Psychological Unity Is Not Created Through Use of Force

Germany of the 20th Century provides an example of the attempt to create psychological unity through the use of force in the form of mass exterminations of people who did not “fit” the concept of the ruling power of the time, as to what constituted the German people.  Writing prior to the rise of the 3rd Reich and the extreme measures attempted therein, Sri Aurobindo commented:  “The German, indeed, new and inexperienced in imperial methods, clung to the old Roman idea of assimilation which he sought to execute both by Roman and by un-Roman means.  He showed even a tendency to go back beyond the Caesars of old to the method of the Jew in Canaan and the Saxon in eastern Britain, methods of expulsion and massacre.  But since he was after all modernised and had some sense of economic necessity and advantage, he could not carry out this policy with any thoroughness or in times of peace.  Still he insisted on the old Roman method, sought to substitute German speech and culture for the indigenous and, as he could not do it by peaceful pressure, he tried it by force.  An attempt of this kind is bound to fail; instead of bringing about the psychological unity at which it aims, it succeeds only in accentuating the national spirit and plants a rooted and invincible hatred which is dangerous to the empire and may even destroy it if the opposed elements are not too small in number and weak in force.”

The lesson here extends to the world stage as we view innumerable cultural, religious and language groupings throughout the world, with established customs and life-ways that will not easily concede to any nation that has imperial pretensions.  “And if this effacing of heterogeneous cultures is impossible in Europe where the differences are only variations of a common type and there are only small and weak elements to overcome, it is obviously out of the question for those empires which have to deal with great Asiatic and African masses rooted for many centuries in an old and well-formed national culture.  If a psychological unity has to be created, it must be by other means.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 6, Ancient and Modern Methods of Empire, pp. 48-49