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ARTICLES and comments advancing the idea of a reorganized and united Europe began to appear in the press of certain countries during World War II. Some writers conceived the unification of Europe in the shape of a west-European bloc, or west-European federation. Subsequently, Mr. Churchill proposed the establishment of a United States of Europe, and Mr. Léon Blum, desiring to find an innocent-sounding name for this formation, proposed to call it a west-European family. Lastly, on Mr. Churchill's initiative, a United Europe Committee, composed of Conservatives, Liberals and even some Laborites, has very recently been formed in London. In view of the fact that the proponents of a United States of Europe are becoming increasingly insistent -- some of them, indeed, like Lord Vansittart, posing the dilemma degeneration or unity -- we should make an earnest effort to analyze what precisely these "uniters" propose, whose support they expect to secure and what political and economic objectives the initiators of this hue and cry really have in view.
The slogan of a United States of Europe is not new. Much has been written about a United Europe and eternal peace in the past two or three centuries. Let us leave aside remoter times and consider only the period between the two world wars.
In 1922 the idea of a Pan-Europe was suggested by an Austrian, Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, who succeeded in winning over the leaders of some of the European countries. But this was a private initiative, and the majority of outstanding European statesmen paid little attention to his congresses and manifestoes. These did strike a responsive chord in some hearts, however, for an underlying note of his writings and speeches was the need of uniting Europe against the Soviet Union.
Pan-Europe assumed a semi-official character in September 1929, during the Tenth Assembly of the League of Nations. At a meeting of heads of delegations which Aristide Briand called on September 9 he proposed a European Federal Union; and he was requested to circulate a memorandum on the question to all the governments, including the Soviet Union. Accordingly, Briand drafted a lengthy memorandum, proposing officially the creation of a European Federal Union, and in May 1930 he sent it to 27 European states. It urged "the desirability of an understanding between the Governments concerned with a view to the institution, among European peoples, of a kind of federal bond establishing among them a régime of constant solidarity, and permitting them, in all cases when it might be necessary, to enter into immediate contact for the study, the discussion, and the solution of the problems susceptible of concerning them in common."
The French Government stated that its proposal "found its justification in the very definite sentiment of a collective responsibility in face of the danger which threatens European peace, from the political as well as from the economic and social point of view, because of the lack of coördination which still prevails in the general economy of Europe." It called attention to the divided state of the Continent, to the fact that Europe had 20,000 kilometers of customs barriers. It developed at length the following four theses: 1. The necessity for a general pact, however elementary, affirming the principle of European moral unity and the solidarity of the European states. 2. The necessity for proper organs, including a European Conference and a Permanent European Political Committee, to enable the European Union to perform its functions. 3. The necessity for laying down fundamental directives to guide the European Committee in drawing up its program. 4. The advisability of leaving all questions of application either to the future European Conference or the future European Committee.
Briand's recommendations embraced not only political problems, but also extended to fundamental economic questions: general economics, lowering of customs tariffs, economic equipment, means of communication and transit, finance, labor, public health, intellectual coöperation, inter-parliamentary relations, administration, etc. The memorandum concluded with the following words: "Union in order to live and flourish -- such is the impelling necessity that henceforth faces the nations of Europe."
Briand's original plan envisaged the creation of a European Federal Union with broad powers, outside the framework of the League of Nations. Its purpose was threefold: 1, it was to establish France's political and economic hegemony on the Continent; 2, its edge was to be directed against the Soviet Union; and 3, it was to protect Europe from the political and economic influence of the United States of America. More or less favorable replies were received from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Jugoslavia and Czechoslovakia -- in a word, from those states which, with France at their head, constituted the cordon sanitaire against the Soviet Union.
The British Labor Government adopted a very cautious attitude towards the French proposal. Its official note of July 16, 1930, after several complimentary remarks to the French Government, went on to say that: "His Majesty's Government think it possible that an exclusive and independent European Union of the kind proposed might emphasize or create tendencies to intercontinental rivalries and hostilities which it is important in the general interest to diminish and avoid."
