Introduction to Sri Aurobindo’s The Ideal of Human Unity


The Ideal of Human Unity was written by Sri Aurobindo serially during the period from 1915 through 1918, essentially while the world was struggling with the “war to end all wars”, World War I.  Interestingly, he undertook to update the text in the 1930’s during the run up to World War II, and then put a brief update and postscript on it after the conclusion of the second World War.  This subject was therefore of continual focus and interest for Sri Aurobindo.

Some may wonder what relationship the social and political framework of human civilisation has to do with the practice of Yoga.  Sri Aurobindo recognized and described in The Life Divine an “omnipresent reality” that incorporated the individual, the universal and the transcendent aspects of existence.  All existence represents the manifestation of the Divine Will through Time, Space and Circumstance, and thus, the principle of Oneness holds that the individual is not separate from the universal and the universal is not separate from the transcendent.

In The Synthesis of Yoga he described the universal “Yoga of Nature” that systematically evolves levels of consciousness from the involved inconscient of Matter to the highest supramental realms of total awareness of the Divine knowledge and will.  He also described the interchange and interaction between the universal and the individual and the role of each.  The universal play of forces has a constant impact on the spiritual development of any individual and thus, cannot be dismissed.

It is within this general context that the question of human unity arises.  The boundaries set up by the physical manifestation, the aggressive self-aggrandisement of the vital consciousness, and the fragmented view of the mental level ensure that there will be a struggle and disharmony until such time as an integrated, higher perspective can put everything into a coherent whole of mutual interchange.  For the practitioner of Yoga, therefore, working on the inner self-development, at a certain stage, requires the seeker to address the larger questions of harmony and oneness.

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo indicates that “…all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony.  They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity.”  and he goes on to state “The greater the apparent disorder of the materials offered or the apparent disparateness, even to irreconcilable opposition, of the elements that have to be utilised, the stronger is the spur, and it drives towards a more subtle and puissant order than can normally be the result of a less difficult endeavour.”  (Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 1, pg. 5)

We can see all around us the difficulty of achieving human unity and resolving the apparent contradictions of physical, vital and mental demands and desires.  It may also be seen that the larger concerns of all humanity, as one universal being, such as the integrity of the environment that sustains us, puts added pressure on our attempt to achieve human unity.

It is with this background that we take up the subject of human unity in the systematic way that Sri Aurobindo has viewed it.  It is not isolated from the practice of Yoga, but an essential element of the yogic process.

All chapter numbers and titles are from Sri Aurobindo’s The Ideal of Human Unity.  All individual post titles are independently developed for these posts.  Page numbers referenced are from the USA editions of Sri Aurobindo’s major writings, published by Lotus Press.



Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity


Sri Aurobindo’s and Related Writings on Apple iTunes for IPhone and IPad:


Sri Aurobindo’s and Related Writings on Apple iTunes for IPhone and IPad:

We continue to add more titles to this list on an ongoing basis, so please check back regularly for additional titles.  We also supply a large number of titles for Amazon Kindle and Google Play which are listed separately.  Below find the links to the e-book versions available at this time on Apple iTunes:

By Sri Aurobindo:

Bases of Yoga                                      Bases of Yoga

 Essays on the Gita                              Essays on the Gita

 The Mother                                        The Mother

 Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol         Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol

 By The Mother:

 Commentaries on the Dhammapada  Commentaries on the Dhammapada

 By Sri M. P. Pandit:

 An Early Chapter in The Mother’s Life   Early Chapter in The Mother’s Life

 Art of Living                                        Art of Living

 Bases of Tantra Sadhana                   Bases of Tantra Sadhana

 Commentaries on Sri Aurobindo’s Thought, V. 1  Commentaries Sri Aurobindo’s Thought, V. 1

 Dhyana                                               Dhyana

 Heart of Sadhana                               Heart of Sadhana

 How Do I Proceed?                             How Do I Proceed?

