Courtesy Reuters

The Search for Consensus


THE politics of Western Europe center around two great achievements-the Atlantic Alliance and the Common Market. At this point in time, one would be blind not to see that both are in danger. How could this have come about?

The Atlantic Alliance was concluded in Washington in 1948, born of the fear aroused among the Western democracies by Soviet imperialism, and particularly by its recent and spectacular demonstration in the coup d'état in Czechoslovakia. The signers aimed to defend the free world against possible Soviet aggression. They intended, in any event, to raise what they hoped would be an insurmountable barrier against any Soviet advance in Europe and North America.

The idea of a united Europe came back to life at a congress at The Hague in 1948, after a state of unconsciousness into which it had been plunged by fascism, Hitlerism, Communism and the Second World War. Its advocates (who included some of those who had signed the Washington treaty) aimed to lift Europe out of weakness to its former level of strength and influence, so that it might become a full-fledged partner of its great American ally.

There was no contradiction or conflict between the concept of the Atlantic Alliance and of the European alliance. Rising from its ruins, Europe rallied to both ideas, and-let it never be forgotten-found peace and prosperity.

How is it possible that a system which brought peace and prosperity can now be in danger? The answer is perfectly clear. The enemy we thought we had defeated raises his head once more, not yet strong enough to win but vigorous enough to cause serious trouble. The enemy is nationalism.

Obviously, I do not mean to cast aspersions on a reasonable love for one's fatherland and its traditions, a legitimate reverence for the memory of great historical events, and, for that matter, a preference for certain features peculiar to one's own community. What I wish to condemn is an idea which

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