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

The Drive Towards Supranational Unity and the Needed Conditions for a Stable and Unified Humanity

Humanity has shown an inherent drive to develop a larger unity than the nation-state, the current largest stable societal aggregate.  Past attempts at empire show the will, but failed because they attempted to create a larger unity through domination, suppression, and uniformity; the true solution must involve a unification that both brings together the human race, while at the same time preserves the vital needs for freedom and experimentation at the individual and community level, so that humanity continues to have the vital force to survive and thrive under new conditions that may arise in the future.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The impulse to build more largely, the push towards the creation of considerable and even very vast supra-national aggregates has not been wanting; it has even been a permanent feature in the life-instincts of the race.  But the form it took was the desire of a strong nation for mastery over others, permanent possession of their territories, subjugation of their peoples, exploitation of their resources:  there was also an attempt at quasi-assimilation, an imposition of the culture of a dominant race and, in general, a system of absorption wholesale or as complete as possible.”

“…nothing has endured for more than a small number of centuries.  The method used was fundamentally unsound in as much as it contradicted other life-instincts which were necessary to the vitality and healthy evolution of mankind and the denial of which must end in some kind of stagnation and  arrested progress.”

“So, although the tendency to the creation of empire testifies to an urge in Nature towards larger unities of human life, — and we can see concealed in it a will to unite the disparate masses of humanity on a larger scale into a single coalescing or combined life-unit,– it must be regarded as an unsuccessful formation without a sequel and unserviceable for any further progress in this direction.  In actual fact a new attempt of world-wide domination could succeed only by a new instrumentation or under novel circumstances in englobing all the nations of the earth or persuading or forcing them into some kind of union.  An ideology, a successful combination of peoples with one aim and a powerful head like Communist Russia, might have a temporary success in bringing about such an objective.  But such an outcome, not very desirable in itself, would not be likely to ensure the creation of an enduring World-State.  There would be tendencies, resistances, urges towards other developments which would sooner or later bring about its collapse or some revolutionary change which would mean its disappearance.  Finally, any such stage would have to be overpassed; only the formation of a true World-State, either of a unitary but still elastic kind, — for a rigidly unitary State might bring about stagnation and decay of the springs of life, — or a union of free peoples could open the prospect of a sound and lasting world-order.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 317-318

The Peril and the Hope for the Future of Humanity

Much of the development of societal organisation throughout history has taken place through a process of reaction to immediate pressures or circumstances.  In some instances, however, the process involved serious thought and planning.  Whether it be the laws of Manu, the code of Hammurabi, the British parliamentary system or the constitution of the United States, (as a few examples), an attempt was made to organise and codify the relations of the people, the government and the process of governing in a way that made sense.  These represented steps forward in the evolution of the human reason as a tool of action in the world.

We have reached a tipping point in human life where the destructive power of our technological advancement, coupled with the immediate pressures of ever-more-pressing crises on a world scale, has created an existential peril for humanity.  Yet we see that the forces that have worked to bring about the influence of the higher reason and even spiritual principles of existence are once more at work to try to find a way through the chaos and confusion of the vital circumstances and pressures.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The question now put by evolving Nature to mankind is whether its existing international system, if system it can be called, a sort of provisional order maintained with constant evolutionary or revolutionary changes, cannot be replaced by a willed and thought-out fixed arrangement, a true system, eventually a real unity serving all the common interests of the earth’s peoples.  An original welter and chaos with its jumble of forces forming, wherever it could, larger or smaller masses of civilisation and order which were in danger of crumbling or being shaken to pieces by attacks from the outer chaos was the first attempt at cosmos successfully arrived at by the genius of humanity.  This was finally replaced by something like an international system with the elements of what could be called international law or fixed habits of intercommunication and interchange which allowed the nations to live together in spite of antagonisms and conflicts, a security alternating with precariousness and peril and permitting of too many ugly features, however local, of oppression, bloodshed, revolt and disorder, not to speak of wars which sometimes devastated large areas of the globe.  The indwelling deity who presides over the destiny of the race has raised in man’s mind and heart the idea, the hope of a new order which will replace the old unsatisfactory order and substitute for it conditions of the world’s life which will in the end have a reasonable chance of establishing permanent peace and well-being.  This would for the first time turn into an assured fact the ideal of human unity which, cherished by a few, seemed for so long a noble chimera; then might be created a firm ground of peace and harmony and even a free room for the realisation of the highest human dreams, for the perfectibility of the race, a perfect society, a higher upward evolution of the human soul and human nature.”

