political revue


Year XXIX, 1987, Number 2, Page 146



1. Historical topicality of world unification.
The starting point for any acceptable definition of Europe’s role in the world is appreciating that the problem of world unification is now firmly on history’s agenda. Man is faced with many challenges — the nuclear issue, underdevelopment, ecology and world economic interdependence — that question his very survival not in some distant future but right now. None of these challenges can be resolved in any valid way except with the decision to begin the construction of a world government.
The possibility that a world war will lead to a holocaust, given the destructive capacity of modern weapons, is now widely accepted. The time has come to recognize that faith in the balance of terror as a means of preventing a world war is unfounded. In the first place, the speed of scientific and technological progress makes it increasingly difficult to maintain a military balance. Think, for example, of the very severe imbalance arising when one of the superpowers manages to gain a decisive advantage over the other with the installation of an efficient space shield, a state of affairs which in all probability would cause dissuasion to fail. In the second place, the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the current anarchic world can only be slowed down but not blocked and this makes it increasingly likely that the superpowers will be dragged into a nuclear war against their will.
Moreover, we should appreciate that the costs of pursuing an arms race designed to maintain the military equilibrium are incompatible with mankind’s progress: the economic costs have led to enormous resources being wasted at the expense of economic and social progress in advanced countries and in particular backward countries; the political costs include the curtailment of the right to freedom owing to the growing militarization of society and the state, while the ethical costs can be measured in terms of the barbarization of the state which instead of defending life now either deliberately creates or passively suffers the risk of the destruction of mankind. Such costs seem destined to give rise to the most frightful calamities even before a world war breaks out.
In reality, war, in the nuclear age, can no longer be objectively considered the continuation of politics with other means because it would entail an end to politics along with all other human activities, which means that the problem of eliminating war (and hence the arms race) as an instrument for resolving conflicts between states has now been placed firmly on history’s agenda. But this is only possible when we create a world authority which prevents any country from producing arms, an authority which has a monopoly over the legitimate use of force, complete control over the military aspects of technology and which also safeguards the independence and legitimate interests of every state while making self-protection useless as well as impossible.
Quite apart from the danger of the nuclear holocaust, the historical topicality of the problem of ending the current international anarchy is closely tied to the problem, which is gaining increasingly frightening proportions, of the underdevelopment of the Southern hemisphere. This problem must be tackled seriously not just for humanitarian reasons but because it would otherwise be impossible to avoid a catastrophic clash between rich and poor peoples. The forerunner of this is international terrorism, which today only uses conventional arms but which, sooner or later, will have pocket-size nuclear arms or equally destructive chemical or biological weapons. Moreover, it is now clear that only a start to the real development of the Southern hemisphere will lead to lasting recovery in the economic development of advanced countries. Since the end to the North-South divide requires the mobilization of enormous resources which can only be achieved by stopping the arms race and by advanced countries’ adoption of concrete, co-ordinated efforts, this challenge can only be tackled effectively with the construction of a world government which makes weapons useless, as well as impossible, and which imposes solidarity between rich and poor countries, just as nation-states impose solidarity between rich and poor regions that fall under their sovereignty.
The growing drama of the ecological challenge and its worldwide nature are all too obvious and it is becoming increasingly clear that such a dangerous state of affairs cannot be appropriately tackled with mankind’s current political organization. Indeed a growing number of decisions which fall under individual states’ sovereignty (take, for example, deforestation in tropical and equatorial regions, the installation of nuclear power stations and generally all highly dangerous types of manufacturing processes) can lead to ecological catastrophes of continental and world proportions and consequences which are more serious than those caused by the Great War and World War Two. This situation, which becomes even graver when we consider the dangers implicit in the anarchic development of biotechnologies, makes it even more imperative to bring about an effective supranational system which restricts national sovereignty to the advantage of a world authority.
Finally, faced with world economic interdependence, which prevents even the most powerful states in the world from governing their own economic development effectively, the system of absolute state sovereignty continues to survive thereby preventing effective government of overall world economic development. Without the creation of sound supranational world institutions this contradiction, which underlay the 1929 economic crisis, is destined sooner or later to produce a much more serious crisis inasmuch as economic interdependence has developed enormously since then.
Essentially, the world has now become a community of destiny and the alternative “unite or perish”, brought to light by Briand in 1929 with regard to Europe and objectively the basic historical drive in the process of European unification, now relates to mankind as a whole. Hence, while the process of world unification is clearly extremely complex and its completion date a long way off, it is equally clear that making a start to it cannot be put off much longer. Moreover, in the light of past experience of European unification, it is reasonable to expect that the very fact of initiating the process of world unification would substantially change the general framework of the world’s position, reversing the current trends vis-à-vis the dangers threatening mankind’s survival.
