‘The Bonds that Unite’? Historical Perspectives on European Solidarity. Matthew D'Auria, University of East Anglia; Florian Greiner, University of Augsburg; Jan Vermeiren, University of East Anglia, 23.06.2016–25.06.2016.
Reviewed by Gaelle Fisher
Published on H-Soz-u-Kult (October, 2016)
‘The Bonds that Unite’? Historical Perspectives on European Solidarity
Solidarity is in high demand in the European context. The Euro crisis, the refugee situation, terrorist attacks and, most recently, Great Britain’s vote to exit from the EU have led to repeated and loud calls for solidarity. Yet whereas the success of the European project gives the impression that European solidarity simply exists, it is not easy to pin down. Is it an emotion, a normative stance, a political slogan? And if solidarity is present, then for whom, why and with what consequence? While pro-European intellectuals have long appealed to it as a more or less abstract concept, the pioneers of European unity started turning it into a policy. Thus, academic research is confronted with questions about the meaning(s) of European solidarity in different contexts. The conference ‘The Bonds that Unite?’ Historical Perspectives on European Solidarity took up the challenge of answering some of these questions. It was organized by the Chair for Contemporary History (University of Augsburg) and the Research Network on the History of the Idea of Europe (University of East Anglia), with financial support by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Jakob-Fugger-Zentrum (JFZ) and the Association of Friends of the University of Augsburg (GDF).
In his introductory remarks, FLORIAN GREINER (Augsburg) drew attention to some of the challenges to the study of European solidarity. He put forward three approaches: Historicizing and deconstructing European solidarity to uncover underlying conceptions, meanings and images; focusing on concrete manifestations of European solidarity to illustrate its semantics, practices and perceptions; finally, exploring the boundaries of European solidarity by looking at national, European and global contexts. In this way, he argued, solidarity might be a useful tool for researching Europe and the European idea.
The first panel addressed political conceptions of European solidarity before 1945. GIUSEPPE FOSCARI (Salerno) examined Mazzini’s idea of an ‘Alliance of the Peoples’ in Europe. He explained that Mazzini outlined a conception of social organization based on principles of partnership and human solidarity, linked to a progressive idea of humanity. Solidarity was understood as the duty of peoples to unite and create an association of free and equal peoples, which could become the basis of a new international, democratic order. SILVANA SCIAROTTA (Salerno) analyzed the contents of the French 19th century socialist newspaper “Les Etats-Unis d'Europe.” Its aim was to forge a common culture and political identity based on democratic and humanitarian principles. Solidarity was to be the result of a political, rather than a social, model. RICHARD DESWARTE (Norwich) explored the ideas of the French politician Édouard Herriot. As the author of “The United States of Europe” (1930), Herriot is widely known as a promoter of a common European identity and solidarity. However, Deswarte emphasized Herriot’s republicanism, anti-clericalism, and anti-monarchism and showed that he was first and foremost a representative of the Third Republic. All three papers highlighted that early solidarity discourses were inspired by the present, but rooted in older intellectual traditions.
The second panel further explored some of the different intellectual interpretations of solidarity put forward in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. AMOTZ GILADI (Paris) presented the case of the pan-Latinist movement. Despite claiming to draw on a broadly defined common Latin heritage, this was a largely French-dominated initiative. Giladi portrayed it as a failed attempt to challenge Anglo-Saxon cultural hegemony. MATTHEW D’AURIA (Norwich) explored the ideas of Marcel Mauss and offered a social theoretical reflection on the concept of solidarity as a challenge to modern nationalism. For Mauss, drawing on Durkheim, solidarity – or rather ‘social cohesion’ – should be a moral obligation and intrinsically inter-national, namely involving the interaction of social groups across borders. TARA WINDSOR (Dublin) investigated European solidarity as promoted by the PEN association between the two World Wars. Windsor showed how very different conceptions of solidarity could coexist in this loose association of intellectuals, such as Thomas Mann’s conception of übernationale Solidarität. All three papers offered insights into alternatives to national solidarity.
The third panel explored the use of the concept of solidarity in the context of war. JAN VERMEIREN (Norwich) highlighted the significance of the discourse on solidarity during World War One. He also drew attention to different kinds of solidarity – political, economic, military – and their relationship to different visions of international cooperation. As he argued, war brought about intercultural connections in terms of wartime alliances, but also collaborations between separatist movements and in terms of cross-border peace efforts. JOHANNES DAFINGER (Klagenfurt) explored National Socialist conceptions of European solidarity, which played an especially important role after the German attack on the Soviet Union. Dafinger showed that the Nazi view of solidarity involved political and military alliances between different ethnic groups. He also identified three levels: kinship, friendship and comradeship. Both papers demonstrated the strategic relevance of solidarity and its close connection to ideology and mental mapping.
The first keynote, by sociologist GERARD DELANTY (Brighton), described solidarity as a necessary but ambivalent feature of modern society. Delanty identified two prevalent kinds of solidarity often standing in opposition to one another: a strong form, territorially bounded and rooted in common identity (the nation), and a weak form, grounded in universal morality and potentially global. He argued that through the emphasis on human rights and social policy, modernity has made solidarity the main source of legitimate power. For him, European solidarity needs to be understood as something that arose from historical experience. As an ideal, solidarity needs to be constantly rethought both with respect to its interaction with other ideals and with respect to human agency.
The next session looked at European solidarity from the perspective of key European politicians. MATHIAS HAEUSSLER (Cambridge) focused on West-German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (1974–1982). Haeussler showed that Schmidt had an acute awareness of the burden of Germany’s past and its neighbors’ security needs. The pursuit of European integration, therefore, coincided with German self-interest and was a form of Euro-realism. FREDERIKE SCHOTTERS (Duisburg-Essen) looked at the case of French president François Mitterrand (1981–1995) in the 1980s. She argued that the high level of insecurity in his early life and the war were decisive for his vision of a united Europe. She identified different levels of solidarity in Mitterrand’s thinking – with Germany, the USA and the Soviet Union – and argued that he too was primarily pragmatic. These two papers highlighted the special significance of solidarity for the generation of European leaders who experienced the Second World War, as well as its grounding in political realism.
The limits of European solidarity in the 1970s were the focus of the fifth panel. EVA OBERLOSKAMP (Munich) examined West Germany’s struggle against left-wing terrorism. Despite being a national problem, it elicited significant empathy on behalf of Germany’s neighbors and even led to the Europeanization of home affairs. Yet Oberloskamp showed that the solidarity of other European states reached its limits as soon as national security or Germany’s National Socialist past were concerned. HENNING TÜRK (Mainz) dealt with the oil crisis of the 1970s. Türk identified two phases: October to December 1973, characterized by solidarity among EC states, and December 1973 to November 1974, in which transatlantic solidarity played a more crucial role. He pointed to the oil crisis as a moment when political solidarity was replaced by consumer solidarity. Both papers showed how European solidarity arose in times of crisis and in the face of problems transcending borders in the 1970s.
Papers in the sixth panel considered the importance of solidarity for social policy and trade unionism. CHRISTIAN ROY (Nice) examined the idea of a European vital minimum and basic income as proposed by the French personalist movement Ordre Nouveau. This innovative approach to European economic solidarity aimed at overcoming economic and political disparities. SEVERIN CRAMM (Hildesheim) explored the tension between the national and international ambitions of trade unions in post-war Western Europe. Looking at the different umbrella organizations (e.g. the international ICFDU, the European ETUC and the German DGB), Cramm emphasized the opposition between their intra-organizational solidarity and solidarity within the European Community. KARIM FERTIKH (Paris) and HEIKE WIETERS (Berlin) examined the conceptual pillars of EEC social policy as a cornerstone of European integration. They noted the absence of the term solidarity and the prevalence, instead, of the notion of ‘harmonization’. For Fertikh and Wieters, this reflected the vision of experts and the attempt to develop a technical equivalent to solidarity for political practice. MARIALUISA LUCIA SERGIO (Rome) made the connection between the dissolution of traditional Christian Democratic parties and the decline in enthusiasm for the European project in the 1970s. She highlighted that a European social policy, as proposed by the advocates of the Christian Social school, was indispensable to prevent the social risks inherent in an exclusively economic union. All papers on this panel drew attention to solidarity as an important element of social policies, but also to the gap between ideals and their implementation.
