Year XXXIV, 1992, Number 1 - Page 69
A DRAFT MANIFESTO FOR EUROPEAN FEDERALISM*
Federalism as a cultural and political experience seems to have little importance, remaining substantially marginal to contemporary life. The field is held by the old political ideologies: liberalism, democracy, socialism and communism. However, the course of history has now reached the stage of the social unification of the human race, which cannot be interpreted and dominated by the old ideologies, that, as a result, have gone into total crisis. Federalism is precisely that new instrument of thought and action which increasingly coincides with the historical process, thus permitting it to be understood and controlled.
In fact, from a political point of view, federalism, in other words the federal state, represents the last great discovery of forms of democratic government. Direct democracy was the democratic government of people within the boundaries of a city, and did not create any division of powers to guarantee freedom. Representative democracy was the government of people belonging to a nation, and achieved a formal division between legislature, executive and judiciary. The federal system corresponds to an even greater widening of the scope of democratic government: it is the government of people belonging to a supranational area, and is able to encompass the whole world. It achieves substantial division of powers, dividing sovereignty between the federal government and the governments of member-states. More than anyone else, Alexander Hamilton, one of the founders of the American federation, understood and clearly illustrated the meaning of the new form of government.
But federal democracy cannot function stably unless it extends to the whole world, since its substantial division of powers and democratic structure tend inevitably to collapse under the impact of international violence. The federal democracy which has established itself in more limited areas than that of the world, can only survive precariously in those countries that can be considered political islands. These countries are minimally exposed to changes in the world balance of power, and therefore do not need to maintain a permanent military and diplomatic commitment and abide by the rules of power politics in the international arena. But when the world balance of power begins to assert itself on these countries, their condition as “political islands” disappears: they have to take on all the military, diplomatic, economic and other commitments in the international field that their power implies. This weakens and tends increasingly to destroy their fragile structure of federal democracy. This has been, and is, the fate of the United States of America. The powerful tendency towards unification of the human race, which characterizes the phase of history we are living through today, increasingly nullifies all those empty spaces which in the past allowed the existence of “political islands”. The conditions which permitted federal democracy at less than a world level are disappearing. The full and definitive achievement of federal democracy, therefore, now means the elimination of war from the world by the establishment of a World federation.
It is for this reason that federalism now coincides with the course of history, with its powerful impulse towards world unification. Or rather, it seems to coincide with an extraordinary moment in the evolution of mankind: the passage from prehistory to history, in other words the abatement of the last major obstacle to the full expression of all mankind’s innate capacities. As Kant indicated, the human condition comprises the potential capacity for autonomy of thought and will; but it is only potential, until man succeeds in removing the obstacles which impede its full realization. Having won control, as far as possible, of natural calamities, and having overcome, or being about to overcome, the plague of poverty, man is now faced with the final obstacle which impedes the full expression of the human condition and which perpetuates man’s violence against man: war.
Federalism overcomes the cause of war: the division of the world into sovereign states. With the World federation, that final stronghold of violence between men, war, will be eliminated: international anarchy will be replaced by the rule of law between states. The World federation will, as Kant taught us, open up a world in which man can consider other men as ends in themselves and in which he can fully and autonomously develop all the capacities that are within him. The World federation will open the history of the human race.
1. The course of history, spurred by the evolution in relations of production, has unified the peoples of the more advanced countries by breaking down class barriers, and is about to break down the barriers between countries and to unify the human race.
The immense and progressive revolution in the methods, and hence the relations of production, founded on science and modern technology, has had an enormous effect on the history of Europe and the entire human race. The transformation of the organization of production from that of craftsmen, using rudimentary means and limited to the highly restricted market of a local economy, into the industrial model, using increasingly powerful and sophisticated instruments and open to ever more distant markets (from region, to nation, to continent, to the whole world), has imposed a gradual revolution on human relations.
The evolution in relations of production has brought into contact and integrated individuals who, in the previous organization of production, lived at great distances from each other, and without contact among each other. The interdependence of human actions is growing to an extent never before seen in the history of the human race.