Indeed, the opening in Western Europe of a historical phase characterized by the restrictions in state sovereignty has had the effect that, although political and military unity has not yet been achieved, the frontiers between the European Community countries have been demilitarized and, with the Western European Union, very advanced procedures have been established for mutual control of the level and characteristics of armaments between member states, which make war technically impossible between them. In the same way, with the start to the process of world unification, the first forms of world policy and the attenuation of, if not the end to, military rivalry between all states could be achieved. In terms of a start to the construction of a world government it will thus become possible to achieve the first serious steps in the direction of disarmament on the basis of effective controls. These are in fact structurally excluded where no start has been made to the limitation of absolute state sovereignty and where the expectation of war as the extrema ratio in solving international conflicts thus remains.
2. The transition towards world unity.
While the fundamental problem facing the world is making a start to its unification, the fundamental role of European unity in the world is to contribute to this process. Hence, the struggle for the completion of European unification is essentially justified by the contribution it can give to world unification. To clarify this, we need to reflect on the process of reasonably predictable transition towards this objective. The starting point for this reflection is the definition of the structure of world unity in its final form, with a view to identifying the intermediate stages.
In the light of federalist theory, to be valid and effective, world unity should be based on a federation of great regional groupings, organized in their turn on a federal and democratic basis. Three points should be stressed in this connection.
Firstly, only on the basis of federalism is it possible to achieve stable unity since this makes it possible to keep the maximum degree of autonomy compatible with unity in the component parts (which run from regional groupings, through nations and regions, down to district level), thus avoiding the dangers connected with centralization. On the other hand, an imperial type unity would be unrealistic, since it could be achieved only with a war that risks destroying the planet. It would also be undemocratic and unstable (assuming, of course, that it could be achieved) and would involve the replacement of international war with endemic civil war with equally destructive consequences. In the second place, only if the pillars of the World federation are great regional federations (North America, Latin America, Europe, USSR, Black Africa, Arab countries, China, India, Japan, subregional federations in Asia etc.), will it be possible to achieve an effective balance in world political structure and avoid both the dangers of hegemony and the oppression of small states. In the third place, it is clear that a true federation can only be achieved between democratic states and not between totalitarian or authoritarian states which are based on the principle of unchecked power and which, therefore, cannot structurally accept restrictions either to their external sovereignty, other than those imposed and maintained by force, or to their internal sovereignty, since, to survive, a totalitarian or authoritarian regime needs to be as isolated as possible from external influences which run counter to its principles and praxis.
The definition of the final form of world unity makes it clear that two fundamental premises must be established if the ultimate goal is to be reached.
On the one hand, it is vital for a series of regional unifications to be achieved which are indispensable in building, side by side with states which already have Continental dimensions, the irreplaceable pillars on which the World federation must be founded. The existence, for many decades, of processes of regional unification, the most advanced of which relates to Western Europe, is the fundamental empirical demonstration of the historical topicality of the problem of world unification, of the fact that it is no longer mere utopia, but already an element rooted in the real historical process.
Moreover, democracy must spread to the entire world, including Communist regimes and the vast majority of Third World countries. In the latter case, the need is first of all to achieve the social and economic bases for democracy and this political progress, in its turn, is the vital condition for the development of healthy regional federations. The extension of democracy throughout the world does not, of course, mean that the Western liberal democracy model must be applied sic et simpliciter to the rest of the world. Clearly, however, economic and social forms of pluralism and political and institutional forms must be established which allow citizens to enjoy basic civil liberties and to exercise effective control over power.
If these are the vital premises for achieving world unity in its final form, this does not necessarily mean that they must be achieved in their entirety for the process of world unification to begin, in just the same way as the existence of democratic regimes in all of Europe and the involvement of all European states were not needed from the beginning for the process of European unification to get underway. If we wish to make the debate on transition to world unity less generic, then we need to formulate reasonable hypotheses about the start to the process and the guiding idea in this context is that of partial world government formulated by Einstein at the end of the Second World War, integrated by the lessons of European unification. Leaving aside the already existing starts (regional integration and overall interdependence), for world unification to really begin (in the sense in which European integration really began with the Schuman Plan), we need to create a partial world government which from a political and economic point of view is sufficiently strong to gradually involve the rest of the world in world unification (by causing the vital premises to mature), to carry out, in other words, a locomotive-type role comparable to that carried out by the Franco-German pole and by “little Europe” with regard to European integration.
