The Initial Signs of Subjectivism at the Level of the Nation

We tend to conceive of the idea of a subjective life as belonging to an individual in his self-growth and self-finding; we do not generally consider the nation as a subjective existence of its own.  Sri Aurobindo introduces the concept of the nation-soul.  When we first look at the nation from the viewpoint of what is unique to each nation, we again focus first on the surface phenomena, the habits, customs, traditions, economic model, political arrangement.  Yet Sri Aurobindo observes that there is a deeper subjective reality for the nation that identifies the nation as something unique with its own qualities and sense of purpose, and as we move into the subjective age, more and more nations are trying to identify what it is that makes them special and bonds their people together in a deeper way than the superficial material and vital organisation of the communal life.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “Meanwhile, the nascent subjectivism preparative o f the new age has shown itself not so much in the relations of individuals or in the dominant ideas and tendencies of social development, which are still largely rationalistic and materialistic and only vaguely touched by the deeper subjective tendency, but in the new collective self-consciousness of man in that organic mass of his life which he has most firmly developed in the past, the nation.  It is here that it has already begun to produce powerful results whether as a vitalistic or as a psychical subjectivism, and it is here that we shall see most clearly what is its actual drift, its deficiencies, its dangers as well as the true purpose and conditions of a subjective age of humanity and the goal towards which the social cycle, entering this phase, is intended to arrive in its wide revolution.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 3, The Coming of the Subjective Age, pp. 33-34