“…too long a postponement or too continued a failure will open the way to a series of increasing catastrophes which might create a too prolonged and disastrous confusion and chaos and render a solution too difficult or impossible; it might even end in something like an irremediable crash not only of the present world-civilisation but of all civilisation.  A new, a difficult and uncertain beginning might have to be made in the midst of the chaos and ruin after perhaps an extermination on a large scale, and a more successful creation could be predicted only if a way was found to develop a better humanity or perhaps a greater, a superhuman race.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 315-317

An Optimistic View of the Future of Humanity

If we remain embedded in the crises, problems and issues confronting humanity in today’s world, it is quite easy to fall into a pessimistic view of the future; for who can see how these apparently intractable concerns can be resolved?  What is the solution to the competing ideologies that are always willing to go to war with one another?  What answer do we have to the issues of unequal access to resources, global pollution, climate change, and the threats of war with weapons that can annihilate life on earth?  Yet if we survey the past history of the human race, we note that at various points in time, humanity was faced with challenges that turned into major crises, including pandemics, vast inter-continental warfare and imperial ambitions, acts of genocide, and in each case, mankind found a way to face and solve the then current crisis.  It is clear that the crises we face today represent existential threats far beyond those we have witnessed in the past, but we also have to acknowledge that humanity has grown in the interim, gained new understanding, new tools and technologies.  Another important point is that if we attribute some divine purpose to life and the evolution of consciousness, then these issues and obstacles represent not necessarily existential threats but opportunities for new growth and understanding.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “Mankind has a habit of surviving the worst catastrophes created by its own errors or by the violent turns of Nature and it must be so if there is any meaning in its existence, if its long history and continuous survival is not the accident of a fortuitously self-organising Chance, which it must be in a purely materialistic view of the nature of the world.  If man is intended to survive and carry forward the evolution of which he is at present the head and, to some extent, a half-conscious leader of its march, he must come out of his present chaotic international life and arrive at a beginning of organised action; some kind of World-State, unitary or federal, or a confederacy or a coalition he must arrive at in the end; no smaller or looser expedient would adequately serve the purpose.  In that case, the general thesis advanced in this book would stand justified and we can foreshadow with some confidence the main line of advance which the course of events is likely to take, at least the main trend of the future history of the human peoples.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pg. 315

The Ideological Struggle Between Capitalism and Communism and the Need for a Basis for Coexistence

The main issue that prevents the United Nations from achieving the eventual result of a world union is the competition of opposing world views and economic models between the capitalistic and the communistic directions.  Communism was born in Russia through an intense revolutionary struggle, and the adherents of that particular ideology came to believe that they not only had the solution that humanity required, but that the only way to bring about the success of their ideology was to repeat their experience of revolution on a world-scale.  This outlook drew an inevitable counter-resistance from those who supported the status quo of the capitalistic model.  The resultant development of two heavily armed and opposing camps  then led to the sense that they could not both exist in the world at the same time, and thus, the idea was that one way or the other, one had to prevail over the other.  This ideological struggle resulted in the cold war and the outbreak of several “hot” wars by proxy states representing the interests or needs of the lead powers on each side.  The United Nations has been hobbled by this struggle and can only emerge in the development of the world-union if and when an accommodation is developed that permits them to mutually exist and relate to one another, or they each undergo sufficient modification within themselves to render them more capable of peaceful interchange.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “If much of the unease, the sense of inevitable struggle, the difficulty of mutual toleration and economic accommodation still exists, it is rather because the idea of using the ideological struggle as a means for world-domination is there and keeps the nations in a position of mutual apprehension and preparation for armed defence and attack than because the coexistence of the two ideologies is impossible.  If this element is eliminated, a world in which these two ideologies could live togehter, arrive at an economic interchange, draw closer together, need not be at all out of the question; for the world is moving towards a greater development of the principle of State control over the life of the community, and a congeries of socialistic States on the one hand, and on the other, of States coordinating and controlling a modified Capitalism might well come to exist side by side and develop friendly relations with each other.  Even a World-State in which both could keep their own institutions and sit in a common assembly might come into being and a single world-union on this foundation would not be impossible.  This development is indeed the final outcome which the foundation of the U.N.O. presupposes; for the present organisation cannot be itself final, it is only an imperfect beginning useful and necessary as a primary nucleus of that larger institution in which all the peoples of the earth can meet each other in a single international unity: the creation of a World-State is, in a movement of this kind, the one logical and inevitable ultimate outcome.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 313-315