In the current historical situation, which seems destined to last for quite a while, the creation of a partial world government with these characteristics can only occur in the Northern hemisphere for reasons which are so obvious we need not go into them here. Having stated this, it is possible to identify two possible platforms. The ideal platform is a convergence between all the main components of the Northern hemisphere, i.e. the USA, the USSR, Europe and Japan which obviously presupposes that in a fairly brief period of time the indispensable democratic premises will arise in the USSR for its participation in the creation of the world government and that lasting détente will also be achieved between East and West, a change comparable to the Franco-German reconciliation and its subsequent effect on European unification.
With the participation from the start of all the fundamental centres in the Northern hemisphere in the construction of a partial world government, the latter would immediately have enormous potential and could, moreover, make a decisive contribution towards economic and social development which could be fairly rapid in the Southern hemisphere, in particular with the transfer of the enormous resources used in the arms race to development aid. For this reason, in a relatively short period of time the premises could arise (economic and social progress, democratic development and regional integration) for the full participation of the entire Southern hemisphere in the construction of the world government.
If, however, the necessary premises for the full participation of the USSR, from the very beginning, in the construction of the partial world government were to be delayed excessively, the historical reality of the problem of world unification might force the choice of a more limited initial platform, including the USA, Western Europe and Japan. In this case, the problems of ending the East-West conflict and the democratization of the USSR would become the priority themes of the external action of the partial world government. The persistence, until these problems are resolved, of military rivalry within the Northern hemisphere would delay the end of the North-South divide (with all its implications), insofar as ending this divide depends decisively on the commitment of the economically most advanced countries.
Identifying the pillars of partial world government in the USA, USSR, Europe and Japan obviously does not mean excluding the participation of other democratic states in this undertaking at the outset: such states as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, or even China if it started a process of democratization in the relatively near future (for Latin American countries who are on the way to becoming democratic, regional unification should be the first goal). It should, however, be realistically recognized that this participation, however desirable, is not an indispensable condition to the creation of an effective partial world government.
As regards the institutional characteristics of the partial world government, although it is premature to draw up precise and detailed models, we still need to clarify that the start to its construction does not mean that from the outset we must achieve a federation in the full sense between the strong areas of the world. In reality, some kind of political and institutional graduality will probably be inevitable. But, in the light of the experience of European unification, it may be pointed out that the institutions of world unification, if they are to have any real evolutionary potential, must contain the seeds of federalism from birth and in particular a directly elected common parliament.
If the construction of a partial world government in the terms indicated above is to be seen as the high road towards the start of world unification, this does not mean that we must a priori refuse world organizations of the functionalist type with no federal embryos. In reality, the creation of structures of this type (such as the agency for the exploitation of oceanic resources) is both possible and desirable though they cannot be endowed with characteristics which are embryonically federal and democratic precisely because most of the states participating do not have democratic regimes. We must, however, be aware that functionalist organizations of this type do not constitute the start of the construction of a world government and, in particular, that they are destined to remain very weak and precarious until such a time as they find the support of a partial world government. The same is true for the reform of the UN.
3.The role of European unity in the construction of world government.
In the light of what has been said so far about the historical topicality of world unification and the transition in the reasonably near future towards the final goal, we may now provide an acceptable definition of the decisive role that Europe can play in this process by completing its unification rapidly. A fundamental pillar, taken in the static sense, of a partial world government, and hence of the future world federation, would not only be created in this way: in addition, a dynamic factor would be activated which would be of enormous effectiveness vis-à-vis the development of the process of world unification. In this respect we need to distinguish the function of the model which the completion of European unification would have and the political action that a European government could carry out.
The significance of the example that the European Community could give to the world by creating a European federal government is evident. By making integration an irreversible process it would be possible to exploit fully the enormous advantages that are implicit in this integration and would create ties of solidarity which are inseparable among the participating nations. The great revolutions of modern history were born in Europe: the liberal, democratic and socialist revolutions. The nation-state, which has had so many imitators throughout the world, was born in Europe. If the European states which in the first half of the century unleashed the most destructive wars in history showed that it is possible to unite definitively in a peaceful and democratic way without renouncing the effective independence of their national governments (which is possible precisely with the federal system), they would give mankind an example with exceptional power of conviction. On the one hand, it would encourage analogous processes in the other areas of the world where the problem of regional integration is already the order of the day, with weak attempts at imitating European integration arising precisely because of the weakness of the reference model. Moreover, since the system of federal government which unifies European nations in an irreversible way is the same with which it will be possible to create an effective partial world government and eventually overall world government, its affirmation in Europe would seem to indicate the road to follow with greatest strength of conviction.
Quite apart from its function as a model, the concrete political action that a European government could carry out would seem to be decisive in encouraging world unification.
If we want to understand this side of the question properly, we must first of all be aware that a European government would have a strong objective inclination towards a policy of world unification. In the first place, the European Community is the world’s greatest commercial power (moreover it is an importer of essential raw materials from other countries) and, hence, has a much more immediate and pressing interest than the superpowers as regards ending East-West and North-South tensions which heavily impede the development of economic and commercial ties on a world scale. A serious policy in this sense can, moreover, only be part of a policy directed towards the construction of the world government and could be effectively carried out by the European Community only by adopting a true supranational government. In the second place, only on the basis of lasting East-West détente would it be possible to overcome the division between the two Europes and, in this framework, the division between the two Germanies. In the third place, European integration, by replacing the age-old Franco-German dispute with a lasting system of European co-operation around this reconciled central nucleus of the Old Continent, has made Western Europe the area which is relatively the most stable, most peaceful and prosperous in the world, where democracy has been consolidated and extended peacefully to Mediterranean countries which had substantially been excluded from it. From this situation a deep-rooted trend towards the moderation of world tensions has arisen which is apparent, at the public opinion level, in the existence in this region of the world of the strongest movement for peace existing today and, at the government level, in the constant inclination towards East-West détente and in the attempt to begin a more co-operative relationship with the Third World. Although this tendency is characterized by serious limitations and contradictions, closely connected with the limitations and the contradictions of the current process of integration, a qualitative leap in the direction of political Union would clearly give the Community a chance to clarify its objective propensity towards a world system of peace in an incomparably more effective way.
There is a fourth element of decisive importance which needs to be pointed out. The creation of a supranational federal government would give Western Europe an international weight which is incomparably superior to the current one, but it would have great structural difficulties in using this weight to become a third superpower competing with the USA and the USSR. A federal European government whose pillars are the great historically consolidated nations would be a real federal government, i.e. with powers limited to the task of maintaining unity between the parts, and, hence, it would have great difficulties in developing power politics (with all its implications in terms of weapons and centralization of power) similar to the power politics in the USA and USSR. Hence, though it is true that the dangers threatening mankind’s survival mean that all states, the superpowers included, have to face up to the dilemma of uniting or perishing, it is reasonable to expect that the European government, which will have a weaker sovereignty than the Russian and American governments, will have a much greater propensity to pursue its limitation to the advantage of the construction of a world government rather than reinforce its own sovereignty.
Having stated this, it is possible to delineate the essential features of the concrete prospect of making a start to the construction of the world government which will be opened up with the completion of European integration. In this context, it is possible to distinguish three sectors: Atlantic ties in the strict sense (Europe-USA) and in the wide sense (i.e. the trilateral Europe-USA-Japan tie-up), relations with the Soviet block and relations with the Third World.
As regards the Europe-USA tie-up, the completion of European integration will make it possible to transform the Atlantic Alliance from the current American protectorate into a real partnership among equals. This would eliminate a position of uneasiness and permanent crisis characterizing Atlantic relationships, which are eternally faced with the alternative between a stiffening of American hegemony and dissolution, and would lay the bases for common action favouring the construction of a world government. Indeed not only would Western Europe have greater influence on American foreign policy, it would also have a much greater capacity to show its objective propensity towards world unification, and true partnership would per se favour a qualitative change for the better in American attitudes to world problems. Nationalistic, imperialistic and militaristic trends which are undoubtedly a strong element in American foreign policy and which obstruct the awareness of the need to begin world unification, in actual fact have a fairly close relationship with excessively heavy international commitments to which Americans are objectively forced owing to Europe’s inability to take on responsibilities corresponding to their economic and political potential. The very heavy American worldwide commitment, with its implications in terms of enormous military expenditure, concentration of power and erosion of liberal and democratic conquests, can find support only in an ideological trend with strong nationalistic elements, which feed the vision of a world which is irredeemably conflictual and prevents the awareness that mankind is now a community of destiny. Therefore, if Western Europe, with its much greater unity, caused a substantial reduction in American commitment to European and Third World defence, nationalism would be weakened in the USA and a much more positive attitude would appear towards détente and the ending of the East-West conflict and towards ending the gap between North and South which would also encourage détente. In other words, the conditions would arise for a strong common commitment favouring world unification. It is likely that this commitment from being a bilateral arrangement would become trilateral, with full involvement of Japan, which already today constitutes a fundamental pole in the grouping of strong areas with a democratic regime.
