Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Collective shadows of liberals and conservatives

Last post touched upon Jungian shadows of liberals and conservatives. In this post we will expand on that topic.

A collective jungian shadow is often formed by collective trauma, such as genocide, plagues, war, or natural disasters. Rather than confronting the trauma and processing it through grief or understanding, it is repressed into a collective subconscious, whose fundamental nature need not concern us here (it could be cultural memory through stories, rituals and technology, epigenetic, a morphic field, or something else). But then it comes out in projection onto others, and inconsistency in one's own actions with one's values (aka hypocrisy). 
It is also possible that a collective shadow is formed on an individual basis by trauma in early childhood, and that the collective pattern comes from how different people respond to these traumas. 

Some shadows are classifiable in terms of a single value from the 5 values that distinguish liberals from conservatives (see previous posts and Jonathan Haidt's work), while others are a compound of several values. Most of the ones below are "mono-shadows"

As someone once said: "the opposite of a bad idea is usually also a bad idea". Scoring high on any of these values can mean one is semi-conscious to what happens when one takes that value to positive extremes. Scoring low can mean one is semi-conscious to what happens when one takes these values to negative extremes. This explains the different shadows of liberals and conservatives, but the situation can be more complex. Alternatively, one can score high on a value because one is partially driven by a shadow that is the opposite of the value one scores high on. The shadow could have been created by a traumatic experience that has not been fully processed and integrated. An example below is liberals who score high on care and compassion because they are repressing hatred, having been punished for expressing it as children. Or conservatives who score high on group solidarity because they had a traumatic experience being ostracized and are trying to repress that experience.The converse can also be true: one can score low on a value because one is repressing an experience of the positive manifestation of that value. An example is liberals scoring low on purity/sanctity because they tried to mix their poop with their food as a child, were punished and shamed, and repressed that experience. I only elaborated a bit about liberal hatred, but for completeness I listed these possibilities as 1-5, c and d below.

Caveat: these are all hypotheses, waiting to be tested by social scientists.


1a. Care and compassion, liberal shadow: The caring and compassionate Christians were crucified and sent to the lions by the Romans and later were killed by the Muslims. The caring and compassionate communists were shot by firing squad, beheaded, sent to gulags by Stalin and the less compassionate communists. These contributed to a collective liberal shadow, but also we can see this shadow operating when individual liberal people who try to be caring and compassionate are taken advantage of by others. Just as importantly, liberals are afraid to recognize that they can act badly towards others (especially when they have the opportunity to seize resources at someone else's expense, or get into positions of power) too and 
1c. they can have feelings of hatred towards others. Repressing the hatred shadow works for liberals as well as repressing sexuality has worked for victorians. Part of lashing out against the "deplorables/ Trump supporters", is the projection of this shadow onto them.
Also, liberals sometimes forget (or repress into a shadow) that humans evolved to be omnivores, and sometimes need meat, and that involves killing animals, which seems uncaring and un-compassionate. Or else that it takes huge machines and a brutal industrial process to produce the field crops that nourish vegetarians. Or that dairy requires reproduction, which requires killing male progeny and excess unproductive females, in order to be economic. Or that predation is part of nature.
1b. Care and compassion, conservative shadow: conservative Christians are consciously afraid of going to hell if they are not kind enough (among other things).
They make themselves feel better by contributing to charity, but this is only the conscious tip of an unconscious iceberg. The mass of the iceberg lies in a way of looking at the world:
The way of looking at the word as a chest of resources or machines is one that lacks compassion and care for life in general, not just humans. It leads to a shadow of burned-alive healer women (aka witches), torture (starting with the roman/christian cross, but morphing into all kinds of catholic medieval torture machines), destroying forests, oceans, atmosphere, mountaintops for short-term resource acquisition; turning diverse, natural beauty into monolithic, concrete ugliness; the brutality of factory farms; the economic destruction of human villages by more efficient factories, the objectification of rape and molestation (mostly of women). All these are opaque to conservatives, part of their collective shadow, which they project onto liberals and "snowflakes".

