Introduction: This Book's Aim

If you would be freer than all that has been before,
come, listen to me. -- Whitman, By Blue Ontario's Shore

Twenty-one Years after Union Now was first published, its basic idea reached the Rubicon. The idea was summed up in the book's sub-title: "A Proposal for a Federal Union of the Democracies of the North Atlantic." The Rubicon took the form of an Act of Congress in the summer of 1960, authorizing the calling of a Convention of "representative citizens" of North Atlantic nations to explore how to advance their freedom by greater political and economic unity, and report by January 31, 1962. The fact that it is patterned on the 1787 Convention which worked out the world's first Federal Union -- the revolutionary United States Constitution -- seems evidence enough that the turning point which the Atlantic community and the Union Now proposal have now reached is indeed significant.

To add to its significance, Senator John F. Kennedy, after voting for this Act, won the White House under the banner of "the new frontier," on a platform pledging "the Atlantic Community" a "broader partnership" ... while Vice President Richard M. Nixon, who almost won, urged a "North Atlantic Confederation." These developments are dealt with further in this book, notably in Chapters 1, 3 and 11.

Earlier, the State High School Debate Leagues had, with singular foresight, voted to make free world security their topic for the 1960-61 scholastic year, with the No. 1 debate proposition under it: "Resolved: That the North Atlantic Treaty Organization be transformed into a federal government." As a result more than 50,000 students in some 10,000 American high schools are already debating the subject which will face some 100 leaders from NATO nations when the Atlantic Convention meets in 1961.

The high school decision led Dr. Bower Aly, Executive Secretary of the National Committee on Debate Materials for these students, to write: "I wish I knew some man with money and enough perception to supply a copy of Union Now to each high school debate squad in the United States. It is the best single book for our purposes." He found this man in the person of F. Gilbert Lamb, President of Lamb-Weston, Inc., of Weston, Oregon. He generously offered to give a copy to all the 10,000 debate squads but there were only 200 copies of the 1949 Postwar edition left in print.1

In these circumstances, it was decided that another edition should be published, with the five Postwar chapters replaced with others written now. The political developments thereafter led me to change plans and write this new book, to which I have added the basic parts of Union Now. The result is virtually two books in one. Because of the debaters' demand for Union Now, I had to write this book more rapidly than I would have liked. It is, however, the product of research, study, experience and thought through more than a quarter- century. In it I aim at three targets -- yea four, as the ancient Hebrews loved to say.

First (in order of appearance), I have considered afresh the proposal and philosophy of Union Now in the light of the world changes since 1939. Then I have tried to do the three things I think most need doing if we are to realize our present opportunity -- or even escape catastrophe -- namely, a) to clear away the confusion over sovereignty which keeps the free divided and fog-bound, b) to clarify the misunderstood but momentous and inspiring lessons of American history on sovereignty and Union, and c) to provide the powerful motive force needed for the free to reach the new world to which they alone can lead mankind.

The fog over sovereignty has kept the free circling for fifty years in a sea of troubles -- instead of sailing on to make this the century of individual freedom-and-union in an even higher, broader degree than was the period from 1776 to 1910. We cannot remove this fog by removing dictatorship; we ourselves create it -- the confusion lies in us. I have done my best to clarify the subject of sovereignty, and show that it centers in no body politic but equally in our individual selves or, more accurately, in the intangible self that Tocqueville called "the angel in man."

To do this, I have turned perforce to the history of the United States. I say perforce for four reasons: 1) The history of no other people has so much to teach on sovereignty; here, as an English author taught me, one can see its workings as one may study "bees in a glass hive." 2) No people is more befogged now over sovereignty. 3) To clarify Americans on it is essential; while they remain fog-bound, the Atlantic Community cannot sail on. 4) The best way to de-fog us is through fresh air from our own history -- which also helps make others understand us.

