If we review the historical processes for development of human societies, nations and states, it is possible to find examples that guide us as to possible directions that could begin to bring about human unity, at least on the physical and vital levels, if not with the needed psychological unity required to make this a lasting and stable achievement. Sri Aurobindo identifies three such possibilities and analyzes the likelihood of their success. The three forms in discussion are the sole imperial power, a world controlled by multiple competitive or cooperative empires, and the rise of some form of democratic form of a league or unification of independent nations. Each of these has its potential drawbacks and may not represent the final form that Nature will devise, but it serves our review to examine each of these possibilities.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “The old means of unification, conquest by a single great Power, which would reduce part of the world by force and bring the remaining nations into the condition of dependencies, protectorates and dependent allies, the whole forming the basic structure of a great final unification, — this was the character of the ancient Roman precedent, — does not seem immediately possible. It would require a great predominance of force simultaneously by sea and land, (now also by air) an irresistibly superior science and organisation and with all this a constantly successful diplomacy and an invincible good fortune.”
“There is, on the other hand, a very strong possibility of the whole earth, or at least the three continents of the eastern hemisphere, being dominated by three or four great empires laragely increased in extent of dominion, spheres of influence, protectorates, and thereby exercising a pre-eminence which they could either maintain by agreements, avoiding all causes of conflict, or in a rivalry which would be the cause of fresh wars and changes.”
“But there has struck across this possibility a revived strength of the idea of nationality expressed in the novel formula of the principle of self-determination to which the great world-empires have had to pay at least a verbal homage. The idea of international unity to which this intervention of the revived force of nationality is leading, takes the form of a so-called League of Nations. Practically, however, the League of Nations under present conditions or any likely to be immediately realised would still mean the control of the earth by a few great Powers, — a control that would be checked only by the necessity of conciliating the sympathy and support of the more numerous smaller or less powerful nations. On the force and influence of these few would rest practically, if not admittedly, the decision of all important debatable questions. And without it there could be no chance of enforcing the decisions of the majority against any recalcitrant great Power or combination of Powers. The growth of democratic institutions would perhaps help to minimise the chances of conflict and of the abuse of power, — though that is not at all certain; but it would not alter this real character of the combination.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 33, Internationalism and Human Unity, pp. 288-289