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Robert Schuman: Neo-Scholastic Humanism and the Reunification of Europe

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Alan Fimister

On 9 th May 1950 Robert Schuman (1886-1963) made the historic declaration that would form the foundation of the European Community. What is seldom appreciated is the remarkable degree to which Schuman’s actions were the conscious implementation of the Neo-Thomistic project of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903). Leo sought to employ the intellectual resources of St Thomas Aquinas to achieve «the restoration, both in rulers and peoples, of the principles of the Christian life in civil and domestic society». The resolution of the Church’s difficulties with the French Republic and republicanism generally was a central goal of Leo’s programme. In the half-century that followed a series of philosophers sought to envisage the concrete conditions under which Leo’s vision could be realised. Foremost among them was Jacques Maritain (1882-1973).
Robert Schuman was a close student of Aquinas and committed to the reconciliation of the Church and the Republic. As French Foreign Minister he sought to act upon Maritain’s belief that a European federation conceived under the banner of liberty would ultimately lead to the establishment of a new Christendom.

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CHAPTER IV - “Generalised Democracy in the Christian Sense of the Word”

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195 CHAPTER IV “Generalised Democracy in the Christian Sense of the Word” 1. Ideas, People, Hidden Motivations and the Public Record Alan Milward has suggested a fourfold classification of the histori- ography of the European Integration process: those who see the Com- munity as a new take on the age-old idea of an alliance system; those who see the establishment of the Community as an altruistic revolution- ary attempt to overthrow the nation state; those, notably Millward himself, who see the Community as a means of preserving the nation state; and those who see the Community as an inevitable result of tech- nological and economic development. Undoubtedly this work falls into the second category. As we shall see, Schuman himself probably falls into categories two, three and four. Milward says that writing of the second type “attracts those who write about ideas and people and search for hidden motivations behind the public record.”1 Part of the purpose of this chapter is to show that Schuman’s motivations were not hidden but part of the public record, and it is hardly his fault if they have been ignored. In another article collected in the same volume Perry Anderson points out in criticism of Millward’s approach that, A customs union, even equipped with an agrarian fund, did not require a supranational commission armed with powers of executive direction, a high court capable of striking down national legislation, a parliament armed with nominal rights of amendment or revocation. The limited domestic goals Milward...

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