Year XXXV, 1993, Number 2 - Page 106

 

 

 

MOVEMENT, PARTY OR PRESSURE GROUP?
 
 
The debate on the nature of the federalist struggle and the organisational instrument (party, movement or pressure group) through which it can best be expressed is continuous within the European Federalist Movement. The question may appear outdated nowadays in the Italian Movimento Federalista Europeo (MFE), but it is certainly still alive in countries crucial to the federalist battle, such as France, where the Movement has several times in its history chosen the electoral option, with the result of losing any chance of seriously influencing the process. Moreover, even in Italy, parts of the Movement are sometimes tempted to challenge the political establishment on the hustings, particularly when the European elections come round, or in situations such as the present one, when the structural crisis and the contradictions of the national political struggle and of the parties become more evident and seem to cast doubt on even the well-established choices based on federalist experience.
 
Organisational choices from the Movement’s foundation to the Congress of the European People.
 
The issue of the nature of the European federal unity struggle, and hence of the nature of the organisation which has this as its objective, was first expounded at Ventotene, by Spinelli. As we know, what distinguished Spinelli from his predecessors, the great thinkers who considered the question of European unity before him, was the consciousness that this issue must be the object of a specific political struggle. Spinelli realised that the struggle for the European Federation was a revolutionary battle, which called for purposeful political action and a new political organisation. In other words, Spinelli distinguished himself (and stated this quite clearly in his writings) from those thinkers of the past who, while having identified the political unity of Europe (and of the world) as a great political goal, had limited themselves (on the question of action) to “suggesting” to those in power the necessity of realising these goals, without considering the problem of “how” to achieve these objectives, which were considered simply the inevitable by-product of normal political struggles for democracy, socialism, etc.
In fact the idea of a “party” (a revolutionary federalist party) was raised in the Ventotene Manifesto. According to Spinelli, it “... cannot be improvised in a dilettante fashion at the decisive moment, but must start to be prepared right now, at least in its central political stance, its general cadres and the direction of initial action. It must not represent a heterogeneous mass of people of extremely diverse tendencies, united only negatively and transitorily, for example by their anti-fascist past and in the sole expectation of the fall of the totalitarian regime, and ready to disperse, each going their own way, once that goal is reached. The revolutionary party knows that in fact only then will its work begin: and it must therefore be composed of people who agree on the principal problems of the future...”[1] In fact, the text quoted, in which the expression “the revolutionary party” appears, does not exclude the idea of a “movement”-type organisation (in the same chapter the term “movement” is used to describe the militant nature of the federalist organisation which must recruit only those who have made the European revolution the main aim of their life; who carry out the necessary work in a disciplined fashion day by day, taking all precautions for its continued security and effectiveness, even in situations of the greatest illegality, and thus constitute the solid network which gives consistency to the more transient sphere of sympathisers.
Spinelli wrote the Manifesto in 1941, in the midst of the armed struggle against nazi-fascism, whose defeat could by no means be taken for granted; quite clearly, no absolute organisational choice between the “party” and the “movement” could be made at this time. Things changed after the fall of fascism. At the Milan meeting in August 1943, the “party” alternative was side-stepped in favour of the “movement” form, on the basis of arguments that are still valid today; these are published in the article “Movement or Party” attributed to Usellini, but certainly inspired by Spinelli, which appeared in the second issue of L’Unità Europea (August 1943).[2]