This implied that the British Labor Government had no intention of bringing grist to the French mill. If to this it be added that Germany's attitude toward Briand's project was one of polite but cold semi-approval, that Italy was frankly hostile and suspicious, that a number of countries feared to fall into the grip of French finance capital, and that, what was most important, the general public in the European countries were alarmed at the proposal for a Pan-Europe directed against the U. S. S. R. and the U. S. A., looking upon it as a harbinger of war, it will be clear why the plan was a failure.
Another circumstance should be borne in mind. The European Federal Union was to consist only of members of the League of Nations. When, therefore, the acting Secretary-General of the League, M. Avenol, sent an invitation to the Soviet Government on behalf of the commission for the study of a European Union to take part in an inquiry into the world economic crisis, the Soviet Government replied that it had its own views as to the reasons for the permanent economic antagonisms among states and for the economic depressions and crises that periodically beset capitalist countries, and also as to the methods whereby genuine solidarity among nations could be achieved.
The Soviet Government's note further said: "It is absolutely strange and incomprehensible that a group of European states should appropriate to themselves the right to decide whether another group of European states should or should not be admitted to a union which claims to be Pan-European. Nor is it, of course, any the less strange when a country like Switzerland, which occupies only .4 percent of the territory of Europe, or even Norway, which occupies 3.1 percent of the territory of Europe, opposes the admission of a state like the U. S. S. R., whose European part alone occupies 45 percent of the territory of all Europe, an area more than double that of France, Belgium, Rumania, Jugoslavia, Switzerland, Spain, Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway together." While not refusing to take part in discussions of certain questions jointly with other countries, the Soviet Government drew attention to the dangerous tendencies manifested by the sponsors of a European Federal Union which was to embrace only a part of Europe.
Lord Cecil, the British representative at the League, frankly voiced his opposition to the proposal. He said among other things: "A Europe opposed to the whole world would be as terrible a menace to the cause of peace as international rivalry."
After 1932, the European Commission of Inquiry for the European Union, formed in 1930, ceased to function. The plan of the French Government and the numerous memoranda of European governments were committed to the archives, where they rest undisturbed to this day. Thus the much-boosted plan for a union of Europe ended, as the French say, en queue de poisson. But when Hitler came to power in Germany, the question of uniting Europe arose on a new basis. Hitler's "New Order" followed the line traced by Briand, but this time it was to be in the interests of German imperialism. Just as Briand had revived the plan of Napoleon I,[i] so Hitler drew out of the archives the plan for the union of Europe which had been framed in such detail during World War I by the ideologists of German imperialism, the plan which Wilhelm II, Hindenburg, and Ludendorff had tried to put into effect by fire and sword. Hitler's Germany also laid claim to leadership in Europe, but in the first stage her aim was to unite Europe against Britain and America on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other. In the second stage, Hitler's Germany tried to smash the Soviet Union, with a view to utilizing its resources against Britain and America and to creating an agrarian hinterland for the "New Order" -- in other words, for the union of Europe under German imperialism.
How this attempt ended is universal knowledge. Hitler's Germany had set herself an impossible task. She collapsed in the effort to realize it. Again Europe was saved from the "uniters."
The sponsor of the idea of a union of western Europe was General Franco, who toward the end of 1944, foreseeing the defeat of his allies and patrons, Hitler and Mussolini, wrote a letter to Churchill in which he stressed the necessity of uniting Europe against the Soviet Union. As long as Churchill was in power, he refrained from giving direct support to this cry, although it was no secret that the British Government looked with favor on the idea of the west-European federation. So did the Laborites. Harold Laski, then Chairman of the Labor Party, interviewed by a correspondent of the French weekly, Tribune Economique, in August 1945, declared: "The attitude of our party toward the project for an economic union of Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Norway and Denmark is quite definite. We favor the closest coöperation in all spheres." Several other Laborites spoke approvingly, but the Labor Party did not advocate the idea officially.
The task was taken up by Churchill when, by the will of the British people, he found himself released from government affairs. He now thought it fitting to boost publicly the idea suggested by General Franco. At Fulton, Missouri, March 5, 1946, he furiously attacked the Soviet Union and the new democracies. Then, having received a telling rebuff from Stalin, he tried to tone down the impression and declared that he had been misunderstood.
But on September 19, 1946, Churchill delivered his address at Zurich University, replete with such highly colored phrases as the "tragedy of Europe" and "the babel of voices among the victors and the silence of despair among the vanquished." He recalled Gladstone's "blessed act of oblivion." He recommended as the way of salvation from darkness, chaos and crisis the building of a kind of United States of Europe. Churchill warned his hearers that "time may be short" and that it was necessary to create "a European family" at once, because "we dwell strangely and precariously under the shield and, I will even say, under the protection, of the atomic bomb." This hysterical and panicky speech evoked both ardent approval and ardent protest. The political differentiation would affect all countries, including the United States, for, instead of uniting, Churchill's plan would split the freedom-loving nations for the sake of reconciliation with the sponsors of Fascist régimes.
But who is to unite Europe, and for what purpose? Churchill considers that the initiative and leadership should be assumed by France and Germany. Which Germany? Evidently, that part of Germany which is under control of the British, American and French forces of occupation. But it is known that Germany is still very far from having been denazified, that the British, American and French zones are still a long way from having been democratized, that the German problem still largely remains to be discussed by the Allies. Mr. Churchill is in a hurry just because Germany has not yet been democratized; that is why he proposes a bloc of France and Germany to take over the leadership of a United Europe. No wonder, then, that Heinrich Leuchtgens, the leader of the new German National Democratic Party, which he publicly calls the "sole Right party in Europe," declared that his party is out for a "west-European alliance of states under the leadership of Great Britain," and voiced his "respect and admiration" for Mr. Churchill. Birds of a feather flock together.
Mr. Churchill omits to say what rôle is to be played by Britain. He decks her in the toga of disinterested patron, and would have us believe that she is pursuing no aims of her own, either political or economic, but is motivated solely by a spirit of altruism and human charity. There is probably no politician in the world that believes in the disinterestedness of British foreign policy. Let us recall what England's distinguished Foreign Secretary, George Canning, said: "That noble and lofty disinterestedness which lends immortality to the names of heroes cannot and must not be regarded as a suitable motive of political actions among nations." Sir Arthur Willert, from whose book "The Frontiers of England" this quotation is borrowed, says: "These words are as true today as they were then."
Which countries, then, are to be admitted to the United States of Europe? So far, Mr. Churchill has avoided expressing himself specifically on this point. But from what his ardent followers have written, it appears that the idea is to unite France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries. Aristide Briand's Pan-Europe stopped at the Soviet frontiers of 1931; today the United States of Europe is to exclude not only the Soviet Union, but also Finland, Poland, Rumania, Hungary, the Soviet zone of Germany, Bulgaria, Jugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Bearing in mind that in European Russia there are eight Soviet Republics with a total population of 130,000,000, that the countries bordering on the Soviet Union -- which are also to be left out of the United States of Europe -- have a population of not less than 90,000,000, it will be seen that Mr. Churchill is proposing to unite half the population of Europe and to set it against the other half.
Although Mr. Churchill would magnanimously entrust the leadership of half of Europe to France and Germany, this is only a symbolic gesture. What he actually has in mind, of course, is that the master of the fate of Europe will be Great Britain.
What is the political and economic program of the United States of Europe? Is it intended as a political, an economic, or a military-strategical union? All three. Churchill wants to abolish customs barriers and thus open a number of countries to the free penetration of British goods. He wants half of Europe to be headed by conservatives, so that the necessary quantity of cannon fodder may be found for eventual military enterprises. Since Europe is not yet a British colony, Churchill says nothing about this. His idea is first to form the bloc, and then to talk about its aims and objects. But can the nations of Europe be expected to follow this political impressionist?
If the intention really were to rehabilitate the war-devastated areas and to promote the economic development of the European countries, if the object really were the maintenance of peace, why then exclude from the United States of Europe the Soviet Union, which has done more than Great Britain to defeat Hitler's Germany? Why are countries like Poland and Jugoslavia, which have suffered more than others from Nazi aggression, excluded from the bloc? Obviously, these are not the guiding considerations, and the real idea is to weld together an anti-Soviet bloc, a bloc directed against the nations which suffered most from the war.