As regards the USSR, a really united Europe would have an incomparably greater possibility of encouraging the development of lasting détente in which real progress towards the democratization of the USSR can be achieved, with the obvious implications which this would have for a positive evolution of the Soviet block overall. Not only would joint Euro-American commitment in this direction be achieved for the reasons mentioned above, but in addition Western Europe would acquire qualitatively new influence in the field of economic co-operation with the East and as regards arms negotiations. If Western Europe became integrated, it would acquire an economic force which would enable it to deepen its co-operation and hence economic interdependence with the Soviet block, contributing in a decisive way to accelerating its economic progress, which in the long term can only have a positive influence on the progress of the USSR and its satellites towards social and political pluralism. But above all the greater political weight which Western Europe would acquire by virtue of not depending any more for its defence on the American protectorate, would make it possible to achieve a policy of economic co-operation with the East of great dimensions without the risk of falling under Soviet influence. There would be a growing capacity to subordinate, in deed and not just in words, the deepening of economic co-operation, which for the USSR is becoming an increasingly vital need, to gradual progress being made as regards civil rights.
On the military level, it is clear that a Europe freed from its American military protectorate would have a very different weight in East-West negotiations, as regards pursuing its own interests and its own propensity towards a world of peace. The presence of a strong, unitary European voice will not produce substantial results in the field of disarmament until we are able to begin constructing a partial world government with the participation of the USSR, because only in this framework would we begin to eliminate the expectation among the great powers of war as the extrema ratio in solution of conflicts and for the defence of independence. Indeed the so-called negotiations on disarmament are in reality negotiations on the control and rationalization of the arms race designed above all to maintain a balance which in actual fact constantly tends to move upwards. A unified European presence could, however, heavily encourage an increasingly advanced development of so-called confidence-building measures. These, in fact, carry real weight in the current world, which is certainly still anarchic and which is thus dominated by the expectation of war as the extrema ratio. But the world is also dominated by the terror of a nuclear holocaust and, therefore, cannot do without attempting to seek ways of diminishing the danger that international crises will trigger off an escalation towards catastrophe. If this is true, the introduction in military East-West negotiations of a united Europe with a strong objective propensity towards the development of a peaceful world seems destined to increase the possibilities existing in the confidence-building measures in a very relevant way.
One of the issues which should be carefully studied in the context of confidence-building measures and their new qualitative development which an active European role could produce is “defensive” defence.
By this is meant a defence system based at the nuclear level on the principle of minimum deterrent and which is exclusively dissuasive vis-à-vis a nuclear attack, and, conventionally, on territorial-type defence which effectively contains a conventional attack without causing nuclear escalation but which is structurally incapable of attack. This approach to European defence would involve confidence-building measures which would be qualitatively new but would also mean an end to the principle of balance of power in which offensive and defensive capacity have to be equal, without, however, security being abandoned and without falling into unilateral disarmament.
Moreover, an option of this kind would have enormous positive advantages in terms of the politics of détente. If Western Europe were to have true defensive unity, it would be possible to withdraw American troops from Western Europe, which would also make it extremely difficult for the USSR to oppose demands for its troops to be withdrawn from its satellites in Eastern Europe. But if the defensive defence option were to be added, the USSR would also find it much harder to oppose demands for it to restructure its own defence system along the same lines. The implications which such developments would have within the Soviet block are so evident that they do not call for detailed explanation. Essentially, political conditions would arise whereby decisive progress towards democracy in both the USSR and the Soviet block and hence towards an ending of blocks with its division of Europe into two would become possible. The prospect of involving the USSR in the construction of the world government would become extremely concrete.
In relationships with the Third World, the completion of integration would give rise in Western Europe above all to the political capacity to pass, from the current weak aid policy to the development, to realization — in strict co-operation with the USA and Japan and tendentially with the USSR — of a real Marshall Plan for the Third World, based on an organic link between aid of sufficient size and the development of regional integration. Obviously an active European role would make it possible to carry out great development in co-operation with the great areas of the Third World, such as India and China, which are already sufficiently large in demographic terms to be the pillars of the future world federation, but which must still overcome the enormous problems of economic, social and political backwardness (in the latter case in China in particular).
In conclusion, with the completion of European unification the indispensable conditions for concretely beginning a policy of world unification arise. The most immediate sector of effective development of this policy will come from the strongest regions of the world, where it will be possible to begin the construction of a partial world government. But this policy will have to become operative even in the Third World with the development of regional integration and the consolidation of already unified areas which are, however, still very backwards economically, socially and politically.
Sergio Pistone

*This document was presented to the III Commission of the XIII Congress of the MFE, in Verona, on February 20-22, 1987.



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