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Lecture 6_The Idea of Europe

Update April 28, 2020


Historical development of the ‘Idea of Europe’, paving the way for the launching of the European Integration

Reading materials:

Peace Plans in European History

1. Peace and the Procession of Peace Plans

Peace is the state of being calm, quiet, and free of disturbance. From a military and political point of view, peace means freedom from such violent disturbances as wars and riots. It does not mean total harmony among people. Even in peacetime, people take part in such forms of conflict as debates, lawsuits, sports contests, and election campaigns.

Throughout history, most people have wanted lasting peace. Religions and philosophers have called for the peaceful settlement of disagreements. The Bible declares, “Thou shalt not kill” and “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Philosophers in ancient Greece and Rome taught brotherhood and nonviolence.

Yet since earliest times, the world has seldom had a long period of unbroken peace. Through the centuries, people have probably spent at least as much time at war as at peace. The following paragraphs discuss past and present attempts to achieve lasting freedom from war.

Ancient Greece consisted of many independent regions called city-states. The city-states frequently waged war on one another. As a result, several of them banded together and formed an organization that made one of the first attempts to limit warfare. This organization, called the Amphictyonic League(近邻同盟——临近城邦的联合会,进行联合管理), prohibited any member from destroying another or cutting off another’s water supply.

Once every four years, the Olympic Games united the city-states. A truce(休战)created temporary peace throughout Greece so the games could take place. For a month, no one could bear arms or make war.

The Roman Empire maintained peace throughout a large part of the world during a period known as the Pax Romana (Roman peace, 罗马和平). This peace lasted more than 200 years, from 27 B.C. to A.D. 180. During the Pax Romana, the Roman Empire extended over much of Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa. At that time, no other nation was powerful enough to attack the Romans.

The Middle Ages. After the Roman Empire weakened during the A.D. 400’s, small wars raged throughout Europe. The Christian church became the greatest force for peace. A church custom called the Truce of God(上帝的休战)limited fighting in private disputes to certain days of the week. A ruling called the Peace of God forbade fighting in such holy places as churches and shrines(神圣场所). But the church permitted “just” wars, such as those in defense of Christianity or a people’s homeland.

From the 1400’s to the 1700’s, many people proposed various plans to achieve lasting peace. In the early 1600’s, for example, the French statesman Maximilien de Bethune, Duke of Sully, developed a “Grand Design” for peace in Europe. Sully’s plan called for the formation of a council of representatives of all European countries. The council would settle disagreements between nations.

In 1625, the Dutch statesman Hugo Grotius(格老秀斯) proposed international rules of conduct in a book called On the Law of War and Peace(《战争与和平》). For example, nations should guarantee certain rights to neutral nations, which took no part in a war. Grotius’ ideas formed the basis of international law.

The Thirty Years’ War ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. This treaty tried to ensure peace by establishing a balance of power. Such a plan maintains an even distribution of military and economic power among nations. As a result, no nation or group of nations is strong enough to conquer any other nation or group of nations.

About 1647, the English religious leader George Fox founded the Society of Friends, most commonly known today as the Quakers. This group believed that the teachings of Jesus Christ prohibited war. Throughout their history, the Quakers have opposed war and supported peace movements. The Quaker leader William Penn, who founded the colony of Pennsylvania, proposed a peace plan similar to Sully’s “Grand Design.” Penn wrote a book called An Essay towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe (1693). In it, he called for an international council to settle disputes between nations.

The Project for Perpetual Peace, written by a French clergyman, the Abbe Charles Irenee Castel de Saint-Pierre, was published in 1713. It called for a “Senate of Europe” composed of 24 delegates from the European nations. The French philosopher Voltaire criticized this plan because the member nations would have been monarchies. Voltaire believed the world could not have peace unless all nations became democracies.

During the 1800’s, many international conventions discussed peacekeeping. Peace conferences met in London in 1843; in Brussels, Belgium, in 1848; in Paris in 1849; and in Frankfurt (am Main), Germany, in 1850. In 1898, Czar Nicholas II of Russia called for an international meeting to discuss arms limitation. As a result, conferences took place at The Hague in the Netherlands in 1899 and 1907. These conferences did not succeed in limiting armaments. But they did establish the Permanent Court of Arbitration(常设仲裁法院)to handle legal disputes between nations.

The Swedish chemist Alfred B. Nobel, who invented dynamite, regretted the wartime death and injury caused by his invention. In his will, he set up a fund to award annual prizes, including one for outstanding work in promoting world peace. The first Nobel Prize for peace was awarded in 1901.

After World War I ended in 1918, a group of 42 governments established the League of Nations(国际联盟). This international association had the goal of maintaining peace throughout the world. Disputes between nations would be settled by the League Council or by arbitration, a decision by a third party. But the League of Nations had little power, partly because the United States and some other major nations never joined. In addition, League members failed to cooperate with one another. The League of Nations was dissolved in 1946.

Since the end of World War II in 1945, many attempts have been made to assure lasting peace among all nations. The major forms of these efforts have included (1) diplomacy, (2) international organizations, (3) arms control, (4) collective security, and (5) improvement of international communication and trade.

Diplomacy involves negotiations (discussions) between two or more nations. Most governments have diplomats who serve as their representatives in other countries to promote international cooperation and harmony. Other peace efforts depend largely on successful diplomacy. Many political experts rate diplomacy as the most important factor in peacekeeping.

International organizations work for the peaceful settlement of disagreements between nations. In 1945, 50 countries created the United Nations (UN), the major international organization dedicated to world peace.

2. Peace Plans of Saint-Pierre, Rousseau and Kant

Saint-Pierre’s Peace Plan

Abbé Charles-Irénée Castel de Saint-Pierre (1658-1743) was educated at a Jesuit college, where he studied the classics, logic, ethics, physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. He joined a strict order of monks, but he had to leave it for reasons of health. He moved to Paris in 1680 and was at court from 1693 to 1718, when he was expelled from the French Academy for refusing to approve of the title “Great” for Louis XIV. He studied both the theory and practice of politics and was particularly influenced by Plato, Bodin, Machiavelli, Grotius, Pufendorf, Richelieu, Doria, and Hobbes. Paix Perpetuelle was first published in 1712, but he expanded that sketch to a two-volume edition the next year, which was translated into English in 1714 as A Project for Settling an Everlasting Peace in Europe. He added a third volume in 1717 and published abridgements(删节本)in 1729 and 1738. Saint-Pierre tried to gain publicity for his effort by giving credit to France’s king Henri IV for the “grand design” that was actually written by Sully years later in 1638. He attended the peace conference at Utrecht in 1713 as the secretary for the Abbé Polignac, one of the three French plenipotentiaries(全权代表). This gave him first-hand experience of the peacemaking process and stimulated him to work on his plan that could make peace perpetual.

Saint-Pierre attempted to use the philosophical methodology of Descartes in order to gain certainty by means of intuition and deduction. His first idea had been to include all the nations of the world; but then he limited his confederation to Europe so that the whole project would not seem impossible. Examining the various means which could prevent war among European nations, he inferred that a federation of states is the best solution. Whereas Hobbes showed that for the protection and benefit of individuals there must be unity in the state, Saint-Pierre went a step further in reasoning that to safeguard the peace between nations there must be a unifying federation. Although accused by Rousseau of unrealistically expecting people to be rational, Saint-Pierre did recognize that passions control the actions of most people. Therefore to overcome motives of self-interest the fear of violence must be used to enforce law and justice. Foreshadowing Rousseau’s ideas, he posited that society protects people from violence by a contract and can express its sovereign will by establishing a permanent federation among the states of Europe.

Saint-Pierre’s plan took the form of an elaborate treaty divided into articles that were fundamental, important, and useful. States of various forms of government could be in the federation, though most at this time were monarchies. The laws founded on justice were to be equal and reciprocal for all. Saint-Pierre pointed to the confederations of German and Helvetian states and the United Provinces of the Netherlands to show the practical advantages of union. He began his plan with peace and contrasted this to the French war aims that would have initiated the biased plan of Sully.

Saint-Pierre proposed twelve fundamental articles. First, all the Christian sovereigns of Europe shall form a permanent union for peace and security, endeavoring also to make treaties with Muslim sovereigns, and the sovereigns are to be represented by deputies in a perpetual senate in a free city. Second, the European society shall not interfere with the governments except to preserve them from seditious(煽动性的)rebellions, and he even went so far as to guarantee hereditary sovereignties. Third, the Union shall send commissioners to investigate conspiracies and revolts and may send troops to punish the guilty according to the laws. Fourth, territories shall remain as they are unless three-fourths of the Union votes for a change, and no treaties may be made without the “advice and consent” of the Union. Fifth, no sovereign shall possess more than one state. Sixth, Spain and France shall remain in the house of Bourbon. These previous five articles have been criticized for not allowing a natural process of change. Seventh, chambers of commerce shall be maintained, and each sovereign must suppress robbers and pirates or pay reparation; if necessary the Union may assist them in this. Eighth, no sovereign shall take up arms except against a declared enemy of the European society. Complaints shall be discussed and mediated by the senate in the city of peace. The Union shall defend the sovereigns who agree with its decisions. After at least fourteen nations have joined the confederation, any sovereign refusing to join is to be declared an enemy by the rest of Europe, which is to make war on it until the state joins or is dispossessed. The ninth article specified that the senate was to represent with one delegate each the following 24 powers: France, Spain, England, Holland, Savoy, Portugal, Bavaria, Venice, Genoa, Florence, Switzerland, Lorraine, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, the papal states, Muscovy, Austria, Courland, Prussia, Saxony, Palatine, Hanover, and ecclesiastical electors. Obviously this scheme allowed extra votes for the divided German and Italian states. Tenth, each state shall contribute to the expenses of the society in proportion to its revenues. Eleventh, the senate shall take up questions after a plurality vote, and three-fourths is needed for a decision. Twelfth, none of the fundamental articles may be altered except by a unanimous vote of all members.

In the important articles Saint-Pierre gave more details he recommended such as Utrecht as the seat of the senate, which shall have an ambassador in every province of two million people. No sovereign shall keep more than 6,000 soldiers in his nation. Enemies of the union shall be punished with death or life imprisonment, and anyone reporting a conspiracy shall be given a reward. Every year on the same day sovereigns shall renew their oath to the Union. If a state has no succeeding sovereign, the Union may regulate the succession or allow a republic to be formed.

The useful articles are even more specific. The commander-in-chief of the federal forces shall not belong to any sovereign family. Rotating senators shall preside week by week. The four standing committees on politics, diplomacy, finances, and war are to be supplemented by committees of reconciliation, which shall adjust difficulties or report them to the senators for their decision. Freedom of religion is allowed. The Union may agree on weights, measures, and coins. The senate may mediate between conflicts of non-members and support the sovereign who accepts its offer. The European Union shall encourage Asia to establish a permanent society also.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a fascinating individual, whose unorthodox ideas and passionate prose caused a flurry of interest in 18th-century France; his republican sentiments for liberty, equality, and brotherhood led eventually to the French Revolution. He was born on June 28, 1712, but his mother died in giving birth to him. His father had him reading romances and classical histories such as Plutarch before apprenticing him to an engraver. Rousseau loved to walk in nature; frustrated at being locked outside the city gates of Geneva at nightfall, at the age of sixteen he left his home to wander on his own. He was guided by a Catholic priest to Madame de Warens, who took him in for about ten years and eventually became his mistress. Rousseau studied music and devised a new system of musical notation, which was rejected by the Academy of Sciences. Throughout his life Rousseau often earned his living by copying music. In Paris in the 1740s he entered literary society and wrote both the words and music for an opera Les Muses Galantes(优雅的缪斯). Rousseau lived for thirty years with an uneducated servant girl, who bore him five children, according to his Confessions, but all of them were given to an orphanage in infancy.

In 1749 Rousseau burst into prominence by winning an essay contest on the theme: “Has the progress of the arts and sciences contributed more to the corruption or purification of morals?” Rousseau criticized social institutions for having corrupted the essential goodness of nature and the human heart. In his “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality” he elaborated on the process of how social institutions must have developed into the extreme inequities of aristocratic France, where the nobility and the clergy lived in luxury while the poor peasants had to pay most of the taxes. In his “Discourse on Political Economy” he suggested remedies for these injustices. In 1756 he retreated to a simple country life and wrote a romantic novel La Nouvelle Héloise, which won the hearts of many. Some historians consider Rousseau the initiator of the romantic rebellion in art and literature.

Rousseau’s two greatest works were published in 1762 --- The Social Contract and Emile or On Education. For Rousseau society itself is an implicit agreement to live together for the good of everyone with individual equality and freedom. However, people have enslaved themselves by giving over their power to governments, which are not truly sovereign when they do not promote the general will. Rousseau believed that only the will of all the people together granted sovereignty. Various forms of government are instituted to legislate and enforce the laws. He wrote that the first duty of the legislator is to make the laws conform to the general will, and the first rule of public economy is to administer justice in conformity with the laws. His natural political philosophy echoes the way of Lao-zi. He suggested that the greatest talent of a ruler is to disguise his power to render it less odious by conducting the state so peaceably that it seems to need no conductors. Rousseau valued his citizenship in Geneva, where he was born, and he was one of the first strong voices for democratic principles. He believed there could be no liberty without virtue and no virtue without citizens.