2a. Justice and equity, liberal shadow: Liberals are unconsciously afraid of hierarchies, because hierarchies can have various levels of domination, power abuses, unearned privilege, and cut-throat competition. However, they can also get things done efficiently, reward talent and hard work, and weed out incompetence. Hierarchies exist and have evolved to manage complexity, not just with human social systems, but at all levels of life, from gene networks to cells, to organs, to eusocial insects, to primate groups. Liberals are afraid to embrace the positive aspects of hierarchies, and project these fears onto various "isms" and "archys" (e.g. capitalism, patriarchy).
Liberals are also blind to injustices that contradict their ideology. For example, the injustice against working class men who have their jobs offshored to third world counties with laxer labor and environmental laws, (hence cheaper goods) or taken by illegal immigrants who work for less than minimum wage, or who subject themselves to danger and bodily harm with certain kinds of physical labor, or who have their children taken away from them after being made into debt slaves. The whole male privilege trope is an attempt to cover up and silence these glaring injustices, with dubious claims of injustices towards women (e.g. the wage gap, which has more to do with biologically wired choices than with discrimination). Sometimes there are true injustices towards women in modern western countries but they pale in comparison with the injustices towards working class men, divorced fathers and third world women. These are all shoved under the shadow of a collective rug.
2b. Justice and Equity, conservative shadow: Conservatives are only dimly aware that their wealth and comfort is not all due to intelligence and hard work, but comes partially at the expense of third world people who are currently producing most of our goods under bad environmental and labor conditions, and future generations who will be left with a much poorer and harsher world. Liberals have picked up on this shadow in the form of white privilege. It hits conservative below the belt, in the shadowy parts of their anatomy.

3a. In-group solidarity, liberal shadow: Liberals would love to be able to have more community, but they can't do it, primarily because they are too obsessed with their self-esteem or family, have no sense of the sacred (see below) and are afraid of hierarchy. They are jealous of conservatives who seem to have better communities, often under the umbrella of a church, and more stable families. They don't see that there are conflicts between the needs of the individual, the family and the community. Still, they attempt some in-group solidarity by uniting against various systems and groups, and virtue signaling.
3b. In-group solidarity, conservative shadow: Conservatives have taken the human tactic of achieving in-group solidarity by uniting against the out-group to the level of disdain or even hatred. They project their failure to achieve Dionysian bliss and ego-transcendence through group solidarity onto liberals, who seem to be able to achieve ecstatic states even without group solidarity. They seem to forget the excesses of 20th century fascism, lost in the misty shadows of time.
3c. Both liberals and conservatives are unconsciously afraid of the decline and death of our civilization. Liberals are afraid of barbarian hordes from in the form of deplorables, while conservative are afraid of barbarian hordes in the form of muslims, LGBT SJWs, and zombies.

4a. Respect for authority, liberal shadow: Liberals become obsessed with their children and try to be their friends instead of acting as authorities towards them, becoming unable to get certain kinds of work (that require precision, concentration and/or dangerous environments) done, and becoming unable to have adult conversations because the children are the center of attention (and grow up to be narcissists).
Liberals tend to bring leaders down, even if they are competent leaders that serve the group. They might first fall in love with leaders who promise love, connection, community abundance, and ego-transcendence, but eventually they discover these leaders have all too human qualities and the honeymoon is over. The shadow is a subconscious fear that incompetence and abusive (though seemingly benevolent) leaders exist.
4b. Respect for authority, conservative shadow: If the authority is corrupt, it could lead to nasty results like molesting children by the catholic church, condoning by priests of oppression of women by their husbands in isolated pre-industrial villages, etc. This is part of the compound shadow of fascism, whose other parts are 3b and 5b. When the shadow is driving the conservative person, they will double down in their faith in the authority when confronted with the abuse of power by the authority.

5a. Purity/sanctity, liberal shadow: Liberals do not like boundaries much, especially when it comes to mental categories. They do not like to be put into mental boxes, whether these are gender, religion, political affiliation, except when they seek group solidarity through virtue signaling or out-group disdain. However, boundaries can be useful. This is obvious in the case of hygiene, where mixing rats with domestic scenes, or poop with food can lead to plagues. It is less obvious in cases where divisions of labor according to biological sex or other pre-existing propensities can give groups selective advantage over other groups.

5b. Purity/sanctity, conservative shadow: Grimness, or the inability to laugh at oneself is no fun and maladaptive to boot. It's maladaptive because it is not allowing new information to flow across boundaries. Boundaries need to be porous to some degree to optimize fitness.

Early childhood traumas turned shadows:
1c. liberal hating
1d. conservative loving
2c. liberal being treated unjustly
2d. conservative trying to be fair
3c. conservative being ostracized
3d. liberal not fitting in to religious philosophy, lifestyle, or gender
4c. conservative disobeying authority
4d. liberal trusting parent (and having bad consequence)
5c. conservative childhood mixing of boundaries: e.g. playing with poop and gender. But also possibly mixing of one's own immediate needs with another human being's long term mental health, as in what happens when young girls are molested by men. I don't know if anyone has tried to get stats on whether most rapists are conservative, and whether sexually repressive countries (and hence more conservative) have higher incidence of girl molestation by sexually repressed men.
5d. liberal trying to keep a toy for oneself and being forced by parent to share.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Practical application of the 5 moral values

This essay references Jonathan Haidt's research on moral values and the differences between liberals and conservatives: https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind
Please acquaint yourself with this work before reading this essay.

I have often wondered why Conservative communities seem to be long-lived and have low turnover (we can call that resilience) compared to liberal communities. Conservative Jews or Christians would say it's because they have God on their side, but that conflicts with the observation that Buddhist monasteries are also resilient. And that there seems to be different Gods involved between Islamist villages, Hindu villages, Taoist monasteries, Traditional African villages, and Judaeo-Christian ones. Also, some liberal Christian communities have a high turnover. So the God hypothesis is out.

The other observation I've made is that the conservative, resilient communities also are not usually joyful places to be in, especially after a while, because there is too much repression, not enough individual creativity and diversity. They tend to have abuses of power by leaders, domination, sexual scandals.

Both of these observations (having resilient communities which are no fun, or transient communities where people can thrive for a bit) can be explained with Jonathan Haidt's 5 moral values. The first two have liberals scoring higher on than conservatives, whereas the last 3 have liberals scoring lower than conservatives (on the average). To define liberals and conservatives, there are personality traits, the most important one being openness to new experiences (liberals score higher than conservatives). Understanding this fundamental difference helps understand why liberals score high on the first two and low on the last 3, with the converse for conservatives. Openness to new experience is correlated with openess to other people's reality (#1),  an inclination to define fuzzier in-group out-group boundaries (#3), hence a concern with the welfare of those outside of one's in-group (#2), a propensity to distrust leaders who paint the world in black and white categories (#4), and a tolerance for mixing and re-evaluating of categories. But why should these 5 values also explain the observations above about resilience of and joy in intentional communities?  Let's go through the 5 moral values and see:

1. Care/Compassion. Without care and compassion for people, regardless of their competence, their attractiveness, their usefulness to the community, their health, their age, their sexuality, etc, the human spirit can't thrive. Things can get hyper-rational, not enough heart.
2. Justice/equity. Necessary to avoid jealousy/resentment internally, but also to avoid being resented by the external world. Life is no fun when people harbor resentments.
3. Ingroup/solidarity. This is obviously essential to having a cohesive group, whether that group is a couple, a family, a community, a company or a nation. Liberals generally don't know how to do it, put their individual (or family if in a community) needs first, or don't care. Things that can help with this one are a common religion, ideology, or mission, a unifying leader, sex and deep intimacy (not practical on levels of organization greater than a small community, but it works well for couples, polyamorous communities/cultures and bonobos).
4. Respect for authority. This could be a unifying leader, but doesn't have to be. Without this one, practical things don't get done because competent or experienced leaders (in specific areas of expertise) are shot down or given the same weight  as incompetent or inexperienced newbies. The community falls apart or gets outcompeted by the rest of the world where competence matters. Liberals are obsessed with tyrannical, or unearned leadership, but it is not the only leadership that exists. If a competent leader in a particular area of expertise can also incorporate the first two values above, it increases their usefulness to the group.
5. Sanctity/purity. This is associated with how rigid the boundaries are between categories, either physical or otherwise. A highly permeable membrane is typical of liberals. Disgust is exhibited when rigid membranes are crossed, an emotion stronger with conservatives. Like all of these, this one has an evolutionary use: it prevents freeloaders (or parasites from other species) from taking over the group, by having strict adherence to resource boundaries and also agreements. Violators are punished by conservative people, whereas liberals are laxer with freeloaders, to the detriment of the group.

Each of these 5 values can also have negative consequences (oftentimes with people not being conscious of them right away, in which case they can be called "shadows") for either human flourishing and/or for the survival of the group:
1. If compassion is not tempered by good boundaries and accountability (number 5), freeloaders can take over, taking advantage of "soft targets".
2. If equality of outcome is enforced (as opposed to equality of opportunity), individual liberty suffers, especially as the number of members of the group increases. Also, efficiency suffers because competency levels differ among individuals, so enforced equality could make the community less competitive and/or less thriving. Equal opportunity on the other hand often leads to choosing different ways of using one's gifts, oftentimes based on gender or other biological or cultural factors. This is not a problem unless one has an ideology (which coincidentally is not consistent with social science research) that believes differences are an unnecessary cultural construct.
3. Ingroup solidarity could entail outgroup demonization, which usually leads to war and hurting potential allies. It's an easy way to unite a group by demonizing a scapegoat or another group, but there are other ways to develop ingroup solidarity.
4. Respect for authority can lead to tyrannical and/or incompetent leaders. These are one kind of freeloaders, who take more from the group than they give back, and can lead to misery by restraining individuals too much with their tyranny.
5. An obsession with purity can lead to punishment and misery for innocent people, some of whom could contribute alot to the group. Imagine what would have happened if Issac Newton had been punished by puritans for his homosexuality... Also, combining categories can lead to new concepts and ideas. Part of the creative process involves crossing conceptual boundaries and combining previously separate categories. Too much punishment of people using freeloading strategies can stifle creativity in everyone.

It seems odd to me that people can be divided so neatly into these categories (and also cross-culturally), where one group scores high on two of the values and the other group scores high on the other 3 values. But upon deeper examination, this is not true, except for averages. It might start out that conservatives don't value individual liberty so much, but if they are going to survive, that value must increase. This has happened to many conservatives in the US. Similarly, liberals might start out with an aversion to ingroup loyalty, but if they are to survive, that value must increase. Unfortunately many young SJWs seem to adopt ingroup solidarity combined with outgroup aversion. Another example of how people can change is that when conservatives are made to feel safe (and hence probably open to new experience), they effectively become more liberal (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2017/11/22/at-yale-we-conducted-an-experiment-to-turn-conservatives-into-liberals-the-results-say-a-lot-about-our-political-divisions/). So there is a negative feedback that social evolution effectuates, to bring liberals towards more conservative values, and vise versa. BTW, it would be wrong to conclude from the Yale experiment that conservatives are somehow less enlightened than liberals. In some circumstances, too much openness to new experience is counter-productive and has less survival value and in some circumstances it makes sense to be scared.

An open question is whether liberals evolve to score lower on the first two, higher on the last 3, or both.

Also, the results depend on the level of organization that is probed in the survey. In the original survey, that level is the nation (questions like "are you proud of your country?"). What if instead the focus shifted to the couple relationship, family or village/community level? Would it be possible that some people score high on all 5 moral values? I would call those people integrated in the Jungian sense. Those people could be screened for membership to potentially successful intentional communities.


Friday, April 6, 2018

The liberal bane

In the following I define "liberal" as someone who is more open to new experience than a "conservative", and also has a values hierarchy different than a conservative, according to Jonathan Haidt's work: https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind. These are personality types, that have consequences in political opinions and policies. I also use "liberal", "conservative" and "freeloader" as names for strategies that anyone can engage in, not putting people in rigid boxes. We can all be freeloaders (especially under conditions of a preponderance of well-meaning liberals who don't like to monitor and punish), though some people are mostly conservative or liberal. I am not using these words in the same manner that conservatives use "criminal" or "terrorist", where they draw rigid boxes around "those people" and claim that "we" are different.

It is not hard to understand why conservative people will sometimes pin their hopes for relief from hardship on dictators, demagogues and harsh, intolerant leaders. The germans who embraced Hitler and the Third Reich were humiliated by economic sanctions and unemployment, the US republicans who embraced Trump were humiliated by globalization (loss of jobs to China, Mexico and immigrants), unemployment and unaffordable health care (aka Obamacare).

It is harder to understand how liberals and people who embrace the liberal values of liberty, fraternity and equality can be overtaken by dictators and autocratic governments. How can we explain the Reign of Terror of the French revolution emanating from the enlightment liberal values of Rousseau? How can we explain that Robespierre, a man who was against war, the death penalty and slavery, who coined the phrase "libery, equality, fraternity" ended up as one of the architects of the reign of terror? That the Paris Commune, which started with artists, anarchists and lovers of freedom, ended up (in the words of Anatole France) as "A committee of assassins, a band of hooligans, a government of crime and madness."? What hypothesis do we construct to account for the russian revolution, which also started with good intentions of freeing the peasants and working classes, but ended up with one of the leading murderers in all history at its forefront (Stalin), with brutal repression, gulags and famines?

How do we explain the current fashion in liberal circles to silence opinions that contradict their small-minded caricatures of reality (aka ideology)? Well, that's one hypothesis right there, already mentioned by Jordan Peterson, that ideology is but a small window into the world. and ideologues mistake the window for the whole of reality. Thus patriarchy, which has some elements of unearned power and domination, is seen as representing whiteness and masculinity. Other aspects of masculinity, such as self-sacrificing for the good of the group, long-range vision, wisdom, competence, focus and compassion are ignored. Or consider reifying all evil in "white supremacy". The facts that Genghis Khan and Mao were asian, the imperialistic Zulus and the murderous Idi Amin were african, some native americans were fond of torture and cold-blooded killing, and that women are capable of as much brutality and domination as men are ignored. The racist reduction of a whole group of people to an enemy in general (not just with white men) is an example of how ideology reduces the world to a caricature.

