The Homogeneous Empire Model

Sri Aurobindo, looking at the underlying psychological unity of any societal formation, makes a clear distinction between two types of imperial units.  The first is what he defines as homogeneous in nature, comprised of units or sub-units that have a relatively strong common bond, such as language, culture, customs, or racial grouping.  The second is comprised of disparate elements brought together under an outer political or economic force.

Sri Aurobindo references examples of the homogeneous form (albeit not in its total purity) with the Japanese empire before it expanded beyond the purely Japanese language/culture area, and the Germanic form as he notes here:   “Germany again would have been a purely national empire if it had not burdened itself with three minor acquisitions. Alsace, Poland and Schleswig-Holstein which were not united to it by the sense of German nationality but only by military force.  Let us suppose this Teutonic aggregate to have lost its foreign elements and at most have acquired instead the Teutonic provinces of Austria.  Then we should have had an example of a homogeneous aggregate which would yet be an empire in the true and not merely in the honorific sense of the word; for that would be a composite of homogeneous Teutonic nations or, as we may conveniently call them, sub-nations, which would not naturally harbour any sentiment of separatism, but rather, drawn always to a natural unity, would form easily and inevitably a psychological and not merely a political unit.”

Sri Aurobindo raises the United States as a potential model for the expansion beyond the nation unit to a larger, quasi-imperial unit through the aggregation of the individual states, still retaining substantial local governance into a larger, yet relatively stable imperial unit, through the federal union that was effected between and among the individual states.  This was begun while the United States was relatively homogeneous in its background, and the basis was used to incorporate culturally and racially diverse populations into this larger unity, albeit with some major issues still unresolved.  This could however provide a template or form for attempts at larger units of human grouping, and in fact, we may see evidence of this attempt in the later development of the European Union and the modern state of India, with its wide diversity of language and religions and regional differences of culture, diet and habit.

Sri Aurobindo notes regarding the form of the United States as a model:  “…if the imperial aggregate is to be changed from a political to a psychological unit, it would seem that it must be done by reproducing mutatis mutandis something of the system of the United States, a system in which each element could preserve a sufficient local State independence and separate power of legislative and executive action and yet be part of an inseparable greater aggregate.   This could be effected most easily where the elements are fairly homogeneous as it would be in a federation of Great Britain and her colonies.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 6, Ancient and Modern Methods of Empire, pp. 42-43


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