Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
Ideal of Human Unity - Chapters


Musings on a Socialistic World-State-II

The human psyche yearns towards world-unity and yet is attached to the uniqueness of local moorings and identities. If there is a clarion call to a single humanity, there is also an overzealous attachment to the conservation, survival and revival of local sentiments. This raises an important issue: whether a uniform world-order would need a policy of centralisation or decentralisation.

Centralisation and decentralisation are debated issues with different ramifications in corporate organizations and in any scheme of world-unity needing a common cultural thread that stitches subcultures along a continuum or facilitates the emergence of a new cultural trait. In corporate organizations, a fully hierarchized centralisation can collapse if stretched too long or strenuously and hence decentralisation is often considered to be the order of the day. Sri Aurobindo has an intuition of this phenomenon and admits that a World-State would need as much decentralisation as needed ‘for convenience of administration, not on the ground of separative variations’ (The Ideal of Human Unity, pg.503).

To tackle centrifugal attempts of disruption, a subordination of separate sub-cultures to some benevolent variation of centralisation might be inevitable in a World-State worth its name. Already, an interfusion of cultures, partly due to the spirit of internationalism, partly due to the trans-cultural commercialization of entertainment is visible. Moreover, Science, the great leveller has its own significance and facilitates ‘uniformity of thought and life and method….The only radical difference that still exists is between the mind of the Occident and the mind of the Orient’ (Ibid). A hundred years after Sri Aurobindo wrote this, the world is witnessing a violent attempt to cling to past conventions by radical religious fanatics, a explosive outburst to preserve cultural identities against the spirit of internationalism. Perhaps this too was inevitable as the old forces would try to resurge and consolidate when the death-knoll for their extinction becomes increasingly relevant. Sri Aurobindo assures that in the annals of history, a common world-culture would be ‘the most probable outcome’ (Ibid). He adds, ‘The valid objection to centralisation will then be greatly diminished in force, if not removed altogether. Race-sense is perhaps a stronger obstacle because it is more irrational; but this too may be removed by the closer intellectual, cultural and physical intercourse which is inevitable in the not distant future’ (Ibid).

Sri Aurobindo’s 1918 write-up preceded the brilliant 1932 novel, ‘Brave New World’ penned in 1932 by Aldous Huxley which eulogises a World-State with the motto of ‘Community, Identity, Stability’. The citizens enjoy a eusocial society with racial, social and economic harmony and gender neutrality while the economy is based upon the principles of mass production and mass consumerism. Hi-tech industrialization is balanced with sufficient agricultural preoccupation. Culture remains homogenous and fairly similar across the planet. Huxley balances the Orient and the Occident as advertisements of tourism in Western Europe in the novel promote holidays to ‘the gorgeous East’ though at the same time the North Pole is an important destination and trips to the moon are also available.

Some of Huxley’s imaginations do not appear to be unrealistic today. Even before Sri Aurobindo had written about the World-State, Esperanto, as a constructed international auxiliary language had been introduced by Zamenhof, a Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist in 1887. Though it has not succeeded as a world-language according to expectations, yet it points out that a common language may not be a chimera on day. ‘For a State naturally tends to establish one language as the instrument of all its public affairs, is thought, its literature; the rest sink into patios, dialects, provincial tongues, like Welsh in Great Britain or Breton and Provencal in France; exceptions like Switzerland are few, hardly more than one or two in number and are preserved only by unusually favourable conditions. It is difficult indeed to suppose that languages with powerful literatures spoken by millions of cultured men will allow themselves to be put into a quite secondary position, much less snuffed out by an old or new speech of man. But it cannot be quite certainly said that scientific reason, taking possession of the mind of the race and thrusting aside separative sentiment as a barbaric anachronism, may not accomplish one day even this psychological miracle’. (Ibid. pg. 503-504)

Sri Aurobindo explains that it is a psychological fact that any movement towards uniformity can override variety if the aim is a common betterment. ‘In any case, variety of language need be no insuperable obstacle to uniformity of culture, to uniformity of education, life and organisation or to a regulating scientific machinery applied to all departments of life and settled for the common good by the united will and intelligence of the human race. For that would be what a World-State, such as we have imagined, would stand for, its meaning, its justification, its human object’. (Ibid, pg.504)


Date of Update: 26-Dec-17

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu