The Development of the Nation-Idea and the Development of the Psychological Force of National Unity

While we can see the natural vital force underlying the development of the family, clan and tribe, when we turn our attention to the development of the nation or nation-state, it becomes obvious that a different dynamic is at play here.  Nations may form through unification of tribes or clans living in a compact geographic area, who may have some existing interconnections; yet many nations have much more complexity about their makeup and were not formed through some kind of natural extension of the family/clan idea.  What is important to note is that however the formation of the nation came about, it could only have long-standing survivability and stability if it could eventually make the inner connection to the people and create a real psychological unity.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The nation idea, on the contrary, did not arise from a primary vital need, but from a secondary or even tertiary necessity which resulted not from anything inherent in our vital nature, but from circumstances, from environmental evolution; it arose not from a vital, but from a geographical and historical necessity.  And we notice that as one result it had to be created most commonly by force, force of circumstances partly, no doubt, but also by physical force, by the power of the king and the conquering tribe converted into a military and dominant State.  Or else it came by a reaction against force, a revolt against conquest and domination that brought a slow or sudden compactness to peoples who, though geographically or even historically and culturally one, had lacked power of cohesion and remained too conscious of an original heterogeneity or of local and regional and other divisions.”

“…the psychological motive of patriotism, a sign of the growth of a conscious national ego, arose in the form as the expression of its soul and the guarantee of its durability.  For without such a soul, such a psychological force and presence within the frame, there can be no guarantee of durability.  Without it, what circumstances have created, circumstances easily will destroy.  It was for this reason that the ancient world failed to create nations, except on a small scale, little clans and small regional nations of brief duration and usually of loose structure; it created only artificial empires which went to pieces and left chaos behind them.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 33, Internationalism and Human Unity, pp. 284-285

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