not wielders of power, they are not in a position to transfer it from a national to a European level. Whatever form they take, these pseudo-communities remain within the confines of the national sphere. In relation to the European sphere, they are, one might say, asymptotic: they can be thought to draw ever closer to it, they cannot be considered able to reach it… Those who wish federation to be achieved cannot, therefore, be in favour of the pseudo-communities. So what must their attitude be? Indifferent, hostile? I would say that it must be hostile. Allow me to illustrate just one point: to unite Europe there needs to be a transfer of sovereignty from the state to the federation, and this can occur only if a sufficient number of individuals, firmly aligned in the European camp, turn against the national powers in order (to a great extent) to destroy them, while at the same time founding, in the same European camp, a political (constituent) power. We are talking about an extremely difficult revolutionary struggle… demanding exceptional force of reason.”[79]
This political-strategic analysis, which went entirely against the prevailing trend presented the federalists with a number of problems: on the one hand there was the need to give consciousness to and organise the widespread Europeanism, in other words, the pro-European feelings of the citizens, and, on the other, the need to denounce the Europeanist policy pursued by the governments, a policy that, in reality, postponed the federal objective, and was feeding the widespread Europeanism that federalists themselves needed to be exploiting, and which ought to have been the framework of action of the EPC.
But, difficult as it was, this was an attitude that had to be adopted, and it was not without its repercussions, producing splits and divisions within the federalist movements. The campaign for the EPC was not initially well received by the UEF (which at the time was an “international” of independent national movements) and its supporters tried to conduct it independently of the existing organisations, setting up the EPC as an autonomous organisation. But the attempt to get the elections of its delegates conducted over a sufficiently wide area of western Europe failed and the EPC “started to drift like a ship without a compass” —public elections were successfully organised only in those areas in which there were strong and resolute groups, basically only in northern Italy and Lyon — until, finally, it entered its death throes.
The crisis of the EPC, which turned into the crisis of the movement, marked the start, in 1960, of a troubled period that culminated, on the one hand, in Albertini assuming a position of opposition to Spinelli and also in his taking over of the leadership of the MFE, and, on the other, in terms of action, in the launch of the campaign for the Voluntary Census of the European Federal People.
“It was a very tough and arduous undertaking”, Albertini wrote. “It was a matter of re-examining everything that had been thought and done from 1955 to 1960, and of starting again, tackling, intellectually, a much vaster field, while the force of federalism was dwindling to such a point that the scope for action was becoming infinitesimal. Having abandoned the comfortable position of (cultural) deputy to Spinelli, I had to confront him head on and openly, and hold my ground against practically everyone, while I was being accused of giving way, of Gaullism, of sabotaging federalist autonomy. Beginning with two or three young friends, bit by bit I wove the threads together, without wavering on the key elements: a vision of the course of history, a vision of the political process and of our place in it, regime and community opposition, and finally, as this gradually took: shape and became possible once again, the concrete determination to tackle the problems that the MFE is called upon to solve [namely] the restarting of action in the European framework (real action, not the dream of action like the visionary plans for a great revival of the EPC, which do not allow us to achieve anything, since, here and now, they are not possible and they do not spur the federalist front into action), and political debate on fundamental questions: the place of the federalists in the course of history and in the political process.
Spinelli had no answer to this need for new awareness and new action. This is why he sought support externally, in the USA and in the national left wing parties. But by so doing he sacrificed federalist autonomy, went off course, deviating in the national direction, and lost his some of his following.”[80]
Albertini faced a dilemma that was moral as well as political: “It is only recently that I have started to see clearly, through to its ultimate political consequences, the fact that Spinelli cannot lead this phase of the federalist struggle… It is a very serious situation, serious because it is difficult to contemplate on a human level: he is, after all, the founder; and serious from a political perspective, too, because he is, in any case, a major player on the stage and fighting or diminishing him would damage federalism. It is a real quandary: if we leave him to go on leading the struggle, he will take it off course, yet if we take away his supremacy, we have no one with the authority to replace him.”[81]
But just a year later, the die was cast: “…basically, it all depends on whether or not it is true that Spinelli’s policy will lead to the dissolution of the MFE. This has been my personal view for some considerable time now, and I have made no secret of the fact… It is true that I could… be mistaken, and before deciding to take action I thought about it endlessly. But things continued to go from bad to worse, until finally I felt that not intervening would have been blameful. After all, we have no means of gauging our actions other than our own consciences. And the fact that we could be wrong does not relieve us of our responsibility to make a choice: we are making choices all the time, and action, just as much as failure to act, constitutes a choice.” Spinelli’s leadership “is a problem that cannot be resolved through sentiment alone: respect, gratitude, friendship. This would be to treat a value judgment as an established fact, whereas establishing the facts is precisely what we have to do, in order to be able to appreciate their political consequences. Who is Spinelli? He is a man with enormous intuition when it comes to fully, or almost fully developed political situations, but totally without interest in those that still manifest themselves in a purely embryonic form. He is a man very skilled at manipulating the existing equilibria, but entirely the wrong person to pave the way for future ones. It was, for Spinelli, somehow destiny that, in the period between 1948 and 1954, there prevailed a situation that could, potentially, have allowed the federal unification of Europe (through correct understanding and manipulation of the existing equilibrium, and provided that some politician outside the normal arena should prove able to take the right initiative at the right time). Spinelli was this man and was thus responsible for placing federalism, for the first time in European history, on the political stage… and by so doing he left his mark in post-war history.
But the political cycle that began in 1954 is, as far as the European question is concerned, the complete opposite of the cycle that came to its close the same year. The policies of the parties and governments can no longer be expected to coincide in a virtual manner with the objective of the federal unification of Europe. It is thus no longer a question of intervening in the current equilibrium from the outside, with a federalist initiative. Instead, it is a question of getting to grips with the embryonic political aspects of the situation, with the aim of bringing about the birth of a new force, and of using this force to modify the equilibrium so as to obtain that which can no longer be obtained in the context of the normal equilibrium. In the new political cycle that had begun, Spinelli’s life started to become difficult. His personality no longer coincided with his task. He could point out the new direction to follow, but he was unable to follow it himself, because it was not his path. He remained immobile, and each time he tried to move, to act, he found himself deviating in a national direction… And ever since then we have remained on the threshold. And it has to be understood that is where we will remain, for ever, unless we can find the courage to surpass him… Federalism in the current cycle must do things that Spinelli cannot do, that there would be no point asking him to do. Precisely because, as a man, he is complete he has earned his place among those who have genuinely contributed something to history — Spinelli is the man for some things, but not for all things. And on a human level — life is by no means perfect — I believe that there is only one way in which we can be true to him: and that is by opposing him.”[82]
“Surpassing” Spinelli meant “finding some firm ground, some basis offering real organisational possibilities. In particular: a) a view of how the world is moving (the world, note, not governments, which are effects rather than causes), b) an action that can represent the starting point from which to move from the present, from all that is national, towards Europe, and which must be a starting point everywhere, even in cities where the federalists do not yet have a foothold.”[83] This action will be the Voluntary Census of the European Federal People, a systematic gathering of signatures, whose purpose is to “monitor” the European citizens in favour of European unity until such time as they are in the majority.
3. The Voluntary Census of the European Federal People.
The differences with Spinelli came to light at the meetings of the supranational MFE[84] and of the permanent committee of the EPC, held in Paris on 30 September and 1 October, 1961 as preparation for the Lyon congress (9-11 February, 1962), and their political-organisational repercussions came, in March 1962, with the official establishment, in Milan, of the Autonomia federalista current. As Spinelli progressively withdrew from the picture,[85] this current, led by Albertini, embarked on a period of intense activity: the first meeting at European level was held in Basel on 29 April, 1962, and at the second (on 30 September) the new framework action (in the form of the Census) was approved. In the October, this action was proposed to the central committee of the supranational MFE, in opposition to the plan to revive the EPC action.
This crisis period and the shifting to a new perspective on strategy and action are analysed by Albertini in a series of writings gathered together in an essay entitled La crisi di orientamento politico del federalismo europeo. “Neither the European People’s Congress, he writes, nor the unified supranational Movimento Federalista Europeo have produced the desired fruits. I begin with a few remarks on the EPC. This could have been thought of: a) as a means of establishing contact between federalists, understood as a new, European political class, and their cities (this is how I always interpreted it…), and b) as a formula capable of arousing political energies. Experience has shown us that the EPC is the first of these things, not the second… It is easy, moreover, to explain why: a) the EPC makes provision for the election of plebiscitary delegates, not delegates selected by assemblies on the basis of their political positions; b) as a result, it does not select responsible leaders, but amasses delegates-cum-spectators, who may approve of this personality or the other, but who fail to appreciate that the reports and proposals which they hear (but do not listen to) constitute political directions whose choice, which depends on each and every one of them, effectively imposes a political line on the organisation; c) this is why the EPC fails both as policy-making organ and as an organ for driving recruitment efforts and for selecting men…
Now a few considerations on the MFE. It has failed to become European… If we compare it with the past, we can say that things have been got rid of (the old “sovereign” national organisations), but not, as yet, that they have effectively been replaced with things European. The national commissions tend to keep political initiative within the national sphere… In the light of these premises, it is possible to get to the heart of the problem. We are faced with the most difficult political objective: the foundation of a new state in a new area. Having failed to seize the opportunity offered by post-war Germany, we will now need to employ the most difficult of means: a political movement that will have to be founded from scratch. If we prove unable to rise to these great challenges, our adoption of political stances will amount to nothing more than talk… The problem we face is not one of conserving, or of organising, that which exists; instead we face the problem of making superior political behaviours — superior morally and culturally — coincide with the struggle for Europe.”[86]
All this implied a need to focus massively on the cultural front: “Our cultural efforts are of the utmost importance. We need a doctrine that will enable us to show what our enemy is, and why it must be defeated. A permanent doctrine. In the absence of a doctrine, coups de main, policies like those of the Carbonari, and short-term enterprises are all possible, but the same cannot be said of long-term endeavours that must rest on the engagement, for a very long time, of many men, in the absence of funds to pay or recompense them and without any prospect of imminent success… As long as people think that evil equates with capitalism, with communist totalitarianism, with the anti-Christ, then the natural reactions — the acceptable watchwords — will be those of the socialists, the democrats, the Christians… We need a satisfactory theory of the nation-state, something solid on which to base our claim that it is illegitimate, and our rejection of loyalty to it… It will be impossible to abandon the nation-states regime in favour of the federal one without an absolute negation of nationalism (= the nation-state) in all the spheres in which its influence has spread… We need to set up a regime opposition and a regime opposition can be based only on absolute negation (which by its nature, by the very fact that it negates a power situation that has produced a culture, must inevitably have a cultural character) of the existing regime. We really do have to show that the nation is an idol. It is not enough just to say this. We have to say it in such a way that the best, and then all the rest, become convinced that it is an idol, and that it must not be served. Until we reach this point, our opposition is in vain, we “do not act on our own”, our force is nil.”[87]
This great endeavour, to found and disseminate federalist political culture — its aim was to highlight “the exhaustion of the traditional political ideologies” and to indicate federalism as “the true answer if we are to reach the ethical and political values that the new global and European situation causes to be born in the consciousness of men”[88] — provided the crucial support for a framework action, an action able to create a European framework of political struggle based on the federation/nation-states alternative.
“In the current situation — Albertini wrote, officially presenting the campaign for the Voluntary Census of the European Federal People — the European citizens, while able, through the parties, to contribute to the formation of the respective national policies, are not in a position either to declare themselves in favour of Europe, or to adopt stances on issues that concern Europe. We therefore need to make it possible both for all Europeans to support Europe, and for this support to be harnessed through a means of action that is within everyone’s reach, and as such able to be developed everywhere. We must also give the Europeans, who have shown this support, the opportunity to express, from time to time, their positions on Europe’s political, social and economic problems.”[89] The theory was that this would result in the Europeans acting above national level, “that they would, as they became organised, become progressively more open a) to the idea that they are the European federal people, and b) to the idea that, as members of this people, they have the democratic right to decide what form European unity should take (through the exercising of their constituent power)”.[90]
This campaign had to aim to achieve numerous expressions of support, indeed it had to win a level of support great enough to turn it into a public phenomenon, or rather to create “a widespread European frame of mind that would stop the population from continuing to regard the governments and national parties as the sole protagonists of European unification”.[91] Ultimately, this process was intended to lead to “a global shift of public opinion”, such as to “force the governments to face the need to convene a constituent assembly”, with provision being made even for non-violent acts of civil disobedience.[92]
While the Autonomia federalista current was proceeding along these lines, deciding, after several postponements, that the action should begin on 1 November 1963 in France, Italy and Germany, strenuous efforts were being made to convince the MFE to sanction the Census as an official action. “The MFE, wrote Albertini, is now conducting the policy of the Front, that is to say, it is trying to assume the leadership of Europe’s democratic forces. The minority… for its part, is trying to do the same with the Census… The Front, in its present form, cannot evolve, therefore it is not the correct solution, but its efforts were in the right direction.”[93] On this basis Albertini looked for an agreement and came up with the following proposal: “The Census can organise the population. The Front can speak to the population. If the population is to be organised, it must be given the opportunity to express itself. In the absence of the vote, which is a population’s normal means of expression, the only thing that can be done at European level is to conduct a sort of census. On the other hand, in order to preserve this link with the population and channel it politically, we have to group together the nuclei in favour of Europe, as gradually they emerge — hence the need for a flexible form of aggregation — and, together with them, adopt political stances. This is the Front… if the MFE acknowledges… the complementarity between the Front and the Census, introducing appropriate guarantees which will have to be worked out, [Autonomia federalista] will have no alternative but to disband.”[94]
The operation was carried out successfully: in the course of the central committee meeting of 31 May 1965, the Census was approved as an official action of the MFE and the Autonomia federalista current was dissolved.
4. The Direct Election of the European Parliament.
The attempt to mobilise the citizens through the EPC and the Census collided with the growing success of the Common Market. “The MFE knew that economic integration alone would not automatically lead Europe to political unification. It also knew that economic union could not be fully realised without political union, given that its evolution, at a certain point, would inevitably have raised economic policy problems that are practically impossible to resolve in the absence of a European power. And it endeavoured by every means to make these patent truths understood. But it was neither heard nor heeded: the constant march of the Common Market gave most the impression that it was now advancing steadily in the direction of Europe. For the MFE it was a question of biding its time.”[95]
In other words, the MFE had to identify an adequate basis, linked to some aspect of the political situation, from which to re-launch the action of the federalists. What they saw on the horizon was the imminent end of the transition period of the Common Market, and this was something that could be exploited strategically. When this point came, the states would find themselves at a crossroads: a) to go on enjoying the advantages of economic integration would mean facing up to the problem of economic and monetary union, b) to overcome the discrepancy (which the governments, first and foremost, were experiencing on a daily basis) between the size of the problems and that of the decision-making centres would mean tackling the problem of the institutions and their democratic control. For the federalists, these two fronts, together, would become the platform from which to re-launch Europe through the change in strategy that, as we have seen, was defined constitutional gradualism.
Taking as his starting point the consideration that Europe was now an economic reality, with a complex administration, Albertini drew attention to the fact that, alongside this new and powerful European reality there was a European Parliament still devoid of a constituency: “In asking for it to be elected, we are demanding something that everyone but the enemies of Europe welcome. Now we must exploit this sentiment… [The] parties, despite recognising the principle of European democracy, do nothing to turn it into a reality. But they will have to shake off this inertia should the MFE, through a patient and resolute campaign, force them to come up with a response. Of course it is not just a question of demanding the direct election of the European Parliament, but rather of embarking on a slow and difficult process that will eventually lead to this goal… In practice, it means singling out individual objectives that are within reach along the pathway towards electing a European parliament, so as to bring about concrete decisions and not just Sunday sermons. The crucial point, now, is the fact that de Gaulle can block European elections, but cannot prevent other countries from electing their members of the European Parliament by universal suffrage… This has to be the starting point…’’[96]
Thus the concrete proposal was to start, in Italy, a campaign for the unilateral direct election of Italy’s representatives in the European Parliament, gradually drawing into the Italian campaign the leaders of the French opposition to de Gaulle and leading figures in other countries, too, so as to create a sort of chain reaction. Should unilateral elections not be obtained, the contingency plan was to mobilise “a force great enough to demand, through a congress elected directly by the people in primary elections held on the same day in a sufficient number of European cities, European democracy”.[97] This would have meant exploiting all the actions of the MFE, from the Front to the Census, and the Border Action, and so on, and have necessitated the direct mobilisation of public opinion and the gathering together of a group of key figures from the worlds of politics, culture and the trade unions.
With regard to the significance of and the potential offered by the direct election of the European Parliament, Albertini wrote: “All the great political and economic problems should now be referred necessarily to European level, but… they still allow Europe to be seen in the evasive terms typical of the national perspective (in terms of collaboration, of confederation, of a community not destined to undergo a federal transformation). The question of European elections, on the other hand, has to be considered from the perspective of transferring power to Europe, as this is exactly what direct European elections imply. One need only consider the fact that the first European elections will inevitably see the parties aligning themselves at European level and fighting to win European consensus… Once the political struggle has been shifted from the national frameworks to the European setting, the main obstacles that separate us from European democracy will have been overcome. All the other objectives, including the Constitution and the constituent assembly will merely become aspects of what, in military strategy, is called building on success.”[98]
It was to be more than a decade before the first European elections were held, and while this milestone may not have triggered the process of transferring power from the nations to Europe, it did allow the federalists to keep the European question alive. They did this by denouncing the contradiction between the European vote and the absence of a European state. It also allowed them to involve the Parliament itself in some of the stages of their political struggles, through to Altiero Spinelli’s Draft Treaty establishing the European Union, which, within and with the help of the European Parliament, managed to advance further the process of unification, raising in clear terms the problem of the transfer of certain key powers from the nations to Europe.
5. The Currency.
In the early 1970s, the world was faced with a severe political and economic crisis linked to increasing turmoil in the monetary sphere and the raw materials sector, which, in turn, was attributable to the weakening of America’s position of leadership. It thus appeared more urgent than ever to inject some energy into the process of European unification, so that Europe might be able to enter the equation, or at least begin a tangible process that would make it possible to anticipate a change in the global power situation, moving it in the direction of “egalitarian multipolarism”.
While the battle to obtain European elections was still being waged, the federalists opened up another strategic front, identifying currency as a “slippery point” on the “downward slope” leading from the nations to Europe, in other words, as a factor that made a decision to transfer power to European level appear feasible. On the basis of this new principle of gradual exploitation of the governments’ European policy — at the summit meeting in The Hague in 1969, the governments had recognised the need for monetary union — the MFE moved closer to their objective of demanding a single currency.
It was a matter of acting in order to turn a concrete problem, caused by increasingly close economic integration and by an ever more chaotic international situation, into a political problem, of linking the currency question with the question of sovereignty, and thus of the state.
“It is commonly admitted — Albertini wrote — that monetary problems should also be tackled from a political perspective. But it is not common for consideration to be given to the basic political questions that underlie them… Obviously, this affects the results of the analyses that are conducted. Positive conclusions cannot be reached when one sees that there is a need for greater understanding of a problem, yet fails to address this need; in this way, the reflection is kept firmly within the state that Hegel defines ‘bad infinity’. And at the root of the ‘bad infinity’ [in this case]… is the absence of a complete and adequate theory of the political aspects (power aspects) of currency.”[99]
Starting from the analyses of Lionel Robbins, who highlights these very aspects, Albertini pursued his line of reasoning, ultimately showing that the expression “European monetary unification” refers to a clear question that begs but one answer, not a number of solutions (in truth, all but one illusory). The economic objective is to transform a group of national currencies, whose influence at international level is both subordinate and limited, into a “national” (European) currency that covers the whole of the area in question. It is thus a question of having recourse to a political instrument: public will, constitutionally defined, over this same area. This is the same as saying that European monetary unification cannot be planned without also planning the creation of a European federal state.”[100]
In short, the currency question was, indeed, one of those “slippery points” that, activating the national leaders in the framework of normal political action (which, being such, does not extend to consideration of the possibility of creating European sovereignty), opened the way, once the objective was on the table, for the emergence of an occasional European leadership that could pull the national leaderships in that very direction.
Having obtained, in December 1975, approval for the first direct election of the European Parliament, the federalists turned their attention to the single currency which, on the basis of the above considerations, had assumed strategic importance. It was a lengthy battle. First, the federalists lent their support to the creation of the European Monetary System (EMS), which they saw as an intermediate stage, capable of containing the currency drift caused by the widespread problem of exchange rate fluctuations. Then, once this objective had been reached, they fought for the transformation of the EMS into an out-and-out monetary union.[101]
Then, during the Rome European Council in October 1990, decisions on economic and monetary union were finally taken which seemed to suggest that a true European currency would be born through the drawing up and ratification of a treaty containing the programme for its realisation.[102] While drawing attention to the risks linked to the long time frame envisaged by the governments, Albertini underlined the importance of ratifying a treaty that contained a clear programme and fixed deadlines: “What is in question here is the force (political, economic and social) that has thus far underpinned the Community’s progress: the shaping of expectations. It is by this means that the process of unification has so far been able to advance. European energies… can enter the field when the Community, stating clearly where it is going, the intermediate objectives, the dates etc., sets out programmes that look credible and that mobilise a number of forces — forces that increase as these programmes, drawing closer to the final objective, gain even more credibility, and even prevail over opposing or passive forces. Of course, the more important the objective is, the greater will be the forces that enter the field.”[103]
On the basis of these considerations, and of the fact that the Single Market was due to come into effect from 1 January 1993, the MFE asked the governments to bring forward the creation of the European currency so as to avoid the risk that the whole project might sink, were there to be a change in the general climate that had given rise to the political will to create it. It was, that is, a question: 1) of speeding up the attaining of the strategic objective (the currency) so as to be able to move on to the building-on-success stage in order to create new institutional equilibria, and 2) “of rendering steeper and steeper the slippery slope on which the governments found themselves, requesting incessantly that the European Parliament be granted, irrevocably, a constituent mandate, at least in relation to the creation of the democratic and institutional structure through which to manage the competences already transferred — or in the process of being transferred — to Europe”,[104] thereby opening up the way for completion of the constitutional endeavour.
Contrary to the federalists’ requests, the currency was not created by the end of 1994, and neither, once the objective was finally reached with the birth of the euro, did the single currency, as had been hoped, prove able to activate — on the basis of the contradiction between the presence of a single currency covering an area embracing many states and the absence of a democratic government of that same area, capable of fully exploiting the currency’s potential — an effective constituent process for the founding of a European federal state.
This is nothing more than a further confirmation of the difficulties inherent in the European endeavour and of how the latter is strongly conditioned by the inertia of the national powers, which are at once instrumental in the advancing of integration and obstacles to the completion of the process wherever sovereignty is at stake.
European Federation and World Federation.
The federalists’ political commitment to the creation of the European federation acquires its full significance only when seen from the perspective of the federal unification, ultimately, of the whole world. This is the difference between federalists and Europeanists. This reference to global federation is an essential element of the federalists’ theoretical line and is always at the basis of the analyses that define their political thinking.
Starting from an examination of the international situation in the 1980s, Albertini placed particular emphasis on the need for “thought and will” to be projected even beyond the strategic battle for the European federation. Looking to a far distant future, he outlined a global framework tending towards the overcoming of division through pro-unification endeavours and organisations in many parts of the world, and also (with all its limitations and potential) through the United Nations Organisation.
Underlining the fact that the increasingly rapid growth of independence is pushing in the direction of collaboration between all countries “for a balanced development of the world market and a settlement of international problems by negotiation”, he concluded that “this common search for political, economic and social progress [would be] conceivable only if the beginning of the progress towards a world government, and the emergence of this new point of reference for public opinion and culture… [were to give rise to] the prospect of a united world in the world balance of expectations”.[105]
In concrete terms, these reflections led the MFE to re-establish contact and collaboration with the world federalists, to join the World Federalist Movement, and to decide, in 1984, to publish the political review Il Federalista in English (as well as in Italian and French).
Several years later, the Gorbaciov era seemed to open up the way for a movement towards “the prospect of a united world”. Albertini believed in the possibilities created by the new relations between the superpowers, while nevertheless remaining realistically cautious over this still very uncertain seed of hope. The overturning, theorised by Gorbaciov, of the principle that had always underlain the politics of all the states — “pursuing the increase in one’s own power and the decrease in the power of others” on the basis of the idea of reciprocal security — “to think about others’ security when providing for one’s own” — did indeed harbour enormous potential, making an entirely new course in international relations appear feasible. Despite being conscious of this project’s inherent limitation, a limitation which the two superpowers were not yet capable of overcoming — “namely the problem of maintaining a national defence as the supreme bulwark of their absolute and exclusive sovereignty”[106] — the federalists’ task was to keep to the fore, and to strengthen, the expectations generated by this “New Era”, lending their support to every proposal, coming from a major world leader, that tended towards the ultimate objective of global government.
The global political scenario based on the new relations between the USA and the USSR was soon shaken to its core by the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which took away the force of traction that could, on the basis of the new principles of collaboration, have been exerted by the bipolar leadership. It was a reality that had to be taken on board in the awareness that the disappearance of this opening in no way detracted from the enormous importance of the battle for the European federation, which was, and still is, the only strategic front sufficiently developed to influence, in the short term, the global power order (helping to modify its relations of force), and to open up the way for the affirmation of federalism.
If the objective of the federalists’ struggle is that of gradually entrusting world government to a growing number of peoples and men and, ultimately, to all men, the European federal state can trigger this process, and in the current historical phase, as Mario Albertini taught us, it is the compulsory point of reference for making the federalist revolution part of reality.

* This is the introduction to: Mario Albertini, Tutti gli scritti (Bologna, Il Mulino, 2006) of which three volumes have, to date, been published, referring to years 1946-1961.
[1] We here outline broadly the most important theoretical and strategic questions that Albertini dealt with, and the stages in the main political battles for European unity, which always saw him in the front line. This is done, as far as possible, using Albertini’s own words, a choice dictated by the belief that it is only by approaching directly texts taken from his writings over the years that the reader can fully appreciate their significance and force.
[2] Unfortunately, apart from politics and the idea of the course of history (on which Albertini wrote two brief but enlightening essays included in: Mario Albertini, Tutti gli scritti (currently in publication), these topics were never developed in writing and it is therefore impossible to give an account of the depth of his thought, which it would certainly be worth piecing together elsewhere, starting with the recordings of his university lectures and seminars.
I must only add, in this note, that in the ‘80s and ‘90s Albertini himself declared his writings on politics unsatisfactory, this being a topic that, together with the materialistic conception of history, and the topics of ideology and the raison d’état, he intended build into a general theory, that is to say into a perfectly complete “standard for interpreting history and political action”. Albertini thought about this project on a number of occasions, and tried to get it under way, but was ultimately prevented from doing so by his daily commitment to the struggle for European federation.
[3] Mario Albertini, “Conclusioni d’una esperienza politica”, in La Provincia pavese, 1 November 1946.
[4] It was with a thesis on Croce, supervised by Giulio Preti, that Albertini graduated in 1951. For all the unpublished texts cited in this Introduction the reader is invited to refer to this and to the subsequent volumes, where they are published in chronological order.
[5] Mario Albertini, “L’amore dell’Italia nell’Europa”, in Lo Stato moderno, IV (20 September - 5 October 1947), n. 18-19.
[6] In a letter to Ugoberto Alfassio Grimaldi dated 19 December, 1953 Albertini defines himself: “formally and in my daily action, an angry and active federalist”.
[7] It might be said that, in this phase, there prevailed in him the Don Quixote that is in every man who considers his position in relation to the world. “If one is not a Don Quixote — he wrote in a letter to Andrea Chiti-Batelli dated 4 August, 1964 — one cannot become a Lenin. We are all Don Quixotes inside. But it is alright to be a Don Quixote as long as one remains restless, as long as one is not complacent. Don Quixote is a stage in the search for realisable ideas and for the effective means of achieving them, the stage in which one is still ignorant both of the ends and of the means, but does not give in; it is from this that the restlessness derives.”
[8] Mario Albertini, Perché sono europeo, undated typescript, probably from 1958.
[9] Ibidem.
[10] Mario Albertini, “L’invito al dialogo di Norberto Bobbio”, in Il Mercurio, 11 (8 October, 1955), n. 71.
[11] Ibidem.
[12] Mario Albertini, “I principi d’azione del Manifesto di Ventotene”, Introduction to: Altiero Spinelli, Ernesto Rossi, Il Manifesto di Ventotene, Naples, Guida, 1982, p. 6. Republished in Mario Albertini, Nazionalismo e federalismo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1999.
[13] Mario Albertini, Il federalismo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1993, p. 280, note 5 (a new edition of Il federalismo e lo Stato federale. Antologia e definizione, Milan, Giuffre, 1963).
[14] Ibidem.
[15] Ibidem.
[16] Ibidem.
[17] Mario Albertini, Lo Stato nazionale, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1997, pp. 16-17 (the original edition was published in 1958).
[18] Ibidem, pp. 40-41.
[19] Mario Albertini, “La nazione, il feticcio ideologico del nostro tempo”, in Il Federalista, II (1960), n. 3, pp. 173-175. Republished (“The Nation, Ideological Fetish of our Time”) in the section “Thirty Years Ago” in The Federalist, XXXII (l990), n. 1, and in: Mario Albertini, Nazionalismo e federalismo, cit.
[20] Mario Albertini, “Il Risorgimento e l’unità europea”, in Lo Stato nazionale, cit., p. 190 (first published in 1961).
[21] Ibidem, p. 189.
[22] Ibidem.
[23] Mario Albertini, Introduction to Immanuel Kant, La pace, la ragione e la storia, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1985, p. 7.
[24] Ibidem, p. 8.
[25] Mario Albertini, Il federalismo (1993), cit., p. 9. In a review of Alexandre Marc’s book, Dialectique du déchaînement. Fondements philosophiques du fédéralisme — in Le Fédéraliste, V (1963), n. 3 — Albertini writes: “I have the impression that I am following the same route that Marc travelled, yet whereas I am taking upward path that leads from things to ideas, he travelled it by the downward path, from ideas to things… I often see my ideas set out before me as though they were the mirror image of his. There may be a basis of truth to this fancy. Marc was European and a federalist at a time when the face of Europe was still disfigured by nationalism, which had reached its peak; when the dominance of modern life’s most centralised power seemed to have definitively reduced federalism to an insubstantial shadow. In truth, it was fascism that was an insubstantial shadow. It was nothing other than a crazy attempt to block the path of federalism, which was advancing. But who could see that then? And — it has to be to said — how many can see it now? The ability to think in these terms, way back then, and to glimpse fair weather among the lighting and storms, demanded very strong ideals; it demanded the capacity to process experience only at the level of thought. Only in the mind’s eye was it possible to set one’s sights on federalism, the opposite of fascism. If this analysis is true, Marc started from the only point he could start from: a global reflection of a metaphysical nature.”
[26] Mario Albertini, “Federalism”, in The Federalist, XIII (2000), n. 2, p. 87. The original, unpublished version is dated 1962.
[27] Ibidem, p. 95.
[28] Mario Albertini, Il federalismo (1993), cit., p. 282, note 6. Albertini’s particular sensitivity to the problems of urban communities and of the need to manage the territory at the level of the local community, is shown by his work for the association Italia Nostra. He was president of the Pavia section of this association from 1965 to 1971 and its national vice-president from December 1972. It is also worth recalling the important essay “La crisi dell’ordine urbano e il pensiero di Jane Jacobs” (Pavia, Il Federalista, 1984), which was republished (“The Crisis of the Urban Order and the Thought of Jane Jacobs”) in The Federalist, XLVII (2005), n. 3.
[29] Mario Albertini, “L’‘utopie’ de Olivetti”, in Le Fédéraliste, VII (1965), n. 2, republished in: Mario Albertini, Nazionalismo e federalismo, cit., p. 111.
[30] Ibidem, p. 112.
[31] “In a federal state the division between federal government and federal states corresponds to a division in the political class, in the electoral apparatus and in the social interests… in the groups into which these interests are organised. This gives rise to a balance of powers which is much steadier and better-anchored in society, which allows the coexistence of freedom and of the unitary executive” (Mario Albertini, “Federalism”, 1962, cit., p. 103). This balance of powers is most clearly illustrated in the role that, in a federation, is assigned to the judicial power (the weakest of the three powers): the judicial power effectively holds the balance, given that every judicial decision, on matters of a constitutional nature, can be supported either by the federal government, or by one or more of the federated states.
Naturally, as we shall see, this is true up to the point allowed by the international situation, whereas it will be entirely true in a future world federation.
[32] With regard to the formation of the general will, Albertini prefigured the relationship between the various levels of government in a model, barely outlined, of an electoral system: “…the formation of the public will should come about through a ‘cascading’ proportional electoral system, in other words through a series of elections that are properly coordinated from local level to intermediate level, and finally to general level, in such a way that all groups of men might gain an awareness of their problems as they give shape to their will, before going on, through increasingly widespread elections, to insert this new awareness and this will into the general consciousness and general will… What we need to see is local elections that are accompanied by discussion of local problems, municipal elections where the problems of the city are discussed, but on the basis of an understanding of those at more local level, and so on until all the levels are covered.” Mario Albertini, “Discorso ai giovani federalisti”, in Il Federalista, XX (1978), n. 2, p. 59.
[33] Mario Albertini, Introduction to Immanuel Kant, La pace, la ragione e la storia, cit., p. 12.
[34] Mario Albertini, “Le ragioni del federalismo europeo” (1954), in Il Federalista, XXIII (1981), n. 2, pp. 121-122.
[35] Ibidem, p. 122.
[36] Mario Albertini, Il federalismo (1993), cit., p. 294, note 6.
[37] Ibidem, pp. 285-286.
[38] “Between 1787 and 1788, the Americans were forced to decide their own fate, because history had presented them with an absolute choice. They faced an enemy that, being an invisible enemy (disintegration of the Union), was far more insidious than the English. What was at stake was not that which we normally call politics, but rather the very possibility of determining, through the creation of vital institutions, a people’s fundamental political model, which determines whether that which usually goes by the name of politics, i.e. the rotation, through the years, of governments and oppositions, should be conducted in a progressive manner, and thus a manner that will extend the horizons of men’s lives, or in a stagnant manner, which produces only a degenerate, lower form of life” (Mario Albertini, “La federazione”, in La politica e altri saggi, Milan, Giuffré, 1963, pp. 51-52. Republished in: Mario Albertini, Nazionalismo e federalismo, cit.).
[39] Mario Albertini, “Le radici storiche e culturali del federalismo europeo”, in: Mario Albertini, Andrea Chiti-Batelli, Giuseppe Petrilli, Storia del federalismo europeo, Turin, ERI, 1973, p. 79. Republished in: Mario Albertini, Nazionalismo e federalismo, cit. The English version, “The Cultural and Historical Roots of European Federalism” is published in this issue. (The Federalist, XLIX (2007), n. 2).
[40] Ibidem.
[41] Mario Albertini, “La strategia della lotta per l’Europa”, in Giornale del Censimento, II (1966), n. 1-2. Republished in: Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica. Dalle nazioni all’Europa, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1999. Also republished (“The Strategy of the Struggle for Europe”) in the section “Thirty Years Ago” in The Federalist XXXVIII (1996), n. 1. Albertini often underlined the crucial importance of strategy in any political battle, and above all in a battle where the aim is to change the existing order. On many occasions he highlighted the inconsistency and weakness of demands, proclamations and solemn declarations of principle that throw the spotlight on an objective but fail to address the question of the means necessary to achieve it. With regard to the battle for the European federation, simply presenting the possible advantages if its creation, Albertini wrote, is not enough “to transform an idea into an idea-force… Just saying something is good will never be enough to get men to do it. We have to tackle a quite different challenge. We have to analyse the movement of the real forces in the field, and see whether it is possible to engage part of these forces in a European struggle. The problem is more than just an analysis of the objectives.” (Letter to Andrea Chiti-Batelli dated 30 November, 1961).
[42] Mario Albertini, “A proposito del federalismo integrale di Proudhon”, in L’integrazione europea e altri saggi, Pavia, Il Federalista, 1965, p. 134, note 2. In the same note, Albertini examines the connection between politics and social change: “Society changes when the behaviour of all its members changes. And this is a [general] change in behaviour to which each individual contributes a new element. But each individual reflects, in the particularity of his action, the particularity of everyone else’s actions, too. Politics, as well, is a link in this chain. Indeed, while we know that politics is the action of the few over the many, it is also true that these few, more than any other, conform to the expectations of the many over whom they exert their action, focusing on their weaknesses if they are demagogues, and their virtues if they are true statesmen. In fact, it is common wisdom, confirmed by all those who have experience of politics, that the power one wins is commensurate with the degree to which one bends one’s behaviour to the needs and aspirations of others”, that is, of society. Of course, this last affirmation, with regard to the struggle to create a new power structure in Europe, is necessary but not sufficient: the task ofthe revolutionary politician is to plant new seeds, and thus to use his understanding of the real situation as a starting point for overcoming it.
[43] Mario Albertini, “Federalism” (1962), cit., p. 107.
[44] Mario Albertini, “The Strategy of the Struggle for Europe”, cit., p. 53.
[45] Francesco Rossolillo, “Note sulla coscienza rivoluzionaria”, in Il Politico, 1970, n. 2, p. 323.
[46] Mario Albertini, “Quale Europa”, in Giornale del Censimento, I (December 1965), n. 5.
[47] Mario Albertini, “La crisi di orientamento politico del federalismo europeo”, in Il Federalista, III (1961), n. 4, p. 227. Republished in: Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[48] Albertini deals with the “evolutionary” concept of the process of European unification — this is distinct from the strategy of constitutional gradualism which, as we shall see, was to be developed in the second half of the 1960s — in several writings dated 1961. Having excluded that the Communities (which he defines pseudo-communities) can evolve into organs of the federal government, he goes on to separate the strategic from the historical level: “Naturally, this applies only as long as we are talking about voluntary action. In a broader framework, where involuntary factors come into play (historical determinations), the pseudo-communities, like any confederal structures, serve as the sign that the whole process, political, economic-institutional, etc., is tending to extend beyond the confines of the states, and in this sense we can see them as stages in a process that is leading from the national to the European dimension. But in this context, the picture is dialectical, and the evolution unfolds as both conflict between and resolution of different positions, the confederal and the federal” (see “Una lettera di Merlini a proposito di ‘Quattro banalita...’”, in Il Federalista, III, 1961, n. 3, p. 192, note 3). The single European governments, on account of what Albertini calls the “de facto eclipse of the national sovereignties”, are no longer equipped to make the fundamental political choices relating to the destiny of their citizens, and this gives rise to a de facto European unity, not irreversible, that manifests itself in its juridical superstructures: the European Communities. But it would be a grave mistake to allow oneself to be conditioned by the myth of European integration, “a false impression of movement that conceals immobility”, which mistakes “the effect — the confederal policy of the governments — for the cause, and the cause — de facto European unity — for the effect” (See “Rapporto presentato al IX Congresso Mfe”, in Informations de Le Fédéraliste, italian edition, January 1962, and in Le Fédéraliste, IV, 1962, n. 1, p. 61).
