Moving Towards South Asian Confederation
Ideal of Human Unity - Chapters


The Peril of the World-State

World-State - Merits and Demerits

What would be the advantages and disadvantages of a unified World-State - a single nation of mankind? Sri Aurobindo muses that the results would be ‘the same in essence’ (The Ideal of Human Unity, pg.507) as observed in the ancient Roman Empire after considering the allowances of the time-gap. He lists the credit side:

(a) ‘we should have first one enormous gain, the assured peace of the world’ (Ibid). There would be internal conflicts but not civil strife of the magnitude to disrupt the ‘settled fabric of civilization’.(Ibid)

(b) ‘unparalleled development of ease and well-being. A great number of outstanding problems would be solved by the united intelligence of mankind’. (Ibid)

(c) ‘The vital life of the race would settle down into an assured rational order’.(Ibid)

(d) ‘Science would organise itself for the betterment of human life and the increase of knowledge and mechanical efficiency’.(Ibid)

(e) ‘there would be a great cultural and intellectual efflorescence. ..The various cultures of the world –those that still exist as separate realities—would not only exchange ideas more intimately, but would throw their gains into one common fund, and new motives and forms would arise for a time in thought and literature and Art’.(Ibid)

(f) ‘Men would meet each other much more closely and completely than before, develop a greater mutual understanding rid of many accidental motives of strife, hatred and repugnance which now exist, and arrive, if not at brotherhood, -- which cannot come by mere political, social and cultural union, -- yet at some imitation of it, a sufficiently kindly association and interchange’.

In short there would be an unprecedented splendour and ease of life which would be hopefully eulogized in some international language like Esperanto! (Ibid, pg. 507-508)

However, Sri Aurobindo also notes that such a happy state of affairs could also end in the same way as the ancient Roman Empire had collapsed in the weight of its own contradictions. ‘But after a time, there would be a dying down of force, a static condition of the human mind and human life, then stagnation, decay, disintegration. The soul of man would begin to wither in the midst of his acquisitions’. (Ibid, pg.508)

The Alternative - Free Association

Instead of a single nation of mankind or a World-State there can be a global alternative in the form of

(a) ‘a single human people with free association of its nation-units’(Ibid, pg.506);

(b) ‘Or, it may be, the nation as we know it might disappear, but there would be some other new kind of group-units, assured by some sufficient machinery of international order in the peaceful and natural functioning of their social, economic and cultural relations’. (Ibid)

Sri Aurobindo derives this idea from the great Asiatic experience which were organised more in terms of ‘peoples’ than the European idea of Nation-States. ‘The races of Asia, even the most organised, have always been peoples rather than nations in the modern sense. Or they were nations only in the sense of having a common soul-life, a common culture, a common social organisation, a common political head, but not nation-States. The State machine existed only for a restricted and superficial action; the real life of the people was determined by other powers with which it could not meddle. Its principal function was to preserve and protect the national culture and to maintain sufficient political, social and administrative order - as far as possible an immutable order for the real life of the people to function undisturbed in its own way and according to its own innate tendencies. Some such unity for the human race is possible in the place of an organised World-State, if the nations of mankind succeed in preserving their developed instinct of nationalism intact and strong enough to resist the domination of the State idea’. (Ibid)


Date of Update: 19-Feb-18

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu