Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
Ideal of Human Unity - Chapters

Chapter XIX Part I

The Drive towards Centralisation and Unity

The votaries of world unity in the background of World War I were speculating whether the ideal of human unity would be achieved ‘by forcible or at least forceful fusing and welding of mankind into a single vast nation and centralized world-state with many provinces or to its aggregation under a more complex, loose, and flexible system into a world-union of free nationalities’ (The Ideal of Human Unity ,pg 437). Would human unity be achieved by ‘a centralized world-government which would impose its uniform rule and law, uniform administration , uniform economic and educational system, one culture, one social principle, one civilization, perhaps even one language and one religion on all mankind’ (Ibid).

Surely such a world-union is utopian in outlook. However Sri Aurobindo, in 1917 pointed that a combination of the advancements in science and a broadening outlook of internationalism can make the dream of world-union ‘a not immeasurably far off possibility’ that would ‘become feasible within a century or two, at the most within three and four’ (Ibid, pg 438). (Significantly, Sri Aurobindo has also envisaged that the evolution of human consciousness would lead to the emergence of more evolved beings and this process would take about three hundred years for getting consolidated in higher-order Gnostic human groupings).

The transition to global unity through a world-state cannot occur overnight. ‘Certainly, it would take a long time to become entirely practicable, and would have to be preceded by a period of loose formation corresponding to the feudal unity of France or Germany in mediaeval Europe’ (Ibid). It is noteworthy that European feudalism which developed in France and Germany in the 9th and 10th centuries after the dissolution of the Roman Empire in the 5th century became popular for its hierarchical structure based on the acquisition of lands and territories, spread to Spain, Italy, Scandinavia, England and the Slavic countries and as a legacy, even in its dissolution, stimulated the emergence of different forms of constitutional government and early representative institutions.

Sri Aurobindo wrote that there were two ways through which a centralised world-state of ‘uniformity’ could be brought about:

(a) Through ‘force and constraint or the predominance of a few great nations or the emergence of a king-state’ that would eventually become ‘the principal instrument of unification’ (Ibid); and

(b) Through the triumph of ‘political doctrine and the coming to political power of a party of socialistic and internationalistic doctrinaires alike in mentality to the unitarian Jacobins of the French Revolution who would have no tenderness for the sentiments of the past or for any form of group individualism and would seek to crush out of existence all their visible supports so as to establish perfectly their idea of an absolute human equality and unity’ (Ibid).

For the Jacobins who were the most radical group involved in the French revolution, credited to have fostered secularism and ended feudalism were nevertheless prone to believe that terror was needed to purify and unify the Republic for which they zealously followed Robespierre’s unequivocal declaration: ‘the first maxim of your policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the people’s enemies by terror’. A global unity based on such a paradigm would have to be surpassed as internationalism broadened more and more in the psyche of the human race; poised itself on a consciousness that surpassed military might and economic power so as to reach a point where unity would no longer be necessarily equated with uniformity.

Date of Update: 12-Aug-14

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu