Hamesse, Maurice: Towards the future

Vers l’avenir, États-unis d’Europe, vol. 2, No. 7, April 1948.
From W.Lipgens and W. Loth, Documents on the History of European Integration, De Gruyter, 1988

etats unisSo the countries of Western Europe that are still free have at last understood!

If we are to believe the admirable speeches made in Brussels on the signature of the five-power treaty and in Paris at the opening of the second meeting of the Sixteen, the spokesmen of the various states are in full agreement. They are agreed that we want freedom and know how to set about preserving it, and that we can soon overcome our present stagnation by an effort of international solidarity, instead of obstinately defending particular interests.

We federalists are working with all our strength for a peaceful revolution of this kind. We are aware what a tremendous work it is; we are embarking consciously on an unrelenting struggle, for there is only one choice: to unite or perish. We know that many of our compatriots still do not think as Europeans, that they are socially behind the times that their outlook is narrow and cramped, ignorant and selfish. We know this is why our society is in a state of collapse. It requires vigorous action on our part to counter this negative and self-centred attitude. Owing to the deterioration of living standards an increasing number of people are gradually coming to feel that mankind can only be saved by the triumph of a new spirit. Most of those who instinctively feel this are, alas, submerged in the mass of the population. They do not control the levers of power, but they feel the day-to-day effects of their leaders’ mistakes and are in the best position to know what is wrong.

That is why, little by little, the masses are increasingly dissatisfied with party politics. The man in the street well knows that there is a more important question than whether one clique or another will gain a majority enabling it to experiment with measures of which the main purpose is to create favourable conditions for its own re-election.

The reason why we federalists score one success after another is that every concerned person realizes that by defending the human spirit against partisan quarrels we are offering the only way out of the impasse. Whatever one’s religious denomination or ideology, one thing is quite clear: nothing can be done unless the economic climate improves. Our troubles in this respect have longstanding causes, and we do well never to forget them. In the first place, national sovereignty creates and subsidizes war industries; its corollary is the subordination of economics and finance to inflamed nationalism. Then there is economic protectionism with its array of tariffs and quotas, currency manipulation and finally state control, wasting energies and paralysing initiatives.

All these evils make it easy for nations to be exploited by self-seeking political groups. People are tired of seeing progress hampered by sectional interests. What we are fighting for is to reverse this state of affairs.

There is an absolute difference between a statesman and a politician. The former thinks of his fellow-men and their interests, the latter of himself only. Today there are statesmen who have seen the light and are proclaiming that Europe can only recover if it is given a new and durable economic superstructure. Nothing is more obvious, but their aim will remain a dead letter if politicians get hold of it, and we must raise our voices to prevent this. The economic interests of nations must be adjusted to the general welfare and not to the advantage of individuals. Parties must no longer impose their decrees; we federalists, including all who wish to put an end to this modern slavery, will give our direct support to statesmen who can break the mould of party politics and think and act as human beings.

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