The Nation-State as an Example of Creating Psychological Unity in a Societal Aggregate and Persistence Over Time

Societal aggregates require psychological unity both to develop cohesiveness and to persist through time.  This factor provides the body with the ability to strive and survive as a viable unit.  As we look to the development of a world-union, it may be useful to understand the largest, currently most successful form, the nation, as a basis for evaluating those factors that aid in creating psychological unity and the methods needed to avoid dissolution over time.

Sri Aurobindo explores these issues:  “The formal unification of mankind would come in upon us in the shape of a system which would be born, grow, come to its culmination.  But every system by the very nature of things tends after its culmination to decay and die.  To prevent the organism from decaying and dying there must be such a psychological reality within as will persist and survive all changes of its body.  Nations have that in a sort of collective national ego which persists through all vital changes.  But this ego is not by any means self-existent and immortal; it supports itself on certain things with which it is identified.  First, there is the geographical body, the country; secondly, the common interests of all who inhabit the same country, defence, economic well-being and progress, political liberty, etc.; thirdly, a common name, sentiment, culture.”

At the level of the nation, of course, there is the differentiation between nation and nation, the sense of being separate and different, and the interchange that must needs occur between these separate entities.  Such a differentiation would not be there for a unified mankind, so the psychological unity must be able to survive without this factor shaping and maintaining the frame of the separate societal form and life.

“Nor are all these altogether sufficient; there is a deeper factor.  There must be a sort of religion of country, a constant even if not always explicit recognition not only of the sacredness of the physical mother, the land, but also, in however obscure a way, of the nation as a collective soul which it is the first duty and need of every man to keep alive, to defend from suppression or mortal attaint or, if suppressed, then to watch, wait and struggle for its release and rehabilitation, if sicklied over with the touch of any fatal spiritual ailment, then to labour always to heal and revivify and save alive.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 33, Internationalism and Human Unity, pp. 291-292