A Proposal for an Atlantic Federal Union of the Free For the Great
Republic, For the Principle It Lives By and Keeps alive, For Man's Vast
Future. -- Lincoln
The Basic Parts of the 1940 Concise Edition By Arrangement with Harper
& Brothers, Publishers New York
To the memory of Emma Kirshman, My mother
And to all those for whom she spoke when with two
sons away in the war she wrote:
Surely some great good will come out of so much suffering...
Our home is broken and empty, but I am not without hope. Some day you will
return improved by this awful experience, for by experiences we grow bigger and
get a deeper insight in life and its mysteries.
I. To this Edition
This book deserves to be read by those who have not done so, and read again
now by those who read it years ago. Although one does not have to agree with
every detail, it has proved too right too long to be neglected now.
Many books on world affairs are dated in a year or two. That Union Now
has remained alive now for twenty-one years speaks volumes. At twenty-one it has
the strength and maturity of manhood, and yet has kept the fresh vigor of youth.
Twelve years ago I wrote in the Introduction to its Postwar Edition:
"The truths and principles set forth in Union Now are
fundamental -- they will never grow old or dated. Time and experience add to
this book's undeniable logic."
Reviewers agreed. "If this book was important in 1939, it is more so
today," Orville Prescott declared in The New York Times. August
Heckscher wrote in The New York Herald-Tribune: "With realism,
faith, audacity and prudence ... the postwar edition of Union Now comes
with earmarks of a classic. A book with a life of its own, one of the very few
in any generation that rise above the influence which gave them birth to shape
and direct the future."
The Minneapolis Tribune found "Streit's case was a formidable
one when he first made it in 1939. It is even more formidable in this postwar
edition which ought to be read by every citizen concerned with the survival of
free institutions." And in my own State of Tennessee, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal,
said: "It was a Book-of-the-Month then (1941), and time, the ultimate test
of a classic, has only enhanced its prospects of becoming the
These were strong statements, but the past twelve years have made them
stronger. Meanwhile history has moved relentlessly if painfully in Union Now's
When Union Now was first published in March 1939, our people
believed that neutrality would keep us out of war.
War converted us to wholehearted acceptance of the United Nations in 1945.
Within three years we learned that this too was not enough. By 1949 the United
States led in establishing the North Atlantic Treaty.
In proposing that the democracies unite, Union Now launched a
frontal assault on the assumption that regions could only be continental In 1939
when people took for granted that oceans divided and land united nations, this
book saw "the enormous advantage of being ... grouped ... around that cheap
and excellent means of communication, a common body of water," which the
Atlantic nations enjoyed.
Written before transatlantic commercial flights became commonplace, before
jet planes were known or the sound barrier broken, Chapter V told of the many
bonds that already united these peoples. No one before, to my knowledge, had
recognized that they formed what we now commonly call "the Atlantic
In 1949 the prevailing view was that the NATO alliance would be enough. A
goodly number in both Houses of Congress, however, had already been impressed by
Union Now's warning that alliance would no more suffice than did the
United Nations which it supplemented. They joined me in introducing in that year
a resolution asking the United States to call a convention of delegates to
explore how we might unite the democracies more strongly, federally or
By 1955 an annual Conference of Members of Parliament of NATO nations was
established. In 1957 I was a delegate to the Conference they held the month
after sputnik went into orbit. It unanimously endorsed the Convention idea. In
Book I, Clarence Streit has dealt with the approval of it by the Atlantic
Congress in 1959, the authorization of the Convention by the United States
Congress in 1960, the pledge of a "broader partnership" which the
Democratic Platform gave the Atlantic Community and the Nixon-Rockefeller
proposal of Atlantic Confederation. All this makes the chapters of Union Now
which follow timely indeed. A book that has so consistently proved so right
through so many years of upheaval is worth reading now -- or re-reading by
"Clarence Streit," I wrote in my previous Introduction, "is a
great American. He has faced many obstacles in securing consideration for Union
Now, but with vision and determination he has persisted."
