Governor Paul Dever has announced, in conjunction with several other governors in the country, that this is World Government Week. This puts a sort of official blessing on the grim efforts of small bands of crusaders all over the nation to persuade Americans "that world peace can be created and maintained only under a world federal government," to quote to a recent United World Federalist manifesto. In the Harvard community, the local World Federalist membership is stumping from House to House, passing out literature, biscuits, and coffee--and patiently answering both candid questions and polite sneers that the Federalists are "naive."
Perhaps one reason why so many people are dubious about the political wisdom of the U.W.F. is that the group only got going a short time ago. All of a sudden, it seemed, there were scores of bright young men telling everybody to hurry up and produce a world government before it was too late. Early world federalism smacked of wild-eyed student debaters fussing over the Culbertson method. And, in the beginning, at least, there were so many world government groups that the average citizen was slightly confused.
The U.W.F. movement started in a bathtub, roughly speaking, some seven years ago. Harris Wofford, a student at an eastern high-school, heard Clarence Streit (author of "Union Now") over the radio, while bathing. Inspired by Streit's plea for a supra-national government, Wofford leaped out of the tub and proceeded to form an organization known as the Student Federalists. But it wasn't until after the San Francisco Conference in 1945 that the campaign for One World began to give off steam.
Many citizens felt that the United Nations Charter was no better than the old Geneva League covenant. They gloomily foresaw what has since come to pass--the virtual asphyxiation of the U.N. Early in 1947, most of the bumper crop of post San Francisco "unite-or-die" groups got together and formed the United World Federalists. Clarence Streit, the godfather of U.W.F., isn't in the organization. His own Federal Union Inc. wants the Atlantic democracies to federate first, while the U.W.F. is asking for a full-blown world constitution. In fact, the Federalists plan to hold a conclave in Geneva next year to draw up such a document, hoping that the rest of the of the world will adopt it some time in the future.
Western European federalists have taken a considerable share in propagandizing world government. The sentiment in Europe for world government is far stronger than in the United States. It is extremely doubtful, for example, that Garry Davis could have aroused the passionate response in this country that he recently whipped up in France. Davis was a Federalist himself a few years ago, but his present activities are not sponsored by the U.W.F.
World Federalists say that they don't want the Davis kind of irrational clamor for world government. They want people to think about world government; they want to get people interested in their program. The U.W.F. claims that this program is far from "starry-eyed." The Federalists don't propose immediate disarmament just as they don't propose a military defense alone. A policy statement made last year says that the U.W.F. is "under no illusions concerning the character of the Soviet regime," but "there may be a chance" that the Russians will accept some sort of federation. If that should fail, the U.W.F. figures that a partial union, presumably along Streitian lines, would have to do for the lack of something better.
Until such a time, the Federalists are trying earnestly to keep up overseas contacts, buttonhole Congressmen, put their platform before the public, and increase their membership. The local chapter has around 90 men and the total U.S. enrollment is roughly 40,000. The British Unionists have a good deal more, as do the groups in France and Italy--but there is no evidence, the U.W.F. sadly admits, that there are any Federalists operating in the Soviet Union.