Seeds of Possible Development of a World-Union of Free and Independent Nations

Several events represent first practical steps that could eventually lead to a union of free and independent nations working out common needs of humanity.  The first of these was the development by England of the idea of the “commonwealth of nations” within their empire, founded on the principle of “dominion status” or “home rule” in the various countries formerly held tightly under central control.  This change took place under extreme pressure and not without reservations and continued attempts to control the results through manipulation, including the idea of partition and separation of people having different religious beliefs within the same country, which led to ongoing problems both in Ireland and in India where the stirring up of religious differences was part of a “divide and conquer” plan to maintain control while granting concessions.  What is important here, however, in Sri Aurobindo’s view, is the very fact of the principle of the commonwealth taking concrete form, as a potential harbinger of future developments that would see nations join together in a free world-union.  The second seed event was the push for the development of a League of Nations, which, even though it failed in its first form, was resurrected after World War II in a new form as the United Nations.  This too suffered from attempts by great powers to control and manipulate, primarily through control of the Security Council and the use of the veto power assigned to the major players in that body.  Once again, the importance lies in the principle finding some outlet for expression.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “The development took two forms, the recognition of the principle of Home Rule in Ireland and India and the recognition of the claim of each constituent nation to a voice, which in the event of Home Rule must mean a free and equal voice, in the councils of the Empire.  Taken together, these things would mean the ultimate conversion fro an empire constituted on the old principle of nationalistic imperialism which was represented by the supreme government of one predominant nation, England, into a free and equal commonwealth of nations managing their common affairs through a supple coordination by mutual goodwill and agreement.  In other words, such a development could mean in the end the application within certain limits of precisely that principle which would underlie the constitution, on the larger scale, of a free world-union.”

Sri Aurobindo raises several questions concerning the effect of this experiment on other imperial powers and their relations to their colonies, as well as the relation between each of these empires and other non-aligned nations which could still become subjects if the imperial principle continued to dominate even through this new form.

“It is here that the American idea of the League of free nations intervened and found a justification in principle.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 29, The Idea of a League of Nations, pp. 260-261