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(June 1951)

Alternative to "pre-medieval barbarism",   p. 60 PDF (756.9 KB)

Page 60

Alternative to "Pre-Medieval Barbarismn
The following dissertation on the trade-union support
of the underlying idea of the Schuman Plan was written
by Otto Stolz, assistant chief editor of "Welt der Arbeit"
(World of Labor), journal of the German Federation of
Trade Unions (DGB), in its May 11 issue and distributed
by the DGB press bureau.
I N THE COURSE OF HISTORY, there are situations
which compel those who maintain a claim to signifi-
cant participation in the direction off events to make deci-
sions. The, economic and political realities resulting from
the second World War, which no one today can ignore,
has led all understanding and far-thiniking pers-onis in
Europe to the conclusion that the fall of the continent
and the impoverishment of countless millions of persons
as well as reversion to a condition of pre-medieval bar-
barism can be prevented only if nations which have be-
coame distant from one another and which had been
hostile due partly to historical developments, can be
united. This demand for a united Europe acquires dra-
matic impressiveness in view of the prevented enslave-
ment, prevented with many sacrifices, of the continent
by Falslcism and Nazism and the overshadowing threat at
this time by Bolshevism.
Between this igoal and its achievement, however, there
is a long road whose greatest po~ssible shortening has be-
come vital to all those who call themselves Europeans. All
previous efforts to establish this unity by political means
alone have collapsed against the economic reality. An-
other question naturally is that politically an atmosphere
must be created which is the main condition for co!opera-
tion in all fields. In other words, this means the recogni-
tion of political equality.
In any case, cooperation and unity in the economic
sphere must precede the political. This compelling idea
gave rise to the idea of the Schuman Plan. Because the
German trade unions recognized the historic significance
in the true sense of the word, of this plan for future
development, they have endorsed the basic idea and have
participated in its further development. Their efforts were
always direicted toward providing a firm and stable foun-
dation for this first step toward European cooperation.
For they have always clearly understood that the Schu-
man Plan alone cannot be a solution to European eco-
nomic and political problems and that it represents only
a stage to further measures. It is important, precisely for
this reason, that those prerequisites be created for Ger-
many, without whose participation any European unifica-
tion would be incomplete, which would do justice to the
greatness of the idea as well as to the risks which are
undoubtedly connected with it.
I T CANNOT BE IGNORED that occupation law is a
serious obstacle to an all-European development in
that the basic condition for European, cooperation
namely, the equality of all participants, is violated. Euro-
pean economic cooperation can be effective only if the
German economy is freed from all those restrictions im-
posed upon it by the Occupation Powers. Above all, this
includes those in the field of steel production and the still
uneffected reorganization of the iron and steel-producing
industry under Allied Law No. 27 which should be carried
out in the spirit expressed in the articles of the Schu-
-man Plan. This also includes a regulation for coal market-
ing which is important not only for Germany but for all
countries participating in the Schuman Plan, and. con-
cerning which far-reaching agreement was achieved in
Paris between German and French representatives. Tho!se
who believed it necessary to oppose this agreement on
the basis of occupation law have done the Schuman Plan
an ill service.
The Schuman Plan cannot and will not be more than
a first step. Because this is the case, it can be judged
only with a view to the main trend of future develop-
ments. Naturally, European economic unity has not been
established by an agreement among six states or nations
on a common economy in an important field. But after
so much fruitless talk which led innumerable persons to
despair of European unity ever becoming a reality, the
Schuman Plan represents a practical beginning which is
psychologically so very important.
There can be no doubt that the Schuman Plan in its pres-
ent form has defects. All participants recognized without
reservation that some important provisions could still be
improved substantially at the last hour due to the partici-
pation of the German trade union representatives. The
German trade unions entered into the question of the
Schuman Plan with a sense of responsibility arising from
their duty to safeguard peace in Europe and to raise the
living standard of the working man in Germany to that
level which has already been achieved often outside of
Europe. For that is the serious economic background of
the Schuman Plan: Even in 1900, an American worker
produced in one hour as much as his European colleague.
Productivity in Europe and America were then equal.
Today, however, productivity in America is three to four
times higher than in Europe. The consequences of two
ruinous wars have thrown Europe back. More productiv-
ity, however, means a higher standard of living. Both
can no longer be achieved under national economies in
Europe. There can no longer be any doubt on this point
after the experiences of the last decades.
T HE GERMAN WORKERS have correctly posed the
anxious question as to- whether for them the Schu-
man Plan might have, as an immediate consequence, un-
employment and misery. Undoubtedly, risks are con-
nected with this great economic plan. To reduce them to
a minimum has been the constant effort of the German
trade unions, as is expressed in the resolution of the
executive council. The equally serious and important
question, however, arises as to what is to happen if the
effort for European economic cooperation fails. In that
event, even the power of the German trade unions would
be insufficient to protect employed persons in Germany
from the deepest suffering.
Ratification of the Schuman Plan is the responsibility
of the parliaments of the participating countries. They
will have to determine whether the sacrifices which the
Schuman Plan represents for all participants stand in
proper relation to the prospects which it will open up in
accordance with the basic idea of its creators.
Europe has reached a historic point in its development.
If chaos and misery are to be prevented, it is necessary
that, in all countries, prejudices be given up, that easy
egotistical successes presented by the political power
position be renounced, that the reconstruction of a new
Europe is begun resolutely, that its bloody and tragic
past is forgotten, and that all thoughts and actions are
directed to the future. If it is not pervaded by this spirit,
then the Schuman Plan will also be nothing more than
another vain effort to prevent the evil which threatens
us all.                                   +END-l
JUNE 1951

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