Domenach, Jean-Marie: What kind of Europe?

‘Quelle Europe?’, Esprit No 150, Nov. 1948 (extracts).
From W.Lipgens and W. Loth, Documents on the History of European Integration, De Gruyter, 1988


(…) European federalism, as it is expounded by the associations concerned and by their leaders, does not entail the transformation of the economic structure of Europe. The measures proposed in the economic resolution of the Hague Congress, such as the free circulation of capital and the convertibility of currencies, are in general designed to give more freedom to European capitalism, but the first and most necessary of all requirements is said to be ‘a common programme of industrial and agricultural production’. Who is to carry out this task of planning for Western Europe? We are not told, but the answer is very clear. The technocrats of federalism have ambitious dreams: instead of European capitalism being obstructed by frontiers, caught up in the contradictions and barriers that it has made for itself during the past century, they see it resuming its organizing and conquering role in a Europe which has all of a sudden become a new America on a scale suited to the modern business man. Once frontiers are done away with, competition will bring about a vast new order; backward economic units will collapse and be replaced by better-equipped ones, and masses of workers will be shifted from one country to another according to need; industry and labour will regroup all over Europe under the beneficent rules of competitive capitalism. Such absurd ideas as these are openly put forward by federalists, some of whom are high up in the councils of our Republic. (…)

The fact is that if we leave it to the capitalists to plan Europe as a means of avoiding war, we shall simply have the same causes of war within wider frontiers, and what difference is there in today’s Europe between a foreign war and a civil war? Our federalists think the failure of the League of Nations was nothing but a victory of nationalism over an ineffectual European organization. But fascism and Nazism, which are the causes of war, are political regimes that were only made possible by the contradictions and inefficiency of postwar capitalism. If European capitalism were united and regrouped it might avoid disastrous internal quarrels, but if it did away with war among nations there would still be war between capitalism and humanity.

In any case we are exaggerating its powers. European capitalism today is incapable of planning for Europe, or at least it cannot do so alone. It needs American aid, and the Marshall Plan comes just at the right time to give it a shot in the arm. It is probable therefore, and perhaps historically necessary, that this decadent capitalism will have a fresh lease of life, but it would be absurd to regard it as an organizing force. (…)

The question today is whether Europe will fall under the control of American finance, accompanied – there are already signs of this – by political and intellectual subjection. This is a question for us all, but especially for those who make much of the unique humanistic values of old Europe and who never cease talking of ‘European independence’. In fact this is a gigantic swindle: we are told that ‘European independence’ will be ensured by a more or less complete merger of present-day European states and by giving European capitalism political and economic opportunities that it did not have before. But what this will really do is to present American finance with a kind of ‘free zone’ with the tremendous advantage of being under a single authority – in fact, a free zone which is indirectly an ‘occupied zone’. (…)

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