The Schuman Declaration was presented by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950. It proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, whose members would pool coal and steel production.

The ECSC (founding members: France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) was the first of a series of supranational European institutions that would ultimately become today's "European Union".

Historical context

In 1950, the nations of Europe were still struggling to overcome the devastation wrought by World War II, which had ended 5 years earlier.

Determined to prevent another such terrible war, European governments concluded that pooling coal and steel production would – in the words of the Declaration – make war between historic rivals France and Germany "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible".

It was thought – correctly – that merging of economic interests would help raise standards of living and be the first step towards a more united Europe. Membership of the ECSC was open to other countries.

Schuman Declaration 

World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.

The contribution which an organized and living Europe can bring to civilization is indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations. In taking upon herself for more than 20 years the role of champion of a united Europe, France has always had as her essential aim the service of peace. A united Europe was not achieved and we had war.

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.

With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point.

It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe. The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible. The setting up of this powerful productive unit, open to all countries willing to take part and bound ultimately to provide all the member countries with the basic elements of industrial production on the same terms, will lay a true foundation for their economic unification.

This production will be offered to the world as a whole without distinction or exception, with the aim of contributing to raising living standards and to promoting peaceful achievements. With increased resources Europe will be able to pursue the achievement of one of its essential tasks, namely, the development of the African continent. In this way, there will be realised simply and speedily that fusion of interest which is indispensable to the establishment of a common economic system; it may be the leaven from which may grow a wider and deeper community between countries long opposed to one another by sanguinary divisions.

By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.

To promote the realization of the objectives defined, the French Government is ready to open negotiations on the following bases.

The task with which this common High Authority will be charged will be that of securing in the shortest possible time the modernization of production and the improvement of its quality; the supply of coal and steel on identical terms to the French and German markets, as well as to the markets of other member countries; the development in common of exports to other countries; the equalization and improvement of the living conditions of workers in these industries.

To achieve these objectives, starting from the very different conditions in which the production of member countries is at present situated, it is proposed that certain transitional measures should be instituted, such as the application of a production and investment plan, the establishment of compensating machinery for equating prices, and the creation of a restructuring fund to facilitate the rationalization of production. The movement of coal and steel between member countries will immediately be freed from all customs duty, and will not be affected by differential transport rates. Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more rational distribution of production at the highest level of productivity.

In contrast to international cartels, which tend to impose restrictive practices on distribution and the exploitation of national markets, and to maintain high profits, the organization will ensure the fusion of markets and the expansion of production.

The essential principles and undertakings defined above will be the subject of a treaty signed between the States and submitted for the ratification of their parliaments. The negotiations required to settle details of applications will be undertaken with the help of an arbitrator appointed by common agreement. He will be entrusted with the task of seeing that the agreements reached conform with the principles laid down, and, in the event of a deadlock, he will decide what solution is to be adopted.

The common High Authority entrusted with the management of the scheme will be composed of independent persons appointed by the governments, giving equal representation. A chairman will be chosen by common agreement between the governments. The Authority's decisions will be enforceable in France, Germany and other member countries. Appropriate measures will be provided for means of appeal against the decisions of the Authority.

From 15 to 22 September 1946, militant federalists from 14 European countries met in Hertenstein, Switzerland, with a view to adopting a common declaration laying the foundations for a European organisation of federalists, which became the Union of European Federalists (UEF) on 15 and 16 December 1946.


  1. A European community built on a federal basis is a necessary and essential part of any real world union. component of any real world union.
  2. In accordance with the federalist principles, which demand democratic construction from the bottom up, the the European community of nations should itself settle any disputes that may arise between its members. should itself settle any disputes that may arise between its members.
  3. The European Union shall integrate itself into the United Nations Organisation and shall constitute a regional body within the meaning of Article 52 of the Charter.
  4. The members of the European Union shall transfer part of their economic, political and military sovereignty to the United Nations. military sovereignty to the federation they have formed.
  5. The European Union shall be open to accession by all peoples of a European character who recognise its fundamental laws.
  6. The European Union shall define the rights and duties of its citizens in the Declaration of European Citizens' Rights.
  7. This Declaration is based on respect for man in his responsibility towards the various communities to which he belongs. to the various communities to which he belongs.
  8. The European Union shall ensure that reconstruction is carried out according to plan and that economic, social and cultural cooperation and cultural cooperation, and that technical progress is used only in the service of mankind. mankind.
  9. The European Union is directed against no one and renounces all power politics, but also refuses to be a tool of any foreign power. but it also refuses to be an instrument of any foreign power.
  10. Within the framework of the European Union, regional sub-unions, based on free agreement, are permissible and even desirable.
  11. Only the European Union will be in a position to guarantee the integrity of the territory and the preservation of of all its peoples, large and small.
  12. By proving that it can resolve its own destiny in the spirit of federalism, Europe shall Europe should make its contribution to reconstruction and to a world union of peoples.

September 1946


Das Hertensteiner Programm (21. September 1946)

  1. Eine auf föderativer Grundlage errichtete europäische Gemeinschaft ist ein notwendiger und wesentlicher Bestandteil jeder wirklichen Weltunion.
  2. Entsprechend den föderalistischen Grundsätzen, die den demokratischen Aufbau von unten nach oben verlange, soll die europäische Völkergemeinschaft die Streitigkeiten, die zwischen ihren Mitgliedern entstehen könnten, selbst schlichten.
  3. Die Europäische Union fügt sich in die Organisation der Vereinten Nationen ein und bildet eine regionale Körperschaft im Sinne des Art. 52 der Charta.
  4. Die Mitglieder der Europäischen Union übertragen einen Teil ihrer wirtschaftlichen, politischen und militärischen Souveränitätsrechte an die von ihnen gebildete Föderation.
  5. Die europäische Union steht allen Völkern europäischer Wesensart, die ihre Grundgesetze anerkennen, zum Beitritt offen.
  6. Die europäische Union setzt die Rechte und Pflichten ihrer Bürger in der Erklärung der Europäischen Bürgerrechte fest.
  7. Diese Erklärung beruht auf der Achtung vor dem Menschen in seiner Verantwortung gegenüber den verschiedenen Gemeinschaften, denen er angehört.
  8. Die europäische Union sorgt für den planmäßigen Wiederaufbau u. für die wirtschaftliche, soziale und kulturelle Zusammenarbeit sowie dafür, daß der technische Fortschritt nur im Dienste der Menschheit verwendet wird.
  9. Die Europäische Union richtet sich gegen niemanden und verzichtet auf jede Machtpolitik, lehnt es aber auch ab, Werkzeug irgend einer fremden Macht zu sein.
  10. Im Rahmen der Europäischen Union sind regionale Unterverbände, die auf freier Übereinkunft beruhen,
    zulässig und sogar wünschenswert.
  11. Nur die Europäische Union wird in der Lage sein, die Unversehrtheit des Gebietes und die Bewahrung der Eigenheit aller ihrer Völker, großer wie kleiner, zu sichern.
  12. Durch den Beweis, daß es seine Schicksalsfragen im Geiste des Föderalismus selbst lösen kann, soll Europa seinen Beitrag zum Wiederaufbau und zu einem Weltbund der Völker leisten.

September 1946

Source: LINK

First pubblication: The Federalist, A political Review, Essay, Year XLVI, 2004, Number 1, Page 12, LINK

After the First World War, during the 1920s, a European current of thought arose from the inability of organising the European states and people according to an international natural order suited to the unity and diversity of Europe.
In the 1930s an original federalist orientation developed in response to the inability to establish a society that could meet the needs of the Twentieth Century and safeguard Europeans from the proletarian and totalitarian scourges. This new movement was inspired, particularly in France, by the Proudhonian and libertarian traditions of the labour movement and personalist thought. The Italian Francesco Nitti was well aware that “Clemenceau’s peace with Wilson’s methods” was “the worst imaginable”. Another Italian, the liberal Luigi Einaudi, who later became President of the Republic after the fall of Fascism, had already criticised the League of Nations and its projects back in 1918. His arguments were strangely similar to those used later in 1935 by Lord Lothian. The latter’s work on pacifism tackled, in the face of increasing dangers, the failure of the Geneva enterprise.

The European idealism of the 1920s and 1930s was notably marked by an extraordinary character, Count Richard Coudenove-Kalergi, a brilliant cosmopolitan aristocrat who founded the Pan-European movement in Vienna in 1923. Some of the most distinguished personalities of the political and literary world during the “Roaring Twenties” joined his efforts. Among them: Edouard Herriot, Léon Blum, Eleuthatios Venizelos, Paul Claudel, Paul Valéry, Miguel de Unanumo, Edouard Bénès, Francesco Nitti.

Aristide Briand’s assertion, made in Geneva on the 5th of September 1929 in the name of the French government, may be seen as the height of europeist verbalism of this era. During a sensational speech he urged Europeans to develop “a sort of federal bond… without interfering with the sovereignty of any nation that may form a part of such an association”.

Alexis Léger, the then general secretary of the Quai d’Orsay, better known as one of the greatest contemporary poets under the name of Saint John Perse, wrote a memorandum on the organisation of a Federal European Union regime, presented to the League of Nations. However, since 1931 the proposition became bogged down in the procedure. Elsewhere, Nazism was making meteoric progress in Germany, resulting in Adolph Hitler coming to power on the 20th of January 1933, whilst the consequences of the Wall Street Crash on the 24th of October 1929 questioned the certainties upon which our bourgeois and liberal society had until that point been based.
In France, equally, this same decade was the juncture of the first truly “global” federalist awareness prior to the Second World War. By this I am referring obviously to the Ordre Nouveau movement, steeped in Personalist Philosophy, with Arnaud Dandieu, Denis de Rougemont, Alexandre Marc; a whole generation haunted by the idea of a crisis of civilisation, worried about the ensuing war. Certainly, Ordre Nouveau called for a new Europe, but it also required federalism within the economic and social relations. The group’s opposition was global, it was closely akin to the thoughts of the early resistants to Hitlerism in Germany, like Harro Schulze-Boysen, in Great Britain, to the worries of the “New Britain” movement organisers, etc.Was it still possible to “remake Europe” in the early part of the decisive decade that was the 1930s? The young intellectuals of Ordre Nouveau in vain took on the false democracies as well as their totalitarian offshoots. They declared that “Paneuropa and the League of Nations” were nothing but different expression of the same idealist pipe dream. Their protest is a valuable testimony, despite not being able to stop the inescapable course of events. It was the European regime that, in fact, found itself brutally called into question by the disastrous collapse of the international order established by the Treaty of Versailles,[1] of Trianon[2] and of Saint Germain,[3] during 1919/1920, first in March 1938 by the Anschluss and later the Sudetes affair, and in the same year the Dantzig corridor affair, which lead to the Second World War in September 1939.

From War to Post-War

What was the profound significance of the monstrous events that marked the Second World War and caused the death of 38 million civilians and soldiers?
This significance, in our sense, is the triumph over the carcasses of dictators representing the totalitarian Nazi and fascist ideologies, of two dominant ideologies totally opposing one another in terms of their notions of man and society, but who tried to unite in order to rule the world and at the same time divide it in two different zones of influence.

Stalin symbolised the first and Roosevelt the second, because he was convinced, as Wilson before him, on the subject of the League of Nations, that by placing the universe under the control of that peaceful organisation, the “United Nations”, the relationship with the communist world could once again be amicable. At the Teheran conference in December 1943, it was agreed that Germany ought to be dismembered. In Yalta in January 1945, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin devised the plan to build a new world society, according to the aspirations of the systems they conflictingly embodied. In their declaration about Europe, the three “Greats” affirmed their supremacy.
Though victorious, these ideologies were unable to organise the universe in their own image. Europe was thus divided between regimes more and more Stalinist to the East and liberally structured societies to the West. Soon, what came to be known as the “iron curtain” guarded by the soviet army would isolate Central and Eastern Europe from the rest of the old continent and, beyond that, from the “free world” until the beginning of the 1990s.

ventotene 3 - UEF

The Resistance

From 1941, while Hitler’s Germany took over practically the whole of Europe, some clearly envisaged the rapidly disenchanted future that was to follow the Second World War if, once freed from the yoke they were under, the Europeans did not succeed in solving their problems within a framework that was to be neither that of national sovereignties nor that of the alliances.

In Italy, it was the anti-fascists, such as Altiero Spinelli, future founder and leader of the Movimento Federalista Europeo, a once communist militant, given a custodial sentence at the age of 20, in 1927, and Ernesto Rossi, mathematician, ex editor of the cultural publication L’Astrolabio, who decided to begin action for the European federation, even prior to the liberation of the south of the peninsula. Their Manifesto was circulated since June 1941, from the small island of Ventotene, in the Gulf of Gaete, where Mussolini’s regime had imprisoned them, and in the main Italian cities, notably in Milan and Rome. It was in Ventotene, in fact, that Spinelli was exposed to the American federalist experience, whilst reading Hamilton, and that a long intellectual journey led him to challenge Marxism. The Ventotene manifesto advocated the organisation of post-war Europe on this new basis: democracy must blossom into a federation. Those who wanted to reinstate the Europe of the national sovereignties, whether their political complexion be “right” or “left,” would henceforth be seen as “conservatives”; those who instead went beyond the illusion of national sovereignty would be seen as “progressive”.

The Dutch writer and federalist Henri Brugmans, first rector of the Collège européen of Bruges, who furthermore opposed the constitutionalist vision of Europe as suggested by Altiero Spinelli, wrote as much in his work on European unity by saying that the Ventotene prisoners’ Manifesto was “without a doubt the most well reasoned document, for this era, in our field”.

The authors of the Manifesto were men of action who since the liberation of southern Italy had been in touch with the antifascist partisans, who were fighting the forces of Mussolini. They also influenced the clandestine movements in the north of Italy. Notably, Ernesto Rossi endeavoured to accomplish this mission in Switzerland.
It was during May 1943 that the first issue of the clandestine Italian publication L’Unità europea was published in Rome. The editor was a young journalist, Guglielmo Usellini, who for many years was the General Secretary of the European Union of Federalists, based in rue de l’Arcade in the Parisian quarter of Place de la Madeleine.

On the 27th , 28th and 29th of August 1943, the different federalist groups within Italy met in Milan to co-ordinate their activities and establish the basis for the Movimento Federalista Europeo. The first official conference was in Venice in October of 1946.

In France, the European post-war idea extricated little by little its federalist hopes from the Resistance.
On the French territory, it was especially under the impetus of Henri Frenay, who led the Combat movement during the Resistance, and who subsequently became the Minister for prisoners of war and later the president of the European Union of Federalists, that European ideas began to be expressed in the form of clandestine lampoons, with Alexandre Marc, Albert Camus and others.

An officer by profession, involved in the most dramatic underground events, on the 12th December 1943 Henri Frenay wrote in the clandestine journal Combat: “the men of the French resistance are reaching out to men of other nations. Together they want to rebuild their country and then Europe… European resistance will be the cement of future unions… The governments of today must remember this: it is the people who will impose the necessary unions…

Another clandestine journal Libération Zone-Sud of the 10th of January 1943, noted, for its part, and in this spirit, that it was necessary to build a post-war Europe “on the limitations of the national sovereignties, on a federation of nations” and the Lyons regional programme of the Mouvement de Libération Nationale declared that: “a Society of nations conceived as a League of sovereign States is inevitably an illusion, we intend to fight for the establishment of a European, democratic federation, open to all nations…

If at the time and during the Resistance the aspiration towards Europe was simply a matter for a few, the German historian Walter Lipgens still believes they are responsible for the fact that, on three occasions, the European federation is cited as being the objective of the war in the French clandestine press.
In his work L’idée européenne[4] Henri Brugmans makes some interesting points regarding the situation in the Netherlands. In particular he quotes the case of a financial manager of Prussian origin, Dr H.D. Salinger who worked closely with the “illegal” Dutch group Je maintiendrai, who studied the problem of a destroyed Germany following the world war. Under the pseudonym “Hades”, he drafted a project called Die Wiedergeburt von Europa which circulated clandestinely. Salinger imagined a Europe made up of integrated regional groups structured within a federal framework. Following the war he was one of the creators of L’action européenne néederlandaise.

In Great Britain, federalist and European ideas continued to be manifest, despite the war. They found an echo in a group like the “New Commonwealth Society” and especially within the “Federal Union” movement founded in the 1930s. The role of the Federal Union was to be important, as we will see, in the gestation of the European and World federalist movement at the end of the war.

We must still mention the European aspirations that animated a number of Germans in the Resistance. Henri Brugmans quotes Karl-Friedrich Goerdeler, ex burgomaster of Leipzig, who would have been chancellor if the assassination attempt on Hitler on the 20th of July 1944 had been successful. Goerdeler had foreseen the constitution of a European federation. Captured in western Prussia on the 12th of August 1944 he died from hanging at the hands of the Nazis.