But is it to be only an anti-Soviet bloc? Of course not. Mr. Churchill juggles with words and pays courteous compliments to the United States of America, promising her the patronage over the United States of Europe. But these are nothing but diplomatic flourishes, for the bloc would be also directed against America. One of its purposes is to fence off a part of Europe from the political influence and economic competition of the United States and to create the most favorable conditions for British economic and political leadership in this part of Europe.
If Mr. Churchill had said what he thought, his Zurich speech would have been couched roughly as follows: "Britain has been weakened economically and politically. Our allies, the Soviet Union and the United States of America, are now stronger than we are. Our colonies, and especially India -- the foundation of Britain's might -- are in a state of dangerous ferment. We must unite as large a number of European countries as possible so as to fend off the Soviet Union and prevent the United States from penetrating into our European Continent. It would be folly to declare openly that we want to form a bloc against the Soviet Union and the United States. Let us then form a bloc against Communism, against eastern totalitarianism. That will make it easier to put through a series of anti-American measures and to establish the hegemony of British imperialism in Europe."
That is what Churchill should have said. Instead, he followed in the footsteps of Hitler, who began with an "anti-Comintern pact" and ended with war and disaster. Beneath these anti-Communist sprigs of lilac Mr. Churchill is concealing deep-laid and far-reaching schemes, and he seems to believe that no one will divine them behind his oratorical tinsel and bombast. It was not for nothing that the late President Roosevelt, as we are told by Elliott Roosevelt in his "As He Saw It," remarked to his son after a stormy altercation with Churchill: "Winston is an old Tory, a real old Tory of the old school."
Churchill's plan would split not only Europe, but other countries as well, and first of all America. The idea of a union of Europe on Churchill's lines evoked a sympathetic response from Mr. John Foster Dulles, who never loses an opportunity to support a reactionary idea. Mr. Dulles, of course, is opposed to the "Potsdam dictate," and favors an "economic union of Europe"; and while he predicts that such a union would promote the prosperity of 200,000,000 Europeans (which is precisely half the population of Europe), he is delighted with Mr. Attlee's phrase: "Europe must federate or perish." He declares that "We have, more than any other people, experience in using the federal formula and developing its manifold possibilities." As though it were a matter of formulas! The important thing is what political and economic content is to be given to the federal formulas -- who is to be united, and why.
Mr. Henry Wallace, who is not so easily taken in by fine talk about the celestial virtues of a United States of Europe, looks upon Churchill's plan quite differently. Wallace says that Churchill's fundamental purpose is to "encircle the Soviet Union," and that he "turns to the United States for support of his reactionary anti-Soviet program." "Stripped of its fine words," Wallace writes, "the Tory position is essentially that France and Germany must combine to be the buffer against Russia. . . . Germany and France will provide the foot soldiers if trouble arises."
Mr. Churchill says that the United States of Europe should be formed within the framework of the international organization of the United Nations. But if its aims are to be the same as those of the United Nations Charter, why is a United States of Europe needed at all? Mr. Churchill would scarcely have undertaken to push the scheme if it were only a question of duplicating the international organization. Consequently, the new organization, as he plans it, is to occupy itself with questions that do not come within the functions and jurisdiction of the United Nations. Why, then, does Mr. Churchill not say so? From whatever side we approach it, the reactionary nature of the United States of Europe, or the west-European bloc, or the west-European family, stands plainly out.
What was the attitude of the British Labor Government to Mr. Churchill's scheme? The Daily Herald of September 21, 1946, contained a note that: "The Foreign Office stated last night that the Government was in no way consulted or informed about the speech made in Zurich by Mr. Winston Churchill." That was all. But does the fact that Churchill acted on his own initiative absolve the Labor Government from having its own opinion?
