Brugmans, Hendrik: Europe’s own task

In Chaos of orde? Europa’s eigen task, Uitgegeven in samenwerking met de Beweging van Europese Federalisten, Amsterdam, 1947.
From W.Lipgens and W. Loth, Documents on the History of European Integration, De Gruyter, 1988

brugmansIt is time for the European Federalist Movement to come out into the open. (…)

We have analyzed and judged the present international chaos, and after sober, realistic thought we have come to the conclusion that there can be no recovery in Europe, no prosperity, no security from outside and no contentment within, as long as our continent remains divided, powerless and deprived wider prospect. (…)

People will say to us: ‘So you want to foster a spirit of European nationalism, a European liberation movement? Have we got to the point where Europe, after ruling the rest of the world, now has to defend itself against being colonized? To this I reply: Yes, we are indeed fighting for our own independence. Just as we fought against German domination, so today we unite against everything that might reduce us to a state of dependence and servitude. Yes, Europe really has got to the point where it no longer rules but is ruled by outsiders. That is why a movement like ours does indeed resemble certain movements for national unity in former days. I am thinking, for instance, of the Italian Risorgimento and its struggle against foreign rulers and their minions and also against the petty wielders of power at home, who had a vested interest in keeping the country divided. (…)

Our movement is not only a rebellion of European pride, a fight against the power that would turn us into helpless serfs. It also stands for the realization that something is expected of Europe, that the world cannot manage without it -neither spiritually nor in political, social and economic matters. The realization, in fact, of our own vocation as Europeans. (…)

We are neither anti-Russian nor anti-American. But the great majority of the population of Europe is convinced that the US lacks the political experience and the international statesmanship to confer a new form of life on the world. The continuing tendency to fall back into isolationism, the need to justify their world policy in terms of material interest, their lack of a broad vision – all this makes the Americans second-rate empire-builders. (…)

America has turned all its citizens into Americans -Americans without nostalgia for Europe. Is it not natural for them to think that a similar development may be possible and salutary for Europe as it was for America? But Europe, no less naturally, must be opposed tooth and nail to such a conception, which might well turn into political imperialism. For the essential feature of our continent is precisely that it must find unity not be conquest but by cooperation -not by assimilation but by consciously accepting the differences of culture and ways of life.

It is in this light that we must determine our attitude towards General Marshall’s offer. Three aspects at once come to mind.

Firstly, it is clear that to refuse the offer would make the desperate state of our continent even worse. Of course one can say proudly that we do not need dollars to be prosperous. But politics are not a matter of airy generalities. Is Europe, weary of crises and wars, really prepared to make extra sacrifices simply in order to keep the US at a distance? Are Europeans really willing to do without the already promised, or half-promised, shipments of timber, grain and machinery, simply on account of anti-American agitation? I believe they have had enough of tightening their belts, and will not want to afford the luxury of refusing the only help that can be offered us.

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