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From The Federalist at

http://www.thefederalist.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=402
Discussions
YearXXIX,1987,Number2,Page125

CLARENCESTREITANDTHEIDEAOFTHEUNIONOF
DEMOCRACIES

Clarence Streit certainly deserves a place in history as the founder of the modern world federalist
movement,whicharoseastheLeagueofNationscollapsed.Ifeverabookmadeamovement,UnionNow
(1939)wasthatbook.Itremainsaclassicoffederalistpoliticalandconstitutionalthought.Ithaddirect
influenceonChurchillsoffer ofBritishunionwithFranceonJune16,1940,and,withEmeryReves
AnatomyofPeace (1945),itwasthemostwidelyreadofallbooksonworldgovernment.Itprofoundly
broughtouttheimplicationsofAmericanrevolutionaryexperienceforEuropeanandworldfederation.It
deservestobestudiedtothisdayforexploringtheanalogybetweentheUnitedStatesandotherfederations.
Streit rightly saw that the primary international problem in the mid twentieth century was world
government(thesis1seeChapter2of UnionNow).Buttherehasbeenmuchdisputeabouttheneed,
sincefederationpresupposesdemocracyorpopularselfgovernment,tobeginwiththedemocraticstates
(thesis2).WhenonelooksatStreitsdefinitionsofdemocracyorathislistsofdemocraticstatestobe
includedintheinitialunion,onefindsthathecouldonlyconceiveofpolitical,orliberal,democracy,as
dominantatthetimeintheWest.Hecouldnotadmitthateconomic,orsocial,democracy,thenbeing
developedintheSovietUnionortheEast,wasvalid.StreitschangedattitudetowardtheSovietUnionis
instructive.Inthe1939edition,whentheAxispowerswereregardedastheenemytobeoverwhelmedby
theunionspreponderanceofpower,hegrantedthatSoviettheoryandpracticedidnotrecognizethe
divinerightofthemonarchyorthesupremacyofraceornationovertheindividual,heacknowledgedthat
communismdidnotdiscriminateamongmenexceptonthebasisoftheirwork,andhesaiditwasamistake
to identify democracy with either capitalist or socialist economics (pp. 109111). In the 1949 edition,
however,StreiteditedthebooksothatRussiatooktheplaceofHitler,andgenerallythenewlinewasanti
communist (pp. 226227, 281, 313320). In Hearings on world federation in the US House of
Representativesin1949,GrenvilleClarkcriticizedsuchananticommunistunionassuchathreattothe
SovietUnionaslikelytoprecipitatetheverywarthatworldgovernmentwasintendedtoprevent.United
WorldFederalists,intheSenatehearingsin1950,expendedalltheireffortstodefeatsuchapartialproposal.
AtlanticUnionthusbecameoneoftheideologicalprops,intheverybeginning,oftheColdWaragainst
Sovietcommunism.MostoftheWorldFederalistmovementhasrejectedanyapproachthatislessthan
universal,lesttheybecooptedbyunconsciousnationalistsorbytheproponentsofempire,Americanor
Soviet.Aworldrepublicrecognizingbothliberalandeconomicdemocracy,bothpoliticalandcivilrights
andsocial,economicandculturalrights,is,theysay,thetrulyrevolutionary,responsetothechallengeof
warinourtimes.Peacehasapricewhichisjustice,whichmeanschangingsomeofourways,noless
thandemandingchangeofothers.
WhydidStreitchangehismind?Anexperiencedmanoftheworld,aninfluentialjournalist,and(for
once)theauthorofabestsellingbookaboutpeace,henodoubtsincerelywishedtoseehisideasputinto
practice.HemovedfromNewYorktoWashingtonin1943,andthere,inretrospect,heseemstohavecome
undertheinfluenceofthealmostirresistiblesenseofAmericanpowerandabilitytoremakethepostwar
world.Hisi943editionof UnionNow begantotakethenew,tougherlineagainstRussia(evenafterthe
BattleofStalingrad).InNovember1945,afterUSuseoftheatomicbombagainstJapan,Streitwasunable
tokeephispopularorganization,FederalUnion,together,andthedecisionwastakenforthemembersto
joinvariousWorldFederalistorganizations(whichmaintainedthattheatomicbombreallyprovedthata
universalworldgovernmentwasnecessary),whileStreitbecameeditorofanewmagazine, Freedom&

