Reflections on THE IDEAL OF HUMAN UNITY By Debashish Banerji by Debashish on Mon 09 Oct 2006 11:33 PM PDT Permanent Link THE IDEAL OF HUMAN UNITY - Chapters XXXII - XXXV: Internationalism, Internationalism and Human Unity, The Religion of Humanity, Summary and Conclusion.
Certainly, in Sri Aurobindo's vision, the liberation from all forms of oppression, the oppressions of colonialism, of chauvinism and of capitalism must constitute any acceptable form of future society, but the peril of the oppression of individual liberty by machinery of whatever kind is a defeat of the human spirit and its destiny. On the other hand, alternate to the World-State, the principle of free variation that has developed as nationalism may be maintained in the form of a federated world-union. The idea of voluntaristic federation appeals to our sense of Liberty, just as the idea of Socialism answers to the sense of Equality. However, the idealism of a loose voluntary federation of national or regional social/cultural groupings of humankind rests on the assumption, once again, of the clear perception by each constituting unit, of the "common good" as the "common goal". Such an assumption could only be justified under prevailing conditions of conscious psychological development, which present world-conditions do not evidence. A persistence of the federal idea, under existing conditions, could not maintain itself on a basis of free choice and would inevitably transit in a direction of greater central control, as has happened in national federations, such as that of the U.S.A. Thus, "a federal system also would tend inevitably to establish one general type for human life, institutions and activities; it could allow only a play of minor variations. But the need of variation in living nature could not always rest satisfied with that scanty sustenance". [SABCL, 553] Attempts to ensure the free variation, on the other hand, would, under present conditions, tend to a breakdown of unity; "a looser confederation might well be open to the objection that it would give too ready a handle for centrifugal forces, were such to arise in new strength. A loose confederation could not be permanent; it must turn in one direction or the other, end either in a close and rigid centralization or at last by a break-up of the loose unity into its original elements". [Ibid]
Thus, whatever the political turn the urge for world-unification might take, however idealistic, its engineering and maintenance by rational and mechanical means is demonstrated by Sri Aurobindo to lead to failure, without the corresponding development of the principle of psychological unity in the peoples of the world. The ideal of Internationalism seems at first sight to provide the foundations for such a psychological basis. Sri Aurobindo points out that this ideal was a child of the French Revolution, with its triple call for "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" for all human beings. Of these, the mechanical solutions to world-union have rested, as shown above, on each of the first two principles predominantly. But it is the third, the principle of fraternity, which if it can be made real and active, can provide the necessary psychological basis for a durable union. This is so because fraternity takes its origin in the spiritual truth of Oneness which is the Power that seeks realization through world-union. Moreover, it would seem that just as the ideal of Equality is linked closely to the idea of the State; so, the ideal of the brotherhood of all human beings would be bound to the idea of Internationalism. If an international sentiment could awake in the peoples of the world, replacing the narrow separative and genocidal nationalisms which prevail, the necessary psychological conditions would have been laid for the eventuality of world-union.
But can an international sentiment develop anywhere near the same passion and effectuating power that makes people die for their country? Sri Aurobindo points out that nations have come into existence, serving territorial and cultural commonalities, which give them a basis of vital necessity less evident in the case of a world-union. Moreover, nations define themselves as identities and acquire power through a double process of amplifying factors of internal unity and external difference; whereas the international idea could not derive the strength that comes from opposition and resistance. "[T]he collective ego created would have to rely on the instinct of unity alone; for it would be in conflict with the separative instinct which gives the national ego half its vitality". [SABCL, 539] It also suffers from the danger of the rooting out of free variation and cultural diversity, if made into a dogma and applied prematurely. This is more obvious today than when Sri Aurobindo was writing, though his prophetic thought shows ample indication of its possibility.