 Introducing The Life Divine               Introducing The Life Divine

 Introducing Savitri                             Introducing Savitri

 Japa                                                    Japa

Kundalini Yoga                                   Kundalini Yoga

Readings in Savitri, V. 1                     Readings in Savitri, V. 1

 Readings in Savitri, V. 2                     Readings in Savitri, V. 2

 Readings in Savitri, V. 3                     Readings in Savitri, V. 3

 Readings in Savitri, V. 4                     Readings in Savitri, V. 4

 Readings in Savitri, V. 5                     Readings in Savitri, V. 5

 Readings in Savitri, V. 7                     Readings in Savitri, V. 7

 Readings in Savitri, V. 8                     Readings in Savitri, V. 8

Readings in Savitri, V. 9                     Readings in Savitri, V. 9

 Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga               Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga

 A Summary of Savitri                         A Summary of Savitri

 Talks on The Life Divine, V. 1             Talks on The Life Divine, V. 1

 Teachings of Sri Aurobindo               Teachings of Sri Aurobindo

Thoughts on the Gita                         Thoughts on the Gita

 By Santosh Krinsky:

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 1  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine,V. 1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 2 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, V. 2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 3 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, V. 3

Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo:               Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth and Karma:   Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth &  Karma

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita,V.1 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V.1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V. 2 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V.2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 1  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 2  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 3  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 3

 By Rand Hicks:

A Savitri Dictionary                            A Savitri Dictionary

Rev. 6/11/17

Sri Aurobindo’s Writings Available as E-Books for Amazon Kindle Readers or App


The Amazon Kindle is perhaps the most popular e-book reader in the world, and the APP works on desktop computers, laptops, android phones, tablets etc. The APP can be downloaded free from We are systematically making Sri Aurobindo’s writings available for the Kindle App and Readers. Here are a few of them, with more links to be provided soon:

Bhagavad Gita and Its Message Bhagavad Gita and Its Message
Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga (compiled by M P Pandit) Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga
Essays on the Gita Essays on the Gita
The Future Evolution of Man The Future Evolution of Man
Hidden Forces of Life (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Hidden Forces of Life
The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development
The Ideal of Human Unity The Ideal of Human Unity
Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice Integral Yoga
The Life Divine The Life Divine
Looking from Within (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Looking from Within
The Mind of Light The Mind of Light (The Supramental Manifestation on Earth)
The Mother The Mother
Our Many Selves (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Our Many Selves
Powers Within (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Powers Within
The Psychic Being (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Psychic Being
Rebirth and Karma Rebirth and Karma
Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol
Secret of the Veda Secret of the Veda
Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra (compiled by M P Pandit) Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra
The Synthesis of Yoga The Synthesis of Yoga
The Upanishads The Upanishads
Vedic Symbolism (compiled by M P Pandit) Vedic Symbolism
Yoga of Sleep and Dreams (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Yoga of Sleep and Dreams

By Sri M P Pandit:
Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga
Teaching of Sri Aurobindo Teaching of Sri Aurobindo



Bases of Yoga BASES OF YOGA
Essays on the Gita ESSAYS ON THE GITA
The Human Cycle: Psychology of Social Development The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development
Ideal of Human Unity IDEAL OF HUMAN UNITY
The Mind of Light THE MIND OF LIGHT
Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol  Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol
Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra SRI AUROBINDO ON THE TANTRA
The Synthesis of Yoga THE SYNTHESIS OF YOGA

For Android Phones, Tablets, and E-Readers

Sri Aurobindo Studies


Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga has enormous implications for the time we find ourselves in.  As we systematically destroy the basis of life on the planet, and wall off one another through ultimate fragmentation, we are left with the stark contrast of choosing between survival and destruction, life and death, growth or decline.  Sri Aurobindo recognizes the necessity of the individual within the context of the collectivity, universality and the transcendent consciousness of Oneness.  The individual is the nexus or hub of the evolutionary urge, but not separate from nor at the expense of the life of the cosmic whole.

We also have a daily twitter feed on Sri Aurobindo’s studies at

We have systematically worked our way through The Life Divine as well as The Mother , Essays on the Gita and Rebirth and Karma.  The newest posts appear near the top.  If you want to start at the beginning, go to the oldest post and roll forward until you reach the final posts in July 2012.

Another option is to “search” for the chapter you would like to study and see all posts relating to that chapter. You may have to ask for “older posts” once you have the search results if you are looking for one of the earlier chapters.

We have separated the posts relating to each book into their own folder as an additional organisational tool.

