One of the few rays of light in this dark postwar period is the “European Idea.” If the nations of the Old Continent’s rump, under the pressure of Stalin’s new strength and their own new weakness, do begin to resolve their discords and strive toward a higher nationalism—that of Europe, and eventually, perhaps, that of humanity—then the recent war will not have been an unmitigated calamity, and Stalin’s postwar policies will in some measure have brought benefit to humanity. That European unity is closer than we, in this country, realize, is shown to us here by Herbert Luethy, who also shows us all the obstacles it still has to face. The present article was translated from the German by Felix Giovanelli.




“Europe,” an idea presumably talked to death some time ago, has finally found the beginning of a physical realization in the “Black Land” of the coke piles and blast ovens east and west of the Rhine, between Flanders and Westphalia. Behind this beginning lies a succession of false starts. From the Marshall Plan in its first version to the Pella, Petsche, and Pleven plans, we had composite commercial entities, like Fritalux and Francital, that never once made the slightest impression, statistically, on the stock and financial exchanges; tariff “unions” with their revocable and hence promptly revoked “liberalized schedules”; paper agreements offering themselves as clearing systems, and ministerial conferences and mock parliaments as political institutions.

Every two months saw the hailing of “the first step toward European Union,” but a hundred such steps were never followed by a second. One Europe drew no nearer, yet many “Europes” proliferated, and the best will in the world could not descry a path through their thicket. Things got to the point where the various “Europes” had to set up mixed liaison committees and accredit delegations to one another for the purpose of working out a systematic exchange of resolutions and statistics. Between the European Defense Council, the Strasbourg Council of Europe, the European Steel and Iron Community, the preliminary constitutive assembly of the European Defense Community, and the itinerant ministerial conferences, a maze of diplomatic relationships have mushroomed that spreads with the addition of each new body and authority.

Those who inhabit this universe of committees and commissions seem to have developed the illusion that they live in a real world of supernational relationships; but to the observer it is a world of illusion that goes on indefatigably reorganizing itself alone and, as is the curse of committees, spawning new committees. This busy officialdom thinks—or thought—that national economies could be welded together by a “functional process of rapprochement” deliberately broken up into an infinity of phases, by piecemeal negotiations of tariff concessions, by gradually expanded clearinghouse credits, and by progressively stepped-up production quotas. But each member state, impelled by its own sovereign principle, strives as ever toward self-sufficiency, and the stroke of a pen is enough to nullify all the piecemeal concessions wrung from it by year-long efforts, as we saw this spring with the “liberalizing” or de-controlling of Europe.



Similarly mistaken were those broad-gauge, whole-hog Europeans who believed in all good faith that half a dozen national economies, each an individual product of history, could be moved to amalgamate by a historical proclamation in the name of the Western Idea—and that all this could be done without having to grapple with such problems as tariff schedules, negotiable paper, fiscal credit, investment policies, equalization of reparation and occupation costs, compensations, and labor quotas.

It is easy, and only too often justifiable, to attack “inveterate nationalism” and the “narrow-minded vested interests” entrenched behind it. True, these interests struggle to keep erect the customs barriers behind which they have traditionally flourished, or at least vegetated and survived. But what is an organized national economy if not the sum of all such “vested interests”? These, banding together to maintain the shelter of an artificial-scarcity economy, identify that economy with the vital needs of their nation—whether to stop the importation of cheap farm commodities that “would ruin domestic agriculture,” to exclude industrial competition from abroad that “would entail grave social consequences,” or to prevent an influx of foreign labor that “would depress the labor market.” Such attitudes cannot be brushed aside by phrases about European ideals.

Each of these old European nations, even those most sorely tested and battered, had a structure, a way of life, a national personality to defend, that—however irrational, anachronistic, and ripe for destruction it might appear to the abstract intelligence of an Adam Smith—does after all constitute her contribution to the diversity of this over-differentiated continent. Each state hesitates to make the final decision that would entrust a part of her destiny to others.

And, whereas seven years ago blood, hate, and fear were the sole boundaries marking off the rubble fields of Europe from each other, in the interim the nations of the rump of Europe have rebuilt themselves along the old lines, and, though much reduced, they have resumed, for better or for worse, their old ways. As a result, the material and structural obstacles to European union created by entrenched national interests have increased faster than the psychological hindrances have been removed.



All the same, confidence in being able to preserve or, rather, win back the capacity to survive in national isolation has been rudely shaken among most European countries, especially those that were most hurt during the war, and cannot hope to be spared in another one. It is no accident that every country in the “Little Europe” now beginning to crystallize around the European Steel and Iron Community underwent collapse and occupation after 1939. Perhaps no one ever really renounces what he has not already lost.

Like so many monads, the countries of Europe stand less in relation to one another than to the United States, as a “higher” sphere. Militarily, politically, economically, they share a common footing only insofar as they feel the pull of this non-European center of gravity, and all face the same danger from the Soviet Russian continental mass, which no European state and, for any foreseeable period, no European combination of states will be able to counterbalance without American aid. Nor will European federation suffice to restore Europe to its old position in the balance of world power. Henceforth Europe may be a cause of war but it is no longer in a position to wage one. A united Europe could perhaps contribute decisively to peace and at least regain a measure of influence no longer obtainable by any of its individual states. But even a divided Europe with, say, a lunatic leader in its midst, is no longer free to tear itself apart in armed conflict. That kind of freedom, the ultima ratio of sovereignty and traditionally exercised to the point of suicide, is no longer available to it.

The real question now is not the integration of the European forces—they are already so concentrated under the terms of the Atlantic Pact that it would be impossible for them to take the field separately—but whether they are to function as the auxiliary infantry of the Americans, or whether some of them will be organized as a European Army. In this case, too, the principle holds that nobody renounces what he has not already lost.



As far as economic union is concerned, two sobering developments have taken place. Confidence has grown in the possibility of returning with American aid to the old economic ways that prevailed “before the Deluge”; and skepticism has deepened as to the immediate fruits of economic union, a skepticism that is quite justified vis-à-vis many of the over-simplified federalist catchwords of the day. The European national economies are capable, with the aid of greater or lesser dollar injections, of at least clinging to life within their inherited structures and limits. So what, in the short term, would be gained by joining together in a common market? An adding together of deficits cannot yield a surplus, and at best would charm only those who have the greatest deficits to contribute to the pool. That kind of addition is already being made, with the greatest conscientiousness, by existing organizations, economic councils, and clearing unions. And the result of it shows that European economic power as a whole, while still far behind that of the United States—which alone accounts for roughly half of world industrial production—is still substantially ahead of the Soviet Union and its sphere.

Unhappily an error underlies this cozy reckoning. Any comparison between the integrated productive mechanisms of closed economic structures, like America and the Soviet Union, and the sum of a bundle of uncohesive and often conflicting national economies, with all their duplication of managements and chronic failures of production, is deceptive. And to rely in one’s calculations on things continuing as they are in a world like ours is to feed on illusion. Things will not stay put and the European economic structure is getting steadily more anachronistic.

In a few years, once her new Five Year Plan is completed, the industrial capacity of the Soviet Union will have overtaken that of Europe. A totalitarian super-empire on a completely new model—backing up the absolute rule of old Oriental monarchies with modern machinery, an Assyrian system of forced labor with industrial organization and techniques, and committed to an exploitation of human labor unlimited by any consideration whatever for the standard of living of its subjects—is in a position to withhold from consumption, and reinvest in capital goods, two or three times as much of its industrial product as the most dynamic of free economies can. Compared to this terror-accelerated tempo of power accumulation, the European economies, which have lain stagnant behind their barriers ever since 1918, look like so many idyllic relics. Things being as they are, Europe daily wages a losing battle for the future.



Equally ominous is the fact that the two great economic powers of our time, the USA and the USSR, are practically self-sufficient and in no way dependent on European economic partnership. The total economic program of the USSR extends no further than the limits of her power, and the volume of her foreign trade amounts to hardly one per cent of world foreign trade. As for the United States, committed though she may be to a free-trade ideology, her foreign trade is of only peripheral importance to herself. Even now, inflated as it is by economic aid and subvention to half a world, American foreign trade hardly amounts to 5 per cent of her total national income. And the only absolutely necessary part of that trade, the importation of raw materials, makes America a competitor rather than a customer of Europe’s.

