Conflict or Cooperation: Two Models for Human Development

Those who view the evolutionary direction of Nature through human development identify an eventual model of cooperation between individuals, societal groupings and mankind as a whole.  This is not the present state of things, which is based on competition, conflict and mutual devouring to a great degree.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “There is a struggle, an opposition of ideas, impulses and interests, an attempt of each to profit by various kinds of war on the others, by a kind of intellectual, vital, physical robbery and theft or even by the suppression, devouring, digestion of its fellows rather than by a free and rich interchange.”

The present reality, however, does not limit or prevent another mode of inter-relations from developing in the future.  The three terms which Sri Aurobindo defines, individual, community and mankind as a whole can adopt new relations based on mutual support and cooperation to enhance the progress of all without suppressing or denying the essential truth of any of these terms:

“The united progress of mankind would thus be realized by a general principle of interchange and assimilation between individual and individual and again between individual and community, between community and community and again between the smaller commonalty and the totality of mankind, between the common life and consciousness of mankind and its freely developing communal and individual constituents.”

Humanity has not yet sorted out the methodology required to achieve this new status.  The human mentality, with its predilection for making one-sided and extreme conditions, tries to bring about unity through suppression of individual or community freedom, and thus, tries to impose uniformity as a solution to the divisions between individuals, communities and the greater needs of humanity.

“To remove freedom in order to get rid of disorder, strife and waste, to remove diversity in order to get rid of separatism and jarring complexities is the impulse of order and regimentation by which the arbitrary rigidity of the intellectual reason seeks to substitute its straight line for the difficult curves of the process of Nature.”



Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 17, Nature’s Law in our Progress — Unity in Diversity, Law and Liberty, pp. 152-153