Similarly you can use the search box to find specific concepts, terms or issues you are interested in. The results will show all posts that address those concepts or terms. You may have to click on “older posts” to find all the references here as well.

The next book we are taking up is The Synthesis of Yoga by Sri Aurobindo, following a similar format to that we have utilised for The Life Divine , The Mother, Essays on the Gita and Rebirth and Karma.

You may also want to visit our information site for Sri Aurobindo at Sri-Aurobindo.Com

Sri Aurobindo’s major writings are published in the US by Lotus Press.

The systematic studies on this blog have also been published as self-standing books by Lotus Press and are available in both printed formats and as e-books. There are 3 volumes encompassing Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, 2 volumes encompassing Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, as well as 1 volume for Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo, and Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth and Karma., and 1 volume currently for the first section of The Synthesis of Yoga titled Readings In Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, Vol. 1 Introduction and Yoga of Divine Works

Many of the major writings of Sri Aurobindo are now also accessible on the Amazon Kindle Platform as well as Apple itunes, google play, kobo, and Barnes & Noble nook as well.  Kindle e-book reader program is also available for PC, Laptop, iPad, Blackberry, Android, iPhone and many other platforms from Amazon without charge. You can find the current list of titles available by going to , go to the “kindle store” and type in “Aurobindo” New titles are being added as they can be made ready. Many of the major books are already accessible by the Kindle Reader.  You can follow a similar procedure for the other platforms we now support for Sri Aurobindo’s writings, I-tunes, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and KOBO.

The Rise of Economic Interdependence As a Major Factor in Modern-Day Civilisation

The role of the economic activity has moved front and center as the primary consideration for societal actions in the modern world.  The role of the individual as an economic producer and consumer drives policy, and the relationship of economic activity drives relations between nations.  In many instances, we can see that economic benefit is able to dominate the discussion over the health and well-being of the citizens, and the economic cost of protecting people is used as a rationale for not protecting citizens from the costs of industrial pollution, climate change impacts, or business practices that enrich economic producing firms at the expense of the citizenry.  This represents a major change and difference from earlier views of citizens in the society, and implies an enormous set of consequences for the direction and development of world unity–the economic impacts will have to be understood and addressed.

Sri Aurobindo observes, noting that the military necessity is the first step in gaining the control needed for a world union, that there is yet another issue to be addressed:  “But there is behind it another necessity which is much more powerful in its action on the modern mind, the commercial and industrial, the necessity born of economic interdependence.  Commercialism is a modern sociological phenomenon; one might almost say that is the whole phenomenon of modern society.  The economic part of life is always important to an organised community and even fundamental; but in former times it was simply the first need, it was not that which occupied the thoughts of men, gave the whole tone to the social life, stood at the head and was clearly recognised as standing at the root of social principles.”

It is interesting to note that in the ancient Hindu system, the economic principle was not considered to be the leading issue of governance, which was first and foremost vested in the intellectual and religious and military-political classes.  “Commercial interests entered into the relations of States and into the motives of war and peace; but they entered as subordinate and secondary predisposing causes of amity or hostility and only rarely and as it were accidentally came to be enumerated among the overt and conscious causes of peace, alliance and strife.  The political consciousness, the political motive dominated; increase of wealth was primarily regarded as a means of political power and greatness and opulence of the mobilisable resources of the State than as an end in itself or a first consideration.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 25, War and the Need of Economic Unity, pp. 215-216

The Necessity of Force in the Creation and Maintenance of a World-State

Humanity’s leading idealistic thinkers and visionaries dream of a time when force will no longer be the arbiter of affairs between people and their societal groupings.  Such a time, however, will require a considerable change in basic human nature which we cannot yet see on the horizon.  At some point in future history, of course, such a result might eventuate, as humanity evolves beyond the vital animal to become truly a self-conscious soul-being guided in action by the highest lights of spirit and implemented through the unique mental capacities of which human beings are capable.

In the interim, however, it is nevertheless essential that a solution be found to the worldwide issues that threaten the very existence of humanity, and, given the inability of a confederation of the world’s nations to truly reach equilibrium, and eschew the use of military force when an advantage is observed, it becomes necessary to consider the development of a World-State which would exercise complete and ultimate power of action including holding a monopoly on the military power and the armaments of the world.  The obvious concerns about concentration of power among any small group of human beings still remain and must be addressed, of course.

Sri Aurobindo notes with respect to the creation of a World-State:  “For it can be brought into truly effective existence only if the international authority became, not merely the arbiter of disputes, but the source  of law and the final power behind their execution.  For the execution of its decrees against recalcitrant countries or classes, for the prevention of all kinds of strife not merely political but commercial, industrial and others or at least of their decision by any other ways than a peaceful resort to law and arbitration, for the suppression of any attempt at violent change and revolution, the World-State, even at its strongest, would still need the concentration of all force in its own hands.  While man remains what he is, force in spite of all idealisms and generous pacific hopes must remain the ultimate arbiter and governor of his life and its possessor the real ruler.  Force may veil its crude presence at ordinary times and take only mild and civilised forms, — mild in comparison, for are not the jail and the executioner still the two great pillars of the social order? — but it is there silently upholding the specious appearances of our civilisation and ready to intervene, whenever called upon, in the workings of the fairer but still feebler gods of the social cosmos.  Diffused, force fulfils the free workings of Nature and is the servant of life but also of discord and struggle; concentrated, it becomes the guarantee of organisation and the bond of order.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 24, The Need of Military Unification, pp. 213-214

The World-Governing Central Authority Must Hold the Exclusive Military Power If It Is to Succeed

After World War I, the victorious allies laid down conditions on Germany that seriously limited the military power of the defeated Power.  In the end, however, this did not prevent Germany from rebuilding its military, building out an air force and a navy, and ramping up armaments manufacturing to create, prior to the advent of the Second World War, the most powerful and daunting military force in the world at that time.  The resurgent German military was able to plunge the world into a conflagration that far exceeded in scope and suffering, even the tragedies of the First World War.  We see illustrated here the rationale for Sri Aurobindo’s observation that in order for a centralised world-authority to effectively operate, address the issues facing all of humanity, and maintain peace, there must be total disarmament by all the nations, with their military forces disbanded and their munitions industries shut down.  Obviously, in the current state of the world, there is no immediate possibility of such a response, but it is essential to understand why this is actually a necessity:

“For so long as the national egoisms of any kind remained and along with them mutual distrust, the nations would not sacrifice their possession of an armed force on which they could rely for self-defence if their interests, or at lest those that they considered essential to their prosperity and their existence, came to be threatened.  Any distrust of the assured impartiality of the international government would operate in the same direction.  Yet such a disarmament would be essential to the assured cessation of war — in the absence of some great and radical psychological and moral change.  If national armies exist, the possibility, even the certainty of war will exist along with them.  However small they might be made in times of peace, and international authority, even with a military force of its own behind it, would be in the position of the feudal king never quite sure of his effective control of his vassals.  The international authority must hold under its command the sole trained military force in the world for the policing of the nations and also — otherwise the monopoly would be ineffective — the sole disposal of the means of manufacturing arms and implements of war.  National and private munitions factories and arms factories must disappear.  National armies must become like the old baronial armies a memory of past and dead ages.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 24, The Need of Military Unification, pg. 213

Conditions for Development of an Effective World Unifying Central Governance

Successful societal groupings, such as the Nation-State in today’s world, rely on a psychological unity to hold together the people within that grouping.  The citizens identify themselves as members of that group, and see the world through the lens of “us” and “them”.  Of course, there are differences within the nations that create some amount of internal stress or centrifugal force, but if the unit is successful, it has enough adherence to more than withstand differences in religion, culture, race, language, that may occur.

The issue of transference of psychological unity from the various nations to a world-unifying government is perhaps the most difficult of all the issues to be faced.  Nations coalesced either around the need to defend against common perceived enemies, or due to internal unity of the community which supported close bonds on a number of levels, particularly religious and cultural.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “An authority of this nature would have to command the psychological assent of mankind, exercise a moral force upon the nations greater than that of their own national authority and compel more readily their obedience under all normal circumstances.  It would have not only to be a symbol and a centre of the unity of the race, but make itself constantly serviceable to the world by assuring the effective maintenance and development of large common interests and benefits which would outweigh all separate national interests and satisfy entirely the sense of need that had brought it into existence.  It must help more and more to fix the growing sense of a common humanity and a common life in which the sharp divisions which separate country from country, race from race, colour from colour, continent from continent would gradually lose their force and undergo a progressive effacement.  Given these conditions, it would develop a moral authority which would enable it to pursue with less and less opposition and friction the unification of mankind.”