Whatever social and economic structures develop in the new Asiatic countries, one thing is true of all of them: the will to make their agrarian economies self-sufficient through forced industrialization. What we today call “world trade” is a shrinking basin that waters a steadily dwindling area of the world, and Europe’s preeminent position in world-trade statistics—of which she is so proud—is actually a sign of weakness and growing isolation. The “rage for forced industrialization” may be called “autarchic folly,” and the disappearance of an Adam Smithian world economy may be mourned, but nobody outside Europe is wasting any time doing the mourning. Europe as the world’s factory, exchanging finished products for raw materials and foodstuffs from “backward countries” to which she would lay down her own conditions, is gone for good. But not because she has lost her markets to new and stronger competitors—in that case she could conceivably regain them—but because those markets simply no longer exist. Not only are the countries that once paid in raw materials for staple European manufactures going in, one by one, for self-sufficiency—the chronic crisis of the textile industries furnishes the most eloquent testimony of this—but with increasing industrialization the markets in countries that were classically agricultural surplus areas, and whose food fed Europe, are also withering away. Argentinian beef and Indian rice have become things of the past for Western Europe, as has Russian and East European wheat. The economic structure of Europe grew great on the basis of a major presupposition that no longer holds, namely, Europe as partner and monopolist of profits in a world market revolving around her needs.



“Europe must stand on her own feet,” is the slogan nowadays. This is like urging a clinging vine, after its trellis-work has been torn away, to imitate a tree and stand unpropped. So far, American emergency props have averted immediate collapse, and for a long time to come Europe will not be able to do without them. But this only adjourns, it does not solve the problem. Certain small countries, notably Sweden and Switzerland, have, by extreme technological specialization, been able to fit themselves to the new economic structure of the world, but they have been helped by favorable special circumstances—one of these the fact that they had to get along from the first without protected colonial markets. Others, especially France and England, could, thanks to their colonial empires, postpone the modernization of their economies, but stagnated as a result and were plagued increasingly by unrest in their colonial market-supply areas; their external advantages made their economic ills only the more chronic.

The way out for such countries is obvious enough; to shift their exportation from consumer goods to production, or capital, goods, for which the industrialization drive the world over has created a practically insatiable market. However—quite apart from the fact that the “backward” countries eager for machines and machine tools have nothing to offer in return and hence are in the same unfavorable trading position vis-à-vis Europe as the latter is vis-à-vis America—such a change could at best be only a halfway solution. In order “to stand on her own feet,” Europe must also achieve the highest possible measure of self-sufficiency. And the only way she can do this is by the more rational exploitation of her resources within the ambit of a closed economy.

Every European country has been afflicted to date by a series of self-perpetuating payment-balance (“dollar”) crises. They have tried by every Schachtian trick in the book, from dual-currency exchange rates to export subsidies, to force their way into the dollar areas, but this has served only to keep them dependent on a market that does not need their exports. Any fluctuation, however small, in American business conditions is enough to send European payment balances tumbling, with the further consequence of confirming the single European economic monads in their old windowless ways. Yet Europe could, despite everything, do without a major part of the imports for which she has to pay in dollars if she made up her mind no longer to chase after extinct markets but to concentrate on her own European needs.

Importing American coal, for precious American dollars and at absurd freight rates, has been the greatest folly of all. In some European countries, coal production has remained stationary because of labor shortages at a time when miners in other European countries, though ready and willing to work, have had to live on the dole. Half of Europe’s imports from the dollar area consist of foodstuffs, but French agriculture continues in a closed autarchic course inside a stagnating national economy. Year after year a considerable portion of France’s sugar and wine production is destroyed as unmarketable, at great cost to the state. One-fourth of France’s arable surface has been withdrawn from cultivation since the turn of the century, and in wide areas farming methods and acreage yields have remained at a medieval level. According to official estimates, only political and economic, not technical, obstacles prevent a doubling of French production of foodstuffs. Examples of this kind could be multiplied.



