By Keith Killby
“Knightsbridge”, North Africa, 1942
This pamphlet was conceived and written in the Western Desert of Egypt and allowed to he sent to England just before the capture of the 150 Field Ambulance.
It was realigned by members of KK’s family and a member of Federal Union and printed privately.
On his return from POW Camp (after three more captures) KK was elected to the executive of Federal Union and a year later became its Organising Secretary. At the Suez Crisis together with John Pinder, KK set up a broad Committee which produced a report on the idea of an international Police Force.
This is not an official publication of Federal Union, but merely the author’s expression of opinion on the subject. He wrote this essay in 1942 when serving in North Africa near “Knightsbridge”. As he has since become a prisoner of war – now in Germany – he has been unable to correct the proofs himself.
Peace – what then?
For two years I served as a private in England and in the Middle East, and during this period I have thought much about the past and of the future.
What of the future? A return to the past? No never. That is over and done with. There is only the future. Only an “after the war.” What then of the “future” Which shall be: different from the past.
It is a good sign that nearly all are agreed that great changes must be made; and great changes can only be made peacefully if they have been stirring in men’s minds for sometime.
We must consider what the shape of this future shall be. We should consider now, what has been done, what is being done, what must be done; for, if we give towards preservation of peace a minute fraction of the money, thought, energy and willingness to sacrifice, that we have given to forward this war, we should surely have peace.
So far there has been only one concrete plan put forward for ensuring peace, and that is Federal Union. In the past three years and especially as interest has developed along the lines of post war reconstruction, in the last few months, many books on Federation have been published in Britain and America. Books written by professors and lawyers, knights and Lords, scientists and school masters, journalists and economists and many other men of standing. But in these few pages I have endeavoured to present the case for Federal Union as I, the ordinary man in the street and small business man see it, and to estimate how it will affect me.
I have not attempted to go deeply into the legal, economic and political aspects for I could not do so as thoroughly, or as adequately, as has been done by others. I have only proposed such changes as I consider essential if Federal Union is to fulfil its purpose and remove war, for the fewer the changes the more acceptable will it be to the majority and, therefore, the easier to accomplish. Though our outlook and sympathy must be greatly widened, I have tried not to override human nature merely for the sake of simplifying the law or economics. I have tried to reach a balance between the Ideal Federal Union and the natural opposition which our conservative natures always range against change.
My ideas have been influenced to a certain extent by reading the books tabulated at the end, and to their authors, I am greatly indebted. Some of these authors demand less change, some more, than I advocate here. My ideas on this great theory have also been inspired and encouraged by contact with members of many nationalities, from all walks of life, with whom I have had discussions on the future, many of which have taken place in strange surroundings. They have all, without exception, given me confidence that in the present-day Youth of the World there is good reason, if Youth can be heard and respected, to hope for tomorrow’s peace.
Though all that follows in these few pages applies equally to the peoples of the United Nations, I appeal especially to the peoples of the British Commonwealth. The victorious outcome of this war will be due very largely to our tenacity, and for that we will be remembered, and because of that we will have a very large share in deciding the peace that follows.
Cannot we, by our example and whilst we hold the opportunity in our grasp, make possible in the world that which no person, race, or empire has ever successfully accomplished – lasting and creative peace?
What policy we – the peoples of the democracies – adopt after the may decide the fate of the world for years to come, the policy we adopt should not depend on the politicians, but on us, the people, as a whole. Whatever else may be deficient in our democracy, it is the common man who ultimately decides and practices the policy. The future is what we choose to make it. We must make up our minds on what we want – and then see that we get it.
First of all what are our facts and theories concerning the causes of war?
We feel no doubt as to who started this war. But many will differ on who or what caused it. Many hold that no cause justifies war. The First World War was never expected to be so wide in scope. Colossal as this war is, it was felt to be inevitable, though few of us can honestly say we did all possible to avert it. Most certainly the majority would agree that the German nation (which has twice given Europe the appalling horrors of war, with no just cause) must never be allowed to create conditions which could again lead to war.