In the first phase of this historical course there was a great growth in depth of the interdependence of human actions in the economic, social, political, cultural, and other fields. This growth in the depth of interdependence increasingly united people belonging to the same country, tending to eliminate the divisions and conflicts of class. This was the epoch in which the great European ideologies were born, which allowed people to come to terms with the new reality they were experiencing, and which reflected the profound changes in society. The values of freedom and justice came into the collective consciousness with a greater power than ever before. Liberalism and laissez-faire marked the liberation of the new social dynamism of the bourgeois class, created by the revolution in the organization of production, which had broken the bonds and fetters of the old oligarchic and fossilized society of the ancien régime. Democracy showed the need to overturn the old principle of legitimacy based on divine right: to establish the political participation of all those people who were gradually being made aware of their active involvement in the productive life of the country by the new relations of production. Socialism marked the economic and social advance of the new proletarian class which had emerged from the new economic organization.
The framework of the state, inherited from the past, was developing its bureaucratic apparatus: as it did so, it gradually achieved the political integration of all the human and material forces which had already been socially unified by the relations of production. People represented this political unity as the “nation”, an extended family linked by blood, race, by je ne sais quoi: an ideology which allowed all economic, social, military, cultural, scholastic and other activities to be psychologically linked to power.
To the increase in national integration, however, there was a corresponding international disintegration. State political power was forced, by the international balance of power, to appropriate, in the interests of strength, all the great new human and material energies (take for example compulsory conscription) which had emerged within countries on the social wave of interdependence. In this way state power swept away the spontaneous regional nationalities and the pre-existing spontaneous European supranationality, and presented itself, in relation to other states, as more powerful and more aggressive than before. Not only, then, did the old logic of the European system of states continue, as always in a delicate balance between equilibrium and hegemony, and periodically shaken by war, but that logic became much more violent precisely because of the enormous empowerment of the states because of the national principle.
Before long the second stage in the course of contemporary history was reached, which we are currently living to the full. In it can be seen the growth in extension of the interdependence of human actions in the economic, social, political, cultural, and other fields. This growth in extension of interdependence is bringing people of different countries, and all the people of the world, ever closer together, and tending to eliminate divisions and wars between nations. Just as the first stage had unified people in the more advanced countries within the area of the nation-state, so the second stage of this historical process is now advancing towards the unification of the human race. The various civilizations and continents are coming closer and closer together, and have already reached a degree of interdependence which was previously unimaginable. This kind of interdependence is constantly increasing, constituting a powerful force for social unification. The Third World, the world of underdeveloped and ex-colonial countries, today faces the first stage of social development, that of the elimination of divisions and conflict between classes, but it faces it at the very moment when the more advanced countries are experiencing supranational social unification. Indeed, it can be said that the ex-colonial countries are now beginning the first stage of development precisely because of the expansive power of the society of more developed countries. And moreover, it is on the interdependence in extension of human actions, which is to say on the help of those who live in the more developed parts of the world, that the ex-colonial peoples’ hopes of speedy and organic development are largely based. The course of history is vigorously pushing mankind, in its various degrees of development, towards unity.
2. The political division of peoples into nations, inherited from the past, finds its last stronghold in the continental power of the US and the USSR, which, facing each other all over the world, seek to keep the planet divided into two opposing camps in order to maintain their supreme power, and to put a brake on the process whereby political structures adjust to the social unification of the human race.
The evolution of the material relations of production, by socially integrating people across ever larger areas and increasing the material instruments at people’s disposal, put ever greater strength into the hands of the nation-states, and thus made the European political equilibrium, based on the division of Europe into nations, increasingly dynamic. When economic and social evolution reached the dimensions of the nation-states and was already beginning to go beyond them, the strength of these states became enormous: their centralization and authoritarianism then had to be maximized in order to control the new dynamism that was awakened and to stop economic and social forces escaping from their territory. This was the tragic moment of Nazism and Fascism on the one hand, and of international anarchy on the other. The nation-states were at the apex of their centralizing drive, and the tensions and conflicts of power were governed by the most complete international anarchy. The result was the latest and most violent attempt to dominate the European continent, that of Hitler.
But the terrible world conflict which followed from this, at the same time brought to a close the age-old history of the European political system and of the predominance of Europe in the world. The evolution of economic and social forces had by then gone beyond the dimensions of the European countries and extended until it reached continental dimensions. The end of the Second World War made this clear, showing the nations of Europe weak and prostrate, and the world at the mercy of the two continental superpowers, the US and the USSR. It was the end of the European political equilibrium, and the beginning of a world political order.
In the post-war period, economic, technological and social forces really were transmitted across national barriers in Europe. The economic reconstruction and expansion of the countries of Western Europe, and above all of the Six, took place at a supranational level. The contradiction between economic and social forces, and the national political structures which still divided Europe, thus became very acute. The same contradiction was visible, on the other hand, only in embryonic form, and thus to a much more limited extent, for political bodies of continental dimensions. A political structure of continental dimensions allows for the most sophisticated forms of contemporary mass production, the most advanced use (if not to the extent of full capacity) of automation and nuclear energy. In other words, a political structure of such dimensions succeeds in controlling, within broad limits, the economic and social energies which are so vigorously spurred, by the course of history, towards supranational interdependence. This explains both the weakness of European countries, and the strength of the United States and the Soviet Union. And it is for this reason that the US and the USSR are successful in forming the pillars of the world balance of power.
But this bipolar world balance, while on the one hand indirectly signalling history’s tendency towards the social unification of mankind, on the other hand opposes and slows down this tendency, by fossilizing the political structures into which people are organized. The US and the USSR confront each other all over the world in an extremely rigid bipartite equilibrium. Every social, political or military development which takes place in any part of the world, always means, to a greater or lesser extent, the advance of one of the two superpowers and the withdrawal of the other. Each superpower, therefore, must assemble all the human and material resources at its disposal, all the potential to influence it possesses in the world, in order to prevent the other from dangerously shifting the balance of power. In this way, although the superpowers are becoming less and less successful in adequately holding the whole of their world front line, they are nevertheless trying to divide the world into two camps and to regiment and marshal all the material and intellectual energies of the world into two blocs, while restricting and denying the need for unity in the false solution of the UN. The unification of the world is therefore conceived of as the victory of one of the two blocs over the other. The ideological reflection of this bipolar equilibrium manifests itself in the contrast between communism and democracy. These ideologies correspond to the two different methods used to accomplish the first stage of the interdependence of human action in depth, but have now been overtaken by the insistence of the monumental developments which are carrying society towards the unification of mankind. More than anything else, the contrast between communism and democracy now has the ideological function of masking, following the old principles of the previous phase of history, the division of mankind between the two supreme powers of the US and the USSR. And it is precisely these two supreme powers, with their conservative impulse towards maintaining the status quo and with their umbrella of power, which enable national structures to survive. This is the case even where, as in Europe, such structures have already been overtaken by supranational economic and social forces, and hence enormously weakened. Thus the bilateral world balance of power between the US and the USSR, by maintaining the division of the Earth into nations, puts a brake on the process whereby political structures adjust to the social unification of the human race.
3. Thus liberalism, democracy, socialism and communism are degenerating because they are not able to overcome the contradiction, by now absolute in the more advanced countries, between justice and freedom, on the one hand, and the division of humanity into nations, which is the foundation of war, on the other. In contrast, federalism, which is the means to establish peace in the world, gives people the capacity to interpret and dominate the course of history and to maintain justice and freedom through peace.
The nation-state, by suffocating the primary political communities within the nation, has violently opposed and contradicted the values of justice and peace in contemporary European history. These characteristics had emerged forcefully by the first stage in the evolution of the material relations of production, when there existed a tendency towards the elimination of class conflict. The traditional European ideologies, intent on changing the internal social and political state structure, did not realistically face up to the problem of achieving peace. Liberals and democrats, socialists and communists, had all believed that the problem of war would automatically be resolved by the changes they proposed in internal state structures. This enabled them to dedicate themselves to such changes, but meant that they did not realize how they themselves, prey to nationalistic ideology, were serving to exacerbate the tension of the international situation. For the sake of strength, the nation-state appropriated to itself all the energies awakened by economic and social evolution; it had to become ever more centralized, thus damaging, weakening, or even breaking down, the fragile social and political institutions necessary for the achievement of justice and freedom. The people of Continental Europe have already experienced the tragic contradiction between justice and freedom on the one hand, and the continued existence of war on the other.
Now that the evolution of material relations of production has reached continental proportions and is already pushing towards the social unification of the human race, the contradiction between the values of justice and freedom, and political division, is being reproduced throughout the entire world. Political division, based on the bipolar balance of power, is pushing both governments and people (especially those of the two superpowers which support the greatest weight of the world balance of power) towards nationalism. The contradiction is by now absolute: justice and freedom cannot be achieved completely in only one part of the world. The establishment of world peace is a fundamental prerequisite for their realization. Justice and freedom concern all men and women and not simply Americans, Russians or Europeans. Faced with this huge new problem, the old European ideologies have no answer. Just as they had ended up serving the nation-state in Europe, and becoming increasingly degenerate in the process, such that they often had to contradict the very values of which they are the standard-bearers, so today they serve the bipolar political division of the world by covering it with an ideological veil.
