Books of the Day
That Blessed Word
Federal Europe : Being the Case for European Federation. Together with a Draft Constitution of a United States of Europe. By R. W. G. Mackay. With a Foreword by Norman Angell. (Michael Joseph. los. 6d.) A Federation for Western Europe. By W. Ivor Jennings. (Cam- bridge University Press. 3s. 6d.) IT would be easy and not untruthful to assert that the value of these books is in inverse proportion to their size and cost. Dr. Jennings's little book is by far the best ; indeed, it is the only one of the three that is all about the nominal subject and is always worth serious consideration. In Mr. Channing-Pearce's sym- posium there are one or two valuable discussions of the great problems involved in even a territorially limited scheme of federa- tion, notably Professor Robbins's discussion of the economic problems involved, but most of the contributions are merely more or less good sermons on the sins of this generation and promises of a new life after conversion to federalism, a term which, in this book, seems to mean any system of political organisation formally unlike that of the present independent sovereign States of Europe and the world. Indeed, reading some of these well-meant if too often pretentious sermons, it was hard to avoid thinking of the anecdote. Here are equivalents of the Frenchman's "Loves of the Elephant," of the American's "Bigger and Better Elephants," of the German's "The Place of the Elephant in the World System," even of "The Elephant and the Polish Problem," but there is not very much about the way an elephant keeps alive or is begotten. Federation is treated as a peg on which to hang views on psycho- logy, industrial organisation, Socialism and what have you. One or two of the most irrelevant essays make very good reading, but it is to be feared that those sceptical and cynical persons who think that "Federal Union" is just a warm " boss " word, making people feel good and preventing serious thought about our problems, will find support for that view in this book.
Mr. Mackay's Federal Europe is both better and more useful. The way in which it is better is that it is mainly about federal problems. Its usefulness, however, does not arise from its merits, for the main utility of this book arises from its great weakness. A reader who wishes to understand why a Frenchman or a German tends to write off most British comment on world affairs as almost entirely irrelevant to the real problems as given by geography, history, economics, religion, could do much worse than read Mr. Mackay's book. Obviously, Mr. Mackay is a man of ability and of mental vigour, but with a brisk " Anglo-Saxon " self-confidence he proceeds to recast Europe with hardly any reflection on the important fact that Europe, even Western Europe, is not merely a slightly different British dominion or a piece of political putty only needing to be moulded into the right—that is, the British—shape to escape from its inheritance of un-British conduct. Compared with Mr. Mackay, Mr. Streit was a rigorous realist, fof he did, at least, propose to adapt a federation constitution to the needs of the world. His political tailoring was rather hasty, but if what the world needed was trousers he did at least provide trousers. Mr. Mackay can hardly be said even to have provided a kilt. Like a true born Briton he takes what ought to be for what is ; for him the right is the real. That the political traditions of France, not to speak of Germany, have given a different meaning to some terms of political art which are in common use, both here and on the Continent, does not seem to have occurred to him. It is interesting to compare Dr. Jennings's careful, learned and objective summing-up of the dispute over the right of Parliamentary dissolution with the simple assumption made by Mr. Mackay that there is no dispute about the matter at all. It is not only (although it is enough) that Mr. Mackay assumes the existence of a political religion of all sensible men, that is the universal acceptance of the underlying principles of British constitutional practice. But Mr. Mackay does not seem to have studied with any care the working of federal government in the countries whose basic legal tradition is English. His discussion of the relative strength of federal govern- ment in the United States and Canada and of the nature of judicial review suggests that he has chosen to ignore or to remain ignorant of the far from simple history of these problems. One is not surprised to find that, in a bibliography of over eighty volumes, not more than ten at the outside deal with federalism. The others deal with war, peace, capitalism, democracy—au interesting topics and, of course, essential to a general theory of politics. But Mr. Mackay has not written a general theory of politics but a book on federalism. For writing such a book there is no sign here that he is adequately prepared.
With Dr. Jennings we are on a different level. He knows what is involved in federalism, which is (as is so often forgotten a piece of governmental machinery, clumsy and wasteful, only adopted because the conditions do not permit the use of simpler and more efficient machinery. He does not chase after the moon, insist on world unity or even on continental unity, and all his arguments for specific pieces of constitutional machinery are based on thought and knowledge. It is only possible to suggest here a few points of difference that do not affect his general argument. The in-and-out arrangement imposed on his scheme by his desire to keep the federation practicable, i.e., to confine it to Western Europe, and by his desire to keep the British Empire formally united, even if the Dominions do not enter the federa- tion, is cumbersome. Nor is it easy to visualise South Africa as a member of a federation based on the Rights of Man. Then, if the federation must include Germany and must be democratic, what are we to do if Germany, assuming an overwhelming defeat of Hitler, still does not become democratic? In short, is Germany essentially a part of Western Europe? Lastly, the problem of the defence of the federation against outside Powers, Russia and Japan (or against Germany if that country does not become a member) is not treated in enough detail. Despite the arguments of Major-General Sir Henry Thuillier in Federal Union, a long-service professional army might produce Francos as readily as Washingtons. Dr. Jennings skimps the discussion of this very important problem, and the list of federalised naval bases which he gives suggests that his curiosity and critical powers are less aroused by such problems than by those of a more