Examining the Cause of the Failures in Practice of Internationalism to the Present Time

Since the psychological readiness of humanity was not in place, the ideal of internationalism does not yet have a strong basis upon which to build in the world.  The attempt to associate it with ideas that were making their way in the world, such as Socialism, was doomed to failure, as Socialism was not actually committed to internationalism as a core principle and was implemented by people very much wedded to the concept of nationalism in their hearts and minds.  Thus, the marriage of convenience that pertained for a while between these two ideas broke down in principle as Socialism gained ground and revealed its inherent nationalistic mindset.  This is not to say that internationalism has no chance, but it must undergo a longer, slower process of winning its way into the way humanity sees and understands itself and responds to circumstances.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “Socialism is really an attempt to complete the growth of the national community by making the individual do what he has never yet done, live for the community more than for himself.  It is an outgrowth of the national, not of the international idea.  No doubt, when the society of the nation has been perfected, the society of nations can and even must be formed; but this is a later possible or eventual result of Socialism, not its primary vital necessity.  In the crises of life it is the primary vital necessity which tells, while the other and remoter element betrays itself to be a mere idea not yet ready for accomplishment; it can only become powerful when it also becomes either a vital or a psychological necessity.  The real truth, the real cause of the failure is that internationalism is as yet, except with some exceptional men, merely an idea; it is not yet a thing near to our vital feelings or otherwise a part of our psychology.”

With regard to the ascendancy of Socialism in various places, Sri Aurobindo notes:  “As a vital fact, moreover, these movements have been a revolt of Labour aided by a number of intellectuals against the established state of things, and they have only allied themselves with internationalism because that too is an intellectual revolt and because its idea helps them in the battle.  If Labour comes to power, will it keep or shed its internationalistic tendencies?  The experience of countries in which it is or has been at the head of affairs does not give an encouraging answer, and it may at least be said that, unless at that time the psychological change in humanity has gone much farther than it has now, Labour in power is likely to shed more of the internationalist feeling than it will succeed in keeping and to act very much from the old human motives.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 32, Internationalism, pp. 282-283