Carl Jung on “Politics” – Anthology

 

It is in the nature of political bodies always to see the evil in the opposite group, just as the individual has an ineradicable tendency to get rid of everything he does not know and does not want to know about himself by foisting it off on somebody else. ~Carl Jung; The Undiscovered Self; Page 72.

 

About 50 per cent of politics is definitely obnoxious inasmuch as it poisons the utterly incompetent mind of the masses. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Page 564.

 

A political situation is the manifestation of a parallel psychological problem in millions of individuals. This problem is largely unconscious (which makes it a particularly dangerous one!) ~Carl Gustav Jung, Letters, Vol 1, Page 535.

 

I loathe the new style, the new Art, the new Music, Literature, Politics, and above all the new Man. It’s the old beast that has not changed since the troglodytes. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 285-286.

 

The Rhine forms not only a political frontier but also a psychological one. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 68-69.

 

A prize should be given to people who successfully suppress the outburst of political madness, or of panic (Churchill), or who produce great ideas enlarging the mental and spiritual horizon of man. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 124-125.

 

Mediterranean culture is founded on a three- to four-thousand-year-old rule of order, both political and religious, which had long outgrown the locally conditioned, semi-barbarian forms of society. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 336-338.

 

The deposit of man’s whole ancestral experience—so rich in emotional imagery—of father, mother, child, husband and wife, of the magic personality, of dangers to body and soul, has exalted this group of archetypes into the supreme regulating principles of religious and even of political life, in unconscious recognition of their tremendous psychic power. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 337

 

My relation with Germany is very recent and is due to idiotic altruism and not at all to political sentiment. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Pages 154-155

 

Mass-degeneration does not come only from without: it also comes from within, from the collective unconscious. Against the outside, some protection was afforded by the droits de L’homme which at present are lost to the greater part of Europe, and even where they are not actually lost we see political parties, as naive as they are powerful, doing their best to abolish them in favour of the slave state, with the bait of social security. Against the demonism from within, the Church offers some protection so long as it wields authority. But protection and security are only valuable when not excessively cramping to our existence; and in the same way the superiority of consciousness is desirable only if it does not suppress and shut out too much life. As always, life is a voyage between Scylla and Charybdis. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 502

 

The fact that individual consciousness means separation and opposition is something that man has experienced countless times in his long history. And just as for the individual a time of dissociation is a time for sickness, so it is in the life of nations. We can hardly deny that ours is a time of dissociation and sickness. The political and social conditions, the fragmentation of religion and philosophy, the contending schools of modern art and modern psychology all have one meaning in this respect. And does anyone who is endowed with the slightest sense of responsibility feel any satisfaction at this turn of events? If we are honest, we must admit that no one feels quite comfortable in the present-day world; indeed, it becomes increasingly uncomfortable. The word “crisis,” so often heard, is a medical expression which always tells us that the sickness has reached a dangerous climax. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 290

 

No social legislation will ever be able to overcome the psychological differences between men, this most necessary factor for generating the vital energy of a human society. It may serve a useful purpose, therefore, to speak of the heterogeneity of men. These differences involve such different requirements for happiness that no legislation, however perfect, could afford them even approximate satisfaction. No outward form of life could be devised, however equitable and just it might appear, that would not involve injustice for one or the other human type. That, in spite of this, every kind of enthusiast—political, social, philosophical, and religious—is busily endeavouring to find those uniform external conditions which would bring with them greater opportunities for the happiness of all seems to me connected with a general attitude to life too exclusively. Although it is certainly a fine thing that every man should stand equal before the law, that every man should have his political vote, and that no man, through hereditary social position and privilege, should have unjust advantage over his brother, it is distinctly less fine when the idea of equality is extended to other walks of life. A man must have a very clouded vision, or view human society from a very misty distance, to cherish the notion that the uniform regulation of life would automatically ensure a uniform distribution of happiness. He must be pretty far gone in delusion if he imagines that equality of income, or equal opportunities for all, would have approximately the same value for everyone. But, if he were a legislator, what would he do about all those people whose greatest opportunities lie not without, but within? If he were just, he would have to give at least twice as much money to the one as to the other, since to the one it means much, to the other little. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, CW 845

 

Does neutral Switzerland, with its backward, earthy nature, fulfil any meaningful function in the European system? I think we must answer this question affirmatively. The answer to political or cultural questions need not be only: Progress and Change, but also: Stand still! Hold fast! These days one can doubt in good faith whether the condition of Europe shows any change for the better since the war. Opinions, as we know, are very divided, and we have just heard Spengler’s lamentations on the decline of the West. Progress can occasionally go down-hill, and in the face of a dangerously rapid tempo standing still can be a life-saver. Nations, too, get tired and long for political and social stabilization. The Pax Romana meant a good deal to the Roman Empire. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 922

 

