When I was a teenager in England during the 1960s, supporters of Josef Stalin were rare even among the “reddest” of leftists in the Labour Party. Leninists were more common, but the most frequently encountered Reds were supporters of Lev Bronstein, a.k.a. Leon Trotsky. Because Trotsky had been exiled and later murdered by Stalin, he had become the beloved underdog of Communism. The “Trotsky good, Stalin bad” meme was the way the Left maneuvered around the “excesses” of Stalinism — if only Comrade Trotsky had become General Secretary of the Party, what a different place the USSR would have been!
The Italian Communist Altiero Spinelli (1907-1986) was a devotee of Trotsky, and also one of the “fathers” of the European Union. If you’ve never heard of him, you’re not alone — his name rang no bells with me until I read the article below from Poland. And I’ve even been inside the building in downtown Brussels that was named for him; I just wasn’t paying attention.
The following video — also from Poland — provides a useful introduction to the topic of Altiero Spinelli (the translation leaves something to be desired, but it was already subtitled in English, giving me no opportunity to edit it):
Many thanks to Ava Lon for recommending the video and translating this article from Tygodnik TVP, a weekly magazine produced by the state-sponsored Polish TV channel:
A “masked” plan for Europe?
by Krzysztof Zwolinski
October 5, 2018
The White Book of the European Future doesn’t mention Robert Schuman, Alcide de Gasperi, Jean Monet or Konrad Adenauer any longer. It transpires that the ideological father of the European Community is a little-known Trotskyite postulating the destruction of nation states and of private property. Is it his radical plan that is now being put into practice by Eurocrats?
“Fog in the Channel — Continent Cut Off” was allegedly the title of a Times article in 1930. Whether fact or urban legend, it doesn’t matter, because it perfectly expresses the famous British “splendid isolation”. This aspect isn’t mentioned as one of the reasons for Brexit, but who knows? The mentality of nations reinforced for generations might have more influence than was ever suspected by accounting experts.
But why would this ‘isolation’ awaken again? Perhaps, even at the last moment, the very nation that not long ago ruled over half the world decided that enough is enough. If, of course, as has become the habit in the EU, the referendum were not to be repeated or rendered void by some new treaty. Obviously the EU is advancing in a precise direction, about which everyone knows everything, and those who don’t know probably only pretend not to know. Everyone meaning the Euro-Mandarins.
The conclusion drawn from World War Two, was that nation states cause wars, and uniting Western European states via close economic cooperation would remove the threat of another one. And where the peace east of the River Elbe was concerned, the Soviet Union would take care of that, in its own way.
Former “fathers” of the European Economic community, the Christian Democratic politicians Alcide de Gasperi (Italy), Konrad Adenauer (German Federal Republic) and Robert Schuman (France) in 1951 in Strasburg.
There were even voices about political integration in the form of a common country, following the example of the United States of America, but the road that was chosen was via a federation of ever-tighter cooperating — on the economic level — sovereign nation states. This is how first the European Coal and Steel Community, and later the European Economic Community and European Atomic Energy Community were created.
In 2004 Poland joined the European Community, which was commonly known in the press and even in the internal documents as the European Union, even though it acquired this legal status later, after the Lisbon Treaty (2007). Whatever the name, we certainly were accepted into a federation of sovereign European countries.
Time passes, and the citizens of the Republic of Poland, who voted in the referendum for joining the EU, maybe have begun to feel the discomfort of cognitive dissonance. Among voices coming from Brussels — besides the usual assurance that we will live in the EU in good health, increasing wealth, and mutual respect, with particular emphasis on respect for minorities — there’s a voice that seems to have reached the forefront concerning the virtue of unity. And it doesn’t look as if the suggested unity would be diverse; rather the opposite.
Sovereignty, yes; but the Union has values that are required to be upheld. Those values are defined by conceptually capacious slogans that are imprecise enough, so that everything may be decided through interpretation. Therefore the interpretative code is of utter importance: Christian Democratic, [classical] Liberal, Social Democratic, or maybe some other.
The European revolution must be socialist, which means that its goal has to be the liberation of the working class
Above the main entrance to the building of the European Parliament in Brussels there’s a large inscription: Altiero Spinelli. It must be the name of someone, who had sizeable merits for the European Union, and who is very important for its theory, and perhaps also for its practice. Otherwise there would be no such an inscription in such a place.
The Altiero Spinelli Building in the central part of the European Parliament in Brussels opened in 1998
Altiero Spinelli, as reported by Wikipedia, was born to a family with socialist traditions, which means that he was weaned on Marxism. At the age of 17 he joined Italian Communist Party, which kicked him out for his “Trotskyite distortion”.
Mussolini’s regime sentenced Spinelli to ten years in prison. Up until the downfall of Il Duce in 1943, he was isolated on the tiny island of Ventotene on the Tyrrhenian Sea, together with other opponents of fascism. In prison, and also later during his internment on Ventotene, Spinelli intensely studied Marxism.
