Conditions for Turning the Fiction of Imperial Unity into Reality

The French colonial empire attempted to turn what Sri Aurobindo terms a “fiction” of psychological unity of the colonies and the mother country into a reality; however, this attempt failed.  Sri Aurobindo outlines the conditions required in order to succeed with such an attempt:

“It must in the first place be based on a plausible superficial resemblance.  It must lead to a realisable fact strong enough either to replace the fiction itself or eventually to justify it.  And this realisable fact must progressively realise itself and not remain too long in the stage of the formless nebula.  There was a time when these conditions were less insistently necessary, a time when the mass of men were more imaginative, unsophisticated, satisfied with a sentiment or an appearance; but as the race advances, it becomes more mentally alive, self-conscious, critical and quick to seize dissonances between fact and pretension.  Moreover the thinker is abroad, his words are listened to and understood to an extent unprecedented in the known history of mankind; and the thinker tends to become more and more an inquisitor, a critic, an enemy of fictions.”

Sri Aurobindo explores instances of what he calls a “composite nation” to see if the disparate parts may be welded together into a larger psychological unity.  “We must, therefore, cast a glance at the most typical instances of the successful composite nation and see how far the parallel applies and whether there are difficulties in the way which point rather to the necessity of a new evolution than to the variation of an old success.  To have a just idea of the difficulties may help us to see how they can be overcome.”

While we may not find an exact set of facts today or in the historical precedents to meet these conditions, we may find that the challenges that all of humanity faces, which must be solved through the combined efforts of all of humanity, may begin to create some sense of a larger unity that has not been evident in the past.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 7, The Creation of the Heterogeneous Nation, pp. 54-55