These ideologies are now so completely degenerate as to be reduced to hiding the absurd principle that holds that Americans, Russians (and tomorrow the Europeans) are to be conceived of as so fundamentally different (by race, descent, or whatever else) from each other as for it to be conceivable that they can justly be brought to destroy each other.
This is no different from the servile way in which these same traditional ideologies were manipulated in Europe to hide the absurd principle that regarded the French, the Germans, the English and the Italians as being fundamentally different from each other, and on the basis of which Europeans destroyed each other. All the alternatives that were offered in the past by the old ideologies are nowadays being replaced by the choice between the division of humanity into nations, and federalism. Federalism has, in fact, within itself the ideologically and functional characteristics that will enable it to be the new means for understanding the process of history which we are living through and for guiding people towards the political unification of the human race. On the one hand, in the federalist tradition (and above all in Kant), there is the clear consciousness, which has become reality in this day and age, that people cannot achieve their full human condition of freedom and self-determination until the rule of war is eliminated from the world by the political unification of humanity. On the other hand (and it was above all Hamilton who taught us this), the federalist tradition also contains the discovery of the correct technique for setting up a supranational government by establishing peace in the world order; the method of government, in other words, which is fit to give a political framework to the social unification of the human race. Federalism, with its ultimate objective of creating World federation, is therefore both the conceptual framework through which people can consciously appreciate the historical process they are experiencing, and the institutional instrument through which they can dominate it. By choosing federalism the people (abandoning the false trails of the old ideologies which are failing to uphold the very values they stood for) will guarantee freedom and justice by founding them on the solid base of the World federation.
4. In Western Europe the phenomenon of social unification beyond state barriers is building up an immense supranational force against the national powers and the dominant power of America. With the foundation of the European federation, this force will be able to sweep away the bilateral world balance of power and, for the first time in history, overcome the nations within its own area, at the same time as unleashing materially and ideologically the force of federalism throughout the whole world.
In which part of the world are federalism and the course of history about to meet? Not in the US, nor in the USSR, since they are tied to nationalism by their pride that is derived from their superpower status; nor in the Third World, which is now creating and consolidating nation-states; but in Europe, and particularly in Western Europe, where social development has taken on a supranational character in contradiction to the national political establishment. Since the end of the Second World War, Germany, France and Italy no longer represent centres where fundamental decisions are taken in international politics, nor the context in which the independence and security of Germans, French and Italians are defended. It has become unthinkable for French policy to run counter to German policy and vice versa, or for Italy to play France off against Germany. It is America which guarantees the defence of Western Europe. And in the European countries, power, which still serves to maintain internal order, but not to defend the country and maintain its independence, is becoming detached from the control of citizens and the situation is tending towards authoritarianism. The weakening of internal consensus and the end of international influence are causing the eclipse of national sovereignty.
Yet Europe is becoming rich. It had become poor compared to the United States when the struggle between countries, and the control of the economy for the purposes of military strength, had restricted production in national markets. But after the war the convergence of countries under American protection determined a de facto European unity, which manifested itself institutionally only through confederal superstructures (the so-called Communities) because, since the nation-states had held on to absolute sovereignty, power and the struggle for power remained at the national level. The current extent of unity has however provided a sufficient political base for the liberalization of exchanges, which also gives Europe (within the limits of this liberalization) a market of considerable sizeable dimensions. Within this market the economy is developing rapidly, attributing a supranational character to many aspects of social, economic, scientific and technical life. And these aspects are being consolidated without difficulty because they have a solid foundation in the ancient and spontaneous European supranationality of religion, culture, science and law, which was swept aside but not destroyed during the last hundred years of nationalism.
This unity is very advanced. Having begun in the most industrial sectors, it has now affected the most backward and protected sector, that of agriculture, which raises issues of control and not simply free trade measures. It is becoming habitual in the fields of science and technology, and in advertising and consumer attitudes. It is revealed in trade unions, which feel the need for unity at a European level, even though without a state framework they are unable to achieve more than the most moderate and precarious form of it. As a whole it has reinforced European society to such an extent as to change economic relations radically, and to change, at least partially, the balance of power between America and Europe, giving rudimentary substance to the idea of recuperating on a European scale the independence that was lost by the nation-states. In short, it has given rise to a strong diffused Europeanism.
