Background: No Union With Dictatorships

Background: No Union With Dictatorships

Excerpt from: Owen J. Roberts, Clarence Streit and J. Schmidt, The New Federalist, 1950, with an Introduction by John Foster Dulles.

imageTo continue the discussion of membership in the proposed international federal union: It is often said that a world government must permit the people of each member nation to live under a government of their own choosing, even under a dictatorship if they so desire. That assertion should be challenged whenever and wherever it appears. If a union is to maintain peace among its members, no nation in the union can have a dictatorship form of government.

It is the essence of a federal union that it maintains peace by operating on the individual person, according to general laws applied to each case by courts-by justice, in short. The alternative is to operate on nations as units - as does the United Nations and diplomacy. But to coerce a state by force is tantamount to war. Wars waged to execute the verdicts of international tribunals are undoubtedly superior morally to the jungle-law type of wars the world now suffers. But they remain wars - the opposite of peace.

To keep the peace, a world union composed of both dictatorships and democracies must operate on the citizen in both alike, through its courts. But how can it operate justly on the individuals under a dictatorship without undermining the dictator's position? If the union's laws are to be respected, they must apply fairly equally to all persons in it, to the dictator and his secret police as much as to the people they oppress. Would any dictator accept this? Could any democrat accept less? Dictators stay in power by suppressing opposition. They mislead public opinion by spreading lies among their subjects. They divert attention from domestic evils by calling attention to pretended dangers abroad. No dictatorship can be depended on for peace.

Where only the dictator's subjects are concerned, only they suffer. But in matters concerning the world as a whole, the whole world suffers when the dictator errs. Therefore, a world union is very much concerned with the kind of government that prevails in its member nations. Although no nation should interfere in the domestic affairs of other nations, every free people has a sufficient interest in those internal affairs to be entitled to insist, before they federate with another nation, that its internal affairs shall be decided in accordance with the opinions of most of its citizens. It is pertinent here to refer to Article IV, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

In the Convention which drafted the Constitution, Randolph said this provision aimed: "1. To secure Republican [i.e., free representative] Government; 2. To suppress domestic commotions."

There was considerable discussion over the exact wording. Inasmuch as the delegates wanted to avoid perpetuating those state constitutions which were considered bad, there was some sentiment for omitting the provision entirely. But an observation by Ghorum dispelled the belief that the matter could be ignored. As Madison noted:

Mr. Ghorum thought it strange that a Rebellion should be known to exist in the Empire, and the General Government should be restrained from interposing to subdue it. At this rate an enterprising citizen might erect the standard of Monarchy in a particular State, might gather together partisans from all quarters, might extend his views from State to State, and threaten to establish a tyranny over the whole and the General Government be compelled to remain an active witness of its own destruction. With regard to different parties in a State; as long as they confine their disputes to words, they will be harmless to the General Government and to each other. If they appeal to the sword, it will then be necessary for the General Government, however difficult it may be to decide on the merits of their contest, to interpose and put an end to it.

Supporters of universal union, embracing both the free and the unfree, sometimes argue for this on the ground that the United States itself includes examples of "dictatorial" local governments. The analogy is unsound. About all the examples they can mention are corrupt municipal governments or city "bosses." The only dictatorial state government cited is the short-lived regime of the late Huey Long in Louisiana . No one who has lived under European dictatorships would call by that name the worst of these American departures from democracy. All the American bosses put together do not have, and never have had, the power that even a Peron exercises in Argentina . It is essential to note that though one may dominate the local courts and press in a city in the United States , one cannot keep newspapers and magazines and speakers from other cities from entering that area, and reporting freely to its people and to all the union conditions in it.

For a sound analogy between conditions in a world union today and the United States , one must imagine that at least as powerful a state as New York is governed as absolutely by a dictator as Russia is by Stalin. One must imagine rigid control of the New York press and radio, with rigid censor- ship of news from and to the rest of the United States . One must imagine also a ruthless, omnipresent secret police, spying on and clapping into its numerous concentration. camps all New Yorkers who oppose the dictatorship. The same police would, of course, be spying on the few people from the rest of the United States whom it allowed to enter New York , and tightly limiting their movements.

New Yorkers-except for a few trusties of the dictator- would not be allowed to travel in Pennsylvania , Massachusetts , or other states. New Yorkers could vote only for the dictator's nominees for U .S. President, Congress, and all other offices; and all of New York 's votes in Congress would be cast as the dictator directed. This paints only a feeble picture of what an attempt to federate real dictatorship with the Atlantic democracies would mean. But it should suffice to show the absurdity of the plans for a union of such conflicting systems.

For the same reasons that the Philadelphia Convention thought a guarantee of free representative government necessary, so must we consider free representative government necessary in each member nation of any international union we enter. It is, in fact, even more imperative that a world union insist on free representative government in its members. For if tyranny should ever spread from one member nation to cover all the world union, then freedom would probably be lost to the world for many generations, and perhaps even for all time.

Publius II, (J.F.S)


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