In 1941, together with the socialist Ernesto Rossi, he wrote “Manifesto for a Free and United Europe”, known as the “Ventotene Manifesto”. Until his death in 1986 Spinelli was working on the implementation of the theses of the Manifesto.
In the Manifesto — after a historical analysis, in which the most recent European history forms a catchy triad: nation states, imperialism, totalitarianism, which in turn leads those totalitarian states to inevitable wars — Spinelli and Rossi proceed to formulate postulates and specify aims for post-war Europe.
How to recognize a Marxist based on his speech and writing? By the fact that he has no doubts. A series of historical events arrange themselves for him in a “scientific” description of historical laws, historical necessities, which result in — just as in the attempt to cure the Black Death using cholera — the reparation of the world in order to bring happiness for future generations. Facts that don’t fit the “scientific” analysis are carefully omitted.
It was the case with the most famous “Communist Manifesto” by Marx and Engels; it was the case with Lenin; and it’s the case with Spinelli, although the older comrades were much better writers. Spinelli falls far short of achieving the dramatic effects and poetic passages in Marx’s prose from the “Communist Manifesto”, or of Lenin’s expository passion in “What Is to Be Done?”, or even of the boisterous charm of the series of insults in Stalin’s “History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks): Short Course.”
Spinelli is pale and bland from the literary point of view, but the content of his manifesto is compelling enough, because — contrary to the works of his predecessors — it concerns us now and in the near future.
The postulates begin in a traditional way: “In order to address our needs, the European revolution has to be socialist, which means that it has to aim for the emancipation of the working class and the creation of more humane living conditions for it.”
Our goal is the creation of a stable federal state, with a European army instead of national armies
But it won’t happen, that or any other “boon”, without fulfilling a basic condition: “The question that has to be solved first, because without it any progress in other domains will be only an illusion, is the final abolition of [borders] dividing Europe into sovereign countries.”
And that has to happen, because “progress” for the Left is a Red holy-of-holies. Progress will be achieved by a European revolutionary movement, which in 1941 was only a project: “We even now need to lay the foundations for a movement that will be able to mobilize all the forces in order to create a new organism, which will be the greatest and a totally new creation in the history of Europe; in the furtherance of the creation of a stable federal state, with a European army instead of national armies; in the furtherance of abolishing economic autonomy, which is the backbone of totalitarian regimes.”
A proletarian bluntness, without beating around the bush. National armies might inconvenience the European armed forces in bringing about revolutionary terror. So who will manage all of that work?
“The revolutionary party cannot be a diverse group of people with different opinions, who would be united only by a current temporary objection to something, and who later on, after having reached the desired goal, would be ready to go their different ways. […] The revolutionary party realizes that is precisely when its work really begins…
“But among the ever-growing group of sympathizers of the movement, only those may be recruited who made the European Revolution the main goal of their lives and who attend to this task, with discipline, day after day. Their safety should be ensured constantly and efficiently, even in the situations of the most dangerous legal conflicts. This is how a solid web of workers will be created, which then will render the delicate layer of sympathizers more homogeneous.”
Those “who accepted and made the European Revolution the main goal of their lives” are certainly Mr. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Mr. Joschka Fischer and Mr. Guy Verhofstadt, the founders of the European parliamentary Spinelli Group in 2010, and the “delicate layer of sympathizers” invokes — with and without a reason — so-called European values, a passkey to explain reality and a hammer against wrong-thinkers.
And how to “render the delicate layer of sympathizers (and all the rest) more homogeneous”?
“The movement draws the vision and the safety of what has to be done, not from early recognition of some not-yet-existing will of the people, but from the realization of representing the deepest needs of current society. This way it formulates the preliminary regulations of the new order, beginning by imposing social discipline on yet-unformed masses. Thanks to the dictatorship of the revolutionary party, a new state is being created, and with it a new, true democracy.”
Among the sympathizers of the movement, only those may be recruited who made the European Revolution the main goal of their lives
What about private property in the “true democracy”?
“Private property will be abolished, limited, corrected or expanded depending on circumstances and not according to dogmatic rules. This advice is a natural element of the formation European economic life, free from the militaristic nightmare or state bureaucracy.”
So they will be able to confiscate everything or some of it, or even give something. From whom to confiscate and to whom to give will depend on the situation. In any case, things cannot continue the way they are — with some [ridiculous] legal private property — because this causes nightmares. Therefore the largest companies will be nationalized, and the middle-sized ones will introduce co-ownership by the workers. Sounds familiar, yes, at least to those who remember the former “one and only correct” [a communist slogan from Poland] political system east of the River Elbe.
An how is this gallop towards progress going to end, what are its perspectives?
“When the horizon of the Old Continent is crossed, and all the world’s nations accept the great vision of common action, the European Federation will be the only possible guarantee of peaceful cooperation with American and Asian nations. It will be a long time before the unity of the entire globe will be possible.”