At the level of political cadres, the situation of power in Europe and of actual European unity have generated organized Europeanism (Federalist movements and movements for European unity), and organizable Europeanism. The former is constituted, at least partly, of those people who have decided to concern themselves not with changing their own national government, but with the struggle for a European federation. The latter is constituted of those who wish to broaden the sphere of freedom and justice in national societies, but are unable to do so because the levers of change are European, not national. If they do not surrender to opportunism, and remain faithful to their values instead, these people can only hope to find a political outlet in federalism.
Taken as a whole, these attitudes constitute an immense potential force, which is partially expressed on the economic plane (where the Europe of the Common Market has acquired worldwide influence), but completely frustrated on the political plane (since Europe has remained impotent in comparison to Russia and America in international politics because of the lack of a European government). This supranational force exerts pressure against the power of the nation-states and against American supremacy, which in turn combine to impede the evolution of the supranational force, which can only become stable with the foundation of the European federation.
If this force could express itself through a federal European government, it would be sufficient to ensure that Europe constituted a third effective centre in the world balance of power. The world would no longer be an arena where two colossi, America and Russia, challenge each other in a power struggle, the present consequences of which are to make every point in the world an element of Russian or American security, to raise military cost in all countries, and to embitter all international relations. A third centre, sweeping aside the bilateral balance of power, would bring about a universal reduction in tension and military costs, and would reverse the course of world politics, by consolidating the universal aspiration for detente and for an end to the arms race. In particular, democratic unification with Eastern Europeans would be possible in a federated Europe, which was no longer divided in two by America and Russia, and which was capable of its own defence. In the international balance of power, socio-political factors would become more important, to the advantage of politicians that favour civil progress throughout the world, while militaristic and nationalistic elements would lose importance. Even the policy of the strongest states, America, Europe, and Russia, by being obliged to concentrate more on socio-economic issues, rather than on military ones, would end up having a fundamentally beneficial influence on Latin America, Africa and the Orient, pushing the new single-party democracies towards greater democratization, and communist experiments towards non-Stalinist forms. In short, the world’s progress towards the completion of the nationalist, democratic and socialist phase of history would be greatly speeded up, thereby creating the conditions for World federation.
However, the European supranational social force would not express itself only through government. Within Europe the impulse towards the centralization of federal power that is produced by foreign policy would, for a long time, be balanced by the centrifugal force of national traditions. This federal tension, and the culture which would be released by the superseding of nationalities (without their extinction), would give rise to globalist attitudes, which could be opposed to the government and its European limitations, and united with the similar attitudes which would emerge throughout the world. At this point the final phase of the federalist struggle would begin, the struggle for the world federal government.
5. The national governments of Western Europe are obliged to cooperate on a European level for the sake of holding on to power. By falsely presenting this collaboration as the construction of Europe, they put a bridle on the supranational social force, keeping it divided, impotent and lacking in consciousness.
Like any social force, the European supranational force – diffused Europeanism – cannot achieve its objective without autonomous political guidance, in other words without its own political avant-garde. As this avant-garde has not yet fully developed because of the division of organized Europeanism, diffused Europeanism is still completely under the control of national governments, in other words of those political forces which control and limit it. And under this control it remains divided, because national forces can only organize the population except separately, country by country; moreover it is impotent, because national forces cannot go beyond confederal objectives, hence leaving power and the struggle for power at the national level; finally, it lacks consciousness, because national forces form their power within countries and can only modify, but not supplant the national level, and hence impose a division of the world as a world of nations.
This does not depend simply on the people’s will, but on the structure of the political struggle. Normal political changes, whether to the advantage of workers, the entrepreneurial class, or various spiritual interests, are exclusively national, even if their stimulus is supranational or international, because the established framework within which it is possible to function, and the established power which can be won or influenced, are national. For this reason, typical political intervention, and the ordinary political process as a whole, only generate national responses, and contribute to the maintenance of power within the national context, to the maintainance of the nation-state. This general political stance is represented almost unanimously in the ruling class and in the political class, which both see national government as depending on them, and everything else as depending on others. After all, positions of influence or power are national. To maintain them, or at least not to put them at risk, it is necessary to maintain the national context, to impose the national culture, to continue to make people think that while every political standpoint can be discussed and altered (liberal, democratic, socialist, and even communist or fascist), there can be absolutely no questioning whether it is a good idea to remain politically and juridically German, French or Italian.
