Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
Ideal of Human Unity - Chapters


The Idea of a Single Humanity

One of the foremost issues at the end of World War I was to deal with the psychological spirit of nationalism so that it would not be a barrier to real internationalism. Indeed, so long it was maintained that it was the rather superficial and discriminatory mind-set of the smaller countries which posed an obstruction to the spirit of nationalism. But the Great War showed that not the petty mind-set but the gigantic and inspired spirit of passionate nationalism that was the real barrier to the establishment of internationalism. ‘Undoubtedly, nationalism is a more powerful obstacle to further unification than was the separativeness of the old pettier and less firmly self-conscious groupings which preceded the developed nation-State’ (The Ideal of Human Unity, pg 496). A hundred years after this was penned, nationalism still remains a sufficiently emotive issue to sustain itself and raise its hydra-head against any attempt to be-little it. ‘It is still the most powerful sentiment in the collective human mind, still gives an indestructible vitality to the nation and is apt to reappear even where it seemed to have been abolished’ (Ibid).

Sri Aurobindo had commented that an expansion of the boundaries of knowledge would also override nationalism. ‘Science, thought and religion, the three great forces which in modern times tend increasingly to override national distinctions and point the race towards unity of life and spirit, would become more impatient of national barriers, hostilities and divisions and lend their powerful influence to the change’(Ibid, pg 494). The internet world has brought in different denouements of nationalism and internationalism. On one hand, it supports a new type of cyber-nationalism and even a nationalism espoused by its adherents from a long distance. Thus, Indians in USA can express greater doses of nationalism than Indians residing in India! On the other hand, the cyberspace can also effectively remove one’s focus of attention from national boundaries and all other barriers to usher in the true spirit of internationalism.

Internationalism is the pressing need of the hour in a world torn by strife, hatred, mistrust and dissent. ‘It is only by a growth of the international idea, the idea of a single humanity, that nationalism can disappear, if the old natural device of an external unification by conquest or other compulsive force continues to be no longer possible; for the methods of war have become too disastrous and no single empire has the means and the strength to overcome, whether rapidly or in the gradual roman way, the rest of the world’(Ibid, pg 496).


Date of Update: 25-Jul-17

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu