The First Error of German Subjectivism

Identification with the surface personality rather than the true Self, and fixating on the ego rather than recognising the universal Being of which the ego is a small portion, is the major error of the individual.  The attempt to shift to a subjective standpoint can fail if the seeker is unable to internalise and realise these two deeper truths of existence.  Similarly, when the nation-state takes the subjective turn, these same two truths either must be recognised and realised, or, again, grievous errors result.  This was the mistake made by Germany when it started to move in the direction of a subjective realisation, as noted by Sri Aurobindo:

“Reasoning of the Absolute and the individual and the universal, it looked into itself and saw that in fact, as a matter of life, That seemed to express itself as the ego and, reasoning from the conclusions of modern Science, it saw the individual merely as a cell of the collective ego.  This collective ego was, then, the greatest actual organised expression of life and to that all ought to be subservient, for so could Nature and its evolution best be assisted and affirmed.  The greater human collectivity exists, but it is an inchoate and unorganised existence, and its growth can best be developed  by the better development of the most efficient organised collective life already existing; practically, then, by the growth, perfection and domination of the most advanced nations, or possibly of the one most advanced nation, the collective ego which has best realised the purpose of Nature and whose victory and rule is therefore the will of God.  For all organised lives, all self-conscious egos are in a state of war, sometimes overt, sometimes covert, sometimes complete, sometimes partial, and by the survival of the best is secured the highest advance of the race.  And where was the best, which was the most advanced, self-realising, efficient, highest-cultured nation, if not, by common admission as well as in Germany’s own self-vision, Germany itself?  To fulfil then the collective German ego and secure its growth and domination was at once the right law of reason, the supreme good of humanity and the mission of the great and supreme Teutonic race.”

This misidentification of the national ego as the Nation-Soul led to the German catastrophe of the 20th Century.

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 5, True and False Subjectivism, pp. 48-49

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