The fact that fundamental problems should alter the framework is not enough to change the functioning of the national political system. The governments of Europe, no longer able to defend themselves unaided, are collaborating in the fields of defence and foreign policy by means of ad hoc international organisms, such as NATO and the WEU. These governments moreover, since they are no longer able to maintain economic relations within their own borders, have abandoned traditional protectionist policy and created ad hoc bodies for international collaboration at various levels, from the International Monetary Fund to the more circumscribed ECSC, EURATOM and the EEC. In this way they effectively satisfy the need for European unity, as far as such unity is compatible with simple collaboration between countries and with the maintenance of political division. But this is not enough to give an effective solution to supranational problems, nor to keep the consent of the people. For this reason governments try to deceive the people, to make them believe that they are building Europe, that they are actively concerned with European unity, and that they are doing everything possible for its advancement. To this end they falsely present collaboration between countries as the process of the construction of real political unity, and the achievements of the national policy of European collaboration as evidence of progress in this construction, so as to appear to be realizing unification.
But there is no doubt that after all these years there has been no progress in the political field. The conflict between political parties, the parties themselves, and political power are as national as they have always been. Social unification is very far advanced, as we have seen, and is continually progressing. But the structure of political conflict has remained the same as before, without any change towards a more European dimension. There is no direct political struggle, no direct citizens’ intervention, no popular vote for the power to govern the European Coal and Steel Community, EURATOM or the Common Market. The man in the street, on whom political power normally depends, does not even know what these bodies are. And it could not be any different, since while he can vote for a national party and change the national government, he cannot vote for a European party, nor change a European government to the slightest extent. He cannot do anything to advance the political unity of Europe. It follows from this that he cannot become aware of the strength that he would gain by uniting with other Europeans.
Naturally the national policy of European co-operation cannot last for ever, for it is being constantly eroded, both from without and from within: from without by diffused Europeanism, which in the absence of a federal European government cannot achieve stability, and therefore cannot support national political forces. From within the erosion is occurring at the very foundations of the national forces, and its most visible manifestation is the increasing gulf between grassroots and leadership. The policy of co-operation between the national forces in Europe cannot in fact achieve democratic objectives, either in international, or social, policy, because such policies are directly controlled only by the national governments, which cannot serve as instruments to these ends, while national collaboration cannot govern Europe, which would in fact be the means to achieve them. This shows that the control of national governments over diffused Europeanism can be challenged and overcome.
6. Only a federalist avant-garde, with a policy of permanent opposition to states as exclusive communities, will be able to unify the supranational social force by freeing it from the Europeanism of national governments, to make it powerful and aware of its potential, and to lead it to the position of strength from whence it will be able to build the European federation.
National forces and parties have the effect of politically dividing diffused Europeanism, keeping it blind and powerless. It must be strengthened, unified and made aware of its objective and of how that objective is to be reached. How can this be done?
In continental Europe, the political process fetters every time problems of a European dimension arise, problems which national governments cannot solve or can only resolve inadequately. In these circumstances, if the cause of the inadequate or missing solution is held to be national, and a national alternative is proposed, not only is the cause of the problem not eliminated, but the political attitudes of Europeans are divided, separating them with country set against another. In contrast, political attitudes will be unified if the European dimension of the problems is recognized, the supranational factors are identified, and the alternative is arrived at not within the framework of one’s own government, but in the European Constituent Assembly. In this case, a single point of view, a single position (European opposition to national governments) and a single strategic objective (the European Constituent Assembly) are valid for the whole of Europe. Thus it is possible to get rid of the objectives and national positions which divide Europeans into warring camps. This way also strengthens the European position by bringing it into contact with the reality of politics, and by giving it the real prospect of being able to correct political action.
The difference between the former and the latter attitude is practical as well as theoretical. The former attitude deforms historical reality in a national direction, because it is restricted by a practical fact: the decision to act within the national sphere, the desire to maintain links with the national ruling class, an alliance with a certain national political force. On the other hand the latter attitude, which coincides with historical reality, can only be adopted if there exists the determination to put oneself resolutely outside the national context, to act independently of national forces and against the national power: in short, if one chooses, in the political struggle, a position of opposition to the community, if one is fully disposed to go not only against the government, not only against the regime, but also against the state as an exclusive community. There is no other way to build a united political front on a supranational level.
