Jung and Politics

Having known Professor C. G. Jung during the last twenty-eight years of his life, I found it strange to be asked to write a foreword to a book on his political ideas, for his primary interest was in the single human being and not in politics.

However, his anthropological studies and his concepts of the archetypes and the collective unconscious did inevitably make him take stands in contemporary political conflicts, and he developed a number of sociological and political ideas.

Although Professor Odajnyk has not refrained from honestly giving his own views, he gives in this book a very valuable survey of Jung’s attitude toward anthropological and political questions.

Jung always followed contemporary events, but his eye was that of a trained depth psychologist, and he was more interested in looking for what was going on below the surface of everyday political life than in its superficial aspects.

Though he was a convinced supporter of the Swiss democracy, I never heard him recommend its constitution as a panacea for all other countries.

What he was passionate about were les droits de l’homme, the security of man’s basic rights and the freedom of the individual, which are guaranteed not only by a “just” state, but far more by the maturity, wisdom, and consciousness of all the members of a community.

The individual matters more than the system.

Though Jung naturally rejected all forms of dictatorship and tyranny, he did not much believe in forcibly changing a social system before man himself had changed.

He never got tired of emphasizing again and again that every change must begin with the individual himself and not with trying to improve other people ; the latter he regarded as a display of the power complex.

Changes in the individual cannot be brought about by intellectual insight alone; they come from the unconscious, while the “right” or “wrong” attitude of consciousness decides the form of their realization.

Jung took a firm line against any form of intolerance or claims of having the “only” truth.

He tried to show that to live unequivocally with one’s own inner truth and to tolerate other people’s truth were not only reconcilable but essentially identical in the form of an antinomy.

The same antinomy applies to the principle of social relatedness.

The relatedness of the individual with his inner Self is coincident with his social relatedness.

Nobody can relate to others if he has not first a relationship with his own inner Self.

To a great extent all political dissension and conflicts are exteriorizations of inner conflicts that each human being should resolve within h himself, thus taking the weight of his neurotic dissociation away from society.

Jung believed that possessed states of psychic inflation and “wrong” emotions in the masses are very infectious.

But he was also convinced that a mature attitude toward the powers of the unconscious has a positive effect that spreads to others, a proposition which his own life certainly supported.

When he engaged overtly in politics he seldom succeeded, but through his work on the unconscious he has influenced and helped innumerable people and prevented a lot of disastrous neurotic nonsense from being perpetrated.

If ever his more inward-looking attitude toward life should expand-and there are signs that it is doing so-politics would become less of a battlefield of emotions.

Already in many areas today the factor of Weltanschauung-religion and ideology-prevails over pure politics.

From my point of view, Jung stands at the beginning of a great worldwide change in man, a change on which his survival depends, namely a turning inward and toward the irrational creative impulses and manifestations of the unconscious.

These are welling up to compensate for the dangerously neurotic onesidedness of our present-day conscious attitudes.

At the core of these unconscious compensatory tendencies lies a new image of man as the Anthropos, a symbol which unites the inner Self of the individual with the Self of mankind as a whole.

It appears in the products of the unconscious as a homo quadratus velrotundus (also represented by a mandala), a symbol of an order which brings and holds together the disrupting tendencies of our age.

We cannot tell what society will look like when a majority of people will have realized this, but it can only be realized if les droits de l’homme are guaranteed, so that the individual can give himself to the task.

Jung thought that we live in a time which is very similar to that of the decay of the Roman Empire and the advent of Christianity.

Then, out of the collective unconscious and in a despised hidden corner, a new symbol of man emerged, which changed our whole culture in a way that no old Roman politician could have possibly imagined-one need only read Pliny’s letter to Trajanus about the new, abstruse sect of Christians to see this.

If this change does not come through, or even if it does, Jung foresaw great trouble in the coming years and he was deeply concerned, not about politics in the everyday sense of the word, but about the fate of mankind as a whole.

He felt that this was threatened by overpopulation and po11ution even more than by wars; but he deeply mistrusted all idealistic-isms, for they are “fronts” for a possessed state of mind.

“We must, therefore,” he says. “no longer succumb to anything at all, not even to good . . .

Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”

Only by enduring the conflict of opposites within himself and by uniting them in the Self

will man be able to survive the present crisis. ~Marie-Louise Von Franz, Jung on Politics, Page ix-xii