Also mentioned by Jordan Peterson is the totalitarian impulse, which seems to be present in the left personality type as much as the right one (but not in the libertarian one!). This is not obvious from Jonathan Haidt's research on political personality types. Perhaps the surveys need to be modified to account for times of stress or feeling threatened, when this impulse might be activated even in liberals.

Another observation offered by JP is that the left is much more interested in rights than in responsibilities. If we take rights to be benefits offered to individuals by the higher level group, and responsibilities as costs required of individuals by the higher level group in exchange for those rights, we can add another hypothesis to explain the rise of totalitarianism in leftist groups: dictators are one example of freeloaders, that flourish in an environment where rights are revered more than responsibilities (the converse of dictators like Hitler that flourish in environments where responsibilities are revered more than rights is also possible). In an environment where punishment and monitoring are frowned upon, and where people want to look at benefits but not at costs, freeloading flourishes. Most freeloaders are low cost to the group (though they can destroy the group if they get too numerous), but from time to time one arises that extracts a high cost, like a dictator or psychopath.

In other words, liberals have no defenses against freeloaders, especially when they come dressed as dictators and others of a totalitarian bent (some people say psychopaths). The way this works in detail is as follows. First, liberals do not want to admit that freeloaders exist in their own ranks. No, they only exist in the ranks of the "enemy". I speculate that this inconsistency with the liberal character type (openness to new experience and ideas) is explained by the existence of a Jungian shadow, a taboo in consciousness, something I've written about in previous posts:
shadows1 and
shadows2. Second, by the time they notice the freeloaders among them, it is too late, as the freeloaders have accumulated power. The nice, peaceful, pacifist liberals are sent to a Gulag/prison, killed, dispossessed, erased and silenced by the less nice and totalitarian (freeloading) liberals. This happened in every documented revolution, except possibly the american revolution (which could be argued to have primarily been driven by conservatives). It happens in every organization that starts out with good intentions for liberty, equality and fraternity (or sorority) but no defenses against freeloaders. Even when there is no bloodbath, when people do not recognize that social change requires some effort to be productive instead of just destroying the old order, nothing good can come out of it (e.g. the Weather Underground). Sometimes the liberal propensity for openess and lack of boundaries encourages freeloaders who take advantage of the weak liberals, and sometimes the dictator type of freeloaders take advantage of the situation by saying they will be tough on freeloaders.

There is a complication here, in that freeloaders can actually be useful to a group. Laziness often breeds innovation, and people who do not play by the rules (and who might thus be seen as freeloaders and sometimes are) can sometimes find better ways of doing things, or point out things that everyone else is blind to. So monitoring and punishment of freeloaders (which coincidentally are part of the Ostrom Principles for avoiding the Tragedy of the Commons) are not always a good thing. In other words, there is an evolutionary tradeoff between the variation introduced by freedloaders and the reduced group fitness that they produce. This points to another liberal bane, the inability to see certain tradeoffs such as between group fitness and variation.

Three other tradeoffs come to mind which are often missed by liberals: the tradeoff between liberty and equality, the tradeoff between liberty and fraternity (or communion with others) and the tradeoff between fraternity and equality. The first is often pointed to by conservatives who make the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. There is less of a tradeoff between liberty and equality, when we strive for equality of opportunity, but if we try to enforce enforce equality of outcome, we can only do so at the expense of individual liberty, because people will have different skills and talents naturally. 

The second tradeoff was noticed by sociologists  studying intentional communities such as Ben Zablocki when he studied the Bruderhof. People in modern ICs want to maximize both communion with others and individual liberty, but it can't be done, because there is a tradeoff between them. We have to find the sweet spot between being sheeple who are very much connected to each other, and maverick individualists who keep getting in each other's way and can't commune with each other. Individual needs not only vary among themselves, but often conflict with group needs.

The third tradeoff, between fraternity and equality happens because polarity (large inequality) breeds attraction, especially in the sexual sphere. Even gay people will find that they are attracted to (especially in a long term relationship) people who are very different from them in some essential ways, for example gender wise (masculine vs feminine), or race wise (note Milo's lover is black), or introverted vs extroverted.

These tradeoffs are not excuses, as some conservatives have acted, to not pursue the values of liberty, equality or fraternity. But we must pursue them wisely, with awareness of the tradeoffs between them. Both conservatives and liberals should be able to do this.

Also, there is the idea that we all have intrinsic value, independent of what we produce, or of keeping our responsibilities. This might correspond more to a hunter-gatherer ethic, or a maternal archetype, something opaque to conservatives that liberals can bring to the table. 

If only liberals and conservatives can unite, some new culture with hope for human prosperity will arise. Otherwise, conservatives will outcompete liberals at the levels of family and community (since they care more about responsibilities than individual rights), especially as fossil fuels dwindle and the effects of climate change play out. This is a tragedy for human well being, since without individual liberty, without nurturing and communing and experiencing dyonisian ego transcendence, human life is not worth it. The conservative shadow comes out in totalitarianism and hurting girls, women (and sometimes young boys) through molestation and having bitter old men who can't find intimacy.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Integration of the Shadows

The Conservative (masculine) Shadow

We once treated nature well. We've been terrible stewards since the industrial revolution        


                                     →

Jesus espoused mostly feminine values. He was also a SJW. Many recent civilizations torture, rape and kill the feminine, the wild, the untamed and those who resist.






























The liberal (feminine) Shadow


Men use to have work that was engaging, challenging and useful to our families and communities.


Now, if we don't want to be racist or misogynist we have boring, abstract, or not appreciated, or not always obviously useful work:





It's no wonder we sometimes turn to violence:










Love, generosity, high ideals are not enough to create a thriving culture. Without boundaries, competition, proportional punishment and monitoring, the idealists are guillotined, sent to gulags, shot, parasitised or crucified.








In the previous post I talked about two collective shadows, one from the Right (or more accurately the conservatives), and one from the Left (or more accurately the liberals). Right and Left are not just about policies but about value hierarchies and personality types (see Jonathan Haidt's work on the 6 values that differ between Right and Left), so it is not surprising that there should be two complexes of symbols and values (with some overlap) and collective memories that are distinctly obscure to these two different groups. It also seems to me that there is a correlation between the conservative personality type and masculinity, and the left and femininity, but it is very imprecise. There might also be a correlation with social class, but we won't discuss that here.  All these might be about left and right brain regions, or about the module in the brain that deals with opposites.


It is possible to do personal integration, but it is also possible to do collective integration. Both of these require facing the shadow, either in oneself, or in the other.

The following examples are supposed to illustrate how a personal shadow might form in the first place (and we can try generalizing about the genesis of collective traumas), through traumatic childhood experiences that are not fully processed. People not willing to look at information, or trying to suppress it is a shadow for me that was probably formed from some of those experiences I mention below. But it's also possible that it's a more general phenomenon that trauma is sometimes buried (perhaps during the process of dissociation) and turns into a shadow. My particular traumas make me especially sensitive to other people's shadows, since they are associated with other people trying to suppress information! 

I know when my shadow is being triggered when I get angry with someone for being a certain way and I start thinking of things that it reminds me of. For example, when someone refuses to look at certain data, whether from science or history, because they are convinced they know already, or because of their faith, I get angry. I think of Galileo trying to show the priests the rings of Saturn through the telescope, and their refusal because it can't possibly be true according to their church dogma (if I recall that story correctly), and their adding salt to injury by wanting to burn him. I especially get mad when people are smug and sure that they are right. Instead of getting mad and projecting my shadow unto them, I could try to delve deeper and face this shadow. First in myself, asking "when did something like this happen in my personal life, maybe during childhood"? I recall playing a board game when someone discounted something I did and would not want to listen to what I was saying and me feeling really hurt by it, like an injustice has been committed. Or the teenage boy who threatened to kill my father if I didn't tie his shoelaces (I was too young to know how to do it properly, but I tried) and then threatening to kill my father if I told anyone. Or my mother pretending (even to her own conscious mind) like the pot roast my grandmother left on the stove without a lid did not have flies in it, and mixing them all in to destroy the evidence so that she could feed it to her coworker for lunch. Or the judge who would not listen to how I was already paying child support in a much greater amount than was appropriate based on my and my ex-wife's income, and how I did not agree with my son being sent to private school, so of course I didn't want to pay extra for his schooling. Or not allowing as evidence that I was a better parent, the answering machine tape that had him begging for me to come get him after being kicked on the floor after refusing to do laundry just the way she wanted. Or not being able to listen to the girl playing guitar at the recital because I was in a laughing mood and causing her to leave the stage in tears because of my laughter. There is a cruelty in me in inflicting on others the same cruelty that has been inflicted on me by others. But instead of facing that cruelty in me, I denounce others when I see it in them. On the other hand, humor and laughter are attempts to integrate opposites, or maybe the two hemispheres. What has come to be known as internet memes also seem to engage both hemispheres and could be a tool for shadow integration.

Beyond the personal, there is collective trauma, such as the Holocaust, or black slavery, or Jim Crow, or the genocide of native people, or witch burnings that I can feel somehow, not just as an abstract intellectual thing. Maybe from a past life, or maybe because our brains are antennae that can pick up information stored in a morphic field (which could be yet unknown to science or a known field like spacetime that has memory storage properties yet unmeasured). There might be some memory in epigenetic changes to bio-molecules. Or maybe from reading history, reading literature and watching historical movies.

