Conclusions About the Ideal of Human Unity

Evolutionary change cannot be measured in one or two generations.  Developing ideas and forces may be stirring under the surface, preparing to burst forth and, in the interim, remain relatively unseen.  In the interim, life goes on as it has always gone on, with the vital and animal propensities governing much of what passes for civilisation in this world.  Those who want to dominate through use of brute force forsake any concern for the well-being of those who are not part of their own clique, and disregard any concern for future generations of humanity or even of the health of the planet upon which we all reside and upon which we all depend.

However, if we observe closely, we can see and identify a slow, but steady growth of a new consciousness, a consciousness that transcends the egoistic bonds of self, family, tribe, community, city, state, nation, empire, religion, race, cultural background, or language.  This new consciousness sees a future for humanity that respects each individual, each social or religious background, each tradition, and which understands the need for diversity and difference for the very health of humanity in the long run.  This new consciousness works to bring about mutual benefit rather than egoistic fulfillment at the expense of others, and takes care of the needs of planetary health as a basis for long-term human survival.

The First Nations people of North America have a tradition that calls for people to view actions for their impact in the future down to seven generations.  This type of forward thinking is essential if we are to avoid focusing solely on short-term gain at the expense of the harmony and balance for all in the future.

Today’s world is fixated on short-term material gain and seems careless of waste, imbalance or suffering; yet we see an ever-increasing number of people embracing the ideals set forth by Sri Aurobindo in The Ideal of Human Unity.  People from all corners of the globe are raising issues and speaking “truth to power” about the need for goodwill, harmony, balance, and shared access to the resources of the planet.   These people are challenging embedded racism, religious fanaticism, colonialism, imperialism, and economic imbalances and inequities, and in so doing, they act as the forerunners of a more harmonious, and civilised, future.

The entrenched forces of the past, recognising this challenge to their domination, try their utmost to destroy or still this new consciousness, but the change continues to push forward and grow.  We may see small signs such as the development of a youth orchestra consisting of Palestinian and Israeli teenagers, learning to appreciate one another and work together, or the development of an environmental movement which recognises that the health of the environment is essential for the survival of all humanity.  We can also see larger movements such as the development of the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, and international groups such as Doctors Without Borders, which signal that humanity is now attempting to put the ideas contained within this new consciousness into action, however imperfectly, in whatever small or large way is possible.

When we look around us today, we see the kind of aggressive and harmful egoism at all levels that could bring us to a state of despair if we could not at the same time recognise that much of what we see today in the world is a reaction of the forces that dominated humanity’s past to the pressure of change that is building throughout the world.  And thus, we can see hope where we would otherwise be forced to despair.

The future existence of the human race lies in embracing our highest and best potential, applying intelligence, compassion and goodwill to all our interactions with other beings that share this planet with us, and in our relationship to the environment.  Sri Aurobindo has provided us a roadmap for this future.  It is for us to choose to follow that roadmap and embrace the new consciousness that is bringing the hope of positive change into the world.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity


The True Solution for Humanity and Its Future Development

Humanity has attempted many solutions to bring about “human unity”, including empire-building, exploitation of those weaker or less technologically developed, genocide, slavery, religious fanaticism, “divide and conquer” strategies, warfare and economic imperialism.  None of these “solutions” have worked.  In today’s world, we see a growing power of authoritarianism and domination by a small economic elite in the world, with a carelessness about the future, or the consequences for humanity that is breathtaking.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “We seem at the present moment to be very far away from such a rational solution (i.e. Sri Aurobindo’s proposal for true human unity as outlined in this book) and indeed at the opposite pole of human possibility; we have swung back to an extreme of international disorder and to an entire application of the vital and animal principle of the struggle for survival, not of the humanly fittest, but of the strongest.”