Unfortunately, we have a long road before us, but the unshakable faith of Altiero Spinelli is our light in the tunnel. However, before the world unites, some things need to be solved on our European field.
“Numerous problems that poison international relations on the continent proved to be irresolvable: delineating borders of territories inhabited by mixed populations, defense of minorities, sea havens for landlocked countries, the Balkan problem, the Irish problem, and so on. All of those questions will find their solution in the European Federation. Just like the problems of small countries: when they become part of a larger national union, their problems will be less acute.”
See? Why get nervous?
For a start, social discipline has to be imposed on yet unformed masses
“The revolutionary regime will develop in the direction of deepening the understanding and acceptance of the social new order, even if second-rate political crises appear along the way.”
Precisely. Especially given that the manifesto ends with truly “inspiring” words:
“Our route is neither easy nor obvious. But this trip has to be made, and it shall be.”
You could say: so what? In a free country one can write what he or she wants. The EU is the Europe of Motherlands, which is expressed every year through the Schuman Parade in Warsaw. Even though Schuman supported integration, but through a confederation and not a federation, and — last but not least — his beatification process is open, so the Red spirit can vanish…
Jean-Claude Juncker publicly praises Karl Marx. In the picture — during the festivities on the occasion of 200 birthday of the co-author of the communist ideology in the Basilica of Constantin i Trevir, in May 2018
Not necessarily. Based on Ventotene Manifesto, in 1945 a so called ‘Spinelli Plan’ was written, which was the first draft of the constitution of the new, federal state of Europe. In 1992 the Spinelli Plan became the official program of the European Community, and then of the European Union. From then on the main building of the European Parliament in Brussels was dedicated to Altiero Spinelli.
In 2011, the 25th anniversary of the death of Altiero Spinelli, the then-President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, said that the “(Ventotene) Manifesto is an ever-living [allusion to the communist slogan: ‘the ideals of Lenin are forever alive’] source of European integration.”
On September 22 2016, on the 30th anniversary of the death of Altiero Spinelli, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and Matteo Rienzi visited his grave in order to lay blue and yellow flowers there.
“The question that has to be solved first is the abolition of [borders] dividing Europe into sovereign countries”
At the press conference, after the ceremony, the heads of states were talking about the security of the Union and encouraged young people to take up challenges. Neither that newspeak nor that event made it to the headlines in the media.
On March 25 2017 in Rome, European heads of states, “united in peace and friendship”, signed the “White Book of the European Future”. The document contains five scenarios of EU development up to 2025, and in the introduction it evokes the legacy of the Ventotene Manifesto. A scan of the cover of the first edition [of the Manifesto] was also included.
“For generations Europe [EU] was always the future. The first time this idea appeared in the Manifesto of Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi, […] the Ventotene Manifesto called for creation of a free and united Europe, where existing divisions would vanish, and former allies and enemies would cooperate with one another, in order to not allow the return of ancient European absurdities.” The end of the document mentions the gratitude to the “visionary minds” of the Ventotene prisoners [Spinelli and Rossi].
The Communists Spinelli and Rossi are the only people mentioned by name in that document. And the Ventotene Manifesto is the only text that the document makes reference to.
The website eszkoła.pl, which fairly closely reflects the [Polish] school curriculum, mentions four founding fathers of Europe [EU], and Wikipedia eleven. According to the “White Book” there was no Robert Schuman, Alcide de Gasperi, Jean Monet, or Konrad Adenauer. There were, however, the authors of the Manifesto, about whom youngsters — possibly due to the sensibility and the discretion of the grownups — don’t yet learn. The English translation of the Manifesto has only been available online since 2016.
“Private property will be abolished, limited, corrected or expanded, depending on circumstances.”
So out of many founding fathers of a united Europe there are two left, but really only one, because not much is known about Rossi; however, Spinelli is generally considered the main author of the Manifesto and he used to be an MP in the Italian Parliament and then in the Parliament of the European Communities, from the Communist Party list. The thoughts and actions of Spinelli were behind the attempts to introduce the European Constitution, which was not accepted by the parliaments of the member countries.
That which was thrown away through the door came back through the window, and those who are good at looking will find worrying passages. Just like what was claimed — according to Rzeczpospolita [Polish newspaper] — by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the author of this statement: “all the former propositions will be included in the new text, but they will be somewhat masked and concealed.” So the European Constitution will emerge when time is ripe. Only countries do have constitutions, but it looks as though Spinelli’s life afterlife has been very active.
Anyone who lived to the east of the River Elbe and isn’t all that young anymore can spot between the lines of the Manifesto the strands of barbed wire. Concerning those to the west of the Elbe: their lack if experience may turn them into naïve enthusiasts. All the member states (Ireland after the second referendum) signed the Lisbon Treaty, despite Giscard’s having publicly spilled the beans. Recently Jean-Claude Juncker openly and very strongly praised Karl Marx.
— Krzysztof Zwolinski
Our route is neither easy nor obvious. But this trip has to be made, and it shall be.