Modern civilisation has thrown together, inextricably, all the peoples and cultures from around the world. With instantaneous communication through the internet, broadcast radio and television, cellular phone networks, and the ability to travel to the far corners of the world by airplane and ship, railroad and automobiles, the world has become a small place compared to the ancient world where such interaction was either impossible, or only possibly with long, arduous journeys lasting months or years, and incredible hardships to be overcome. Even in the relatively recent past, colonial powers dominated cultures around the world militarily, politically and economically, but only with incredible effort and with long lapses between decision and action.
The question then arises as to how this qualitative difference in interaction impacts the meeting of different societies and cultures, and what the aim of such intensive interaction may be.
Sri Aurobindo explores the issues: “The impact of different cultures upon each other has not ceased but has rather been accentuated by the conditions of the modern world. But the nature of the impact, the ends towards which it moves and the means by which the ends can most successfully be worked out, are profoundly altered. The earth is in travail now of one common, large and flexible civilisation for the whole human race into which each modern and ancient culture shall bring its contribution and each clearly defined human aggregate shall introduce its necessary element of variation. In the working out of this aim, there must necessarily be some struggle for survival. The fittest to survive will be here all that can best serve the tendencies Nature is working out in humanity,– not only the tendencies of the hour, but the reviving tendencies of the past and the yet inchoate tendencies of the future. And it will be too all that can best help as liberating and combining forces, best make for adaptation and adjustment and for deliverance of the hidden sense of the great Mother in her strivings. But success in this struggle is worst and not best served by military violence or political pressure.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 6, Ancient and Modern Methods of Empire, pp. 49-50