To lift a fog is not enough; all can be clear and yet one can stay becalmed, or fail to move fast enough to reach port in time. But as the breeze that lifts a fog can drive a ship ahead, so what clarifies confusion may not only give us our direction but help us reach it. By nature the sovereign -- whether king, nation, or citizen -- must seek to exercise his sovereignty and grow in power. When we recognize ourselves as sovereigns, we feel more impellingly the need, and responsibility, to develop ourselves, to free our persons in the myriad ways liberty requires, to fulfill our potentialities. No one else can do this for us -- yet no one can free or fulfill himself alone.

Heaven itself needs more than one star, more than a galaxy or Milky Way, to be Heaven and "declare the glory of God." To be sovereign, to be all we each can be, each man and woman requires the help of a myriad men and women. Each is weak in more ways than strong -- but we are so richly varied that there are always others who fulfill themselves by supplying what we lack, as we each do for them.

This subject is vast; in this book I am concerned only with some phases, particularly the political and moral. I have tried to indicate how, by extending our sovereignty to create a Union of the Free, each can fulfill himself in four of our embodiments -- as part of mankind, as a member of the free world, as one of our nation, and (I would add, above all) in our individual self -- as homo sapiens, citizen, patriot and person, or soul. By Atlantic Union we develop ourselves, the country we love, the freedom we cherish and the whole human species -- everything we are and belong to.

To this end I have sought to bring out better than I have before the positive rather than the negative motive in the philosophy of freedom-and-union and in the proposal of Federation of the Free. To be against and to seek to escape danger are natural motives, but they are not the things that move us in the highest measure. We cannot be ourselves without being for something. To be a man is to act, create, do. Our eyes are not aimed sidewise and backward, as a fly's, to flee with. Our eyes look forward; our hands and feet are shaped to move ahead; we must turn to see pursuers. Man is made to hunt rather than be hunted; his genius lies in building rather than letting alone, or destroying.

Like all living creatures we are often moved by fear; unlike them we are also moved by faith. And it is faith that has moved Man to do all the great things he has done, and all the minor things that he is proud of, too -- everything that he calls manly, womanly, humane, heroic. And the more prodigious his achievement, the more sublime was his faith. In the end, faith moves men more than fear.

We know this almost instinctively. We often prove it by our action. Yet more often we speak as if we believed the contrary, at least about our fellows. I must confess I have. What set and kept me working for Union of the Free, for twenty-seven years now, was not merely the dangers from dictatorship, depression and war that result from disunion; it was, much more, the freer, fuller, better individual life and greater civilization that would result from the creation of this Union. As I have continued in this endeavor, I have been strengthened in this faith by experiencing the freer, fuller, better life which even the continued effort to help create this Union brought me personally -- and seeing many others engaged in it with me enjoy these rewards, too.

Yet I have written and talked of Union of the Free much more in terms of the dangers of disunion we could escape than in terms of the advantages we would gain, individually and collectively. It is no excuse to say that this is common practice. (Certainly the major reason given by those who hope to realize quickly such things as disarmament or world government is that it is "a matter of survival." They expect to work stupendous miracles by invoking the fearful animal in man, rather than the stuff that miracles and men are made on -- willingness to sacrifice the body to the spirit and risk survival in order to do what one believes in.)

Compared to disarmament, which so many practical politicians and newspapers treat as if it could he achieved in a few years, Atlantic Union requires only a minor miracle. Though I have not tried to bring it about by appealing to fear of non-survival, I have appealed too much to fear of dictatorship and war, and not enough to the faith that moved me, myself. Nor is it an excuse to say that the dangers of disunion seem immediate and concrete, while the rewards of Union are relatively distant, or intangible.

It was not fear, but far greater faith than Atlantic Union now requires that made Mecca, Mecca. Since we all move from low as well as high motives, both to escape the club and to reach the carrot, it seems to me necessary to invoke both, to achieve any political aim. But realism requires me also to admit that, the greater the miracle one seeks to make, the more we need to arouse faith rather than fear. And so I have sought -- particularly in Chapters 12 and 13 and in the Last Word -- to correct this balance.

