Saturday, February 22, 2003
The Federal Union - 22nd February 2003, 16.10

Many observers assume that the ideological positions governing the European Union and the progressive left are a recent phenomenon, and that they are derived from socialist or social democratic thought. This is not an accurate examination of the ideological roots of what is termed loosely as transnationalism.

One of the pioneers of thinking about a system of international governance designed to end the "anarchy of sovereign states" and institute global rule of law was Lord Lothian. Lord Lothian, Philip Kerr, (1882-1940) was a member of Milner's Kindergarten and would not have seemed out of place in the current debates underpinning the development of the Anglosphere concept. He was an active enthusiast for closer imperial union and served as Private Secretary to Lloyd George from 1917 to 1921. Kerr also played a role in fostering closer Anglo-American relations during the 1920s, a time when both countries were formally rivals, and setting up the Indian Federation.

And yet? Kerr, who nurtured links between Anglo-Saxon countries and the Empire, was considered to be one of the founding fathers of European federalism.

He studied the problem of national sovereignty, developed a theory of supranational organisation and became a severe critic of the League of Nations. After Munich he took a leading part, with Sir Charles Kimber, Lionel Curtis, Sir William Beveridge, Barbara Wootton and Lionel Robbins, in the establishment of the Federal Union movement. His writings on international relations inspired Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi who, during their internment under Mussolini, developed the case for a federated Europe after the war on the basis of the Federal Union literature. Today Lothian is honoured in Europe as a founding father of the British federalist school and a pioneer of European unification.

If one reads his lecture, "Pacifism is not enough nor patriotism either", you find that Kerr envisaged a federal structure composed of the victorious democracies from the First World War, France, Britain and the US as the nucleus for an eventual world state.

Is there a danger that those who mull over the need for greater ties between English speaking nations in dark times may eventually travel the same path as their historical predecessors?


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