The Obstacles to Human Unity and World Peace

Sri Aurobindo analyzes the issues that stand in the way of development of a larger societal formation that would work to eliminate strife and bring humanity together for its collective benefit in a peaceful regime.  Without a radical change in the human psychology, all the outer methods and systems fall short of achieving a total solution.

“The mind of the race has not as yet the necessary experience; the intellect of its ruling classes has not acquired the needed minimum of wisdom and foresight; the temperament of the peoples has not developed the indispensable instincts and sentiments.  Whatever arrangement is made will proceed on the old basis of national egoisms, hungers, cupidities, self-assertions and will simply endeavour to regulate them just enough to prevent too disastrous collisions.  The first means tried will necessarily be insufficient because too much respect will be paid to those very egoisms which it is sought to control.  The causes of strife will remain; the temper that engenders it will live on, perhaps exhausted and subdued for a time in certain of its activities, but unexorcised; the means of strife may be controlled but will be allowed to remain.  Armaments may be restricted, but will not be abolished; national armies may be limited in numbers — an illusory limitation — but they will be maintained; science will still continue to minister ingeniously to the art of collective massacre.  War can only be abolished if national armies are abolished and even then with difficulty, by the development of some other machinery which humanity does not yet know how to form or, even if formed, will not for some time be able or willing perfectly to utilise.  And there is no chance of national armies being abolished; for each nation distrusts all the others too much, has too many ambitions and hungers, needs to remain armed, if for nothing else, to guard its markets and keep down its dominions, colonies, subject peoples.  Commercial ambitions and rivalries, political pride, dreams, longings, jealousies are not going to disappear as if by the touch of a magic wand merely because Europe has in an insane clash of long-ripening ambitions, jealousies and hatreds decimated its manhood and flung in three years the resources of decades into the melting-pot of war.  The awakening must go much deeper, lay hold upon much purer roots of action before the psychology of nations will be transmuted into that something ‘wondrous, rich and strange” which will eliminate war and international collisions from our distressed and stumbling human life.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 14, The Possibility of a First Step towards International Unity – Its Enormous Difficulties, pp. 119-120