“But the very intensity of this struggle and disorder may be the path Nature has chosen towards the true escape from it; for it is becoming more and more evident that a long continuance of the present international state of humanity will lead not to any survival, but to the destruction of civilisation and the relapse of the race towards barbarism, decadence, an evolutionary failure.  The antipathy or hostility or distrust of nations, races, cultures, religions towards each other is due to the past habit of egoistic self-assertion, desire for domination, for encroachment upon the lebensraum one of another and the consequent sense of the oppression of the individuality of one by the other.  A state of things must be brought about in which mutual toleration is the law, an order in which many elements, racial, national, cultural, spiritual can exist side by side and form a multiple unity; in such an order all these antipathies, hostilities, distrusts would die from lack of nourishment.  That would be a true state of perfectly developed human civilisation, a true basis for the higher progress of the race.  In this new order India with her spiritual culture turned towards the highest aims of humanity would find her rightful place and would become one of the leaders of the human evolution by the greatness of her ideals and the capacity of her peoples for the spiritualisation of life.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Appendix, pg. 329

The Inevitable Fulfilment of the Ideal of Human Unity

Sri Aurobindo provides a closing statement outlining the inevitability of the fulfillment of human unity, and providing an overview of the primary issues and directions that this may take:

“We conclude then that in the conditions of the world at present, even taking into consideration its most disparaging features and dangerous possibilities, there is nothing that need alter the view we have taken of the necessity and inevitability of some kind of world-union; the drive of Nature, the compulsion of circumstances and the present and future need of mankind make it inevitable.”

“The ultimate result must be the formation of a World-State and the most desirable form of it would be a federation of free nationalities in which all subjection or forced inequality and subordination of one to another would have disappeared and, though some might preserve a greater natural influence, all would have an equal status.  A confederacy would give the greatest freedom to the nations constituting the World-State, but this might give too much room for fissiparous or centrifugal tendencies to operate; a federal order would then be the most desirable.  All else would be determined by the course of events and by general agreement or the shape given by the ideas and necessities that may grow up in the future.  A world-union of this kind would have the greatest chances of long survival or permanent existence.  This is a mutable world and  uncertainties and dangers might assail or trouble for a time; the formed structure might be subjected to revolutionary tendencies as new ideas and forces emerged and produced their effect on the general mind of humanity, but the essential step would have been taken and the future of the race assured or at least the present era overpassed in which it is threatened and disturbed by unsolved needs and difficulties, precarious conditions, immense upheavals, huge and sanguinary world-wide conflicts and the threat of others to come.  The ideal of human unity would be no longer an unfulfilled ideal but an accomplished fact and its preservation given into the charge of the united human peoples.  Its future destiny would lie on the knees of the gods and, if the gods have a use for the continued existence of the race, may be left to lie there safe.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 324-325

The Evolutionary Urge Towards Human Unity Points to the Likely Outcome

It is quite self-evident that neither the League of Nations, nor the later development of the United Nations represents an unqualified success in the search for a stable world organisation to bring together all the diverse peoples and solve problems together rather than fight wars.  It is true that there has not been another major outbreak of world war since the end of World War II, a period now spanning 73 years, and this is a major accomplishment, but while some credit might be given to the United Nations, in fact, the primary driver of this fact is more likely the “Mutually Assured Destruction” capacity held by the United States and Russia and the fears surrounding any destabilising move.  This however has not prevented the outbreak of regional proxy wars.  We cannot however dismiss the United Nations entirely.  The multiple agencies in particular have done tremendous work to provide a forum for working out solution to world-issues or crises and this provides something of a template for future increased collaboration.  The veto power held by 5 permanent members of the Security Council has been misused, and certainly must eventually be removed or replaced with another mechanism that avoids the kind of misuse we have seen over the years.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “There is nothing then in the development of events since the establishment of the United Nations Organisation … that need discourage us in the expectation of an ultimate success of this great enterprise.  There are dangers and difficulties, there can be an apprehension of conflicts, even of colossal conflicts that might jeopardize the future, but total failure need not be envisaged unless we are disposed to predict the failure of the race.  The thesis we have undertaken to establish of the drive of Nature towards larger agglomerations and the final establishment of the largest of all and the ultimate union of the world’s peoples still remains unaltered: this is evidently the line which the future of the human race demands and which conflicts and perturbations, however immense, may delay, even as they may modify greatly the forms it now promises to take, but are not likely to prevent; for a general destruction would be the only alternative destiny of mankind.  But such a destruction, whatever the catastrophic possibilities balancing the almost certain beneficial results, hardly limitable in their extent, of the recent discoveries and inventions of Science, has every chance of being as chimerical as any early expectations of final peace and felicity or a perfected society of the human peoples.  We may rely, if on nothing else, on the evolutionary urge and, if on no other greater hidden Power, on the manifold working and drift or intention in the World-Energy we call Nature to carry mankind at least as far as the necessary next step to be taken, a self-preserving next step: for the necessity is there, at l”east some general recognition of it has been achieved and of the thing to which it must eventually lead the idea has been born and the body of it is already calling for its creation.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 323-324

The Weakness of Socialism as an Organizing Principle of a World-

The rise of socialism as a governing model was one of the major defining events of the 20th century.  Various forms arose, from the strict State Socialism of the Communist attempts, to the Fascist form of State-control of the National Socialist movement in Germany, to the more balanced approach we have seen rise in Western European countries which brings together the concept of socialism with the respect for individual freedom.  At one point, the power of the idea of people sharing a “commons” for the benefit of all was strong and gaining traction; yet the strongly individualistic, egoistic and capitalistic creed, primarily based in the United States, was highly opposed to even the most moderate forms of socialism.  It may be argued that in the interim, the USA has in fact taken up certain key concepts of socialism, with the development of social security, medicare and children’s health care programs, food stamps, etc. but these programs continue to be treated with disdain by a large number of citizens and leaders of the USA, and the primary objection is the fact that they embody something of a socialist ideal within their forms.

Sri Aurobindo discusses the weaknesses of socialism for purposes of development of a World-State:  “Socialism has under certain stresses proved to be by no means immune against infection by the dividing national spirit and its international tendency might not survive its coming into power in separate national States and a resulting inheritance of competing national interests and necessities; the old spirit might very well survive in the new socialist bodies.  But also there might not be or not for a long time to come an inevitable tide of the spread of Socialism to all the peoples of the earth; other forces might arise which would dispute what seemed at one time and perhaps still seems the most likely outcome of existing world tendencies; the conflict between Communism and the less extreme socialistic idea which still respects the principle of liberty, even though a restricted liberty, and the freedom of conscience, of thought, of personality of the individual, if this difference perpetuated itself, might create a serious difficulty in the formation of a World-State.  It would not be easy to build a constitution, a harmonised State-law and practice in which any modicum of genuine freedom for the individual or any continued existence of him except as a cell in the working of a rigidly determined automatism of the body of the collectivist State or a part of a machine would be possible or conceivable.”

“…Socialism itself might well develop away from the Marxist groove and evolve less rigid modes; a cooperative Socialism, for instance, without any bureaucratic rigour of a coercive administration, of a Police State, might one day come into existence, but the generalisation of Socialism throughout the world is not under existing circumstances easily foreseeable, hardly even a predominant possibility; in spite of certain possibilities or tendencies created by recent events in the Far East, a division of the earth between the two systems, capitalistic and socialistic, seems for the present a more likely issue.  In America the attachment to individualism and the capitalistic system of society and a strong antagonism not only to Communism but to even a moderate Socialism remains complete and one can foresee little possibility of any abatement in its intensity.”

“A successful accommodation would demand the creation of a body in which all questions of possible dispute could be solved as they arose without any breaking out of open conflict.”

“…a creation of an effective world-union would still be possible; in the end the mass of general needs of the race and its need of self-preservation could well be relied on to make it inevitable.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 321-323

Exploring the Possible Interim Stage of Continental Blocs

In his dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell envisioned the world divided into three large blocs, seemingly at war with one another, but in reality, using the constant state of apparent war to enforce privation and exercise control over their internal populations.  Putting dystopian fears aside, it is possible to envision such blocs developing and either cooperating with each other, or competing with each other, with possible consequences that could either advance the development towards world unity, or retard it.  Developments, such as the European Union, or the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the USA and Mexico, signal attempts to create larger blocs on a more or less continental basis.  In Asia, the rise of China and its incorporation of Tibet, its reintegration of Hong Kong and its overshadowing influence over large parts of Asia not directly part of China, has created another potential continental bloc.  While the Soviet Union has broken up, Russia spans a large segment of the Northern Hemisphere and holds sway over a number of smaller states formerly incorporated within the Soviet Empire.   While such blocs may not represent either a final stage, or even a stable interim stage in the development of larger societal aggregates, it is at least important to note the impetus and experimentation in this direction.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “One of the possibilities suggested at the time was the growth of continental agglomerates, a united Europe, some kind of a combine of the peoples of the American continent under the leadership of the United States, even possibly in the resurgence of Asia and its drive towards independence from the dominance of the European peoples, a drawing together for self-defensive combination of the nations of this continent; such an eventuality of large continental combinations might even be a stage in the final formation of a world-union. …  In the two American continents it has actually assumed a predominating and practical form, though not in its totality.  The idea of a United States of Europe has also actually taken shape and is assuming a formal existence, but is not yet able to develop into a completed and fully realised possibility because of the antagonism based on conflicting ideologies which cuts off from each other Russia and her satellites behind their iron curtain and Western Europe.  … Under other circumstances a tendency towards such combinations might have created the apprehension of huge continental clashes such as the collision, at one time imagined as possible, between a resurgent Asia and the Occident.”

“…the actual danger presents itself rather as a clash between two opposing ideologies, one led by Russia and Red China and trying to impose the Communistic extreme partly by military and partly by forceful political means on a reluctant or at least an infected but not altogether willing Asia and Europe, and on the other side a combination of peoples, partly capitalist, partly moderate socialist who still cling with some attachment to the idea of liberty, — to freedom of thought and some remnant of the free life of the individual.”

“In Asia a more perilous situation has arisen, standing sharply across the way for any possibility of a continental unity of the peoples of this part of the world, in the emergence of Communist China.  This creates a gigantic bloc which could easily englobe the whole of Northern Asia in a combination between two enormous Communist Powers, Russia and China, and would overshadow with a threat of absorption South-Western Asia and Tibet and might be pushed to overrun all up to the whole frontier of India, menacing her security and that of Western Asia with the possibility of an invasion and an overrunning and subjection  by penetration or even by overwhelming military force to an unwanted ideology, political and social institutions and dominance of this militant mass of Communism whose push might easily prove irresistible.  …  The possibility of a coming into being of three or four continental unions, which might subsequently coalesce into a single unity, would then be very remote and, except after a world-shaking struggle, hardly feasible.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 319-321

Understanding the Possibility and Risk of World Domination by a Single Dominant Power

Sri Aurobindo had essentially dismissed the likelihood of a single dominant power being able to gain effective world dominion, based on the state of affairs prior to 1920.  His subsequent review after the conclusion of the second world war, made it clear to him that the confluence of ambition, technology and massively destructive weapons of warfare, made that unlikely event somewhat more possible, although not necessarily highly likely.  The global power struggle called the “Cold War” represented the attempt of certain dominant powers, together with their allies, to break out of a pattern of “mutually assured destruction”  (aka M.A.D.) by finding a way to either secretly or through some newly invented means to gain the dominant position before the other side could react.  Tremendous amounts of research took place in the fields of biological weapons, developing of diseases that targeted specific racial groups for instance, as well as chemical, radioactive and nuclear weapons.  Stealth technologies were invented to find ways to deliver weaponry before the other side could react.   Government officials and military officers have even debated how to make a war, fought with such massively destructive weaponry on both sides “winnable”.  Luckily, to date, these attempts were met with counter-measures or sufficient “M.A.D.”  checks to prevent (or at least delay) ultimate disaster.  The issue has however not been resolved and remains a risk to the present day.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “A dominant Power may be able to group round itself strong allies subordinated to it but still considerable in strength and resources and throw them into a world struggle with other Powers and peoples.  This possibility would be increased if the dominating Power managed to procure, even if only for the time being, a monopoly of an overwhelming superiority in the use of some of the tremendous means of aggressive military action which Science has set out to discover and effectively utilise.  The terror of destruction and even of large-scale extermination created by these ominous discoveries may bring about a will in the governments and peoples to ban and prevent the military use of these inventions, but, so long as the nature of mankind has not changed, this prevention must remain uncertain and precarious and an unscrupulous ambition may even get by it a chance of secrecy and surprise and the utilisation of a decisive moment which might conceivably give it victory and it might risk the tremendous chance.”



Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 318-319