How to prevent the recurrence is, however, a matter of great dispute, although it is generally felt that America, Britain and Russia must remain strong, until peace is established on a firm basis. No thinking person can agree that the extermination of sixty million Germans is a feasible solution, or that we can expect to subjugate permanently a nation such as Germany, possessing as it does so much intellect, efficiency and drive.
It, therefore, seems that we must somehow evolve a scheme by which America and the British Commonwealth and Russia whilst holding the power to suppress war, could nevertheless co-operate with a Germany willing to co-operate with the rest of the world.
What of the League of Nations? That surely was intended to give us the security and international co-operation necessary for world peace?
A vast amount of excellent work was done by the League, for instance in the field of international labour, and in connection with many social problems of international concern. This work alone justified its much begrudged expenses, but the League failed entirely in what should have been its main function, i.e. to be an organisation for the preservation of peace.
The League had high ideals but no practical machinery for preventing war. In short the League as an effective international authority was a shadow without substance, giving rise to endless resolutions which were followed by insignificant action or no action.
As a body the League had no effective power over the member states, it was like a human body in which each part of each limb decided to move or work when it alone wished, instead of acting under the centralised control of the brain. Each nation (which means the government in power in each nation) had to agree before a decision could be made and even if that decision were obtained there was no guarantee or authority to hold them to that decision.
If the same “League” system prevailed in national government it would mean that a law could only become a law if and when every citizen agreed to it, and further, if an individual then broke the law agreed to, no police force could restrain him or law court judge him.
All this was, of course, proved long before Hitler started trampling over Europe largely on account of the League’s inaction over the aggression by the Japanese in Manchuria and by the Italians in Abyssinia.
The League’s inaction in the cases of Japan in Manchuria and later Italy in Abyssinia proved its impotence.
Why, when Hitler’s aims became so obvious, did not America, Britain, France and the other peace-loving democracies, threatened by one common danger, take combined action to prevent war?
To begin with, it did not become obvious to all in one country at the same time, let alone in all the countries at the same time. Every country, now in the war, wished to avoid the German menace and tried to avoid war. Each changed its attitude from one of conciliation to one of a brave show of force many times, but very seldom did these brave shows of force coincide. Consequently Hitler was able to attack and overcome them one at a time. There can be little doubt but that if all the nations now occupied by Germany had withstood and attacked at the same time Germany would have been overrun as quickly as she overran the Low Countries. Or very likely if they had unequivocally stated their unity at the outset on this vital matter of solid common defence the Nazi attack would never have come. But this unity was not to be. Each nation first of all thought of itself and acted accordingly. On such a basis united and therefore effective and decisive action could never result. Even Britain and France were until the eleventh hour divided on a policy concerning the Nazi menace. That delay had its tragic influence upon the course of the war as we all know.
Could all this have been prevented? Could the League have worked? Undoubtedly, by possessing a centralised and absolute control of armed strength, industries and resources o[ its member nations. This would have meant Federal Union which may sound an impossible proposition. But if we are to prevent war – man’s most preposterous and bloody invention – with all its horrors and sorrows, with all the appalling changes and disruptions in individual lives; Federal Union surely must be established.
Remember in June 1940 Churchill offered Federal Union to France. That offer was rejected by 13 votes to 10. If that offer had been accepted as it well might have been had it come earlier we would have had the whole French fleet, most of its Air Force, and some of its army fighting with us. Our combined forces in North Africa would have walked through Libya, there would have been no threat from Syria, and Japan most probably would never have seized the vital springboard of Indo-China.
How very much shorter the war would have been for everyone, but for those 3 votes against Federal Union. Is it really such an impossible proposition?
Federal Union means Central Control. How should the Central Controlling Body be elected and to whom should it be responsible?
First this Central Body must be independent of any individual government otherwise its policy would be influenced by changes in these governments. No organisation can have stability which is at the mercy of the veering wind of politics. The Central Body must in short be a supranational government.
Britain and America are not perfect in their democratic practice but at least they are would-be democracies, so that any supra-national government with which these two great countries could co-operate should be democratic in broad outline too. To initiate Federal Union, therefore, this Central Body might be, for a limited specified period, elected by, and responsible to, the peoples of America and Britain. The cost of administration to be divided in ratio to the population and/or the taxable income of each State of the Union and exacted by taxation by the Central Controlling Body, or let us call it the Federal Parliament. The members of this Parliament would be drawn from each State in ratio of population, as also would the manpower of the Federal armed forces. If every nation were to provide a separate part of those forces the result would be envy and rivalry, impairing efficiency and co-operation. German propaganda has many times tried to prophesy just such a state of affairs happening with the Allied Forces, using the argument as a wedge driven in to divide them – alleging that one country was doing more than another in the common effort. This tendency to division could not arise if all the States of the Union were equally represented and diffused throughout the Federal forces. Naturally units of this Federal force would be stationed in whatever parts of the Union’s territory the strategy of World Peace demanded.
A force drawn from, responsible to, dispersed among and maintained by, the peoples of the constituent States of the Union, with a common uniform and morale, would so interlock those States that no force nor threat of force from the outside could ever separate then.
The causes of war
Because there are no positive factors at work to create war between America and Great Britain it is comparatively easy for them to form such a Union. But because a strong armed force might dictate and enforce a peace the causes of war are not necessarily removed, and the issue of war may only be delayed. Nor is it likely that America and Great Britain will wish to dictate peace for ever and alone.
It is generally agreed that certain nations would, and some others might, join in such a democratic Union, and it is not within the scope of this article to discuss fully just what States these would be. But it is obvious that to make Federal Union successful the member countries must have a more or less similar standard of living, common ideas of the purpose of life and government, and employ democratic principles in statecraft. We can envisage, therefore, certain countries possessing these qualifications joining such a Union at the outset. It is essential, however, to bear in mind that American Union has grown from 13 to 48 states. Provision, therefore, must be made in the World Federal Union for expansion, each state subsequently admitted to the Union to be on an equal footing irrespective of the date of admission. It can be, and frequently is, argued that there might be severe enmity created among non-federated countries against the federated states driving them into a coalition against the Union. Let us, therefore, try to investigate the issues involved.
One of the most patent causes of war is unequal access to raw materials, such as oil, rubber, minerals, wool, cotton and all foodstuffs. An adjustment of the pre-war position in this respect is one of the principal aims of the Atlantic Charter and a comparatively easy matter to deal with compared with another powerful cause of war, i.e. inability to obtain markets. These two factors, the access to raw materials and the access to markets, are closely connected.
The question of assuring equal access to markets is more complex because so many factors are involved such as wage costs in relation to standards of living, and generally speaking the social and financial problems of mass production.
Merely to agree to share materials and trade as has been the case under the Atlantic Charter is not enough, as when things become difficult we have no means of ensuring that we continue to share. Therefore these matters should be planned and then be subject to a permanent Central Control.
To visualise this planning and give a concrete example let us assume that America, the British Commonwealth and the remaining democracies create a Central Control for distribution and allocation of raw materials and trade.
This control would first of all lower, but not of necessity remove, all tariffs, it would also regulate production. From statistics of all materials and businesses in its vast areas the relative quantity of material available and needed could be calculated, all unnecessary production of raw materials could be curbed and a glut in any commodity could be avoided. Exports and imports would be balanced as between the countries of the Union and with the countries outside the Union.
All tariffs and subsidies might be removed but would this be practical? Let us take a small example. If British farming after it has been made efficient everywhere still does not pay, then it is obvious that we cannot just leave the land to rot, because free trade has made farming a loss. There are many small ways in which it could be assisted without raising the cost of produce throughout Britain, or baulking the trade of the Union. The Control could put a tariff on the highest grade meat coming into Britain which would mean that British meat of good quality, which Britain produces best, would make a higher price, but it would be paid for by a minority who could afford it: at the same time, it would prevent South Africa from making huge subsidies to export meat of poor quality to Britain, when New Zealand and Australia can produce and export more good quality meat than Britain can take.
This very small example shows the necessity for placing under a Central Control the right to erect or remove tariffs, and prevent or give subsidies. For it would then subsidise or raise tariffs to aid industries (if they seemed potential paying industries to a certain area, or to the Union as a whole) while it would ruthlessly remove all tariffs that merely made employment for the few and high prices for all. It would in every way endeavour to obtain the necessities of life to supply them to everyone as cheaply as possible according to production costs. It would have control over currencies and finance only in so far as it was necessary to complete its control over tariffs and subsidies.
As regards external trade it would endeavour to facilitate the importation of those things in which the Union was lacking and the exportation of that which it required to export most. It would keep out competition that would be harmful to trade and not helpful to the people.
A third major cause of war arises over the sharing of territory. This is perhaps deep rather than technically difficult because the psychological factors of pride and prejudice play a large part. It is, however, in this difficult matter that the British Commonwealth can make the greatest offer for world peace, if it so wishes. The question must, however, be considered from the point of view of the Colonies and Dominions.
The Colonies administered by Britain have long been coveted by her rivals, primarily because of the raw materials they produce. The proposed Federal Union Central Control of raw materials would however remove this grievance entirely within the compass of the Union. Imperial colonial control of colonial raw materials was in peace time retained (at great cost in many cases) because of their importance in the event of war. To place these materials under Federal Union Central Control would not be to give them up. They would be federal possessions for the use of the people of the Union and the Federal Forces wherever necessary.
The administration of the colonies, would probably be best carried out by a Central Control which should pursue the policy encouraged by the League of Nations, namely, that the interests of the native population must be served first and that the colonies be considered as a sacred trust until such time as the natives can undertake self-government. This Federal department dealing with the Mandated territories would be composed of personnel drawn from the entire Union, according to ability, and would be concerned mainly with the co-ordination of knowledge and experience covering all the colonies of the States comprising the Federal Union. Right of inspection would remain permanently in the hands of the Commission. This body would also receive regular reports on conditions prevailing throughout the Federal colonial territories. Regarding the employment of Colonial Civil servants the same division might be suggested, as that for immigration to the Dominions.
It is, however, in the power of the Dominions to give great and visible signs of the desire for peace and genuine positive cooperation. There are many in the world who attack the Empire system asking “What right have the peoples of the Dominions to monopolise those cast lands?”
It is so often forgotten – that it was the parents, grandparents and the present day holders themselves who pioneered these countries, (cutting themselves off from civilization, fighting nature and carving paths for future progress) who financed (or paid in taxes and in labour for) the opening up of these countries – making them what they are now – the envy of others.
It might be said then that, though the materials were given them they built their house and, therefore, should have the right to decide who shares it with them.
In this case neither Britain nor any other form of power can give access to those lands except those who own them.
The Dominions themselves often proclaim that they can support anything from double to ten times their present population and most realize that an increase in population would be of great advantage. There are, however, many who feel, and some who say, that it would lower the standard of living and so it would for the very few who want an easy life and cannot stand up to competition.
There are many ways in which an increase in population would greatly help the Dominions. It would for instance give a bigger purchasing power and a bigger consuming power, for agricultural products and manufactured goods, both of which every Dominion will greatly need after the war, owing to the rapidly increasing production of food throughout the world and the innumerable factories set up in the Dominions, to produce war needs and things temporarily unimportable.
An increase in population would also mean a greater number to share the cost of transport over a vast area, also the high taxes that a large area and small population inevitably demands.
Those who move from one country to another carry with them the learning and productive ability which they acquired elsewhere. They bring this ability which was acquired and paid for elsewhere and present it to the new community. The refugee rightly considered is an economic boon to any community.
How then can immigration best be carried out? There is only one answer, since the matter is essentially of International concern. An international government must handle it. If the Dominions hand over to a Central Control, upon which they would have adequate democratic representation, the right to decide how many immigrants each Dominion could accommodate each year, without unduly disrupting the domestic social system, it would be a great gesture toward real co-operation. The Federal Commission for Immigration would decide on the evidence of expert knowledge the number of immigrants each nation could reasonably assimilate. Every nation could retain the right to specify the nationality of 50% of the quota of immigrants assigned to it by the Commission and every nation could have a right to impose, after agreement with the Federal Commission, some form of basic educational test for all immigrants. The Federal Commission would then freely decide where the remaining 50% of would-be emigrants would go, taking into account the wishes of the emigrants so far as was possible. In every case it would be the duty and concern of the Commission to find the right type of community for every emigrant.
India, whatever her status is or will be, must be considered separately as owing to her vast native population she would not be able to work on the same principles as a European and Democratic Union. But if she so desires the Union must form as close a connection as is possible on all things that will prove beneficial to India and to the Union.
The roots of war
Last but by no means least are the roots of war, and they all lead down from the main one-misunderstanding or lack of understanding.
Who in England or the Dominions really understood he problems over the Sudetenland, where, when it was forced on us as a problem to solve we became victims of propaganda of every kind! We could not judge for ourselves with a sane mind. But if we had had a slight knowledge, propaganda would have been ineffective, for the only way to counteract propaganda (defined as “truths or untruths used as required to support or disprove a policy”) is accurate knowledge.
In wartime we have many allies but with some we have only one thing that we know of, in common – an enemy. Without this common enemy co-operation would never have come, for it is difficult to co-operate with people whom a year or two ago we hardly knew existed, of whose language we knew nothing, whose habits are peculiar and whom by purpose or instinct we may have been taught to dislike. It is similar to two drunkards (except that war is man’s worst vice and drunkenness in comparison is hardly one) best of friends while drunk, but once sober finding no common interest because they are completely ignorant of each other’s habits, desires, pleasures and business.
Therefore it seems obvious that if we are to co-operate in peace we need something more than a common imaginary enemy. We must discover our common interests – for they are many, we must understand each other’s problems, we must work together in the fields of commerce so that the greatest number may have the greatest benefit. Science has always been international, for instance scientists of all countries must work together to combat illness and disease, there is no branch of it that has been given to man by one nation alone, therefore let us follow the path of science that all nations may profit equally.
How can we promote understanding and so remove the main roots of war? We need something abstract – knowledge and sympathy and above all friendship instead of antagonism in thought. Many ways towards the achievements of these ideals would be developed under Central Control.
The first obstacle to better International understanding might seem to be difference in language although the League of Nations never found this any great handicap. In any Union of America and Britain it would be non-existent, but we are considering a Union which might include parts of Europe. To introduce a new language or to impose one might sound easy, but the general opinion seems to be that it is not a practical idea. It would possibly be better to use the three universal languages, English, French and German as official languages – every citizen being otherwise free to speak his own language.
Newspapers and radios nowadays wield great power and for varying reasons present very biased views, and so lead to misunderstanding. Freedom of speech is essential to democracy at peace. How then can the disrupting force of these newspapers and radio stations be counteracted? Official publications or radio stations owned by Central Control would be ignored by those who paid attention to disruptive propaganda. There is, however, one very simple way. The Central Control would have power to enforce any publication or radio station to place in its columns or insert in its programme any statement that the Central Control wished to make. It would be in the interests of Central Control to make these statements as short and as infrequent as possible, and only to answer criticism when untrue, so that then it might attract attention. The great fact remains that the Federal authority would sponsor a common foreign policy for all the nations comprising the federation. Federal affairs would be common affairs and would be the vital concern of all people in the federation. Once this fact is grasped it will be seen that the national press would compete against the federal authority no more than a national or local press now competes against its national government.
‘Travel is of course, with its personal contacts, the best antidote to national prejudices; but international travel is beyond the income of most of us. A minute fraction of war expenditure would go a long way in bringing international travel within the limits of the majority. There are also many things that hinder travel – though not so much as most people believe – such things as different currencies, passports or customs – the removals of which would facilitate it.
To put all railways and shipping under Central Control would cause great opposition and necessitate great changes, and it is not really essential, but all air communications could come under Central Control with ease, while they are of a far more international character than rail or sea communications and are far less hindered by national boundaries and restrictions.
To further strengthen the Union all postal and telegraphic communications should come under the Central Control, and where necessary be subsidised by it. (This was done by the British Commonwealth to strengthen its ties by subsidising Air Mail throughout its area.)
But we are looking to the future and in doing so we look to the future generation. We cannot entirely forget the past prejudices, misunderstandings, hatreds and horrors of war but if we remember the last in its true light we shall have a stimulus to prevent its recurrence. They who come after us, should start with an open mind that they may judge men for what they are as men, as individuals and not by their nationality, creed nor colour. We must, therefore, give them the opportunity to meet and to know each other, to see each other’s homes and to know each other’s problems, to know truthfully each other’s past and each other’s hopes for the future.
To put under the Central Control all education throughout the Union would be disastrous. For let us hope that if we strive successfully we shall not want mere cogs to a vast machine but individuals, who by their individuality add fresh ideas, colour, variety and enthusiasms to life. We must presume that any state accepting Union would see to it that its schools did not teach ultra nationalism but inter -nationalism, therefore, let each state devise its own educational system with one stipulation that each child is taught at least one language other than its own and that to be one of the three official languages of the Union.
It is, however; just at the school leaving age that boys and girls are keenest to learn, their minds being still open to new ideas, with no set prejudices, and they are eager to see life and to travel.
It is in this field that Central Control can supply a vast need, first of all by arranging international holiday camps and hostels, and by subsidising (but not unifying) all international Youth organizations.
Secondly, by setting up a Union University in each state of the Union, not necessarily governed under single Federal authority but working in close co-ordination to a common plan so that each student during his course will study in various States – this is already done on a small scale by many students throughout the world. In this way the student would unconsciously learn and understand the different ways of life of the various States he visited. At first especially, this Union University would concentrate on subjects particularly concerned with international relations, also subjects that have not merely training value for a career but which add to the individual’s appreciation of Life. Entrance would of course be by examination, but examination as to character and enthusiasm rather than of brain power alone. There would be no fees, the course being on a scholarship basis, and each student would receive an allowance from the University. The number of students from each state would be in proportion to population.
The University would endeavour to turn out men and women not necessarily of great brain, but rather character, for the world of today is full of the former and lacking in the latter. In this way Youth from all states would be able to meet and understand each other and so build up friendships across frontiers, place names in Federal territory would become centres of living interest and in that Youth we would find excellent citizens and statesmen for the Union. Some may say this would be too costly a scheme but at the most it would probably cost in one year what two days of war are costing now.
If this Union is not going to be World Union it must have a Foreign Policy, and what is that foreign policy to be? First it would emphasize that this Union is for one purpose – to maintain peace – and that to do so it will remain strong. Secondly, in all things of world concern it would co-operate as fully as possible with the rest of the world.
A tangible form of co-operation would be in the essential matter of fair distribution of raw materials, a rather tangible but no less important form would be to widen its inter-change of Youth to countries outside the Union and similarly its Universities. Most of the machinery of the League of Nations should remain to enable the countries of the world to meet and to carry on the excellent work that it has already achieved on many international questions.
It might be thought that there is nothing left for the State Government to do. Let me mention a few items – colonies, health and hospitals, education and schools, labour, old age pensions, roads and all transport, agriculture and marketing, housing and slum clearance, insurance and power supply, in fact almost all the major questions that affect us in peace.
Federal Union and some reactions to it
Now that we have found out the reasons for this Central Control, the Parliament or Senate, call it what you will, of Federal Union, let us summarize what it would mean.
The Central Control would be elected by and responsible to the people of the Federal Union.
Its rights to be:
- To raise such an armed force as it sees fit and to place that force wherever in the Union it is thought necessary for the maintenance of World peace.
- To impose taxes to cover all expenditure of the Central Control.
- To control raw materials.
- To raise or remove tariffs and subsidies, external and internal.
- To direct emigration and immigration.
- To control all postal and telegraphic communications and air service.
- To check subversive organizations and misleading statements.
Its duties are:
- To foster in every way understanding between the States of the Union.
- To encourage and subsidize the interchange of Youth.
- To subsidize international travel.
- To foster understanding and agreements for the benefit of the world as a whole.
These changes may seem revolutionary, but they really are not. America, when the League of 14 states failed, formed a Federal Union and the 150 years of her history has proved its strength. South Africa four years after a very bitter war formed a Union. Australia has had a Federal Government for years, while Switzerland, with its three different languages and nationalities, is a model state; under a Federal Constitution. Since war began Poland and Czechoslovakia and Greece and Yugoslavia have agreed on the main principles for a form of Federation after the war. Our offer of full Union to France proved too late.
Commerce and travel have for a very long time been internationally connected (though not controlled) while all things new in the technical world whether it is a new way to make tooth brushes, reinforce buildings or grow wheat, if successful immediately become international.
It is merely government, knowledge and sympathy that have lagged behind and remained national, therefore Federal Union, which has proved successful will, not be revolutionary but evolutionary.
Some might say socialism is more important. Pure socialism would not in any way be hindered, for the Central Control would have no power to prevent socialism or capitalism in the states, at the same time socialism and other internal state ideologies would have a far wider hearing. In the less accurate, but most popular interpretation of socialism, I think most of us mean and wish the spending of more of the national income on the needs and comforts of those who are not in the position to pay for them. In Federal Union most of these needs would be the concern of State Government; the cost of war cripples a country for years to come, and delays the development of legislation to provide these needs, Federal Union should remove war and then social reform would be possible.
A few might suspect Federal Union of removing our natural character, customs and habits, but has complete Union with England for years in any way suppressed Scotland’s individuality?
The expense of all these international propositions might be an objection raised. The expense, as has been pointed out already, is a very sound reason for Federal Union. The various propositions made here would in one year cost the different states far less than one week of war is costing them now, while the combining of the armed forces and civil service would reduce peace-time expenditure of each state immediately, not to mention the avoidance of the astronomical figures of war expenditure.
The one big obstacle to the acceptance of Federal Union is the natural conservative instinct of all men to all change. This will be seen in many ways. First and most dangerous opponents are the cynics and they are many, those, who have given in to life’s difficulties and dislike to see others who still carry on overcoming them because they dislike change or need for action, like to think that nothing can stop war and that all men are evil. In serious debate, however, they can be ignored for, when “cornered”, they merely reiterate these statements.
Then there is the over critical man, who thinks up every argument against Federal Union and picks every hole possible. He can easily be detected by his enthusiasm, for he will be confronting it for a purpose that is selfish.
Then there are the million, who remain indifferent, but many of them will unconsciously find themselves against Federal Union because they fear that change will upset their jobs or businesses. They are liable to throw in their lot and be led by cynics and selfish opponents, and quite possibly they will take an easy way out and say “I think it is an excellent idea, but will other people accept it”.
There will be few of us who will not for sentimental reasons dislike seeing our Navy merged into a bigger unity, or our famous regiments become names in history, but these and other sentiments should be discarded. There may be apprehension among those employed in the armed forces and in the civil services as to what will happen to them when Federal Union comes, but the Union would take over all responsibilities and liabilities in this respect and anyone whose services were dispensed with would be pensioned according to rate of salary.
Then there would be thousands in this “nation of shop-keepers” who, like myself, would think that the removal of the maximum number of tariffs might disrupt their business, factory or shop. Any removal of tariffs, like all Federal changes, would, of course, be carried out gradually and with care, while there would be full compensation for those few businesses, which might be forced to close.
