Issues Arising out of the Need to Create Psychological Unity in a World-Union

In any attempt to create a larger aggregate of humanity, the core issue eventually is whether and in what manner the physical and vital unification that has been achieved can develop a psychological unity that can provide strength and duration to the union.  This is somewhat simpler when there is a tight geographical contiguity, combined with vital self-interest, and a similarity of culture and language which provides a natural ease of relationship between the peoples involved.  It becomes somewhat more difficult when different cultures, languages and peoples are to be combined, as was the case with the Roman Empire.  That empire eventually could not sustain itself under pressures internal and external, due to the lack of this cohesive strength provided by a solid and secure  psychological unity.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “For a mere formal, mechanical, administrative, political and economic union does not necessarily create a psychological unity.  None of the great empires have yet succeeded in doing that, and even in the Roman where some sense of unity did come into being, it was nothing very close and living; it could not withstand all shocks from within and without, it could not prevent what was much more dangerous, the peril of decay and devitalisation which the diminution of the natural elements of free variation and helpful struggle brought with it.”

Even the advantage of a world-union of having no external enemies can become a serious weakness if it brings about either an internal stagnation or power struggles within.  “It might indeed for a long time foster an internal intellectual and political activity and social progress which would keep it living; but this principle of progress would not be always secure against a natural tendency to exhaustion and stagnation which every diminution of variety and even the very satisfaction of social and economic well-being might well hasten.  Disruption of unity would then be necessary to restore humanity to life.”

“Only the growth of some very powerful psychological factor will make unity necessary to him, whatever other changes and manipulations might be desirable to satisfy his other needs and instincts.”

We can see some possible seeds of a future psychological unity.  Putting aside the idea that humanity will face an external threat from other beings or worlds, there remain the very serious global issues that will require cooperation to find positive resolution on behalf of all humanity.  We also find that the intervening periods of disturbance, which bring with them mass migrations also tend to blur the racial and cultural lines between countries.  The ability to travel the globe, visit other peoples, interact through the internet and become familiar with people through mass media also has a potentially positive effect over time of bringing about a deeper understanding and sense of oneness of humanity.  At the same time, certain broad lines of development, such as the advent of multi-national corporations and the development of many common and familiar elements of culture world-wide, will tend to reduce the “foreign-ness” that has tended in the past to breed suspicion, fear and separation.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 33, Internationalism and Human Unity, pp. 290-291