Spinelli and his fellow militants realised that the analysis of Ventotene had been partly dogmatic: it had assumed that Europe would suffer a serious power vacuum in the post-war period, in which a small revolutionary party could fight for and seize power, in the absence of national alternatives. What actually happened had not been foreseen by Spinelli at Ventotene: the United States on the one hand and the USSR on the other, instead of returning to the isolationist stances which had characterised their strategic decisions at the end of the First World War, intervened directly in European political affairs and took it on themselves to fill the power vacuum created by the defeat of nazi-fascism, by promoting the “restoration” of the old system of nation-states. The situation of an extremely weak European political system, which Spinelli had foreseen, did not come about, and therefore the very basis on which a federalist “revolutionary party” could have operated was lacking. Instead, what the situation foreshadowed was a long-term commitment which would necessitate the involvement of other forces as well (such as, for example, those of the traditional parties, which would mainly be active on the national level) without the movement being obliged, as Usellini explained, to renege on “its revolutionary conception.”
The political struggle of the MFE from then until the fall of the European Defence Community (EDC) was not however much influenced by specific organisational choices, since in fact the MFE was personified by Spinelli. It was Spinelli, thanks to his independence of thought, capacity, and will to act, who led the political battle, almost always from the front, and who was in a position to play different roles in the various situations of European politics. It was thus an atypical phase in the life of the movement, in which organisational choices were entirely secondary and functional to the initiatives of the Movement’s leader. Having re-entered the Movement at the end of the 1940’s (after a brief interlude with the Partito d’Azione, a party operating between 1942-47, with a programme combining liberal and socialist ideals), Spinelli was able, precisely because of his independence of thought, to deal on equal terms with the heads of parties or of governments and to modify their line of action. By contrast, the cadres of the Movement mainly consisted of good “Europeanists”, for the most part sympathisers of the mainstream political parties and pro-governmental organisations, who saw the struggle for European Union more as an aspect (albeit of not insignificant importance) of the confrontation between democratic and communist ideals, represented respectively by the United States and the Soviet Union, rather than as a valid objective per se, independent of the outcome of the confrontation between East and West.[3]
With the fall of the EDC (August 1954) there began a long period of transition for the Movement, which in fact lasted for more than a decade, until the Congresses of Lyons (February 1962) and Turin (November 1966). This phase, aptly if somewhat romantically termed “the long march into the desert” was characterised at the outset by the attempt to found outside the MFE (which had by that time become a sort of Europeanist grouping of various parties that recognised and respected the leadership and charisma of Spinelli, without fully understanding his strategic thrust) a new organisation of independent militants at the European level: the Congress of the European People. However, towards the end of the 1950’s the Congress of the European People initiative also seemed to fail (at least on the level of general strategy: basically the CEP had been a kind of new attempt to found a classic revolutionary organisation). The initiative of calling citizens to the ballot box, in a sort of “primary” election, was successful, but only in a limited geographical area (basically in North Italy, Rome and Lyons); however, the CEP had not succeeded in achieving its target of transferring the experience of an autonomous and militant struggle into a sufficient number of European towns.[4] The capacity to expand into new towns was lacking above all because federalists (who certainly did exist) had not understood the revolutionary nature of the struggle and therefore were unable to adopt those independent and militant positions which seemed to be (and for the most part were) challenging the established powers.
Thus an impasse had been arrived at. It was clear that if a hundred towns in Europe had achieved what the five to ten active Italian towns had done, the federalists would have won by the classical revolutionary method; that had not happened. We must therefore once more promote a wide-ranging debate on strategy and organisation in order to seek out new routes and above all to attempt to transfer onto the European front the independent and militant experience of the CEP.[5]
 
The debate about organisational issues at the Congress of Lyons (February 1962).
 
The failure of the CEP engrossed the whole of the MFE: while being clear on the theoretical aspects of our struggle, we could not see how to use the forces which we had certainly been able to mobilise in those towns where the CEP had won. The debate, culminating at the Congress of Lyons in February 1962, did however clarify the alternatives as regarded the nature of the struggle, strategy and consequent type of organisation, and forced us in particular to focus on the good reasons for choosing an autonomist movement compared to those other possibilities that had in the meantime taken on new life: the “party” and the “pressure group”.
Meanwhile Spinelli had returned to an active role in the Movement and, at the Regional Congress of Lombardy’s MFE (24th September 1961), had proposed that the MFE should seek an alliance with “the democratic forces of progress” and participate in the national political elections in some European towns. Thus Spinelli opted for electoral confrontation with the national political forces (hence for a party); this was to be realised in three cities (Lyons, Turin and Antwerp) where there was a nucleus of militant federalists. Being clearly aware, however, that an electoral outlook which depended exclusively on the federalists would lose, he planned to seek to establish a “strong” association with the political groups of the democratic left, who were considered “necessary” allies, on the national level, of the federalist alternative.[6]
The Regional Committee of Lombardy’s MFE rejected Spinelli’s proposal: in Lombardy there was a group forming around Albertini (“Federalist Autonomy”) which reasserted the full validity of the independent movement option. According to Albertini and his supporters, an alliance with national forces and participation in elections would divert the MFE from the supranational towards the national path; and with this option, Spinelli had effectively abandoned the two essential postulates of federalist autonomy – criticism of the national parties (whether of the right or left) and the refusal to participate in the national political struggle.
Thus at the Congress of February 1962, the moment of truth came; the supranational European Federalist Movement was then the combination of what are today the Italian MFE and the French MFE, along with other small offshoots in Belgium and Germany (the German, Dutch, and English organisations belonged instead to the AEF, the European Federalists’ Action, of which Europa-Union Deutschland was the strongest group). The congress delegates were asked to consider the following three options. First, Spinelli’s proposal for the electoral option, together with a preferential relationship with left-wing forces. Second, the “pressure group” position, which reaffirmed the traditional (pre-Spinelli) role of the federalists as uncritical “prompters” of the political class, instead of being independent actors (the position presented by Germain Desboeuf and which a large proportion of the French MFE felt comfortable with). Finally, the position of Albertini and Federalist Autonomy for a great European debate aimed at clarifying the terms of the federalist struggle as a preliminary step to the constitution of a genuinely revolutionary political force that would by definition be independent of and essentially indifferent to the national political power balances. According to Albertini and the autonomists, it was indispensable to shift the axis of action and thought from the national to the “European context”[7] and to re-propose, as an organisational instrument, a movement which rejected the national field, where parties and pressure groups normally operate.
It is not necessary here to go into the details of the course of events at the Congress and their consequences; it is enough to record that in the end, even though by a narrow margin, the Congress passed a motion of general policy which sought to mediate between the various positions, and which was opposed by Albertini and Federalist Autonomy. It is however worth citing a few extracts from the speech made by the leader of Federalist Autonomy to the Congress, when declaring his vote on the general policy motion. Turning to the delegates, Albertini began with a stark but realistic analysis of the situation of the MFE and of its ability to act: “Those who want to be of use to federalism and not to use it, must choose ... the route of consolidating and strengthening the MFE. In the present situation this route is obstructed by two obstacles: the co-existence of tendencies which want to act as a pressure group, as a party or as a movement, and the absence of a real European organisational dimension (a sufficient number of active sections, at least in the six EC member countries). Until the MFE reaches this size, and as long as it remains divided into three tendencies, the action of each one of them will be ineffectual, and the policy of the MFE as a whole cannot have a truly European character. In fact, the pressure group, the party and the movement tend to neutralise each other, in that they involve actions in opposite directions: fighting or courting the parties, accepting or rejecting the national context. It is indisputable that those who aim to act as a pressure group must accept, and even court the parties; those that aim to act as a party must fight all the other parties; while those who intend to act as a movement have no intention of altering party policy on any single issue, nor of taking votes away from them, but rather of transferring the political struggle onto European ground. They must therefore neither court nor combat the parties on their own ground, but on the contrary (and this is what marks them out) must reject the national contexts in which the others act...”[8]
The strategy of the federalists must therefore aim to transfer the political struggle from the national to the European context, and in order to do this they must neither “court” the parties nor put themselves in competition with them on the national (electoral) level. They must instead stand up to the parties (and to other expressions of national power: governments, parliaments, local authorities) to lead them onto European ground, forcing them (whenever the opportunity arises) to make choices which advance the European alternative and set back the national one. On the other hand, the basis of this choice of movement (independent, militant, and with a European base, at least potentially) is justified only by the existence of a “virtuality” inherent in the very course of history. This concept was clarified very effectively by Mario Albertini again, in a note written in the autumn of 1961 in preparation for the Congress: “... in order to establish the European state, it is necessary to bring into the political struggle a new force, a European force. This attempt can only be made if this force virtually exists, i.e. if something really existing can be organised. Now, there is a direct relationship between the cause of the authoritarian decadence of the national democracies, and the attempt to make a European democratic organisation work politically, because this attempt can be none other than that of organising in the supranational dimension whatever facets of democracy escape the traditional parties in the national dimension...”[9]
 
Organisation and strategy: the debate at the Congress of Turin (November 1966).
 
