Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
Ideal of Human Unity - Chapters

A Postscript Chapter, Part III

The Cold War and Human Unity

If the League of Nations was the first fumbling attempt to international unity, the United Nations was the second and more improved attempt though its progress could be marred not only by inherent structural defects but by an extraneous and apparently irreconcilable cold war between the American and Russian blocs. Sri Aurobindo traced the incompatibility between the two blocs to the rather possessive mind-set of the Communist movement in Russia:

"This is because the so-called Communism of Bolshevist Russia came to birth as the result, not of a rapid evolution, but of an unprecedentedly fierce and prolonged revolution sanguinary in the extreme and created an autocratic and intolerant State system founded upon a war of classes in which all others except the proletariat were crushed out of existence, "liquidated", upon a "dictatorship of the proletariat" or rather of a narrow but all-powerful party system acting in its name, a Police State, and a mortal struggle with the outside world: the fierceness of this struggle generated in the minds of the organisers of the new State a fixed idea of the necessity not only of survival but of continued struggle and the spread of its domination until the new order had destroyed the old or evicted it, if not from the whole earth, yet from the greater part of it and the imposition of a new political and social gospel or its general acceptance by the world’s peoples".(The Ideal of Human Unity, pg.584)

However, even in the aftermath of World War II, Sri Aurobindo believed that conditions would change and ferocity and aggression of the conflict would mellow down and the intolerant elements of the new order would be moderated. As a result, the "inability to live together or side by side would then have disappeared and a more secure modus vivendi been made possible". (Ibid) A modicum of mutual distrust between nations could still persist not because of incompatible ideologies but due to "mutual apprehension and preparation of armed defence and attack". (Ibid)

If the perpetual apprehension of armed conflict could be eliminated, the two ideologies could coexist side by side and arrive at economic interchanges. At that post-War period, Sri Aurobindo observed how the world was moving "towards a greater development of the principle of State control over the life of the community". (Ibid) As a result, the world could witness the co-existence of a congeries of socialistic States on one hand and of States exhibiting a modified Capitalism on the other hand, albeit, with friendly relation with each other. (Ibid)

What could be the outcome of this bonhomie? Sri Aurobindo was optimistic that such movements of co-operation would pave the way for a larger unity later on. "Even a World-State in which both could keep their own institutions and sit in a common assembly might come into being and a single world-union on this foundation would not be impossible. This development is indeed the final outcome which the foundation of the U.N.O presupposes; for the present organisation cannot be itself final, it is only an imperfect beginning useful and necessary as a primary nucleus of that larger institution in which all the peoples of the earth can meet each other in a single international unity: the creation of a World-State is, in a movement of this kind, the one logical and inevitable ultimate outcome". (Ibid, pg.585)

The concept of world-union was to Sri Aurobindo not merely a political idea but a spiritual mission in which he invested his consciousness and concentration. It was therefore not surprising that The Mother, who carried his spiritual legacy after his departure, should continue to do the same. On January 18, 1964, while commenting on contemporary conflicts, she revealed "The rapprochement between Russia and America is something I have been working for years". Earlier, on October 19, 1963, she had remarked that it would be excellent if Russia and America came together to be agents of peace upon earth.

The Mother conceived of the glass crystal symbolizing the unity of the human civilization which is placed in the centre of the central chamber of Matrimandir at Auroville. The crystal was cast in 1987 in Germany and was being polished at a time the Berlin Wall collapsed in November 9, 1989. The crystal arrived in Auroville on April 26, 1991 and the USSR was dissolved on December 26, 1991,signalling the end of the great cold war.

The vision of a World-State at that nascent post-World War II period would have appeared too utopian but mankind has also survived gigantic catastrophes, both derived from nature and his own fellow-beings -- a survival that cannot be simplistically explained as "the accident of a fortuitously self-organising Chance" (Ibid) but impregnated with meaning and purpose. Sri Aurobindo emphasizes if the human being can come out of great catastrophes, there is no reason he cannot emerge from contemporary "chaotic international life" to initiate an "organized united action". (Ibid) Such an organized action by the human being can culminate in "some kind of World-State, unitary or federal, or a confederacy or a coalition he must arrive at in the end; no smaller or looser expedient would adequately serve the purpose". (Ibid)


Date of Update: 21-Jan-21

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu