Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011.06.14 — How Strangely Appropriate: a C.G. Jung and N. Chomsky Fushigi*

Here is a totally weird Chomsky/Jung fushigi.

Today, from a Google Chomsky alert, I went for my first time to a web paged called Tikkun.
From it I read 'Overcoming Despair as the Republicans Take Over: A Conversation with Noam Chomsky'
by Michael Lerner
March 1, 2011

It is the transcription of a dialogue between Noam Chomsky and the author. At some point in it I'm amused to read Lerner introduce the issue of religion — in a kind of back-handed way.
'What Do We Do about Religiophobia?'

ML: As a side question, we in the NSP [I think he means Network of Spiritual Progressives] and Tikkun have found that our positions and analyses — which are in some ways more radical (going to the root) than many of
Jim Wallis
the programs that you hear coming out of the Left, because we do have a class analysis and we do have an analysis of global capitalism — are nevertheless not paid much attention by the rest of the Left because of what we’ve experienced as a pervasive religiophobia. And that has also been experienced by people like Jim Wallis and those involved with Sojourners, and people around the Christian Century [magazine], and other progressive religious organizations.
And I’m wondering if you have any advice to us on how to overcome that religiophobia, since it seems ludicrous to us that a secular left would not understand that, in a country where you have 80 percent of the population believing in God and 60 percent going to church at least once a month, it would
be in their interest to have a unification with people who have a spiritual or religious consciousness.

NC: I think you should approach them, not just on the pragmatic grounds that it’s in their interest, but also on the grounds that it’s the right thing to do. I mean, personally, I’m completely secular, but I certainly recognize the right of people to have personal religious beliefs and the significance that it may have in their lives, though not for me. Though we can certainly understand each other at least that well, quite apart from pragmatic considerations. I mean, say if a mother is praying that she might see her dying child in heaven, it’s not my right to give her lectures on epistemology.

ML: But it’s not just issues of epistemology, because there we could have a good debate; it’s that there is a climate or a culture in the Left and the liberal arenas that simply assumes that anybody who would have a religious position must be intellectually underdeveloped or psychologically stuck, needing a father figure or scared of the unknown, or some other psychologically reductive analysis. That approach — a kind of ridicule of anybody who could possibly think that there was a spiritual dimension of reality, when it’s pervasive, pushes people away even if they agree with much of the rest of what the Left is saying. How does one raise that issue? How does one deal with that issue among lefties who are simply unaware of the elitism and offensiveness of these suppositions? There was a time when it was extremely difficult to raise the issue of patriarchy, sexism, or homophobia, because people thought, “well that’s ridiculous, it’s just not true, it’s not happening” — there was a huge level of denial. Do you have any advice for us on how to deal with that level of denial that exists in the culture of the Left? In my own study of this — I’ve done a rather extensive study of the psychodynamics of American society, which involved over 10,000 people — we found that this was a central issue for a lot of middle-income working people, who agreed with much of the Left’s positions, but felt dissed by the Left.

NC: Well, the way you approach people is to explain to them that not only is it not in their interest to diss other people, but it’s also morally and intellectually wrong.
[Here's the fushigi bit — part 2:] For example, one of the greatest dangers is secular religion — state worship. That’s a far more destructive factor in world affairs than religious belief, and it’s common on the Left. So you take a look at the very people who are passionately advocating struggling for atheism and repeating arguments that most of us understood when we were teenagers — those very same people are involved in highly destructive and murderous state worship, not all of them but some. Does that mean we should diss them? No, it means we should try to explain it to them (my emphasis).
Okay, that was how the fushigi completed itself. Below is how it began:

Yesterday I stumbled into a query in the Goodreads on-line social webpage about the meaning of a passage from Jung's book, The Undiscovered Self. Qing asked:
Chapter 4, The Individual's Understanding of Himself: "It has even become a political and social duty to apostrophize the capitalism of one and the communism of the other as the very devil, so as to fascinate the outward eye and prevent it from looking at the individual life within."

I didn't get this sentence. Does "apostrophize" here mean emphasize, make believe, or treat like non-existing?
I answered with
This is indeed a difficult sentence. I deduce that Jung is using 'apostrophize' to mean that ownership of these political structures has been removed from the individual and put onto the other as a collective manifestation of the devil. To blame the other for our military aggression, for example, is the politically correct way of removing from ourselves responsibility for our own evils.

I went back to the paragraph from which
you've extracted this sentence, and re-reading confirms my assessment. [Here's the fushigi bit — part 1:] The paragraph discusses the manner in which the 'state' can take over the religious functions of man when man's spiritual/religious unconscious nature is abandoned for science and reason. ('Man' here meaning the human animal of both sexes.)

I suggest you read Chomsky's critical examination of the role of propaganda in deluding America
as to their world benevolence. And then supplement that by reading the irrational even rabid evangelism that comprises the gist of the right's dismissal of his arguments and observations. In a real world sense, the anti-Chomsky-ites are as much the evidence of the accuracy of Jung's evaluation in Undiscovered Self as are the fanatical religious political states in the middle east.

But perhaps the strongest evidence attesting Jung's accuracy is the near rabid, even quasi-religious nature of the political debate even in, or perhaps especially in, countries like the USA that have 'officially' removed religion from the state. The religion has gone underground, and their political campaigns have the air of revivalist meetings.

Think to Reagan or W. Bush, or Sarah Palin and how their advocacy of American style democracy/capitalism has a near hysterical truly irrational and religious fervour.
Q. thanked me, and wrote that he'd try reading more about this subject. And so I recommended that a few good books to begin with might include:
Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
and Perspectives on Power: Reflections on Human Nature and the Social Order by Chomsky.

I also recommended Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, The Unconscious Civilization by John Ralston Saul

The Reenchantment of the World by Morris Berman.

Post Script 2011.06.15
I did a bit of research after the original posting of this blog (and adding the graphics). And I found tucked away in my e.mail 'signature quips' list, the following citation from The Undiscovered Self:

We ought not to underestimate the psychological effect of the statistical world-picture: it thrusts aside the individual in favour of anonymous units that pile up into mass formations. Instead of the concrete individual, you have the names of organizations and, at the highest point, the abstract idea of the State as the principle of political reality. The moral responsibility of the individual is then inevitably replaced by the policy of the State (raison d'├ętat). Instead of moral and mental differentiation of the individual, you have public welfare and the raising of the living standard.
Jung, C.G. "The Undiscovered Self," CW 10, cited in C.G. Jung: His Myth in our Time by Marie-Louise von Franz. New York: G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1975. Tr. by William H. Kennedy, p 254-5.

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