Scientific Truth Underlies Modern Collectivism

Darwin’s findings about the survival of the fittest, falsely adapted to human society in an extreme form of social darwinism, was not the only scientific finding that has impacted modern ideas about society.  An important aspect of Nature reveals the subordinate importance of the individual in relation to the survival and success of the group, which seems to have a higher level of importance in the natural world than any individual of a species.  Once again, taking one aspect of life to its extreme without the balance of other equally importance aspects, leads to inaccurate interpretation and extreme conclusions which have, in some cases, horrific implications.

Sri Aurobindo explains:  “On the other hand, Science investigating life has equally discovered that not only is the individual life best secured and made efficient by association with others and subjection to a law of communal self-development rather than by aggressive self-affirmation, but that actually what Nature seeks to preserve is not the individual but the type and that in her scale of values the pack, herd, hive or swarm takes precedence over the individual animal or insect and the human group over the individual human being.  Therefore in the true law and nature of things the individual should live for all and constantly subordinate and sacrifice himself to the growth, efficiency and progress of the race rather than live for his own self-fulfilment and subordinate the race-life to his own needs.  Modern collectivism derives its victorious strength from the impression made upon human thought by this opposite aspect of modern knowledge.  We have seen how the German mind took up both these ideas and combined them on the basis of the present facts of human life; it affirmed the entire subordination of the individual to the community, nation or State; it affirmed, on the other hand, with equal force the egoistic self-assertion of the individual nation as against others or against any group or all the groups of nations which constitute the totality of the human race.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 6, The Objective and Subjective Views of Life, pp. 56-57