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A draft manifesto", was drawn up by Altiero Spinelli and by Emesto Rossi who wrote the first part of the third chapter in when they were both interned on the island of Ventotene. After being distributed in mimeographed form, a clandestine edition of the Manifesto appeared in Rome in January Publications of the Italian Movement for the European Federation. This edition is based on the edition which Spinelli stated was "the authentic and precise text". Translated from the original Italian by Anthony Baldry.

Modern civilization has taken the principle of freedom as its basis, a principle which holds that man must not be a mere instrument to be used by others but an autonomous centre of life. With this code at hand, all those aspects of society that have not respected this principle have been placed on trial, a great historical trial. Every people, defined by its ethnic, geographical, linguistic and historical characteristics, was expected to find the instrument best suited to its needs within a State organization created according to its own specific concept of political life, and with no outside intervention.

The ideology of national independence was a powerful stimulus to progress. It helped overcome narrow-minded parochialism and created a much wider feeling of solidarity against foreign oppression. It eliminated many obstacles hindering the free movement of people and goods. Within the territory of each new State, it brought the institutions and systems of the more advanced societies to more backward ones. But with this ideology came the seeds of capitalist imperialism which our own generation has seen mushroom to the point where totalitarian States have grown up and world wars have been unleashed.

Thus the nation is no longer viewed as the historical product of co-existence between men who, as the result of a lengthy historical process, have acquired greater unity in their customs and aspirations and who see their State as being the most effective means of organizing collective life within the context of all human society. Rather the nation has become a divine entity, an organism which must only consider its own existence, its own development, without the least regard for the damage that others may suffer from this.

The absolute sovereignty of national States has led to the desire of each of them to dominate, since each feels threatened by the strength of the others, and considers that its "living space" should include increasingly vast territories that give it the right to free movement and provide self-sustenance without needing to rely on others.

This desire to dominate cannot be placated except by the hegemony of the strongest State over all the others. As a consequence of this, from being the guardian of citizens' freedom, the State has been turned into a master of vassals bound into servitude, and has all the powers it needs to achieve the maximum war-efficiency.

Even during peacetime, considered to be pauses during which to prepare for subsequent, inevitable wars, the will of the military class now holds sway over the will of the civilian class in many countries, making it increasingly difficult to operate free political systems.

Schools, science, production, administrative bodies are mainly directed towards increasing military strength. Women are considered merely as producers of soldiers and are rewarded with the same criteria as prolific cattle. From the very earliest age, children are taught to handle weapons and hate foreigners. Individual freedom is reduced to nothing since everyone is part of the military establishment and constantly called on to serve in the armed forces. Repeated wars force men to abandon families, jobs, property, and even lay down their lives for goals, the value of which no one really understands.

It takes just a few days to destroy the results of decades of common effort to increase the general well-being. Totalitarian States are precisely those which have unified all their forces in the most coherent way, by implementing the greatest possible degree of centralization and autarky.

They have thus shown themselves to be the bodies most suited to the current international environment. It only needs one nation to take one step towards more accentuated totalitarianism for the others to follow suit, dragged down the same groove by their will to survive. This process should have been the synthesis of the freely expressed and changing economic and ideological needs of all social classes.

A political organization of this kind made it possible to correct or at least to minimize many of the most strident injustices inherited from previous regimes. But freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the steady extension of suffrage, made it increasingly difficult to defend old privileges, while maintaining a representative system of government.

Bit by bit the penniless learned to use these instruments to fight for the rights acquired by the privileged classes. Taxes on unearned income and inheritances, higher taxes levied on larger incomes, tax exemptions for low incomes and essential goods, free public schooling, greater social security spending, land reforms, inspection of factories and manufacturing plants were all achievements that threatened the privileged classes in their well-fortified citadels.

Even the privileged classes who agreed with equality in political rights, could not accept the fact that the underprivileged could use it to achieve a de facto equality that would have created a very real freedom with a very concrete content.

When the threat became all too serious at the end of the First World War, it was only natural that these privileged classes should have warmly welcomed and supported the rise of dictatorships that removed their adversaries legalislative weapons.

Moreover, the creation of huge industrial, banking conglomerates and trades unions representing whole armies of workers gave rise to forces unions, employers and financiers lobbying the government to give them the policies which most clearly favoured their particular interests. This threatened to dissolve the State into countless economic fiefdoms, each bitterly opposed to the others. Liberal and democratic systems increasingly lost their prestige by becoming the tools that these groups will always resort to in order to exploit all of society even more.

In this way, the conviction grew up that only a totalitarian State, in which individual liberties were abolished, could somehow resolve the conflicts of interest that existing political institutions were unable to control.

Subsequently, in fact, totalitarian regimes consolidated the position of the various social categories at the levels they had gradually achieved. By using the police to control every aspect of each citizen's life, and by violently silencing all dissenting voices, these regimes barred all legal possibility of further correction in the state of affairs. This consolidated the existence of a thoroughly parasitic class of absentee landowners and rentiers who contribute to social productivity only by cutting the coupons off their bonds.

It consolidated the position of monopoly holders and the chain stores who exploit the consumers and cause small savers money to vanish. It consolidated the plutocrats hidden behind the scenes who pull the politicians' strings and run the State machine for their own, exclusive advantage, under the guise of higher national interests. The colossal fortunes of a very few people have been preserved, as has the poverty of the masses, excluded from the enjoyment of the fruits of modern culture.

In others words an economic regime has substantially been preserved in which material resources and labour, which ought to be directed to the satisfaction of fundamental needs for the development of essential human energies, are instead channelled towards the satisfaction of the most futile wishes of those capable of paying the highest prices. It is an economic regime in which, through the right of inheritance, the power of money is perpetuated in the same class, and is transformed into a privilege that in no way corresponds to the social value of the services actually rendered.

The field of proletarian possibilities is so restricted that workers are often forced to accept exploitation by anyone who offers a job in order to make a living.

In order to keep the working classes immobilized and subjugated, the trade unions, once free organizations of struggle, run by individuals who enjoyed the trust of their members, have been turned into institutions for police surveillance run by employees chosen by the ruling class and responsible only to them. Where improvements are made in this economic regime, they are always solely dictated by military needs which have merged with the reactionary aspirations of the privileged classes in giving rise to and consolidating totalitarian States.

Everything that is affirmed must prove its worth or disappear. The greatest achievements of human society in every field are due to the scientific method that lies behind this unfettered approach.

But this spiritual freedom has not survived the crisis created by totalitarian States. New dogmas to be accepted as articles of faith or simply hypocritically are advancing in all fields of knowledge. Although nobody knows what a race is, and the most elementary understanding of history brings home the absurdity of the statement, physiologists are asked to believe, demonstrate and even persuade us that people belong to a chosen race, merely because imperialism needs this myth to stir the masses to hate and pride.

The most self-evident concepts of economic science have to be treated as anathema so as to enable autarchic policy, trade balance and other old chestnuts of mercantilism to be presented as extraordinary discoveries of our times. Because of the economic interdependence of the entire world, the living space required by any people which wants to maintain a living standard consistent with modern civilization can only be the entire world.

But the pseudo-science of geopolitics has been created in an attempt to prove the soundness of theories about living space and to provide a theoretical cloak to the imperialist desire to dominate. Essential historical facts are falsified, in the interests of the ruling classes. Libraries and bookshops are purged of all works not considered to be orthodox. The shadows of obscurantism once more threaten to suffocate the human spirit.

The social ethic of freedom and equality has itself been undermined. Men are no longer considered free citizens who can use the State to achieve collective goals. They are, instead, servants of the State, which decides what their goals must be, and the will of those who hold power becomes the will of the State. Men are no longer subjects with civil rights, but are instead arranged hierarchically and are expected to obey their superiors without argument, the hierarchy culminating in a suitably deified leader.

The regime based on castes is reborn from its own ashes, as bullying as it was before. After triumphing in a series of countries, this reactionary, totalitarian civilization, has finally found in Nazi Germany the power considered strong enough to take the last step.

After meticulous preparation, boldly and unscrupulously exploiting the rivalries, egoism and stupidity of others, dragging in its path other European vassal States, primarily Italy, and allying itself with Japan, which follows the very same goals in Asia, Nazi Germany has launched itself on the task of crushing other countries.

Its victory would mean the definitive consolidation of totalitarianism in the world. All its characteristics would be exasperated to the utmost degree, and progressive forces would be condemned for many years to the role of simple negative opposition. The traditional arrogance and intransigence of the German military classes can give us an idea of the nature of their dominance after victory in war.

However camouflaged, the reality is always the same: a new division of humanity into Spartans and Helots. Even a compromise solution between the two warring sides would be one more step forward for totalitarianism. All those countries which managed to escape Germany's grasp would be forced to adopt the very same forms of political organization to be adequately prepared for the continuation of hostilities.

But while Hitler's Germany has managed to chop down the smaller States one by one, this has forced increasingly powerful forces to join battle. The courageous fighting spirit of Great Britain, even at that most critical moment when it was left to face the enemy alone, had the effect that the Germans came up against the brave resistance of the Russian Army, and gave America the time it needed to mobilize its endless productive resources.

This struggle against German imperialism is closely linked to the Chinese people's struggles against Japanese imperialism. Huge masses of men and wealth are already drawn up against totalitarian powers whose strength has already reached its peak and can now only gradually consume itself.