Union.Hecontinuedtoboldlyandeffectivelyargueinfavourofaunionofthefree,whichlentitselfto
thedesignsofthearchitectsoftheNorthAtlanticTreaty.OwenRoberts,formerSupremeCourtJustice,Will
Clayton,formerUnderSecretaryofState,andRobertH.Patterson,formerSecretaryofWar(andformer
partnerinGrenvilleClarkslawfirm),formedtheAtlanticUnionCommitteein1949,dedicatedtogoing
beyondamilitaryalliancetoatruepoliticalunionwithWesternEurope.Thesewererealisticmentoturn
anyidealistshead.StreitevenwasfeaturedonthecoverofTimemagazineonMarch27,1950.Acritical
viewwouldbethatStreitwascapturedbytherisingnationalsecurityestablishment,pervertinghisideas.A
more sympathetic view would be that he consciously allied himself with the new political forces,
particularlythedemandformilitarysecurityagainstwhatappearedtobeanexpandingSovietthreat,in
ordertoachieve,ashesaid,apracticalregionalfederalunionofcountriessharingatleastliberaldemocracy.
Historymovesbyevents,notbyreason,andperhapsanAtlanticunionwillbethewaybywhichthe
world arrives at the necessary government of the whole. Certainly any effective Atlantic or European
federationmusthavepowersofdefence.TheEuropeanDefenceCommunitywasanattempttoestablishthis
powerevenbeforeatrueEuropeanfederation.ProposalstotransformNATOintoaEuropeanfederation,as
arguedmostpersuasivelybyAlanK.Henrikson,mightbetheonlyhistoricallyavailableway.Henrikson
remindsusthatNATOwasoriginallyconceivednotasamilitaryallianceagainsttheSovietUnion,butasa
regionalsecurityorganizationtocontainGermany;Art.2ofthetreatyprovidesforgreatereconomicand
social integration, as well as for cooperation with the United Nations. Legally, membership could be
extendedtoEasternEuropeandeventheSovietUnion.(SeeTheCreationoftheNorthAtlanticAlliance,
inReichartandStrum,AmericanDefensePolicy,Baltimore,1982,pp.296320).Henriksonhasarguedthe
largerconsequencesfortheworldinhis NegotiatingWorldOrder:theArtisanshipandArchitectureof
GlobalDiplomacy(Wilmington,1986).Historically,itseemstome,allsuchschemesofAtlanticUnionor
EuropeanUnionflounderontheuncertainpositionoftheUnitedStatesandtheSovietUnion.Everyone
sensesmoreorlessclearlythataunionofEuropewithoneortheotherisnotthewaytopeace.
When considering the analogy of the formation of the United States for European federation, it is
importanttobearinmindboththesimilaritiesandthedifferences.ItistruethattheUnitedStateswasthe
firstmodernfederalunionofsovereignstates.OneofthereasonsforitsinfluenceisnodoubttheFederalist
Papers,whichcontainthemosteloquentandsustainedargumentagainsttheanarchyofaconfederationof
sovereignstates,particularlyNos.9,10,15,16,17,21,23,39,46and51.Whilewemustgivecreditto
HamiltonandWashington,wemustnotneglectMadison,whoalsowasanarchitectoftheConstitution,an
authoroftheFederalistPapersandanadvocateofratification.Hamilton,atPhiladelphia,wentsofarasto
proposeanelectivemonarchandaSenateforlife,onthemodeloftheBritishconstitution(Farrand, Records
oftheFederalConvention,I,pp.282290).AndWashington,accordingtoMadisonsnotes,didnotspeak:
attheconventionuntiltheveryend;thatwonderfulquotation,Letusraiseastandardtowhichthewiseand
thehonestcanrepair,maybeapocryphal,foritsonlysourceisGouverneurMorrissfuneralorationon
Washingtonsdeathin1799(Farrand,Records,III,pp.381382).
But the thirteen states, which existed for at almost eleven years dating from the Declaration of
Independenceof1776,didnotexhibitthesamedegreeofnationaldifferencethatstillkeepsEuropedivided
tothisday.Itisinstructivetolisttheactualgrievancesagainstthestatesthatwerementionedbytheframers
oftheConstitutioninPhiladelphia.TheyincludedschemesofpapermoneytodefrauddebtorsinRhode
IslandandSouthCarolina,refusalstopaytherequisitionsofCongressbyConnecticutandNewJersey,the
venalityofthegovernorofPennsylvania,rebellioninwesternMassachusetts,Delawaresthreattoinvitein
foreignpowers,GeorgiasunilateralwarwiththeIndians,thecommercialalliancescontrarytolawmadeby
Virginia,Maryland,PennsylvaniaandNewJersey,andingeneralstatecontemptforCongress,whichwas
unabletoassertacommonauthority,defendthecountry,regulatecommerceandpayitsbills.
Morecomparablearesomeoftheotherseventeenfederalnationalsystemsthathavebeenestablished
sincetheUnitedStates.Theyareoftencited,too,asmodelsbytheircitizensinthefederalistliterature.In
chronological order of their first federal constitution, they are: Mexico (1824), Switzerland (1848),
Argentina(1853),Venezuela(1864),Canada(1867),AustriaHungary(1867),Germany(1871),Australia
(1901),Austria(1920),Czechoslovakia(1920),USSR(1924),Yugoslavia(1946),India(1949),Pakistan
(1956),Nigeria(1960)andMalaysia(1963).ItisevidentthatEuropeisafarmorediversecommunitythan
anyoftheabovethathasyetbeenunitedbyafederalgovernment.Hence,Europeitselfisthemodelfor
futureregionalunionsandforworldunion.IfEuropecanunite,thenthewholeworldcan.Welooknowto

Europe.

JosephPrestonBaratta