Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
Ideal of Human Unity - Chapters

Chapter XXXI Part III

The Conditions of a Free World-Union

The Political and Economic world-views

Sri Aurobindo explained the conditions of a Free World Union:

(1) the removal of war,
(2) the right of self-determination of the peoples, and
(3) the arrangement of the economic life of the world in its new order by mutual and common agreement. (The Ideal of Human Unity,pg.543)

Sri Aurobindo writes in 1918 about the abolition of economic exploitation of one nation by another. He wonders that if the element of struggle were removed from the political field, would it lead to the decrease of the same struggle in the economic field. The idea of union if rightfully implemented could actually lead to mutual participation that would enhance prosperity. Writing in the aftermath of World War I, he describes:

“It is obvious, for example, that an independent Finland would profit much more by encouraging the passage of Russian commerce through Finnish ports or an Italian Trieste by encouraging the passage of the commerce of the present Austrian provinces than by setting up a barrier between itself and its natural feeders. An Ireland politically or administratively independent, able to develop its agricultural and technical education and intensification of productiveness, would find a greater advantage in sharing the movement of the commerce of Great Britain than in isolating itself, even as Great Britain would profit more by an agreement with such an Ireland than by keeping her a poor and starving helot on her estate. Throughout the world, the idea and fact of union once definitely prevailing, unity of interests would be more clearly seen and the greater advantage of agreement and mutual participation in a naturally harmonised life over the feverish artificial prosperity created by a stress of separative barriers.” (Ibid, pg.542-543)

Problems arise when we try to project natural inequalities between human beings to the domain of nations. While economic inequality remains a highly debated topic and still persists in the post-Cold-War world marked by State conflicts but globalization in a new denouement came as a stepping stone, despite its drawbacks, towards a new world-order. Ironically, a rejuvenated globalization revealed lacunae and inequalities that were overlooked in the pursuit of a rapid growth. While not disbanding globalization, the demand for equity and justice in economic affairs equally as in political and foreign affairs grows with time. Sri Aurobindo reiterates: “The principle of a free world-union being that of the settlement of common affairs by common agreement, this could not be confined to the removal of political differences and the arrangement of political relations alone, but must naturally extend to economic differences and economic relations as well”. (Ibid, pg.543)

The debate between the political and economic world-views persists because neither has a monopoly on the other. As Cornelius Castoriadis, a self-critical Marxist, pointed out that the political critique of the economic and the economic critique of the political sends us back to square one because both have deeper roots, a human content. (Howard Dick: The Marxian Legacy, Macmillan, London, 1977 pg.268-269) Sri Aurobindo works on the deeper layers of that human content and locates the urge and impulse for human unity in the matrix of non-dual consciousness from where differentiation starts. That is why a basic unity is the motivation for a fundamental equality. Mark that the equality envisaged is fundamental and not absolute because it has to support differentiation and thus uniqueness and self-determination while not abrogating a commonality in consciousness.


Date of Update: 16-Oct-19

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu