Year XLIII, 2001, Number 1, Page 10



Raison d’Etat, Peace and the Federalist Strategy
Federalism, as discussed in this treatise, is to be understood as the concept of federalism developed by the Movimento federalista europeo (MFE), whose fundamental points of reference in political thought are Alexander Hamilton and Immanuel Kant, and whose advocates in the sphere of theoretical reflection and political action were Altiero Spinelli and Mario Albertini. Certainly, there exist other concepts of federalism, but it is not my intention to compare them here.[1] Having said this, it must be made clear that, on the basis of its concept of federalism, the MFE has fuelled a militant campaign that has no equal in Europe (or in the rest of the world), and has constantly acted as a clear leader to movements for European unity involved in the federalist struggle.[2] Such a capacity can undoubtedly be seen as an indication of an unshakeable theoretical solidity and it is on the basic foundation of this that I intend, in the following pages, to focus. The foundation to which I refer is represented essentially by the organic link with the theory of the raison d’état, itself the essential and specific feature of the MFE’s concept of federalism (from this point on, I will refer simply to federalism, omitting the reference to the MFE).
In order, necessarily, to put this into its historical context, it is sufficient to recall here that the tradition of thought that is identified by the expression “raison d’état” embraces the entire course of the modern history of Europe and of the areas culturally linked with it (America particularly), in which it is possible to pick out several extremely significant currents.[3]
The starting point, which can be traced back to the threshold of the modern age, lies in the brilliant and enlightening intuitions of Machiavelli. It is through these that the conceptual core of the theory of the raison d’état began to emerge, a theory that can be summed up in the thesis (yet to be advanced in these precise words) that the behaviours that prevail in political life are those that strengthen a state’s security and power. In the history of political thought before this time it is possible to find many partial forerunners of this theory, sometimes highly penetrating, but there can be no doubt that it is with Machiavelli that we see a leap forward in quality terms great enough to constitute the dawn of a new tradition of thought. The reflections, in the second half of the sixteenth century and in the seventeenth century, of teachers of raison d’état and of the interests of the state, the large majority of whom were Italian and French, represent the next particularly significant advance of this tradition. After all, they are the ones we have to thank not only for the definitive introduction of the expression “raison d’état” (with the meaning that it still has today), but also for further clarification and elaboration of the raison d’état concept and of its implications and, in particular, for the establishment of a more rigorous distinction between the individual interests of the rulers and the interests of the state. It should be pointed out that Hobbes too, even though he did not actually use the expression “raison d’état”, must be viewed, and attributed a leading position, within this tradition of thought. Later, in German culture of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, as a result of the contributions of a large group of philosophers and, above all, historians, among whom the names of Hegel, Ranke, Treitschke, Hintze, Meinecke, Weber, Ritter and Dehio feature prominently, the tradition flourished and became highly conceptualised. Reference to the contribution that these individuals made to the raison d’état theory is usually made through recourse to the expression “doctrine of the power-state” (Machtstaatsgedanke). Meanwhile, the most recent expression of this tradition of thought is the realist current that runs through the sphere of international relations and whose leading exponents, for the most part English and American, include, among others, Niebuhr, Carr, Morgenthau, Kennan, Osgood, Kissinger, Kaplan, Aron, Hoffmann, Waltz and Gilpin.[4]
The fact that the realist current does not generally use the expression “raison d’état” is linked to a tendency in contemporary political culture to associate this theory rigidly with the historical era of the formation of the modern state and with the absolutist structure of the same. But, given that the fundamental theoretical content of this tradition has not been contradicted by developments coming after the era of absolutism, this is unjustified. My feeling is that it is inappropriate to renounce the expression “theory of the raison d’état”, not least because it is an expression that recalls the idea, crucially important in the framework of the realist theoretical approach, of the centrality of the state. Therefore, in this treatise I use the expressions “theory of the raison d’état” and “realism” as synonyms. That said, we cannot, when outlining the relationship between federalist theory and the theory of the raison d’état, talk in terms of a shared identity; what we can talk of, instead, is an essentially shared, or convergent, understanding of political reality accompanied by a divergence in the orientation of the interpretation of that reality. In concrete terms, knowledge of the laws of politics, developed on the basis of the precepts of the theory of the raison d’état, is employed by federalists to serve peace rather than the power of the state, while the reverse is true, generally speaking, of political realists. On the other hand, it is this complex relationship that is the decisive element that distinguishes the position of federalists from those of internationalists and pacifists, in relation to whom we find a convergence of values (peace as the guiding value) but divergence over the instruments by which peace might be obtained. Furthermore, the ability, conferred by the realist approach, to see clearly the rules that govern the acquisition and the maintenance of power constitutes the indispensable premise underlying the federalists’ ability to define a valid strategy to apply to the concrete political struggle for peace. In short, the heart of federalism is to be found in a synthesis of Kant and Machiavelli.
I will now endeavour to clarify these assertions. Having first defined precisely all the fundamental laws of politics, as identified by the theory of the raison d’état, I will then demonstrate how federalism, from the perspective of the struggle for peace, applies them. Let it be clearly understood that I am not setting out to identify the specific contributions made by the leading raison d’état theorists, but instead to clarify, through a logical rather than a chronological process, the fundamental precepts that emerge from this tradition of thought. Clearly, I start from the assumption that the latter is based on an essentially unitary paradigm that has been enriched and perfected gradually through contributions logically connected with the original theoretical propositions.
The Supremacy of the State Over Society.
The basic assumption underlying the raison d’état paradigm coincides with the idea that the state is the indispensable instrument making it possible for men to live together peacefully in the ambit of complex societies, in other words, in the societies founded on reorganisation of the division of labour and on the mercantile economy (which, in turn, opened up the way for the Industrial Revolution) that took shape in Europe as from the end of the Middle Ages. These societies are highly dynamic, but also characterised by structural conflicts that can be managed peacefully only through the development of a specific mechanism of coercion. This implies the division of society into a small minority, which holds power and coercively imposes the rules that are essential for the peaceful co-habitation of men, and a vast majority, which is subordinate to that power. In fact, it is precisely this monopoly on power (which, leaving aside its formal attributes such as its indivisibility and its originality, and so on, constitutes the material basis of state sovereignty) that guarantees the governing minority the possibility to impose a universally valid and effective legal order and thus to prevent society from self-destructing. This implies, therefore, the existence of a class of people (the “political class”) that turns the quest for power into an out-and-out profession, a class that, while it often attracts people with a particular taste for power, must nevertheless be seen as a social requirement, given that power is indispensable for the reproduction of society.
The building of this monopoly on power in the hands of the central authority of the state (normally a ruling housing) took centuries to achieve and involved harsh struggles, because it necessitated the disarming of the nobility and of communes, in other words, the eradication of feudal anarchy. It is to this stage in the construction of the modern state that Machiavelli refers when he affirms that a rulermust not balk at cruelty — but must instead “have the capacity to embark upon necessary evil”[5] — in order to reinforce the authority of the state and its peace-building function. Clearly, this aspect of the raison d’état question became less and less of an issue, in so far as the state’s monopoly on power was gradually consolidated to the point at which it became a substantially stable and undisputable fact that no longer required — if we exclude periods of acute crisis of the state, such as civil wars and revolutions — use of the means indicated by Machiavelli in order to be guaranteed and maintained.
On this basis then, the modern state, through a long process that is, in part, still continuing, carried out the important task of civilising the population subordinate to it. The fundamental aspects of this process are the moral progress linked with the imparting, and thus the progressive internalisation, of the principle of the renunciation of the safeguarding of personal interests through private violence, and the socio-economic progress rendered possible by the certainty of law. It was within this framework that the major transformations of the state promoted by the emancipatory ideologies rooted in the Enlightenment, that is, liberalism, democracy and socialism, proved possible.
At this point, it must be made clear that while tendencies emerged within the ambit of the German power-state doctrine that were authoritarian and, thus, critical of the ideologies of the Enlightenment, this is not the prevailing orientation of the contemporary realist current. The latter is characterised, instead, by a clear awareness that the transformations of the modern state promoted by the great ideologies of the Enlightenment introduced integrative factors essential to the peace-building function of the state. The state’s monopoly on legitimate strength — that is to say, the disarming of the individual and of the various social groups — is seen as the fundamental principle of statehood, the condition whose absence would mean a return to a state of war in which everyone is against everyone else; in other words, to the situation that today we describe as “Yugoslavisation” or “tribalisation”. To this first element, a second is then added: the rule of law; this refers to all the mechanisms and provisions — declarations of rights, the due process of law, the separation of powers, the independence of the magistracy, etc. — advocated in particular by the liberal ideology as a means of preventing monopoly on power from becoming purely arbitrary and turning into dictatorship and, not being accepted as legitimate, from opening up the way for the re-arming of individuals and thus for civil war. Historically, the third element that must be added to the two mentioned above is the extension — promoted by the democratic ideology in particular and emerging gradually as the Industrial Revolution gave all the levels of society an awareness of their interests and rights — of the citizens’ involvement in the making of laws and in the control of the government. In the absence of this element, sectors of society that are denied any influence on the decisions reached by the political power are, fatally, led to act outside the law. Finally, the fourth element is the welfare state, advocated in particular by the socialist ideology, which makes social justice its central concern. Acknowledgment of the indispensable peace-building role played by the welfare state is based on the realisation that while the market economy promotes the emancipation of mankind and thus the development of our pluralistic and open modern society, it also leads, continually, to inequality, to imbalances and to social outcasting. In order to prevent the state from being perceived as a power that pursues the interests of a section of society rather than the interests of everyone, which would encourage recourse to violence, these phenomena must be corrected effectively through mechanisms, imposed by the public power, that have a regulatory function and that promote solidarity.
Finally, to end this series of clarifications, it must be stressed that the idea of the centrality of the state means the conviction that the state is the indispensable instrument for the pursuit of the general interest, which is another way of affirming the supremacy of politics.[6]
International Anarchy.
The second fundamental precept of the raison d’état paradigm follows on logically from the basic assumption that the state is the irreplaceable instrument that allows society’s members to live together in peace: it regards the dichotomy between state sovereignty and international anarchy as the basis of the structural difference between intrastate relations and international relations.
If the story of the modern state is characterised, as we have seen, by the process of its internal civilisation, that of international relations within the framework of the modern European system of states which, at a certain point, became a world system of states, is quite another story. While, within the state, the central authority disarms both individuals and the groups into which society is organised, and obliges them to regulate their relations, and any conflicts, through recourse to law instead of violence, in the sphere of their external relations all the states not only continue to hold arms against one another, but also to strengthen and perfect them ceaselessly and to have recourse to the use, and to the threat, of force in order to safeguard their interests — and this applies even to the smallest states which, too weak on their own, rely upon the might of others. Thus, while the state authority is obliging, indeed teaching, its subjects to renounce violence in their relations with one another, it is, at the same time, obliging and teaching a growing number of them to use arms, and thus violence, in international relations; consequently, it is also teaching them to mistrust those who live outside the boundaries of the state and to hate them whenever differences escalate into armed conflict. And in states that have undergone a liberal, democratic, or socialist kind of transformation, the principles and rights that have, as a result of this, developed within them are, in times of war, and certainly of international tension, systematically limited and circumscribed, if not even revoked. Just think of secret diplomacy, of state secrets, of censorship, and of the strengthening of the central power to the detriment of local self-government, all of which are clear violations of the most widespread democratic principles, but constitute, nonetheless, routine practice in the affairs of democratic states. Even the principles of economic efficiency cease to be applied when there is a need to bolster the state’s capacity to face up to tests of strength against other states. Just think of the support given to production sectors that are inefficient but deemed to be strategically important.
Focusing attention on the nature of international relations, raison d’état theorists hinged their arguments on the concept of international anarchy. In other words, they made it plain that international anarchy is the structural situation to which the qualitative difference between the internal evolution of the state and the evolution of international relations can be attributed. In concrete terms, international anarchy means the lack of a government, that is to say, a supreme authority capable of imposing a valid and effective legal order. While governments became established in internal relations (as a result of the monopolisation of power by the central authority of the state), this has failed to occur in the sphere of international relations. The reason for this is the continued existence in this setting of a plurality of sovereign states, or to put it another way, the continued existence of distinct power monopolies that are quite independent of one another. Consequently, in the society of states, the essential condition for the effective imposition of the rules needed to ensure the peaceful co-existence of states and the peaceful, that is legal, regulation of international disputes, is lacking; ultimately their solution can be reached by nothing other than a test of strength between the parties, which international law can do nothing other than sanction; war is always on the agenda and casts its shadow even in times of peace, because even in peacetime, states have to reckon with the ever-present risk of war and to make sure that they are prepared to face this eventuality.
In this situation, all states are obliged to implement a “power policy”. This does not mean, in a strict sense, a particularly violent and aggressive foreign policy, but a policy that takes into account the ever-present possibility of tests of strength (either the use of, or the simple threat to use strength). As a result, they equip themselves with, and in extreme cases use, the indispensable means of power — arms, alliances, the filling of power vacuums (before others can fill them) — or apply cunning and deception. In the context of the anarchy that characterises the structure of the international situation, the guaranteeing of external security, that is, the capacity to defend one’s interests effectively in tests of strength with other states and to prevent others from imposing their will, becomes the first concern of a state’s rulers. This leads to the systematic sacrificing, in proportion to the extent of the danger to which the state’s security is exposed, of all the principles — legal, ethical, political (i.e., the priorities imposed by the dominant political doctrines) and economic — that, in a state not faced with the problem of external security, are normally respected. This paramountcy of security is the factor that ultimately explains the different patterns of evolution — within the ambit of the European system of states — traditionally seen in insular states (paradigm case: Great Britain) and in continental-type states (paradigm case: Prussia-Germany). The former, due to the absence of land borders to defend, enjoy a favourable strategic position and this has facilitated the development of more liberal and decentralised state institutions; the position of the latter, on the other hand, is structurally more exposed and precarious due to the presence of far more vulnerable land borders that have to be defended. In these states, this has constituted an obstacle to liberal forces and favoured the emergence of authoritarianism and centralisation.
The concept of international anarchy brings to light a structural reality, i.e., the lack of a valid and effective legal order and the consequent holding sway of the rule of force in international relations. It clarifies, in other words, why there exists within the state — if we except situations of profound institutional crisis and even of civil war — a level of certainty and predictability in inter-human relations that, albeit limited by the presence of an area (impossible to eradicate) that opposes the legal order, is qualitatively quite unlike the structural uncertainty that characterises international relations. This is not to maintain, however, that the international reality is nothing more than a form of chaos dominated by continuous, irrational and unpredictable clashes between states, that it is, in short, a situation that lacks any kind of order. In reality, raison d’état theorists have, from the outset, perceived the presence of other structural elements within the international setting, beyond the more general one of international anarchy, elements that render less chaotic, and thus more predictable the concrete developments within the international situation. The argument that they have gradually developed and perfected in their efforts to clarify these further elements and, therefore, to grasp more fully the real nature of international relations, is centred on the concept of the system of states, a concept whose fundamental aspects will now be made clear.
The starting point for this argument is the realisation that the power relations between states have led to their being organised into a rigid hierarchy. Within this, a distinction is drawn between the great powers, i.e., the states that have the effective capacity to safeguard their interests independently, in other words through their own strength, and the medium-size or small powers which, instead, must seek to obtain either protection from one of the great powers or unanimous recognition by the same of their neutrality. This means, of course, that the fundamental decisions determining the evolution of the international situation are taken by the great powers, in other words by a very small number of sovereign states. These states are, in effect, governing the world; they are the ones that are deciding the formal and informal rules constituting the framework within which international relations are conducted. It is clear that this is neither a legitimate form of government, founded on a monopoly on power, nor a democratic one, and thus that it is qualitatively quite different from the government of a sovereign state. In fact, in the European system of states, the great powers, which have not always been the same ones (some losing status or disappearing and other states taking their place), have never numbered more than six (a pluripolar system), and the world system that emerged after the time of the two world wars was dominated, until the end of the East-West conflict, by just two actors, the American and Soviet superpowers (a bipolar system). Today, there exists a fluid and probably quite transitory situation characterised by the simultaneous presence of features of monopolarism (the supremacy of the USA) and of pluripolar tendencies (the rise of China, India and the European Union, and the Russian federation’s continued possession of both a vast store of nuclear weapons and a huge economic potentiality that is still to be adequately explained).
Within the framework of international anarchy, the existence of major powers is the first crucial structural element, one that introduces, albeit in a very general manner, a degree of order that regulates, in particular, relations between large and small states. Another essential structural element can be defined as balance; while this, instead, regulates relations between the major powers, it too confers a degree of order. To identify balance as the fundamental structural element regulating relations among the major powers is to highlight, first and foremost, a de facto situation: the creation and endurance among the major powers dominating the European and the world systems (and also the Greek city-state and fifteenth-century Italian systems) of a condition of substantially equal strength. It is this substantial equality of strength that has prevented any one of these powers from rising above the others, and resulted — through coalitions of the other major powers against the strongest state and its allies or, in the case of a bipolar system, through a single power’s capacity for resistance — in the automatic curbing of any attempt to achieve hegemony. Evidently, this mechanism of balance has not resulted in the overcoming of international anarchy with its violent and bellicose manifestations, but it has been able to limit these. General conflicts have erupted only at times when the balance has been upset, as a consequence of the rise, and thus the hegemonic drive, of a major power, while stability of the balance has produced long periods in which there have been no wars, or only circumscribed ones. On the other hand, this balance is the mechanism that, within the European and world systems, has allowed the preservation of the independence of the major powers, and thus of a pluralistic system of sovereign states that has, among other things, made it possible to guarantee medium-size and small powers a measure of autonomy too.
In this overview of the mechanism of balance, we must not fail to include the considerations of realists on the epoch-making changes brought about by the discovery of atomic and nuclear arms. These weapons of mass destruction (including the increasingly deadly chemical and bacteriological variety) stepped up considerably the incessant race to perfect arms that is structurally bound up with international anarchy and with the mechanism of balance and led to a radical reconfiguration of the latter. What emerged was a system of deterrence, also referred to as the balance of terror, in other words, a situation in which a general conflict between the major powers would result in destruction (potentially great enough to wipe out all human life on earth) whose sheer scale would render it tantamount to a collective suicide. The rational inconceivableness of a general conflict did not mean an end to power relations between states and to small-scale or localised wars, but it did lead, in security policies, to a shift of emphasis away from defence and towards arms control and the prevention of war. Essentially, what emerged in relations among the major powers was a new factor, that of solidarity for mutual survival.
A further momentous consequence of scientific progress might be defined ecological interdependence. This situation is characterised by an increase in the number of decisions that — like those that can lead to war — fall within the ambit of the sovereignty of individual states and have the capacity to lead to disasters of continental or global dimensions, disasters great enough to jeopardise human life on our planet. Here, too, solidarity emerges as a requirement of survival, this time reflected in the need for more international cooperation and for the reaching, at regional and global level, of increasingly forceful agreements whose aim is to counter a threat to the whole of humanity.
As well as this interdependence of states that is linked to their shared quest for survival, contemporary realism also contemplates the influence on international relations of the growth in their economic interdependence, a growth that is attributable to the unfolding of the Industrial Revolution first, and then of the scientific-technical revolution. Together with the rational inconceivableness of a general conflict, the fact that the promotion of wellbeing has, in all states, become increasingly bound up with the openness of the markets has been a strong stimulus for international economic cooperation.
Remaining on the subject of the factors limiting violent manifestations of international anarchy, attention must, finally, be drawn to the fact that states that have liberal-democratic orders — states where there thus exists a true division and consistent decentralisation of powers, or even a federal structure — find it more difficult than those with authoritarian or totalitarian regimes to put aggressive foreign policies into practice. This is because the balance between the various powers of the state hinders rapid decision-making and intervention at international level. However, this in no way implies an automatic connection between the affirmation of democracy within states and the overcoming of power relations between them.
All the factors, illustrated above, which tend to prevent an elimination of the pluralistic character of the international system and to contain leanings towards tests of strength, constitute the basis of several important phenomena characterising international relations on which it is worth dwelling here.
It must first be underlined that the hierarchy of states and the balance that has been established among the major powers constitute the two main structural elements within the framework of international anarchy, and it is they that transform it from a simple disorganised plurality of states into a system of states, in other words, into a reality that is characterised, as the word “system” itself implies, by relative order, and whose concrete developments are, as a result, relatively more comprehensible and predictable. In particular, the balance between the major powers is, historically, the objective condition that induced states to acknowledge one another, even formally, as sovereign states and which, in the case of modern Europe, allowed the affirmation and gradual extension of international law, granting the latter a measure of effectiveness in spite of the fact that it does not emanate from a sovereign power. In fact, in accordance with the raison d’état paradigm, the true validity of the rules of international law, which states effectively observe, is based not so much on the principle that agreements are made to be kept (pacta sunt servanda), which is essentially a value judgement, as on the fact that, in view of the balance, in other words, of the objective impossibility of eliminating the sovereignty of the other states, the most prominent actors within the international system were obliged to recognise the need to live together in some way. While nevertheless preserving power politics and war as extreme measures, they had to find some way of regulating their anarchic co-existence, and thus created a set of sui generis rules that legitimises the normal use of violence and is subordinate to the power and hierarchical relations among the states. In practice, although there exists no sovereign power that guarantees respect for international law, there does exist a power situation, albeit an unstable one (i.e., the balance between the powers) that, to an extent, has this effect.
Meanwhile, the afore-mentioned phenomena of interdependence that evolved within the ambit of the system of states can be seen to underlie the emergence of the international organisations: following the period of the two world wars, international bodies (of which the UN is the most important example) developed at a rate that, in comparison with previous eras, was quite unprecedented. This growth of international interdependence, of which economic globalisation is the most recent manifestation, has forced an ever greater level of cooperation among states and a remarkable evolution, both quantitative and qualitative, of international law in order to manage problems of increasing importance that states cannot address through isolated actions. In this scenario, even non-governmental actors, such as multinational corporations and non-governmental organisations (active above all in the humanitarian and environmental fields), have taken on an increasingly significant role in international relations.
In view of these phenomena, many scholars of international relations see the basic concepts of state sovereignty and international anarchy as having less and less capacity to explain contemporary reality, since what we are faced with is a substantial limitation of state sovereignty and thus an erosion of the very basis of the qualitative difference between international relations and domestic relations. Supporters of the raison d’état paradigm respond to these considerations by underlining, in particular, that the international organisations are de facto dominated (and formally dominated in the case of the UN Security Council) by the major powers. And they add that the role of the multinational corporations, however important, is founded, in the final analysis, on the power of the states to which they belong, while the space that the non governmental organisations (NGOs) have carved out for themselves in the framework of interstate cooperation does not alter essentially the rules of the game decided by the major powers. Thus, states continue to be the leading actors in international relations, which, unlike the state’s internal affairs, are governed by power relations; this is borne out by the fact that all states continue to maintain armed forces whose size is disproportionate to the sole requirements of domestic security. If, then, the dichotomy between state sovereignty and international anarchy retains its capacity to explain contemporary reality, we should, rather, be asking ourselves whether the anarchical structure of interstate society is becoming increasingly irreconcilable with the needs, in terms of survival and progress, of mankind and whether, as a result, the time has come to place the creation of an effective and democratic world government and, thus, the ways through which this objective might be achieved, firmly on the historical agenda. And this is the point that opens up the question of the federalist paradigm and of how it incorporates and supersedes that of the raison d’état.
Perpetual Peace and a World Federal State.
At the start, we said that what fundamentally distinguishes federalist theory from that of the raison d’état is not an understanding of reality, which the two to a great extent share, but rather the value judgement applied in the interpretation of reality. The main value championed by raison d’état theorists is security, and thus the power of one’s own state, because they see the overcoming of the condition of international anarchy as inconceivable. Essentially, they tend to regard the plurality of sovereign states not as a phase in the evolution of history, but as an insuperable point of arrival. This reflects an ideological prejudice of a nationalistic kind that, through different arguments — the raison d’état tradition can be broken down into various currents — leads the plurality of states, and thus the conflicts between the states, to be viewed as an irreplaceable element of progress. Federalists, on the other hand, are guided by the value of peace, and thus by the conviction that, in the historical phase of the advanced industrial revolution, commitment to the progress of mankind is irrevocably bound up with the endeavour to overcome, through concrete actions, violence in international relations. Underpinning this orientation are the enlightening reflections on peace contained in the juridical-political and historical-philosophical writings of Kant, which are briefly outlined here.[7]
First of all, Kant, whose ideas were based on a realistic view of international relations, clarified beyond doubt what peace is. Peace is not to be confused with the simple absence of a war in progress. The latter is, in reality, nothing other than a truce between one war and the next because, for as long as there exist anarchic relations between states, in the absence of a superior authority with the capacity to ensure that relations between them are regulated in law, war will continue to be the normal instrument for settling international disputes on questions regarded as vital. This means that the presence of war is constant, even when there is no actual fighting, because states must, in periods of truce, prepare themselves, not only in a military, but also in an economic, social, political and moral sense, for war. In reality, peace is the organisation of power that overcomes international anarchy, transforming power relations among states into true juridical relations, and thus, through the extension of statehood on a universal scale, rendering war structurally impossible.
Second, Kant established the existence of an organic link between the overcoming of international anarchy, or the creation of perpetual peace, and the full implementation within the state of the republican regime. What he meant by this expression was, substantially, what today we mean when we talk of a liberal-democratic regime and, in terms of the progress of mankind, he saw it as a fundamental goal. On the other hand, he shared the raison d’état theorists’ view that it is the existence of power relations between states that causes the latter to regard external security as their first concern; this situation favours the emergence of authoritarian tendencies and structures within the life of the state, as these are the kind most compatible with the need to preserve and consolidate the power that is indispensable to survival in a context of international anarchy. Kant was therefore clearly aware that liberal and democratic principles would, in critical situations, be sacrificed systematically at the altar of the raison d’état (or of the principle of the paramountcy of security) and that the greater a state’s security difficulties were, the more compelling this process would be.[8] It must be remarked that this consideration also applies to socialism (which, in Kant’s era, had still to emerge as one of the great ideologies of the modern world); like liberalism and democracy, socialism has always seen the raison d’état as a main obstacle to the full affirmation of its principles (which lean towards the desire for social justice and, thus, towards the effective application of liberal-democratic principles to the entire population). This realistic view of the objective authoritarian implications of power politics led Kant to see the over-coming of international anarchy as indispensably bound up with historical commitment to the full evolution of the republican regime.
Third, this idea can be set against the background of a broader reflection of Kant’s in which peace is seen as the necessary condition for the full development of man’s moral and rational capacities. For as long as there exists an international system based on war, in other words, an objective need for all individuals to adapt their conduct to a social structure modelled on the authoritarian and bellicose requirements of the state, and their consciences to the war ethic that this structure produces, it will result in a limited and unilateral development of their creative faculties and hinder their moral progress. But once a power structure emerges that has the capacity to channel all social behaviours within the confines of law, it will no longer be possible to use war or the permanent threat of war to legitimise the violence of men. In this situation, the rational nature of men will be allowed full expression and they will be able to mould themselves entirely according to the principle of autonomy of the will. In other words, the ground will be laid for a radical transformation of relations between the individual and society, and the way opened up for the reaching of a condition in which it will, in all social relations, be possible always to treat men as ends, and never as means.
It must be pointed out that the project for peace developed by Kant at the end of the eighteenth century, being based on a clear awareness that it will take humanity a very long time to mature and realise it, cannot be considered a simple expression of utopian ideas. However, this is a process that does have a very good chance of taking place. First, there is the historical precedent of the overcoming of anarchy in relations among individuals through the creation of a state authority with the capacity to enforce respect for the law internally. This example of historical progress makes it impossible to exclude in principle the possibility of further progress that will result in the overcoming of international anarchy. Second, this progress will be favoured — and here emerges Kant’s exceptional ability to foresee the great challenges that, in the twentieth century, were destined underlie the beginnings of supranational integration — by the combined impetus of two powerful historical forces. One is the growth of trade, which, while it is destined to render humanity increasingly interdependent and thus to increase the likelihood of conflict, will at the same time render ever more pressing the need to develop instruments for the peaceful resolution of conflicts, in other words, the need to bring about an extension of statehood. The other force, generated by scientific and technical progress, is the increasing destructiveness of war, itself destined to render more and more urgent the need to overcome, through concrete measures, the system of war in order to avoid a fate of collective self-destruction.[9]
Kant’s enlightening considerations on the theme of democratic supranational unification are the fundamental source of inspiration behind the ethical-political orientation adopted by federalists, but they do have a limit, recognition of which is a part of their very ideological identity. What Kant lacks is a precise vision of the institutional system through which it is possible, effectively, to realise perpetual peace. Indeed, while he does speak of “federation”, the German philosopher does not go so far as to affirm univocally that a world federal state is the institutional instrument needed to realise world peace. In his cardinal work on this topic he even expresses, openly, the fear that the creation of a world state is incompatible with a democratic system, in that it would mean the de facto institution of a universal autocracy, and hypothesises instead a confederalist-type system. At the root of this incongruity lies the lack of a clear awareness of the federal state model,[10] the first historical example of which was realised through the Constitution of the United States of America, drawn up in 1787 by the Philadelphia Convention, and which was theorised, first and foremost, by Alexander Hamilton.[11]
The constitutional principle on which the federal state is founded is the organisation of a plurality of independent but coordinated governments in a way that confers a minimum quantity of powers (indispensable for guaranteeing political and economic unity) on the federal government, which is responsible for the entire territory of the federation, and the remaining powers on the federated states, each one of which is responsible for its own territory. In concrete terms, foreign policy and military policy become the province of the federal government (so as to eliminate power relations among the states), as do areas (monetary, customs and fiscal) of economic policy that are crucial in the unification of the market and the creation of solidarity among the member states of the federation. Through federal bicameralism — wherein legislative power is attributed to a body made up of a chamber representing the people of the federation, elected on a proportional basis, and a chamber of states in which, to protect the smaller states, representation is not proportional — the individual states are enabled to safeguard their independence and their legitimate interests. It is important to point out that the federal distribution of powers and federal bicameralism which, in classic federalism, concern the relationship between federal government and federated states, are considered by contemporary federalism as principles that should be extended to relations between states and regions, and between regions and local communities, in such a way as to create a distribution of power that ensures that all the levels involved, from the local community to the community of states, enjoy the greatest possible measure of independence and that a form of coordination is established that allows the efficient and democratic management of the tasks assigned to each of them.
As Hamilton himself made clear, the federal system allows the sphere of democratic government to be widened. Indeed, while direct democracy led to the realisation of freedom within the city-state, and representative democracy and the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers made its realisation possible in the modern state (later to become the nation-state), the federal structure allows the unification of various states, avoiding the disadvantages of the centralised state and making democratic participation feasible in areas of continental dimensions (and thus, plausibly, of a global dimension). Thus the federal state is the constitutional structure that is capable of realising peace — capable, that is, of subordinating all the states of the world to an authority equipped to replace power relations with juridical relations[12]on the basis of democratic government.
The affirmation, based on that which has been said so far, that the building of perpetual peace coincides with the building of a world federal state, belongs to the sphere of abstract design; in other words, it fails to consider the question (which will be dealt with systematically later on) of the historical pertinence of the project and, thus, of the efforts to identify the course (i.e., the steps) which must, in a tangible manner, be taken in order to draw closer to the ultimate goal. On the other hand, this abstract design is an absolutely crucial moment in the discussion on peace. Indeed, if we are unable rationally to perceive, albeit in inevitably very general terms, the institutional system through which perpetual peace can be guaranteed, then we will also be unable to identify the course and the stages that will bring us closer to our ultimate goal and to orient accordingly the action of those aiming to improve, with a view to constructing a peaceful world order, the forms of political co-existence.
Remaining in the sphere of abstract design, there are some points that require further clarification. The model of state referred to in this piece of theoretical reflection is obviously the one that became established in the course of the modern age in western Europe and in the areas of the world, America primarily, influenced by its culture. Since this kind of state has, historically, proved itself able to create lasting peace internally, its global extension through the federal system seems to us to be the vital condition for the realisation of perpetual peace. This kind of state has, as we have seen, certain structural elements that have evolved in historical succession and that are crucial to its peace-building capacity: in addition to the monopoly on legitimate power, there is the rule of law, democracy and the welfare state. And if these are, indeed, the constituent elements of the European-Western model of state that has managed (more or less effectively depending on how fully evolved it is and on the level of economic-social progress in which it is rooted) to establish peace internally, then the world state that must inevitably come if peace is to be created at world level will, in turn, have to be characterised by these same elements. This conclusion, destined to give rise to accusations of eurocentrism (in which the fundamental political principles of just one of the world’s cultures, i.e., of Europe, are claimed to be applicable universally), is not one that will be accepted peacefully. But in this regard, the following consideration can, in my view, be regarded as decisive.
The European- or Western-type state became established, as seen earlier, within the framework of modern, pluralistic, market economy-based societies. This was because it was within such societies that it proved possible — through a laborious process that has rid history of all the authoritarian, fascist and communist alternatives — to establish lasting peace. Our era has been characterised both by the spread on a world scale of pluralistic-type societies founded on the market economy and by the development of an increasingly profound interdependence between these societies, and thus also by the progressive taking shape of a pluralistic-type world society. In view of this, it appears entirely reasonable — and not stemming from a sense of superiority — to affirm that the internal order both of modern societies in the making, and of the world state that must inevitably emerge to govern peacefully this developing world society, will have to be characterised by the fundamental principles of European-Western political culture. It might be observed at this point that accusations of eurocentrism must, if at all, be levelled at those in the Western world who tend to deny that other cultural traditions have the capacity to embrace the fundamental principles of our culture and who, now that the East-West conflict has run its course, delineate a coming world fatally dominated by the clash of civilisations.[13]
That said, it is still necessary — again to clarify the fundamental aspects of the link between the building of peace and the building of the world state — to examine two other unavoidable conditions for the achievement of world unification. One is the spread of liberal democracy (accompanied necessarily by the institutionalisation of social solidarity) on a global scale. In fact, not only are undemocratic states unable to build lasting peace internally, they are also structurally ill-disposed to the placement of limits on their sovereignty, and thus to supranational unification (unless this takes the form of imperial-hegemonic unifications); this is because they are founded on the unlimited power of their rulers internally. While this does not mean that the building of a world state will have to wait until democratic regimes have become established in all the states of the world, it does indicate that this can only be a gradual and extremely drawn-out process destined first to involve the areas of the world that have advanced furthest in the technical-scientific, civil and political-democratic spheres before, hand in hand with the spread of progress, extending to all the other world areas. The second fundamental condition for the building of a global state is the organisation of the world into a limited number of democratic federations of continental or sub-continental dimensions. On the one hand, it is clear that the process of world unification must inevitably proceed by major historical stages, and it therefore seems logical to see supranational federal aggregations in the world’s most advanced and interdependent areas, that can serve to lead the way, as the most important of these stages. After all, it is quite inconceivable that a functional and enduring world federal state can be formed with hundreds of large, medium-size, small and tiny states as direct members. If — and here we enter the realm of pure abstract hypothesis — such a construction were to emerge, the federal balance would ultimately be fatally upset, either by the centralistic forces that over-small or over-numerous states would be unable to resist, or by the hegemonic tendencies of the larger states, or finally — were the world federal power, in order to avoid centralistic forces, attributed powers that were too limited — by fragmentary trends. On the contrary, only a world federal system built securely on a limited number of vast regional federations would be able to achieve a functional and stable federal balance.[14]
It is important to conclude this reflection by underlining that the idea of a European federation as the first stage in the building of world unity was, from the outset, advanced by that great theorist of peace, Kant, and subsequently reiterated systematically by the leading exponents of European unity — we might recall, in particular, Giuseppe Mazzini,[15] John Robert Seeley,[16] Lord Lothian[17] and Luigi Einaudi[18] — right up until the Ventotene Manifesto that marked the start of the political struggle for European federation.
Federalist Criticism of Pacifism and Internationalism.
Before moving on to an examination of the historical pertinence of the struggle for peace, we must first complete that of the world federal state as the instrument for the realisation of perpetual peace, clarifying the way in which this concept distinguishes the federalist approach from those of pacifism and internationalism. In fact, with peace as their guiding value, both of these orientations share many values with federalism, but when it comes to indicating the means for achieving peace, they diverge from it markedly. It is in this latter area that a distinction can also be drawn between pacifism and internationalism; these two orientations must therefore be examined separately, even though it must be acknowledged that, in practice, they are often found to overlap.[19]
Basically, pacifism attributes war essentially to human aggressiveness, interpreted according both to psychoanalytical and to ethical-religious canons. The difference between this approach and the federalist approach is immediately clear. Pacifist theories, if not accompanied by a clear awareness of the capacity of political institutions to condition and also, to a certain extent, to modify human behaviour, tend to consider education, founded on ethics/religion or on psychoanalysis, as the fundamental remedy for war. Federalism, instead, maintains that it is possible to create institutions which, despite not eliminating human aggressiveness, are able to render war impossible and, thus, to channel aggressive tendencies towards non-destructive behaviours. This view is, as we have seen, founded in historical experience, which shows us how the modern sovereign state has managed to control aggressiveness internally. Why should it not be possible for the same process to occur, eventually, in international relations?[20]
Obviously, in pursuit of the realisation of peace, federalism does not, unlike pacifist groups, which are driven by religious, moral and psychological concepts of peace, attach strategic importance to education and to testimony and example. To use the terminology of Giovanni Botero,[21] a great raison d’état theorist of the XVI century, we might say that true pacifists (not to be confused with those who exploit pacifist watchwords in their pursuit of other objectives) operate within the sphere of charity, while federalists operate within that of politics, understood as an endeavour of great charity. The highest kind of politics — that which pursues great designs aimed at helping humanity to progress towards its full emancipation — sets out to tackle at root level the situations that prompt testimonial and charitable behaviours. However, it must be recalled that these behaviours, while not in themselves capable of producing more advanced institutions, are nevertheless important in creating a climate favourable to the political struggle to build peace.
This brings us to the comparison between federalism and internationalism, which requires broader and more detailed discussion.[22] Internationalism is an orientation belonging to the great ideologies that, as from the end of the XVIII century, or beginning with the French Revolution, activated processes that changed profoundly the structures of the modern state. These ideologies are liberalism, democracy and socialism (both the social democratic and communist versions), whose philosophical basis lies, directly or indirectly, in the emancipatory and universalistic tendency unleashed by the Enlightenment. The internationalist component of these ideologies can be broken down into two fundamental parts.
The first of these is their cosmopolitan orientation. In other words, the idea that it is impossible to regard the values of freedom, equality and social justice as applicable to a single country and as restricted to the purely national sphere. Since these values are intrinsically universal, it is impossible not to regard their realisation in a national setting as necessary in order to open up the way for their extension to European or world level. The second part is the theory of the supremacy of internal politics. According to this understanding of international relations, of the reasons for war, and of the means for realising peace, war depends upon certain structures within the state. Therefore, the overcoming of these internal structures cannot fail to lead to the elimination of war and to the establishment of a system of lasting peaceful relations among states.
However, when it is a question of identifying these internal structures at the root of power politics, and the means of overcoming the same, the liberal, democratic and socialist ideologies diverge markedly. Liberal thought attributes war fundamentally to the aristocratic-absolutist political structure and to the mercantilist-protectionist economic structure and maintains, accordingly, that the establishment of representative governments (with suffrage limited to the affluent) and the separation of powers on the one hand, and the development of international trade on the other, would put an end to the bellicose tendencies of states; democratic thought, meanwhile, questions the authoritarian character of governments and considers peace to be the natural consequence of the establishment of popular sovereignty; socialist thought, finally, sees modern capitalism’s exploitation of the workforce as the ultimate cause of imperialism and war and thus regards the fight for social justice (for social democrats this means the introduction of the welfare state into a liberal democratic setting, and for communists, proletarian dictatorships and the complete abolition of private ownership of the means of production) as the way of overcoming class tension and of bringing about peace. Beyond these differences, the common core of the internationalist approach is the belief that a world of liberal (or, for this, read, democratic, socialist, communist) states, would be guided by liberal (or democratic, socialist, communist) ideas, and that this would imply the elimination of the phenomena of power politics attributable to the still incomplete, or non universal, realisation of the principles of internal organisation of the state affirmed by these ideologies.
As it is thus easy to see, the contrast between this approach, which essentially reduces foreign politics to a mere function of internal politics, and the federalist approach could not be clearer. In value terms, federalists are cosmopolitan, both because they believe in the universality of democracy (which, to work, must be organically combined with liberalism and social justice), and because universal peace is the value which guides them. On the other hand, the federalist doctrine also supports an organic link with the raison d’état theory. Thus, federalists see an indissoluble link between power politics and the anarchical structure of the society of states, recognise, on the basis of this, that foreign politics are essentially independent of domestic politics and perceive, what is more, that the paramountcy attached to external security constitutes a fundamental obstacle to the full achievement of democracy. From this stems the conviction that, in order to build peace, it is not enough to rely on struggles inspired by internationalist ideologies. Indeed, while the latter fundamentally target internal change, their organisational-institutional expressions are international: international associations in the sphere of civilised society, and international organisations (from the Society of Nations to the United Nations) in that of intergovernmental relations. Instead, what is needed is to pursue the overcoming of international anarchy through federal links, which eliminate the absolute sovereignty of states.
That this approach is more valid than the internationalist one is not purely a matter of faith; it is a truth that has been demonstrated in history from the time of the French Revolution onwards. In fact, the profound changes of regime, gradual or revolutionary, that have taken place within the European system of states, and the world one too, have undoubtedly altered many things on an internal and on a domestic level, but these do not include the tendency of the political classes to regard external security as more important than any other need, or the tendency to follow the dictates of the raison d’état, systematically ignoring the existence of ideological affinities among states.
This is a general consideration that needs to be examined more carefully with reference to contemporary democratic internationalism. Let us begin by clarifying a few points. First of all, while historically the democratic ideology was opposed — even rigorously so — to the ideologies of liberalism and social democracy, the tendency today, in advanced countries, to maintain that the democratic system must necessarily incorporate liberal principles (as a guarantee against the tyranny of the majority) and the welfare state (as the condition allowing all citizens to be truly free and equal) is actually quite widespread. Underlying this convergence, which does not exclude differences in emphasis and thus struggles between progressionists and conservatives — which, however, are not sufficient to render it questionable that the democratic system is an area of common ground between them — is economic and social progress. It is this that has allowed, if not the conflicts between different sections of society, then certainly the existential clash between opposing classes to be overcome. Second, democratic internationalism is now prominent in the world since, following the collapse of Soviet communism, there is no major internationalist doctrine left as an alternative to it. Third, democratic internationalism is the true interlocutor of federalism, which has always been opposed to totalitarian tendencies, both of the left and of the right.
That said, it must also be stressed that federalist criticism of democratic internationalism does not imply a conviction that a strengthening of the democratic order is irrelevant to the overcoming of international anarchy. In truth, the establishment of federal links between states depends unavoidably, as indicated earlier, on the democratic character of the same, both because the federal state is, ultimately, nothing other than a constitutional system with the capacity to extend democratic government to a wider and wider sphere until it finally embraces the entire world, and because an authoritarian or totalitarian power that does not accept internal limits will certainly be not be able to accept limits originating from the outside, unless these were imposed by force (in which case we would be talking about the founding of an empire rather than a federation).
If, then, democracy is the unavoidable condition for the establishment of peace, the fact nevertheless remains that, not implying per se the overcoming of international anarchy, it does not automatically lead to this objective. This is an affirmation that, it must again be remarked, is not convincingly challenged by the scholars of the democratic internationalist school. In their view, history shows us that far more wars have been waged between non democratic states, or against democratic states, than between democratic states, something which, according to their analyses, appears particularly evident in the period following the end of the Second World War in which, it is claimed, a sort of “separate perpetual peace” among the democracies was established.[23] In truth, these considerations, which clearly oppose the idea of an indissoluble link between peace and the overcoming of the absolute sovereignty of the state, fail to take into account a series of facts: the nuclear condition that rendered war between the major powers inconceivable; the establishment, after 1945, of US hegemony over the democracies of the world; the start, in the framework of this American hegemony, of a profound process of supranational integration in western Europe (which will be examined in more detail further on) characterised by the emergence of embryonic federal forms and by the reaching of a depth of interdependence so great as to render war between the member states an impossibility.
In reality, the failure to recognise that democracy alone is not enough to obtain peace, which, in order to be perpetual, requires solid federal links constitutes an indication that democratic internationalism is destined to remain the prisoner of national ideology, which engenders the belief that there can be no overcoming the plurality of sovereign states.
The Historical Pertinence of the Struggle for Peace.
So far, we have looked at the reasons why federalism is the institutional instrument needed for the realisation of peace. Now it is time to examine the fundamental reasons why the building of peace has, starting in the years of the Second World War and the immediate post-war period, evolved from a normative model based on pure reason into an out-and-out political programme that has peace as its supreme objective. Like the question of the world state model, which renders the goal of perpetual peace rationally conceivable, that of political commitment to the building of peace is, too, characterised by a complex relationship with political realism. Divergence from the latter over the historical feasibility of striving to overcome international anarchy, which ultimately reflects a divergence of values, is associated with a strategic view that bases its specificity and its superiority over other approaches to the question of peace-building precisely on its use of precepts drawn from the tradition of political realism.
Let us start with the divergence from political realism. The conviction that the overcoming of international anarchy is a historically pertinent question inevitably goes hand in hand with the awareness that the world federal state is a very long-term objective, an objective that is reachable through a series of historical stages and that will thus require the commitment of numerous generations. This awareness is accompanied, on the one hand, by the firm belief not only that one must, but also that one can, strive (with real prospects of success) for goals that, despite being only partial in relation to the final objective, nonetheless constitute a real advance in the direction of it. These goals only make sense fully when they are seen as concrete stages in a historical design whose aim is to increase the dimensions of democratic statehood until the latter embraces the entire world. This way of seeing things rests, fundamentally, on a full appreciation of the consequences — on the evolution of states and on inter-state relations — of the momentous changes brought about by the advanced industrial revolution, which then became the technical-scientific revolution. Realists take into account a series of phenomena of crucial importance: the growing economic interdependence of states, the advent of weapons of mass destruction, environmental interdependence and the crisis of the world’s ecological equilibria, but since their guiding values lead them to regard the plurality of the sovereign states as insurmountable, they are unable to see that these developments have also brought in a new factor whose implications are extremely far-reaching: the historical crisis of the system of sovereign states, a situation that not only renders commitment to the overcoming of international anarchy essential in an ethical sense, but also gives it a very real political basis.
The crisis-of-the-system-of-sovereign-states concept is the historical-social aspect of the federalist ideology, which has peace and the federal state as its value and structural elements respectively. It revolves around a group of arguments that are aimed at highlighting the historical pertinence of the need to overcome international anarchy. This aspect of the federal paradigm, developed and gradually refined above all by Luigi Einaudi, the English federalist school (Lord Lothian, Lionel Robbins and Barbara Wootton), Altiero Spinelli and Mario Albertini,[24] is based on creative use of the fundamental precepts of the historical materialism theory. It is sufficient, here, to recall that federalists assimilated from the theorists of historical materialism the fact that the evolution of the mode of production — that is the process through which men continually transform the quality of their lives through technological innovation and through the creation of new ways of organising the division of labour — determines in the final instance the structure and the dimensions of the state. As a result, they were able to see that, just as the passage from the agricultural to the industrial mode of production gave rise within the modern state to transformations towards liberalism, democracy and the welfare state, so the advance of the Industrial Revolution and the passage to the technical-scientific revolution altered the economic-social basis of the states, turning the question of their dimensions into one of central importance and opening up the historical phase of the crisis of the system of sovereign states.[25] Having recalled that, an examination of this topic can be broken down into three crucial arguments.
The first concerns the extent of the economic interdependence that gradually evolved, with the advance of the Industrial Revolution, in the course of the XX century. It brought to light the unavoidable need to create states of continental dimensions in order to avert economic-social decline and, thus, to prevent democratic progress from drawing to a halt. But it also began a process destined, over longer periods of time, to render obsolete even continental-size states and consequently to place on the agenda, in order not to impede progress, the political unification of the whole of mankind. A grasp of the political implications of economic interdependence is the indispensable key to understanding the fundamental developments of the XX century. The root cause both of the loss of global supremacy on the part of the major European powers (i.e., the end of the centrality of the European system of states), and of the establishment of a world system of states dominated by the continental powers (the USA and the USSR), is indeed the inadequacy of the dimensions of the European nation-states. The decline of the nation-states first of all brought democratic progress to a general stop and produced, in situations where the crisis was most acute, a spread of authoritarian and totalitarian tendencies. This is the framework within which the Nazis’ hegemonic-imperialistic attempt to solve the problem of generating a European state of continental dimensions unfolded, prompting an escalation of atrocities that culminated in systematic genocide. The European nation-states’ loss of power, which followed the end of the era of the world wars (the most destructive that history has ever known), opened up the way for the dismantling of the colonial empires and, above all, for the process of European unification with its inclination towards the overcoming, on a peaceful and democratic basis, of the problem of the inadequate dimensions of the nation-states. This process, which is still incomplete, radically altered the situation in Europe, restoring momentum to economic-social development, democratic progress and peacemaking endeavours, and also stimulated in other parts of the world similar, although much less deep-rooted, processes: the so-called regional integrations. This increasing interdependence manifested itself, less rapidly and profoundly but nevertheless continually, at world level, too, showing, in the wake of the end of the Cold War,[26] a sharp acceleration that is reflected in the growing use of the neologism “globalisation”. In this way, an increasingly integrated world economic system has gradually developed, dominated by the USA and characterised by aspects of accelerated economic growth and, at the same time, by the persistence of a huge gap between the world’s northern and southern regions. The growth of economic interdependence prompted the formation of international economic organisations (GATT-WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, the G7), which, while they have not produced a level of integration comparable to that seen in Europe, nevertheless make it possible to perceive world unification as a real prospect, however distant, and no longer as a utopian idea.
In the second argument, meanwhile, the emergence of challenges not only to progress but also to the very survival of mankind — challenges that derive from the discovery of weapons of mass destruction and from the upsetting of the world’s natural equilibria — are regarded as a factor in the historical crisis of the system of sovereign states. The Ventotene Manifesto intuited these challenges, even though they were not at the time as clearly visible as they were destined to become in subsequent decades. The analysis contained in the Manifesto, and in the other cardinal federalist writings dating from the period of the Second World War, provided the perspective needed to frame this problem correctly.
The link between the destructiveness of modern warfare and the historical pertinence of the need to overcome the anarchy in international relations was immediately grasped in reference to European integration. This process, which embodies the very real prospect of the overcoming of the sovereign states in a crucially important world region, is linked, as mentioned earlier, with the phenomenon of the economic decline of the European nation-states. But some of its momentum was also clearly derived from the fact that the conflicts between Europe’s nation-states had produced the most terrible wars history has known, wars which ended with the birth of the atomic era. The choice, “federate or perish”, on which Aristide Briand based his 1929 proposal for European unity,[27] had become a politically relevant one.
The federalist viewpoint also made it possible to grasp fully the extent of this momentous change (i.e., the development of weapons of mass destruction). Essentially, it put the need to overcome war as an instrument for resolving conflicts among states onto the historical agenda, since a general war implying the large-scale employment of weapons of mass destruction would mean not the continuation of politics through other means, but rather, as the consequence of a collective suicide, the end of politics altogether. In the light of this, the realists’ deterrence argument appears inadequate. It is true that the system of deterrence rendered war between the major powers inconceivable. And the importance of this fact emerged particularly clearly with the end of the bipolar system. Deterrence and the cost of arms did in fact constitute one of the fundamental factors that contributed to the ending of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet system, since they eliminated the possibility of using the extreme solution of a general war as means of trying to save a despotic empire, and shifted the confrontation essentially to the ground of economic efficiency. And this, in the long run, is what led to the defeat of the USSR. On the other hand, it is entirely unrealistic to regard the inconceivableness of a general war between the major powers as permanent protection against the risk of a nuclear holocaust. Not only is there no guarantee that deterrence cannot fail, consideration must also be given to the inescapable fact that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will — in a setting characterised by the chronic instability of the underdeveloped world — lead to their finding their way into the hands of states which have no democratic mechanisms for controlling power and which are led by extremist and fanatical ruling classes, or even into the hands of terrorist groups that do not have a territory that deterrence can hold to ransom. In reality, the value of deterrence and security policies aimed at arms control and reduction can only be provisional. In other words, all they can do is provide the setting within which, to be truly realist, the extremely difficult and long-term plan to eliminate structurally the possibility of wars[28] — a plan to which there exist no valid alternatives — must be pursued. This means building a global democratic state, beginning with the unification of Europe and the creation of other regional unifications;[29] these, having the capacity to pacify whole regional systems of states, will constitute a monumental step forwards in the direction of world peace.
The same argument applies to the danger of an ecological holocaust. International cooperation alone cannot be regarded as anything other than a provisional remedy, a remedy whose coherent development is possible only within the context of a gradual enlargement of the dimensions of the state. Indeed, only through such an enlargement is it possible to control certain developments that, if left to the complete discretion of the single states, are destined to produce indescribable catastrophes on a continental and on a world scale.
The third argument, finally, is related specifically to the objective factors that, within the historical context that we have described (characterised by economic interdependence and by existential threats), allowed the federalist commitment to peace to become politically pertinent. First of all, the crisis of the system of sovereign states has generated a crisis of legitimacy, which manifests itself through a widespread lack of faith in the capacity of states to tackle effectively the fundamental problems of our era and thus in the aspiration towards both the development of a level of cooperation that extends beyond the boundaries of the state, and the overcoming of absolute sovereignty with which such a level of cooperation is linked. This trend was especially strong in Europe after the end of the Second World War, its emergence connected with the particularly advanced nature of the crisis of the European nation-states at that time. In fact, opinion polls conducted during the post-war period show a widespread and dominant Europeanism based, in however confused a manner, on the ideal of European unity. While, outside Europe, this crisis of the legitimacy of the sovereign state is still only in an embryonic stage, it nevertheless points to a trend that cannot be regarded as superficial.
Federalist commitment to peace can thus gain real political momentum through the creation of a movement for supranational unification and through the mobilisation of popular consensus, and this is particularly true in Europe where the historical crisis of the legitimacy of the system of sovereign states is most acute. But there exists another fundamentally important objective factor (connected with what we have just seen) that certainly boosts federalists’ chances of political success in their battle to overcome international anarchy: the objective inadequacy of the system of sovereign states and the general supranational aspirations of public opinion are, together, pushing governments more and more forcibly towards cooperation, and cooperation, in situations in which the crisis is most advanced, gives rise to particularly deep forms of integration, in short, to supranational integration. The passage from international cooperation to supranational integration does not automatically set in motion a mechanism leading to the development of a supranational democratic state, but it does create a contradictory, and thus dynamic, situation and create openings for political action that are useful to the federalist struggle for peace.[30] The crucial question is that of the capacity to exploit these openings, in other words, the question of strategy. At this point in our examination of the historical-crisis-of-the-system-of-sovereign-states concept, the centrality of the relationship with political realism returns to the fore. It is precisely because of the connection that exists between federalism and realism that a valid strategic argument can be developed, thereby making it possible to avoid either succumbing to the temptation simply to provide testimony or falling into the trap of an evolutionistic, and ultimately providential, vision of the processes of international cooperation and supranational integration. This is the topic dealt with in the final two chapters of this treatise.
The Strategy of the Federalist Struggle for Peace.
A brief presentation of the federalist thinking on strategy should seek to focus attention on two essential aspects, which are closely linked but which must, for analytical purposes, be distinguished from one another and illustrated separately. Thus, we look first at the fundamental obstacle faced by federalists in their struggle and second at why the European federation is indicated as the priority objective in the peace-building process.
Examination of the first aspect can take as its starting point a brilliant observation made by Altiero Spinelli on the difficulty of the struggle for European federation, in other words, of the struggle for peace that must move from testimony to concrete political engagement. According to the founder of the MFE, the democratic national governments are, at one and the same time, instruments of and obstacles to the objective of European federation.[31] Let us see what this means.
If the unavoidable condition for the peaceful and federal unification of states is their republican (in a Kantian sense) structure, it is clear that unification must necessarily be based on decisions reached freely by national democratic governments. If unification is forcibly imposed by a hegemonic power, not only is it not peaceful but all it can give rise to is a despotic empire. But there is another reason why the national democratic governments are ineluctable actors in the process of European unification, and it is the fact that they are structurally obliged by the historical situation that evolved in the wake of the Second World War to follow a policy of European unification, since the collapse of the continent’s nation-states has brought them face to face with the choice to “federate or perish”.
While on the one hand, and for these reasons, the national democratic governments are instruments, they tend, on the other, to place obstacles in the path leading to the creation of a European federation (which, alone, would be able to render the process of European unification irreversible). Creating a European federation does not simply mean delegating powers to supranational bodies, leaving the power to decide in the last instance in the hands of national governments. It means transferring sovereignty definitively to a supranational state, one that will leave the nation-states with a broad autonomy, but take away their absolute sovereignty. Underlying the national governments’ structural resistance to this prospect is the law of the preservation of power. As the raison d’état theory makes clear, from as far back as Machiavelli, the tendency of those who possess and manage power is, inexorably, to hold on to it and to strengthen it. The main factor at work in this behaviour is not a personal taste for power (although this can have a certain influence), but instead the fact that political power (in the final analysis the monopoly on legitimate power) is the condition upon which society’s survival and development depends. Thus, the law of the preservation of power also applies to democratic states, which could always slide into anarchy if there is a weakening of the political power, and constitutes a major obstacle to the transfer of sovereignty even in a setting conditioned by the alternatives “federate or perish”.
It is worth recalling, at this point, an important distinction — relating to this resistance to the transfer of sovereignty also in democratic states — between the permanent bodies of executive power, such as the diplomatic services and the higher echelons of civil and military bureaucracy, and transitory political personnel, in other words, the heads of state and of government and ministers. The strongest resistance is normally mounted by the former, whose power and prestige is, upon the transfer of sovereignty, destined to be reduced substantially and more immediately. Furthermore, the permanent bodies of executive power, historically created to administer the absolute sovereignty of the state, have become the natural receptacles for nationalist traditions. On the other hand, the situation as regards the political exercisers of sovereignty is more complex, for at least three reasons: not occupying positions of permanent power, these individuals have a greater likelihood of becoming members of the supranational political class in the making; they are expressions of democratic parties whose ideological design has an internationalist element that embraces, all be it in general terms, the idea of European unity; they have a direct relationship with public opinion, which, in the countries where the general phenomenon of the crisis of the nation-states is most acute and obvious, is largely in favour of European unification. As we shall see further on, this distinction is extremely important when it comes to the question of the procedure for creating the federal institutions. The fact nonetheless remains that, viewed structurally and overall, the national democratic governments display a negative attitude to federal unification. Thus, in the absence of an important factor outside the logic that dictates their behaviour, they are inclined to agree only to one type of unification: that which does not involve the irrevocable transfer of their sovereignty. This outside factor is the intervention of a political subject with the capacity to bring pressure to bear, democratically, on the national governments, working on the objective contradictions with which, as a consequence of the historical crisis of the nation-states, they find themselves faced.
Let us look, first of all, at the objective premise for a passage to supranational federalism: this premise is the maturation, to a point at which the choice of whether to “federate or perish” is politically pertinent, of the historical crisis of the nation-states. As long as nation-states are powerful and power politics are not conditioned by the inconceivableness of a general war between the major powers, the decline produced by the growth of economic interdependence is not a sufficient condition to prompt the federal unification of Europe. In such a setting, in fact, the tendency of the political classes to hold on to and to strengthen the power of the nation relies on the capacity to maintain the consensus of the people and to channel it in the direction of expansionistic policies. Norman Angell’s affirmation in 1911 that the intensification of trade and the interweaving of interests had reached a level so great as to render war impossible was tragically countered in the period of the two World Wars.[32] A decisive change in the situation was not to come until after the collapse of the European system of states which, crucially assisted by the Cold War and by the pressure brought to bear on western Europe by the hegemonic power of the United States, opened up the way for the process of European integration. In this setting, while the formidable force of inertia of the inclination to hold onto power does manifest itself, in the postponement sine die of the federal solution (even pointed out in the Schuman Declaration), it is thrown into severe difficulty by the contradictions produced by the movement from simple international cooperation to supranational integration.
Fundamentally, these contradictions number two. The first is represented by the instability and inefficiency of functionalist unification. Functionalist European Community institutions, despite being embryonic federal forms, are conditioned by the governments’ need to reach unanimous decisions on key questions. As a result, these institutions are structurally weak and, in difficult moments (when the problems that have to be faced are ones of crucial importance), incapable of efficient action. Hence the slowness of decision-making, the continual postponements and the precariousness that permanently characterise the advance of European integration and that frustrate the expectations fuelled by this advance, a frustration that could, in turn, be transformed into support for federal solutions. And in addition to this lack of efficiency, there is the democratic deficit. On the one hand, functionalist integration within the European Community produces a supranational decision-making mechanism, however inefficient, and a depth of interdependence that together gradually void the national decision-making mechanisms of their decision-making capacity. But on the other, no fully-fledged supranational democratic system is created, due to the continued predominance, at this level, of intergovernmental and technocratic procedures. In short, where the decisions are made there is no fully democratic system in place, and yet where such a system does exist, at national level, strategically important decisions are no longer taken. This is a paradox that is destined to produce a growing unease within the democratically inclined parties and sections of public opinion. An unease that could culminate in a fatal crisis of democracy, but that could, equally, lend momentum to the idea of supranational democracy.
Essentially, the political pertinence of the “federate or perish” alternative has placed the national governments on a slope, in other words, it has put them in an increasingly untenable position that does not involve any automatic movement towards a positive outcome — micro-nationalistic disintegration is a possible alternative to sovereign nation-states but that does open up the way definitively for the overcoming of the system of sovereign states in Europe. For this to come about, however, an objective situation compatible with revolutionary change needs to concur with the intervention of a political subject capable of exploiting the possibilities that the situation offers. This subject could be a movement for European federation that is independent of national governments and parties and able to bring to bear upon the same the democratic pressure that will prompt them to take the step that, voluntarily, they are not prepared to take.
Historically, the precepts of political realism on the subject of revolutionary change can be traced back a number of centuries and begin with the famous passage in Machiavelli’s Prince (repeatedly quoted by Spinelli), which deals with the introducers of new orders and explains how they must know how to force circumstances, and not merely how to pray, if they want to succeed in their intentions. Precisely because this is the tradition by which it is inspired, federalist thinking on strategy revolves around the nature of the autonomy that the movement for European federation — if it is to pursue effectively and to realise its objective — must enjoy. The topic of federalist autonomy is expressed, in concrete terms, in three fundamental principles — political, organisational and financial — developed above all by Mario Albertini and applied, under his guidance, by the MFE.[33]
The first principle, that of political autonomy, manifests itself first of all in the formation of a movement rather than a party. This movement must in fact set out to unite, obviously in a supranational organisation, all the supporters of the idea of a European federation, whatever their ideological inclination (naturally this excludes followers of totalitarian ideologies) and social background. After all, efforts to conquer the national power — this would be the fundamental objective of the movement for a European federation were it structured as a party — would inevitably only have the effect of weakening the struggle to achieve the transfer of a substantial part of these powers to supranational institutions. It is this choice that underlies the refusal on the part of the core of militants who have led and run the MFE over the years to link the movement with any national political party. This has made it possible, at opportune times, to establish extremely useful relationships, of collaboration or tactical alliance, with the various democratic parties — a number of whose exponents have actually joined the movement — and, at the same time, to fully safeguard federalist autonomy.
The principle of organisational autonomy regards the formation and selection of militants, both of which have always been guided by the need to prevent the movement from being conditioned by the presence of a complex and costly administrative apparatus which, to survive, would rely essentially on external funding. It was consequently established that militant federalists should be part-time militants, continuing to work in jobs that would guarantee their economic independence while still leaving them enough free time to devote to their federalist activities. In this way, it proved possible to create an organisation which, costing little to run, was totally shielded from any attempt, on the part of any political or economic force, to subject it to pressure or blackmail.
The third principle, finally, is that of financial autonomy, and it rests specifically on the self-funding of the movement. In concrete terms, the militants recruited by the organisation of Italian federalists have always known that their federalist work would not bring them any financial reward — indeed, that it would, on the contrary, cost them money. While this arrangement, which became the financial basis of the MFE, did not prevent it from receiving external funding as well, such funding was used, above all, to finance specific actions, and the permanent structure of the organisation has always run on its “own resources”. This is, again, a condition that has contributed to its imperviousness to any outside influence.
But all this apart, what fundamentally underlies the MFE’s political, organisational and financial autonomy isits cultural autonomy. It is only a strong cultural motivation (as well as a moral one obviously) — in other words, only the realisation that the federalist doctrine has, in relation to the dominant current of political thought, something really new to say, in value terms and in terms of an understanding of the historical situation — that can effectively feed a political commitment that is long-term, often tiring and difficult and, as we have seen, not motivated by power or money, in a number of militants great enough to form an independent federalist force with the capacity to influence reality.
The cultural autonomy of federalists is founded fundamentally on a highly complex operation: the unmasking of the national ideology.[34] This is not simply a case of rejecting nationalism on the basis of the fact that it is an orientation whose values go against those of peace and cosmopolitanism, an orientation that is rooted in the unshakeable belief in the superiority of one’s nation over all other nations and, thus, in the justification of the oppression, even to the point of genocide, of other national groups. Demystifying the idea of the nation also means being aware of the incapacity of the dominant Enlightenment-derived ideologies (liberalism, democracy and socialism) to conceive of the effective overcoming of the sovereign nation-states. These ideologies are universalistic and, as such, they favour supranational unification as a principle. At the same time, however, they tend to perpetuate the myth of the nation-states, which are perceived as “natural” institutions because they are founded on pre-existing nations. This, in turn, prevents them from seeing that it is states that create nations, and not the other way round, and consequently from perceiving clearly that the nation-states are historically determined institutions and, as such, are historically surmountable. This mystification, which derives, in the final analysis, from the inclination to hold onto power, induces governments and national democratic parties to interpret unification structurally more as cooperation (however deep) between states than as the irrevocable transfer of national sovereignty to federal institutions.
If demystification of the ideology of the nation is the fundamental cultural basis underlying this federalist autonomy of which we have spoken, then it must emerge, on a practical level, as a crucial need for federalist militants to draw attention systematically to the limits of internationalism. And this must obviously also apply to functionalist theories which, precisely because they are not entirely free from the national ideology, which serves to conceal the true nature of the political power, regard European integration as an automatic mechanism and fail to perceive fully the capacity for resistance of the national power. In different terms, this also applies to pacifism, which, precisely because it lacks awareness of the problem of statehood generally, can easily be manipulated by the forces out to preserve the absolute sovereignty of the state. It is true that there is a certain convergence of values between federalists and internationalists, functionalists and pacifists, and thus a fundamental objective of organised federalism must be to involve these groups in the struggle for federalist objectives. But this operation can only succeed if federalist militants appreciate clearly that these approaches, when faced with the problem of building peace, are quite inadequate and that the surmounting of them is, in fact, the specific feature of federalism. Without this awareness, all dialogue with internationalists, functionalists and pacifists is destined to lead to a loss of identity and, thus, of federalist autonomy. Finally, it is necessary to underline a further (this time ethical-psychological) aspect to this federalist autonomy. The latter is founded on the conviction of militant federalists that they are carrying out a vital role — a role in whose absence, in other words, the struggle for peace is destined to fail. From this derives their structural rejection of all forms of “providentialism”, as well as, consequently, their awareness of the historical responsibility of federalists and of the fact that any mistakes they make could be fatal to the progress of mankind. However, the indispensable sense of importance and pride generated by this awareness must not be allowed to turn into intellectual contempt for non-federalist supporters of the central value of peace, but must instead accompany a realisation that there exist other essential roles to be filled — roles that merit the utmost respect. The best example of this is that of the many environmental-pacifist groups that operate through the non governmental organisations active in the areas of human rights, development aid, immigration, environmental protection, and so on. It is true that this kind of involvement falls more within the sphere of charity[35] than of great charity, which can instead be pursued only from a federalist perspective. But since the time frame of the latter is destined to be long — very long — the positive role played by charity must be appreciated in all its value. What is important is not to confuse the different roles, as this can only lead to ineffectiveness and, in short, produce nothing.