So the collective trauma can be addressed by me alone, or by engaging with others who seem to be repeating it, but instead of repeating it, I could try to do something different. But I must be able to engage with them rather than "agreeing to disagree".

Still, it seems that if someone refuses to look at something that they haven't seen before, it could be because they are afraid of unearthing a shadow. I have a similar experience when someone is trying to evangelize me and I refuse to look at their holy book, either because I've already read some of it, or because I've seen enough holy books in my life to know that a book is not going to make much of a difference to me, unless it has some radically new ideas.

I'd like to suggest that if you are feeling an emotional resistance to looking at a movie or reading a book or having a conversation with someone there might be a shadow involved, as opposed to simply not having time.

And who wants to confront his own death? That seems to be a big shadow for many people. What if our whole civilization is dying like all the ones before it? That might be a collective shadow shared by both right and left.

Humor and laughter seem to be integrative experiences, though sometimes they fall short and someone's shadow, instead of being integrated, is triggered.

To summarize, in order to integrate a shadow:
1. Confront it in yourself. Try to remember when it started. Dig deep and go for feelings in addition to insights. Realize that it is not just out there, but a part of you.
2. Confront it in others. Not in a belligerent way, but in a transparent, curious and empathetic way. The people who you are least likely to talk to are the ones that can teach you most about your shadow.
3. Make peace with it in whatever way works, whether through humor, boundary setting, punishment, reward, reading literature, poetry or looking at memes, but most of all understanding.
Most good comedy and poetry tries to integrate shadows. Here is a little poem that touches on some collective shadows:
Tell me again
When I’ve been to the river
And I’ve taken the edge off my thirst
Tell me again
We’re alone and I’m listening
I’m listening so hard that it hurts
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you want me then

Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen

Tell me again
When the victims are singing
And the laws of remorse are restored
Tell me again
That you know what I’m thinking
But vengeance belongs to the Lord
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then

Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen

Tell me again
When the day has been ransomed
And the night has no right to begin
Try me again
When the angels are panting
And scratching at the door to come in
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you need me then

Amen
Amen
Amen
Amen

Tell me again
When the filth of the butcher
Is washed in the blood of the lamb
Tell me again
When the rest of the culture
Has passed through the eye of the camp
Tell me again
When I’m clean and I’m sober
Tell me again
When I’ve seen through the horror
Tell me again
Tell me over and over
Tell me that you love me then


Monday, February 5, 2018

Jordan Peterson and the Collective Shadows of Western Civilization

A Jungian shadow is an unconsious blind spot that can have a will of its own, usually malevolent, or at least animalistic and wild, unconcerned with the needs of others. It can be shared by a whole culture, beyond individual unconsciousness.

The shadow of leftists has been unearthed by Jordan Peterson, although many right leaning people are also aware of it. It is the existence of malevolence, pleasure in domination, greed for power, betrayal, freeloading, relinquishing responsibility/blaming others for hardships and one's personal character inadequacies, objectifying, animalistic lust, in people who should be at the top of the "hierarchy of being oppressed". In everyone, in fact, including the leftists. There is a naivete in leftists who see the world in tribal terms, in good guys vs bad guys terms, or oppressors and oppressed, and are surprised when evil comes from within their own ranks or the ranks of the (previously) oppressed, without or prior to systemic support. They realize it too late, before the guillotine comes down, or as they're picking rocks in the gulag, or as they enter the gas chambers or facing the firing squad (when their liberal neighbors collaborated in their being sent there), or as their wife leaves them with most of their assets and children. JP has an exercise for his students, to have them imagine what it would be like to be a concentration camp guard. But it would be just as useful for them to imagine being a republican farmer, without labeling that person as racist and ignorant. To see what motivates that person that is not just fear or hatred. Or to imagine being the pedophile or the rapist. To see their humanity, their unmet needs for intimacy, for sex, for connection, and also for domination and power. There is an evasion of this latter in NVC (a very liberal invention), which says that real malevolence or domination is an epi-phenomenon, that it is really fear or some strategy for getting genuine benevolent needs met. The Jungian model on the other hand says that the malevolence comes from the shadow when it is not integrated into the individual or collective consciousness (I'll talk about what integration looks like in a future post), so one can be possessed by this force. It is still there when it is integrated, but under control. The malevolence and lust for power of the rapist is matched by the malevolence and lust for revenge of the lynch mob, as they both are possessed by this shadow.

