The State Functions as a Machinery, Not an Organism

The qualities of a living being, an organism, include responsiveness to circumstances and a certain amount of flexibility.  Those organisms that prove themselves unable to adapt to change tend to die off when the inevitable change comes about over time.  The growth and development that can bring about real progressive forward movement in the life and quality of life for humanity require adaptivity and creativity to meet new challenges.

The organisation of the State tries to bring about, not creativity, but conformity in order to manage on the massive scale that the modern State encompasses.  Variations in the State’s action may be caused by built in favoritism to a ruling elite and its supporters, or due to inherent prejudice and bias against specific groups of people.  Either way, the basic principle is one which tries to develop a uniform approach, even if layered in strata based on the differences of class, religion, gender, or nationality that enter into the program.

This focus on uniformity tends to cut off the opportunities for individuals to excel and go beyond the framework of the programmatic process.  Any variance from the program is looked upon as, at best, inefficiency that needs to be reduced or removed, or at worst, some kind of revolutionary failure to abide by the authority of the State representing the society.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  The State “…is incapable of that free, harmonious and intelligently or instinctively varied action which is proper to organic growth.  For the State is not an organism; it is a machinery, and it works like a machine, without tact, taste, delicacy or intuition.  It tries to manufacture, but what humanity is here to do is to grow and create.  We see this flaw in State-governed education.  It is right and necessary that education should be provided for all and in providing for it the State is eminently useful; but when it controls the education, it turns it into a routine, a mechanical system in which individual initiative, individual growth and true development as opposed to a routine instruction become impossible.  The State tends always to uniformity, because uniformity is easy to it and natural variation is impossible to its essentially mechanical nature; but uniformity is death, not life.  A national culture, a national religion, a national education may still be useful things provided they do not interfere with the growth of human solidarity on the one side and individual freedom of thought and conscience and development on the other; for they give form to the communal soul and help it to add its quota to the sum of human advancement; but a State education, a State religion, a State culture are unnatural violences.  And the same rule holds good in different ways and to a different extent in other directions of our communal life and its activities.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 4, The Inadequacy of the State Idea, pg. 31