For his part, Eugen Kogon, who was one of the first to be imprisoned in the concentration camps, was to be a determining factor in the constitution of the European Union of Federalists in post-war Germany. He was to be the first president of the Europa-Union Deutschland. Finally, we are more familiar with the story of Hans and Sophie Scholl, and that of some students of the University of Munich who set up, with their Professor Huber, the clandestine group Die weisse Rose. Prior to being arrested and decapitated in February 1943, in one of their leaflets they launched an appeal to the constitution of a Federal Germany within a federalised Europe, so that “Prussian militarism should never again come to power”.

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The First International Meetings

The first international meetings of the European members of the resistance from Norway, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, but also from Poland and Czechoslovakia took place in Geneva during the months of March, April, May and July 1944.

K.F. Goerdeler, who has already been mentioned, was among those present who had come to discuss projects secretly on the shores of Lake Leman. At the time war was raging in Western Europe since the allied Normandy landings in June: France had not been set free and northern Italy was under Hitler’s army.
Geneva saw the first truly “European” manifesto that stemmed from the war. The European manifesto of Ventotene was due, in actual fact, to some Italian federalists. The manifesto of European resistance that claimed “the creation of a federal union between European people” came from Europeans from a number of different nationalities, even though it had been strongly influenced by the Ventotene manifesto. Thus, the different countries around the world were urged to “go beyond the dogma of absolute sovereignty of the states”. So, it was asserted that only a federal union would allow “the German people to adopt a European lifestyle without it being a danger to others”: only one federal Union would allow “to resolve border problems in the areas of mixed population, and these would also cease to be the object of crazy nationalistic desires”. “Only a federal Union would favour the safeguarding of democratic institutions in Europe and the economic rebuilding of the continent”.

In order to do this the federal Union should eventually consist of:
1) “a government answerable to the people of the different member states”, to “be able to exercise a direct jurisdiction within the limits of its powers”;
2) an army under its command;
3) a supreme court to deal with questions relating to the interpretation of the federal constitution.

Moreover, in March 1945, at a time when the death throes of the 3rd Reich were beginning, since the latter was to surrender on the 8th of May, the first international conference of European federalists took place in Paris on the initiative of the Comité français pour la fédération européenne originating from the Resistance. The conference was possible after the retreat of the German army from the occupied territories. Between the 22nd and the 24th of March, this committee presented itself as “the first rallying centre for democratic and socialist forces with a view to a common federalist action”. It brought together different types of people, such as the writer Albert Camus who made the opening speech, Altiero Spinelli, John Hynd the Labour Member of Parliament, etc.

For this committee the European federation was but a first step towards a worldwide federation: it was to allow the solution of the German problem in the same spirit as it had animated the resistance of the left against Nazism and in opposition to “all antagonistic blocs”.

ventotene1 - UEF

Integral Federalism

Nevertheless, we would be far from accounting for the complexity of reality if we did not highlight an attempt of another kind, which took shape in France in October 1944, and strongly contributed to the development of the federalist movements of this country. This attempt was made by a group of former teachers, impregnated with doctrines from the Tour du Pin social Catholicism on the one side and Proudhonian communalism on the other. At first, set up as Centre d’études institutionelles pour l’organisation de la société française - La Fédération, this group was not concerned with the European perspective. It was not until 1945 and especially in 1946 that this perspective took its place in the debates and the publications of La Fédération. Originally it was mainly concerned with establishing a social order in France based on the profession, the profession-based trade unionism, and the community. In short, a doctrine that was close in certain aspects to the concerns of the survivors of the publication Ordre Nuveau, which, in the 1930s, had given rise to a wave of new ideas: federalist Personalism.

The first brochure published by La Fédération, “France, Terre des libertés” already developed, against Jacobinical centralisation, the perspectives of what was soon to be called “Internal Federalism”, to distinguish it from “European Federalism” or “Internationalism”. Finally, we must remember concurrently to this endeavour, again in France, the birth of a movement of socialist ideas, having a federalist and communitarian orientation. It was a resistance group, under the name of Mouvement national révolutionnaire (MNR), which brought together socialist trade unionists and ex communist or libertarian militants, from January 1945, with an avant-garde publication called Cahiers de la République moderne. This socialist and federalist movement denounced the “political power of the trusts” as well as the nationalisations — in fact the state ownership — of some important enterprises of the time, and called for the creation of a federal Europe as a “third power” against the USSR and the United States of America

The essential characteristic of these two groups, La Fédération and La République Moderne, inspired by the integral federalist ideas of Alexandre Marc, even though one was clearly “right wing” and the other “left wing”, was that they were “federalists before being Europeans”. Therefore, in the eyes of their leaders, Europe was not so much an aim as a framework objective for a new society. Right from the beginning the main federalist movements in France were therefore as much sensitive to the disorder of the democratic and social institutions that they witnessed around them, as they were to the disorder of the relations between the sovereign states on an international level. At the same time as being fertile ground for federalist action, this French feature was no doubt to become an additional element of complexity, as men and movements would have to shift from ideas to realisations and action.

It was in France, in Wallonia and in Switzerland that the ideas of this federalist movement were therefore developed immediately after the Second World War. It was at this time that the Réflections sur la violence by Georges Sorel were re-published. It was then that Alexandre Marc circulated his chosen Proudhon texts. The work of the Swiss writer Adolf Gasser on the “communal autonomy” had their biggest success in Paris, while the writer Jean-François Gravier denounced the wrongdoings of the centralising state in a very widely read book, Paris et le désert français. New ideas about enterprise began to form everywhere. In the face of the models offered by the traditional capitalist enterprises or by the state enterprise, the movement Communauté circulated in France essays on the achievement of work communities that existed here and there at an experimental stage. On the 31st of August and 1st of September 1946, a Community conference was held in Paris. The ideas developed were close to those of the Italian movement Comunità founded by the great Italian industrialist, Adriano Olivetti.

So, within the institutional and ideological chaos of the post-war years, while the soviet Stalinist threat was progressively taking over from the Hitlerite and fascist totalitarianisms, France — and of course it is not the only case! — may seem like a huge field of experiences, where many proved to be ephemeral anyway, but all of which maintained that they were foreshadowing the “society of tomorrow”.
In the same way, everywhere in the free Europe of the time, those who were contemplating ways to build an international, European, regional, community or enterprise society, that would safeguard the freedom of men, were trying to act and reassemble.

When suddenly, on the 19th of September 1946, Winston Churchill’s historical speech rang out: “Europeans! We must build a kind of United States of Europe!” a stunned world learned that the great Victorian conservative who had been one of the most uncompromising adversaries of Hitlerite Germany, was calling the Europeans to revolution!

Junge Europaische Foderalisten 1953 in Paris – in Deutschland wurde die Europa Union 1946 gegrundet picture alliance akg images - UEF

From Zurich to Montreux (1946 -1947)

In fact, it was with such a force that the man, who personified the British wish of not giving in to the Hitlerite enterprise during the Second World War, said almost prophetically, when observing the desolate scene of Europe: “Among the victors there is a Babel of jarring voices; among the vanquished the sullen silence of despair. That is all that Europeans, grouped in so many ancient States and nations… have got. …Yet all the while there is a remedy which, if it were generally and spontaneously adopted, would as if by a miracle transform the whole scene, and would in a few years make all Europe, or the greater part of it, as free and as happy as Switzerland is today… We must build a sort of ‘United States of Europe’… There is already a natural grouping in the Western Hemisphere. We British have our own Commonwealth of Nations. These do not weaken, on the contrary they strengthen, the world organisation… And why should there not be a European group which could give a sense of enlarged patriotism and common citizenship to the distracted peoples of this turbulent and mighty continent?...
“In order that this should be accomplished, there must be an act of faith… I am now going to say something that will astonish you: the first step in the re-creation of the European family must be a partnership between France and Germany… But I must give you warning. Time may be short. …The fighting has stopped; but the dangers have not stopped… If we are to form the United States of Europe, or whatever name or form it may take, we must begin now… We must re-create the European family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe. The first step is to form a Council of Europe. If at first all the States of Europe are not willing or able to join the Union, we must nevertheless proceed to assemble and combine those who will and those who can… Therefore I say to you: Let Europe arise!

No doubt, the stir caused by this speech took nothing away from the merit of those who came before Churchill and, as we have already said, in almost all of Western Europe, certain initiatives had been taken prior to the end of war in this domain. Some would even say that having glamorously fixed a date in September 1946, since the beginning Churchill influenced the movement for European unity, furnishing it, willingly or unwillingly, with a conservative and unique colouring, even though in his Zurich speech he was careful to say that Great Britain and the British Commonwealth would be friends and “sponsors of the new Europe” without being a member of the “United States of Europe” in the same way as the countries of the continent.
No doubt, but we cannot deny that the Zurich speech acted as a detonator. The press everywhere echoed his words.

1951 Begegnung europaischer Jugend auf der Loreley 2 - UEF

From Hertenstein to the Creation of the Union of the European Federalists

At the same time, on the shores of the Lac des Quatre-cantons, in Hertenstein, federalist militants from fourteen European countries, met on the initiative of the Swiss Europa-Union (founded in 1934). The federalist meeting in Hertenstein was held from the 15th to the 22nd of September 1946. Its participants, often originating from the Resistance, had a precise objective: to form a true movement.
The future Union of European Federalists (UEF) stemmed from this first meeting. They adopted a common declaration, and it was to notably influence the constitution of the federalist movement in post-war Germany. The first statutes of the Europa-Union Deutschland, adopted in 1949, explicitly refer to the Hertenstein declaration as the “ideological base”. In twelve points this declaration laid the first foundation of a common perspective. In actual fact, it called for a European community based on the federalist principles. This community, seen as a constituent element of a World Union, had to have the essential attributes of sovereignty on a political, economic and military level.
The European federation conceived at Hertenstein underlined the need for legal regulations to govern social life. It recommended a European citizen’s charter based on the respect of human beings. Elsewhere the Hertenstein declaration stated that the European federation should be made up of regional sub-federations, and that it ought to guarantee the integrity of each member national community. It was in the post-second world war European literature that the phrase “European Community” was used a number of successive times within the declaration of intentions itself.

In Hertenstein they were obviously still thinking of a constitution for a global Europe and not of a Western Europe including Germany separated from central and Eastern Europe by an “iron curtain”. The regional sub-federations would thus respectively group the Latin, Germanic, Nordic, Anglo-Saxon and Slavonic countries.
Elsewhere, in September 1946, the United Nations that were organised since the beginning of that year were still adorned with all their prestige and it was not surprising that the Hertenstein federalists, referring particularly to article 52 of the UN charter, listed among their wishes the constitution of a world-wide Union. Some months afterwards, the UEF materialised its aspirations when it chose the motto “One Europe in a united world”.
The Hertenstein meeting was very strongly influenced by the Dutch and Swiss federalists. Among those present we find Henri Brugmans who, in December 1946, became the first president of the Union of European Federalists.
A month after the Hertenstein meeting, another federalist meeting was called in Luxemburg, spurred on this time by the British leaders of the movement “Federal Union” who had established contacts with the different French federalist groups, the young Movimento Federalista Europeo in Italy and the American association “United World Federalist”.

The meeting in Luxemburg, clearly oriented towards internationalism since it included not only European delegates but also Hindus, Americans and New Zealanders, succeeded in clarifying the organisational side of things. It was understood, in fact, that a European secretariat would come into being in Paris in December 1946, and that its objective was to be that of collating and co-ordinating the activities of movements in favour of a federalist Europe. An international secretariat would be set up in New York with the purpose of promoting the idea of a universal government.

Finally, it was actually in Paris on the 15th and 16th of December 1946 that the Union of European Federalists was officially set up. The meeting was held at the headquarters of the movement La fédération, 9 rue Auber in the Quartier de l’Opéra. First of all it gave the impression of huge diversity: even though the objective was that of constituting a Union of European federalists, many participants continued to give priority to world-wide federalism. Some of the groups represented were only interested in a federation of Europe, others thought above all about the organisation of a federalist society in Europe. Some referred gladly to the Anglo-Saxon conception of federalism. The others referred more to the libertarian and Proudhonian sources. Such an amalgamation would inevitably bring to the surface the doctrinal divergences and the political incomprehension, which, as the years went by, were to complicate the life of the movement.

At the meeting, under the presidency of Gaston Riou, author of a premonitory book published in 1928, entitled Europe ma patrie, some unanimous decisions were made confirming the definitive constitution of the UEF (with a statute in accordance with Helvetian legislation), by making the headquarters in Switzerland (Palais Wilson in Geneva) setting up the secretariat in Paris, and giving the responsibility for the latter to Alexandre Marc, who also became, with Henri Brugmans as president, the first general secretary of the UEF. When the delegates parted company in the freezing streets of Paris in that month of December 1946, the first post-war European expectations had at last been crystallised.

In 1947, this expectation was defined even more. On the 4th of March, the French government had signed a treaty of alliance with Great Britain, in which they more or less acknowledged that the aim was to avoid the rebirth of a possible “German danger”, but this attitude soon changed over the following months, since one after another the European countries controlled by the soviet army were forced, whether they liked it or not, to submit to communist or pseudo-socialist governments, under the thumb of Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile the United Nations Organisation, torn between the contradictory influences of the Kremlin and the White House, far from going in the direction of an international government, gave off the first signs of powerlessness.

The decisive turning point was in Harvard on the 5th of June 1947,with the sensational speech made by general Marshall, American secretary of state, when he offered the whole of Europe, in the name of the United States, “unprecedented financial help”, free assistance that would be decisive to prevent Europe from “exposing itself to an economic, social and political breakdown”.

On the 15th of July sixteen Western European countries accepted the principle of this American assistance, and in order to divide more than 12 million dollars in aid in four years, they decided to set up a committee of economic cooperation that began effectively on the 16th of April 1948, as the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC which became known as OECD in 1960).

Stalin’s USSR refused America’s offer. Better still, it decided to counteract what it called “economic imperialism” with a more complete and a quicker takeover by its partisans of Eastern European countries. In September 1947, it created the Kominform, a sort of new Komintern on the scale of a post-second world war Europe. The choice the Europeans had to make in these circumstances marked the beginning of the great European divide. Within the scope of economic cooperation created by the Marshall plan, the forces favourable to the unity of a free Europe and to democracy were to expand rapidly in addressing the different sectors of public opinion.

phoca thumb l 1954 Manifestazione a Ponte San Luigi 042412 - UEF

The European Movements

A crop of European movements was to manifest itself, in fact, among which, two important tendencies were to quickly affirm themselves: the unionists and the federalists.
The Unionists, that is to say the partisans of a European Union in the wider sense of the word, followed close behind Winston Churchill who, on the 14th of May 1947, instigated the creation in London of the United Europe Movement, at a meeting held at the Albert Hall. He subsequently became its president. To begin with we must link this movement with the independent League for economic cooperation, later known as “ Ligue Européenne de Coopération Economique”. Created by Paul Van Zeeland, ex Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, this league, consisting entirely of liberal bankers and industrialists, assumed the statute as an international association with a scientific goal. The league subsequently played an important role at the heart of the European movement as a laboratory for economic and monetary studies, and still does to this day.
Also in London, the socialists, on their part, established the Movement for the Socialist United States of Europe (the future Socialist Movement for the United States of Europe), which still exists today under the name of “European Left”. Its first president was Bob Edwards who was also president of the Independent Labour Party. The majority of its first leaders belonged to the left of the Labour Party, and the same goes for the Socialist SFIO Party in France, but within the party one could also find key Belgian, Dutch and Spanish figures. The radical orientation of the early days was to change, progressively, especially under the influence of Paul-Henry Spaak.
In June 1947 the European Christian Democrats, for their part, created their common organisation during a meeting near Liege, under the name of Nouvelles Equipes Internationales. The statute of the NEI (known as Union Européenne des démocrates chrétiens after 1965) defined their aims as follows: “to establish regular contact between political groups and key figures of the different nations inspired by the principles of Christian democracy, in order to study, in the light of these principles, the respective national situation as well as the international problems; to compare experiences and programmes, etc.”. Among its precise objectives, the NEI placed great importance on the need for a European Political Community.
Lastly, in Gstaad, on the 1st of September 1947, Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, returned in 1946 from the United States where he had been taking refuge during the war, presented a project for a European constitution, drawn up by the Paneuropean movement whose Legal Affairs Committee was based in New York from 1943 to 1945. He influenced the preparation of Churchill’s September 1946 speech in Zurich. He also gave rise to the creation of a “European Parliamentary Union”, destined, we are told by Anne-Marie Saint Gille in her excellent book on ‘Paneurope’[5] “to act as a prelude to a true parliamentary assembly”.

