Economic Cooperation Is the Third Key Condition of a Free World-Union

Human society, as currently organised, encourages competition rather than cooperation.  There is an egoistic nationalism that builds upon individual egoism to try to optimize one’s own advantage at the expense of anyone or anything else.  The competitive marketplace energizes the vital forces of the society and has brought about both focus and results in terms of economic development, yet at an enormous cost in terms of  unequal access to resources and basic life requirements, the destruction of the environment through callous disregard and through the creation of pollution, and the negative impacts of techniques used to create artificial demand, planned obsolescence, and preference of one form of activity over another.

In a world-union built upon the basis of free self-determination and free association, the world can be seen as a unified whole and the pressures of competition at the expense of every other value or need can be eliminated.  By retaining a diversity within this world-union, there is obviously less efficiency than a top-down organized economic order.  Yet, the advantage of free self-determination cannot be overlooked.  If the central governing authority, however, looks upon itself as a coordinating factor rather than a determining factor in the economic life of society, there could remain substantial diversity of effort, based on traditional skill sets, educational focus, technological development, physical conditions and vital interest, while reducing or eliminating the raw aggressive competition that leads to corruption, domination and warfare.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “…it is likely that once the element of struggle were removed from the political field, the stress of the same struggle in the economic field would greatly decrease.  The advantages of self-sufficiency and predominance, to which political rivalry and struggle and the possibility of hostile relations now give an enormous importance, would lose much of their stringency and the advantages of a freer give and take would become more easily visible.  It is obvious, for example, that an independent Finland would profit much more by encouraging the passage of Russian commerce through Finnish ports or an Italian Trieste by encouraging the passage of commerce of the present Austrian provinces than by setting up a barrier between itself and its natural feeders. … Throughout the world, the idea and fact of union once definitely prevailing, unity of interests would be more clearly seen and the greater advantage of agreement and mutual participation in a naturally harmonised life over the feverish artificial prosperity created by a stressing of separative barriers.  That stressing is inevitable in an order of struggle and international competition; it would be seen to be prejudicial in an order of peace and union which would make for mutual accommodation.  The principle of a free world-union being that of the settlement of common affairs by common agreement, this could not be confined to the removal of political differences and the arrangement of political relations alone, but must naturally extend to economic differences and economic relations as well.  To the removal of war and the recognition of the right of self-determination of the peoples the arrangement of the economic life of the world in its new order by mutual and common agreement would have to be added as the third condition of a free union.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 31, The Conditions of a Free World-Union, pp. 272-273