The Modern Society and its Attempt to Bring About Rational and Self-Directed Management of the Social Order

The human mentality, when it awakens and tries to exercise influence or control over things or actions, first tries to organise and then systematise.  This immense power can be seen in the development of agriculture, the industrial revolution and the rise of the digital age in the modern world.  When the mentality turns its focus on the organisation and activities of society, it attempts to use its native powers to organise and systematise the way the society functions.

The monarch or a ruling elite, naturally trying to organise according to their own perceived self-interest, has difficulty in creating the independent mental framework that the mind, not under the control of the vital force, would ideally want to create.  As an expression of the aspiration or will of a society, the input from the entire society has a greater chance of expressing that direction than a small self-interested clique.

As Sri Aurobindo notes:  “For what king or aristocracy could not do, the democratic State may perhaps with a better chance of success and a greater security attempt and bring nearer to fruition, — the conscious and organised unity, the regularised efficiency on uniform and intelligent principles, the rational order and self-governed perfectioning of a developed society.  That is the idea and, however imperfectly, the attempt of modern life; and this attempt has been the whole rationale of modern progress.  Unity and uniformity are its principal trend; for how else are the incalculable complexities of the vast and profound thing we call life to be taken hold of, dominated, made calculable and manageable by a logical intelligence and unified will?”

The concepts underpinning socialism try to carry out this trend of unity and uniformity as the intellect grapples with how to order a rational and functioning society.  “Uniformity of the social and economic principles and processes that govern the collectivity secured by means of a fundamental equality of all and the management of the whole social and economic life in all its parts by the State; uniformity of culture by the process of a State-education organised upon scientific lines; to regularise and maintain the whole a unified, uniform and perfectly organised government and administration that will represent and act for the whole social being, this is the modern Utopia which in one form or another it is hoped to turn, in spite of all extant obstacles and opposite tendencies, into a living reality.  Human science will, it seems, replace the large and obscure processes of Nature and bring about perfection or at least some approach to perfection in the collective human life.”

There is of course a considerable difference between the ideal and the specific implementations and the transitional steps to get to a fair, balanced and rational social order.  Thus, one cannot leap from concept to the current implementation of any form of socialism to say that it is at this point truly approaching or carrying out the deeper movement toward the mental framework governing a rational and just society when fully constructed in the future.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 21, The Drive towards Legislative and Social Centralisation and Uniformity, pp. 190-191


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