First Implication of the German Error of Misidentification of the Ego With the True Self

Just as there are consequences when an individual fixates on egoistic satisfaction rather than the deeper truths of his being, so also there will be consequences, potentially catastrophic consequences, when a people or a nation determines to aggrandise its surface formations and fixate on its egoistic basis rather than its deeper relationship to the Oneness of which they are in reality a part.  This is what occurred with the German development of the early 20th Century.

Sri Aurobindo describes the situation and the errors of logic:  “From this egoistic self-vision flowed a number of logical consequences, each in itself a separate subjective error.  First, since the individual is only a cell of the collectivity, his life must be entirely subservient to the efficient life of the nation.  He must be made efficient indeed, — the nation should see to his education, proper living, disciplined life, carefully trained and subordinated activity, — but as a part of the machine or a disciplined instrument of the national Life.  Initiative must be the collectivity’s, execution the individual’s.  But where was that vague thing, the collectivity, and how could it express itself not only as a self-conscious, but an organised and efficient collective will and self-directing energy?  the State, there was the secret.  Let the State be perfect, dominant, all-pervading, all-seeing, all-effecting; so only could the collective ego be concentrated, find itself, and its life be brought to the highest pitch of strength, organisation and efficiency.  Thus Germany founded and established the growing modern error of the cult of the State and the growing subordination driving in the ends towards the effacement of the individual.  We can see what it gained, an immense collective power and a certain kind of perfection and scientific adjustment of means to end and a high general level of economic, intellectual and social efficiency, — apart from the tremendous momentary force which the luminous fulfilment of a great idea gives to man or nation.  What it had begun to lose is as yet only slightly apparent, — all that deeper life, vision, intuitive power, force of personality, psychical sweetness and largeness which the free individual brings as his gift to the race.”

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