For a united states of Europe!

Submitted by on 15 August, 2002 - 2:32

Leon Trotsky argued for a United States of Europe in "The Peace Programme" of 1915. Excerpts:

The economic unification of Europe, which offers colossal advantages to producer and consumer alike, in general to the whole cultural development, becomes the revolutionary task of the European proletariat in its struggle against imperialist protectionism and its instrument militarism.

The United States of Europe - without monarchies, standing armies and secret diplomacy - is therefore the most important integral part of the proletarian peace programme.

The ideologists and politicians of German imperialism frequently came forward, especially at the beginning of the war, with their programme of a European or at least a Central European "United States".

Certain opponents of the programme of the United States of Europe have used precisely this perspective as an argument that this idea can, under certain conditions, acquire a "reactionary" monarchist-imperialist content.

Yet it is precisely this perspective that provides the most graphic testimony in favour of the revolutionary viability of the slogan of the United States of Europe. Let us for a moment grant that German militarism succeeds in actually carrying out the compulsory half-union of Europe, just as Prussian militarism once achieved the half-union of Germany, what then would be the central slogan of the European proletariat?

Would it be the dissolution of the forced European coalition and the return of all people under the roof of isolated national states? Or the restoration of "autonomous" tariffs, "national" currencies, "national" social legislations and so forth? Certainly not.

The programme of the European revolutionary movement would then be: the destruction of the compulsory, anti-democratic form of the coalition with the preservation and furtherance of its foundations, in the form of complete annihilation of tariff barriers, the unification of legislation, above all of labour laws, etc. In other words, the slogan of the United States of Europe - without monarchies and standing armies - would under the indicated circumstances become the unifying and guiding slogan of the European revolution.

Let us assume the second possibility, namely, an "undecided" issue of the war. At the very beginning of the war the well-know professor Liszt, an advocate of "United Europe", argued that should the Germans fail to conquer their opponents the European unification would nevertheless be accomplished.

Even a partial overcoming of the obstacles would mean the establishment of an imperialist trust of European states, a predatory share-holding association.

And this perspective is on occasion adduced unjustifiably as proof of the "danger" of the slogan of the United States of Europe, whereas in reality this is the most graphic proof of its realistic and revolutionary significance.

If the capitalist states of Europe succeeded in merging into an imperialist trust, this would be a step forward as compared with the existing situations, or it would first of all create a unified, all-European material base for the working class movement. The proletariat would in this case have to fight not for the return to "autonomous" national states, but for the conversion of the imperialist state trust into a European Republican Federation.


Submitted by guenter on Fri, 10/06/2016 - 11:53

Interesting: Quoting (or falsificating?) Trotsky, ur Headline left out one word from his famous Slogan: he argued for the United SOCIALIST states of Europe.

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 23/06/2016 - 14:19

Actually in the article we excerpted (see here), Trotsky doesn't use the phrase "Socialist United States of Europe".

Of course he is in favour of a Socialist United States of Europe, eg he says: "the founding of a stable regime of proletarian dictatorship would only be conceivable throughout Europe in the form of a European Republican Federation..."

But he also clearly uses "United States of European" and "European Republican Federation" in a transitional sense, as democratic demands which we should fight for before, as well as part of and if necessary after, the socialist revolution.

To make what I mean clearer, let me quote Lenin in 1915:

"While capitalism exists, these demands - all of them - can only be accomplished as an exception, and even then in an incomplete and distorted form. Basing ourselves on the democracy already achieved, and exposing its incompleteness under capitalism, we demand the overthrow of capitalism, the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, as a necessary basis both for the abolition of the poverty of the masses and for the complete and all-round institution of all democratic reforms. Some of these reforms will be started before the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, others in the course of that overthrow, and still others after it... It is for the sake of this final aim [the overthrow of capitalism] that we must formulate every one of our democratic demands in a consistently revolutionary way. It is quite conceivable that the workers of some particular country will overthrow the bourgeoisie before even a single fundamental democratic reform has been fully achieved. It is, however, quite inconceivable that the proletariat, as a historical class, will be able to defeat the bourgeoisie, unless it is prepared for that by being educated in the spirit of the most consistent and resolutely revolutionary democracy."

(The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination - here)

Can the unification of Europe be achieved under capitalism? We don't know. But we should fight for it now (alongside fighting for workers' power and socialism), which means that for sure we should not seek to unscramble what capitalism has already done (in its own way, for its own reasons, in its interests and against ours).

Sacha Ismail

Submitted by guenter on Thu, 23/06/2016 - 18:25

in my opinion, united states of europe can only be achieved along with socialism. a united capitalist europe would be a mighty force against the working class, which cant be simply transfered into a socialist united states. united capitalist states are a bigger wall against a socialist Revolution.
but thats not my main subject right now.
i was rather hoping for an reply on the orlando-thread.

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