The seventh panel dealt with solidarity in Central and Eastern Europe. OLENA PALKO (Norwich) presented on two Polish intellectuals: Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, and Leszek Kołakowski, a key figure of the dissident opposition. For Wojtyla, the concept of solidarity constituted an authentic form of participation; for Kołakowski it was a means of taking position with respect to the regime’s lies. Palko emphasized that this kind of ‘actual’ solidarity – as opposed to ‘potential’ solidarity – could translate into a popular form of expression and challenge Soviet rule. FEDERICO LEONARDI (Milan) discussed the writings of Czechoslovak writer Jan Patočka. For Patočka, the experience of the two World Wars and a shared Socratic heritage were central to a united Europe. Leonardi thus argued that Patočka’s notion of a ‘solidarity of the shaken’ evoked a common unification of survivors throughout and after war and that this became a metaphysical vision. Both papers showed the significance of the circulation of ideas on solidarity across the Iron Curtain and the relationship between ideas and practical politics.
In the second keynote lecture, WOLFGANG SCHMALE (Vienna) focused on the meanings and uses of ‘(European) solidarity’ in Europe in the last 200 years from a semantic standpoint. He argued that, as a result of its different permutations in different languages and cultures, no history of European solidarity as a uniform concept or coherent entity exists. Based on a quantitative analysis of the use of the term in different languages (French, German, English, Spanish, Italian) and in different contexts, his research displayed the frequency and magnitude of different word pairs and collocations, the variability of the use of the term and its uneven currency over time.
Session eight considered European solidarity in a transnational and colonial context. JEFF ROQUEN (Chicago) presented on the correlation between European solidarity and the growing interconnection of the world as a whole through international law and organizations. As Roquen showed, war, crisis and conflict were key factors for the mobilisation of solidarity and yet, at the same time, World War One in particular spread doubt about the possibility of achieving peace and international collaboration. CHRISTIAN METHFESSEL (Erfurt) drew attention to the tension and the overlap between European solidarity and imperialist aims. He argued that despite growing rivalries between European powers, colonialism was perceived as a common European project. Although calls for solidarity were often used to disguise national interests, they still appealed to European unity against non-European enemies. Both papers pointed to the rhetorical use of solidarity for a select club of civilised nations and for the sake of strategic internationalism. Unfortunately, KIM CHRISTIAENS’ (Leuven) and ANNA KONIECZNA’s (Oxford) presentations on international solidarity movements for the ‘Third World’ during the 1960s and 1970s and the Western European anti-Apartheid movement had to be cancelled.
The last panel looked at related but more recent deployments of solidarity. BRIAN SHAEV (Gothenburg) presented his research on the relationship between migration and international labor solidarity within and beyond the EEC in the 1950s and 1960s. Shaev highlighted the dilemma faced by socialist parties, whose primary objective was to defend the workers within their own communities and whose solidarity rarely extended to foreign workers and migrants. JENNY PLEINEN (Augsburg) explored the relationship between European countries and their former empires. Focusing on three aspects – trade, developmental aid and migration – Pleinen argued that the relationship consisted in a kind of ‘familistic’ solidarity insofar as colonial issues were perceived as domestic politics rather than foreign affairs. The last two papers revealed the collusion of the concept of solidarity with neo-liberal practices and the paternalistic character of some types of solidarity.
Altogether, the conference showed that solidarity has come to the fore in a range of European contexts and traditions and is by no means new or closely tied to the European Union. It also challenged the idea that solidarity is intrinsically good. On the contrary, solidarity can be divisive, manipulative, exclusivist and serve to perpetuate discriminatory practices. Moreover, as many contributors and discussants argued, solidarity is not a stable notion, but rather difficult to define and even harder to turn into law. Nonetheless, the conference showed that solidarity offers a useful and fruitful perspective on the history of Europe. Whether it is taken to be a philosophical ideal, an aspect of policy, a linguistic trope or a motivation for social actors, analyzing its manifestations and effects can shed new and important light on a wide range of phenomena and developments, ranging from economics to dissent. Last but not least, it can help to overcome the teleological tendencies of European historiography and identify new caesura and periodizations in European integration history.
