The Monarchical Phase of Nation Development and Its Authoritarian Controls and Uniformity

There has been, throughout the development of societal organisation, a tension between the needs, powers and rights of the society as set off against the needs, powers and rights of the individuals who make up that society.  This tension has not been resolved even as of today, and, in fact, we see, within individual societies, a movement leaning sometimes towards one side, sometimes towards the other, in this debate.  Sri Aurobindo sees the process of Nature primarily consolidating looser societal formations into nation-units through use of the centralised control of the monarchical phase, and with its rise, the suppression and limitation of the individual and his freedom of individual choice and direction of growth.  At the extreme end of this phase, the individual is seen solely as a unit of the society, to be directed, applied and disposed of as the State chooses or directs.  We can see something of this extreme in the Third Reich of Nazi Germany where even procreation was controlled to propagate those with physical characteristics that met the stated needs of the State, and where the purpose of individuals was to serve the state and die for the state if need be.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “But his movement of national development, however salutary in its peculiar role, is almost fatally attended with that suppression of the internal liberties of the people which makes the modern mind so naturally though unscientifically harsh in its judgment of the old monarchical absolutism and its tendencies.  For always there is a movement of concentration, stringency, uniformity, strong control and one-pointed direction; to universalise one law, one rule, one central authority is the need it has to meet, and therefore its spirit must be to enforce and centralise authority, to narrow or quite suppress liberty and free variation.”

Sri Aurobindo provides examples in European history of periods that consolidated the nations through the rise of the monarchy.  He notes that these periods “…were the time in which these nations reached their maturity, formed fully and confirmed their spirit and attained to a robust organisation.  And all these were periods of absolutism or of movement to absolutism and a certain foundation of uniformity or attempt to found it.  This absolutism clothed already in its more primitive garb the reviving idea of the State and its right to impose its will on the life and thought and conscience of the people so as to make it one single, undivided, perfectly efficient and perfectly directed mind and body.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 13, The Formation of the Nation-Unit — The Three Stages, pg. 110


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