In the middle of January, the United Europe Committee was formed in London, with Churchill at its head. Its members include prominent Conservatives like Lord Amery and Lord Vansittart; representatives of the clergy like the Right Rev. Edward Ellis, Bishop of Nottingham and the Very Rev. Walter Matthews, Dean of St. Paul's; some Liberals like Lord Layton, and a few Laborites. The formation of the committee was acclaimed in the big newspapers, by the B. B. C. and by prominent Conservatives who have long been toying with the idea of uniting Europe after their own fashion -- in other words, bringing part of Europe under the sway of the British Empire.
The committee stated in its first declaration: "This problem is so urgent that if the governments find it impossible to undertake its realization at present, the people of good will in all countries should unite before it is too late. Europe must unite if she wants to preserve her civilization." Here again we have the warning sounded by Churchill in Zurich -- unite before it is too late.
Viscount Templewood (Sir Samuel Hoare) said: "The present position on the Continent is indefensible -- separate zones, impassable frontiers, exchange control, no freedom of movement, pernicious ideas of autarchy and many more obstacles stifling European civilization . . ." (Note here the suggestion for the elimination of customs barriers.) "There was a risk that it would be regarded either as a means of reinsuring the British Empire or as a Western bloc against Russia," he continued, deeming it necessary to deny any such assumption in advance. But the more one reads his speeches and the speeches of the other "uniters," the more one is strengthened in the conviction as to their real purpose. If there were any lingering doubt it would be dispelled by a perusal of the explanations given by Lord Layton, and by Duncan Sandys, Churchill's son-in-law, at a press conference in London on January 16. They said that "a United Europe will naturally strive for a close friendship and coöperation with the Soviet Union and U. S. A." But if it is intended to establish close coöperation with the U. S. S. R., why are the U. S. S. R. and its neighbors excluded from the bloc from the very outset? These would-be splitters of Europe obviously cannot get their story straight. Asked whether the Soviet Union would be invited to join the movement for a united Europe, Lord Amery replied: "The United Europe would be an association of countries of common culture and spiritual outlook." Comment is superfluous.
One might cite scores of enthusiastic articles in praise of Churchill's new offspring (nine-tenths of the British press is in the hands of the Conservatives), but, as Bismarck said, what the newspapers say is not necessarily public opinion.
It becomes the more important to know the attitude of the British Labor Government to the Churchill scheme because several fairly prominent members of the Labor Party have joined the committee. The Government's opinion is unknown. But we have the opinion of Mr. Percy Cudlipp, editor of the Daily Herald, the Government's semi-official organ: "Indeed, this Committee excludes Soviet Russia from its conception of a United Europe. It also excludes those countries which border on Russia and are under her influence. . . . I am convinced that in so far as Churchill is concerned, this plan represents primarily an attempt to play up power politics against Russia."
The Executive Committee of the Labor Party advised six Laborites not to support the United Europe Committee. Morgan Phillips, the Party's secretary, declared: "The future peace and progress of Europe depend on the success of the United Nations and therefore on the strengthening of friendly collaboration between Russia, America and Britain. Churchill, however, explicitly excludes Russia from 'United Europe,' which he envisaged. This fact, coupled with Churchill's record and known opinions regarding Russia, means that the Committee's policy will be interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as aiming at the elimination of Russian influence from Europe."
Soviet public opinion objects to a United States of Europe of this kind, not only because the scheme is being pushed by "an old Tory of the old school," but because the program is anti-democratic and fraught with calamity for Europe and mankind generally. And no matter who the head of a committee with a program of this kind might be -- whether it were headed by a Conservative, a Liberal, a British Laborite or a French Socialist -- the organization must meet with stern opposition from all progressively minded people who want to see Germany and her former satellites really denazified and democratized, who want to see all nations, including the European, not divided, but coöperating in the work of eradicating Fascism, the cause of wars, and of ensuring stable and enduring peace.
