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Mar 12

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 8:47 AM 

In 2005, drawing from his ground-breaking book A Throne in Brussels, Paul Belien published an essay titled "The Dark Roots of the EU." If ever you have wondered why the EU resembles a socialist superstate, this essay reveals that the EU's earliest theorists were socialists and Nazi sympathizers.

Paul writes:

In the 1930s the idea of transplanting Belgicism to the European level, by creating a unified pan-European corporatist welfare state, was further elaborated on by Henri De Man, the leader of the Belgian Socialist Party, and by his deputy Paul-Henri Spaak. De Man called himself a national socialist, but explained that this had nothing to do with nationalism at all. In fact, one of his major books was called “Au delà du Nationalisme” (“Beyond Nationalism”).

De Man knew that Belgium, as an artificial construct, did not really exist as a nation. The Belgian state was no more than the corporatist welfare system run by the “social partners.” All that being a Belgian nationalist meant was that one was attached to the Belgian welfare state. In a February 1937 interview De Man said: “What Spaak and I mean by national socialism is a socialism that attempts to achieve all that can be achieved within the national framework.” He went on to state that the Belgian welfare system could – and should – eventually be replaced by a pan-European or even a global welfare system. “I insist on being a good European, a good world citizen, as much as on being a good Belgian,” de Man said. He reckoned that if one had to live in an artificial welfare state, it would be better to live in one on as large a scale as possible. The Belgian model had to be applied at a European level.

When Hitler invaded Belgium and France in May 1940, De Man saw this as a unique opportunity to establish a united Europe. He asked his followers not to oppose the German victory because “far from being a disaster, it is a deliverance. The Socialist Order will thereby be established, as the common good, in the name of a national solidarity that will soon be continental, if not world-wide.” In a speech in Antwerp on 20 April 1941 (Hitler’s birthday), De Man warned against Flemish secessionists who collaborated with the Germans in the hope that Berlin would abolish Belgium and grant Flanders its independence. De Man stressed that it was necessary to “transform Belgium, not abandon it”, through “an Anschluss to Europe.” What was needed, he added, “was as much federalism and as little separatism as possible,” so that “Belgium, exactly because it is not based on a unique national sentiment, can become the vanguard of the European Revolution, the principle on which the new European Order hinges.”

De Man’s deputy, Paul-Henri Spaak, who had fled to France in May 1940, tried to return to Belgium during the Summer, but was not allowed in by the Germans. Hence, against his wishes he ended up in Britain. At the time he deplored this. Later it would turn out to have been his good fortune. Otherwise, like De Man, he would have ended up as a Nazi collaborator. Instead, Spaak survived the war on the winning side.

Though Henri De Man is now forgotten by history, his political legacy is very much alive. Spaak remained loyal to De Man’s vision of Belgium as a multi-national social-corporatist welfare state that was to be elevated to the European level. Spaak became one of the Founding Fathers of the European Union. Though he was an arch-opportunist, with few loyalties, he did not betray De Man’s dream of one single European welfare state. According to Spaak’s 1969 memoirs, De Man was “one of those rare men who on some occasions have given me the sensation of a genius.”

In 1956, Spaak authored the so-called Spaak Report which laid the foundation of the Treaty of Rome the following year. It recommended the creation of a European Common Market as a step towards political unification.

From the beginning the views of the people about all this was deemed unimportant. In his memoirs, Spaak admits that “political opinion was indifferent. The work was done by a minority who knew what they wanted.”

Still is.

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Copyright 2012 by Diana West