“ The powerful factor which changes our whole life, which changes the surface of our known world, which makes history, is collective psychology — and collective psychology moves according to laws entirely different from those of our consciousness. The archetypes are the decisive forces, they bring about real events, and not our personal reasoning and practical intellect.”
— C. G. Jung
The above quote is from one of Jung’s presentations in October of 1935, in London. This was known simply as “Lecture 5,” and used to be available through Vintage Books. That lecture really should be reproduced in its entirety, but I’ve never found it mentioned in the other books by or about Jung. And that’s a shame, because the material he presented that day can be applied to current events.
Indeed, Jung’s insights and teachings are perhaps more relevant today, than they have been at any time since World War Two broke out. Though no one has officially announced that we are currently experiencing World War Three, there is obviously far too many declared and undeclared wars going on, and various groups seeking possession and control of valuable resources.
This struggle to “own” and exercise control over resources, to exploit the Natural World for selfish reasons, is not limited to the international stage. The truth is that the “elite” have been engaged in a cruel and vicarious campaign of economic warfare since Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. More, that type of warfare has benefited a group of people who do not tend to care if a presidential election is won by a Democrat or a republican. For they have grown richer under both parties.
This election cycle has upset the 1%, however. This is because the public is tired of the “business-as-usual” approach of both parties. If we look at the republican party, less than a year ago its establishment was making Donald Trump jokes. They didn’t take him seriously. They anticipated being entertained by a circus act that would rapidly burn out.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Mr. Trump as a person — or politician — you have to respect how he has played the republican party. Indeed, he has used the media — including social media — far more effectively than did Reagan, to utterly crush his toughest primary opposition. And his humiliation of Jeb Bush was definitely entertaining.
Of even more concern to the 1% was the extraordinary rise nation-wide of the Sanders revolution. Again, the establishment — including the media they own — did not take the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders seriously. They were convinced that the negative associations they have for “socialism” would prevent his message of social justice from taking root in our society. For while they reap the benefits of socialism for the wealthy, they are heavily invested in destroying the very concept of socialism that benefit’s the serfs.
Hence, we see the elites tasking their media — and CNN, Fox, and MSNBC are all engaged in this — with inserting specific images into the public’s discussions. And this, of course, does not always fit into the model that Jung used in his day, which were limited to conscious and unconscious. The prevalence and power of both the media (TV, radion, newspapers) has created a state of both individual and group consciousness that did not exist in the 1930s.
Television and radio allow people to be passive receivers of their output. This created fertile ground for the infamous subliminal messaging that was once common — please excuse me, for I must rush to the counter in the front of this insane theater, to purchase popcorn and soda — and both the tobacco and alcohol industries used updated visual messaging to sell their products.
Certainly, political campaigns are invested in similarly promoting their candidates. Clearly, this doesn’t always get the desired results …..one could cover Ted Cruz with a hundred American flags, coat him with bible verses, and one still has Ted Cruz. Thus, as we evaluate how the primaries have unfolded, it’s good to consider both individuals and groups.
What is easier to sell are the products of fear, which can include anger and violence. While such things as FBI statistics suggest that violent crime is going down in our country, a heck of a lot of people have very real fear of violence (including domestic and “stranger”).
Likewise, there are a lot of angry people these days. Some of it infects interactions with strangers. We see this with “road rage”; in grocery stores where people become aggressively rude; and even in the stands at junior high school sporting events. I was in the local bank today, and could hear one end of a phone conversation when I was at the counter. A couple of the bank tellers then told me about how lately, more people are snapping at them, as a result of financial stressors. I could see how upsetting it was for these ladies.
We’ve seen where groups of angry and/or fearful people begin talking about “taking action.” Pretty soon, people begin talking about Frequently, the identify some past time, which they associate with other people’s “taking actions” that brought about improvements. As these ideas spread, and people are hearing and reading about them, they begin to take similar actions. This has been the case in numerous examples of violent acts in America. It is the negative potential of group behavior, and it unfortunately tends to spread much faster than does the positive potential of group behavior.
Indeed, this allows those opposed to the expansion of social justice to only have to hire a small number of “agent provocateurs” to disrupt progressive social movements. When we think of America’s greatest non-violent leader, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is easy to list a dozen people who were tasked with disrupting his efforts in the civil rights movement.
When King expanded his focus to include issues such as militarism abroad and poverty at home, it raised the stakes. The forces against him were no longer merely racists. King was intent upon changing the very economic foundations of our country — and the enemies that brought about weren’t the types to freak out at the thought of integrated counters and public restrooms.
King was a threat, because his public ministry made people think differently. He forced some, and allowed others, to understand truths in a new manner. Thus, groups and individuals began to act differently. King sparked a change in the way in which Americans related to one another. That is power …..real power, not the type that money can buy. It is perhaps the best example of the power to transform society that we can study and hold firmly to, as the Sanders Revolution moves forward.
We need to make use of that transformative power of nonviolence when we meet in Philadelphia in July. We will be there in the spirit of King. We aren’t going to be turned around now …..we are growing stronger, and believe that there are too many unresolved issues to stop now. We will continue through the convention, and the fall election. And we are going to continue long after that.
Patrick R. McElligott