The forces that oppose them have, on the other hand, already survived the worst and their strength is increasing. With every day that passes, the war the allies are fighting rekindles the yearning for freedom, even in those countries which were subjected to violence and who lost their way as result of the blow they received. It has even rekindled this yearning among the peoples in the Axis countries who realize they have been dragged down into a desperate situation, simply to satisfy their rulers' lust for power.

The slow process which led huge masses of men to be meekly shaped by the new regime, who adjusted to it and even contributed to its consolidation, has been halted and the reverse process has started. All the progressive forces, can be found in this huge wave, which is slowly gathering momentum: the most enlightened groups of the working classes who have not let themselves be swayed, either by terror or by flattery, from their ambition to achieve a better standard of living, the sharpest members of the intellectual classes, offended by the degradation to which intelligence is subjected, entrepreneurs who, wanting to undertake new initiatives, want to free themselves of the trappings of bureaucracy and national autarky, that bog down all their efforts, and, finally, all those who, with an innate sense of dignity, will not bend one inch when faced with the humiliation of servitude.

Germany's defeat would not automatically lead to the reorganization of Europe in accordance with our ideal of civilization. In the brief, intense period of general crisis when the States will lie broken, when the masses will be anxiously waiting for a new message, like molten matter, burning, and easily shaped into new moulds capable of accommodating the guidance of serious internationalist minded men , the most privileged classes in the old national systems will attempt, by underhand or violent methods, to dampen the wave of internationalist feelings and passions and will ostentatiously begin to reconstruct the old State institutions.

Most probably, the British leaders, perhaps in agreement with the Americans, will try to push things in this direction, in order to restore balance-of-power politics, in the apparent immediate interests of their empires. All the reactionary forces can feel the house is creaking around them and are now trying to save their skins: the conservative forces, the administrators of the major institutions of the nation States, the top-ranking officers in the armed forces including, where they still exist, the monarchies, the monopoly capitalist groups whose profits are linked to the fortunes of States, the big landowners and the ecclesiastical hierarchy, whose parasitical income is only guaranteed in a stable, conservative society and, in their wake, the countless band of people who depend on them or who are simply blinded by their traditional power.

If the house were to collapse, they would suddenly be deprived of all the privileges they have enjoyed up to now, and would be exposed to the assault of the progressive forces. The fall of the totalitarian regimes will, in the feelings of entire populations, mean the coming of "freedom"; all restrictions will disappear and, automatically, very wide freedom of speech and assembly will reign supreme. It will be the triumph of democratic beliefs.

These tendencies have countless shades and nuances, stretching from very conservative liberalism to socialism and anarchy.

These beliefs place their trust in the "spontaneous generation" of events and institutions and the absolute goodness of drives originating among the grass roots. They do not want to force the hand of "history", or "the people", or "the proletariat", or whatever other name they give their God. They hope for the end of dictatorships, conceiving this as restoring the people's unsupressible right to self-determination.

Their crowning dream is a constituent assembly, elected by the broadest suffrage, which scrupulously respects the rights of the electors, who must decide upon the constitution they want. If the population is immature, the constitution will not be a good one, but to amend it will be possible only through constant efforts of persuasion. Democrats do not refrain from violence on principle but wish to use it only when the majority is convinced it is indispensable, little more, that is, than an almost superfluous "dot" over an "i".

They are suitable leaders only in times of ordinary administration, when the overall population is convinced of the validity of the basic institutions and believe that any amendment should be restricted to relatively secondary matters. During revolutionary times, when institutions are not simply to be administered but created, democratic procedures fail miserably.


Ventotene Manifesto

A Draft Manifesto Per un'Europa libera e unita. Progetto d'un manifesto , is a political statement written by Altiero Spinelli [1] while he was imprisoned on the Italian island of Ventotene during World War II. Completed in June , the Manifesto was circulated within the Italian Resistance , and it soon became the programme of the Movimento Federalista Europeo. The Manifesto called for a federation of Europe and the world. In the text, European Federalism and World Federalism are presented as a way to prevent future wars. Spinelli —86 , a former Communist, became a leader of the federalist movement due to his primary authorship of the Manifesto and his postwar advocacy. The manifesto called for a break with Europe's past to form a new political system through a restructuring of politics and extensive social reform.


The 1944 Ventotene Manifesto: Towards a Free and United Europe

A draft manifesto", was drawn up by Altiero Spinelli and by Emesto Rossi who wrote the first part of the third chapter in when they were both interned on the island of Ventotene. After being distributed in mimeographed form, a clandestine edition of the Manifesto appeared in Rome in January Publications of the Italian Movement for the European Federation. This edition is based on the edition which Spinelli stated was "the authentic and precise text". Translated from the original Italian by Anthony Baldry.

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