A Dominant Psychological Unity Is a Prime Determinant of Strong Nation-Units

Sri Aurobindo provides a series of examples to illustrate the overweening importance of a psychological unity in determining the solidity of a nation-unit, despite potential differences within the population of race, language, culture or religious background.  While these factors are important and can influence the course of development of a nation-unit, where there is a,long-standing psychological unity present, they tend to take on less importance.  This becomes an interesting fact when considering the eventual unity with diversity for the entire human race.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “Switzerland belongs by language, race and culture and even by affinities of sentiment to different national aggregations, two of sentiment and culture, the Latin and the Teutonic, three of race and language, the German, French and Italian, and these differences worked sufficiently to bewilder and divide Swiss sympathies in the clash of nations; but the decisive feeling overriding all others is the sentiment of Helvetian nationality and that would seem to forbid now and always any idea of a voluntary partition or dissolution of Switzerland’s long-standing natural, local and historic unity.  Alsace belongs predominantly by race, language and early history to a Germanic union, but the German appealed in vain to these titles and labored in vain to change Alsace-Lorraine into Elsass-Lothringen; the living sentiments and affinities of the people, national, historical, cultural, bound it still to France.  Canada and Australia have no geographical connection with the British Isles or with each other and the former would seem to belong by predestination to an American group-unity; but certainly, in the absence of a change of sentiment not now easily foreseen, both would prefer to belong to a British grouping rather than the one fuse itself into an increasingly cosmopolitan American nation or the other stand apart as an Australasian union.”

“Race, language, local relations and economic convenience are powerful factors, but what decides must be a dominant psychological element that makes for union.  To that subtler force all others, however restless they may be, must succumb; however much they may seek for free particularist expression and self-possession within a larger unity, they must needs subordinate themselves to the more powerful attraction.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 18, The Ideal Solution — A Free Grouping of Mankind, pp. 162-163