[49] Mario Albertini, “The Strategy of the Struggle for Europe”, cit., p. 60.
[50] Mario Albertini, “Il significato politico del disegno di legge”, Supplement to n. 2 of Le Fédéraliste, XI (1969), p. 119. Republished in Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[51] Mario Albertini, “L’aspetto strategico della nostra lotta”, in L’Unità europea, March 1991. Republished in: Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[52] In MFE, Atti del XIV Congresso, Rome, 2-5 March 1989, pp. 17-18.
[53] Mario Albertini, “L’organizzazione e il nuovo modo di fare politica”, in Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit., p. 464.
[54] Mario Albertini, “Una discussione sulla possibilità di fondare la Federazione europea”, in Giornale del Censimento, II (September-October, 1966), n. 9-10. In this same text, Albertini draws a distinction between the concept of the downward slope and that of the inevitability of European integration, which can only be deemed a historical trend if one believes: “a) that the mode of production is the primary historical phenomenon, which determines the dimensions and character of the other social factors, b) that the mode of production is acquiring dimensions much broader than those of the traditional nations, and imposing itself in all areas of social life”. But recognising this is not the same as “assigning a historical timeframe or a historical means to the unfolding of the trend”, and does not help one to judge certain situations with a view to strategy.
[55] Mario Albertini, “La Comunità europea, evoluzione federale o involuzione diplomatica?”, in Il Federalista, XXI (1979), n. 3, p. 173. Republished in: Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[56] The concept of occasional leadership in the final stage in the process of unification, the stage in which the decision is taken to create the European state, is in fact applied, theoretically and practically, in the intermediate phases of the process as well, in which the strategic objective, according to the theory of constitutional gradualism, was only a stage. In this regard, particular insight is provided by the text of Francesco Rossolillo’s Report on the Spinelli plan for Community reform, presented to the first Commission of the UEF Congress held in Milan in December 1982, in which, among other things, the Council of Ministers is indicated as the obstacle that has to be circumvented “without, however, avoiding the absolutely necessary stage of gaining the support of the governments of the member states… The conviction that the Draft Treaty would never be accepted by the Council does not mean that governments of the member states must be assumed to be intrinsically opposed to institutional reform. On the contrary, one can believe that, in the right circumstances, and subjected to the right kind of pressure, they could even support the Draft Treaty. What is utopian, on the other hand, is to imagine that they might offer this support contemporaneously, unanimously and by secret ballot (a method that would relieve them of their responsibility). Thus, while it is unthinkable that the Council might agree to approve the Draft Treaty in the form in which the Parliament will draw it up, it is perfectly conceivable that a government will be prepared to be the first to take the step of adopting it [occasional leadership]. With this step taken, it would be easier to take the second, and the third, and so on…” Thus “the federalists would be faced with clearly identified and responsible interlocutors, on whom to apply pressure, something that would not happen if the project were placed in the hands of the Council, an elusive interlocutor, in whose ambit it is all too easy to offload the responsibility for failures onto the other partners” (Francesco Rossolillo, “La strategia della lotta per la riforma istituzionale della Comunità” in Il Federalista, XXIV (1982), n. 3, pp. 212-213). Doubts over the efficiency of occasional European leadership remain: the governments, pushed by an objective situation and by the initiative of the federalists in the direction of relinquishing sovereignty, when faced with this step, the true solution, do not inevitably take the decision to create the new European power. In this situation it is essential that the federalists remain absolutely clear-sighted, denouncing and rejecting compromise solutions, retain their full autonomy, breaking away from those (politicians and the governments) with whom they had joined forces in the pursuit of the strategic objective, and start over again, preparing a new initiative.
[57] Mario Albertini, “L’Europe des Etats, l’Europe du Marché Commun et l’Europe du peuple fédéral européen”, in Le Fédéraliste, IV (1962), n. 2, p. 193.
[58] Mario Albertini, Letter to Altiero Spinelli, 25 August, 1956.
[59] Mario Albertini, “Rapporto presentato al IX Congresso Mfe” in Informations de Le Fédéraliste, italian edition, January 1962, and in Le Fédéraliste, IV (1962), n. 1, p. 63.
[60] Francesco Rossolillo, “Notes on Sovereignty”, in The Federalist, XLIII (2001), n. 3, p. 166.
[61] Ibidem, note 13, pp. 190-191. Naturally, these affirmations do not exclude the fact that the birth of a new state has power implications.
[62] Ibidem, p. 166.
[63] In a letter to Spinelli dated 6 September, 1953 he writes: “If I may be allowed to make a personal remark, in relation to a set idea of mine, I think I can say that, unfortunately, the modern framework of political action does not guarantee the success of correct political lines, according to an orthodox but abstract concept of democracy, but only of those that combine logical functionality with far-reaching organisational energy”.
[64] In October 1955, Albertini became head of the Central Cadres Commission, which was dissolved in May 1956 through lack of funds. However, Albertini’s intense activity on this front continued through conferences and training schools held in various sections of the MFE, particularly in northern Italy.
[65] Mario Albertini, Letter to Gianmario Rossi, 30 August, 1956.
[66] Mario Albertini, Letter to Altiero Spinelli, 7 February, 1957, and Letter to Ahiero Spinelli, 21 September, 1961.
[67] Mario Albertini, “Esame tecnico della lotta per l’Europa”, in Il Federalista, I (1959), n. 2, pp. 95 and 100. Republished in Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[68] Mario Albertini, “The Strategy of the Struggle for Europe”, cit.
[69] Francesco Rossolillo, “The Revolutionary”, in The Federalist, XLVII (2005), n. 1, pp. 15-16.
[70] Mario Albertini, Letter to Altiero Spinelli, 7 February, 1957.
[71] Mario Albertini, Letter to Bernard Lesfargues, 18 April, 1964.
[72] Mario Albertini, “L’Europa dopo Londra”, article submitted to the journal Occidente on 22 November, 1954, not published.
[73] Mario Albertini, Lo Stato-nazione contro la democrazia, report presented at a training course for militants (Stresa, 15-22 July, 1956).
[74] Mario Albertini, Relazione al convegno di Brescia (24 October 1954).
[75] The mechanism of the EPC consisted of the organisation of primary elections through open-air polling stations to choose the representatives of the European people who would meet, as a permanent congress, in order to demand a European constituent assembly. The definitive decision on the campaign was taken at the central committee meeting of the UEF on 12 May, 1955.
