The nineteenth century bestowed upon us the amalgamation of nation and state. Since Jews everywhere were loyal to the state--you do recall, don't you?--they had to attempt to shed their nationality, they had to assimilate. The twentieth century has shown us the ultimate consequences of nationalism, as evidenced by horrible relocations of peoples and various massacres, beginning with the Armenians and Ukrainian pogroms. The British Commonwealth reveals--in a distorted form, as is often, indeed usually the case--the rudiments of a new arrangement. Someone who is part of the British Empire does not therefore cease to be an Indian or a Canadian. That is another reason why this war--and the existence of England, the last bulwark against the new barbarism--is so important for us. Belief in a single homogeneous European nation is belief in a utopia--and not a pretty one at that. Such a belief could originate only in America--and then only on the basis of a United Europe. But I do not think it is utopian to hope for the possibility of a commonwealth of European nations with a parliament of its own.--Hannah Arendt (1940) "The Minority Question" in The Jewish Writings, p. 130.
It surely was utopian to imagine a commonwealth of European nations with a parliament of its own any time in 1940 (and not just because it is a rhetorical trope of utopian literature to explicitly deny being utopian).* Leaving that aside, it is striking that the parliament is proposed as an alternative to a single homogeneous European nation--undoubtedly a nod to the racialized, murderous eugenics of the Nazis, whom did not even accept (as Sean Spicer artfully recently reminded us) assimilated minorities as belonging to the people. Strikingly enough Arendt treats the belief in the effort to generate a homogeneous nation as indebted to American thought. (That's historically well-founded; see here for recent scholarship.)
I view these Digressions as an indirect, oblique commentary on the day's newspaper headlines; so today there is some irony in reading how Arendt treats her own proposal as partially inspired by the British Empire, which she interprets as facilitating multiple overlapping identities. Oddly enough, her proposal is reminiscent (recall) of Adam Smith's ill-fated proposal for an imperial parliament for the British empire in which multiple nations co-existist. England (by which she clearly means to refer to Great Britain) matters in another sense because she takes it to be "bulwark" against the tendency toward national homogeneity which is characteristic of modern times.
Arendt proposes her commonwealth of European nations with a parliament of its own in order to address the political weakness of minorities within the nation state, especially minorities that lack a home-land state. (She treats the homeland not so much as a possible refuge, but more as possible advocate for one's brethren in another state.) One may wonder how effective parliamentary systems really are in protecting minorities (a lot depends on technical details of the nature of the franchise, the system of representation, the relationship with the judiciary/executive, etc.).
Here I want to close by noting that the Treaty of Rome, the key founding documents, echoes Arendt's language. (I am not claiming influence--it's my sense that this bit of writing was largely unknown.) That Treaty (recall) speaks of an "ever closer union among the peoples of Europe" not the nation-states of Europe. As is well known, the EU never got around developing a truly powerful assembly or parliament let alone much interested in protecting Europe's minorities (although that sentence is unfair to particular parliamentarians). Instead, despite the existence of article 7, the protection of minorities was farmed out to the European Court of Human Rights. Because its judgments are always delayed, post facto, and, one is sad to note, not always friendly to Europe's minorities it's pretty clear by now that it offers little protection against determined, illiberal states in Europe's midst.
*Another common rhetorical element of this literature (which has some kinship with philosophical prophecy) is to argue by way of opposing exemplar.