What is the greatest achievement of Europeans in modern times? Is it our prosperity? Our Single Market? The Euro? Europeans have never been richer, lived longer or had access to such good health services, not recently or at any time in their history. Is this our best achievement? Not at all. Is it our technologies, the great pinnacles of industries and science that our universities and research centres have produced?
Europe’s greatest triumph is none of these. It is more mundane. The greatest VICTORY in all our history is that for the last several generations, Europeans are not killing each other in wars!
At the origin lies a revolutionary, spiritual idea. It comprises a scientific theory for ending war and its application put into practice with great political precision and openness. From that fecund event Europeans are harvesting a new power and resource, never before seen by our ancestors. Yet its origin is still unclear, misted by myths.
For thousands of years until 1945, Western Europeans were at war every generation. They formed armies to invade each other. Schools taught the children how to despise their neighbouring nations. The same children later sacrificed their lives, while others worked in industries providing every more efficient means to kill the neighbours. Historians scribbled away saying how they had won crushing victories over their oppressive neighbours. (They did their best to hide the defeats and how they enslaved others.)
This doctrine of peace — this secret– is more than important: it is vital for the survival of the planet. It marks a complete philosophical and political break with history. The peace plan escaped the great intellects of the past, the philosophers and the politicians. Some brave souls in the past spoke of the need for European unity and a peace system. They did not, however, describe what we have today. They usually spoke of creating a grandiose Council of European governments with a European army that would pounce on any group that would not follow some policy or other. And they constructed complex systems — they were phantoms — with European councils or congresses that no one really believed in. Which of these great European thinkers speaks of a supranational Community in the exact terms we know it today?
None of them.
Who then was responsible for putting this extraordinary idea of the European Community into practice? It was far beyond the ability of any politician or statesman in the past. Who was at the origin of this idea that changed the face of the planet from the fires of war?
Or did it happen by accident? First let us dismiss this absurd idea. Up to 1950 all the think tanks and serious minded political thinkers were convinced that the past history of wars would continue to repeat itself. Judging from the facts they were right. One keen observer wrote that war was becoming such a feature in European politics that the Continent would now enter a dark age of continuous wars and poverty comparable to that half a millennium previously. Europe would become a black hole of dissent. Why ? Because the wars were becoming more deadly with each advance in industrial power. There was no comparable change in the mentality of Europe’s leaders to create peace. None showed the ability to learn from past mistakes.
Instead of chaos, however, came order and the beginning of a new democratic organisation. Order does not come from chaos. Democracy does not suddenly arise from mob wars. Any sensible person knows that.
Something changed radically in 1950. Peace emerged with the creation of a new entity. Clearly the supranational Community idea was at the heart of this peace-making mechanism. It prevented both a war with the Soviet Union (who no longer considered bickering, nationalistic western Europe easy pickings because of its poverty and dissent). It also stopped a new war of revenge by a rising, defiant Germany although there were many plots and neo-Nazi movements in this period.
Who was responsible for this master plan? Did it come from Robert Schuman or was he simply a recipient of a message of a few pages from Jean Monnet? Monnet was in 1950 the head of the French Planning and Modernisation Agency. Was the Schuman Declaration just Monnet’s Plan for Europe? That sounds cute. Some enthusiastic journalists in 1950 said so. But no one says it today because there is no evidence.
If anyone disagrees, please show me the proof. But beware, I don’t believe in fairies or Father Christmas. Where are the drafts? Where are Monnet’s intellectual analyses of the political, philosophical, historical ideas of the past? No one has found them. Monnet himself says that his planning group never even considered such an idea of a supranational Community — before April 1950. Nor is there any evidence that Monnet ever read any of the authors who spoke of the unity of Europe such as Dante, Erasmus, Abbé de St-Pierre, Rousseau, Kant and Proudhon.
Monnet published a book of extracts of his speeches called ‘The United States of Europe have begun’. Yet he does not mention, commend or criticise Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who also wrote about a United States of Europe: ‘A United States of Europe is possible as an agreement between the European capitalists … but to what end? Only for the purpose of jointly suppressing socialism in Europe.‘ Monnet was silent. Yet he was married in Moscow in 1934 under Soviet law.
So did this man who left France and his father’s cognac works at 16 to work in London come up with some British ideas about unifying Europe? There is no evidence. Did he read some insight in a book either there or in Canada where he went to sell cognac? His father told him:’ Don’t take any books with you. Look out the window and speak to people.‘ (Memoires p47). Monnet worked during two world wars in encouraging weapons supply but none of his colleagues record any views about making weapons unnecessary for Europeans after the war. If Monnet never considered the problem of making war impossible, who did?
Did the peace doctrine that involved a supranational Community just emerge fully fleshed out in all its political, economic, legal and social details in April 1950? If it was not complete by then why did the French Government agree to the Schuman Proposal? It is clear that Monnet had something to do with the producing a paper but what was it that convinced a score of hardened ministers in Georges BIdault’s government? The proposal itself?
Is this Monnet-gave-a-message-to-Schuman story a self-serving myth? Was it invented to boost Monnet and most of all to stop the most revolutionary form of democracy yet proposed? Why was it called a ‘Community‘, a term Monnet had not used before? Where did the strange term, ‘supranational‘ come from? Did Monnet invent it? The answer is Monnet spoke nothing of such ideas before April 1950, that is a few days or weeks before the Schuman Declaration was made.
Robert Schuman gave several speeches on all these subjects in the YEARS before the Schuman Declaration. for example a year before the Declaration in May 1949, he gave two speeches (one in London and another in Strasbourg) proposing the creation of a supranational community. He said a new system would put an end to the war and bring lasting peace. Such a supranational Community had never existed in history before. Schuman explained why previous plans for Europe had failed. He mentioned all the main attempts including Dante, Erasmus, Abbé de St-Pierre, Rousseau, Kant and Proudhon. He explained why they would not work. He also mentioned other such planners.
Schuman said there was a system that would work. He called it a supranational Community system. He said so many times. A year later, on 9 May 1950, the French government accepted his proposal for a supranational European Community with its five democratic institutions. Almost immediately Western Europe began to benefit from the longest period of peace in the history of the six founding members. In 1953, he confirmed this peace was assured. That would seem premature to most people. How can you say that after only three years from the Declaration, peace without end would be assured among European peoples? Yet that is what he said.
The record shows that Schuman was right. Our generation, after more than 65 unprecedented years of peace, can confirm Europeans are living in the longest peace ever known. Schuman is dead but the present generation can experience that fact that his prediction holds good so far. Thus it was totally scientific in theory and application. Schuman’s proposal was the result of a profound analysis, political realism and the application of Christian Democracy. Schuman said the European Community was like a ‘scientific experiment’ based on a theory about which he had absolutely confidence.
Monnet made no such scientific predictions, nor had any such scientific theories. If Monnet supposedly wrote the solution to Europe’s 2000-year problem of war and peace on four or five sheets of paper, then wasn’t sure to whom to give it, then finally decided to give it to the Foreign Minister, who had long expressed ideas about peace through a supranational Community, then this certainly needs some explaining!David Heilbron Price
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