The psychology that arose through the industrial revolution led to the dominance of a world-view that looked at individuals as interchangeable parts in the machinery of society. The society could organise, direct and dispose of the individual as met its larger needs with the view that the needs of the whole superseded the needs of the parts. Very little, if any, thought was given to the idea that a society should be nurturing and supportive of the growth of the individuals who constitute it. Lip service was paid to the idea, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence of the American colonies, of the rights of the individuals to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In actuality, the larger drive of the mechanised world-view led to statistical analysis of economic well-being independent of the position of the individual members of the society, and to the development of the mass market, the mass armies, and the devaluing of the individual and his needs and role. This however is a world-view that must change in a spiritualised society.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “A spiritualised society would treat in its sociology the individual, from the saint to the criminal, not as units of a social problem to be passed through some skilfully devised machinery and either flattened into the social mould or crushed out of it, but as souls suffering and entangled in a net and to be rescued, souls growing and to be encouraged to grow, souls grown and from whom help and power can be drawn by the lesser spirits who are not yet adult. The aim of its economics would be not to create a huge engine of production, whether of the competitive or the cooperative kind, but to give to men — not only to some but to all men each in his highest possible measure — the joy of work according to their nature and free leisure to grow inwardly, as well as a simply rich and beautiful life for all. In its politics it would not regard the nations within the scope of their own internal life as enormous State machines regulated and armoured with man living for the sake of the machine and worshipping it as his God and his larger self, content at the first call to kill others upon its altar and to bleed there himself so that the machine may remain intact and powerful and be made ever larger, more complex, more cumbrous, more mechanically efficient and entire. Neither would it be content to maintain these nations or States in their mutual relations as noxious engines meant to discharge poisonous gas upon each other in peace and to rush in times of clash upon each other’s armed hosts and unarmed millions, full of belching shot and men missioned to murder like war-planes or hostile tanks in a modern battlefield. It would regard the peoples as group-souls, the Divinity concealed and to be self-discovered in its human collectivities, group-souls meant like the individual to grow according to their own nature and by that growth to help each other, to help the whole race in the one common work of humanity. And that work would be to find the divine Self in the individual and the collectivity and to realise spiritually, mentally, vitally, materially its greatest, largest, richest and deepest possibilities in the inner life of all and their outer action and nature.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 23, Conditions for the Coming of a Spiritual Age, pg. 257