How are we to regard the Union of Europe? – As something to be postponed so long as possible because it drags us out of our island fortress and exposes us to contact and competition with other peoples whom we fear – or as something to be hastened so soon as possible, because Europe is only a danger to us if we shrink back from the effort in a mood of timidity and fatigue, but is a great new opportunity if we grasp the problem with the old tire and energy of the English. In short, do we face the Union of Europe in the spirit of the Labour Party, or in the spirit of Union Movement? Can we at least agree upon this?—nothing is so foolish or so fatal as to decide that it is necessary to do something, and then to do it half-heartedly?
The man will always fall who rides a horse slackly and fearfully at a big fence: the man will always crash who tries to take an aeroplane off the ground with the engines working at only half their power: the motor driver will always kill himself and others, who shuts his eyes and lets go of the wheel instead of accelerating or braking with decision in a crisis of the road. In politics too, nothing is so certain to bring failure as to decide that it is necessary to do something and then to spend your time in finding excuses for not doing it. This is precisely the position of the Labour Party.
EMPIRE GIVEN AWAY The facts compel any man or woman who has any capacity for thought, to recognize that the Union of Europe is a necessity. Our long pre-occupation with war has lost us many of our foreign markets, which were dwindling before the war because of local industrial developments, and intensive competition from other countries. Our old Empire was given away by the mad folly of politicians, or drawn towards other economic systems by the long strain of war.
Any child who can think at all is, therefore, driven to the conclusion that we must look to the Continent of Europe and the neighbouring Continent of Africa. That fact is so plain that even the Labour Leaders have grasped it at last. The old world is paying lip service to a new world, which can only be won by new methods and new men. But the old politicians are prisoners of the past: they can think only in terms of the dead world. Having decided that it is necessary to mix with Europe, it remains to them a dark danger to do so. The people of Europe appear to their eyes as competitors in the old financial world, nor as brothers in Europe’s great co-operation. They call themselves Socialists, but they still think in the way of minor Trade Union officials within a dangerous capitalist world, where they are accustomed to being worsted in negotiations with the “bosses.”
Here for example is an illustration of this Socialist mentality, taken from Labour’s pamphlet, “Feet On The Ground.” : “The sudden exposure of protected industries to free competition might cause economic upheaval, paralysis and unemployment, and some disorder is likely, however carefully the Union is nursed.” So the moral of this doctrine is clear—do nothing “careful nurses” – shelter little England from any risks in your prison perambulator – until your lack of leadership has handed all Europe to Russian Communism and an atomic rocket fired from the Channel has, indeed, created an “upheaval” which adds considerably to your present “paralysis.” Seriously though, can any reader conceive that a new world can be won in time by these “careful nurses”: time is so desperately short, and both danger and opportunity are so great.
The Labour Party has begun dimly to understand our old doctrine of 20 years ago—that you could not build Socialism in one unprotected country in a capitalist world, and that Socialism in these conditions had to be national—just as we are compelled to think in terms not of countries, but of Continents. So we can leave the Labour Party in the characteristic position of belatedly working out the problems of National Socialism for a world which no longer exists. Union Movement advances to meet the problems of Europe in the spirit of Europeans.
SUMMARY OF POLICY For details of our proposals the reader must be good enough to turn to my book “The Alternative,” and subsequent writings and speeches such as “Europe a Nation.” The present purpose is only to contrast our policy with that of the Labour Party which has just been examined. A bare summary is sufficient to mark the difference and enable a choice to be made.
1. We believe in going all out once a decision has been made. When they have made up their minds it should not be in the nature of men to hesitate about the consequent action. There is much to be said in favour of European Union, and something to be said against it (if you are tired of life and prefer suicide). There is nothing to be said in favour of deciding upon Union and then doing nothing about it: or worse, applauding it in public, and obstructing it in private. In that way we shall get the worst of both worlds. We lose whatever advantages remain in the old isolated nationalism, and we fail to win the great new opportunity of a wider European life which can bring new wealth and a higher civilization by the co-operative development of Africa.
2. Having decided to unite Europe, and to develop Africa, we should therefore do both with the utmost possible speed. In fact the quickest way to secure the full union of Europe is to undertake a common task of great magnitude. Nothing so quickly overcomes differences as danger, or hard work, shared together. Therefore the quickest way to secure the political union of Europe is a joint attack on the economic development of Africa. The pooling of war effort by various nations showed how quickly some kind of union could be achieved in such circumstances: which would have been difficult or impossible in normal times, and in face of ordinary problems. Politically and economically it is desirable that Europe should approach the economic development of Africa as an operation of war.
3. If the economic development of Africa be treated as an operation of war, two principles would follow:— (1) That each nation should be allocated its appropriate part, as it was in the winning of the war. (2) That within each nation individual industries and firms should be given their suitable tasks as they were in the war.
As a result competition will give place to co-operation, as it always does in time of war. Thus regarded the fears of the Labour Party will quickly fade from the people’s minds. The Labour Leaders are accustomed to the cut throat competition of International capitalism, and can think in no other terms; hence their timidity in face of European union. We summon the peoples to think in terms of European co-operation. To that end we apply the master plan of war to the purposes of peace. Why should the greatest efforts of humanity be reserved for destruction: let us pool our energies now in a new co-operation for the purposes of construction. Co-operation must then replace competition.
4. All Europe will be woven into that plan in a voluntary-union. Nations and industries will be allocated their part in production for an inexhaustible market. For the development of Africa sets no limit, because the wealth which this continent can yield in return is unlimited. Whereas effort spent in war gives less than nothing back, the energy put into the development of Africa by men and machines will be returned magnificently in wealth for the peoples to enjoy.
5. Within the plan nations and industries will be free to organise their own effort. That is ever our way: to give leadership, direction, and guidance, but not to interfere with the responsible people in their daily business. We believe in free enterprise within a plan: Labour believes in control without a plan. That is the basic difference between the method of Union Movement and that of the Labour Party.
CREATIVE FIRE 6. Thus the constructive mission of developing Africa will unite Europe, if it is undertaken with the ardour and energy of an operation of war. The peoples of Europe will be fused together in the creative Are of this great enterprise. The end of effort will not be disillusion as in war, but the mutual enjoyment of the results of joint labour. Brotherhood will grow as the nations of Europe work the fields of peace which they will win together. The practical will sow the seeds of the theoretical: common economic tasks will facilitate political union.
Governments must fulfil their duty of organizing such an attack upon the economic problems of Europe, and guarding the back of the European from oriental attack as he tills these new fields. Meantime an Assembly of Europe, freely elected by all Europeans, with votes which may be given for any Europeans they please, will be busy thrashing out the constitution of the new Union of Europe. How greatly that work will be assisted by the brotherhood which will grow from the practical tasks of the war on poverty. How much easier Europeans should find it to work together in theory if they are already working together in practice. This will be a business for thinkers and doers, not merely for talkers.
TRUST THE PEOPLE To accomplish all this two things are needed: (1) Governments which will put the same energy into winning the economic struggle of Peace, as into the winning of the war; let brothers union replace brothers war. (2) Governments which will trust the people, and let them vote to settle their own future.
You know the Governments of the old world will neither exert themselves nor trust the people. So join Union Movement and lead towards new Governments of this and all other lands of the historic and still glorious Continent of Europe. Your efforts and sacrifice shall then bring to the Europeans their greatest achievement, finest happiness and highest destiny. Forward together to EUROPE A NATION.