We trace the historical evolution of the European Communities from the Schuman Plan to the Luxembourg crisis, exploring the underlying assumptions about popular involvement in those formative years. We then consider the theoretical literature developed during that 'classic' period of European integration, and the approach which theorists took to questions of loyalty, identity and democratic accountability. We examine the efforts undertaken in the course of the 1970s and 1980s to reduce the gap between the rhetoric of 'ever closer union among the European peoples' and the reality of popular passivity and growing suspicion. Finally, we raise the question of whether it is possible to reconcile democratic principles or institutions with the approach to international integration represented by the supranational compromise, or whether the historical link between political community, representative democracy and the state does not require Europe's political leaders to make a clear choice between intergovernmental bargaining and federation.