A Postscript Chapter, Part VI
One suggested direction towards human unity that emerged from the experiences of the World War was the growth of "continental agglomerates". (The Ideal of Human Unity, pg.589) A united Europe was already on the ideational level, some kind of combination of the peoples of the American continent under the leadership of USA was a possibility and a combination of Asiatic peoples free from European domination could be an eventuality. Sri Aurobindo observed that such large continental combinations could be stepping stones to the final formation of a world-union.
It is interesting that the Postscript Chapter written at the end of World War II had stated: "The idea of a United States of Europe has also actually taken shape and is assuming a formal existence, but is not yet able to develop into a completed and fully realised possibility because of the antagonism based on conflicting ideologies which cuts off from each other Russia and her satellites behind their iron curtain and Western Europe." (Ibid, pg.589-590) That distinction between the Russian lobby and Western Europe ended with the establishment of the European Union decades after Sri Aurobindo's Postscript chapter was written. The European Union was formally founded on 1 November 1993 only after the USSR collapsed on 26 December 1991 and the Cold War ended. Russia did not join the European Union though it signed a declaration with the European Union in 1993 for strengthening relations between the two. In 2004, eight former communist countries joined the European Union (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia along with the Mediterranean island nations of Cyprus and Malta). The United Kingdom however left the European Union on 31 January, 2020 more due to its own compulsions rather than conflicts with other member-States; the move being supported by hardliner Eurosceptics who believe that the democratic spirit may be thwarted in a continental combination that seemed synonymous to an Empire!
Sri Aurobindo also pointed to an early apprehension that an Western based continental combination could come into conflict with a resurgent Asia. He was however pragmatic to describe that such an eventuality might not occur : "The acceptance by Europe and America of the Asiatic resurgence and the eventual total liberation of the Oriental peoples, as also the downfall of Japan which figured at one time and indeed actually presented to the world as the liberator and leader of a free Asia against the domination of the West, have removed this dangerous possibility". (ibid, pg.590)
At the same breath, Sri Aurobindo observed that it was not the mere conflict between a Western continental combination and Asia that was significant; what was actually significant and ominous was the clash of political ideologies:
"Here again, as elsewhere, the actual danger presents itself rather as a clash between two opposing ideologies, one led by Russia and Red China and trying to impose the Communistic extreme partly by military and partly by forceful political means on a reluctant or at least an infected but not altogether willing Asia and Europe, and on the other side a combination of peoples, partly capitalist, partly moderate socialist who still cling with some attachment to the idea of liberty, -- to freedom of thought and some remnant of the free life of the individual." (Ibid)
At the end of World War II, there was also a looming discontent among the Latin Americans against "a rather intolerant completeness of the Americanisation of the whole continent and the adjacent islands, a sort of extended Monroe Doctrine". (Ibid) (The Monroe Doctrine forwarded by US President James Monroe in 1823 was a warning to European powers not to attempt to further colonize the two Americas.) Sri Aurobindo had observed that there were still European possessions in North America but these could be solved easily by mediation or arbitration by the UNO. However the United States has been continuing to use the Monroe Doctrine to justify interference in the affairs of South America. President Kennedy had invoked the Monroe Doctrine in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis to initiate a naval and air quarantine of Cuba after USSR started building missile-launching sites there. President Ronald Reagan used that policy to interfere in El Salvador and Nicaragua. The 21st century witnesses a resistance to the Monroe Doctrine as an instrument of US imperialism by socialist leaders in South America, especially from Venezuela.
Sri Aurobindo was however greatly concerned with Asia as he envisioned that the rise of Communist China would endanger any possibility of continental unity. In his Postscript chapter written just after the World War II he correctly predicted that China could absorb Tibet and try to control South-Western Asia. Today as China attempts to encroach Indian territory at Ladakh and even on 9th April, 2021,at the 11th round of Corp Commander level talks, Chinese officials refused outright to pull back its troops from Gogra and Hot Springs friction points in eastern Ladakh, it would be pertinent to reproduce Sri Aurobindo's actual words written in 1949:
"In Asia a more perilous situation has arisen, standing sharply across the way to any possibility of a continental unity of the peoples of this part of the world, in the emergence of Communist China. This creates a gigantic bloc which could easily englobe the whole of Northern Asia in a combination between two enormous Communist Powers, Russia and China, and would overshadow with a threat of absorption South-Western Asia and Tibet and might be pushed to overrun all up to the whole frontier of India, menacing her security and that of Western Asia with the possibility of an invasion and an overrunning and subjection by penetration or even by overwhelming military force to an unwanted ideology, political and social institutions and dominance of this militant mass of Communism whose push might easily prove irresistible. In any case, the continent would be divided into two huge blocs which might enter into active mutual opposition and the possibility of a stupendous world-conflict would arise dwarfing anything previously experienced: the possibility of any world-union might, even without any actual outbreak of hostilities, be indefinitely postponed by the incompatibility of interests and ideologies on a scale which would render their inclusion in a single body hardly realizable. The possibility of a coming into being of three or four continental unions, which might subsequently coalesce into a single unity, would then be very remote and, except after a world-shaking struggle, hardly feasible". (pg. 590-591)
However, as also envisaged by Sri Aurobindo, the Soviet Union subsequently collapsed. The mind-set of the Post-Soviet States is more participatory (in contrast to the totalitarian images of the Soviet period) though democratic institutions are not yet fully stabilized( Reisinger WM et al: Public Behaviour and Political Change in Post-Soviet States, The Journal of Politics, Vol.57,No.4,1995pg.941-970). But that is no deterrent to China who goes on expanding its pernicious influence in land and sea to practically control half of Asia. In its aggressive leap to be the World-Leader, China might face economic backlashes and it is speculated that this might make the Communist Party more aggressive and expansionist in military adventurism in foreign lands. That would be detrimental to the emergent Asian confluence and solidarity which is a necessary step towards world-unity.
Date of Update: 22-Apr-21
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu