A Proposal for a Federal Union of the Democracies of the North Atlantic
By Clarence K. Streit
Today the problem of securing individual freedom, democracy, peace and prosperity is a problem in organizing world government, and to that problem this book brings a fresh solution backed by fresh analysis. Its essence may be found in the first chapter. This may lead some to assume that in writing this book I began with this chapter, too. The opposite occurred. The first chapter was written last. The conclusions it expresses are not to be taken as a thesis which the book was written to prove. Instead I have drawn them from it and have sought for the reader’s convenience to say at the start as concisely as I could the essence — not the summary — of what I have to say.
I have drawn these conclusions from much more than this book, in fact from all my experience. They have grown in me since youth — “this is what I have learnt from America” — and especially since the war, particularly during the period since 1920 which I have spent working as an American newspaper correspondent in a score of countries of the Old and New Worlds, and more particularly since 1929. This last period I have spent reporting mainly from Geneva and Basle the efforts of mankind to solve the problem of living together less precariously and meanly, to organize and apply world government and law. I have followed these efforts day in and out for more than 3,000 days; I would give in this book not my experiences but what I have learned from them.
In writing this book, however, I was unable to begin with the gist of what experience had taught me. I had first to write this book through four times, not to mention revisions. When I began it in 1933 as a newspaper article most of these convictions were as vague and formless as the old prospector’s conviction, “There’s gold in them thar hills!” I count the writing and rewriting of this book as no small part of my experience. It was the part of finding the mother lode amid the rocks and fool’s gold, of digging down to it, of separating it from the quartz, of reducing “them thar hills” down to a form where the man in the street might recognize the gold in them, and of blazing a trail back. I could not find my gold as nuggets of pure logic nor by the divining rod of mysticism.
In reporting what I have found I have followed broadly the American rules of my profession which require the reporter to pick out, boil down and tell at the start in the order of importance the essentials he has to tell. My method may be criticized as journalistic, but the quantity of speeches and documents and volumes I have had to wade through in my daily newspaper work in order to find the essentials their authors had to say has convinced me that the ideal for the presentation of all serious thought is the ideal that American news reporters seek, far from it though we fall. In a world so full and with a life so short as ours it seems to me to be highly in the interest of everyone — layman or expert — to get and give his essentials in every field as quickly as the dangers of oversimplifying permit. Since everyone reads much more than he writes and has far more to learn than teach, it seems to me that this journalistic method is to the general advantage — though it does make the writer’s work much harder. Certainly I have encountered the difficulty that Pascal expressed long ag “The last thing that we find in making a book is to know what we must put first.”
And having mentioned one of my difficulties, I would mention too that I have enjoyed the enduring advantage of my wife’s unending help and firm faith, and generous encouragement from a number of friends at times when I most needed it.
Oct. 14, 1938. C. K. S.