Federal Union in a New Light: The Importance of Not Confusing Internationalists with Europeanists

Friday, July 14, 2017
WMB - Hugh Fraser Seminar Room 2 (University of Glasgow)
Jens Ragnar Ramberg , Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion, University of Gothenburg
Previous research has viewed the British organisation Federal Union as lobbying for a European union ever since the beginning of the Second World War. In this paper I show that this view is a simplified one and that the Federal Union from the beginning included a multitude of different visions of international union. During the war period the Federal Union attracted many prominent British intellectuals and proved vital in the surge of internationalism, which inspired the British proposal for an Anglo-French union in 1941. Previous research tends to view Federal Union, and this proposal, as manifestations of an increasing Europeanism in Great Britain. This over-simplification of an internationalist movement is particularly problematic in relation to the challenges posed by Brexit. In today’s Europe, understanding the varying degrees of Europeanism within the member-states seems increasingly important. Instead of interpreting Federal Union as a manifestation of Europeanism, this paper argues that by studying texts written by Federal Union members individually, a multitude of different proposals and visions come to light. A closer look at the war period in Britain shows that it should be interpreted as an internationalist period, rather than exclusively Europeanist, even though the federalists of the time found a political opportunity in a Europeanist campaign. Although British politics at the time had its sights set firmly on Europe, it is evident that Federal Union members strived for alliances outside of Europe as well.
  • Federal Union in a New Light.pdf (482.5 kB)