The Issue of Individual Liberty in a World-State

As a world-state begins to develop over time, there is a deep concern about the prospects for individual liberty.  As a governmental body gains more power, it tries to create efficiency through regimentation and uniformity which can lead to strict controls over the individual freedom that is required to bring about progressive change over time.  This may be a phase, which will eventually be loosened up as the government gains comfort in its role and can accept a wide range of diverse responses, or it may be a long-term oppression which eventually stifles creativity and leads to the weakening of that unit.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The political and administrative unification of mankind is not only possible but foreshadowed by our present evolution; the collective national egoism which resists it may be overborne by an increasing flood of the present unifying tendency to which the anguish of the European war gave a body and an articulate voice.  But the question remains whether not in its first loose formation, but as it develops and becomes more complete ad even vigorous, a strictly unified order will not necessarily involve a considerable overriding of the liberties of mankind, individual and collective, and an oppressive mechanism by which the free development of the soul-life of humanity will be for some time at least seriously hindered or restricted or in danger of an excessive repression.  We have seen that a period of loose formation is in such developments usually followed by a period of restriction and constriction in which a more rigid unification will be attempted so that firm moulds may be given to the new unity.  And this has meant in past unifications and is likely to mean here also a suppression of that principle of liberty in human life which is the most precious gain of humanity’s past spiritual, political and social struggles.  The old circle of progression by retrogression is likely to work itself out again on this new line of advance.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 16, The Problem of Uniformity and Liberty, pp. 135-136

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