In my campaign for renomination this Summer, my opponent spoke disparagingly
of my friendship with Clarence Streit. My answer was:
"I am proud to be counted among Mr. Streit's friends, and I have a deep
respect for his dedication to an ideal which seeks to find a real answer to the
problem of peace in a world which can blow itself to cinders at the touch of a
button. We need more Clarence Streits today."
And he deserves to be read, and re-read, today.
NOV. 19, 1960
U.S. SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE
II. To the 1949 Postwar Edition
Union Now is remarkable because it was born out of the kind of
circumstances which produced the few great books of the world's political
literature. Our matter-of-fact era commits a great mistake in believing that the
really significant accomplishments of political literature are simply the result
of long and dispassionate research, which the investigator carries on from sheer
curiosity or -- what is worse -- from the exigencies of professorial
competition. This is manifestly not enough. Those few works that constitute
landmarks in our political history were creations of men who on the one hand
were keenly suffering under the burdens of unsolved problems which threatened to
crush their own lives and who on the other hand grasped those problems with the
greatest sincerity and the most universal human outlook possible.
And when these two conditions of creative activity are present, works appear
like the Republic, the De Monarchia, the Defensor Pacis,
the Prince, the Vindiciae, the Six Books of the Republic,
the Two Treatises of Civil Government, the Spirit of the Laws,
the Social Contract, the Wealth of Nations, the Essay on
Liberty, Das Kapital -- to mention only the most portentous for the
future. Accomplished scholarship, sophisticated terminology are not necessary
attributes of these works. Many of them appeared to contemporary scholars as
dilettante attacks against their professional monopoly.
I do not hesitate to class Mr. Streit's Union Now among these great
works of human emancipation. One might say that it combines the acute, realistic
analysis of a Hamilton with the exuberant vision of a Walt Whitman. As a matter
of fact, his book is the new Federalist, a carefully and minutely
elaborated plan for a federal union of democracies, which may serve as a
stepping stone to broader and more universal union. In writing this book, he has
practically written his own personal history, from the moment when the World War
snatched him from his own home, through his experiences as war correspondent,
and through his sad disillusionment with the League of Nations. [See Annex, "My
Own Road to Union," p. 296; some prefer to begin the book by reading this
first.] From that time he realized keenly that the present anarchy of the world,
with all its disasters, was and is primarily not a problem of the states but a
problem of the individual; that the League of Nations was doomed to failure
because it was not a union of free men but a league of jealous and egotistic
governments; that our present misfortunes were due not to narrow-minded and
wicked statesmen but to a system which must necessarily and inevitably sacrifice
the individual to the Moloch of national sovereignty.
And here appears the great eighteenth century animus of the book, by which
it became a successor to the spirit of the American and French Revolutions. It
shows magnificently how a system in which the individual abandons his moral
sovereignty will make of him a tool or slave of the state [Chaps. VI, IX]. It
shows no less forcefully that a truly individualistic conception of society
leads unavoidably to the highest amount of human cooperation, both inside and
outside of the state, until it reaches the ultimate possibilities.
These are not all new ideas. On the contrary, there is nothing in
the author's argument which would not be understandable to the Stoics, the
philosophers of Christian universality, the founders of international law, and
the fighters for English, French and American democracy. But his new and
creative vision is the sober and at the same time inspired elaboration of the
remedy. He demonstrates that the task for the union of the democracies is not
essentially different from the task which the United States has accomplished,
and that this union would not only be a protection against war but the most
spectacular step ever taken to solve our social problems while maintaining
individual liberty and human dignity.
I venture to say that from no textbook or series of textbooks will you
understand the essence of the political process and the dynamics of
international relations so clearly as from the study of Union Now. At
the same time, it makes you conscious participants in a supreme moral task. It
will convince you that the future does not lie in the hands of the dictators or
of the bankrupt democratic statesmen of Europe but rather in the determination
of courageous individuals conscious of their own power. Or, as Mr. Streit puts
it: "For man's freedom and vast future, man most depend on man. It is ours
together or no one's, and it shall be ours."
P.S. I gave the preceding introduction first as a review of Union Now
on April 13, 1939, at Oberlin College Chapel. The eventful years since then have
confirmed, not changed my opinion of it -- O. J., Professor of Political
Science, Oberlin College, August 16, 1948. [He died in 1957.]