The Rise of Economic Interdependence As a Major Factor in Modern-Day Civilisation

The role of the economic activity has moved front and center as the primary consideration for societal actions in the modern world.  The role of the individual as an economic producer and consumer drives policy, and the relationship of economic activity drives relations between nations.  In many instances, we can see that economic benefit is able to dominate the discussion over the health and well-being of the citizens, and the economic cost of protecting people is used as a rationale for not protecting citizens from the costs of industrial pollution, climate change impacts, or business practices that enrich economic producing firms at the expense of the citizenry.  This represents a major change and difference from earlier views of citizens in the society, and implies an enormous set of consequences for the direction and development of world unity–the economic impacts will have to be understood and addressed.

Sri Aurobindo observes, noting that the military necessity is the first step in gaining the control needed for a world union, that there is yet another issue to be addressed:  “But there is behind it another necessity which is much more powerful in its action on the modern mind, the commercial and industrial, the necessity born of economic interdependence.  Commercialism is a modern sociological phenomenon; one might almost say that is the whole phenomenon of modern society.  The economic part of life is always important to an organised community and even fundamental; but in former times it was simply the first need, it was not that which occupied the thoughts of men, gave the whole tone to the social life, stood at the head and was clearly recognised as standing at the root of social principles.”

It is interesting to note that in the ancient Hindu system, the economic principle was not considered to be the leading issue of governance, which was first and foremost vested in the intellectual and religious and military-political classes.  “Commercial interests entered into the relations of States and into the motives of war and peace; but they entered as subordinate and secondary predisposing causes of amity or hostility and only rarely and as it were accidentally came to be enumerated among the overt and conscious causes of peace, alliance and strife.  The political consciousness, the political motive dominated; increase of wealth was primarily regarded as a means of political power and greatness and opulence of the mobilisable resources of the State than as an end in itself or a first consideration.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 25, War and the Need of Economic Unity, pp. 215-216