The reference to a virtually existing force at the European level (therefore “non-existent,” still to be established) highlights another crucial aspect which must characterise federalist organisation: that of an avant-garde movement which, finding itself operating in enemy territory (the nation-states) manages to constitute a reference and catalyst for all those who understand (or intuit) the need to work towards a new front, a new field of struggle (in other words a new situation of power) where it is possible to effectively fight to establish the European state.
The issue of the Movement as a “federalist avant-garde” and of its capacity for initiative (the movement’s strategy) to transform the “virtuality” of the process into effective political successes (changing the existing balance of power), was once more the object of lively internal debate, coming to a climax at the MFE Congress in Turin (30th October - 1st November 1966). On that occasion Albertini, in his introductory address, began by recalling the factors (of an “ideological” and “historical” nature) conditioning the process of establishing federal unity in Europe. He noted briefly that all the great ideologies active in the European political scene were unquestionably favourable to the European federation. “I am in no doubt about this. Their values cannot be limited to a single country without being degraded, nor be properly extended beyond their own country without the federalist principle. For these reasons, such forces have always professed federalist principles, even if in a confused way (the principal confusion being that of federalism with internationalism) and albeit with ups and downs determined by historical events.”[10] This meant that such a great historic objective could gather enormous support (its opponents being limited to small nationalistic minorities); however (and this must be emphasised) this favourable attitude, which involves governments, parties and public opinion “...will not translate into political action until the proper historical circumstances present themselves... In concrete terms, this ideological support only means that there are no insurmountable obstacles.”[11]
In his analysis of the other “factor” (of a historical nature), Albertini highlighted, in a very effective outline of the situation, the by then structural aspects of the balance (or rather imbalance) of power reached by the European states system after the Second World War. To summarise: even if nations have remained formally sovereign, the historical reality is that we are in a situation where national sovereignty is in decline and a “de facto European unity” is developing. The course of history itself has started a process which is gradually making the contradiction between the dimensions of problems (both economic and political) and the institutional structures (the system of sovereign nation-states) increasingly obvious. These structures operate as a sort of Nessus’s shirt, i.e. they have a strangulating effect, in the sense that they prevent those politicians and citizens who would like to solve such problems from tackling them at the level at which they arise: continental and, in future, global. The states (their governments, parliaments, and traditional political forces organised at national level) attempt to overcome this contradiction by “inventing” pseudo-European solutions, which essentially come under the umbrella of intergovernmental cooperation. These allow them to propose at most temporary solutions, using instruments which do not call into question the very foundations of national sovereignty.
Albertini’s analysis systematically and rigorously investigated concepts that were already present in the texts of the first federalist authors.[12] Until then, however, no author had clearly posed the theoretical problem of the contradiction between ends (solution of problems) and means (institutions) in the context of contemporary European history with the intention of obtaining “scientific” indications as regards the strategy to follow in the federalist struggle for European unity. With respect to this, Albertini’s address at Turin concluded the analysis of the “historical factor” with these considerations: “The major problems can no longer be solved within the context of the nation-states, since these problems belong to a greater dimension. In theory, they can only be resolved in a European context. In practice, due to the absence of European political power, they end up finding only inadequate solutions in the context of the imperfect unity which is compatible with maintaining the formal sovereignty of the states. But each of their unitary solutions, however imperfect, changes the situation in such a way that solving the new problems which arise requires an even greater degree of unity ... This logic of events ... has so far found its most important and advanced expression in the Common Market.”[13]
Thus it is possible (in the sense that, as was said, there are no “insurmountable obstacles”) to achieve the objective of the European federation, but there is no reference framework (a European framework) in whose context the favourable forces (the vast majority) and contrary ones can divide and be measured according to the normal dialectic of democracy. In this situation, the principal obstacle lies in the fact that (as long as the life of the nation-states remains sufficiently stable, mainly thanks to the successes of European integration) the national political struggle is carried out exclusively within the states. This limitation prevents the subjects of normal political struggle (the parties, the groups organised on a national basis) from seeing the concrete possibility of realising a European alternative and thus from fighting to achieve definitive and effective transfers of sovereignty from the states to Europe. As regards the condition and role of the parties, Albertini noted that “... the political process, election by election, pushes them to say what their own nation ought to do in the field of foreign, military and economic policy ... The idea of a European power, being extraneous to the habits and acquired positions of the parties, cannot form itself spontaneously among them, but it is also true that they could easily accept it if it were proposed to them from outside, because a European power would be stronger, more democratic and less subversive than whatever [alternative] power might form itself in the national context.”[14]
In this apparently hopeless context (the political process within the states cannot help but perpetuate itself), what role and what effective possibilities of action remain available to the MFE? In brief: to be the proposers, from outside, of the alternative of a European power. In other words, to act as an avant-garde which is able to exploit every occasion offered by the contradictions of the historical process (“the new problems which arise require an even greater degree of unity”) and pre-constitutes an as yet fictitious European reference framework, through initiatives that highlight the European nature of issues and oblige political forces to line up on one side or the other.
This will mean working, whenever the opportunity arises, on the specific objectives that the process itself brings into focus (the monetary crisis, the Community’s democratic deficit, etc.) and that allow a realignment of the forces that, in general, are in any event favourable (do not represent “insurmountable obstacles”) to a pro-European choice.[15]
In this context, it was inevitable that Turin should see the reconfirmation of the organisational choices made at Lyons regarding federalist autonomy: the federalists must become a political force entirely independent of national power, both from a theoretical and practical point of view. During the congress, Albertini stressed that, from a theoretical point of view one should, using the theory of federalism, demystify the idea of the nation and its ideology, which is at times hidden behind apparently progressive arguments. From a practical point of view it was necessary to develop a “community opposition”, which entailed the rejection not so much of this or that government or regime, but rather of the national community as the exclusive political community. This last aspect was, and is, particularly difficult to bring about. Basically it means abandoning the viewpoint of those who operate “in the frame of the exclusive national powers and therefore, even though they are sincerely committed to European unity can only visualise the events which keep national powers in place”. We must instead rise to the point of being able to act to bring these powers down, putting ourselves “in a position to focus also on the events of European integration which undermine them, creating … a de facto European power.” In this way they can effectively fight to “… transform a de facto European power into a constitutional one.”
He who has made this choice (the choice of being the “theoretical and practical conscience of the European nature of the basic political alternative”) can and must have a very particular relationship with national power and with normal politics. In periods when major political and economic problems arise which find no solution in the nation-states, “... he can enter the field and side with those who seek a real solution, whereas at those times when, in order to resolve such problems with their own imperfect means (those of national governments and European collaboration), normal politics is content with imperfect and precarious solutions, he must leave the field, denounce compromises, and await the discomfiture of those who remain in the national context.”[16] The implicit corollary of these choices is that both the party option (participation in elections) and that of the pressure group (a busybody buzzing around the established powers) must be rejected even more emphatically (because we have to be outside the national political dialectic and because of the need to bring the whole of “the diffuse Europeanism” onto European ground). Rather, there should be a reconfirmation of the “autonomist movement with a European-wide basis,” which will have to take upon itself the task, as Albertini postulated shortly before Lyons, of “organising in the supranational dimension whatever facets of democracy escape the traditional parties in the national dimension.”
 
Some considerations in conclusion.
 
Have we succeeded in this task? From a strictly formal (bureaucratic) point of view, the answer has to be a negative one: it appears that the MFE has been unsuccessful in organising on a supranational level (even at the level of the six original countries of the Community) the entire potential of organisable Europeanism. The MFE has remained formally an Italian organisation and its “sister” organisations (linked to the MFE through the Union of European Federalists) have maintained a substantially non-autonomous and non-militant structure and strategy.
However, if we study the facts, it must be recognised that the MFE has been able, at crucial moments, to influence both Italian politicians active in Europe, and the European political class at large. It has succeeded in exercising a stimulating role, which has been effective in all the decisive moments of the struggle towards the more traditional European federalist organisations (UEF, Young European Federalists, and their national branches), as well as over those of the so-called “federalist force,” such as the Association Européenne des Enseignants (AEDE) and the Associazione Italiana del Consiglio dei Comuni e delle Regioni d’Europa (AICCRE). These latter organisations have been able to give both political and operational support to the more advanced positions in the struggle (for example collecting signatures on petitions for the direct election of the European Parliament and for the single currency), thanks to the commitment of the not so few federalist friends who were also active in these organisations (having so-called “dual membership”) which it is perhaps rather belittling to call “collateral.”
Indeed, if we focus on the results attained in the years of struggle from Turin until the present (direct elections for the European Parliament, the start of the constituent process, the near-achievement of the single currency), one cannot help concluding that what was written in Il Federalista in December 1983 (when it was already possible to make an initial assessment of the results achieved by the policy which the Movement had decided on and put into effect after the debates of the Lyons/Turin period) was perfectly valid. “...The MFE is thus a movement in the full sense of the word, since it has been able (by exploiting its capacity for dialogue with all democratic forces) to take whatever initiatives were necessary whenever the occasion arose to put the national governments and states onto the slippery slope towards the European Federation... Certainly, the European Federation has not been achieved yet, but no-one can, in good faith, deny that all these initiatives, even though they have achieved only partial success, have been effective (and thus the federalists have been engaged in political activity), at least in the sense that today it is infinitely more difficult than in the 1950’s for any European government, including the British, to criticise either the existence of the Community or the necessity of its democratic progress.”[17]
These observations (of about 10 years ago) are still valid today. They demonstrate that the choice of the militant and independent movement which we know today as the MFE, and in which we operate, was the winning option, even if it has been decidedly the most difficult to follow. Militants often feel they have a secondary role, whose usefulness and effectiveness is in doubt; there are moments in which one has the impression that nothing can be done to intervene in the process. But this, as Albertini noted, is inherent in that same revolutionary choice which postulates a capacity to intervene in the process, if a process exists. It is thus a clearly difficult choice, which calls for the ability (perhaps more moral than political) to take the field at any given moment, knowing that one can only have a partial influence on the final result of the process.
 
