Forced Unification of Humanity Represses Individual and National Liberty and Represents a Step Backwards in Human Progress

Any attempt to develop world unity that uses coercion or force, whether military, economic or political must find a way to organise and manage the wide diversity of nations, ethnicities, religions, and cultural life-ways, as well as the widely varied interests and propensities of the individual members of each societal grouping.  Generally in the past these attempts have found it difficult, if not impossible, to assure a wide-ranging culture of freedom of thought, expression and action while enforcing its own direction, and thus, we can see a direct and inverse relationship between repressive societal development and individual and national freedom.   While it may start with one elite grouping of society trying to impose it on other groups, the eventual result is that everyone winds up losing their basic liberty.

Sri Aurobindo describes the process:  “All these means of unification would proceed practically by the use of force and compulsion and any deliberately planned, prolonged or extended use of restrictive means tends to discourage the respect for the principle of liberty in those who apply the compulsion as well as the fact of liberty in those to whom it is applied.  It favours the growth of the opposite principle of dominating authority whose whole tendency is to introduce rigidity, uniformity, a mechanised and therefore eventually an unprogressive system of life.  This is a psychological relation of cause and effect whose working cannot be avoided except by taking care to found all use of authority on the widest possible basis of free consent.  But by their very nature and origin the regimes of unification thus introduced would be debarred from the free employment of this corrective; for they would have to proceed by compulsion of what might be very largely a reluctant material and the imposing of their will for the elimination of all resisting forces and tendencies.  They would be compelled, to repress, diminish, perhaps even abolish all forms of liberty which their experience found to be used for fostering the spirit of revolt or of resistance; that is to say, all those larger liberties of free action and free self-expression which make up the best, the most vigorous, the most stimulating part of human freedom.  They would be obliged to abolish, first by violence and then by legal suppression and repression, all the elements of what we now call national freedom; in the process individual liberty would be destroyed both in the parts of humanity coerced and, by inevitable reaction and contagion, in the imperial nation or nations.”

It is a somewhat natural tendency based on past habit from its animal beginnings in humanity to try to establish order and control through rigid uniformity.  People want to allow the free expression of ideas only as long as they conform to their ideas; to allow the free practice of religion, so long as it is their religion; to permit the free exercise of cultural individuality only to the extent it conforms with their own ideas.  Thus, a leadership elite can harness these tendencies to create a societal force of immense power of repression.

“Therefore in fact all unnecessary restriction of the few common liberties man has been able to organise for himself becomes a step backward, whatever immediate gain it may bring; and every organisation of oppression or repression beyond what the imperfect conditions of human nature and society render inevitable, becomes, no matter where or by whom it is practiced, a blow to the progress of the whole race.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 16, The Problem of Uniformity and Liberty, pp. 137-138

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