The Transition from Vital, Natural Societal Groups to Rationalised State Organisation

Looked at through the lens of human evolutionary history in the development of society, we can observe the transition from the vital, natural organisation of the smaller clan or tribal groups, which developed habits and customs of action and response to situations to the more complex, highly organised and mentally developed and large-scale societal groupings found in the modern world.  The first are essentially expressions of the life-energy in action and reaction; the latter are the expressions of the mental consciousness attempting to organise and control the vital life of the society.

Sri Aurobindo observes, with respect to the growth of the State as the organising principle of society:  “It is a history of strict unification by the development of a central authority and of a growing uniformity in administration, legislation, social and economic life and culture and the chief means of culture, education and language.  In all, the central authority becomes more and more the determining and regulating power.  The process culminates by the transformation of this governing sole authority or sovereign power from the rule of the central executive man or the capable class into that of a body whose proposed function is to represent the thought and will of the whole community.  The change represents in principle an evolution from a natural and organic to a rational and mechanically organised state of society.  an intelligent centralised unification aiming at a perfect rational efficiency replaces a loose and natural unity whose efficiency is that of life developing with a certain spontaneity its organs and powers under the pressure of inner impulse and the needs of the environment and the first conditions of existence.  A rational, ordered, strict uniformity replaces a loose oneness full of natural complexities and variations.  The intelligent will of the whole society expressed in a carefully thought-out law and ordered regulation replaces its natural organic will expressed in a mass of customs and institutions which have grown up as the result of its nature and temperament.  In the last perfection of the State a carefully devised, in the end a giant machinery productive and regulative replaces the vigour and fertility of life with the natural simplicity of its great lines and the obscure, confused, luxuriant complexity of its details.  The State is the masterful but arbitrary and intolerant science and reason of man that successfully takes the place of the intuitions and evolutionary experimentations of Nature; intelligent organisation replaces natural organism.”



Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 22, World-Union or World-State, pg. 192