Florian Greiner (Augsburg): Approaches to the Contemporary History of European Solidarity
Session 1: Political Ideas of European Solidarity Before 1945
Chair and Discussant: Günther Kronenbitter (Augsburg)
Giuseppe Foscari (Salerno): The Europe of the Peoples in the ‘Prophecy’ of Mazzini
Silvana Sciarotta (Salerno): Political Ideas on European Solidarity and the Shaping of Public Discourse: The Case of ‘Les Etats-Unis d’Europe’
Richard Deswarte (Norwich): Édouard Herriot and Notions of European Solidarity: An Interrogation
Session 2: Intellectuals and Concepts of European Solidarity in the 19th and Early 20th Century
Chair and Discussant: Marcello Gisondi (Lugano)
Amotz Giladi (Paris): Pan-Latinism in the European Space: Between Solidarity and Rivalries
Matthew D’Auria (Norwich): Nation and Inter-nation: Some Maussian Reflections on European Solidarity
Tara Windsor (Dublin): ‘Übernationale Solidarität’: Thomas Mann’s Idea(s) of Europe and the International PEN Club after the First World War
Session 3: Conceptions of Solidarity During the World Wars
Chair and Discussant: Martina Steber (Konstanz)
Jan Vermeiren (Norwich): Notions of Solidarity and Integration in Times of War: The Idea of Europe, 1914–1918
Johannes Dafinger (Klagenfurt): Show Solidarity, Live Solidarily – the Nazi Europe as a ‘Family of Peoples’
Gerard Delanty (Brighton): Solidarity and European Identity: Contradictions and Future Possibilities
Session 4: European Solidarity in the Thinking of Leading Politicians after 1945
Chair and Discussant: Peter Pichler (Graz)
Mathias Haeussler (Cambridge): ‘The Greater the Relative Success of Germany, the Longer the Memory of Auschwitz Will Last’: Concepts of ‘Solidarity’ in Helmut Schmidt’s European Thought 1945–82
Frederike Schotters (Duisburg-Essen): Mitterrand’s Europe – Functions and Limits of ‘European Solidarity’ in French Policy during the 1980s
Session 5: European Solidarity and Its Limits in 1970s Politics
Chair and Discussant: Cathie Carmichael (Norwich)
Eva Oberloskamp (Munich): Expressions and Limits of European Solidarity with West Germany during its Fight against Left-Wing Terrorism in the 1970s
Henning Türk (Mainz): The Limits of Solidarity – The EC Countries, the Washington Energy Conference and the Foundation of the International Energy Agency 1974
Session 6: Solidarity as a Guiding Concept for Trade Unions and in European Social Policy
Chair and Discussant: Dietmar Süß (Augsburg)
Christian Roy (Nice): European Vital Minimum and Basic Income: Ordre Nouveau’s Pre-War Personalist/Federalist Scheme for Continent-Wide Solidarity and its Legacy
Severin Cramm (Hildesheim): Organised Solidarity? On the Cooperation of European Trade Unions after 1945
Karim Fertikh (Paris) / Heike Wieters (Berlin): The Dead Live Longer? The Emergence of European Social Policy in Transnational Constellation, 1950–1970
Marialuisa Lucia Sergio (Rome): The Christian Democratic Solidarity Concept and European Social Policy: New Socio-Economic Challenges at the Turn of the 1970s
Session 7: European Solidarity in Eastern Europe
Chair and Discussant: Maren Röger (Augsburg)
Olena Palko (Norwich): ‘Solidarity of the Shaken’ or ‘a Revolution in Compassion’: The Concept of Solidarity in Eastern Europe in the 1960s–1980s
Federico Leonardi (Milan): Energy or Form? Europe according to Jan Patočka
Wolfgang Schmale (Vienna): European Solidarity: A History
Session 8: Transnational Solidarity and the European Position in the (Post-) Colonial World
Chair and Discussant: Daniel Maul (Oslo)
Jeff Roquen (Chicago): Crashing the States-System: The Triumph of International Law and ‘Humanity’ in the Making and Unmaking of Continental Solidarity, 1870-1920
Christian Methfessel (Erfurt): European Solidarity for the Sake of Imperial Expansion, Colonialism for the Sake of European Solidarity: English and German Public Debates on Colonial Wars and Imperialist Interventions around 1900
Session 9: Migration, Development Aid and European Solidarity
Chair and Discussant: Peter A. Kraus (Augsburg)
Brian Shaev (Gothenburg): Socialist Solidarity for Migrants? Socialists and the Free Movement of Workers in the Early European Communities, 1953–64
Jenny Pleinen (Augsburg): From Foreign Rule to Family of Nations? Solidarity in Postcolonial Relationship
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