Year XXIX, 1997, Number 2, Page 137


When, twenty-five years after its first issue, The Federalist decided to have an English and French edition, the intention was “to work for the world unity of federalists and constitute, to this end, a point of reference and an instrument for an exchange of information”. Indeed, many people are aware of the need for federalism but “without unity of organization, i.e. without the opportunity to know that what is being done in one’s own region, country or city is being done in other regions, countries and cities of the world as well, nobody can gain confidence in his own action and thus maintain it, thus contributing towards making federalism into a political force”.[1]
The publishers of the review were aware that it was a long-term task. However, less than a year after this decision and in the light of contacts created and encouraged throughout the world in a very short space of time, what was initially nothing more than a declaration of intent, became a certainty stated with much greater vigour: “One is struck with wonder seeing how many courageous and tenacious men and women, outside Western Europe, are currently devoting their energies to the struggle for World federation, which is doomed to remain pure ideal testimony… for a long time”.[2]
In a recent editorial, an analysis was finally given of the possible paths towards federal unity of the world, the final objective of all federalists, i.e. all those who have turned the struggle for peace into a personal question and the moral basis for their political action.[3]
This note wishes to go no further than pause for a moment to take stock of the different organizations that exist and the evolution of our ties with them at a time when federalists from other continents are for the first time (or once again) becoming real partners.
The interest that has been created in federalist circles outside Europe by The Federalist needs to be stressed. The numerous mentions that this review has received is proof of this.[4] It is also proof that The Federalist has responded to the expectations and real needs, albeit often unexpressed, of all activists throughout the world. Finally, it is proof of the quality of the cultural and political work undertaken, the best, wrote an official of the American World Federalist Association to Mario Albertini, after that of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, or Committee of Chicago, and the publication of Common Cause, from July 1947 to July 1951.[5]
In other cases, the leaders of various federalist organizations have spontaneously offered to help us on the crucial issue of distribution, by centralizing requests for subscriptions coming from specific countries. This is
the case with the British Federal Trust[6] or the Association to Unite the Democracies in the United States. They are also sending us hundreds of addresses of federalist militants or organizations involved with the question of peace, intellectuals and university teachers, libraries and research institutes, as for example has been done in Australia and the North American continent.
It is interesting, moreover, to stress that the publication of the review in three languages has taken place at the same time as a reawakening of interest among federalists, outside the European Community, in the process of European integration, its significance as an example and its effects on the international balance of power, following the approval of the Draft Treaty establishing the European Union by the European Parliament in 1984.[7]
This is true for Atlantist federalists of the AUD, the organization which inherited and has continued the work of the Interdemocracy Federal Unionists Inc., which was set up in the United States in July 1939, after the publication by Clarence K. Streit of his book Union Now[8] and which became the Federal Union Inc., from 1940 to recent times.[9]
Streit, who died last July in Washington, was, at the time, correspondent for the New York Times at the League of Nations. As a privileged observer, he denounced the weaknesses of the organization, a fragile league of sovereign states, incapable of protecting peace against the Fascist threat and he concluded that federalism was necessary. He identified “Public Problem number one” as being the need to create a World government and indicated the only possibility of preventing war and assuring long-term victory for the democratic system in the federal union of democratic states existing in those days in a single state, whose very power would have discouraged any potential aggressor and which attracted every new state, that had become democratic, to it, thus giving life to the first nucleus of the World federation.
After the war, Streit saw the USSR, former ally in the fight against Fascism, as the new threat against which the free countries would need to build their unity and he had split away from most of the American world federalist movement, which by 1941 had already rejected the anti-Soviet and pro-Atlantic position of Streit’s followers and, with the advent of the cold war, rejected his support of NATO circles and theses.[10]
At the same time, Streit refused the prospect of European unity as an end in itself, a unity that, on the one hand, would have simply split democratic countries between the European Union and the United States Union and which, on the other hand, would have risked being dominated by the “Marxists”.[11]
For some years now the AUD, although standing firm on the two basic principles of its action, i.e., as Streit himself recently recalled, “to start an international federation by beginning with a nucleus composed of the leading democracies, those centered mainly around the North Atlantic Ocean and to gradually expand it as nations become ripe for this”,[12] attaches great importance to the European Union and expresses the hope that its organizational contacts with the UEF will develop rapidly.[13]
We need to recall that The Federalist recently defined the conditions that would avoid the idea of the union of democracies from falling in a perverse circle, and that would make it possible to create an economic and subsequently political federation between a politically united Europe and the United States at the same time as encouraging the process of formation of great federal unions in Asia, Africa and Latin America and an end to the North-South divide.[14]
In this respect, we need finally to stress that, although the AUD has defined the World democratic federation as its ultimate goal and has reaffirmed that “the intercontinental union of advanced democracies is the driving force of its mission”, it has enlarged the sphere of its commitment, with a view to encouraging the dialogue both with the UEF and with the world federalist movement.[15]
In recent years, just as the contacts between European federalists and Atlantist federalists have intensified so those between the UEF and world federalists have also increased.
At the end of the war, in August 1947, both organizations, the World Movement for World Federal Government[16] on the one hand and the UEF on the other, were created in Switzerland, in Montreux, but separately. Immediately, a problem arose as regards the relationships and coordination between those federalists who from the beginning pursued the goal of World federation and those who advocated a preliminary phase in which regional federations were created.[17] The intention to collaborate, however, remained a dead letter, and the contacts between the two groups became increasingly tenuous despite certain people’s efforts and those of Alexandre Marc in particular.
The WAWF, from the moment of its creation, considered the formation of regional federations as one of the roads that would have made it possible to reach a World federation, but did not give it a privileged status vis-à-vis others, such as the election of a people’s constituent assembly, the registration of World Citizens or the strengthening of the UN and the revision of the San Francisco Charter. The problem of regional federations is found in numerous resolutions, in which reservations are also clearly stated. However, no concrete action was ever undertaken in this sense.[18]
This can apparently be explained, at least during the first years, by the blissful optimism which reigned in world federalist circles and by the widespread conviction that the World federation was not, essentially, the result of a long process of historical maturation, but could on the contrary arise from nothing, almost as if through the intervention of the “holy ghost”. “One would be surprised”, wrote Rolf Paul Haegler (still Secretary of the Swiss World Federalists) at the conclusion of his book, “of the extraordinarily brief time in which many world federalists seem to have hoped to be able to realize their ideal: calling of a constituent people’s assembly by 1950, while the responsible groups had only been set up in 1947, revision of the Charter and complete transformation of the United Nations Organization into a World federation by 1955, i.e. two to three years after deciding to launch a campaign to this end, all this is too unrealistic… The world federalists have for too long cherished the illusion that it would have been enough for them to present a world constitution and procedures acceptable by all to obtain the hoped-for ratification of the proposed text”.[19]
In all fairness, it should be pointed out that European federalists, with some exceptions, were insufficiently concerned with the World federation, apart from recognizing the simple moral and cultural demand and we must agree wholeheartedly with Ferdinand Kinsky, a member of both the UEF and the WAWF, when he stated recently: “In the past World federalists often looked upon European federalists with suspicion (‘they want to create a new super-power and thus divide the world even more’). On the other hand European federalists thought themselves as being more realistic than World federalists whom they considered totally utopian”.[20] Forty years after the end of the Second World War and the foundation of the principal federalist organizations the moment has come for both sides to convince themselves that, as Kinsky recalled, European unity and World federation are two complementary and not alternative objectives and to agree with him that “a World federalist strategy today can neither consist of simply repeating our goal (‘We need a World federation’), nor be a conformist limitation to a policy of small steps (‘Let’s strengthen the United Nations!’). Nobody can expect the big powers and even the medium size industrialized countries to transfer their sovereignty to the United Nations in the present composition with its large majority of Third World countries. The only realistic strategy towards a World federation is the regional approach. It consists of promoting federalist solutions for European, African and Latin American unification, and of the promotion of federalist settlements in the Middle East and Indochinese conflicts”.[21] Currently, it seems reasonable to affirm that world federalists are close to recognizing that if federalism can only be a world scale matter, “it can be achieved only through a process which must begin in a precise place’’.[22]
This is, we feel, the meaning of the growing importance that they, as Atlantist federalists, have recently attributed to the process of European integration and the action of the European Parliament.[23] Finally, it should be recalled that in June 1986 the WAWF organized a new meeting in Aosta, mostly dedicated to the “European example”, to which John Pinder and Francesco Rossolillo, respectively President and Vice-president of the UEF, were invited.[24] Also present at this meeting was Ira Straus, a leading AUD official.
Apart from the federalist organizations existing and still active today, there is potential for such organizations in other continents. Thus, the International Student Association of Japan[25] has been in contact with the European Federalist Youth, proposing to organize common seminars and asserting they will fight for the diffusion of the ideals of federalism in Asia.
In Africa, the federalist message of the fathers of independence, in particular Nkrumah, Nyerere and Senghor, has not fallen into oblivion. Currently, the bases seem to exist for the creation of an African federalist movement independent of Africa’s political contingencies.
Even in Latin America federalism and the problem of continental unification have been at the centre of the political debate since the struggles for independence. Artigas, who struggled for the union of the peoples of the Rio de la Plata or Simon Bolivar, who organized the Panama Congress, are two examples that occurred at the beginning of the last century. At a time when most of the Latin American countries have returned to democracy and when the politicians of the continent, like Raul Alfonsin, want to relaunch the process of economic and political integration,[26] there no longer exists, at least as far as we know, any organized federalist force South of the Rio Grande.[27] However, as in post-Fascist Europe, the conditions exist for a renewal of federalist action in this part of the world. All that is missing, as the leaders of the Argentine section of the Movimento Federalista Europeo wrote in a recent pamphlet, is “the spark that sets the fire alight, a handful of enlightened and disinterested men that turn utopia and dreams into reality”.[28]
In recent years The Federalist has acted as a catalyst between the different currents quoted in this note. Their ultimate common objective is the creation of a World federation. This does not detract from the fact that these different organizations, also linked by common cultural references, each have their own originality and mid-term objectives. They have immediate possibilities of joint action, that do not necessarily mean their fusion. The celebration of the bicentenary of the Convention of Philadelphia, that calls upon all federalists and that will be marked by the congress of the World Federalist Movement, only a few months after the UEF congress in Strasbourg, should be the opportunity to cement the rapprochement that is underway.
Jean-Francis Billion

[1] See the editorial “Towards a World Government’’ in The Federalist, XXVI (1984), pp. 3-8.
[2] “A Decisive Battle”, in The Federalist, XXVI (1984), p. 177.
[3] “The Roads towards World Federation”, in The Federalist, XXVII (1986), pp. 73-78.
[4] We will restrict ourselves to quoting (and without any partisan spirit) the publications of the Registre international des Citoyens du monde (l5, rue Victor Duroy, 75015 Paris), the international secretariat of the World Association of World Federalists (World Federalist News, Leliegracht 21, 1016 GR Amsterdam) and its British section (AWF, 43 Wallingford Avenue, London WI0 6PZ), The Federator, publication of the Association to Unite the Democracies (AUD, PO Box 75920, Washington, DC 20013) and World Peace News (777 UN Plaza, New York 10017), the review of the American Movement for World Government.
[5] In the preface to A Constitution for the World, the re-edition of the Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution (Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Santa Barbara, Calif., 1965), Elisabeth Mann Borgese, younger daughter of Thomas Mann and wife of the secretary of the Committee of Chicago, summarized the Committee’s life and work: “In the autumn of 1945, some members of the Faculty of the University of Chicago proposed to Chancellor Robert M. Hutchins the creation of an Institute of World Government to parallel the Institute of Nuclear Physics already established. ‘The intellectual courage that split the atom should be called to unite the world’, they wrote. Their proposal resulted in the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, under the chairmanship of the Chancellor. The Secretary-General and main author of the text, as finally adopted, was the late G. A. Borgese, an exile from Fascist Italy… For over two years this group of legal scholars, social scientists, and political philosophers and their assistants conferred, proposed, criticized and revised. The result of their labor is embodied in the Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution, in the four volumes of the monthly magazine Common Cause, and in more than 2,000 pages of mimeographed and microfilmed research documents”.