One could say that the left has mostly masculine shadows, whereas the right has mostly feminine shadows. A part of masculine sexuality is dangerous when not integrated. It wants to fuck without concern for the experience of the other. It wants to express power, sometimes violence, through sex. When integrated it can be a source of pleasure for the other as well as oneself, creativity and productivity. Supposedly "the meek shall inherit the earth" can be translated also as "those with their swords sheathed shall inherit the earth". Note the phallic symbolism. The benevolent masculine (which is also obscure to the left) is about using intrinsic gifts in service to family and community, but this comes with a hint of danger, with an integrated animalistic shadow lurking underneath. Great suffering comes to those men who can't be of service and be appreciated for that. And the left is blind to this suffering, thinking that men are just like women and need safety and comfort and nurture to the exclusion of challenge and a matching of gifts to community needs. The left is also blind to the fact that hierarchies are not just about power and freeloading, but also about competence and skill and wisdom.

Just as the shadow of leftists is more conscious in rightists, the shadow of rightists is more conscious in leftists. They recall the witch (really healer women) burnings, the genocide of native peoples, the enslavement and oppression of black people, the disrespect for feminine intuition, nurture, body wisdom and deep connection in favor of impersonal reason, the domination of nature, the crucifixion of Jesus (not as a pre-ordained event, but as the oppression of a social revolutionary trying to evoke feminine values), the destruction of cottage and home-based industries (sometimes a domain of women), sex trade of women who lead miserable disempowered lives. The attempt at consciousness of these things, combined with the unconscious leftist shadow can lead to rage and a projection of that shadow unto men, or white people. It's not just the unconsciousness of historical events, but the unconsciousness of current events. The gnawing feeling that our Faustian civilization (to use Oswald Spengler's term) is destroying our soul, the feminine, nature and we are complicit by the work we choose, by the products we buy, by pieces of our mother earth we carve up to own and extract resources from (instead of receiving gifts from and stewarding), by how we see the world and live our lives.

Jordan Peterson shows hints of being aware of this shadow. He mentions how good he is at dancing (a collaborative enterprise with females). He mentions mystical experiences that can happen through music, sex (as a way to divine connection, not just as a gratification of a biological itch), prayer and dance. He is even aware of the mystical experiences that can be stimulated by Ayahuasca (DMT) and Psilocybin in his discussion with Ben Shapiro, who exemplifies the right. Ben Shapiro on the other hand is (almost) completely oblivious to feelings, mystical experiences and the possible awakening to the Feminine that drugs can induce, though he is aware of the mystical branch of Judaism (the Hassidim), but only in an intellectual way.

Also, JP is aware of collective guilt, which is another sign of a shadow operating. When one shines light on the shadow, the guilt evaporates, to be replaced by compassion for all involved, and a desire to make things better. SJWs on the other hand are using the collective white and male guilt/shadow as a weapon to silence whites and males.

These two shadows can oscillate back and forth into prevalence during the life of a culture, perhaps even as one culture embodying one shadow dies and another embodying the opposite shadow is born. Such might have been the case with the death of Tribal civilizations and the rise of the Judaeo-Christian culture. It almost was able to integrate feminine values with Jesus, but it didn't quite make it. Fear of collective cultural death due to an extreme in either of these shadows can itself be a shadow. What emerges when these shadows are integrated, with the collaboration of the left and the right could be a new culture. Like what happened in The Dark Crystal, when the Mystics and Skeksys were united. Integrating these shadows within ourselves is a prerequisite to integrating them as other people from the opposite side of the political spectrum.

And what happens to those who point to other people's collective shadows? They are usually killed. I'm thinking here of Jesus, Gandhi, MLK, Medgar Evers, Oscar Romero, and the historically nameless numerous female healers who perished by fire.

Here is what L. Cohen had to say about all this:
Give me back my broken night
My mirrored room, my secret life
It's lonely here,
There's no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
Over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby
That's an order
Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that's left
And stuff it up the hole
In your culture
Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St. Paul
I've seen the future, brother
It is murder
Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold
And it has overturned
The order of the soul
When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant
When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant
When they said (they said) repent (repent), repent (repent)
I wonder what they meant
You don't know me from the wind
You never will, you never did
I'm the little Jew
Who wrote the Bible
I've seen the nations rise and fall
I've heard their stories, heard them all
But love's the only engine of survival
Your servant here, he has been told
To say it clear, to say it cold
It's over, it ain't going
Any further
And now the wheels of heaven stop
You feel the devil's riding crop
Get ready for the future
It is murder
There'll be the breaking of the ancient
Western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There'll be phantoms
There'll be fires on the road
And the white man dancing
You'll see a woman
Hanging upside down
Her features covered by her fallen gown
And all the lousy little poets
Coming round
Tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson
And the white man dancin'
Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St. Paul
Give me Christ or give me Hiroshima
Destroy another fetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby
it is murder
and here is what JR Tolkien had to say (does Gandalf integrate Shadow, or merely slay it?):