Co-operative Union of Europe After War

In light of the United Kingdom voting Friday to exit the European Union, the so-called “Brexit” which sent world markets into tumult, this piece from 100 years ago this week is particularly striking.

Alfred Fried was an Austrian thinker and writer who advocated more globalism over nationalism, helping create the idea which eventually became the League of Nations in 1919 and serving as one of the primary advocates for Esperanto, the attempt at creating a worldwide universal language (a largely-failed idea that nonetheless still retains millions of advocates to this day). In this article Fried suggests something of a European-wide supra-national government akin to what the EU eventually became several decades later. Some of his arguments remain similar to what the “Remain” camp advocated in the Brexit debate:

“Seven reforms… must come before the mistaken ideas which have caused the present upheaval can be uprooted, [including] the transformation of European diplomacy [and] the elimination of the antiquated conception of sovereignty… Modern diplomats use sovereignty as a bulwark behind which they hide when there is no rational justification for their actions.”

In the midst of World War I when he proposed the concept, Fried’s “Co-Operative Union of Europe” was primarily meant to serve the purpose of preventing war. An intra-Europe war seems impossible to imagine today, even with increased tensions from UK’s departure (and the possible imminent departures of several other nations). Still, many of Fried’s arguments still hold resonance today.

Co-operative Union of Europe After War: Dr. Alfred H. Fried, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1911, Has Interesting Plan for Securing Lasting Peace

From July 2, 1916

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