There are two kinds of interference which cause the hackles of the Swiss to rise: political and spiritual. Everyone can understand why they should defend themselves to the utmost against political interference, and this utmost is the art of neutrality born of necessity. But why they should defend themselves against spiritual interference is rather more mysterious. It is, however, a fact, as I can confirm from my own experience. English, American, and German patients are far more open to new ideas than the Swiss. A new idea for the Swiss is always something of a risk; it is like an unknown, dangerous animal, which must if possible be circumvented or else approached with extreme caution. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 916

 

The revolution in our conscious outlook, brought about by the catastrophic results of the [first] World War, shows itself in our inner life by the shattering of our faith in ourselves and our own worth. We used to regard foreigners as political and moral reprobates, but the modern man is forced to recognize that he is politically and morally just like anyone else. Whereas formerly I believed it was my bounden duty to call others to order, I must now admit I need calling to order myself. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 162

 

Anyone who has lost the historical symbols and cannot be satisfied with substitutes is certainly in a very difficult position today before him there yawns the void, and he turns away from it in horror. What is worse, the vacuum gets filled with absurd political and social ideas, which one and all are distinguished by their spiritual bleakness. But if he cannot get along with these pedantic dogmatisms, he sees himself forced to be serious for once with his alleged trust in God, though it usually turns out that his fear of things going wrong if he did so is even more persuasive. ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 28

 

Europe now stands between two colossi, both uncouth in their form but implacably opposed to one another in their nature. They are profoundly different not only racially but in their ideals. In the West there is the maximum political freedom with the minimum personal freedom; in the East it is just the opposite. We see in the West a tremendous development of Europe’s technological and scientific tendencies, and in the Far East an awakening of all those spiritual forces which, in Europe, these tendencies hold in check. The power of the West is material, that of the East ideal. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 237

 

The breathless drive for power and aggrandizement in the political, social, and intellectual sphere, gnawing at the soul of the Westerner with apparently insatiable greed, is spreading irresistibly in the East and threatens to have incalculable consequences. Not only in India but in China, too, much has already perished where once the soul lived and throve. The externalization of culture may do away with a great many evils whose removal seems most desirable and beneficial, yet this step forward, as experience shows, is all too dearly paid for with a loss of spiritual culture. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 962

 

The problem of “anti-Semitism” has been thrown up for the psychotherapists but not for the political daily press. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Pages 154-155

 

I am a neutral Swiss and even in my own country I am uninterested in politics, because I am convinced that 99 per cent of politics are mere symptoms and anything but a cure for social evils. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Page 564.

 

Incisive changes in history are generally attributed exclusively to external causes. It seems to me, however, that external circumstances often serve merely as occasions for a new attitude to life and the world, long prepared in the unconscious, to become manifest. Social, political, and religious conditions affect the collective unconscious in the sense that all those factors which are suppressed by the prevailing views or attitudes in the life of a society gradually accumulate in the collective unconscious and activate its contents. Certain individuals gifted with particularly strong intuition then become aware of the changes going on in it and translate these changes into communicable ideas. The new ideas spread rapidly because parallel changes have been taking place in the unconscious of other people. There is a general readiness to accept the new ideas, although on the other hand they often meet with violent resistance. New ideas are not just the enemies of the old; they also appear as a rule in an extremely unacceptable form. ~Carl Jung, CW 8, Para 594

 

But if we step through the door of the shadow we discover with terror that we are the objects of unseen factors. To know this is decidedly unpleasant, for nothing is more disillusioning than the discovery of our own inadequacy. It can even give rise to primitive panic, because, instead of being believed in, the anxiously guarded supremacy of consciousness which is in truth one of the secrets of human success-is questioned in the most dangerous way. But since ignorance is no guarantee of security, and in fact only makes our insecurity still worse, it is probably better despite our fear to know where the danger lies. To ask the right question is already half the solution of a problem. At any rate we then know that the greatest danger threatening us comes from the unpredictability of the psyche’s reactions. Discerning persons have realized for some time that external historical conditions, of whatever kind, are only occasions, jumping-off grounds, for the real dangers that threaten our lives. These are the present politico-social delusional systems. We should not regard them causally, as necessary consequences of external conditions, but as decisions precipitated by the collective unconscious. ~Carl Jung CW 9i, Para 49

 

. In the West there is the maximum political freedom with the minimum personal freedom; in the East it is just the opposite. We see in the West a tremendous development of Europe’s technological and scientific tendencies, and in the Far East an awakening of all those spiritual forces which, in Europe, these tendencies hold in check. The power of the West is material, that of the East ideal. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 237

 

The answer to political or cultural questions need not be only: Progress and Change, but also: Stand still! Hold fast! These days one can doubt in good faith whether the condition of Europe shows any change for the better since the war. Opinions, as we know, are very divided, and we have just heard Spengler’s lamentations on the decline of the West. Progress can occasionally go down-hill, and in the face of a dangerously rapid tempo standing still can be a life-saver. Nations, too, get tired and long for political and social stabilization. The Pax Romana meant a good deal to the Roman Empire. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 922

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