But let those who have these fears think of war and its merciless onslaught on all business and trade, disrupting all and literally smashing many.
How very little in all things will Federal Union change in comparison to war.
Some of the great changes caused by the motor car were foreseen, the lack of trade for horse dealers, carriage makers and blacksmiths, and there was an outcry against it. It did ruin many businesses, but how few to the vast number it made.
Some might ask, “Why not a World Federation”? There are many reasons which are the same as those for choosing European and Democratic countries.
First comes the vast differences in standard of living which is so closely connected with wages and production costs.
The standard of living in the Non-European or Eastern countries is very low compared to Western or European. When the standard of living is low so is the wage rate and so we would find markets being lost not through lack of efficiency but because wages are too high.
Secondly though the ideas and ideals of the Eastern States are changing rapidly they appear far too distant from the Western for successful Union at present.
Last, but by no means least, though they are reaching near to it, there are still many countries quite incapable of becoming democracies, let alone helping to govern a democratic world.
However although we may never reach it in our time let us set our course towards World Federation, and so know that we are on the right path.
The duties of man
We can now see how Federal Union would clamp us together in peace, but we must if we wish to make it doubly sure find a different spirit. The cynics will say that in this world you can’t change human nature, we do not wish to, but we must and we shall see that “things rank and gross in nature do not possess it merely”.
Let us think back to the days of Munich, when peace was in the balance. Everyone was willing to throw all they could into that balance. Out of that crisis sprang a spirit and desire for peace, the willingness to sacrifice and the wish to do all that was humanly possible to retain peace.
A great deal has been spoken about the rights of man, they have been promised, they have been claimed. But what rights can we have without duties? We have scorned, and rightly, the fascist principle that man is made for the State and that he has no rights from it, but merely duties to it. But Democracy in its insistence of rights and ignorance of duties is as top heavy. We cannot demand to be democratic unless we fulfil the duties of a democrat. Let us put the horse before the cart, then, if our duties are fulfilled our rights will follow.
When first war seemed to be in the air, we, the people of the democracies, left it to the politicians and whimpered “But what can we do?” – which slowly turned to “But we can do nothing” and by our saying made war inevitable. These remarks were used to cover our inertia, our fear of change and sacrifice of pride. We could not be bothered to think clearly or to think at all on the matter, it was too dreary, too difficult, war was easier to understand, we could not make the effort to rouse ourselves and so we let war come upon us.
In the achievement of Federal Union, which is neither an end nor an aim, but the means to remove war, there are a thousand and one details to be worked out, some small, some large, some simple to understand, some that we the people could never cope with, but these are for the experts to work out, all they need is our support in anything they do to prevent war, our willingness to accept with an open mind and understanding of their difficulties and their decisions, to overcome our prejudices and to give and not always expect to take in return.
Above all it rests with us – the Youth of the World – for we have seen war and all it means, we have seen complacency too and its result. We cannot bring children, our children into the world if we are going to allow war to come again on them.
We must never forget what war means and always hold it up for comparison to any small change or sacrifice that is needed to keep the peace.
Because we wished to end the war we have thrown every effort and ounce of skill and labour into it. Every man and woman has taken every interest possible in every aspect of it, an interest quite inconceivable to our lack of interest in trying to prevent war in times of peace.
That interest, that urge to do all we can, that desire to know all we can, that wish to make all personal and national sacrifice we can, must never be allowed to flag, it must be kept up not only to win the war, but to win peace for ourselves and for those that come after us.
We must plan now, think and discuss now, for when the roar of the battle shall cease we must be ready to strive on in Peace – to keep – Peace.
Suggested books to read on Federal Union
The case for Federal Union – W B Curry
Union Now – Streit
Peace aims and the new world order – Mackay
The ending of Armageddon – Lord Lothian
The seven Federal Union tracts
Decision – Lionel Curtis