European Federalism as a Neo - libertarian tendency

, by Goran Ilik

European Federalism as a Neo - libertarian tendency

Inspired by the progressive spirit of the Manifesto of Ventotene and its idea of Freedom and Liberty, we’ll draw the basic link between Euro-federalism as political philosophy and Libertarianism. Because the basis of these two doctrines is the man / individual / person and his freedom.

According to the Manifesto, “…Modern civilization has taken the principle of freedom as its basis, a principle which holds that man must not be a mere instrument to be used by others but an autonomous centre of life…”. Therefore, Freedom and Liberty of an individual are the most important elements for the creation of a European Federal state, thus, for the creation of a New Europe. The essence of this sentence is the Freedom and Liberty of an individual: when people fear their government, there is tyranny, but when a government fears its people, there is Liberty.

I am going to present the meaning of Libertarianism as a tendency and evolutionary basis for the further development of the Euro-federalist idea. This idea should be canalized into the direction of defending, preventing and articulating the fundamental interest of an individual vis-à-vis the future European state. Such fundamental interest includes Freedom and Liberty as its basis.

Euro-federalism does not aim at the creation of a European super state, or any other totalitarian and centralized state. Its aim is to create a “goodwill state” which will be able to recognize and respect the dignity of all people. Recognition of a man’s dignity means recognition and respect of a man’s basic needs, the needs of self-expression and self-confirmation in a society despite the authority of the state. These two values are the source of Freedom and Liberty among people. A New Europe should maintain and promote freedom, justice and the pursuit for happiness for all the people.

A New Europe should maintain and promote freedom, justice and the pursuit for happiness for all the people.

Such a trinity - freedom, justice and happiness - is the sub-elementum of the Libertarian political philosophy. Libertarianism is generally considered as a concept of political philosophy and identifies the condition in which an individual has the ability to act according to his or her own will. This political philosophy proclaims the principle of progressive individualism. Progressive individualism assumes associative / altruist individualism, based on Liberty and Freedom as unique values, not egoism nor rugged individualism.

I say associative / altruist individualism, because every individual has the absolute freedom to live in a community or to be part of an organization whose values or culture are closely related to what one wants; or, on a more basic level, to associate with any individual one chooses.

Accordingly, individuality can be described as “the consciousness of the individual as to what he is and how he lives”, while individualism means that “each individual has the right to exercise maximum influence over all matters which concern him/her, limited necessarily by the rights of other individuals”. The limitation of influence, by the rights of other individuals, is derived from an individual’s consciousness, which is produced by dignity itself.

The meaning of Liberty is very important. It promotes and secures the main role of the individual over the state. Its final intention is summarised by Louis XIV’s famous sentence: “I’m the state”, which implies that all individuals should say and feel like that. The individual should be the source of the political power in the New Europe. Freedom and Liberty of the individual should be the biggest obstacle to the arbitrariness, capriciousness and the tyranny of the state. The New Europe should be a state of content and free people.

Consequently, the concepts of individual, individuality and individualism are being trasmitted from Libertarianism into Euro-federalism through the principle of subsidiarity. The principle of subsidiarity is the main pillar of the Euro-federalist idea. Through the subsidiarity, the Euro-federalism could achieve its goal.

Per definitionem, subsidiarity is the principle “which states that matters ought to be handled by the smallest (or, the lowest) competent authority”. Such competent authority is the individual itself. According to the Manifesto of Ventotene, the man, the individual, should be an autonomous centre of life. So, the subsidiarity is the best road to affirmation and confirmation of the individual into the New Europe.

In practice, the principle of subsidiarity could realize itself through: devolution, decentralisation and deconcentration of political power, localism, municipalism, regionalism, etc. This principle is consistent with the various types of democracy, which allowed full participation of the individual in the decision-making process, especially grassroots democracy, participative democracy or direct democracy, as they could provide a political satisfaction for all the individuals at all layers and levels in the Federal Europe - The New Europe.

That means, a tendency directed towards designing political processes where as much decision-making authority as practical is shifted to the state’s lowest geopolitical level and all decisions in society shall not be taken at a higher level than the necessary one.

So that, the main significance of the principle of subsidiarity, is enabling a political opportunity for an individual to achieve his / her intentions, needs and, above all, self-expression and self-confirmation in the society of the New Europe, as conditio sine qua non for reaching Freedom and Liberty.

But why a Neo - libertarian tendency of Euro-federalism? Because that Euro-federalism is a philosophy of a new social order, based on the released energies of the individuals and free association of liberated individuals. Because there is no individuality without Liberty, and Liberty is the greatest menace to authority. True civilization is to be measured by the individual, the microcosmic, the unit of all social life.

The struggle for the New Europe must be a struggle for Freedom and Liberty, because Liberty will not descend to the people. It must then be the people who will have to raise themselves and achieve Liberty.

Image: Freedom; source:

Your comments

  • On 14 December 2008 at 11:50, by MORIN Michel Replying to: European Federalism as a Neo - libertarian tendency

    Thanks very much for this very interessant analysis. I found in it new ways for one oldest federaliste approach named “fédéralisme intégral”. The euro federalism have to be progressist. But it is not so easy to achieve this objectiv, because one danger exist : the concept of subsidiarity can be use to destroy the usefull parts of welfare states and to organise a very individualist society (see the links between subsidiarity and the “neo-conservatives” supporting W. Busch) I hoppe further discussions on this points.

  • On 14 December 2008 at 20:04, by Goran Replying to: European Federalism as a Neo - libertarian tendency

    Thanks for the compliments, but I wanna remind You about the “Social-subsidiarity”, where the individuals / persons, will be bound together through the idea of social efficiency and neo - welfare concept (something between post-capitalist and practical socialist arrangement of society and the state). This is very interesting issue to discuss, which stress the issues of European social identity and its paradigm. I wanna see Europe as a politically United and social entity, capable to secure and provide the minimum conditions for functional existence, working and progress for all.

    “The road to pursue is neither easy nor certain. But it must be followed and it will be!”

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