The history of the last several centuries was one of enormous economic development throughout the world, which brought about a standard of living not imagined by people prior to that time, but characterised by some extremely dysfunctional and painful unintended consequences that the entire world is grappling with today. The issues of economic inequality, exploitation of resources and peoples, colonialism, economic domination, military development and warfare, mass migrations, climate change, and pollution have clearly been accentuated by the economic developments of this time, and this means that some people have become extremely wealthy, to the level of unimaginable levels of resources under their control, while others live in utter poverty and suffering without the ability to maintain even a modest lifestyle. Meanwhile, pollution of the planet continues to create ever-greater concerns. Certain resources have been depleted to the point where crisis intervenes, with fresh water becoming quickly a key resource under pressure. The fight for dominance and control of economic resources and raw materials leads to conflict and suffering. Clearly, the industrial and digital revolutions have provided advances in certain directions, but the method of allocation of their benefits leaves a great deal to be desired.
Sri Aurobindo suggests that the open competitive economic environment that generates friction and waste in the relations between nations, is one aspect that must be addressed and changed going forward:
“…the economic life of the world is becoming more and more one and indivisible; but the present state of international relations is an anomalous condition of opposite principles partly in conflict, partly accommodated to each other as best they can be, — but the best is bad and harmful to the common interest. On the one side, there is the underlying unity which makes each nation commercially dependent on all the rest. On the other there is the spirit of national jealousy, egoism and sense of separate existence which makes each nation attempt at once to assert its industrial independence and at the same time reach out for a hold of its outgoing commercial activities upon foreign markets. The interaction of these two principles is regulated at present partly by permitted working of natural forces, partly by tacit practice and understanding, partly by systems of tariff protection, bounties, State aid of one kind or another on the one hand and commercial treaties and agreements on the other. Inevitably, as the World-State grew, this would be felt to be an anomaly, a wasteful and uneconomical process. An efficient international authority would be compelled more and more to intervene and modify the free arrangements of nation with nation. The commercial interests of humanity at large would be given the first place; the independent proclivities and commercial ambitions or jealousies of this or that nation would be compelled to subordinate themselves to the human good. The ideal of mutual exploitation would be replaced by the ideal of a fit and proper share in the united economic life of the race.”
“Each would produce and distribute only what it could to the best advantage, most naturally, most efficiently and most economically, for the common need and demand of mankind in which its own would be inseparably included. It would do this according to a system settled by the common will of mankind through its State government and under a method made uniform in its principles, however variable in local detail, so as to secure the simplest, smoothest and most rational working of a necessarily complicated machinery.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 26, The Need of Administrative Unity, pp. 227-229