The process here would have to find a way to accommodate the different cultural, religious and interests of the major population groups of the world.    Otherwise, it would be forced to utilize force of some kind to gain and maintain ascendancy and control, and it would have to have such a powerful rationale for existence that the peoples of the world would agree that they had to adhere to it.  Such issues as global climate change and its impacts, environmental pollution, imbalances in access to and utilization of resources, and application of the world’s limited resources across all the people, plus the risk of the weapons of mass destruction destroying life on the planet, or much of it in any case, represent the kind of issues that a world unifying structure would obviously need to focus on in order to succeed in gaining the adherence of the world’s population.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 24, The Need of Military Unification, pp  212-213

The Possession of Power Is the Test of Idealistic Ideas

There is a general assumption that democratic governments are more inclined to maintain peaceful relations than dictatorial or autocratic governments.  This assumption is based on the idea that the general population of a country has no reason or incentive to go to war, and generally suffers extreme hardships as a result of war, including having their families disrupted through death and injury and calls to military service.  In a democratic society, in theory, the populace would therefore resist calls to war, unless urgent need, such as defense against aggression, made it necessary.  On the other hand, it is generally assumed that a ruling elite, whether focused in a monarchy or dictatorship, or in an aristocracy or power elite, would be able to act without the consent of the general populace, and would act in such a way to aggrandise their power and profits, with warfare being a profitable enterprise for various military related industries, and the positive result of warfare providing huge opportunities for enhancement of prestige, power and profit for those in control.

In actual fact, however, democracies as have been generally constituted in the past were very much controlled and manipulated by a managing elite, combined with major business interests, and the wishes of the populace are not always carried out when they conflict with the vested interests of the ruling clique.  Huge amounts of money are available to bribe or “lobby” officials to achieve leverage in favor of the profit potential of the military-industrial complex.

As the concept of democratic socialism gains momentum as a form of modern nation, it has been speculated that the idealism of a society founded on liberty, equality and fraternity would embody the values and needs of the general population and thus, work to minimise or avoid war.  Sri Aurobindo however raises the question of whether governing power, in and of itself, can warp the ideals of even the most starry-eyed ruling body:

“One rule of the new international situation was to be the right of nations to dispose of their own destinies and to be governed only by their free consent. … If it were capable of universal application, if the existing relations of peoples and the psychology of nations could be so altered as to establish it as a working principle, one of the most fertile causes of war and revolution would be removed, but all causes would not disappear…. Certainly, democracy of a certain kind, democracy reposing for its natural constitution on individual liberty would be likely to be indisposed to war except in moments of great and universal excitement.  War demands a violent concentration of all the forces, a spirit of submission, a suspension of free-will, free action and of the right of criticism which is alien to the true democratic instinct.  But the democracies of the future are likely to be strongly concentrated governments in which the principle of liberty is subordinated to the efficient life of the community by some form of State socialism.  A democratic State of that kind might well have even a greater power for war, might be able to put forward a more violently concentrated military organisation in event of hostilities than even the bourgeois democracies and it is not at all certain that it would be less tempted to use its means and power.   …  What will happen when they have hold of the government and its temptations and opportunities has to be seen but can easily be forecast.  The possession of power is the great test of all idealisms and as yet there have been none religious or secular which have withstood it or escaped diminution and corruption.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 24, The Need of Military Unification, pp  210-211

A League of Nations or United Nations Cannot Maintain Peace and Stability in the World

At the conclusion of the First World War, idealists developed the concept of the League of Nations as a mechanism that could prevent the outbreak of future wars and avoid the kind of devastating and horrific conflagration the world had just experienced.  It soon became obvious however that such a League of Nations was unable to maintain the peace, and that a nation which perceived its best interests to be served through war and conquest could act with impunity to plunge humanity into another conflagration.  Witness the rise of Germany and the Second World War.  After the conclusion of this subsequent event, the nations of the world once more determined that the founding of a United Nations would be a suitable mechanism to sustain the peace.  Unfortunately, this body has proven unable to establish world peace and, while we have not seen the outbreak of another world war, there have been numerous chronic conflicts, smaller wars and proxy wars by representative client states or groups for the major world powers behind the scenes.

Sri Aurobindo provides an understanding of why such a League of Nations concept is unable to fulfill the role envisioned by the idealists in this regard:  “To rely upon the common consent of conflicting national egoisms for the preservation of peace between the nations is to rely upon a logical contradiction.  A practical improbability which, if we can judge by reason and experience, amounts to an impossibility, can hardly be a sound foundation for the building of the future.  A League of Peace can only prevent armed strife for a time.  A system of enforced arbitration, even with the threat of a large armed combination against the offender, may minimise the chance of war and may absolutely forbid it to the smaller or weaker nations; but a great nation which sees a chance of making itself the centre of a strong combination of peoples interested in upsetting the settled order of things for their own benefit, might always choose to take the risks of the adventure in the hope of snatching advantages which in its estimation outweighed the risks.  (The subequent history of the League of Nations, which had not been formed at the time of writing, has amply proved the inefficacy of these devices.)  Moreover, in times of great upheaval and movement when large ideas, enormous interests and inflamed passions divide the peoples of the world, the whole system would be likely to break to pieces and the very elements of its efficacy would cease to exist.”

“The creation of a real, efficient and powerful authority which would stand for the general sense and the general power of mankind in its collective life and spirit and would be something more than a bundle of vigorously separate States loosely tied together by the frail bond of a violable moral agreement is the only effective step possible on this path.  Whether such an authority can really be created by agreement, whether it must not rather create itself partly by the growth of ideas, but still more by the shock of forces, is a question to which the future alone can answer.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 24, The Need of Military Unification, pp  211-212

Democratic Government Does Not Prevent Militaristic Adventurism

People tend to assume that a democratic government, as opposed to a monarchical or autocratic government, will naturally embrace peace rather than war in its relationship with other nations.  While the internal affairs of a democratic nation may be responsive to the perceived needs of the populace, the external affairs seem to follow the historical patterns of the earlier monarchical rulers.  The relations of nations has remained tied to the desire or need to exercise control over neighboring countries, to have access to and control sources of raw materials and natural resources, and to create and maintain income through either taxation or, at the very least, through creation of markets for the goods and services of the conquering country.  Of course, the need to ensure one’s own borders and protect from invasion also has played a strong historical role.  Where  differences may crop up between the monarchy and the democracy is in the primary focus and goal sought in the process of using military might, and in the ability to marshal the development of military hardware and technology.   England provides a good case in point.  The development of a parliamentary system of representation, rather than control by the monarchy did not deter the development of the British Empire and its attempt to maintain military control over vast portions of the world to ensure its economic ascendancy.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “What are called democracies  are bourgeois States in the form either of a constitutional monarchy or a middle-class republic.  But everywhere the middle class has taken over with certain modifications the diplomatic habits, foreign policies and international ideas of the monarchical or aristocratic governments which preceded them.  This continuity seems to have been a natural law of the ruling class.”

“The monarchical or aristocratic State is political in its mentality and seeks first of all territorial aggrandisement and political predominance or hegemony among the nations, commercial aims are only a secondary preoccupation attendant on the other.  In the bourgeois State there is a reverse order; for it has its eye chiefly on the possession of markets, the command of new fields of wealth, the formation or conquest of colonies or dependencies which can be commercially and industrially exploited and on political aggrandisement only as a means for this more cherished object.  Moreover, the monarchical or aristocratic statesman turned to war as almost his first expedient.  As soon as he was dissatisfied with the response to his diplomacy, he grasped at the sword or the rifle.  The bourgeois statesman hesitates, calculates, gives a longer rope to diplomacy, tries to gain his ends by bargainings, arrangements, peaceful pressure, demonstrations of power.  In the end he is ready to resort to war, but only when these expedients have failed him and only if the end seems commensurate with the means and the great speculation of war promises a very strong chance of success and solid profit.  But on the other hand, the bourgeois-democratic State has developed a stupendous military organisation of which the most powerful monarchs and aristocracies could not dream.  And if this tends to delay the outbreak of large wars, it tends too to make their final advent sure and their proportions enormous and nowadays incalculable and immeasurable.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 24, The Need of Military Unification, pp  208-210