A group of Labor M.P.'s (Lang, Crossman, King, Foot, Dodds and others) moved a resolution in the House of Commons calling upon the Government to intimate "Britain's readiness to federate with any other nations willing to do so on a basis of a federal constitution to be agreed by a representative Constituent Assembly." This resolution also favors federation, but not on Churchill lines. However, it does not seem to be very clear on the subject. One might say that there are different opinions and big divergences in the Labor Party on this issue. Some follow Churchill, others want what Churchill wants but without Churchill, some advocate a west-European bloc, but of a special kind, others a world government, and so forth. But behind all this divergency there is one leading idea -- to rally around Britain as many countries as possible, having a common culture and spiritual outlook, in order, with their help and at their expense, to deliver Britain from its present political and economic difficulties.
This is borne out by the reaction to Léon Blum's visit to England and the negotiations for a treaty of mutual assistance between Britain and France. Since M. Blum favors a west-European bloc, around this table met fellow-thinkers of the past (members of the Second Socialist International) and the present. The British Conservative press gleefully announced that Churchill approved of the proposed treaty and that agreement between Britain and France would serve as the prelude to, and foundation of, a United States of Europe. How times have changed! In 1930, a British Labor Government turned down Briand's Pan-Europe because it implied French hegemony in continental Europe; today Léon Blum supports British plans for the creation of a west-European bloc, which owes its popularity in England to the fact that both Conservatives and Laborites hope Britain will play the dominating rôle in it.
France is deeply divided on this issue. Grave suspicion is aroused by the anti-Soviet implications of a scheme to unite half of Europe. If Léon Blum is prepared to act as junior partner to his friend Attlee, that is his affair -- but Léon Blum is not France by a long way! One scarcely thinks that the French National Assembly and Council of the Republic, to say nothing of the French people, will consent to the conversion of the Fourth French Republic into an instrument for strengthening Great Britain at the expense of half the Continent -- in short, will turn France into a tool of intrigue against the U. S. S. R.
Why has Churchill taken up the idea of a United States of Europe? What would be his attitude to a proposal for a United States of Africa, with Great Britain outside and opposed to it? Why does he think that Europe needs the leadership of the British Conservatives and of himself? The freedom-loving nations have disposed of one would-be Führer of Europe; why should they now need a Führer of the British brand? The British people sacked the Conservatives and cast off the Conservative shirt; what reason have Churchill and his friends to think that the peoples of Europe are willing to don the old threadbare political linen?
Some protagonists of the projected United States of Europe (Lord Vansittart, for example) have made attempts to prove that the Churchill plan dovetails with the idea of regional arrangements provided for in the United Nations Charter. This is not true. The Charter of the United Nations (Article 52) does not preclude the existence of regional arrangements or agencies to deal with matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security and which are appropriate for regional action, provided such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
From what has been said already, it is obvious that a federation of one-half of Europe against the other half is in no way consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. If we adhere to the United Nations Charter -- and this is the sacred duty of all freedom-loving nations -- a constructive solution of this problem must be along the following lines:
1. Alliances of groups of countries must not be directed against any other group of countries. They must not be anti-Soviet or anti-American or anti-European.
2. Regional arrangements should not pursue aims that contradict the United Nations Charter in letter or in spirit.
4. Former Axis countries and their satellites can be included in these regional arrangements only after they have been denazified and democratized and after they have been accepted as members of the United Nations. Only a country as a whole, and not parts of it, may be a member of a regional alliance.
5. Those countries that played such a big part in the defeat of the Axis countries and their satellites must not be excluded from these regional arrangements, which, according to the United Nations, are to serve the purpose of maintaining peace and security.
This is a constructive solution to the problem which Mr. Churchill and his followers are deliberately making more involved and confused. If the supporters of the idea of a United States of Europe have these aims in mind, why do they need to establish this special organization?
Churchill is a fervid imperialist and reactionary romanticist. He looks to the past; he would like to turn back the wheel of history. But the peoples of Europe want to go forward, not backward. The whole world has changed, all peoples have developed in political mentality in this war. British imperialism will not succeed in filling the vacuum formed after the defeat of Hitler Germany by creating a "new order" in Europe on the Churchill pattern. The peoples of Europe do not want a split under the label of union. For that reason the plan is doomed to failure.
[i] Napoleon I wrote in his political testament on April 17, 1821: "I was obliged to tame Europe with arms; this should now be done by conviction. Europe must be united by the unbreakable bonds of a federation."