BOOK II -- Union Now

Book II gives the basic parts of Union Now. I have drawn them from the condensed version of the original 1939 text which I made for the Concise edition in 1940. To present the proposal and philosophy of that book in that text separately, yet combined with this new book, permits those who read Union Now years ago to refresh their memory easily. It is no less convenient for those who have heard of Union Now, read reviews or digests of it, and -- I like to think -- meant to read it but left this intention unfulfilled (as I so often have with other books). Most of all I hope that Book II will introduce Union Now to those who have never heard of it, particularly to the generation still unborn when it appeared, or too young to read when the 1949 edition was published.

The twenty-one years since its first publication permit readers now to put it to a far more searching test than any other proposal in the field, provided the author resists the temptation to revise the text as hindsight may suggest. Readers rarely can put any idea to such a test. Many, I think, will find this experience more interesting than they anticipated. Those who assume that any book that appeared even a year ago must be too dated now to waste time on, can easily test that theory by turning to Book II and scanning the opening paragraphs of 1939.

Certainly I believe the greatness of our present opportunity, and danger, justify the severest test of any proposal and philosophy for meeting them. We live in a time when the world grows incessantly more complex, confusing. Long before change became so widespread, Lord Acton warned that "political calculations are so complex that we cannot trust theory, if we cannot support it by experience." But how are we to distinguish sound theory from false today? How to reduce the cost, and danger, of learning by trial and error when time rockets, and error may annihilate? How to cleave to reason when leaders in whom we trust are so often proven wrong, once their policies are tried? "To govern is to foresee," a French king said. But how are we to know foresight in time?

The surest way we can hope for is by some test of time. A policy that met changing conditions in the past five, ten, twenty, fifty, 150 years better than alternatives offers sounder hope of meeting future needs than do policies that permit no such test, that are pure theory, or that have just been tried and failed, or have never worked in history. Yet how seldom do we -- or can we -- apply any test of time before we try proposals in the present field. Pause for a moment to think of the many policies for advancing peace and freedom that we have tried in the past fifty, twenty, ten, five years -- only to find their foresight false, their reasoning unsound, and freedom and peace in greater danger than before ...

... And now pause again -- perhaps we read too rapidly and think too little while reading -- and let your mind roam over the many solutions that were not tried out but did gain much attention because they had behind them men of high position or great wealth, or mass media, respected institutions, important organizations. Try to recall at least one of these proposals that had their day on Page 1, or in the halls of learning, and are now mercifully forgotten ...

... Is it surprising that through these fifty years we have seemed to go in circles, yet really spiraled downward ... that so many lament today "a lack of purpose"? How can we hope for better while we give so little thought to the test of time? Some say that I attach too much importance to the lessons of experience that American history teaches. Since I do weigh heavily the time factor in human affairs, and since the proposal and philosophy of Union Now have had to face some test of time, I think it only right that you should have the opportunity Book II gives of applying to Book I a more searching test than most books permit.

I wish, indeed, there were space to include all of Union Now, but various factors limit this volume. And so I have had to omit six chapters and one annex, and some paragraphs in others. The parts omitted deal with conditions that no longer obtain, such as American neutralism, or that I consider secondary. All that is basic has been retained, with no change whatever in the original text.

I regret, too, that there is no space to mention by name even some of the many to whom I am deeply indebted for their part in this enterprise, and book. I hope I have made clear in the Last Word of Book I, and in Chapter XIII of Union Now, how grateful I am to each of them. I must mention one: Without my wife, Jeanne Defrance, I could not have done my part in this work, nor have the proof I have of the truth and beauty of freedom-and-union.


Armonk, New York, November 10, 1960


  1. This was the last of Union Now's seven editions for the United States: my private one (1938), Unabridged (printed in France for Harper & Bros., 1939) Unabridged (printed in the United States by Harper & Bros., 1939) Concise (1940), Book-of-the-Month Dividend (1941), Wartime, with three new chapters (1943), Postwar, with five new chapters (1949). Also exhausted are the foreign editions. Jonathan Cape, London; Librairie de Medicis, Paris, (Union ou Chaos) and Natur och Kultur, Stockholm (Union Nu), all in 1939. More than a quarter million copies in all have been sold, not counting a pirated edition in China and a Dutch edition in Indonesia in 1941.

Contents -- Book I