Thus the greatest possible number of activists must arrive at this position, so that by launching the right European message from many cities on every available occasion, they can challenge false national and confederal solutions every time that national political forces try to impose such solutions on public opinion within the field of diffused Europeanism. Initially, this policy can be undertaken only by those who have decided to occupy themselves exclusively with the European problem, i.e. only in the sphere of organized Europeanism. In fact, this policy has surfaced, however imperfectly, in the MFE. However, this is a policy which is bound to expand. It is the only one that can (albeit gradually) thrust organized Europeanism into the struggle while keeping it united, the only one therefore that can begin to give strength to its political stance, and that can allow it to exercise increasing influence on organizable Europeanism, on people who want to eliminate the evils of national society but have not yet realized that this can only be done at the European level (which basically relates to people who feel personally affected by the contradiction between values and reality). In substance it is the policy which can unify organized and organizable Europeanism, and which can bring all authentically progressive energies to the political platform of opposition to the community and the demand for constituent power for the European Federal people.
This policy would cause a true supranational political movement to come about. Through exercising an influence on the diffused Europeanism of public opinion, it would acquire its own weight in the political balance of power, and introduce the European component which is missing from the current political situation. The gap between the increasingly supranational character of society, and the national policies of governments and the national ruling class, is destined to increase. The supranational movement could therefore easily shift many energies from the national camps to the European camp, drawing them away from the historically false alternatives which are formed within the state between right and left, liberalism and socialism, fascism and communism. At a certain stage in the development of the supranational force, a balance of power would be formed between its federalist influence and the confederal influence of the national governments. The “federator” would finally be face to face with nationalism in its ultimate expression: the confederalism of national governments and parties.
At this point, the first sizeable European difficulty to arise in an important nation-state, France or Germany for example, would give rise to a decisive crisis. It is clear that the Federation cannot be made without taking power away from the nation-states, in other words without a power struggle. In such an event, the supranational movement, by transferring energies from the national, to the European field, would easily be able to bring the historic crisis facing the nation-states and their power onto European terrain. This would be the last in a long series of crises for national political democracy, which can be exploited, in the absence of a European alternative, only by authoritarian forces (in the final analysis only by fascism or communism). When the crisis breaks, the national democratic forces will lose their control of power, and thus also any influence over diffused Europeanism. Diffused Europeanism, that is the majority of the population, should finally be detached completely from its national guides, and entirely open to the supranational movement, which will be able to give it a consciousness and unity through the slogans “European federal power”, and “Constituent Assembly.” It is beyond doubt that this position would gather many more people than authoritarian positions, fascist or communist. At this point it cannot be said with certainty whether the Constituent Assembly, which will rebuild the power that has been lost to the nation-states, will be legal, i.e. convoked by the national parliaments themselves, or revolutionary. That will depend on the seriousness of the power struggle and on the capacity or incapacity of national forces to maintain control of the army and the police, using the cover of the European Constituent Assembly.
7. The organization of this struggle for a future power in a hereto unestablished framework, that of Europe, requires a supranational movement and supranational action which involves all interests and supranational sentiments in the construction and reinforcement of Europe’s political framework, in order to prevent sheer inertia from restricting Europeans within the orbit of the national powers and to make national powers converge on European terrain.
Let us consider the possible forms of organization for the policy of opposition to the community and the demand for recognition of the constituent power of the European people. The forces of organized Europeanism and organizable Europeanism must be progressively enlisted without ever reaching a stabilisation point: this means forming a Movement, not a party. Such energies must be unified on the supranational level: this means making a supranational Movement which can never participate in national elections, since otherwise it risks being split up into national rumps. Where necessary, indeed, it must sabotage national elections. Contact must be established at more than a superficial level between the action of activists and the ideas and attitudes of the population: this means making the local sections into centres for arousing public opinion and centres of a new political culture. The Movement must be given the capacity to gather the whole population at the crucial moment: this means building a visible European entity to negotiate with the national governments, one which is capable of standing firm at critical moments. The life of the sections and of the European centre must be assured without having to rely on any form of national power: this means that the European centre and the day-to-day activity of the sections must be self-financing. And finally there must be an incentive that effectively channels the energies of organized, organizable and diffused Europeanism into these instruments of action.