Sante Granelli


[1]Altiero Spinelli, Il progetto europeo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1985, p. 35.
[2]“...Federalism is thus a need which can be felt, as indeed it is, by men of every party, class, nation, race and religion, and as such does not fit the traditional mould of political parties in the strict sense of the word. At the moment, when the seeds of federalism are still being sown, the name “political movement” is more suitable than that of “party”, in that it presents this federation requirement to the parties themselves as one of primary importance and the greatest urgency, and allows its members, as indeed is already happening, to belong to any party so long as the latter’s goals are not contrary to the Movement’s fundamental premise ... movement, and not party, because, given its revolutionary conception and unifying requirement, federalism carries out its activities on a different level, not in contrast to, but parallel with, those of the various parties which, by tradition and structure, conduct their struggle in the national context.
Thus, the discipline which federalism imposes on its members is no less demanding than that of a real party. Its character is exquisitely political because it aims to mobilise all forces capable of working for its vast and complex objective, wherever they are to be found, under whatever progressive flag they militate. It aims to create its own organisation, able to spread the federalist idea and to act resolutely in revolutionary fashion in the illegal political struggle of today. It aims to avoid missing, in the legal political life of tomorrow, any chance to operate on the same level as political parties and in collaboration with all those who, having reflected on the fatal interdependence of the cultures, economies and life itself of the European peoples, are aware that no solution can be valid and lasting until a political structure emerges at the international level which can demolish the remaining obstacles, eliminate resistance, overcome distrust, guarantee its own function, harmonise the requirements of all and protect from the inevitable reactions the truest and deepest outcome of today’s suffering and injuries...” (L’ Unità Europea, n.2, August 1943, p. 3).
[3]With respect to the influence exercised by Spinelli (and by the Movement) on De Gasperi in 1951 regarding the EDC, and more specifically his capacity to exploit strategically this historic chance to transform an essentially biased initiative (anti-Soviet, pro-Atlantic) into a battle for the affirmation of democracy on the European level, with the institution of the ad hoc assembly (in reality a Constituent Assembly), see Mario Albertini, “La fondazione dello Stato europeo,” in Il Federalista, XIX (1977), pp. 5-55.
[4]In fact, in the towns where the small nucleus of local federalists had succeeded in organising the primary elections, these had a remarkably good rate of public participation, not only where the local organisation was led by independent militants, but also in cities such as Darmstadt, Maastricht, Strasbourg and Berlin, where the militants were closer to traditional pro-governmental Europeanism.
[5]These concepts are taken up again in Le Fédéraliste, IV (1962), p. 31, where, commenting on the outcome of the IX MFE Congress (Lyons, 9th -11th, February 1962), Albertini recalls the experiment of the CEP: “.... the attempt to make the people vote for Europe succeeded because it gained favour in public opinion, and because it was supported on the organisational and political level by the ‘autonomist’ cadres who had formed in the course of the struggle for control of the Italian section of the UEF (which at that time was an independent movement, the Italian MFE). But the attempt to extend the elections to a significant proportion of Western Europe did not succeed. The success proved enough to consolidate the CPE as an independent organisation, but not to give it an effective European dimension ...”
[6]Spinelli himself, in presenting this plan of action to the Congress of Lyons, identified the democratic left wing as the natural ally of federalists. In the Italian case in particular, according to Spinelli, the federalists would have to fight for “the participation of socialists in the democratic life of the country; to free the catholic forces of the left from their dependence on conservative clerical and economic influences; to create autonomous regions against the monopolies; to have the problems of the South of Italy encompassed in a European economic ‘plan’; and for a policy of genuine European initiative.” Cf. Le Fédéraliste, IV (1962), pp. 93-94.
[7]The European context was defined by Albertini as “... a purely rational context without centres of power, instruments of struggle, means of information; an invisible context in which human action has not yet left specific political signs and where almost everyone naturally feels the horror of the void.” Cf. Le Fédéraliste, IV (1962), p. 34.
[8]Cf. Le Fédéraliste, IV (1962), pp. 95-96.
[9]Cf. Il Federalista, III (1961), p. 271.
[10]Cf. L. Levi and S. Pistone (edited by), Trent’anni di vita del Movimento Federalista Europeo, Milan, Franco Angeli, 1973, p. 307.
[11]Ibid., pp. 307-308.
[12]Cf. for example the “Manifesto to Europeans” drawn up in October 1914 by Georg Friedrich Nicolai and signed by Albert Einstein: “Technology has shrunk the world. Indeed, today the nations of the great European peninsula seem to jostle one another much as once did the city-states that were crowded into those smaller peninsulas jutting out into the Mediterranean. Travel is so widespread, international supply and demand are so interwoven, that Europe – one could almost say the whole world – is even now a single unit.... This is not the place to discuss how this new order in Europe may be brought about. Our sole purpose is to affirm our profound conviction that the time has come when Europe must unite to guard its soil, its people, and its culture. We are stating publicly our faith in European unity, a faith which we believe is shared by many; we hope that this public affirmation of our faith may contribute to the growth of a powerful movement toward such unity.” (From Otto Nathan and Heinz Norden (edited by), Einstein on Peace, NYC, Simon & Shuster, 1960).
[13]Cf. L. Levi and S. Pistone (edited by), Trent’anni di vita del Movimento Federalista Europeo, cit., p. 309.
[14]Ibid., pp. 313, 314.
[15]This is the theoretical basis for the initiatives which were activated towards the end of the 1960’s and in early 1970’s for direct elections to the European Parliament and for the creation of the single currency. It meant conducting “framework actions” which would allow the European alternative to be kept in the field until the moment when, in a situation where the states reached a power crisis, the governments and the political parties would be carried almost automatically onto the decisive ground, i.e. Europe. Here we first find for the first time the concept which was later to be fully developed by Albertini and other federalist authors, of the “slippery slope”, which is simply an effective metaphor to illustrate the course of history which itself pushes the nations towards European solutions, with the possibility for militant federalists of increasing the angle of the slope, even by the smallest degree (and hence commensurate to their forces), favouring in every specific instance the European option.
[16]L. Levi and S. Pistone (edited by), Trent’anni di vita del Movimento Federalista Europeo, cit., pp. 316, 317, 318.
[17]Cf. Guido Montani, “Militanza federalista e nuovo modo di fare politica”, in Il Federalista, XXV (1983), p.135.

 

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