Nr. 3 – Klinkers, August 2012

In Paper no. 3 Klinkers quotes a passage from The Federalist Papers, a text which clearly indicates how personally the authors of this famous writings on the proposal of a Federal Constitution in 1787-1788 directed themselves to the citizens of America, to convince them of the usefulness and the need to opt for a federal form of organizing. This as a signal to Tombeur to regard thoughts and ideas about a European Federation not as a technique of organization advisors, but primarily as a passion to give the people what the people deserve.

European Federalist Papers © Leo Klinkers & Herbert Tombeur, 2012-2013

 

There is still something we should take into account when making comparisons with The Federalist Papers. The three authors published their work in New York City newspapers, directing themselves directly to the readers – often firmly, sometimes asking or even begging. One of the most striking passages is to be found in Paper nr. 14, written by James Madison. Let me quote it in its entirety:

“I submit to you, my fellow-citizens, these considerations, in full confidence that the good sense which has so often marked your decisions will allow them their due weight and effect; and that you will never suffer difficulties, however formidable in appearance or however fashionable the error on which they may be founded, to drive you into the gloomy and perilous scene into which the advocates for disunion, would conduct you. Hearken not to the unnatural voice which tells you that the people of America, knit together as they are by so many cords of affection, can no longer live together as members of the same family; can no longer continue the mutual guardians of their mutual happiness; can no longer be fellow-citizens of one great, respectable, and flourishing empire. Hearken not to the voice which petulantly tells you that the form of government recommended for your adoption is a novelty in the political world; that it has never yet had a place in the theories of the wildest projectors; that it rashly attempts what it is impossible to accomplish. No, my countrymen, shut your ears against this unhallowed language. Shut your hearts against the poison which it conveys; the kindred blood which flows in the veins of American citizens, the mingled blood which they have shed in defense of their sacred rights, consecrate their Union and excite horror at the idea of becoming aliens, rivals, enemies. And if novelties are to be shunned, believe me, the most alarming of all novelties, the most wild of all projects, the most rash of all attempts, is that of rending us in pieces in order to preserve our liberties and promote our happiness.”

These words dating from 1787 seem fully applicable to the situation within the European Union of 2012. Taking into consideration the circumstances in America at the time, this formula of addressing the population directly through newspapers was an obvious choice. In 2012 we have the possibility of using social media as a vehicle for putting across our ideas.

Disseminating the birth certificate of modern European federalism has been much more difficult. Since we often draw from best practices from the past in our quest for a federal Europe, this is the opportune moment to mention Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi. Spinelli is seen as the founding father of European federalism. In 1941, together with Rossi he wrote, while imprisoned by Mussolini on the island of Ventotene, the famous Ventotene Manifest: it is, just like Madison’s text, a passionate federal concept that is continued and elaborated by the Spinelli Group after World War II. For the integral text of the Manifest (in several languages) I refer to www.altierospinelli.org/manifesto/manifesto_it.html.

For an instructive timeline of European federal history since the Ventotene Manifest I refer to a publication by the Union of European Federalists: www.federalists.eu/timeline/.