Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
Ideal of Human Unity - Chapters

A Postscript Chapter, Part VII

Apropos Socialism and World Union

In this Post World War II postscript chapter, Sri Aurobindo also muses whether an extension of Socialism to all nations could bring an international unity by overriding the divisive and separative nature of nationalism that fostered strife and conflict. But he had valid suspicions if Socialism could be immune to the hard reality of conflicting national interests and necessities which could result in the old spirit survive in new socialist bodies in some form or other. Moreover there was no guarantee that other forces would not arise to challenge Socialism and in fact he correctly assumed that "the conflict between Communism and the less extreme socialistic idea which still respects the principle of liberty, and the freedom of conscience, of thought, of personality of the individual, if this difference perpetuated itself, might create a serious difficulty in the formation of a World-State". (The Ideal of Human Unity, pg. 592) A State Law or constitution that gave no other freedom to the individual except as a mere integer of automatism in a collectivist State would no longer be possible as human beings progressed to the age of individualism, post-modernism and a higher order anarchy.

The question would naturally be raised that instead of suppressing the individual, an ideal communist manifesto would give the individual a rightful place in the perfect harmony of a collective being. But all concepts are not ideally worked out in the practical world. Sri Aurobindo remarked, "The already developed systems which go by the name are not really Communism but constructions of an inordinately rigid State Socialism. But Socialism itself might well develop away from the Marxist groove and evolve less rigid modes; a cooperative Socialism, for instance, without any bureaucratic rigour of a coercive administration, of a Police State, might one day come into existence, but the generalisation of Socialism throughout the world is not under existing circumstances easily foreseeable, hardly even a predominant possibility: in spite of certain possibilities or tendencies created by recent events in the Far East , a division of the earth between the two systems, capitalistic and socialistic, seems for the present a more likely issue". (Ibid) Subsequent developments proved his apprehensions to be right.

Sri Aurobindo had observed that the saga of individualism that had captivated the American psyche was inimical not only to Communism but to any form of moderate Socialism.

What is interesting is that Sri Aurobindo felt even at the inception of the United Nations that the antagonism between the Capitalist and Socialistic/Communist ideologies could only be solved by some sort of compromise that could eventually need a "third body"(Ibid, pg.593) which would be a successor to the League of Nations and UNO. "As Russia and America, in spite of the constant opposition of policy and ideology, have avoided so far any step that would make the preservation of the U.N.O too difficult or impossible, this third body would be preserved by the same necessity or imperative utility of its continued existence". (Ibid)

Decades after he wrote this in 1949, the USSR collapsed in 1991 and the Cold War ended. Though a "third body" did not follow the United Nations as yet, the European Union was formed in 1993 .For practical purposes, China shifted to a market-capitalist economy though most of the successful Chinese companies are state owned and the major private enterprises have close links with the government while the Communist Party needs to be consulted on major business decisions.

At a certain point in time an accommodation of diverse ideologies, Capitalist and non-Capitalist or variants of Capitalism masquerading under different garbs have to be accomplished in a world-body for a viable world-union. If the United Nations that followed the League of Nations failed in that attempt, a "third body", as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo would rise to replace the UNO or the UNO could itself evolve into that new body. "The same forces would work in the same direction and a creation of an effective world-union would still be possible; in the end the mass of general needs of the race and its need of self-preservation could well be relied on to make it inevitable". (Ibid)


Date of Update: 21-May-21

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu