Our mentality tends to create “either/or” analyses which, by the nature of things, generally miss the correct balance in the approach. Thus, we tend to oppose individual freedom and absolute control by the State, and take a position supporting one and opposing the other, depending on our own predilections. However, if we recognize there can be a proper role for each in enhancing and support human progress, it is then incumbent on us to strike that proper balance and avoid the two extremes.
Looking carefully at human development, we see that it is individuals who have the specific insights or developments which become the basis of human progress. We also note, however, that the framework of society provides the ground within which the individual awareness takes root and can thrive. There can also be real benefits to free collaboration, which helps to shape ideas and put them into a concrete form of action.
Societies which have tried to create a centralised control over the actions and directions taken by individuals, and which try to monitor and demand results of one sort or another, have not proven themselves best at innovation.
Sri Aurobindo notes: The State “…is capable of providing the cooperative action of the individuals in the community with all necessary conveniences and of removing from it disabilities and obstacles which would otherwise interfere with its working. Here the real utility of the State ceases. The non-recognition of the possibilities of human cooperation was the weakness of English individualism; the turning of a utility for cooperative action into an excuse for rigid control by the State is the weakness of the Teutonic idea of collectivism. When the State attempts to take up the control of the cooperative action of the community, it condemns itself to create a monstrous machinery which will end by crushing out the freedom, initiative and various growth of the human being.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 4, The Inadequacy of the State Idea, pp. 30-31