This squandering of resources and labor power is due in general to the desperate resistance to the lifting of frontier barriers made by all groups threatened or concerned. The blind opposition of British trade unions and of British coal miners, even over the protests of their own union leaders, to the immigration of Italian miners, is rooted in bitter experience of chronic mass unemployment in British mines between 1920 and 1939. The French farmer’s instinctive resistance to increased production goes back to the crises of overproduction he knew for half a century. Nothing will induce the French farmer to produce more if it is mostly for export. Agriculture depends on a stable and constant rate of consumption such as foreign trade—especially the arbitrarily manipulated foreign trade of our day—is incapable of guaranteeing. The French farmer will produce for a European market only if and when it exists. Thus things continue in the same old closed circle. Europe’s adaptation to the new world situation demands thoroughgoing, long-range changes in her economic structure that cannot be effected unless her old national economic barriers are leveled. But at the same time, until these changes are made in full, entrenched interests in each country will go on resisting.

Modern techniques alone will not suffice to solve the problem of French agriculture in the midst of land-hungry and overpopulated Europe. A great part of France looks like an abandoned estate allowed to run wild; but across her eastern frontier are millions of German refugees from the East, most of them farmers without land; across her southeastern frontier are unemployed Italian farmhands, carpenters, and masons. France’s economy could use them all. This is the perspective implicit in the idea of “Europe,” but it is one instinctively rejected by a nation that wants to preserve her present personality and archaic way of life.

Across the Mediterranean lies France’s African empire, which grows more and more restive inside the straitjacket of a French economy that is no longer equal to its development. In that “Declaration of Principles” which he enunciated in May 1950, Foreign Minister Schuman said that the unification of Europe’s heavy industry would enable her to “realize one of her most urgent tasks: the development of the African continent.” Since then a heavy pall of silence has settled over an idea that may be decisive for Europe’s future. Is this a tactical precaution to avoid stirring up emotions? The “European Idea” has by now met with general approval, but apparently only on the condition that nobody really tries to put it into effect.



The grandiose and inspired idea behind the Schuman Plan was to by-pass political assemblies, Strasbourg debates, contitutional drafts and proposals, and all fine-drawn distinctions between a federal state and a confederacy—and to proceed to make a real beginning by organizing on a supernational scale a group of industries that were important enough economically, politically, and militarily to open a decisive breach in the walls of national sovereignty. At the same time, these industries, being politically crucial, were dependent enough on state protection to make them amenable to political decisions. The result—and a result was attained—was the “European Steel and Coal Community.”

European heavy industry has never really been a part of “free enterprise” but has depended rather on a network of monopolies, cartels, centralized purchasing and distributing agencies, price-fixing agreements, production quotas, and pre-assigned markets. These heavy, vulnerable giants, so sensitive to every oscillation of economic, political, and armament policy, have for long been artificially nurtured by state monopolies, state subsidies, and state contracts; and their fateful role in politics has merely derived from this. Hence the war and its aftermath told more heavily and lastingly on their internal structures than on other sectors of European economy.

German heavy industry, to disentangle the exact ultimate ownership of which still defies the powers of mind, has by entering the European Coal and Steel Community won exemption from Allied controls and release from fetters on its production. The French coal industry has been nationalized, and the French steel industry technically revolutionized under the Monnet Plan by state and Marshall Plan funds, so that it is now able to play a competitive role. The heavy industry of the Saar—that needlepoint on the scales, that apple of discord, that connecting link—is partly sequestered and partly under French state control. Belgian and Dutch heavy industry, actually the only such in private, capitalist hands, is completely dependent on state protection nonetheless. Italian heavy industry, which has been admitted to the ECSC more on political than economic grounds, is completely and un-disguisedly an artificial creature of the state.

The violent resistance of local interests has at times snarled the negotiations involved in the ECSC, and it has complicated its final organizational structure; but it should be added that these same interests have insisted on many justifiable modifications. How they cooperate from now on will determine how the Coal and Steel Community works out in practice. But the point is that they have been unable to hamstring the political decisions involved, and that, since this summer, Continental heavy industry has been functioning under a common central authority.

The fundamental objective towards which the ECSC is a beginning is as easy to spell out as it is difficult to achieve: by planned investment to create that economic structure which would have grown up on the European landscape had its industry been allowed to develop spontaneously in a common market area and not been distorted and crippled by frontiers, national jealousies, and armament races. At the opening session of the Coal and Steel Community, in Luxembourg, Jean Monnet, its creator and organizer, pointed out “how the North French basin reached toward Belgium, how the Belgian mines were linked with those of the Aix and Ruhr regions, how Belgium and Luxembourg shared the same geologic strata, the Saar Valley and Lorraine the same coal beds, Lorraine and Luxembourg the same iron ore deposits.” Nothing else ought to be needed to show how superfluous economic barriers have become. Yet years of gradual revision, moratoria, and stopgap measures will be needed—and, above all, an era of economic expansion—to enable those enterprises, now unviable without state protection, to shift their production into new fields. Otherwise their new common market will bring them disaster.

Those who love slogans should think about these things and see how really emptied of content such alternatives as “planned” and “free” market economies have become in Europe’s present situation. The real alternative, the one ultimately decisive for Europe’s future above and beyond the question of economic unity, is expansion or stagnation. For which reason, this new initiative is doomed to paralysis and atrophy if it does not suck ever broader areas of the European economy into its orbit.



There can be no common market—even if all tariffs and restrictive quotas should disappear in the area covered by the European Coal and Steel Community—as long as the system of currency barriers in Europe is not done away with. The minimum desideratum is free convertibility; and a real currency union for those countries lacking gold or foreign exchange reserves is impossible without a common financial and foreign-trade policy. And without a common, if delimited, political authority, the administration of the Community will be left suspended in thin air.

If the indispensable expansion of the European Community industries is not to be based solely on the present rearmament boom, then the original central idea of the Schuman Plan, as laid down before the current wave of rearmament, must be put into effect: that is, the joint development of Africa. As in all creative undertakings there can be no marking time, only a choice between full steam ahead or sliding backward. The Coal and Steel Community is like a locomotive pulling behind it the European Defense Community, the Constitutional Assembly, the solution of the Saar problem, and even the Strasbourg Parliament with all its drafts and plans. Whether or not this locomotive will prove powerful enough to pull this long train to its destination, Europe in any event is now under steam, and it looks as though, in the end, the fear of derailing her hopes will prevail over every doubt and resistance.



The Eden Plan to create a Europe of the six countries in the ECSC—France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Italy—within the framework of Strasbourg’s European Council of the Fifteen, allowing non-members to attend the deliberations of the Six, has been accepted politely if not without some misgivings. Certainly the Strasbourg scaffolding should not be dismantled as long as the smaller federation is still an experiment, and a possibility remains of having to retreat from it to the older and looser federation. But to the extent that the “Little Europe” of the Six takes shape and pattern, the disparity between those who are in it and those outside, who look on more or less benevolently, will perforce grow greater and greater.

Even now, before receiving political form, the Coal and Steel Community already functions as a genuine authority with staff, budget, concrete tasks, permanent working bodies, and that sovereignty which spurs an organization to broaden its powers and functions. The observers the Strasbourg consultative body is sending to the deliberations of the CSC will soon find themselves wondering exactly what business they have at them. Contrasted with the “Little Europe” of the Six, the peripheral states, from Sweden through Ireland and from Portugal to Turkey, can scarcely be said to represent a common body of interests vis-à-vis the Coal and Steel Community, nor do they have legal authority to represent their respective national interests. Meanwhile, Great Britain—as well as America—has accredited a sizable economic delegation of her own to the preliminary meeting of the Community. Obviously other states, whether members of the Strasbourg body or not, will follow suit.



The Strasbourg Europe was too big or too small, depending on the point of view. Too big to form a cohesive whole, or rather too dispersed in its membership, which stretches in a half-circle around the Soviet land mass from the Norwegian cape to Mt. Ararat. Too small to furnish a roomy frame within which Great Britain and the Commonwealths could move freely. That frame is provided by the Atlantic Alliance, from which only Sweden is absent. Between the Atlantic Pact and “Little Europe,” the Strasbourg body would seem condemned to an increasingly shadowy existence. It has done the indispensable spadework without which the present “break-through” would have been unthinkable; it has given the European Idea a tribune, and it at least continues to embody the postulate of a Europe greater and more ample than that of the Six, greater and ampler than mutilated Strasbourg Europe itself, from which Central and Eastern Europe are missing. Thus in the history of European unity—if that history ever gets past the first chapter—it will appear as a prelude analogous to the Frankfort Parliament in the history of German unity.



