Larger Formations of Society Have Required Consolidation and Limitation of Freedoms

Historically, the development of a new larger formation of society requires that the smaller groupings being consolidated now move their center of focus and loyalty to the new entity.  This in turn requires changes to the life of the citizens to accomodate the needs of the new larger entity.   Habits of lifestyle and relationship that worked in a small, tight-knit community are challenged within an organisation that is many times the size and complexity, and in many cases, which incorporates heterogeneous groups with different customs, religious backgrounds, languages, and political and economic expectations.

Sri Aurobindo describes the formative steps that have taken place as the challenges of developing these larger groupings are recognised:  “To enforce its unity is its predominant impulse and to that paramount need it has to sacrifice the diversity, harmonious complexity, richness of various material, freedom of inner relations without which the true perfection of life is impossible.  In order to enforce a strong and sure unity it has to create a paramount centre, a concentrated State power, whether of king or military aristocracy or plutocratic class or other governing contrivance, to which the liberty and free life of the individual, the commune, the city, the region or any other lesser unit has to be subordinated and sacrificed.  At the same time, there is a tendency to create a firmly mechanised and rigid state of society, sometimes a hierarchy of classes or orders in which the lower is appointed to an inferior place and duty and bound down to a narrower life than the higher, such as the hierarchy of king, clergy, aristocracy, middle class, peasantry, servile class which replaced in Europe the rich and free existence of the city and the tribe or else a rigid caste system such as the one that replaced in India the open and natural existence of the vigorous Aryan clans.  Moreover, as we have already seen, the active and stimulating participation of all or most in the full vigour of the common life, which was the great advantage of the small but free earlier communities, is much more difficult in a larger aggregate and is at first impossible.  In its place, there is the concentration of the force of life into a dominant centre or at most a governing and directing class or classes, while the great mass of the community is left in a relative torpor and enjoys only a minimum and indirect share of that vitality in so far as it is allowed to filter down from above and indirectly affect the grosser, poorer and narrower life below.”

The result of this type of activity, witnessed in the attempts of the historical past, are to create an entitled, ruling class of people and a subordinated class that have far less opportunity, income, or access to the resources developed by the society.  This becomes in the long run one of the serious weaknesses of the larger groupings, and in the short term, represent a force of oppression which reduces freedom, growth and initiative among the vast majority of the citizens.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part I, Chapter 11, The Small Free Unit and the Larger Concentrated Unity, pp. 87-88