In the present state of affairs the incentives to act politically (from subscribing ideologically to a political force to outright activism) are exclusively national. Only in the national field can political results be obtained. In national politics, interests and achievements, propaganda and action, coincide. Changing citizens’ opinions is all that is required to change the number of votes for each party and hence the national balance of power and the behaviour of the government. The context in which the parties operate (the nation-state) automatically makes the simplest form of propaganda for a political idea coincide with the action needed to give it power. But the political struggle for federalism and Europe is taking place in a hitherto unestablished framework, in a sphere where a balance of power does not yet exist: in other words, the means do not yet exist for translating an increase among supporters of the European cause into an increase in the power to promote it. As a result activists make sacrifices in vain, and propaganda addresses a void, which is dissociated from real political action, from the achievement of political results. This situation can only be overcome through ad hoc action, which highlights the European people and their constituent power, and brings the European political context to life as a psychological reality in the minds of those people who, in whatever ways, participate in this action.
Naturally this comprehensive action must not exclude any other federalist actions, but on the contrary should utilize them all, in their necessary diversity, so as to adapt to the reality of Europe. In the present situation the various federalist initiatives count for little because they remain ends in themselves. They would, on the other hand, reinforce each other if it were possible to link them together, and to make each one a contributory factor to strengthen the European sphere of political struggle and the visibility of the federator. To obtain this goal, comprehensive action must have the following characteristics: a) it must be carried out by Europeans themselves, guided by federalists; b) it must suggest to the people of Europe that the popular struggle for Europe has started and is gaining momentum; c) it must progress without halts or interruptions in space and time, in such a way as to make the strengthening of the framework, and of the power to make Europe, depend on Europeans themselves and on all people of good will prepared to join the federalist ranks. Commitment and results, propaganda and action, and in the final analysis work and increased strength, must be made to coincide. Only in this way can the available forces be progressively channeled into the supranational Movement, that is to say the energies of organized, organizable and diffused Europeanism.
The most basic form of comprehensive action is the Voluntary Census of the European Federal People. Its means are: a) subscribing to the European federation by signing a form, the forms being counted until a majority is reached, at least in the Europe of the Six founding members, and payment of a fee by subscribers in order to finance the campaign; b) those involved in the census must take a political stand on the initiative of the federalists, on official campaign forms, on every occasion in which the nation-states demonstrate their inability to resolve political problems of European dimensions.
Regarding the launch and effectiveness of this campaign, one must bear in mind that the MFE (even only a part of it) is strong enough to obtain about a million signatures in a year, and thus to overcome this, period of inertia. On the basis of this number of signatures, the following forecast becomes legitimate. In every corner of Europe people are talking about Europe because of the very force of events. In the places where the campaign is carried out, every person who speaks about Europe will also speak of campaign (What is this Voluntary Census of the European People? Does it serve any useful purpose?). Such people would speak of the campaign’s goal – a majority in favour of the federation – as of an undertaking whose success depends on each individual. The campaign would always be slightly more advanced in people’s minds than in actual achievement: the difference would consist of the fact that those who are aware of it can push it forward by joining it themselves, or by encouraging their acquaintances to join it, and so on. In this way the campaign would recruit all European good will and bring about, (through the presence of federalists in all cities and their integration with the population) real centres for arousing public opinion and for political culture.
At a certain stage in its development, comprehensive action, while continuing in its basic form to extend the supranational Movement everywhere, will enable us to relaunch the European People’s Congress and to give it an exclusively federalist representation. By stimulating existing groups to act and by creating new groups, comprehensive action will give us the possibility to hold elections for the EPC within a reasonably short time in about a hundred cities and on the same day. In these elections we will focus on the problem of the political union of Europe, thus exploiting a situation in which the citizens feel the need for European unification, but the national governments are unable to provide it. On achieving this, we will certainly bring about a great movement of opinion, a real European power. And on that day, the struggle will finally begin for real between those who want Europe and those who do not, which will be highlighted by the critical choice between a Constituent Assembly and maintaining the absolute sovereignty of the nation-states: there will be no more comfortable subterfuges which currently enable people to support the cause of Europe in words alone.
* This document was written by Mario Albertini as a contribution to the debate (begun at the supranational MFE Congress, held at Lyons in February 1962) on the nature of the organization, the struggle of the Movement and instruments of action. The Draft Manifesto was proposed as an alternative to the Draft Charter, which was inspired by the thinking of Alexandre Marc and drawn up by the “Charter Commission”. The Draft Manifesto constituted the theoretical and practical basis for the life of the MFE for many years afterwards and, despite changes in perspective, analysis and action resulting from historico-political developments, it remains today, in many aspects, a valid instrument for reflecting on the identity and role of the federalist avant-garde.