Rousseau delineated the following four necessary conditions for the success of the federation: every important power must be a member; the laws they legislate must be binding; a coercive force must be capable of compelling every state to obey the common resolves; and no member may be allowed to withdraw. His plan proposed five articles. The first establishes a permanent alliance with a congress so that all conflicts may be settled and terminated by arbitration or judicial pronouncement. The second article determines which nations shall have a vote, how the presidency shall pass from one to another, and how the contribution quotas shall be raised to provide for common expenses. The third declares that existing boundaries shall be permanent. The fourth specifies how violators shall be banned and forced to comply by means of the arms of all the confederates. The fifth article recommends a majority vote at the start, but three-quarters after five years, and unanimity to change the articles.

Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant was born on April 22, 1724 at Königsberg in East Prussia and lived his whole life there. His parents were pious and emphasized inward morality. In 1740 he entered the University of Königsberg in theology, but he also studied physics. After his father died in 1746, he worked for nine years as a family tutor. He lectured at the university on physics, mathematics, logic, metaphysics, moral philosophy, geography, and natural sciences. In 1770 Kant was appointed to the chair of logic and metaphysics. After working on it for a decade, in 1781 he published his magnum opus(拉:杰作,巨著), the Critique of Pure Reason. In this book Kant analyzed how the mind itself structures our understanding of reality by conceptual categories. More books followed, and Kant is considered by many to be the greatest philosopher of the age of enlightenment. Kant held that God, freedom, and immortality are transcendental ideas essential to the moral life.

In his ethical works Kant formulated the categorical imperative as a guide for conduct: “Act according to the maxim which can at the same time make itself a universal law.”  Thus a person of good will always treats others as an end, not as a means. Kant found that two things filled his mind with increasing wonder and awe: the starry heavens above and the moral law within. His lectures were popular, and he followed a regular routine. His daily walks were so punctual that the people of Königsberg could set their watches by his regular appearance. The only time he was known to have missed his daily walk was when he became absorbed in reading Rousseau’s Emile. He died on February 12, 1804, and his last words were: “It is good.”


Kant defined three rights of peace: neutrality, guarantee, and alliance. Neutrality is the right to remain at peace when a war is nearby. Guarantee is “the right to have peace secured so that it may continue when it has been concluded.”  Alliance is the right of federation, that states may defend themselves in common against attack. However, there is no right of alliance for external aggression or internal aggrandizement.


Kant’s major work on peace entitled Perpetual Peace was published in 1795. That year in the separate treaty of Basel, Prussia ceded France territory west of the Rhine so that it could partition Poland with Russia and Austria. Kant was so indignant at this that he wrote Perpetual Peace as a just treaty that could be signed by nations. He stated six preliminary propositions for a perpetual peace among states:

1. No treaty of peace shall be held valid in which there is tacitly reserved matter for a future war.

2. No independent states, large or small, shall come under the dominion of another state by inheritance, exchange, purchase, or donation.

3. Standing armies shall in time be totally abolished.

4. National debts shall not be contracted with a view to the external friction of states.

5. No state shall by force interfere with the constitution or government of another state.

6. No state shall, during war, permit such acts of hostility which would make mutual confidence in the subsequent peace impossible: such are the employment of assassins, poisoners, breach of capitulation, and incitement to treason in the opposing state.

The reasons for these are fairly obvious. He added that a state has no right to wage a punitive war because just punishment must come from a superior authority and not an equal.


3. Winston Churchill’s speech

"The Tragedy of Europe"

I wish to speak about the tragedy of Europe, this noble continent, the home of all the great parent races of the Western world, the foundation of Christian faith and ethics, the origin of most of the culture, arts, philosophy and science both of ancient and modern times. If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance there would be no limit to the happiness, prosperity and glory which its 300 million or 400 million people would enjoy. Yet it is from Europe that has sprung that series of frightful nationalistic quarrels, originated by the Teutonic nations in their rise to power, which we have seen in this 20th century and in our own lifetime wreck the peace and mar the prospects of all mankind.

What is this plight to which Europe has been reduced? Some of the smaller states have indeed made a good recovery, but over wide areas are a vast, quivering mass of tormented, hungry, careworn and bewildered human beings, who wait in the ruins of their cities and homes and scan the dark horizons for the approach of some new form of tyranny or terror. Among the victors there is a Babel of voices, among the vanquished the sullen silence of despair. That is all that Europeans, grouped in so many ancient states and nations, and that is all that the Germanic races have got by tearing each other to pieces and spreading havoc far and wide. Indeed, but for the fact that the great republic across the Atlantic realised that the ruin or enslavement of Europe would involve her own fate as well, and stretched out hands of succour and guidance, the Dark Ages would have returned in all their cruelty and squalor. They may still return.

