The Limitations of Political and Economic Programs for Human Unity

Prior to the end of World War I, Sri Aurobindo noted that the trauma of that war could awaken humanity to the need to find a more ideal solution; yet, the political and economic powers of the time, if they simply conducted themselves in the ordinary course, would not solve the problems that led to the “great war”, but would simply pave the way for an even greater conflict to follow.  In actual fact, an attempt was made, with the formation of the League of Nations, to move towards a higher principle of collaboration among nations, yet the treaties that developed after that war were in fact instrumental causes in the future rise of Hitler, the Third Reich and the inevitable Second World War that resulted.  The second war made it clear that a different approach was needed and the resultant formation of the United Nations, and the implementation of the Marshall Plan, with its focus on rebuilding the nations that lost the war, rather than exacting further retribution on them, were attempts to find a way towards a more harmonious future.

Sri Aurobindo observes, writing several years prior to the end of the first world war:  “If the politician mind is left entirely to itself, we could expect no better tangible result of the greatest international convulsion on record than a rearrangement of frontiers, a redistribution of power and possessions and a few desirable or undesirable developments of international, commercial and other relations.  That is one disastrous possibility leading to more disastrous convulsions — so long as the problem is not solved — against which the future of the world is by no means secure.”

“The passions and hatreds and selfish national hopes raised by the war must certainly be a great obstacle in the way and may easily render futile or of a momentary stability any such beginning.  But, if nothing else, the mere exhaustion and internal reaction produced after the relaxing of the tensity of the struggle, might give time for new ideas, feelings, forces, events to emerge which will counteract the pernicious influence.”

“…This happier possibility could not immediately materialise, but the growing insecurity, confusion and disorder have made the creation of some international system more and more imperative if modern civilisation is not to collapse in bloodshed and chaos.  The result of this necessity has been first the creation of the League of Nations and afterwards the U.N.O.; neither has proved very satisfactory from the political point of view, but henceforward the existence of some such arranged centre of order has become very evidently indispensable.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 14, The Possibility of a First Step towards International Unity – Its Enormous Difficulties, pp. 116-117