Numerous European federalist activists such as Albert Camus, Andrea Chiti Batelli, Alexandre Marc, Ernesto Rossi and Altiero Spinelli were also able to write on the most varied subjects in the Common Cause.
In July 1947, in the editorial of the first issue of this review, Robert M. Hutchins wrote: “We do not think, of course, that our preliminary draft will be the law of the United World. We trust nevertheless that the tentative result of a collective effort of years will not be in vain… A pattern will be available. We do not think it will be adopted; we dare to hope that it will not be ignored”.
Forty years after it was drawn up, the Committee of Chicago’s project, which at the time was considered maximalist, even in federalist circles, remains one of the basic texts of postwar American federalism, together with the work of Grenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn, World Peace through World Law (Harvard University Press, 1958).
[6] 1A Whitehall Place, London SWI 2HA.
[7] On the value as an example of European unification see “The Problem of Peace and the European Parliament”, in The Federalist, XXVI (1984), pp. 95-101.
[8] Union Now was first published at the author’s own expense in September 1938, then by Harper & Brothers in New York in March 1939. The book was reprinted several times during the Second World War and after.
[9] Federal Union Inc. should not be confused with the movement founded in London in the spring of 1938 by Derek Rawnsley, Charles Kimber and Patrick Ransome; cfr. Charles Kimber “Federal Union”, in The Federalist, XXVI (1984), pp. 199-205.
[10] Readers wanting further information on this issue and on the history of the federalist movement in the US from different viewpoints can refer, among others, to Stewart Ogilvy “A Brief History of the World Government Movement in the US”, in Humanity, Glasgow, September 1949, new series, vol. I, p. 14; Clarence K. Streit, “To Unite Federalists”, in Freedom & Union, Washington, 1949, vol.4, n. 11, pp. 1-4. See also the five chapters in the postwar edition of Union Now (Federal Union Inc., Washington, pp. 251-324 in the 1976 reprint) and Clarence K. Streit, “Ten Years Progress towards Union Now”, in Freedom & Union, 1948, vol. 3, n. 10. (The main American federalist postwar reviews, including Common Cause, Freedom & Union and World Government News are currently being reprinted, in microfilm form, by Joseph Preston Baratta, at Clearwater Cy., New York).
[11] See Clarence K. Streit, Union Now, postwar edition, op. cit., “The Dangers in Mere European Union”, pp. 277-279, and “A Marxist US of Europe”, in Freedom & Union, 1947, vol. 2, n. 7, pp. 2-4.
[12] Clarence K. Streit, “Federate”, in The Federator, 1984, vol. I, n. 2.
[13] See the complete collection of The Federator, the AUD’s mouthpiece since 1984; The Federator can rightly claim that its readers are the only Americans who were regularly informed of the struggle for European Union from the European Parliament’s historic vote in 1984 up to the setback represented by the European Council’s decision to adopt the Single Act in Luxembourg in December 1985.
[14] “On the Hijacking of the Achille Lauro”, in The Federalist, XXVII (l985), pp. 85-89.
[15] See the resolution of the AUD Executive Committee of October 6, 1986, “Preliminary Guidelines on AUD Support of Extra-atlantic Federalism”, some excerpts of which are given below, quoted in The Federator, 1986, vol. III, n. 6, pp. 5-6: “a) On the intercontinental level, AUD supports proposals for integration and federation of the NATO democracies, the OECD democracies, and partial groupings of these democracies, such as the Summit and the Group of Five/Group of Seven/Group of Ten. The intercontinental union of the leading industrial democracies is the core of the mission of AUD. b) On the regional level AUD supports initiatives and proposals for federation and integration of democracies in: 1) Europe; 2) Latin America, both as a whole or in parts, including efforts presently proceeding on the subregional level, such as the Draft Contadora Treaty insofar as it provides for a Central American confederation guaranteed by neighboring countries, and for free national elections; 3) The Caribbean; 4) Africa; 5) Southern Asia, such as the existing federal government of India, and the efforts of the ASEAN countries (with the reservation that democratic practices are uneven among the ASEAN countries, and any actual federal government among them should be rooted firmly in democracy); 6) The Pacific basin among compatible societies, including the recently formed Federated States of Micronesia; 7) The US and Canada, as in the proposed free trade pact”.