The reality whose lineaments are now emerging will certainly not stand comparison with the ideal. This new Europe is so narrow, so prosaic, so fragmentary that the name “Europe” may appear a usurpation. And neither the Coal and Steel Community nor the planned European Army has up to now awakened any such rapturous enthusiasm as greeted the high-flown speeches at Strasbourg. The architects of the “Little European Separatist” organization are not men of oratorical gifts or, it seems, endowed with the power to stir imaginations. But if this Little Europe is far from embracing the farthest-flung horizons of the “whole West,” this limitation itself gives it the capacity to form a truly organic unity. That the steel and coal powers have organized themselves into a group functioning in the midst of a unitary, palpable, and compact industrial landscape endows Little Europe with inner strength—that strength which lies in any attempt to restore a situation to the order inherent in it.

Nor is Little Europe quite so small and insignificant as it may look to the disappointed. Once it really decides to fledge its wings, it will have open to it the material possibility of really becoming the world’s second industrial power. And, also, it will have Africa open to it as room for expansion. These two potential assets may stay available for only a short time longer, but beyond them lie still others.

It should be recalled that the first formulation of the Schuman Plan set a large if delimited goal: “The French government proposes that the totality of German and French coal and steel production be merged into a common organization open to all other European countries.” Here, coal and steel cloaked a political idea: Franco-German union. Whatever the prospects for a Greater Europe, all European history is there to tell us that its core must be Franco-German union. And everything else can only come as something over and above such a union.

To have pursued this goal unerringly, doggedly, with craft and obstinacy, against stormy, noisy opposition and mountainous indolence, such is the tremendous achievement of two old, deeply conservative, lackluster, taciturn, and very lonely men, who, acting over the heads of their own ministerial colleagues, their own foreign ministers, their own parliamentary parties, and in defiance of public opinion, knew they would earn neither thanks nor popularity: Robert Schuman and Konrad Adenauer. Both have been abused in their native lands—most loudly by their respective extreme lefts, which seemed bent on securing a monopoly on chauvinism. But if a Europe does arise, it will turn out to be the work of only a few men, these two above all.



When we look for the ultimate background for the policies both Schuman and Adenauer pursue, we stumble upon a singular discovery. Their Europe has become greater than the Franco-German project, though remaining smaller than the promise of Strasbourg; its outlines—even to the Elbe border marking off West from East Germany—follow in the most astonishing detail those of Charlemagne’s Empire before its division into Germany and France.

We ought not interpret this discovery too romantically—historical conjuration of things dead has been the most fatal of Europe’s hereditary maladies. Nevertheless, this coincidence is not devoid of significance. The Carolingian Empire was the first state-created European form to emerge from the turbulence of peoples after the fall of Rome, the real beginning of Western European history, when the Arabs stood at the Pyrenees and the Slavs on the Elbe. It was a turning point that appeared to contemporary chroniclers as the restoration of the Christian Roman Empire, created and transmitted by the Catholic Church, the only preserver of an otherwise dead Antique tradition: the original kernel out of which the whole of Western history grew.

It is both unjust and silly to speak of a “Vatican Europe,” as the German Socialists and others did; the Schuman Plan is no ecclesiastical entity, and no priests attend the Luxembourg sessions. But it remains that this new Europe in the making is, originally, the creation of a small group of Catholic statesmen who, amid postwar chaos, were the only ones to share a common world image, a common tradition, and a common language—much in contrast to the Socialist parties that set the tone during the first postwar years in nearly every European regime from London to Prague and Warsaw, and from Stockholm to Rome, and whose ideological internationalism during this fateful period seemed to be guided by one lone rule of conduct, namely, that one’s shirt is closer to one’s skin than one’s coat.

Schuman, Adenauer, and De Gasperi are certainly anything but visionaries, and their social philosophy may have faults, but their policies draw on a tradition of a continuity and length sadly lacking to all mere ideologues. What, perhaps, distinguishes them is that they experienced the European tragedy as Europe’s tragedy—not as a national or partisan tragedy—that as true conservatives they were aware of what had to be preserved as well as discarded, and that they retained that genuine revolutionary spirit which can renounce much in order to cling to the essential. Compared to them, how curiously old-fogeyish many of the people’s tribunes look who have dominated the European stage these last few years!



