The Weakness of Socialism as an Organizing Principle of a World-

The rise of socialism as a governing model was one of the major defining events of the 20th century.  Various forms arose, from the strict State Socialism of the Communist attempts, to the Fascist form of State-control of the National Socialist movement in Germany, to the more balanced approach we have seen rise in Western European countries which brings together the concept of socialism with the respect for individual freedom.  At one point, the power of the idea of people sharing a “commons” for the benefit of all was strong and gaining traction; yet the strongly individualistic, egoistic and capitalistic creed, primarily based in the United States, was highly opposed to even the most moderate forms of socialism.  It may be argued that in the interim, the USA has in fact taken up certain key concepts of socialism, with the development of social security, medicare and children’s health care programs, food stamps, etc. but these programs continue to be treated with disdain by a large number of citizens and leaders of the USA, and the primary objection is the fact that they embody something of a socialist ideal within their forms.

Sri Aurobindo discusses the weaknesses of socialism for purposes of development of a World-State:  “Socialism has under certain stresses proved to be by no means immune against infection by the dividing national spirit and its international tendency might not survive its coming into power in separate national States and a resulting inheritance of competing national interests and necessities; the old spirit might very well survive in the new socialist bodies.  But also there might not be or not for a long time to come an inevitable tide of the spread of Socialism to all the peoples of the earth; other forces might arise which would dispute what seemed at one time and perhaps still seems the most likely outcome of existing world tendencies; the conflict between Communism and the less extreme socialistic idea which still respects the principle of liberty, even though a restricted liberty, and the freedom of conscience, of thought, of personality of the individual, if this difference perpetuated itself, might create a serious difficulty in the formation of a World-State.  It would not be easy to build a constitution, a harmonised State-law and practice in which any modicum of genuine freedom for the individual or any continued existence of him except as a cell in the working of a rigidly determined automatism of the body of the collectivist State or a part of a machine would be possible or conceivable.”

“…Socialism itself might well develop away from the Marxist groove and evolve less rigid modes; a cooperative Socialism, for instance, without any bureaucratic rigour of a coercive administration, of a Police State, might one day come into existence, but the generalisation of Socialism throughout the world is not under existing circumstances easily foreseeable, hardly even a predominant possibility; in spite of certain possibilities or tendencies created by recent events in the Far East, a division of the earth between the two systems, capitalistic and socialistic, seems for the present a more likely issue.  In America the attachment to individualism and the capitalistic system of society and a strong antagonism not only to Communism but to even a moderate Socialism remains complete and one can foresee little possibility of any abatement in its intensity.”

“A successful accommodation would demand the creation of a body in which all questions of possible dispute could be solved as they arose without any breaking out of open conflict.”

“…a creation of an effective world-union would still be possible; in the end the mass of general needs of the race and its need of self-preservation could well be relied on to make it inevitable.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 321-323