[16] The World Movement for World Federal Government became World Association of World Federalists in 1956 and subsequently World Federalist Movement in Aosta in June 1986. For clarity’s sake, only WAWF will be used in this note.
[17] Cfr. Rolf Paul Haegler(Histoire et idéologie du mondialisme, Zurich, Europa Verlag, 1972), who quotes the Movimiento pro Federación americana and the Asian Federation Movement as the organizations which, as well as the UEF, were, in the fifties, in contact with the WAWF. This book is of interest since it traces the history of the world governmentalist circles from its origins, which go back to the end of the thirties, up to the seventies.
[18] See, among other sources and restricting ourselves merely to the first years, the political declaration of Luxembourg in 1946, the declaration of Montreux in 1947, the declaration of the 2nd Congress in Luxembourg in 1948, part of which runs as follows: “Integration at regional levels can be an approach to World Federal Government. The formation of regional federations may well hasten the establishment of World Federal Government provided: a) that they do not become ends in themselves; b) that they may be expected to diminish existing tensions and the existing disparity between great and small nations; and c) that they remain subordinated to the over-riding objective of establishing World Federal Government. It should, however, be emphasized that regional federations cannot of themselves solve the problem of achieving enduring peace”.
These quotations are taken from the work of Rolf Paul Haegler, op. cit., pp. 159-164.
[19] Op. cit., pp. 131-2.
[20] This and the subsequent quotations from Ferdinand Kinsky are taken from his paper at the WAWF seminar “World Federalism: Contemporary Goals and Strategies” of July 1985, published in The London Seminar, WAWF, Amsterdam, 1985, pp. 13-16.
[21] It is not by chance that Ron J. Rutherglen, then WAWF executive director, extensively quoted this passage from Ferdinand Kinsky’s address, in the course of his speeches in the US and Canada in Spring 1986, informing that he took it for his own account, as in the internal document “Presentation North American Visit — March 16-April 6” which was distributed within the organization on his return.
[22] “A Decisive Battle”, in The Federalist, XXVI (1984), p. 177.
[23] We will give only two examples to illustrate this thesis and the growing interest of world federalists, particularly outside Europe, for the construction of the European Community. Firstly, the editorial of the Canadian World Federalist, August 1985, “Towards European Federation” (WFC, 46 Elgin Street, Suite 32, Ottawa — Ont. KIP 5K6); secondly, the resolution on the European Union adopted on September 14, 1985 at Newark by the Board Meeting of the WFA (418 7th Street, S.E., Washington, DC 20003) part of which is reproduced below: “…enthusiastically supports the proposed strengthening of the Community’s supranational institutions by a) abolishing the national veto in the Council of Ministers, and b) strengthening the powers of the European Parliament in relation to the Council of Ministers and the European Commission; recognizes the historic importance of the European Parliament’s Draft Treaty Establishing the European Union and looks forward to its speedy ratification. The government of European Union will be a model for the establishment of the world federation. The World Federalist Association warmly supports the work of the Union Européenne des Fédéralistes and other European organizations that are working towards this end”.
[24] A special issue of World Federalist News, containing the main interventions at the Aosta seminar, was recently published.
[25] ISAJ, European postal address: c/o Pacific Rim Study Center, Lijnbaansgracht 347/4, 1017 XB Amsterdam, Netherlands.
[26] In this sense, according to La Nación in Buenos Aires, he stated in a seminar in April 1986 regarding “Los partidos politicos y la integración de America latina” that “there will be a fair and democratic world society or there will be only chaos, wars and a return to barbarity under the growing threat of definitive nuclear holocaust”, and insisted on the “need for Latin American nations to work for their continental unity” and inviting them “to imitate the example of the European Communities”.
[27] The Movimiento pro Federación americana in Bogotá, which was for a long time in touch with the WAWF, seems to have disappeared during the seventies and the dictatorship in Argentina got the better of the Movimiento Acción para la Unidad latinoamericana.
[28] Hacia la Unidad europea, MFE (sección en Argentina), 1986, Ayacucho 3130, 1651 San Andres.


Share with