The Resilience of the Idea of Domination by Force in Today’s World

We live in an age of transition, during which new ideas are percolating into the awareness of people throughout the world, while at the same time, the old concepts, motives and organizational tendencies of humanity continue to hold sway and try to maintain and increase their control and dominance.  One of these old ideas is that a particular religion, economic system, or cultural development pattern is entitled, by some “divine right” to control the rest of the people of the world, and thereby to replicate their pattern on others and obtain the benefits that come with domination and the ability to exploit the people and resources of the world.

Sri Aurobindo referred to the rise of Germany during the first world war and the potential that, if it had succeeded, it would have followed a trajectory leading to the attempt to achieve world domination.  Because Germany was defeated by the use of a similar force, the tendency remained alive and, as predicted, the world witnessed a second attempt with the rise of the Third Reich and the initiation of the Second World War.  Germany’s defeat in that war, similarly, was due to the development of a counter-force, thus keeping the tendency alive.  The rise of the United Nations signaled a potential direction away from a world-dominating power, but the rising victors of the 2nd World War, in particular the United States and the Soviet Union, carried on this force.

Sri Aurobindo explains the occult energy that represents these old ideas that include imperial dominion, and which is behind this transference of the force of domination from the defeated to the victors:  “The fact that a modern nation and indeed the nation most advanced in that efficiency, that scientific utilisation of Science, that spirit of organisation, State help and intelligent dealing with national and social problems and ordering of economic well-being which Europe understands by the word civilisation, — the fact that such a nation should be possessed and driven by such ideas and impulses is certainly a proof that the old gods are not dead, the old ideal of dominant Force conquering, governing and perfecting the world is still a vital reality and has not let go its hold on the psychology of the human race.  Nor is there any certainty that the recent war (n.b. World War I) has killed these forces and this ideal; for the war was decided by force meeting force, by organisation triumphing over organisation, by the superior or at any rate the more fortunate utilisation of those very weapons which constituted the real strength of the great aggressive Teutonic Power.  The defeat of Germany by her own weapons could not of itself kill the spirit then incarnate in Germany; it may well lead merely to a new incarnation of it, perhaps in some other race or empire, and the whole battle would then have to be fought over again.  So long as the old gods are alive, the breaking or depression of the body which they animate is a small matter, for they know well how to transmigrate.  Germany overthrew the Napoleonic spirit in France in 1813 and broke the remnants of her European leadership in 1970; the same Germany became the incarnation of that which it had overthrown.  The phenomenon is easily capable of renewal on a more formidable scale.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 9, The Possibility of a World-Empire, pp. 67-69