However, Europe will not emerge solely from the cabinet politics of a few obstinate statesmen or from the ground plans of the Coal and Steel Community authorities. Now that the first real steps have been taken, public opinion, hitherto unmoved by plans and contractual texts, will have to choose between agreement and rejection. Henceforth diplomatic chess moves will no longer suffice to overcome the passive resistance of half-hostile, half-indifferent parliaments and peoples. On their answer will depend whether the items of European discord are turned into stumbling blocks or building stones.

The Schuman Plan was the answer to the envenomed controversy over industrial hegemony brought to a head by the issue of the Ruhr’s future. The project of a European Army, greeted at the outset with unanimous scorn, was the answer to the seemingly insoluble problem of German armament, a problem charged with emotions of a kind not readily overcome. For the bitter controversy over the Saar, Adenauer and Schuman found an answer in “Europeanization”—a slogan whose concrete content both are still cudgeling their wits to define. A kind of automatic process has set in, for diplomats, that assimilates every insoluble political problem at home into the general one of a “European solution.”

The technical nature of the Schuman Plan enabled its exponents to outwit their own parliaments and own public opinion by a fait accompli; only a very few knew what was going on. For any further progress along these lines, and above all for the building of a European Army, such chess-playing tactics will no longer work; and it would be fatal if they did. A federation without the approval of the federated would be a monstrous and disastrous creation. So it is all to the good that the “anti-Europeans” have emerged into the light.

Whatever Pinay, Herriot, and Daladier had in mind when they spoke out in Bordeaux against the European Defense Community (the long interregnum of the American election encouraged European politicians to play, like school children when the teacher is out of the room, all sorts of strange games), they did bring the debate out into the open; and the issue required open debate. One can even be thankful to SS-General Ramcke for having put the world on notice with his shocking speech at Verden that revealed the uglier side of the German will to rearm. There is a kind of sullen, confused opposition, in many cases shunning the light of day, to a European policy that itself only too often fought shy of public discussion; and it is high time this opposition was smoked out and made to speak aloud.

When legal sanctions for European projects that were never submitted to public discussion are wrung from parliaments that act out of bad conscience and with secret reservations, only chaos can ensue. Now, at last, the opposition—the Herriots and the Daladiers—have taken the floor and when they are through talking it will become that much clearer that all their alternatives are unacceptable. One such unacceptable alternative, for Germany, is to rebuild the Wehrmacht with its old cadres and old spirit, a chilling prospect. For France, an analogous alternative is to go back to the old habit of seeking Russian protection against Germany—that old trickster Daladier, the last survivor of the Big Four at Munich, seems to have learned just enough from what has happened since 1938 to stand the truth squarely on its head.

Nevertheless, not all the apprehension over the “Little Europe” experiment is unfounded—not even that which sees it as a threat to “national interests.” Breathing actual life into the concept “Europe” may awaken forces that did not enter into the calculations of the planners. European nationalisms can hardly be overcome without being merged into a big new nationalism. And this process, most discernible now in Germany, throws a light on many fears in other countries. Europe is afraid of herself, as it were. If what is left of this free continent closes ranks under the banner of “Europe,” mutilated Germany will begin to appear merely as a special aspect of a mutilated Europe; German irredentism might change overnight into European irredentism; and German nationalism, already inflamed by amputation, could imperceptibly change into a European nationalism fed by the consciousness of Europe’s unbearable mutilation. For Europe ends at the Elbe even less than Germany does.

Further, what people now call, by way of simplification, anti-Americanism, would reemerge in an entirely different form out of a European nationalism. But Europe’s realization of her dependence on America will provoke nationalist resentment—European or otherwise—in any case.



It Is perhaps too early yet to begin thinking of the possible extent and dangers of a European national self-consciousness. Yet such a nationalism would be the only catalyst that could transmute the blueprints of European planning into psychological realities, just as it offers the only possibility of redeeming Europe from her sterile and morbid dreams of fallen greatness. If the relations between America and Europe, which up to now have been too much like those between a nurse and a moody patient, are to be put to a fresh test, it will do no harm if the patient’s tone becomes more self-reliant and realistic. The patient’s outcries, far from being a cause for concern, are a sign that it is high time to get him out of bed and back on his feet.



+ A A -
You may also like
Share via
Copy link