[76] Mario Albertini, “Significato del V Congresso internazionale dell’Unione europea dei federalisti”, in La Provincia pavese, 16 March 1955. On the basis of these considerations, the federalists prepared the instruments for the confrontation with the national powers, having a draft, (the federal pact) drawn up (by an ad hoc commission elected by the EPC in Turin in December 1958) for the creation of the United States of Europe and for the convening of a European constituent assembly.
[77] Mario Albertini, Esame tecnico della lotta per l’Europa, cit., pp. 109-111.
[78] Mario Albertini, “Le IXe Congrès du M.F.E.”, (Lyon, 9-11 February 1962), in Le Fédéraliste, IV (1962), n. 1, p. 30, note 1.
[79] Mario Albertini, “Una lettera di Merlini a proposito di ‘Quattro banalità…’”, cit., pp. 191-192.
[80] Mario Albertini, Letter to Andrea Chiti-Batelli, 29 October, 1962. Spinelli proposed that the federalists should align with “the forces of democratic progress” and stand in the national political elections in three cities.
[81] Mario Albertini, Letter to Sante Granelli, 23 February, 1961. Mario Albertini, Letter to Sante Granelli, 23 February, 1961.
[82] Mario Albertini, Letter to Gianni Merlini, 24 March, 1962. That the decision to fight Spinelli was the fruit of a lucid, albeit morally difficult, analysis of the situation, and not born of personal opposition, is demonstrated by the fact that, when Spinelli, in 1958, suggested that Albertini should succeed him as secretary of the MFE, Albertini replied that his (Spinelli’s) day was not yet over: “Since I know your work, he wrote to him in a letter dated 4 August 1958, being asked by you to continue it is something that affects me deeply… But, today, you are the only one who can carry it on; I can and must, at your side, understand it and make my contribution to it as your subordinate, precisely so as to be able to continue it myself when the time comes in which I must do so.” Moreover, when Spinelli once more became a point of reference for the federalist struggle, with the Draft Treaty that he managed to get adopted by the European Parliament in 1984, Albertini was the first to support the operation and to re-establish relations with him, just as, on Spinelli’s death he gave a profile of the man, defining him (“hero of reason”) in terms that can leave one in no doubt as to the enormous respect he had for him, over and above their temporary political differences.
[83] Mario Albertini, Letter to Andrea Chiti-Batelli, 5 January, 1962, in which, among other things, the “Spinelli question” is dealt with more extensively.
[84] In 1956 the German and Dutch federalists broke away from the Union of European Federalists and formed, together with the La Fédération movement, a group called Action européenne fédéraliste (AEF). In 1959, the Italian and French federalists, with small groups from other countries, formed the supranational MFE. The national movements disappeared, Europe was divided into regions, under single MFE membership, and the national commissions were set up. This split was mended in 1972 when the UEF reformed.
[85] At the central committee meeting in Paris in June 1962, Spinelli announced that as from the following September he would no longer be able to contribute regularly to the action of the MFE, resigning from the Bureau exécutif; on 9 September the same year he resigned as secretary of the Italian commission.
[86] Mario Albertini, “La crisi di orientamento”, cit., pp. 233-236.
[87] Ibidem, p. 237, note 6.
[88] Mario Albertini, “L’azione-quadro per il federalismo europeo”, in Informations de Le Fédéraliste, Italian edition, July 1962. Also, part of “La politique de la minorité du Mfe”, in Le Fédéraliste, IV, 1962, n. 3.
[89] Mario Albertini, “Presentazione ufficiale della campagna”, in Autonomie fédéraliste. Informations, italian edition, October 1963, and also in Le Fédéraliste, V (1963), n. 2.
[90] Mario Albertini, Rapporti del Censimento con le organizzazioni nazionali, undated typescript, known to be from 1963.
[91] Mario Albertini, Letter to Andrea Chiti-Batelli, 4 August, 1964.
[92] Mario Albertini, Letter to Dietrich Gruber, 20 April, 1964.
[93] Mario Albertini, Letter to Jean-Pierre Gouzy, 26 November, 1964. The aim of this policy, proposed in the Rifflet motion to the Montreux congress in April 1964, was to set up federalist initiative committees with a view to forming a European democratic front for a European federation, made up of all the forces for democratic renewal.
[94] Mario Albertini, Letter to Hirsch, Marc, Desboeuf, Orban, Serafini, Riftlet, Giarini, Moriquand, Gouzy, Rossolillo, Gruber, Kinsky, Pariso, 20 April, 1965.
[95] Mario Albertini, “Un piano d’azione a medio termine”, in Federalismo europeo, I (September-October 1967), n. 7-8. Republished in Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[96] Mario Albertini, “Un piano d’azione a medio termine”, cit.
[97] Ibidem.
[98] Ibidem.
[99] And he continues thus: “The fact is that where economists and experts in monetary phenomena see a means (the currency) and view human behaviours as a function of the economic characteristics — existing or which may be planned — of that means, political scholars ought to see a complex human relationship, a whole set of reciprocal and complementary behaviours in which the power element always manifests itself… Ultimately, this means that there is a need for a set of crucial, logical concepts capable of highlighting… the power aspects of currency… The governments of the Community have officially decided to create monetary union in the course of the next ten years. We must therefore solve the political aspects of the question, obscure as they are.” (Mario Albertini, “Il problema monetario e il problema politico europeo”, in Studi in onore di Carlo Emilio Ferri, Milan, 1973. Republished in Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit., pp. 173-174).
[100] Ibidem, p. 182.
[101] Running parallel with the battle for a European currency, the federalists prepared an action aiming to bring about political union through a referendum in Italy calling for a European government and the granting of a constituent mandate to the European Parliament. The referendum, obtained thanks to a law of popular initiative, was held in June 1989, together with the European elections, and gathered overwhelming support (88.1 per cent of those who voted were in favour of granting the European Parliament a constituent mandate).
[102] Mario Albertini, “Moneta europea e unione politica”, in L’Unità europea, December 1990. Republished in Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[103] Mario Albertini, “L’ago della bilancia e la moneta”, in L’Unità europea, September 1990. Republished in Mario Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[104] Mario Albertini, “L’aspetto strategico della nostra lotta”, cit. One of the points of reference for the proposal to institute an economic and monetary government was Spinelli’s Draft Treaty adopted by the European Parliament in 1984.
[105] Mario Albertini, “Towards a World Government”, in The Federalist, XXVI (1984), n. 1, p. 6. Republished in Mario Albertini, Nazionalismo e federalismo, cit.
[106] Mario Albertini, “The Problem of Security in the Nuclear Age”, in The Federalist, XXX (1988), n. 1, p. 4. Republished in Mario Albertini, Nazionalismo e federalismo, cit.

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