Moving Towards South Asian Confederation

Sri Aurobindo's Ideograph


Lessons from the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire is the historic example of an organization of unity which transcended the limits of the nation, and its advantages and disadvantages are there perfectly typified. The advantages are admirable organization, peace, widespread security, order and material well-being; the disadvantage is that the individual, the city, the region sacrifice their independent life and become mechanical parts of a machine; life loses its colour, richness, variety, freedom and victorious impulse towards creation. The organization is great and admirable, but the individual dwindles and is overpowered and overshadowed; and eventually by the smallness and feebleness of the individual the huge organism inevitably and slowly loses even its great conservative vitality and dies of an increasing stagnation. Even while outwardly whole and untouched the structure has become rotten and begins to crack and dissolve at the first shock from outside. Such organizations, such periods are immensely useful for conservation, even as the Roman Empire served to consolidate the gains of the rich centuries that preceded it. But they arrest life and growth.

We see, then, what is likely to happen if there were a social, administrative and political unification of mankind, such as some have begun to dream of nowadays. A tremendous organization would be needed under which both individual and regional life would be crushed, dwarfed, deprived of their necessary freedom like a plant without rain and wind and sunlight, and this would mean for humanity, after perhaps one first outburst of satisfied and joyous activity, a long period of mere conservation, increasing stagnancy and ultimately decay. Yet the unity of mankind is evidently a part of Nature’s eventual scheme and must come out. Only it must be under other conditions and with safeguards which will keep the race intact in the roots f its vitality, richly diverse in its oneness.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, pg 283

Date of Update: 12-August-14