So far, we have looked at the connection between the need for federalist autonomy and the realisation that the national democratic governments are both instruments of and obstacles to federal unification. This independent variable of federalist reasoning on strategy, generates a consequence of crucial importance, also in relation to the procedure that must be followed in order to create European unity: to create federal institutions (in the absence of which integration will inevitably remain precarious and unstable), it is indispensable to impose the method of the constituent assembly as opposed to the diplomatic one of intergovernmental conferences.
The European constituent method, whose supreme model is the Philadelphia Convention that, in 1787, drew up history’s first federal constitution, means essentially three things: the assignment of the task of defining Europe’s institutions to a parliamentary-type body which, unlike diplomatic conferences, would take its decisions in sessions open to the scrutiny of public opinion; the reaching of decisions by majority vote and not through application of the principle of unanimity, which is the first rule of diplomatic conferences; the majority ratification of projects approved by the constituent assembly, which would then come into force only in the ratifying countries. To opt for this procedure would be to make a choice that is based not only on a return to the principles of democracy, but also on conditions dictated by political realism. It is important to understand one fundamental point: as long as it continues to rest on unanimous and secret decisions reached by the national governments and diplomatic bodies, the trend towards the conservation of absolute sovereignty is destined unavoidably to emerge more strongly than the need for effective unification. If, on the other hand, the democratic constituent method were applied, the Europeanism that is widespread in public opinion (above all in the countries where the crisis of the nation-states is most acutely felt), in democratic parties and in parties with internationalist leanings, would be able to make itself felt once and for all, and the force of the inclination towards federal institutions would become unstoppable.
It is for these reasons that the strategic aim of the federalist struggle has always been to seize, from governments, the responsibility for setting in motion a democratic constituent process. While this is not an aim that has been pursued to the exclusion of other objectives (such as a European army, the direct election of the European parliament and the single currency), the latter emerge as intermediate objectives that serve perfectly for tabling some of the issues that underlie sovereignty and that can thus be instrumental in the setting in motion of a democratic constituent process. In other words,what we have seen, and what we are still seeing, is a constitutional gradualism[36] that has nothing at all to do with support for battles of a functionalist or sectorial nature. After all, federalist support for a form of functionalist gradualism would ultimately compromise the identity and strength of the federalist movement and, therefore, reduce its capacity to exploit the contradictions inherent in the idea of functionalist integration within the European Community.
As we have said, the democratic deficit and the lack of efficiency that constitute the structural characteristics of European integration place the national governments on a slope and are the weaknesses on which we must play if we are, indeed, to take responsibility for setting in motion a democratic constituent process. The effective carrying through of this operation depends not only upon the existence of an independent federalist force, but implies, as well, the capacity to employ the same productively. In this setting, the capacity to mobilise public opinion,in other words, to force acknowledgementat decisive moments (i.e., when the contradictions give rise to situations of acute crisis) that the clash between those who favour a European federation and those who defend national sovereignty must take precedence over all the other contrasts that normally dominate the national political scene, is crucial. This capacity is an indispensable part of federalist strategy and if it is lacking, or insufficient, then federalist autonomy turns into an end in itself, and thus into sectarianism.[37]
The Paramountcy of the Struggle for a European Federation.
As seen in the last chapter, the theoretical instruments essential for identifying both the fundamental obstacle that the federalist struggle for peace must surmount, and the nature of the political subject suited to the task, derive from political realism. To date, federalist-realist reasoning on strategy has raised considerations in whose light European federation can be regarded as the priority aim of a struggle for peace — or, in other words for world federation — that is endeavouring to go beyond pure testimony and to have a real effect on politics. On the one hand, the historical crisis of the system of sovereign states is the condition that renders historically pertinent the Kantian idea of the need to overcome international anarchy, in other words, that ushers in the federalist phase of world history in which the federal state is the only form of state able to control the growth of interdependence. On the other hand, the crisis of the system of sovereign states, if viewed as a condition of global importance, shows a markedly unequal trend. The crisis of the European nation-states represents its most advanced point and, thus, the weak link in the chain. In Europe, the slope has been created and, with it, the objective conditions for the growth of a federalist force with the capacity to begin, in concrete terms, the building of peace. Hence the paramountcy of the struggle for a European federation. What must now be examined in more depth is how, and how coherently, this priority objective fits in with the overall project whose ultimate target is world federation.
In this context, attention must first of all be focused on the fact that a European federation constitutes the first and inevitable historical step in the direction of a world federation. In this regard, there are, above all, three considerations that need to be examined.[38]
First, the future European federation will be a fundamental pillar within a future world federation. The latter, as already suggested, can be a functional and enduring political-state system only if it is based on a limited number of large, democratic, regional federations. After all, large, federal democracies are the only ones able to constitute republican regimes in a Kantian sense, in other words, republican regimes founded on the values of freedom, equality and justice. They are the only ones, therefore, that have the structural capacity to enter into a world federal agreement, even though internally they will always have to overcome the inclination, on the part of the holders of political power, to retain the latter. The United States of America is, so far, the only continental federation with the capacity to become a pillar of a future world state. With the birth of a European federation we would have two such federations. This momentous leap forward would then have to be followed by the democratisation and federalisation of China, by the strengthening of federal democracy in India, and by the creation of other regional federations in Asia, in Latin America and in Africa (where, moreover, the formation of the modern state is a process that has yet to be completed).
Second, the European federation would constitute a model exerting an enormous power of attraction over the rest of the world. It must, in this regard, be recalled that American federal unification came about in an area that was (at the time) on the fringe of the advanced world, and involved small states that had only just broken free from British colonial rule and were devoid of historical roots. By contrast, the federal unification of Europe would be the definitive pacifying — through the overcoming of absolute sovereignty and, thus, the disarming of the continent’s historically established nation-states — of modern history’s most dynamic, but also most turbulent, region — a region which generated two world wars, and which was the stage for the playing out of the Cold War and, later, the Balkan wars. The advance, albeit incomplete, of the process of European unification has altered radically the situation in western Europe, in the sense that it has led to greater wellbeing and to a growth of consensus for the democratic system. Most significantly, it has introduced a praxis that — unlike nationalist politics, which tend to move national boundaries by force in order to obtain “vital space” for the development of nations, to pursue a mythical coincidence between the dimensions of the state and those of the nation, and to discriminate against and oppress cultural, linguistic and religious minorities — sets out to overcome, via the creation through peaceful supranational integration of a space big enough to favour the development of all nations, the importance attached to boundaries, and to protect minority groups. With the extension of the process of European unification to central and eastern Europe (which, to succeed, presupposes its leap forward in a federal sense), this region, too, would be pacified and provided with the only possible alternative to its disintegration into a multitude of small monoethnic states, a situation that would inevitably suggest the horrendous practice of ethnic cleansing.
If we bear in mind that Europe is, overall, the most advanced area of the modern world, the area that originated and developed modern science, industry, democracy and nationalism, all of which have spawned many variations worldwide, it is clear that its pacification through federal means would demonstrate with the indisputableness of fact that peace-building is a process that can be extended to other areas of the world and, thus, to the whole of mankind. And as a result, the copycat effect that the still incomplete, and thus still precarious, process of European integration has had in other areas of the world, encouraging processes of regional integration based on the European model, would be strengthened. The failure of European integration, on the other hand, would constitute a terribly negative example. It would strengthen automatically, and probably fatally, all the disintegrative trends that are at work within the world and that are fed both by the instability generated by the collapse of the bipolar system and by the process of globalisation, which for the moment, not being adequately channelled within a framework of rational design-making, is working essentially as a force of nature.
The crucial role that a future European federation will be called upon to play in relation to the process of world unification will also be founded — and here we reach the third consideration — on the basic tendencies that will characterise its international policies and depend, essentially, on its raison d’état. In the light of the raison d’état concept, it is possible to see that foreign policy — always carried out in the shadow of power politics — is, on the other hand, strongly conditioned, in the sphere of concrete choices, by factors such as the specific international situation with its particular balances and trends (for example, in the current historical situation, the challenges that make world unification necessary and feed processes of integration beyond national boundaries), the position and the weight of the individual state within the balance of power and within the international economic system, and the prevailing political-constitutional system. Having made that clear, there are grounds to support the affirmation that while the raison d’état of the future European federation will certainly be characterised by a tendency to pursue the specific interests of the continent, it will also reflect a strong objective inclination towards a policy for world unification.
As we saw earlier, the creation of a European federation would mean the appearance on the world stage, alongside the United States of America, of another state subject capable of building the institutions of perpetual peace. However — and this is the crucial point — the European federation would be much more suited to this task than the American superpower. Indeed, the federal structure of the United States has, above all through the creation of its vast military and industrial machine, shown a marked degeneration towards centralisation. This is a trend that can be attributed to the hegemonic role that the country has been called upon by history to play, not only on a regional, but also on a global scale. American hegemony has, in the course of the last century, made a vital contribution to the progress of mankind; this is shown, in particular, by the fact that it defeated the fascist and communist alternatives to liberal democracy and favoured, significantly, the start of the process of European integration. But at the same time, this hegemonic inclination gave rise to a radically nationalistic-imperialistic way of thinking, which, a crucial factor as regards internal consensus, possesses a strong force of inertia and prevents a real appreciation of the need for a foreign policy oriented towards world unification and, thus, towards the overcoming of state sovereignty.
Upon the federal unification of Europe, a continental state will be born equipped with its own foreign policy and defence identity; a state that, in other words, will also pursue its own specific interests, but that will not be conditioned by the negative factors that characterise the American situation. First of all, being based on a national, cultural, religious, economic and social pluralism the like of which is not to be found anywhere else in the world, the federal structure of the European state will inevitably be strongly decentralised; apart from anything else, this will make it actually impossible to base a European identity on the construction of a national myth, and will impose, instead, a sort of “constitutional patriotism”. Second, there will be no force of inertia generated by an ingrained hegemonic tradition. After all, the fact that the birth of the European federation will be based on the renunciation of sovereignty by the continent’s historically-established nation-states will create a setting in which the need to overcome even European sovereignty will be more easily grasped. Finally, Europe depends far more than the United States on international trade and on the importation of essential raw materials; as a result, there is a greater interest in world markets that are stable and open (not governed by the law of the jungle) and in the development of backward countries.
If these are the fundamental impulses that originate from the European raison d’état, it must also be added that, along with its unity, Europe will also acquire full autonomy from the United States and will thereby automatically strengthen the autonomy of China, of India and of Japan. This will mean a transition from an international system based on the hegemony, albeit dwindling, of the United States to a pluripolar system. This transition will be completed by the progress towards statehood of the regional integrations, a progress favoured not only by Europe’s example, but also by the fact that, in the presence of a world system whose poles are states of continental dimensions, the medium-size and smaller powers will count for less and less, and the de facto eclipse of their sovereignty will become increasingly evident. In this context, which will be conditioned by a momentum towards world unification generated by globalisation and by the challenges to the survival of mankind of which we have spoken, it is reasonable to expect a strong European policy in favour of world unification. It would be rash, however, to seek to predict the concrete lines along which such a policy will develop because, as well as presupposing a federal leap forward that is yet to be taken, it is destined to unfold in a world setting that, in the meantime, could change. What it is possible to do, however, is to identify the basic trends. Two in particular are worth underlining.
On the one hand, the future European federation will tend to favour the development of backward countries and, thus, regional integrations (two issues that are organically linked), because it is only by moving in this direction that it will be possible to remedy increasingly dangerous situations of instability, open up important markets and control the mass emigrations of biblical proportions that are running the risk of becoming incompatible with democratic progress in Europe. In this setting, the choice must necessarily be for a sort of European plan (along the lines of the Marshall Plan) for the southern Mediterranean region, the Middle East and Africa. In the context of such a plan, adequate provision of aid, both economic and within the sphere of security, would — along the lines of the original Marshall Plan which made the start of European integration possible — have to depend upon furtherance of the process of regional integration and progress in the area of human rights. On the other hand, it will also be in the interests, as well as effectively within the power, of the European federation (in that it will have become an autonomous actor on the international stage) to bring about a decisive strengthening of the international organisation of the world (UN, WTO, IMF), in other words, of global governance. With the disappearance of the asymmetry that, due to America’s hegemony, currently characterises the international organisations, the way would be left clear for major innovations and the ground laid for the opening up of a new historical phase whose crux would be the construction of a world government. And clearly, if an autonomous federalist force proves able to carry out its role adequately, it will be possible to exploit to the full the objective conditions favouring this.
Since, on the basis of that which has been said thus far, the paramountcy of the struggle for a European federation is clear, it is now necessary, in the final part of this treatise, to draw attention to its practical implications as regards the question of the coherence between commitment to European and commitment to world federation.
On the one hand, affirmation of the objective of a world federal state is an essential aspect of federalism, not only because it indicates the ultimate objective of the federalist struggle (and thus makes it possible to identify clearly partial advances towards it), but also because it provides the militants of a revolutionary political force with the motives indispensable for their action — the fight for peace and thus for the full emancipation of mankind. Failure to believe in the possibility of mankind’s full emancipation, albeit through a very long-term struggle and through partial but concrete historical advances, leads to fatal opportunistic acceptance of the existing state of things. On the other hand, it is only by identifying and following the right way forward — that is, European federation — that the historical path towards world unification can be kept open. Failure of the endeavour to unify Europe would in fact mean a return to medieval anarchy, but this time in a historical setting in which mankind has at its disposal the technological capacity to destroy itself.
It follows from this that only the European struggle has strategic value while the nature of the struggle for world federation is pre-strategic, or in a broad sense, cultural. Therefore, while it is clear that Europe’s federalists need to focus all of their political efforts on the objective of European federation, it must be equally clear that federalists present in other parts of the world who, given the objective circumstances, operate in the pre-strategic sphere, should view supporting the federalist struggle in Europe as their absolute priority — which is not to say that they should not also be striving for the formation of regional integrations and for the democratisation of the regional unions that already exist (India, China, Russia). The fundamental error that must be avoided — and this applies essentially to the federalists active in Europe, because it is here that the decisive battle is being fought — is that of presenting commitment to world federation as a concrete political commitment, and thus as a factor of strategic value. To do this would be to slide towards pacifist and internationalist positions and thus to forfeit federalist autonomy. Moreover, allowing the problem to be shifted to the more distant realm of world unification would only help to provide nationalistic forces resistant to the transfer of sovereignty in Europe with a convenient screen with which to mask their true position.

[1] For this comparison, consult, M. Albertini, Il federalismo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1993 and L. Levi, Il federalismo, Milan, F. Angeli, 1987.
[2] See. S. Pistone (ed.), L’idea dell’unificazione europea dalla prima alla seconda guerra mondiale, Turin, Fondazione Luigi Einaudi, 1975; Id. (ed.), I movimenti per l’unità europea 1945-1954, Milan, Jaca Book, 1992; Id. (ed.), I movimenti per l’unità europea 1954-1969, Università di Pavia, 1996; Id., “Europeismo”, in Enciclopedia delle scienze sociali, Rome, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 2000; A. Landuyt and D. Preda (editors), I movimenti per l’unità europea 1970-1986, 2 voll., Bologna, Il Mulino, 2000.
[3] See M. Albertini, La politica e altri saggi, Milan, Giuffré, 1963; S. Pistone, F. Meinecke e la crisi dello Stato nazionale tedesco, Turin, Giappichelli, 1969; Id. (ed.), Politica di potenza e imperialismo. L’analisi dell’imperialismo alla luce della dottrina della ragion di Stato, Milan, F. Angeli, 1973; Id., L. Dehio, Naples, Guida, 1977; Id., “Imperialismo”, “Ragion di Stato”, “Relazioni internazionali”, in Dizionario di politica, edited by N. Bobbio, N. Matteucci, G. Pasquino, Turin, UTET, 1990.
[4] For a succinct and useful framing of the realist current within the context of the theory of international relations, see J.J. Roche, Théories des relations internationales, Paris, Editions Montchrestien, 1999.
[5] See N. Machiavelli, Il Principe.
[6] See. F. Rossolillo, “Popular Sovereignty and the World Federal People as Its Subject”, in The Federalist, XXXVII (1995), no. 3, pp. 150-190.
[7] See I. Kant, La pace, la ragione e la storia, edited by M. Albertini, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1985.
[8] Here, it is worth recalling the helpful observation made by Seeley (Introduction to Political Science, London, Macmillan, 1902) according to whom “the internal freedom of a state is inversely proportional to the pressure that is brought to bear on its borders”.
[9] In this regard it is important to underline that Kant, precisely because he was not just a naive pacifist, was able to appreciate that war is also a decisive factor of historical progress, in that it prompts rulers, in order to boost support for the power policy pursued by the state, to improve the conditions in which their subjects live. At the same time, he predicted that the continuous refinement of arms would ultimately result in the prevalence of the purely destructive aspects of wars, and render the overcoming of the same a pressing need.
[10] It has been claimed (G. Marini, “Kants Idee einer Weltrepublik”, in P.J.M. Van Tongeren et al., Eros and Eris, Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, 1992) that Kant, in his use of the expression Weltrepublik, is in fact using a term, Republik, which in his thought is synonymous with state, and therefore anticipates the formation of a world federal state. But the fact remains that this ambiguous use of terminology is an indication of an incomplete understanding of the federal model, and this gap must be clearly highlighted in order to counter the tendency of internationalists to view Kant as a supporter of their approach.
[11] See L. Levi, “La federazione: costituzionalismo e democrazia oltre i confini nazionali”, introductory treatise to the last edition of A. Hamilton, J. Madison, J. Jay, Il federalista, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1997.
[12] The clear distinction between the confederation, which remains within the sphere of international anarchy, and the federal state, which overcomes it, allowed Hamilton to probe in greater depth the precepts of the raison d’état theorists. See L. Levi, “Il Federalist e la teoria della ragion di Stato”, in Il pensiero politico, XXI, 1988, no. 1.
[13] See S. P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1996.
[14] See S. Pistone, “The Security Policy of the European Union”, in The Federalist, XXXIV (1992), no. 2, pp. 97-112.
[15] See M. Albertini, Il Risorgimento e l’unità europea, Naples, Guida, 1979.
[16] See J.R. Seeley, United States of Europe (1871), in The Federalist, XXXI (1989) no. 2, pp. 159-188.
[17] See Lord Lothian, Pacifism is not enough nor Patriotism either, London - New York - Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1941.
[18] See L. Einaudi, La guerra e l’unità europea, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1986, and U. Morelli, Contro il mito dello Stato sovrano. Luigi Einaudi e l’unità europea, Milan, F. Angeli, 1990.
[19] See S. Pistone, “La teoria federalista della guerra e della pace”, in Verso la pace, Turin, Scuola di Pace di Boves, 1990.
[20] A leading exponent of the pacifist current within the theory of international relations is J.W. Burton (World Society, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1972), who displays a markedly globalist orientation but is at the same time opposed to supranational statehood. See J.J. Roche, op. cit.
[21] For more on Giovanni Botero, whose most important work is Della ragion di Stato (1589), see Botero e la “Ragion di stato”, Proceedings of the Luigi Firpo memorial congress (Turin 8th-19th March 1990), edited by Enzo Baldini, Florence, Olschki, 1992.
[22] See. L. Levi, “What is Internationalism”, in The Federalist, XXXIII (1991) , no. 3, pp. 171-191 and “Internazionalismo”, in Enciclopedia delle Scienze Sociali, Rome, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 1996.
[23] For a good framing of this current from a realist point of view, see A. Panebianco, Guerrieri democratici. Le democrazie e la politica di potenza, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1997.
[24] See. M. Albertini, Il federalismo, cit. and A. Spinelli, La crisi degli Stati nazionali, edited by L. Levi, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1991. It is to be underlined that it is only with Spinelli and Albertini that the concept of the crisis of the sovereign states becomes the theoretical basis of a political programme.
[25] See F. Rossolillo, Senso della storia e azione politica, Milan, Giuffré, 1972; L. Levi, L’internationalisme ne suffit pas. Internationalisme marxiste et fédéralisme, Lyons, Fédérop, 1984; G. Montani, Il federalismo, l’Europa e il mondo, Manduria, Lacaita, 1999.
[26] The end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet bloc are clearly linked with the growth of economic interdependence that, with the increasing spread of information, rendered its economic backwardness (attributable not only to its autarkic isolation but also to the burden of the arms race) more and more difficult to sustain.
[27] See S. Minardi, Origini e vicende del progetto di Unione europea di Briand, Caltanissetta, Salvatore Sciascia, 1994.
[28] See S. Pistone, “La politica estera e di sicurezza dell’Unione europea”, in Il Dibattito Federalista, 1997, no. 1, and “La difesa europea”, in Il Dibattito Federalista, 1999, no. 1.
[29] On the subject of regional integrations as the main means of overcoming under-development see G. Montani, Il Terzo mondo e l’unità europea, Naples, Guida, 1980.
[30] While the problem of European integration is indeed examined from the realist standpoint, it is, from this perspective, viewed exclusively as a form of intergovernmental cooperation, and as a result its tendency to generate sharp contradictions that open up the way for radical change, is not perceived. See, for example, S. Hoffmann, The European Sisyphus: Essays on Europe 1964-1994, Boulder, Westview Press, 1995.
[31] See A. Spinelli, Una strategia per gli Stati Uniti d’Europa, edited by S. Pistone, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1989.
[32] See N. Angell, The Great Illusion, New York, Putnam, 1911 and S. Pistone, L’integrazione europea. Uno schizzo storico, Turin, UTET, 1999.
[33] See M. Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica. Dalle nazioni all’Europa, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1999.
[34] See M. Albertini, Lo Stato nazionale, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1996 and Nazionalismo e federalismo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1999.
[35] The fact that the NGOs are one issue movements is an indication that their action does not essentially fall within the logic of politics whose specific objective, is, instead to achieve a fusion of all the different demands. This obviously does not apply to the Green parties which are political.
[36] See M. Albertini, Una rivoluzione pacifica, cit.
[37] Mobilisation of the aspirations in public opinion, towards peaceful cooperation beyond national confines must clearly be underpinned by a clear awareness of the crucial role that organised federalism, serving as a vanguard, plays.
Let it never be forgotten that it is this that constitutes the revolutionary subject and not the supranational aspirations present in public opinion which, left to themselves, are not capable of going beyond the idea of international collaboration. A remark made by Lenin in reference to the revolutionary socialist struggle also applies to the federalist battle: while the working class can spontaneously develop a trade union mentality, only the party can be truly aware of the revolutionary objective. It is worth recalling that Spinelli was a product of the Leninist school and this is one of the fundamental reasons why he proved able to draw up a valid federalist strategy.
[38] See F. Rossolillo, “European Federation and World Federation”, in The Federalist, XLI (1999), no. 2, pp. 76-105 and S. Pistone, “L’unificazione europea e la pace del mondo”, in U. Morelli (ed.), L’Unione europea e le sfide del XXI secolo, Turin, Celid, 2000.



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