Thursday, April 24, 2014

Einstein's manifesto for a united Europe

Manifesto to the Europeans, mid-October 1914

 By Albert Einstein and Georg Friedrich Nicolai

“While technology and commerce clearly compel us to recognize the bond between all nations, and thus a common world culture, no war has ever so intensively disrupted cultural cooperation as the present one. Perhaps our acute awareness of the disruption that we now sense so painfully is due to the numerous common bonds we once shared.

Even should this state of affairs not surprise us, those for whom a common world culture is the least bit precious should redouble their efforts to uphold these principles. Those, however, of whom one should expect such conviction—in particular scientists and artists—have thus far only uttered things which suggest that their desire for maintaining relations has vanished simultaneously with their disruption. They have spoken with an understandable hostility—but least of all of peace.

Such a mood cannot be excused by any national passion; it is unworthy of what the entire world has until now come to understand by the name of culture. It would be a disaster should this mood pervade the educated classes.

Not only would it be a disaster for civilization, but—and we are firmly convinced of this—a disaster for the national survival of individual states—in the final analysis, the very cause in the name of which all this barbarity has been unleashed.

Through technology the world has become smaller; the states of the large peninsula of Europe today move in the orbit of one another much as did the cities of each small Mediterranean peninsula in ancient times. Through a complex of interrelationships, Europe—one could almost say the world—now displays a unity based on the needs and experience of every individual.

Thus it would appear to be the duty of educated and well-meaning Europeans at the very least to attempt to prevent Europe—as a result of an imperfect organization of the whole— from suffering the same tragic fate which befell ancient Greece. Should Europe too gradually exhaust itself and collapse in fratricidal war?

The struggle raging today will likely produce no victor; it will probably leave only the vanquished behind. Therefore, it seems not only good, but rather bitterly necessary, that intellectuals of all nations marshal their influence such that—whatever the still uncertain end of the war may be—the terms of peace shall not become the cause of future wars. The fact that through this war European relationships have to some extent become volatile and malleable should rather be used to make of Europe an organic entity. The technological and intellectual prerequisites are given.

How this European order is to be brought about should not be discussed here. We wish merely to emphasize as a matter of principle that we are firmly convinced that the time has come when Europe must act as one in order to protect her soil, her inhabitants, and her culture.

We believe that the will to do this is latently present in many. In expressing this will collectively we hope that it gathers force.

To this end, it seems for the time being necessary that all those who hold European civilization dear, in other words, those who in Goethe’s prescient words can be called “good Europeans” join together. After all, we must not give up the hope that their collective voice—even in the din of arms—will not trail off entirely unheard, especially, if among these “good Europeans of tomorrow,” we find all those who enjoy esteem and authority among their educated peers.

First it is necessary, however, that Europeans get together, and if—as we hope—enough Europeans in Europe can be found, that is to say, people for whom Europe is not merely a geographical concept, but rather a worthy object of affection, then we shall try to call together a union of Europeans. Such a union shall then speak and decide.

We wish only to urge and appeal; and if you feel as we do, if you are similarly determined to lend the most far-reaching resonance to the European will, then we ask that you sign.”

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