1952 UEF meeting - UEF

The UEF Founding Congress: Montreux

When the federalists were planning their first European congress in Montreux, due to take place from the 27th to the 31st of August 1947, the young “Union of European Federalists” boasted about thirty member associations in Great Britain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

The UEF congress succeeded the constitutional congress of the “Universal Movement for the World Confederation”, born in the same Swiss town, which became the “Universal Movement for a World Federation, World association of World Federalists”. Two hundred delegates and observers from sixteen nationalities attended the UEF Congress. It carried the hallmark of the integral federalist doctrine professed by Denis de Rougemont, Henri Brugmans and Alexandre Marc. The general political motion of the Montreux Congress was very strongly influenced by Denis de Rougemont’s report on “federalist attitude”. It is a masterly text where the federalist is considered to be “at the same time free and committed”, as “a person” and not as an unspecified and therefore abstract human being. Taking inspiration from Switzerland’s example, Denis de Rougemont lists the principles of federalism, as he perceived them: a) renouncement of all hegemony; b) renouncement of all esprit de système; c) safeguarding of minorities; d) preservation of the qualities of each federated entity; e) “Love of complexity”.
A federation, he said, is formed gradually thanks to people and groups and not starting from a centre or from governments.

The general political motion of Montreux saw in the “federalist idea” a “dynamic principle that transforms all human activities… Solution of synthesis, it is made up of two inextricably linked elements: organic solidarity and freedom. In other words, the blossoming of the human being thanks to its everyday life in the community… Starting from the principles of federalism we have just listed, it is immediately possible to take the path of a supranational European organisation. The gravity of the situation in which Europe finds itself requires a federal realisation where it can be tempted…” The federation thus “initiated must remain open to all (European) peoples, even to those who at present, for internal or external reasons, cannot participate… We must reduce the absolute sovereignty. A part of this sovereignty must be attributed to a federal authority… that possesses essentially: a) a responsible government; b) a supreme Court; c) an armed police force.

In the economic policy motion of Montreux, there is the clear influence of Alexandre Marc’s ideas: “all centralised and totalitarian organisation of the economy, it stated, is totally incompatible with the fundamental objectives of federalis…, all economic organisations must be based on the radical decentralisation of economic powers on all levels… and must plan new structures especially in the areas of currency and credit, etc.”.

The texts adopted at Montreux in 1947 were, elsewhere, precursory texts on two points:
1) “the application of these measures in Germany, enabling the use of its industrial potential and its natural resources for the profit of the whole of Europe, of which Germany is a part. The Sarre and the Ruhr must be primers of economic cooperation for the benefit of all Europeans.” This was the idea that inspired Jean Monnet when he advocated the institution of the European Coal and Steel Community.
2) a number of passages from the Montreux resolution in favour of “the Economic Federation of Europe” that would try to organise men and governments, starting in 1957, with the Rome Treaty of European Economic Community and then, in 1986, with the Single European Act.

Finally, to conclude the chapter on the first European congress and the post-war years, it must be specified that it was in Montreux in 1947, that the Germans and the Austrians took part for the first time since the end of the Third Reich, and on equal footing with other Europeans, in a democratically convened International Congress.

1948 Hague Congress 7 10 may 1948 1 - UEF

From The Hague Congress to the Council of Europe (1948/49)

On the eve of 1948, the federalists were not the only ones to develop a European plan of action. They certainly had a doctrine and they represented an original movement, non-conformist by nature, but the traditional political powers were present from then on, set on rebuilding a democracy in their image.
The 24th and 25th of February 1948 saw the fall of the Czech president, the democrat Edouard Bénès, and his replacement by the communist Clement Gottwald. This removed the last possible hopes for creating a geographically united Europe and of a UNO that would bring about international peace.
The climate therefore was that of the cold war. On the 17th of March 1948, the Brussels treaty signed by France, Great Britain, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg was a defensive pact between states that felt threatened. Moreover, the latter thee countries were linked by a common customs union: Benelux.
In July 1948, finally, the soviet powers began the blockade of Berlin, provoking extreme international tension. To put it simply, one could say that for the Unionists, acting generally under the inspiration of the British, a “United Europe” was seen as a natural slogan that would incite a political coalition in the face of soviet danger. This sizeable union was to enable the federalists to go much further towards a real unity of the peoples of the free countries of the old continent. Momentarily, however, they were both on the same route.

The struggle for European unity was, in actual fact, marked in 1948 by an extremely significant event. It was the invitation to The Hague between the 7th and the 11th of May, of true “States General of Europe” who were effectively to bring about a series of initiatives. Below are the ones we consider to be the most important ones: on a militant level, the European Movement and, on an official level, the Council of Europe.
The initiative of this spectacular demonstration came from a very recent “Coordination Committee of Movements for European Unity”, established on the 11th of November 1947 between existing European movements, including therefore the Union of European Federalists. Only the “Movement for a Socialist United States of Europe” thought the enterprise too “Churchill-like”, or too conservative, and preferred to remain on the fringe.
The official name of the Le Haye Congress was “Congress of Europe”. It was the federalists who spoke about “States General”, since the politicians and the militants of the European cause were not the only delegates, but found themselves with representatives of the forces vives which reflected the true social, economic and cultural face of European society at the time.

Federal pact 1949 - UEF

The Ridderzaal Debates

The presidency of the Congress naturally fell upon Winston Churchill, a figurehead of official Europeanism since his Zurich speech in 1946. Duncan Sandys, son-in-law of Churchill and Joseph Retinger, another “Churchillite” figure, were in charge of the effective organisation of the Congress. It was to boast 750 delegates and observers, 200 of which were members of parliament, and an astonishing number were former and future ministers or other key figures. Among them I will mention Konrad Adenauer, former burgomaster of Cologne and president of the German Christian Democratic union; Lord Belisha, former British minister; Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan, former ministers and future Prime Ministers; Edouard Daladier, former president of the Council of Ministres who together with Neville Chamberlain was responsible for the ephemeral Munich agreement with Hitler; Edgar Faure, future President of the Council of Ministers; Professor Hallstein, director of education at the University of Frankfurt; François Mitterand then minister for war veterans; the great Italian entrepreneur Adriano Olivetti; Dr Pilet Golaz, former president of the Helvetian Confederation; Paul Ramadier and Paul Reynaud, former presidents of the Council of Ministers; Paul Van Zeeland, former Prime Minister. Among the committed intellectuals and militants, the names to remember are Henri Brugmans, Denis de Rougemont, Salvador de Madariaga and Alexandre Marc, who played a very active role in the Congress, as well as figures such as Raymond and Robert Aron; Luciano Bolis; Richard Coudenhove Kalergi; Gregoire Gafenco, ex Rumanian foreign affairs minister, future president of the UEF. Also important are: Aldo Garosci; Enzo Giacchero, future president of the UEF; Claude-Marcel Hytte, editor of the publication La république moderne; Miss Josephy (“Jo” to her friends), colourful and very active president of the Federal Union European Committee; Henri Koch, then joint general secretary from Luxembourg of the UEF; Altiero Spinelli and his wife Ursula (also a delegate); Raymond Rifflet (Belgian), future president of the European Federalist Movement and of the European Left; Ernesto Rossi, Ernst von Schenck, a figurehead within European federalism in German speaking Switzerland at the time; the writer Ignazio Silone; Guglielmo Usellini, future general secretary of the UEF; André Voisin, general secretary of the French movement La Fédération; etc.

The setting for the debates was the medieval hall of knights of the Netherlands (Ridderzaal) seat of the Dutch parliament. Those who, like me, there as a special correspondent for a French daily paper, witnessed the opening session of this Congress will always remember the sight… Churchill presided over the meeting from a rostrum embellished with a crimson and gold velvet canopy, in the presence of Princess Juliana who was to be crowned queen of the Netherlands a few moths later and her husband Prince Bernard, in the gothic hall adorned with a huge flag with a red “E” on a white background, the universal symbol of European movements of the time. It is impossible to relate the main events that marked this historical meeting lasting almost four days. I have devoted many pages to this in a book.[6] To return to the matter in hand, the integral federalist trend tried to assert itself in Ridderzaal, by supporting the unionist militants who supported the workers’ unions participating in the management of the economy and the establishment of a European social and economic Council against the supporters of the Liberal school. Equally, at The Hague, the establishment of a Supreme Court of Justice was advocated. A “Message to the Europeans” issued by Denis de Rougemont during the closing session highlighted the main objectives followed at the time by the federalist thinkers: European Human Rights Chart; Court of Justice; European Assembly where the “forces vives” (today we would call it “civil society”) would be represented. Lastly, the partisans of federalism saw above all the fulfilment of their more long-term objectives, and the partisans of “United Europe” received immediate satisfaction. As far as the political conclusions of the Congress are concerned, they ensued from a double premise: on the one hand, it had been stated that any European Union project would have no practical value without Great Britain (it was the main motive for a 144 member strong British delegation) and, on the other, that complete unification of Europe could only be reached progressively.

In order to reach the objectives, it was necessary to establish an “extraordinary Council of Europe”. European governments would only be able to take part in the activities of the Council of Europe by signing a common declaration of human rights. An independent European court would be created. It would have the right to inspect political proceedings and national elections. A European mixed armed force could be set up in order to re-establish the law. A deliberating European Assembly would be founded. It would not have a legislative function, but it would offer enlightened advice, its members would be nominated from within and outside the national parliaments. Subsequently they would be allowed to be elected. The federalists for their part saw that they could make some further elaborated plans in order to provide for a common citizenship, European armed forces, a true elected parliament, etc.

This mountain of good intentions was in fact brought about by the Council of Europe. One thing is certain: the European infatuation of The Hague Congress was extraordinary. Henri Brugmans wrote on this subject: “What we have been missing ever since then is the feeling of enthusiasm and fervour that reigned in May 1948… never again was the European movement to experience such vigour, such a desire to succee.”[7]

The Birth of the European Movement

The period that followed the May 1948 Congress saw above all a reinforcement of European action. Voluntarily absent from the Le Haye Congress, on account of the predominant role played by Churchill, the heads of the Movement for a Socialist United States of Europe could no longer ignore the repercussions of the “Congress of Europe”, and decided to adhere to the “Coordination Committee of the European Unity Movements”, whose president was none other than Churchill’s own son-in-law: the “very honourable” Duncan Sandys. In the autumn of 1948, this committee (“Joint committee”) became the “European Movement”, under the honorary presidency of Blum, Churchill and De Gasperi. The founder movements continued all the while to play an essential part wherever action was possible.
One consequence of the constitution of the European Movement was that it called into question the principles of the existence of an autonomous federalist European movement. In any case, the problem was addressed at the UEF Rome Congress (Rome, Palazzo Venezia 7th to 11th November 1948). Finally the Congress reaffirmed the autonomy and the unity of the UEF. Henri Frenay, one of the French resistance leaders, was given the task of maintaining this unity and this autonomy. He became the president of the central committee and Henri Brugmans was president of the executive committee. The resolution on the European assembly adopted by the second UEF congress in Rome, stated specifically: “the need for a Representative European Assembly to be called urgently” destined to “prepare the constitution for a federate Europe”. This same Rome Congress was also involved in a pilot study for the European constitution devised by Alexandre Marc, with the collaboration of the federalist writer/historian Bernard Voyenne and the Belgian academic Jean Buchmann.

The Birth of the Council of Europe

On the 5th of May 1949 a treaty signed in London established the statute of the Council of Europe. It therefore only took another year before the first official decisions were made following the declarations of The Hague Congress of 7-11 May 1948.That is to say that the genesis of the Council of Europe was particularly quick thanks to an exceptionally favourable climate.

On the 18th of August 1948, the international committee for the coordination of European Unity movements submitted a memorandum about the results of The Hague congress to the five member states of the Brussels Treaty. During the preliminary phase, there were two opposing arguments: the French/Belgian argument about the European assembly’s driving force, the British argument that favoured the superiority of the Council of Ministers. The historian Pierre Duclos wrote the following in his work on the “Council of Europe” published in Paris in the collection Que sais-je? in 1960: “Everything was sorted out because on the 27th and 28th of January 1949 it was decided that a Council of Europe should be established. It would consist of a ministerial committee meeting in private. There would also be an advisory body and its meetings would be public”.
In fact, it was the most minimalist interpretation of the outcome of the Hague Congress that prevailed under British pressure, in exchange for a concession made to their continental partners, especially the French: the choice of Strasburg, capital of Alsace, as the seat of the Council of Europe.

Such was the reality but, in many respects, here was a paradox, because the political unity of Europe had well and truly become a topical theme. The free countries of Europe were regaining confidence, the first beneficial effects of the Marshall aid were starting to be felt, whilst, on the 4th of August 1949, Washington signed the Atlantic Pact and thus in the name of defence linked the destiny of western Europe with that of North America. It was therefore within this warm atmosphere that on the 10th of August of the same year the inaugural meeting of the Advisory Board of the Council of Europe took place in Strasburg. There were ten founder countries: the five signatories of the Brussels treaty (France, Great Britain and the Benelux countries) who had taken the initiative, and Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and Italy. Soon they were to be joined by Greece, Turkey, Iceland, and among others, the Federal German Republic in 1951.

As soon as the UEF had time to reflect on the birth of the Council of Europe, that is to say, on the Treaty of London, it set about airing its critical views. In particular the UEF attacked the rule of unanimity within the Council of Ministers, the limitation on the topics the assembly had the right to discuss, and its lack of any real power. The UEF central committee therefore asked the most “federalist” members of parliament, who were to sit in Strasburg, to ensure that the Assembly deemed it necessary for the free nations of Europe to sign a true federal pact.
Now, in 1949, the influence of the young Union of European Federalists was by no means insignificant. Notably, it was at the heart of the creation of a “Permanent committee for European municipalities and regions” of the interuniversity federalist union presided over by Michel Mouskhely, professor at the University of Strasburg. In Italy the Movimento Federalista Europeo from then on grouped together all the organised federalists of the peninsula and controlled the Italian European movement itself. The same situation tended to occur in Germany with the Europa-Union Deutschland, and in Belgium where the federalists animated pretty much all the constituent groups of the European Movement.

Above all, the federalists endeavoured, though knowing the limits of their attempt, to draw the best party possible from the Council of Europe, once the Advisory Assembly had organised its debates. The Members of Parliament influenced by the federalists were, in fact, numerous within the Strasburg assembly. The most important amendment of the whole of the first meeting was that of Ronald MacKay, British Labour Member of Parliament, and partisan of federalism. Henceforth, according to this amendment, the advisory assembly saw as its aim and its objective the establishment of a European political authority “with limited functions but real power”. This amendment, which became a recommendation of the Assembly, was voted for with no abstentions by 88 votes to 0, on the 4th of September 1949. Although it was adopted under the most favourable conditions, it was still promptly laid aside by the Council of Ministers, thus confirming that the worries the federalists had regarding the Strasburg institution were unfortunately well founded!

Nevertheless, the federalists brought to Strasburg the fight for the establishment of a European Court of Justice. It was their one and only tangible success of this period.[8] In actual fact, the principle of the Court of Justice undermined the principle of absolute sovereignty of the states, since from then on individuals and communities could refer to it for any implication of rights guaranteed by the Council of Europe.
Despite this limited success the UEF was the first among European movements of the time to be convinced of the powerlessness of the Council of Europe to overcome obstacles in the way of the European federation. In order to get out of the impasse it was in, the UEF tried a number of different ways. It began a campaign in favour of the European Assembly to be elected by universal suffrage; it called for a simple majority vote within the Council of Ministers, which, moreover, was to become a Chamber of the States.
At the end of October 1949, a UEF extraordinary general meeting took place in Paris to ask that the Assembly of the Council of Europe draft the text for a federal pact, during its next meeting, creating a European authority.

1950: The turning point

After a long and arduous struggle, on the 20th and 21st of January 1950 in London, the UEF was able to ensure that the International Executive Committee of the European Movement, always with a strong British influence, came round, at last, to the federal pact. The condition however was the distinction of the two possible geographical areas of European unity and two different degrees of cooperation and integration: certain countries (like Great Britain or the Scandinavian States) were manifestly undecided on the step to be taken, be it small, towards the transfer of sovereignty. Wherever they were active, the federalists tried to affect public opinion, together with the Movement for the Socialist United States of Europe and the Nouvelles équipes internationales (Christian Democrats) in support of the federal pact. Notably in France, Germany and Italy they conducted in-depth popular activity. In Italy the project was even approved by the Italian parliament and signed by prestigious figures such as Alcide De Gasperi and Count Sforza, President of the Council and Foreign affairs Minister of the Republic of Italy respectively.
To further widen their claims, the federalists also decided to organise a meeting in Strasburg of militants, political figures and representatives of the European “forces vives”, very close to the Official Council of Europe Assembly. They gave their unofficial meeting the name of European Council of Vigilance or Council of the Peoples of Europe. Its objective was to force the members of Parliament within the Advisory Assembly to face up to their responsibilities. Henri Frenay presided over the International Organising Committee.
The European Council of Vigilance met on the 21st to the 24th of September 1950, and then on the 29th of November 1950 in the large Orangerie Hall in Strasburg. It deemed it necessary for the Democratic States of Europe, who wished to do so, to sign a treaty calling a European Constituent Assembly as soon as possible, to draft a Federal Union Pact. This appeal, though undersigned by some important figures, did not have the desired success. On the 13th of November 1950, the British Labour Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ernest Davies, had also officially let it be known that His Majesty’s government was opposed to all amendments of the Treaty of London.
Between the Ridderzaal and the Orangerie, the hopes riding on the Council of Europe were already dwindling… From then on the centre of gravity of the European Union lay elsewhere: in the gestation of an integrated Europe stemming from six states, initiated by the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The last phase of this disintegration of any perspective of developing the Council of Europe into a political Europe was attained on the 11th of December 1951, when Paul-Henri Spaak decided to step down as president of the Advisory Assembly in a moment described as “reasoned indignation”.
The Labour Party in power in Great Britain at the time condemned any idea of a supranational assembly, being of the opinion that it would be “anti-socialist or non socialist”. Moreover, it accused the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe of having played the part of a sort of unofficial opposition to certain European governments, including the United Kingdom. For their part, the conservatives showed more and more caution with regards to European projects. The British president of the European Movement International Executive, Sir Duncan Sandys, tendered his resignation. He was a member of the Conservative Party.

Robert Schuman’s Statement

Within this rather disappointing context, Robert Schuman’s statement of the 9th of May 1950 marked a decisive turning point in the politics of European Unification.
Jean Monnet, who had inspired the European Coal and Steel Community project, politically run by the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, himself had nothing of the traditional politician. Sixty years old at the time, this little known self-taught person was the great inspiration behind the first community projects. Commissaire général au Plan in France, it is true that he had subsequently been Joint General Secretary of the SDN, banker, councillor of a number of governments, and a de Gaulle government member in Algiers. He was efficient, discrete and methodical. He was to leave his mark, from 1950 and for many years, on the creation of Europe. It is therefore correct to say that if the driving force behind the post-war European ideal was the federalist movement, since 1950 Jean Monnet was a key figure in the history of the unification of Europe. “What we need, had stated the UEF Montreux Congress in 1947, is to create the nucleus of the coal and heavy industry authorities in Europe”. This idea was revisited in one of the numerous recommendations of the Strasburg Advisory Assembly to the Council of Ministers. It took shape thanks to Robert Schuman, man of frontiers, German-born French Foreign Minister, who witnessed the virtual standstill of the Council of Europe. But the idea of a European Coal and Steel Community began to take shape thanks to Jean Monnet and his team. The content of the speech of the 9th of May 1950, that was at the origin of the treaty of Paris, is widely known. In the prologue it was said that the ECSC would be “the first step towards European federation”, thus fixing the foreign policy objective of the founder countries who accepted the principle of a supranational common High Authority for coal and steel.
In any case, the federalists saw the Monnet-Schuman initiative as the most daring of European actions presented by governments since the war. They thought that for the first time the principles of the sacrosanct national sovereignty were being undermined at a governmental level. In fact, the partisans of European unity did not fail to notice that an effective control over coal and steel would quickly mean the same European control in other areas. It would require, in other words in this time of extreme international tension between the democratic and the communist worlds,[9] the organisation of a Defence Community and European political institutions along the same supranational principles.
In fact, the Korean conflict lead Washington to ask the question about the participation of the Federal German Republic in western defence, and that of the reconstitution of a national German army, at the time feared within European circles, especially in France. This is why the partisans of Europe generally welcomed or at any rate resigned themselves to the declaration of the French government on the 24th of October 1950. It advocated the creation of an integrated European army, allowing the participation of Germans to Western defence, without rebuilding a German administration system. During the drafting of the treaty that was to establish the EDC, the Union of European Federalists endeavoured to play a role in accordance with its reservations, underlining the need to reach a supranational or federal political power, without which there would not be a “European” army as such. Thanks to the actions of its leaders, notably its chief representative, Altiero Spinelli, acting through the intermediary of the Italian Socialist Member of Parliament Ivan Matteo Lombardo, an article was introduced into the treaty of the European Defence Community signed on the 27th of May 1952. Article 38 stated that the Assembly controlling the European army was to propose “a further federal or confederal structure, based on the principle of the separation of powers and comprising in particular a bicameral representative system”.

The Turning Years: 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954

The negotiations for the signature of the treaty establishing the ECSC took place swiftly. The treaty was signed in Paris by France, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Benelux countries on the 18th of April 1951. The parliaments of the six states concerned ratified it without too many difficulties during the winter of 1951-1952 and the spring of 1952, thus enabling the “Europe” in the making to quickly have its first limited but real institutional framework.
“Little Europe” was born boasting 160 million inhabitants. Its first “capital” was Luxemburg where in August 1952 Jean Monnet and the High Authority took residence and where he assumed the role of president at the outset. “Within the limits of competence bestowed upon it by thetreaty, —declared Jean Monnet on the 10th of August, to celebrate the establishment of the new institution — the High Authority… has direct dealings with the enterprises. It obtains financial resources, not from State contributions, but from direct levies set up on the productions it is responsible for. It is responsible, not to the States, but to a European assembly. The Assembly was elected by national parliaments, and it is foreseen that it may even be elected directly by the people… The Assembly controls our actions. It has the power to give us a vote of no confidence. It is the first European Assembly to have sovereign powers.”
So, Jean Monnet voluntarily insisted on the most federalist aspects of the structures set up by the first European community. On the 10th of September 1952 the ECSC Assembly met for the first time in Strasburg and, significantly, the parliamentary personalities most in the public eye at the time were present. The first debates showed that the main merit of the Monnet-Schuman plan was not so much in the solution proposed, but in the problems that it brought to the surface, at least in order to ensure a proper functioning of the new community. It very quickly became apparent that the ECSC must become a part of a wider European unity so as to ensure that its role was not reduced to that of a “technical authority”.
During 1952, “Europe” therefore seemed truly within arm’s reach. First of all, Paul-Henri Spaak having abandoned the presidency of the Council of Europe Assembly turned towards public opinion and chose the direction of the International European Movement. He did this with total support from the federalists who, for their part, controlled a sizeable part of the militant organisations within the six countries, while the Council of European Municipalities expanded rapidly. A vast European Youth Campaign was also developing with tens of thousands of young people meeting at the Lorelei Camp on the banks of the Rhine. The UEF meanwhile carried out specific activities concerning war veterans and the regional press.
During the UEF Congress in March 1952, in Aix-la-Chapelle, under the leadership of Adenauer, the watchwords of a Federated Europe, of a Supranational Political Community, of a union between France and Germany kept converging. Rightly so, no doubt, since in the history of governments, as in that of men, there are specific moments for the advancement of a cause.
In April 1952, Paul-Henri Spaak, inspired by the federalists, gave rise to the creation of an “Action Committee for a European Constituent Assembly”. This later became the “Action Committee for a Supranational Community” and the president of the UEF executive committee, Henri Frenay, was its general secretary. This committee was involved in a number of actions, notably within the Council of Europe assembly. The latter, at last, required the governments of the States involved in the EDC project to give an “ad hoc assembly” the task of drafting a political community statute. The French and Italian members of the Action Committee, headed by the federalists Frenay and Spinelli, had the task of contacting the leaders of the French members of the ECSC Council of Ministers and the Italian government. Finally, on the 23rd of July 1952 a Franco-Italian governmental proposition was officially submitted. It planned to confer the ECSC general assembly the task of managing a project of a European political authority.
During this period the federalists carried a lot of weight in the European preparations by the member governments of the first European community. The latter decided, on the 10th of September 1952, during their meeting in Strasburg, to bestow upon the members of the Community Assembly a pre-constituent role. The Franco-Italian proposition, which had become a government directive, held that the project of a European community policy treaty ought to be drafted within a period of six months and consequently submitted to the governments on the 10th of March 1953.

The ad hoc Assembly

The assembly charged with this elaboration, legally separate from that of the ECSC, was named “ad hoc Assembly”. In practical terms, it appointed a constitutional commission created from within, to prepare the Political Community project. In total there were twenty-three full members. The eminent Belgian jurist Fernand Dehousse, vice-president of the UEF, maintained an effective link with the small federalist staff headed by Henri Frenay and Altiero Spinelli.
The constitutional commission of the ad hoc Assembly found itself involved in a project headed by a constitutional commission of the European Movement made up essentially of jurists, among whom Professor Carl Fredrich and Robert Bowie of the University of Harvard, and eminent European jurists such as Professor Georges Scelle, Hans Nawiasky and Calamendrei, joined by federalist figures like Spaak, Frenay and Spinelli.
There was therefore a perfect chain of initiatives that enabled the constitutional commission of the ad hoc Assembly to succeed, on the 26th of February 1953, in adopting a project that would establish a Supranational Political Community.[10] Even though it had foreseen the support of a Council of national Ministers voting unanimously in certain essential cases, this could be seen as a decisive step towards a European federation. In fact, the PSC project established a bicameral system: one Chamber to represent the people, elected by direct universal suffrage, a second Chamber consisting of senators elected by the national parliaments; a European Executive Council, consisting of a president elected by the senate and members elected by the president, who could be censured by the Senate or the People’s Chamber. The PSC project also included a Court of Justice and an Economic and Social Council. Lastly, it was foreseen that the EPC would progressively absorb the EDC and the ECSC, establish a generalised common market and co-ordinate foreign policies.
On the 9th of March 1953 Paul-Henri Spaak, President of the ad hoc assembly, handed over the treaty project that was to establish the European Political Community to Georges Bidault, president of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The Belgian statesman recalled George Washington, President of the American Convention, who at the Congress on the 17th of September 1787 presented the project regarding the Constitution of the United States of America. However, Georges Bidault was not in favour of federalism as was Robert Schuman and his response was disconcerting… Recalling the homage that Elisabeth I of England had made to the founders of the empire, he quoted the famous proposal: “Greetings to those in search of adventure!” But, Mr Bidault added, “We must ensure that governments now look at the difficulties… They must now also look carefully at each of the documents submitted and then take stock.” It was therefore obvious that it was to be they who would establish the final project. No precise commitment was made!
The last “high mass” of the partisans of the post-second world war supranational Community, was organised by the federalists, friends of Paul-Henri Spaak and Robert Schuman from the 8th to the 10th of October in The Hague.
So, the pioneers of European Unity and notably those amongst them — still numerous — who had attended the first Congress of Europe in 1948 in The Hague, could now, returning to the Ridderzaal of the Dutch parliament five years later, measure the progress. It was the eve of decisive options, be they concerning the Defence Community or the Political Community projects. They were experiencing the autumn of the great European hope of the post-second world war period.
The Dutch submitted a special report on the need to establish a common market among the “six”. The Congress requested that over the following ten years, the member States of the ECSC set up a single customs territory. They were also to coordinate effectively the budgetary, financial, monetary policies, to harmonise social policies, to set up a common policy on investments, regional policies, etc. Within these themes we see the driving principles that inspired the drafting of the EEC treaty, since — after the Messina conference in June 1955 — the ex-president of the Action Committee for the supranational Community and the second Congress of Europe, Paul-Henri Spaak accepted the task of managing negotiations that would lead to the signing, and then the ratification, of the Rome treaties.
The 1953 congress participants wished to see the realisation of the vow made in the same Ridderzaal in May 1948: “the time has come for the nations of Europe, to transfer some of their sovereign rights in order to be able to exercise them together henceforth”. The delegates therefore asked the militants, Altiero Spinelli and Henri Frenay, responsible for “calling for the second Congress of Europe”, to affirm “the steadfastness of their designs where the continuity of their actions could be seen”. The second Congress of The Hague was a beautiful show of unanimity with a federalist “flame” in its speeches, of unfortunately premature optimism with regard to the chances of ratification of the EDC and the establishment of a Political Community.
There never has been, in fact, a final Supranational Political Community project… The European Defence Community Treaty was ratified in Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands, but before Italy expressed itself, it was rejected by the French national assembly on the 30th of August 1954, in conditions unworthy of a responsible country.[11] The same French national assembly had, in fact, approved the principle of the EDC on the 19th of February 1952, in the same parliamentary legislature. One could devote a whole study on this failure and especially on the responsibilities of Pierre Mendes-France, then president of the Council of Ministers.
It is important to remember that, legally, the Political Community project depended on the fate of the EDC treaty itself. This having been rejected, article 38, which represented the legal basis of the process that the ad hoc Assembly had taken, was therefore annulled as well. The hour of the European federation had passed, for a long time.
The year 1953, that preceded the failure of the EDC, had otherwise seen a profound change in the course of events with the death of Stalin and “peaceful coexistence” succeeding “the cold war”. No doubt, the change in the international climate that followed still does not explain everything in this affair. The ratification of the EDC treaty had come too late, and French politics had taken a turn profiting to those we now would call “souverainistes”. Be that as it may, on the 30th of August 1954, the European construction witnessed a major crisis that also shook the Atlantic Alliance.
Since the end of the summer of 1954, the diplomats therefore began their search for an “alternative solution” that could satisfy at least Washington, London and Paris and be acceptable to the Federal German Republic. To this end they created the Western European Union (WEU) where the only law making body was a Council of Ministers, and the decisions unanimous. The treaty permitted Germany to rearm as wished for by the United States, but stripped of all supranationality. This was confirmed by a resigned majority. Its only apparent advantage was that it would unite the countries of the first European Community with the United Kingdom in a palpable manner, but it was no longer a question of a Supranational Europe.
At the end of 1954, the militants of Europe found themselves in totally different circumstances from the previous years. Only the ECSC still emerged from the ruins and the dreams, nevertheless showing by its existence that “little Europe” was not completely shipwrecked. But this new turn of events momentarily affected the dawning European construction with precariousness. “In actual fact, wrote Henri Brugmans, the vote of the 30th of August requires a nuovo corso. One period in the struggle for Europe has ended: another one begins.”
At the end of the Europa-Union Deutschland congress held in Hamburg at the end of October 1954, the leader of this organisation at the time underlined: “We are not despairing at the failure of the EDC, but we will not be told that with the WEU we had found a new European solution. ‘European’ for us federalists this means… that the solution found in Paris was not ours.”
At a meeting in Rome on the 5th of December 1954, the Movimento Federalista Europeo went even further (I quote): “The MFE is determined to act in Italy, within the UEF, to ensure that federalists everywhere become promoters of a particular propaganda. That is to say that they should convince the public that our national States can no longer justify their people obeying their laws and their government acts with regard to foreign, military and economic policies...”
It was around themes such as these that the great debate opened, and that European federalists became divided on the action to take. This debate resulted first of all in the split of the Union of European Federalists in 1956. Their common home could not withstand the test and it took until the 1970s, with the congress that took place in April 1973 in Brussels, for the unity to be reformed, spurred on by Etienne Hirsch, friend of Jean Monnet and former president of Euratom.
On the 9th of November 1954, for his part, the “inspiring” Jean Monnet, had elsewhere announced that at the end of his office he would not be standing for presidency of the ECSC High Authority. In his letter of resignation, that he read publicly, Monnet declared; “it is in order to participate with total freedom of action and of speech to the establishment of the European Union… that I will take this freedom on the 10th of February”. In fact, on the 13th of October 1955, the “inspirer” courageously gathered around him the most aptly representative political and unionist figures from the six countries, in the “Action Committee for the United States of Europe”. He said “this is in order to ensure that the resolution of Messina of the 2nd of June of the same year is a new stage towards the United States of Europe”. It was in fact in Messina that the six foreign affairs ministers decided to pick up where the European integration had left off on the 30th of June 1954 by suggesting that the new course should encompass the whole economy.

1955 Europese Jeudweek Middelburg - UEF

From the Messina Re-launch to a European Community: End of the 50s, Beginning of the 60s

In the face of this up and down turn of events, within the European Union of Federalists, the most radical tendency, behind Altiero Spinelli, was that of Alexandre Marc and Michel Mouskhely, eminent professor of constitutional law at the University of Strasburg. Their theses were explained in a manifesto published under the title “Struggle for the European people”. This team, which was later to bring about the “Congress of the European people”, included men known for their attachment to different but profound “federalist sources”: Hamilton and Proudhon, to simplify.

What united them for some years in the same strategy were common opinions linked to one analysis of current circumstances. What was the unusual subject of this strategy? It was the “European People”! What was the role of the federalists to be?

It was to become the avant-garde of these people that the ancien régime had tried to keep in a limbo. Condemning verbal Europeanism, the signatories of the manifesto stated that they wanted to attempt the endeavour of a Congress of the European People foreshadowing a federal Europe, just like Ghandi’s Congress in India had, for many years, embodied the principal expression of a will for independence and unity. The Congress of the European People would therefore be a forum to facilitate the development of an effort starting from the grassroots. The delegates would be elected through primary elections, on the blue print of the primary elections in America. This congress was to demand, more and more strongly, that the construction of Europe become a matter for the Europeans themselves, through the intervention of an elected Constituent Assembly.

Such watchwords, by their ambition, could either discourage or seduce: in any case they foresaw a militant mobilisation without precedent in a Europe that, it has to be said, was only possible during periods of extreme crisis.
Now, the serious crisis begun by the failure of the EDC on the 30th of April 1954 was relatively short-lived. Less than a year after this failure, the re-launch decided upon in Messina was to succeed with the treaties of Rome on the 23rd of March 1957, establishing a “European Atomic Energy Community” (EURATOM) and a “European Economic Community”.

On the 1st of January 1958, the treaties of Rome came into effect after undisturbed parliamentary ratifications. The Commissions of the new Communities settled in Brussels and Robert Schuman presided over the European Parliamentary assembly in Strasburg. The ECSC was no longer isolated in Luxemburg; the European Community was now a new reality in new domains. In brief, the course of history and of European integration, interrupted for a while, gave the impression of having picked up its natural pace again.
Ironically, it was those federalist circles who had at first been the most reserved towards this “European re-launch”, who didn’t think their economic and political intentions were being served by sufficiently strong institutions, who benefited in their campaigns from the undeniably favourable psychological and political European climate that surrounded the signature and the ratification of the Rome treaties.

Many federalists dreamt of adopting this extra political spirit that the new economic Europe needed thanks to the original and motivating experience of the European People’s Congress. In a number of regions of the Federal German Republic, Belgium, France and Italy, where Altiero Spinelli had the largest base, but not forgetting Austria and the town of Geneva, federalist militants organised primary elections inspired by those that had taken place in the United States. The objective of these elections was that of appointing delegates who would constitute a European People’s Congress to represent a new democratic legitimacy, pending the European elections provided for by the community treaties, but which effectively did not take place until June 1979.

The delegates, armed with cahiers de doléances, expressed the reasons why their towns and regions hoped for the creation of a federal Europe. On the other hand, the congress had to approve a constituent treaty, and their action could have resulted in the competent authorities taking it into consideration.
The idea was simple and appealing. It gave rise to extraordinary devotion, but this was short lived: the primary elections were, in fact, only successful where a fairly strong European organisation already existed. On the other hand, in order to permanently integrate the real sociological forces into this action, much stronger means would have been necessary.

The first European People’s Congress was held in Turin in December 1957. Present were delegates representing seventy thousand voters from Strasburg, Lyons, Maastricht, Milan, Turin, Antwerp, Geneva and Düsseldorf. The second Congress session took place in Lyons in January 1959. Three hundred and twenty four thousand European voters were represented. In December of the same year, three hundred and ninety five thousand voters were accounted for at the Darmstadt Congress in Germany. In Ostende, finally, in June 1960, the delegates spoke in the name of four hundred and twenty five thousand Europeans. Considerable success was obtained in a number of large towns in Italy, especially, but also in other countries, in small Austrian, Dutch and French constituencies, where notable percentages of voters were often recorded. So, in Annecy and its suburbs where the percentage of voters reached 40% of the number achieved during the previous council elections, 43% in a small Normandy town like Vernon, where I was elected on the 23rd of April 1961.

It would therefore be incorrect to assert that this premonitory experience was negative. At least it enabled us to verify, where it had been possible, that “Europe” was favourably considered, at a time when what we call the “common market” was starting to awaken the citizens of towns and countryside to their common interests. This experience was the symbol of the dawning of a new conscience, despite the silence and slowness of official circles.
So, the European community did not cease to widen its field of experience. Along the way, it was also enriched by European movements and federalist militants. With time the movements were joined by colleges, institutes, University study and research centres, European Houses, specialised associations (municipalities, educators, journalists and railway workers), training centres, etc.

Nevertheless, up to this point, the Europeans were not able to create a common political organisation, worthy of that name. Of course, they were able to hold European elections, certainly not the Constituent Assembly that their elders had deemed necessary in the 1950s. The differences between national sovereignties persisted despite the common constraints arising a little more each year, economic interest, social or monetary realities, and diplomatic constraints.
In any case, it seems to me that an essential lesson has arisen from this historical outline: governments have advanced, progressed, acted and reacted only because committed women and men, ideas and movements have existed, acted and reacted.

This is what I wanted to recall when I recounted the journey from the Second World War to the beginning of the 1960s, when it became obvious that the experience of the Community, as a community of destiny, interests and values, would serve as a framework for a new democratic development: that of a Federal European People.
Much has already been achieved: the world of concentration camps has disappeared, totalitarianism has been crushed, the German people have been reunited in freedom, and Europe is no longer the theatre of the dreadful confrontations that bathed it in blood for centuries. The enlargement of 2004 at last foreshadows the reunification of the old continent as a whole, while a common currency is circulating in the twelve countries that today constitute the “Eurozone”. However, the European Union is still bogged down, and will continue to be so for as long as its Nation States maintain the exclusivity of some of their royal prerogatives (foreign policy and defence among others). The federal objective is therefore constantly evolving. Consequently, the historical mission of the federalists is more indispensable than ever. But, are they fully aware of this?

[1] 28 June 1919.
[2] Trianon (Hungary), 4 June 1920.
[3] Saint-Germain (Austria), 10 September 1919.
[4] L’Idée européenne 1918-1965, De Tempel, Tempelhof, Bruges, 1965.
[5] Presses de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, 2003.
[6] Les Pionniers de l’Europe communautaire, Centre de recherches européennes de l’université de Lausanne, 1968. Preface by Henri Rieben.
[7] Henri Brugmans, L’idée européenne 1918-1965, cit. p.111.
[8] European Human Rights Convention including the mechanisms of protection (the commission, the Court) adopted on 4.11.1950, effective from 3.9.1953.
[9] Korean War in July 1950.
[10] The project presented by the president of the constitutional commission of the ad hoc Assembly, the German Heinrich Von Brentano, was adopted unanimously except for one vote, on the 10th of March 1953, and ratified by the assembly.
[11] La querelle de la EDC, Armand Collin, Paris, 1956, p. 29.

What should be the ultimate aim of a constituent convention? In 1780, well before the convening of the Philadelphia Convention, Hamilton, writing to lames Duane, then member of Congress for New York State, provided a clear answer to this question, setting out what he considered to be the defects of the confederation. Here, we reproduce most significant passages of this letter.

The purpose of the Convention, which Hamilton hoped would be convened in the autumn of that same year, was to attribute the continental Congress with the power to decide in the last resort on all questions of vital importance to the Union, that is to say, with the power to transfer sovereignty from the former colonies to the United States. From that moment on, the creation of a continental sovereign power became the guiding star of Hamilton’s political action. Several years later, worried at the prospect of a reform that would leave the federation with a weak executive power at continental level, he was quick to propose an elective monarchy at its head, seeing this as a means of guaranteeing the exclusiveness and effectiveness of the government. His loyalty to the Union, which surpassed his loyalty to his own state, New York, explains why Hamilton was not, and is still not, regarded, within the USA, as the true voice of the American population’s federalist aspirations, and why this role is more usually attributed to Jefferson or Madison. It was, however, this loyalty that led Hamilton to play a fundamental part in founding a sovereign federal state covering an area (that of the thirteen former colonies) occupied by a number of different subjects, all claiming to be sovereign.

The War of Independence from the British Crown had taught Hamilton that in the absence of a continental state, sooner or later “some of the States will be powerful empires, and we are so remote from other nations that we shall have all the leisure and opportunity we can wish to cut each others throats”.[2] This is why he approved and defended the new Constitution, once he realised that it represented the means through which it would be possible to impose, on the former colonies, a new principle of government, based on “enlargement of the orbit within which such systems (of government) are to revolve either in respect, to the dimensions of a single State, or to the consolidation of several smaller States into one great confederacy. The proposed constitution, so far implying an abolition of the State Governments, makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty by allowing them a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a Federal Government.”[3] In theory, there was nothing to prevent other states, and Europe first and foremost, from following the American example. This is, indeed, what Benjamin Franklin called for in a letter to several European friends, written just after the close of the Philadelphia Convention: “I send you the proposed new federal Constitution for these States. I was engaged four months of the last summer in the Convention that formed it. If it succeeds, I do not see why you might not in Europe carry the project of good Henry the Fourth into execution, by forming a Federal Union and one grand republic of all its different States and Kingdoms, by means of a like Convention; for we had many interests to reconcile.”[4] But the happy outcome of this federalist battle in America was not destined to be repeated elsewhere.

As we know, not only did the Europeans fail to follow the American example, but also it took over a century and a half and two world wars before some countries, to which American intervention had brought peace, were ready to start a process of unification of the European continent. But it has been such a slowly evolving and uncertain process that, over half a century on, we have still not arrived at a European federation.
The defects of the American federation pointed out by Hamilton are the very defects presented by today’s European Union. The weak power exercised by the American Congress is comparable to the equally weak power of the European institutions. Without the transfer of sovereignty from the states to the Union, no effective and powerful form of government could ever have been founded in America. Without a transfer of sovereignty from the states to the Union, it will not be possible to remove the main obstacle to the formation of a European federation. Considered from this perspective, Hamilton’s letter emerges not only as further proof of the political farsightedness of the main author of the articles of The Federalist, but also as a warning to all those Europeans, be they heads of state and government or mere citizens, who continue to bemoan Europe’s weakness, while still resisting the idea of renouncing their national sovereignty.

The letter to James Duane contains a number of foretastes of the arguments that Hamilton was later to use to support ratifying the Philadelphia Constitution and strengthening the federal government. It provides a reminder of Hamilton’s main concern: that an analysis of the facts should always be followed by an exploration of the possible remedies. Indeed, his letter opens with a peremptory reference to “The fundamental defect”, while the second part of it is given over to “remedies”.

Hamilton was well aware of the influence and prestige enjoyed by Duane, one of the first supporters of the war for independence from the British Crown. He was often to call upon him for assistance in subsequent years. Duane, like most of his fellow-countrymen and colleagues in Congress, were aware of the limitations and defects of the Union, but did not know how to overcome them. Hamilton lost no time in bringing him face to face with the fundamental question, in a manner that was respectful, but also decisive, urging his well-placed friend “to remedy public disorders” and suggesting a procedure by which the States could be made to face the question of the relinquishment of their sovereignty. It was a procedure destined to bear fruit only after a further eight years of political struggle. It hardly needs to be added that Hamilton’s use of the word confederation, to describe both the institutional system that needed changing and the new one, leaves room for no doubt as to the nature of the state — entirely federal and sovereign — that he had in mind when he listed the sovereign powers that should be attributed to Congress. Powers that, thanks to Hamilton’s struggle, are still fully exercised today by the United States of America’s federal government system.


Dear Sir,
Agreeably to your request and my promise I sit down to give you my ideas of the defects of our present system, and the changes necessary to save us from ruin. They may perhaps be the reveries of a projector rather than the sober views of a politician. You will judge of them, and make what use you please of them.
The fundamental defect is a want of power in Congress. It is hardly worth while to show in what this consists, as it seems to be universally acknowleged, or to point out how it has happened, as the only question is how to remedy it. It may however be said that it has originated from three causes — an excess of the spirit of liberty which has made the particular states show a jealousy of all power not in their own hands; and this jealousy has led them to exercise a right of judging in the last resort of the measures recommended by Congress, and of acting according to their own opinions of their propriety or necessity, a diffidence in Congress of their own powers, by which they have been timid and indecisive in their resolutions, constantly making concessions to the states, till they have scarcely left themselves the shadow of power; a want of sufficient means at their disposal to answer the public exigencies and of vigor to draw forth those means; which have occasioned them to depend on the states individually to fulfil their engagements with the army, and the consequence of which has been to ruin their influence and credit with the army, to establish its dependence on each state separately rather than on them, that is rather than on the whole collectively.
It may be pleaded, that Congress had never any definitive powers granted them and of course could exercise none — could do nothing more than recommend. The manner in which Congress was appointed would warrant, and the public good required, that they should have considered themselves as vested with full power to preserve the republic from harm. They have done many of the highest acts of sovereignty, which were always chearfully submitted to — the declaration of independence, the declaration of war, the levying an army, creating a navy, emitting money, making alliances with foreign powers, appointing a dictator &c. &c. — all these implications of a complete sovereignty were never disputed, and ought to have been a standard for the whole conduct of Administration. Undefined powers are discretionary powers, limited only by the object for which they were given — in the present case, the independence and freedom of America. The confederation made no difference; for as it has not been generally adopted, it had no operation. But from what I recollect of it, Congress have even descended from the authority which the spirit of that act gives them, while the particular states have no further attended to it than as it suited their pretensions and convenience. It would take too much time to enter into particular instances, each of which separately might appear inconsiderable; but united are of serious import. I only mean to remark, not to censure.
But the confederation itself is defective and requires to be altered; it is neither fit for war, nor peace. The idea of an uncontrolable sovereignty in each state, over its internal police, will defeat the other powers given to Congress, and make our union feeble and precarious. There are instances without number, where acts necessary for the general good, and which rise out of the powers given to Congress must interfere with the internal police of the states, and there are as many instances in which the particular states by arrangements of internal police can effectually though indirectly counteract the arrangements of Congress. You have already had examples of this for which I refer you to your own memory.
The confederation gives the states individually too much influence in the affairs of the army; they should have nothing to do with it. The entire formation and disposal of our military forces ought to belong to Congress. It is an essential cement of the union; and it ought to be the policy of Congress to destroy all ideas of state attachments in the army and make it look up wholly to them. For this purpose all appointments promotions and provisions whatsoever ought to be made by them. It may be apprehended that this may be dangerous to liberty. But nothing appears more evident to me, than that we run much greater risk of having a weak and disunited federal government, than one which will be able to usurp upon the rights of the people. Already some of the lines of the army would obey their states in opposition to Congress notwithstanding the pains we have taken to preserve the unity of the army — if any thing would hinder this it would be the personal influence of the General, a melancholy and mortifying consideration.
The forms of our state constitutions must always give them great weight in our affairs and will make it too difficult to bend them to the persuit of a common interest, too easy to oppose whatever they do not like and to form partial combinations subversive of the general one. There is a wide difference between our situation and that of an empire under one simple form of government, distributed into counties provinces or districts, which have no legislatures but merely magistratical bodies to execute the laws of a common sovereign. Here the danger is that the sovereign will have too much power to oppress the parts of which it is composed. In our case, that of an empire composed of confederated states each with a government completely organised within itself, having all the means to draw its subjects to a close dependence on itself — the danger is directly the reverse. It is that the common sovereign will not have power sufficient to unite the different members together, and direct the common forces to the interest and happiness of the whole.


Our own experience should satisfy us. We have felt the difficulty of drawing out the resources of the country and inducing the states to combine in equal exertions for the common cause. The ill success of our last attempt is striking. Some have done a great deal, others little or scarcely any thing. The disputes about boundaries &c. testify how flattering a prospect we have of future tranquillity, if we do not frame in time a confederacy capable of deciding the differences and compelling the obedience of the respective members.
The confederation too gives the power of the purse too intirely to the state legislatures. It should provide perpetual funds in the disposal of Congress — by a land tax, poll tax, or the like. All imposts upon commerce ought to be laid by Congress and appropriated to their use, for without certain revenues, a government can have no power; that power, which holds the purse strings absolutely, must rule. This seems to be a medium, which without making Congress altogether independent will tend to give reality to its authority.


These are the principal defects in the present system that now occur to me. There are many inferior ones in the organization of particular departments and many errors of administration which might be pointed out; but the task would be troublesome and tedious, and if we had once remedied those I have mentioned the others would not be attended with much difficulty.
I shall now propose the remedies, which appear to me applicable to our circumstances, and necessary to extricate our affairs from their present deplorable situation.
The first step must be to give Congress powers competent to the public exigencies. This may happen in two ways, one by resuming and exercising the discretionary powers I suppose to have been originally vested in them for the safety of the states and resting their conduct on the candor of their country men and the necessity of the conjuncture: the other by calling immediately a convention of all the states with full authority to conclude finally upon a general confederation, stating to them beforehand explicitly the evils arising from a want of power in Congress, and the impossibility of supporting the contest on its present footing, that the delegates may come possessed of proper sentiments as well as proper authority to give to the meeting. Their commission should include a right of vesting Congress with the whole or a proportion of the unoccupied lands, to be employed for the purpose of raising a revenue, reserving the jurisdiction to the states by whom they are granted.
The first plan, I expect will be thought too bold an expedient by the generality of Congress; and indeed their practice hitherto has so rivetted the opinion of their want of power, that the success of this experiment may very well be doubted.
I see no objection to the other mode, that has any weight in competition with the reasons for it. The Convention should assemble the 1st of November next, the sooner, the better; our disorders are too violent to admit of a common or lingering remedy. The reasons for which I require them to be vested with plenipotentiary authority are that the business may suffer no delay in the execution, and may in reality come to effect. A convention may agree upon a confederation; the states individually hardly ever will. We must have one at all events, and a vigorous one if we mean to succeed in the contest and be happy hereafter. As I said before, to engage the states to comply with this mode, Congress ought to confess to them plainly and unanimously the impracticability of supporting our affairs on the present footing and without a solid coercive union. I ask that the Convention should have a power of vesting the whole or a part of the unoccupied land in Congress, because it is necessary that body should have some property as a fund for the arrangements of finance; and I know of no other kind that can be given them.
The confederation in my opinion should give Congress complete sovereignty; except as to that part of internal police, which relates to the rights of property and life among individuals and to raising money by internal taxes. It is necessary, that every thing, belonging to this, should be regulated by the state legislatures. Congress should have complete sovereignty in all that relates to war, peace, trade, finance, and to the management of foreign affairs, the right of declaring war of raising armies, officering, paying them, directing their motions in every respect, of equipping fleets and doing the same with them, of building fortifications arsenals magazines &c. &c., of making peace on such conditions as they think proper, of regulating trade, determining with what countries it shall be carried on, granting indulgencies laying prohibitions on all the articles of export or import, imposing duties granting bounties & premiums for raising exporting importing and applying to their own use the product of these duties, only giving credit to the states on whom they are raised in the general account of revenues and expences, instituting Admiralty courts &c., of coining money, establishing banks on such terms, and with such privileges as they think proper, appropriating funds and doing whatever else relates to the operations of finance. […]


You will perceive My Dear Sir this letter is hastily written and with a confidential freedom, not as to a member of Congress, whose feelings may be sore at the prevailing clamours; but as to a friend who is in a situation to remedy public disorders, who wishes for nothing so much as truth, and who is desirous of information, even from those less capable of judging than himself. I have not even time to correct and copy and only enough to add that I am very truly and affectionately Alexander Hamilton.

(Prefaced and edited by Franco Spoltore)

[1] Alexander Hamilton to lames Duane, 3 Sept. 1780, in Hamilton Writings, New York, The Library of America, 2001, p. 70.
[2] Ibidem, p. 72-73.
[3] Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist N. 9.
[4] Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia, Boston, Back Bay Books, 1986, p. 281.

Debate over the political philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and over his federalist or confederalist ideas is still very much alive and culminated two years ago, in the staging of a number of conventions and in the publication of many works to mark the two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Perpetual Peace.

Peace, or the “end to all hostilities”[1] between states, and the quest to create the conditions by which this may be achieved, are in Kant’s elements crucial to our understanding of what man still has to do in order to be able to realise completely his potential. For this reason, Kant’s reflections on these problems are not limited to the essay which focuses directly on this theme, but can also be found in other writings.
As early as 1784, in the Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose, Kant writes: “The greatest problem for the human species, the solution of which nature compels him to seek, is that of attaining a civil society which can administer justice universally.
This problem is both the most difficult and the last to be solved by the human race.
The problem of establishing a perfect civil constitution is subordinate to the problem of a law-governed external relationship [among the states] and cannot be solved unless the latter is also solved.”[2]
Just as it is the duty of individuals to break free from the lawless state of nature, so states are duty bound to do the same, through the establishment of a legal system governing relations between them. While the state of nature among individual men is just a supposition, and may never have been a historical reality, the anarchy of international relations is a very real fact and one which characterises the situation in which man effectively lives. All that is needed to overcome the state of nature between individuals, regardless of the fact that force was in fact the means used to break free of that state, is an original social contract: an idea of reason. The contract between states, on the other hand, must be real. While the idea of an original contract has in fact never truly been applied to individual men, it will, in relation to states, find concrete application through the formulation, by them, of a “[universal and perpetual peace treaty]” establishing “[the task of right] within the limits of pure reason”.[3] The aim of this contract will be the limitation, through coercive laws, of the freedom of states, or rather, the overcoming of the absolute sovereignty of states.[4]

Coercion cannot, however, be the means by which this contract is entered into. Indeed, the possible exertion of force in the creation of a cosmopolitan system would suggest that states recognise the right to force other states to break free from the state of nature, in other words the right of states to make war — and this is precisely what they are seeking to avoid. “The right of peoples shall be based on a federalism (Föderalism) of free states”,[5] or rather, based on a contract freely entered into by republican states.
In Perpetual Peace, Kant seeks to identify the conditions needed to create this “civil society which can administer justice universally”. First of all, in order to ensure that it is the people who decide whether or not to make war, the states must be republics. In fact, war itself favours the emergence of this condition: as wars are waged with increasing frequency, involve more men and begin to pervade more deeply the whole of society, leading the state towards self-destruction, “thus sheer exhaustion must eventually perform what goodwill ought to have done but failed to do: each state must be organised internally in such a way that the head of state, for whom the war actually costs nothing (for he wages it at the expense of others, i.e. the people), must no longer have the deciding vote on whether war is to be declared or not, for the people who pay for it must decide”.[6] And each state which has undergone this evolution “may reasonably hope that other similarly constituted bodies”[7] will be prepared to enter into the contract that will give rise to a cosmopolitan organisation.

Herein lies the link between the first and the second definitive articles of Perpetual Peace. Only republics may freely choose to create a cosmopolitan structure, yet at the same time, this second stage is a necessity. If, even though all states were republics, there existed no cosmopolitan system, war would continue to constitute a threat, or a reality, and the freedom and right that the republics themselves were supposed to guarantee would fail to be present. For this reason, the cosmopolitan constitution is the perfect civil constitution — the only one able to guarantee right fully and universally.
The question of the institutional model best able to guarantee peace is dealt with specifically in the Second Definitive Article, and in order to understand this article fully, it is useful first to consider the concept of “the right of peoples” (ius gentium), as intended by Kant in other writings.

In the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant analyses this concept in detail: “The situation in question is that in which one state, as a moral person, is considered as existing in a state of nature in relation to another state, hence in a condition of constant war. International right is thus concerned partly with the right to make war, partly with the right of war itself, and partly with questions of right after a war, i.e. with the right of states to compel each other to abandon their warlike condition and to create a constitution which will establish an enduring peace…
The elements of international right are as follows. Firstly, in their external relationships with one another, states like lawless savages, exist in a condition devoid of right. Secondly, this condition is one of war…
Adjacent states are thus bound to abandon such a condition. Thirdly, it is necessary to establish a federation of peoples in accordance with the idea of an original social contract, so that states will protect one another against external aggression while refraining from interference in one another’s internal disagreements. And fourthly, this association must not embody a sovereign power, as in a civil constitution, but only a partnership or confederation (Föderalität). It must therefore be an alliance which can be terminated at any time, so that it has to be renewed periodically.”[8]

Thus, according to the concept of states, the right of peoples goes this far, as far as the confederation. But Kant concludes the treatise, explaining that, “Since the state of nature among [peoples] (as among individual human beings) is a state which one ought to abandon in order to enter a state governed by law, all international rights, as well as the external property of states such as can be acquired or preserved by war, are purely provisional until the state of nature has been abandoned. Only within a universal union of states (analogous to the union through which a [people] becomes a state) can such rights and property acquire peremptory validity and a true state of peace be attained.”[9]

In On the Common Saying, the right of peoples coincides with the cosmopolitan right, and this emerges clearly where Kant explicitly sets his position, theory or thesis, against practice or hypothesis. In theory, the right of peoples must correspond to the cosmopolitan right, or better still, must lead to its institution since “a permanent universal peace by means of [the] so-called European balance of power[s] is a pure illusion:”[10] perpetual peace is based only on a “state of international right, based upon enforceable public laws to which each state must submit.”[11] “But it may be objected [by empiricists] that no states will ever submit to coercive laws of this kind, and that a proposal for a universal [state of peoples]… does not apply in practice.”[12]
Kant is aware of the difficulties, but is not induced to change his position which, on the contrary, he reaffirms explicitly: “In the normal order of things, it cannot be expected of human nature to desist voluntarily from using force, although it is not impossible where the circumstances are sufficiently pressing. Thus it is not inappropriate to say of man’s moral hopes and desires that, since he is powerless to fulfil them himself, he may look to providence to create the circumstances in which they can be fulfilled. […]

For my own part, I put my trust in the theory of what the relationships between men and states ought to be according to the principle of right. It recommends to us earthly gods the maxim that we should proceed in our disputes in such a way that a universal [state of peoples] may be inaugurated, so that we should therefore assume that it is possible (in praxi). I likewise rely (in subsidium) upon the very nature of things to force men to do what they do not willingly choose (fata volentem ducunt nolentem trahunt). …On the cosmopolitan level too, it thus remains true to say that whatever reason shows to be valid in theory, is also valid in practice.”[13]
Kant knows that states are reluctant to give up their sovereignty, and this reluctance inclines them towards compromise formulae, like the confederal solution, which he considers a “negative substitute” for the world republic.[14] Thus, both definitions, the theoretical and the practical, can be found in Perpetual Peace. Meanwhile, “the concept of international right becomes meaningless if interpreted as a right to go to war. …There is only one rational way in which states coexisting with other states can emerge from the lawless condition of pure warfare. Just like individual men, they must renounce their savage and lawless freedom, adapt themselves to public coercive laws, and thus form a [state of peoples] (civitas gentium), which would necessarily continue to grow until it embraced all the peoples of the earth.”[15]

The Second Definitive Article of a Perpetual Peace, which we publish below, allows us to identify what is, from the federalist point of view, the crucial point in a reading of Kant’s analysis of peace, which can be considered one of the essential points of reference for those wishing to help mankind move a step closer to realising fully the central value of our age. As Mario Albertini has pointed out, Kant’s philosophy on peace “applies perfectly to federalism as it is based on the postulate of a legal order at suprastate level”. Kant had no knowledge of the mechanism of federal government, and this “prevented him… from appreciating the fact that supreme political decisions must, in a situation compatible with a plurality of decision-making centres, have features of unity and exclusivity (sovereignty)”.[16] However, this did not prevent him from envisaging this legal order in a correctly federalist way: in other words, as a power above the level of states.

Second Definitive Article of a Perpetual Peace

The Right of [Peoples] shall be based on a [Federalism] of Free States

Peoples who have grouped themselves into states may be judged in the same way as individual men living in a state of nature, independent of external laws; for they are a standing offence to one another by the very fact that they are neighbours. Each [people], for the sake of its own security, can and ought to demand of the others that they should enter along with it into a constitution, similar to the civil one, within which the rights of each could be secured. This would mean establishing a federation of peoples. But a federation of this sort would not be the same thing as a [state of peoples]. For the idea of a [state of people] is contradictory, since every state involves a relationship between a superior (the legislator) and an inferior (the people obeying the laws), whereas a number of [peoples] forming one state would constitute a single [people]. And this contradicts our initial assumption, as we are considering the right of [peoples] in relation to one another in so far as they are a group of separate states which are not to be welded together as a [state].

We look with profound contempt upon the way in which savages cling to their lawless freedom. They would rather engage in incessant strife than submit to a legal constraint which they might impose upon themselves, for they prefer the freedom of folly to the freedom of reason. We regard this as barbarism, coarseness, and brutish debasement of humanity. We might thus expect that civilised people, each united within itself as a state, would hasten to abandon so degrading a condition as soon as possible. But instead of doing so, each state sees its own majesty (for it would be absurd to speak of the majesty of a people) precisely in not having to submit to any external legal constraint, and the glory of its ruler consists in his power to order thousands of people to immolate themselves for a cause which does not truly concern them, while he need not himself incur any danger whatsoever.[17] And the main difference between the savage nations of Europe and those of America is that while some American tribes have been entirely eaten up by their enemies, the Europeans know how to make better use of those they have defeated than merely making a meal of them. They would rather use them to increase the number of their own subjects, thereby augmenting their stock of instruments for conducting even more extensive wars.

Although it is largely concealed by governmental constraints in law-governed civil society, the depravity of human nature is displayed without disguise in the unrestricted relations which obtain between the various [peoples]. It is therefore to be wondered at that the word right has not been completely banished from military politics as superfluous pedantry, and that no state has been bold enough to declare itself publicly in favour of doing so. For Hugo Grotius, Pufendorf, Vattel, and the rest (sorry comforters as they are) are still dutifully quoted in justification of military aggression, although their philosophically or diplomatically formulated codes do not and cannot have the slightest legal force, since states as such are not subject to a common external constraint. Yet there is no instance of a state ever having been moved to desist from its purpose by arguments supported by the testimonies of such notable men. This homage which every state pays (in words at least) to the concept of right proves that man possesses a greater moral capacity, still dormant at present, to overcome eventually the evil principle within him (for he cannot deny that it exists), and to hope that others will do likewise. Otherwise the word right would never be used by states which intend to make war on one another, unless in a derisory sense, as when a certain Gallic prince declared: “Nature has given to the strong the prerogative of making the weak obey them”. The way in which states seek their rights can only be war, since there is no external tribunal to put their claims to trial. But rights cannot be decided by military victory, and a peace treaty may put an end to the current war, but not to that general warlike condition within which pretexts can always be found for a new war. And indeed such a state of affairs cannot be pronounced [unjust, since each party is judge in its own cause]. Yet while natural right allows us to say of men living in a lawless condition that they ought to abandon it, the right of [peoples] does not allow us to say the same of states. For as states, they already have a lawful internal constitution, and have thus outgrown the coercive right of others to subject them to a wider legal constitution in accordance with their conception of right. On the other hand, reason, as the highest legislative moral power, absolutely condemns war as a test of rights and sets up peace as an immediate duty. But peace can neither be inaugurated nor secured without a general agreement between nations; thus a particular kind of league, which we might call a [league for peace] (foedus pacificum), is required.

It would differ from a peace treaty (pactum pacis) in that the latter terminates one war, whereas the former would seek to end all wars for good. This [league] does not aim to acquire any power like that of a state, but merely to preserve and secure the freedom of each state in itself, along with that of the other confederated states, although this does not mean that they need to submit to public laws and to a coercive power which enforces them, as do men in a state of nature. It can be shown that this idea of federalism, extending gradually to encompass all states and thus leading to perpetual peace, is practicable and has objective reality. For if by good fortune one powerful and enlightened people can form a republic (which is by its nature inclined to seek perpetual peace), this will provide a focal point for federal association among other states. These will join up with the first one, thus securing the freedom of each state in accordance with the idea of [right of peoples] and the whole will gradually spread further and further by a series of alliances of this kind.

It would be understandable for a people to say: “There shall be no war among us; for we will form ourselves into a state, appointing for ourselves a supreme legislative, executive and juridical power to resolve our conflicts by peaceful means.” But if this state says: “There shall be no war between myself and other states, although I do not recognise any supreme legislative power which could secure my rights and whose rights I should in turn secure”, it is impossible to understand what justification I can have for placing any confidence in my rights, unless I can rely on some substitute for the union of civil society, i.e. on a free [federalism]. If the concept of [right of peoples] is to retain any meaning at all, reason must necessarily couple it with a [federalism] of this kind.

The concept of [right of peoples] becomes meaningless if interpreted as a right to go to war. For this would make it a right to determine what is lawful not by means of universally valid external laws, but by means of one-sided maxims backed up by physical force. It could be taken to mean that it is perfectly just for men who adopt this attitude to destroy one another, and thus to find perpetual peace in the vast grave where all the horrors of violence and those responsible for them would be buried. There is only one rational way in which states coexisting with other states can emerge from the lawless condition of pure warfare. Just like individual men, they must renounce their savage and lawless freedom, adapt themselves to public coercive laws, and thus form a [state of peoples] (civitas gentium), which would necessarily continue to grow until it embraced all the peoples of the earth. But since this is not the will of the nations, according to their present conception of [right of peoples] (so that they reject in hypothesi what is true in thesi), the positive idea of a world republic cannot be realised. If all is not to be lost, this can at best find a negative substitute in the shape of an enduring and gradually expanding [league] likely to prevent war. The latter may check the current of man’s inclination to defy the law and antagonise his fellows, although there will always be a risk of it bursting forth anew. Furor impius intus — fremit horridus ore cruento (Virgil).[18]

(Prefaced and edited by Roberto Castaldi)

* The quotations and the text of the Second Definitive Article of a Perpetual Peace, below, are taken from Immanuel Kant, Political Writings, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991 (ed. by H. Reiss and translated by H.B. Nisbet). The square parentheses indicate changes made by the writer of this preface.
[1] I. Kant, Perpetual Peace, p. 93.
[2] I. Kant, Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose (Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Propositions), pp. 45, 46, 47.
[3] I. Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, p. 174.
[4] I. Kant, Perpetual Peace, pp. 103-4.
[5] I. Kant, Perpetual Peace, p. 102.
[6] I. Kant, On the Common Saying: This May be True in Theory, but it does not Apply in Practice, p. 91.
[7] Ibidem.
[8] I. Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, p. 165.
[9] Ibidem, p. 171.
[10] I. Kant, On the Common Saying, cit., p. 92.
[11] Ibidem.
[12] Ibidem.
[13] I. Kant, On the Common Saying, cit., pp. 91-2.
[14] I. Kant, Perpetual Peace, p. 105.
[15] Ibidem.
[16] M. Albertini, ll federalismo, Bologna, Il Mulino 1993, p. 22.
[17] Thus a Bulgarian prince, replying to the Greek Emperor who had kindly offered to settle his dispute with him by a duel, declared: “A smith who possesses tongs will not lift the glowing iron out of the coals with his own hands.”
[18] At the end of a war, when peace is concluded, it would not be inappropriate for a people to appoint a day of atonement after the festival of thanksgiving. Heaven would be invoked in the name of the state to forgive the human race for the great sin of which it continues to be guilty, since it will not accomodate itself to a lawful constitution in international relations. Proud of its independence, each state prefers to employ the barbarous expedient of war, although war cannot produce the desired decision on the rights of particular states. The thanksgivings for individual victories during a war, the hymns which are sung (in the style of the Israelites) to the Lord of Hosts, contrast no less markedly with the moral conception of a father of mankind. For besides displaying indifference to the way in which [peoples] pursue their mutual rights (deplorable though it is), they actually rejoice at having hannihilated numerous human beings or their happiness.

In 1941, the anti-Fascist activists Ernesto Rossi and Altiero Spinelli, placed under house arrest on the Italian island of Ventotene, draw up a manifesto for a free and united Europe.

Towards a free and united Europe

The Ventotene Manifesto, whose full title is "For a Free and United Europe. A draft manifesto", was drawn up by Altiero Spinelli and by Emesto Rossi (who wrote the first part of the third chapter) in 1941 when they were both interned on the island of Ventotene. After being distributed in mimeographed form, a clandestine edition of the Manifesto appeared in Rome in January 1944. The present text was edited by the Società Anonima Poligrafica Italiana and presented by the Edizioni del Movimento Italiano per la Federazione Europea (i.e. Publications of the Italian Movement for the European Federation). This edition is based on the 1944 edition which Spinelli stated was "the authentic and precise text". Translated from the original Italian by Anthony Baldry.

I- The crisis of modern civilization

Modern civilization has taken the principle of freedom as its basis, a principle which holds that man must not be a mere instrument to be used by others but an autonomous centre of life. With this code at hand, all those aspects of society that have not respected this principle have been placed on trial, a great historical trial.

a) The equal right of all nations to organize themselves into independent States has been established. Every people, defined by its ethnic, geographical, linguistic and historical characteristics, was expected to find the instrument best suited to its needs within a State organization created according to its own specific concept of political life, and with no outside intervention. The ideology of national independence was a powerful stimulus to progress. It helped overcome narrow-minded parochialism and created a much wider feeling of solidarity against foreign oppression. It eliminated many obstacles hindering the free movement of people and goods. Within the territory of each new State, it brought the institutions and systems of the more advanced societies to more backward ones. But with this ideology came the seeds of capitalist imperialism which our own generation has seen mushroom to the point where totalitarian States have grown up and world wars have been unleashed.

Thus the nation is no longer viewed as the historical product of co-existence between men who, as the result of a lengthy historical process, have acquired greater unity in their customs and aspirations and who see their State as being the most effective means of organizing collective life within the context of all human society. Rather the nation has become a divine entity, an organism which must only consider its own existence, its own development, without the least regard for the damage that others may suffer from this. The absolute sovereignty of national States has led to the desire of each of them to dominate, since each feels threatened by the strength of the others, and considers that its "living space" should include increasingly vast territories that give it the right to free movement and provide self-sustenance without needing to rely on others. This desire to dominate cannot be placated except by the hegemony of the strongest State over all the others.

As a consequence of this, from being the guardian of citizens' freedom, the State has been turned into a master of vassals bound into servitude, and has all the powers it needs to achieve the maximum war-efficiency. Even during peacetime, considered to be pauses during which to prepare for subsequent, inevitable wars, the will of the military class now holds sway over the will of the civilian class in many countries, making it increasingly difficult to operate free political systems. Schools, science, production, administrative bodies are mainly directed towards increasing military strength. Women are considered merely as producers of soldiers and are rewarded with the same criteria as prolific cattle. From the very earliest age, children are taught to handle weapons and hate foreigners. Individual freedom is reduced to nothing since everyone is part of the military establishment and constantly called on to serve in the armed forces. Repeated wars force men to abandon families, jobs, property, and even lay down their lives for goals, the value of which no one really understands. It takes just a few days to destroy the results of decades of common effort to increase the general well-being.

Totalitarian States are precisely those which have unified all their forces in the most coherent way, by implementing the greatest possible degree of centralization and autarky. They have thus shown themselves to be the bodies most suited to the current international environment. It only needs one nation to take one step towards more accentuated totalitarianism for the others to follow suit, dragged down the same groove by their will to survive.

b) The equal right of all citizens to participate in the process of determining the State's will is well-established. This process should have been the synthesis of the freely expressed and changing economic and ideological needs of all social classes. A political organization of this kind made it possible to correct or at least to minimize many of the most strident injustices inherited from previous regimes. But freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the steady extension of suffrage, made it increasingly difficult to defend old privileges, while maintaining a representative system of government. Bit by bit the penniless learned to use these instruments to fight for the rights acquired by the privileged classes. Taxes on unearned income and inheritances, higher taxes levied on larger incomes, tax exemptions for low incomes and essential goods, free public schooling, greater social security spending, land reforms, inspection of factories and manufacturing plants were all achievements that threatened the privileged classes in their well-fortified citadels.

Even the privileged classes who agreed with equality in political rights, could not accept the fact that the underprivileged could use it to achieve a de facto equality that would have created a very real freedom with a very concrete content. When the threat became all too serious at the end of the First World War, it was only natural that these privileged classes should have warmly welcomed and supported the rise of dictatorships that removed their adversaries legalislative weapons.

Moreover, the creation of huge industrial, banking conglomerates and trades unions representing whole armies of workers gave rise to forces (unions, employers and financiers) lobbying the government to give them the policies which most clearly favoured their particular interests. This threatened to dissolve the State into countless economic fiefdoms, each bitterly opposed to the others. Liberal and democratic systems increasingly lost their prestige by becoming the tools that these groups will always resort to in order to exploit all of society even more. In this way, the conviction grew up that only a totalitarian State, in which individual liberties were abolished, could somehow resolve the conflicts of interest that existing political institutions were unable to control.

Subsequently, in fact, totalitarian regimes consolidated the position of the various social categories at the levels they had gradually achieved. By using the police to control every aspect of each citizen's life, and by violently silencing all dissenting voices, these regimes barred all legal possibility of further correction in the state of affairs. This consolidated the existence of a thoroughly parasitic class of absentee landowners and rentiers who contribute to social productivity only by cutting the coupons off their bonds. It consolidated the position of monopoly holders and the chain stores who exploit the consumers and cause small savers money to vanish. It consolidated the plutocrats hidden behind the scenes who pull the politicians' strings and run the State machine for their own, exclusive advantage, under the guise of higher national interests. The colossal fortunes of a very few people have been preserved, as has the poverty of the masses, excluded from the enjoyment of the fruits of modern culture. In others words an economic regime has substantially been preserved in which material resources and labour, which ought to be directed to the satisfaction of fundamental needs for the development of essential human energies, are instead channelled towards the satisfaction of the most futile wishes of those capable of paying the highest prices. It is an economic regime in which, through the right of inheritance, the power of money is perpetuated in the same class, and is transformed into a privilege that in no way corresponds to the social value of the services actually rendered. The field of proletarian possibilities is so restricted that workers are often forced to accept exploitation by anyone who offers a job in order to make a living.

In order to keep the working classes immobilized and subjugated, the trade unions, once free organizations of struggle, run by individuals who enjoyed the trust of their members, have been turned into institutions for police surveillance run by employees chosen by the ruling class and responsible only to them. Where improvements are made in this economic regime, they are always solely dictated by military needs which have merged with the reactionary aspirations of the privileged classes in giving rise to and consolidating totalitarian States.

c) The permanent value of the spirit of criticism has been asserted against authoritarian dogmatism. Everything that is affirmed must prove its worth or disappear. The greatest achievements of human society in every field are due to the scientific method that lies behind this unfettered approach. But this spiritual freedom has not survived the crisis created by totalitarian States. New dogmas to be accepted as articles of faith or simply hypocritically are advancing in all fields of knowledge.

Although nobody knows what a race is, and the most elementary understanding of history brings home the absurdity of the statement, physiologists are asked to believe, demonstrate and even persuade us that people belong to a chosen race, merely because imperialism needs this myth to stir the masses to hate and pride. The most self-evident concepts of economic science have to be treated as anathema so as to enable autarchic policy, trade balance and other old chestnuts of mercantilism to be presented as extraordinary discoveries of our times. Because of the economic interdependence of the entire world, the living space required by any people which wants to maintain a living standard consistent with modern civilization can only be the entire world. But the pseudo-science of geopolitics has been created in an attempt to prove the soundness of theories about living space and to provide a theoretical cloak to the imperialist desire to dominate.

Essential historical facts are falsified, in the interests of the ruling classes. Libraries and bookshops are purged of all works not considered to be orthodox. The shadows of obscurantism once more threaten to suffocate the human spirit. The social ethic of freedom and equality has itself been undermined. Men are no longer considered free citizens who can use the State to achieve collective goals. They are, instead, servants of the State, which decides what their goals must be, and the will of those who hold power becomes the will of the State. Men are no longer subjects with civil rights, but are instead arranged hierarchically and are expected to obey their superiors without argument, the hierarchy culminating in a suitably deified leader. The regime based on castes is reborn from its own ashes, as bullying as it was before.

After triumphing in a series of countries, this reactionary, totalitarian civilization, has finally found in Nazi Germany the power considered strong enough to take the last step. After meticulous preparation, boldly and unscrupulously exploiting the rivalries, egoism and stupidity of others, dragging in its path other European vassal States, primarily Italy, and allying itself with Japan, which follows the very same goals in Asia, Nazi Germany has launched itself on the task of crushing other countries. Its victory would mean the definitive consolidation of totalitarianism in the world. All its characteristics would be exasperated to the utmost degree, and progressive forces would be condemned for many years to the role of simple negative opposition.

The traditional arrogance and intransigence of the German military classes can give us an idea of the nature of their dominance after victory in war. The victorious Germans might even concede a façade of generosity towards other European peoples, formally respecting their territories and their political institutions, and thus be able to command while at the same time satisfying the false patriotic sentiments of those who count the colour of the flag flying at the country's borders and the nationality of prominent politicians as being the major considerations and who fail to appreciate the significance of power relationships and the real content of the State's institutions. However camouflaged, the reality is always the same: a new division of humanity into Spartans and Helots.

Even a compromise solution between the two warring sides would be one more step forward for totalitarianism. All those countries which managed to escape Germany's grasp would be forced to adopt the very same forms of political organization to be adequately prepared for the continuation of hostilities.

But while Hitler's Germany has managed to chop down the smaller States one by one, this has forced increasingly powerful forces to join battle. The courageous fighting spirit of Great Britain, even at that most critical moment when it was left to face the enemy alone, had the effect that the Germans came up against the brave resistance of the Russian Army, and gave America the time it needed to mobilize its endless productive resources. This struggle against German imperialism is closely linked to the Chinese people's struggles against Japanese imperialism.

Huge masses of men and wealth are already drawn up against totalitarian powers whose strength has already reached its peak and can now only gradually consume itself. The forces that oppose them have, on the other hand, already survived the worst and their strength is increasing.

With every day that passes, the war the allies are fighting rekindles the yearning for freedom, even in those countries which were subjected to violence and who lost their way as result of the blow they received. It has even rekindled this yearning among the peoples in the Axis countries who realize they have been dragged down into a desperate situation, simply to satisfy their rulers' lust for power.

The slow process which led huge masses of men to be meekly shaped by the new regime, who adjusted to it and even contributed to its consolidation, has been halted and the reverse process has started. All the progressive forces, can be found in this huge wave, which is slowly gathering momentum: the most enlightened groups of the working classes who have not let themselves be swayed, either by terror or by flattery, from their ambition to achieve a better standard of living, the sharpest members of the intellectual classes, offended by the degradation to which intelligence is subjected, entrepreneurs who, wanting to undertake new initiatives, want to free themselves of the trappings of bureaucracy and national autarky, that bog down all their efforts, and, finally, all those who, with an innate sense of dignity, will not bend one inch when faced with the humiliation of servitude.

Today, the salvation of our civilization is entrusted to these forces.

II - Post-war tasks. European unity

Germany's defeat would not automatically lead to the reorganization of Europe in accordance with our ideal of civilization. In the brief, intense period of general crisis (when the States will lie broken, when the masses will be anxiously waiting for a new message, like molten matter, burning, and easily shaped into new moulds capable of accommodating the guidance of serious internationalist minded men), the most privileged classes in the old national systems will attempt, by underhand or violent methods, to dampen the wave of internationalist feelings and passions and will ostentatiously begin to reconstruct the old State institutions. Most probably, the British leaders, perhaps in agreement with the Americans, will try to push things in this direction, in order to restore balance-of-power politics, in the apparent immediate interests of their empires.

All the reactionary forces can feel the house is creaking around them and are now trying to save their skins: the conservative forces, the administrators of the major institutions of the nation States, the top-ranking officers in the armed forces including, where they still exist, the monarchies, the monopoly capitalist groups whose profits are linked to the fortunes of States, the big landowners and the ecclesiastical hierarchy, whose parasitical income is only guaranteed in a stable, conservative society and, in their wake, the countless band of people who depend on them or who are simply blinded by their traditional power. If the house were to collapse, they would suddenly be deprived of all the privileges they have enjoyed up to now, and would be exposed to the assault of the progressive forces.

The Revolutionary Situation: old and new trends.

The fall of the totalitarian regimes will, in the feelings of entire populations, mean the coming of "freedom"; all restrictions will disappear and, automatically, very wide freedom of speech and assembly will reign supreme. It will be the triumph of democratic beliefs. These tendencies have countless shades and nuances, stretching from very conservative liberalism to socialism and anarchy. These beliefs place their trust in the "spontaneous generation" of events and institutions and the absolute goodness of drives originating among the grass roots. They do not want to force the hand of "history", or "the people", or "the proletariat", or whatever other name they give their God. They hope for the end of dictatorships, conceiving this as restoring the people's unsupressible right to self-determination. Their crowning dream is a constituent assembly, elected by the broadest suffrage, which scrupulously respects the rights of the electors, who must decide upon the constitution they want. If the population is immature, the constitution will not be a good one, but to amend it will be possible only through constant efforts of persuasion. Democrats do not refrain from violence on principle but wish to use it only when the majority is convinced it is indispensable, little more, that is, than an almost superfluous "dot" over an "i". They are suitable leaders only in times of ordinary administration, when the overall population is convinced of the validity of the basic institutions and believe that any amendment should be restricted to relatively secondary matters. During revolutionary times, when institutions are not simply to be administered but created, democratic procedures fail miserably. The pitiful impotence of democrats in the Russian, German, Spanish revolutions are the three most recent examples. In these situations, once the old State apparatus had fallen away, along with its laws and its administration, popular assemblies and delegations immediately spring up in which all the progressive socialist forces converge and agitate, either hiding behind the ancient régime, or scorning it. The population does have some fundamental needs to satisfy, but it does not know precisely what it wants and what must be done. A thousand bells ring in its ears. With its millions of minds, it cannot orientate itself, and breaks up into a number of tendencies, currents and factions, all struggling with one another.

At the very moment when the greatest decisiveness and boldness is needed, democrats lose their way, not having the backing of spontaneous popular approval, but rather a gloomy tumult of passions. They think it their duty to form a consensus and they represent themselves as exhortatory preachers, where instead there is a need for leaders who know just what they want. They miss chances favourable to the consolidation of a new regime by attempting to make bodies, which need longer preparation and which are more suited to periods of relative tranquillity, work immediately. They give their adversaries the weapons they need to overthrow them. In their thousand tendencies, they do not represent a will for renewal, but vain and very confused ambitions found in minds that, by becoming paralyzed, actually prepare the terrain for the growth of the reaction. Democratic political methods are a dead weight during revolutionary crises.

As the democrats wear down their initial popularity as assertors of freedom by their endless polemic, and in the absence of any serious political and social revolution, the pre-totalitarian political institutions would inevitably be reconstituted, and the struggle would again develop along the lines of the old class opposition.

The principle whereby the class struggle is the condition to which all political problems are reduced, has become the fundamental guideline of factory workers in particular, and gave consistency to their politics for as long as the fundamental institutions were not questioned. But this approach becomes an instrument which isolates the proletariat, when the need to transform the entire social organization becomes paramount. The workers, educated in the class system, cannot see beyond the demands of their particular class or even their professional category and fail to concern themselves with how their interests link up with those of other social classes. Or they aspire to a unilateral dictatorship of the proletariat in order to achieve the utopistic collectivization of all the material means of production, indicated by centuries of propaganda as the panacea for all evils. This policy attracts no class other than the workers, who thus deprive the other progressive forces of their support, or alternatively leaves them at the mercy of the reaction which skilfully organizes them so as to break up the proletarian movement. Among the various proletarian tendencies, followers of class politics and collectivist ideals, the Communists have recognized the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient following to assure victory so that, unlike the other popular parties, they have turned themselves into a rigidly disciplined movement, exploiting the Russian myth in order to organize the workers, but which does not accept orders from them and uses them in all kinds of political manoeuvrings.

This attitude makes the Communists, during revolutionary crises, more efficient than the democrats. But their ability to maintain the workers as far removed from the other revolutionary forces as they can, by preaching that their "real" revolution is yet to come, turns them into a sectarian element that weakens the sum of the progressive forces at the decisive moment. Beside this, their absolute dependence upon the Russian State, which has repeatedly used them in pursuing its national policies, prevents this Party from undertaking political activity with any continuity. They always need to hide behind a Karoly, a Blum, a Negrin, only to fall headlong into ruin with the democratic puppets they used, since power is achieved and maintained, not simply through cunning but with the ability to respond fully and viably to the needs of modern society.

If tomorrow the struggle were to remain restricted within the traditional national boundaries, it would be very difficult to avoid the old contradictions. The nation States, in fact, have so deeply planned their respective economies, that the main question would soon be which group of economic interests, i.e., which class, should be in control of the plan. The progressive front would be quickly shattered in the brawl between economic classes and categories. The most probable result would be that the reactionaries would benefit more than anyone else.

A real revolutionary movement must arise from among those who have been bold enough to criticize the old political approaches and it must be able to collaborate with democratic and with communist forces; and generally with all those who work for the break-up of totalitarianism, without, however, becoming ensnared by the political practices of any of these. The reactionary forces have capable men and officers who have been trained to command and who will fight tenaciously to preserve their supremacy. In moments of dire need, they know just how to disguise their true nature, saying they stand by freedom, peace, general well-being and the poorer classes.

Already in the past we have seen how they wormed their way into popular movements, paralyzing, deflecting and altering them into precisely the opposite of what they are. They will certainly be the most dangerous force to be faced.

The point they will seek to exploit is the restoration of the nation State. Thus they will be able to latch on to what is, by far the most widespread of popular feelings, so deeply offended by recent events and so easily manipulated to reactionary ends: to patriotic feeling. In this way they can also hope to confound their adversaries' ideas more easily, since for the popular masses, the only political experience acquired to date has been within the national context. It is, therefore, fairly easy to channel them and their more shortsighted leaders towards the reconstruction of the States destroyed in the storm.

If this end is achieved, the forces of reaction will have won. In appearance, these States might well be democratic and socialist on a large scale. It would only be a question of time before power fell into the hands of the reactionaries. National jealousies would be revived, and State would again seek to fulfil its requirements in its armed strength. In a more or less brief space of time the most important duty would be to convert populations into armies. Generals would again command, the monopoly holders would again draw profits from autarchies, the bureaucracy would continue to swell, the priests would keep the masses docile. All the initial achievements would shrivel into nothing, faced with the need to prepare for war once more.

The question which must be resolved first, failing which progress is no more than mere appearance, is the definitive abolition of the division of Europe into national, sovereign States. The collapse of the majority of the States on the continent under the German steam-roller has already given the people of Europe a common destiny: either they will all submit to Hitler's dominion, or, after his fall, they will all enter a revolutionary crisis and will not find themselves separated by, and entrenched in, solid State structures. Feelings today are already far more disposed than they were in the past to accept a federal reorganization of Europe. The harsh experience of recent decades has opened the eyes even of those who refused to see, and has matured many circumstances favourable to our ideal.

All reasonable men recognize that it is impossible to maintain a balance of power among European States with militarist Germany enjoying equal conditions with other countries, nor can Germany be broken up into pieces or held on a chain once it is conquered. We have seen a demonstration that no country within Europe can stay on the sidelines while the others battle: declarations of neutrality and non-aggression pacts come to nought. The uselessness, even harmfulness, of organizations like the League of Nations has been demonstrated: they claimed to guarantee international law without a military force capable of imposing its decisions and respecting the absolute sovereignty of the member States. The principle of non intervention turned out to be absurd: every population was supposed to be left free to choose the despotic government it thought best, in other words virtually assuming that the constitution of each individual States was not a question of vital interest for all the other European nations. The multiple problems which poison international life on the continent have proved to be insoluble: tracing boundaries through areas inhabited by mixed populations, defence of alien minorities, seaports for landlocked countries, the Balkan Question, the Irish problem, and so on. All matters which would find easy solutions in the European Federation, just as corresponding problems, suffered by the small States which became part of a vaster national unity, lost their harshness as they were turned into problems of relationships between various provinces.

Moreover, the end of the sense of security inspired and created by an unassailable Great Britain, which led Britain to Errore. L'origine riferimento non è stata trovata., the dissolution of the French army and the disintegration of the French Republic itself at the first serious collision with the German forces (which, it is to be hoped, will have lessened the chauvinistic attitude of absolute Gallic superiority), and in particular the awareness of the risk of total enslavement are all circumstances that will favour the constitution of a federal regime, which will bring an end to the current anarchy. Furthermore, it is easier to find a basis of agreement for a European arrangement of colonial possessions since England has accepted the principle of India's independence and since France has potentially lost its entire empire in recognizing its defeat.

To all of this must be added the disappearance of some of the most important dynasties, and the fragility of the basis which sustains the ones that survive. It must be taken into account that these dynasties, by considering the various countries as their own traditional appanage, together with the powerful interests backing them, represented a serious obstacle to the rational organization of the United States of Europe, which can only be based on the republican constitution of federated countries. And, once the horizon of the old Continent is superseded, and all the peoples who make up humanity are included in a single design, it will have to be recognized that the European Federation is the only conceivable guarantee ensuring that relationships with American and Asiatic peoples will work on the basis of peaceful co-operation, writing for a more distant future when the political unity of the entire world will become possible.

Therefore, the dividing line between progressive and reactionary parties no longer coincides with the formal lines of more or less democracy, or the pursuit of more or less socialism, but the division falls along a very new and substantial line: those who conceive the essential purpose and goal of struggle as being the ancient one, the conquest of national political power , and who, although involuntarily, play into the hands of reactionary forces, letting the incandescent lava of popular passions set in the old moulds, and thus allowing old absurdities to arise once again, and those who see the main purpose as the creation of a solid international State, who will direct popular forces towards this goal, and who, even if they were to win national power, would use it first and foremost as an instrument for achieving international unity.

With propaganda and action, seeking to establish in every possible way the agreements and links among the individual movements which are certainly in the process of being formed in the various countries, the foundation must be built now for a movement that knows how to mobilize all forces for the birth of the new organism which will be the grandest creation, and the newest, that has occurred in Europe for centuries; in order to constitute a steady federal State, that will have at its disposal a European armed service instead of national armies; that will break decisively economic autarkies, the backbone of totalitarian regimes; that will have sufficient means to see that its deliberations for the maintenance of common order are executed in the individual federal sates, while each State will retain the autonomy it needs for a plastic articulation and development of political life according to the particular characteristics of the various peoples.

If a sufficient number of men in the main European countries understand this, then victory will soon fall into their hands, since both circumstances and opinion will be favourable to their efforts. They will have before them parties and factions that have already been disqualified by the disastrous experience of the last twenty years. Since it will be the moment for new action, it will also be the moment for new men: the MOVEMENT FOR A FREE AND UNITED EUROPE.

III - Postwar duties. Reform of society

A free and united Europe is the necessary premise to the strengthening of modern civilization as regards which the totalitarian era is only a temporary setback. As soon as this era ends the historical process of struggle against social inequalities and privileges will be restored in full. All the old conservative institutions that have hindered this process will either have collapsed or will be teetering on the verge of collapse. The crisis in these institutions must be boldly and decisively exploited.

In order to respond to our needs, the European revolution must be socialist, i.e. its goal must be the emancipation of the working classes and the creation of more humane conditions for them. The guiding light in determining what steps need to be taken, however, cannot simply be the utterly doctrinaire principle whereby private ownership of the material means of production must in principle be abolished and only temporarily tolerated when dispensing with it entirely. Wholesale nationalization of the economy under State control was the first, utopian form taken by the working classes' concept of their freedom from the yoke of capitalism. But when this State control is achieved, it does not produce the desired results but leads to a regime where the entire population is subservient to a restricted class of bureaucrats who run the economy.

The truly fundamental principle of socialism, vis-à-vis which general collectivization was no more than a hurried and erroneous inference, is the principle which states that, far from dominating man, economic forces, like the forces of nature, should be subject to man, guided and controlled by him in the most rational way, so that the broadest strata of the population will not become their victims. The huge forces of progress that spring from individual interests, must not be extinguished by the grey dullness of routine. Otherwise, the same insoluble problem will arise: how to stimulate the spirit of initiative using salary differentials and other provisions of the same kind. The forces of progress must be extolled and extended, by giving them increasing opportunities for development and employment. At the same time, the tracks guiding these forces towards objectives of greatest benefit for all society must be strengthened and perfected.

Private property must be abolished, limited, corrected, or extended according to the circumstances and not according to any dogmatic principle. This guiding principle is a natural feature in the process of forming a European economic life freed from the nightmares of militarism or national bureaucratism. Rational solutions must replace irrational ones, even in the working class consciousness. With a view to indicating the content of this principle in greater detail, we emphasize the following points while stressing the need to assess the appropriateness of every point in the programme and means of achieving them in relationship to the indispensable premise of European unity:

a) Enterprises with a necessarily monopolistic activity, and in a position to exploit consumers, cannot be left in the hands of private ownership: for example, electricity companies or industries of vital interest to the community which require protective duties, subsidies, preferential orders etc. if they are to survive (the most visible example of this kind of industry so far in Italy is the steel industry); and enterprises which, owing to the amount of capital invested, the number of workers employed, and the significance of the sector involved can blackmail various State bodies, forcing them to adopt the policies most beneficial to themselves (for example, the mining industries, large banks, large weapons manufacturers). In this field, nationalization must certainly be introduced on a vast scale, without regard for acquired rights.

b) Private property and inheritance legislation in the past was so drawn up as to permit the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, privileged members of society. In a revolutionary crisis this wealth must be distributed in an egalitarian way thereby eliminating the parasitic classes and giving the workers the means of production they need to improve their economic standing and achieve greater independence. We are thus proposing an agrarian reform which will increase the number of owners enormously by giving land to those who actually farm it and an industrial reform which will extend workers' ownership in non-nationalized sectors, through co-operative adventures, employee profit-sharing, and so on.

c) The young need to be assisted with all the measures needed to reduce the gap between the starting positions in the struggle to survive to a minimum. In particular, State schools ought to provide a real chance for those who deserve it to continue their studies to the highest level, instead of restricting these opportunities to wealthy students. In each branch of study leading to training in different crafts and the various liberal and scientific professions, State schools should train the number of students which corresponds to the market requirements, so that average salaries will be roughly equal for all the professional categories, regardless of the differing rates of remuneration within each category according to individual skills.

d) The almost unlimited potential of modern technology to mass produce essential goods guarantees, with relatively low social costs, that everyone can have food, lodging, clothing and the minimum of comfort needed to preserve a sense of human dignity. Human solidarity towards those who fall in the economic struggle ought not, therefore, to be manifested with humiliating forms of charity that produce the very same evils they seek to remedy but ought to consist in a series of measures which unconditionally, and regardless of whether a person is able to work or not, guarantee a decent standard of living for all without lessening the stimulus to work and save. In this way, no-one will be forced any longer to accept enslaving work contracts because of their poverty.

e) Working class freedom can only be achieved when the conditions described have been fulfilled. The working classes must not be left to the mercy of the economic policies of monopolistic trade unions who simply apply the overpowering methods characteristic, above all, of great capital to the shopfloor. The workers must once again be free to choose their own trusted representatives when collectively establishing the conditions under which they will agree to work, and the State must give them the legal means to guarantee the proper implementation of the terms agreed to. But all monopolistic tendencies can be fought effectively once these social changes have been fulfilled.

These are the changes needed both to create very broad-based support around the new institutional system from a large number of citizens willing to defend its survival and to stamp freedom and a strong sense of social solidarity onto political life in a very marked way. Political freedom with these foundations will not just have a formal meaning but a real meaning for all since citizens will be independent, and will be sufficiently informed as to be able to exert continuous and effective control over the ruling class.

It would be superfluous to dwell at length on constitutional institutions, not knowing at this stage, or being able to foresee, the circumstances under which they will be drawn up and will have to operate. We can do no more than repeat what everyone knows regarding the need for representative bodies, the process of developing legislation, the independence of the courts (which will replace the present system) safeguarding impartial application of legislation and the freedom of the press and right of assembly guaranteeing informed public opinion and the possibility for all citizens to participate effectively in the State's life. Only two issues require further and deeper definition because of their particular significance for our country at this moment: the relationship between Church and State and the nature of political representation.

a) The Treaty which concluded the Vatican's alliance with Fascism in Italy must be abolished so that the purely lay character of the State can be asserted and so that the supremacy of the State in civil matters can be unequivocably established. All religious faiths are to be equally respected, but the State must no longer have earmark funds for religion.

b) The house of cards that Fascism built with its corporativism will collapse together with the other aspects of the totalitarian State. There are those who believe that material for the new constitutional order can be salvaged from this wreck. We disagree. In totalitarian States, the corporative chambers are the crowning hoax of police control over the workers. Even if the corporative chambers were a sincere expression of the will of the various categories of producers, the representative bodies of the various professional categories could never be qualified to handle questions of general policy. In more specifically economic matters, they would become bodies for the accumulation of power and privilege among the categories with the strongest trade union representation. The unions will have broad collaborative functions with State bodies which are appointed to resolve problems directly involving these unions, but they should have absolutely no legislative power, since this would create a kind of feudal anarchy in the economic life of the country, leading to renewed political despotism. Many of those who were ingenuously attracted by the myth of corporativism, can and should be attracted by the job of renewing structures. But they must realize the absurdity of the solution they vaguely desire. Corporativism can only be concretely expressed in the form it was given by totalitarian States regimenting the workers beneath officials who monitored everything they did in the interests of the ruling class The revolutionary party cannot be amateurishly improvised at the decisive moment, but must begin to be formed at least as regards its central political attitude, its upper echelons, the basic directives for action. It must not be a heterogeneous mass of tendencies, united merely negatively and temporarily, i.e. united by their anti-Fascist past and the mere expectation of the fall of the totalitarian regime, in which all and sundry are ready to go their own separate ways once this goal has been reached. The revolutionary party, on the contrary, knows that only at this stage will it its real work begin. It must therefore be made up of men who agree on the main issues for the future.

Its methodical propaganda must penetrate everywhere there are people oppressed by the present regime. Taking as its starting point the problem which is the source of greatest suffering to individuals and classes, it must show how this problem is linked to other problems, and what the real solution will be. But from this gradually increasing circle of sympathizers, it must pick out and recruit into the organisation only those who have identified and accepted the European revolution as the main goal in their lives, who carry out the necessary work with strict discipline day in day out, carefully checking up on its continuous and effective safety, even in the most dangerously illegal situations. These recruits will be the solid network that will give consistency to the more ephemeral sphere of the sympathizers.

While overlooking no occasion or sector in which to spread its cause, it must be active first and foremost in those environments which are most significant as centres for the circulation of ideas and recruiting of combative men. It must be particularly active vis-à-vis the working class and intellectuals, the two social groups most sensitive, in the present situation, and most decisive for tomorrow's world. The first group is the one which least gave in to the totalitarian rod and which will the quickest to reorganize its ranks. The intellectuals, particularly the younger intellectuals, are the group which feels most spiritually suffocated and disgusted with the current despotism. Bit by bit other social groups will gradually be drawn into the general movement.

Any movement which fails in its duty to ally these forces, is condemned to sterility. Because if the movement is made up of intellectuals alone, it will lack the strength to crush reactionary resistance, and it will distrust and be distrusted by the working class and even though inspired by democratic sentiment, when faced with difficulties it will be liable to shift its position, as regard the mobilisation of other classes, against the workers, and thus restoring Fascism. If, instead, the movement is backed only by the proletariat, it will be deprived of the clarity of thought which only intellectuals can give and which is so vital in identifying new paths and new duties: the movement would be a prisoner of the old class structure, looking on everyone as a potential enemy, and will slither towards the doctrinaire Communist solution.

During the revolutionary crisis, this movement will have the task of organizing and guiding progressive forces, using all the popular bodies which form spontaneously, incandescent melting pots in which the revolutionary masses are mixed, not for the creation of plebiscites, but rather waiting to be guided. It derives its vision and certainty of what must be done from the knowledge that it represents the deepest needs of modern society and not from any previous recognition by popular will, as yet inexistant. In this way it issues the basic guidelines of the new order, the first social discipline directed to the unformed masses. By this dictatorship of the revolutionary party a new State will be formed, and around this State new, genuine democracy will grow.

There are no grounds for fearing that such a revolutionary regime will develop into renewed despotism. This arises only when the tendency has been to shape a servile society. But if the revolutionary party continues resolutely from the very outset to create the conditions required for individual freedom whereby every citizen can really participate in the State's life, which will evolve, despite secondary political crises, towards increasing understanding and acceptance of the new order by all - hence towards an increasing possibility of working effectively and creating free political institutions.

The time has now come to get rid of these old cumbersome burdens and to be ready for whatever turns up, usually so different from what was expected, to get rid of the inept among the old and create new energies among the young. Today, in an effort to begin shaping the outlines of the future, those who have understood the reasons for the current crisis in European civilization, and who have therefore inherited the ideals of movements dedicated to raising the dignity humanity, which were shipwrecked either on their inability to understand the goal to be pursued or on the means by which to achieve it have begun to meet and seek each other.

The road to pursue is neither easy nor certain, but it must be followed and it will be done!