Yet all the while there is a remedy which, if it were generally and spontaneously adopted by the great majority of people in many lands, would as by a miracle transform the whole scene and would in a few years make all Europe, or the greater part of it, as free and happy as Switzerland is today. What is this sovereign remedy? It is to recreate the European fabric, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, safety and freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living. The process is simple. All that is needed is the resolve of hundreds of millions of men and women to do right instead of wrong and to gain as their reward blessing instead of cursing.

Much work has been done upon this task by the exertions of the Pan-European Union, which owes so much to the famous French patriot and statesman Aristide Briand. There is also that immense body which was brought into being amidst high hopes after the First World War --- the League of Nations. The League did not fail because of its principles or conceptions. It failed because those principles were deserted by those states which brought it into being, because the governments of those states feared to face the facts and act while time remained. This disaster must not be repeated. There is, therefore, much knowledge and material with which to build and also bitter, dearly bought experience to spur.

There is no reason why a regional organisation of Europe should in any way conflict with the world organisation of the United Nations. On the contrary, I believe that the larger synthesis can only survive if it is founded upon broad natural groupings. There is already a natural grouping in the Western Hemisphere. We British have our own Commonwealth of Nations. These do not weaken, on the contrary they strengthen, the world organisation. They are in fact its main support. And why should there not be a European group which could give a sense of enlarged patriotism and common citizenship to the distracted peoples of this mighty continent? And why should it not take its rightful place with other great groupings and help to shape the honourable destiny of man? In order that this may be accomplished there must be an act of faith in which the millions of families speaking many languages must consciously take part.

We all know that the two World Wars through which we have passed arose out of the vain passion of Germany to play a dominating part in the world. In this last struggle crimes and massacres have been committed for which there is no parallel since the Mongol invasion of the 13th century, no equal at any time in human history. The guilty must be punished. Germany must be deprived of the power to rearm and make another aggressive war. But when all this has been done, as it will be done, as it is being done, there must be an end to retribution. There must be what Mr Gladstone many years ago called a “blessed act of oblivion”. We must all turn our backs upon the horrors of the past and look to the future. We cannot afford to drag forward across the years to come hatreds and revenges which have sprung from the injuries of the past. If Europe is to be saved from infinite misery, and indeed from final doom, there must be this act of faith in the European family, this act of oblivion against all crimes and follies of the past. Can the peoples of Europe rise to the heights of the soul and of the instinct and spirit of man? If they could, the wrongs and injuries which have been inflicted would have been washed away on all sides by the miseries which have been endured. Is there any need for further floods of agony? Is the only lesson of history to be that mankind is unteachable? Let there be justice, mercy and freedom. The peoples have only to will it and all will achieve their heart’s desire.

I am now going to say something that will astonish you. The first step in the re-creation of the European family must be a partnership between France and Germany. In this way only can France recover the moral and cultural leadership of Europe. There can be no revival of Europe without a spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany. The structure of the United States of Europe will be such as to make the material strength of a single State less important. Small nations will count as much as large ones and gain their honour by a contribution to the common cause. The ancient States and principalities of Germany, freely joined for mutual convenience in a federal system, might take their individual places among the United States of Europe.

But I must give you warning, time may be short. At present there is a breathing space. The cannons have ceased firing. The fighting has stopped. But the dangers have not stopped. If we are to form a United States of Europe, or whatever name it may take, we must begin now. In these present days we dwell strangely and precariously under the shield, and I even say protection, of the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb is still only in the hands of a nation which, we know, will never use it except in the cause of right and freedom, but it may well be that in a few years this awful agency of destruction will be widespread and that the catastrophe following from its use by several warring nations will not only bring to an end all that we call civilisation but may possibly disintegrate the globe itself.

I now sum up the propositions which are before you. Our constant aim must be to build and fortify the United Nations Organisation. Under and within that world concept we must recreate the European family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe, and the first practical step will be to form a Council of Europe. If at first all the States of Europe are not willing or able to join a union we must nevertheless proceed to assemble and combine those who will and who can. The salvation of the common people of every race and every land from war and servitude must be established on solid foundations, and must be created by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than to submit to tyranny. In this urgent work France and Germany must take the lead together. Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America --- and, I trust, Soviet Russia, for then indeed all would be well --- must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live. Therefore I say to you “Let Europe arise!”


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