The Advent of the Concept of Internationalism

At each stage of its development, humanity has developed a concept that embodied the force of the Time-Spirit in the evolutionary march towards ever-larger aggregations or social groupings.  Thus the individual widened his perspective to become part of a family, the family part of a clan, the clan part of a tribe and so forth.  Currently the idea of the nation is the established societal grouping that has taken hold of humanity for the last several centuries.  The nation, however, is not the final stage of widening of humanity to embrace a larger unity.  Nature has exemplified the drive through the push for the development of empires, but to date, none of them has been a stable form that could succeed in permanently supplanting the nation concept.  The reasons for the failure of the empire have been primarily due to the lack of sufficient psychological unity and the attempt to manage the empire by primarily external means of uniformity.  Yet we may still see the intention of Nature to develop a larger form of unity, and in modern times, this has led to the rise of the concept of internationalism, with many individuals proclaiming themselves to be citizens of the world, not of nations, and expressing the sentiment that all humanity is One and must find a way to live in our unity if we, as a species, are to remain viable on this planet.  Modern issues are putting more pressure in this direction, with the global problem of inequality of access to resources and the resultant imbalances, global issues of pollution, climate change, the explosion of population without the necessary adjustments needed to deal with needs for water, food, and a stable life, and the advent of weapons of such potency that all humanity is at risk of annihilation.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “The Idea of humanity as a single race of beings with a common life and a common general interest is among the most characteristic and significant products of modern thought.”

“Internationalism is the attempt of the human mind and life to grow out of the national idea and form and even in a way to destroy it in the interest of the larger synthesis of mankind.  An idea proceeding on these lines needs always to attach itself to some actual force or developing power in the life of the times before it can exercise a practical effect.  But usually it suffers by contact with the interests and prepossessions of its grosser ally some lesser or greater diminution of itself or even a distortion, and in that form, no longer pure and absolute, enters on the first stage of practice.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 32, Internationalism, pg. 278

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