Written in 1964, during the Cold War, Jung makes some spectacular statements which resonate with the current state of affairs in this world. Whether we are talking about radical Islam, Iran or North Korea, the facts which litter history weakens the argument the West has against them.
Radical Islam is nothing new and has been around since its birth as a religion. Even in its formative centuries it has been seen as both beneficial (in sciences and arts) as well as destructive (iconoclasts, militancy). Any moral high ground other religions may think they have can quickly be removed when historical facts, both old and new, are thrown up against them. I doubt anyone needs to get those facts detailed as I think they are quite commonly known but fastidiously ignored by the majority.
Iran, buggaboo du jour, is incessantly villified by the West, much of it for good reason, but what keeps coming back is the installation of Mohammad Rez Pahlav, Shah of Iran, through a US backed coup. If anyone is to be blamed for the recalcitrant disgust the mullahs have for the west, much of it may be laid at the 13 years of his reign.
North Korea (DPRK) is a bit more difficult to explain, but it should be remembered that the peninsula was annexed by Japan in 1910 and divided into two ‘occupied’ parts at the end of WWII, the north into Soviet Russia and the south by the United States. In 1948, both were allowed governments via the UN and each immediately declared the entire peninsula as their own… hence the Korean War. Throw in a lot of Cold War tensions and we have the political hot potato that the DPRK is today. We can blame Japan, if we like, but the allies did split what was once a country into two warring bits.
With the above in mind, please read what C.G Jung wrote in 1964 while keeping in mind the angry divisions now in place between the above and Western powers.
(Taken from Dell Publishing Co, Inc.: ‘Man and His Symbols’, chapter 1, pg. 72-75 – first published 1964 Aldus Books, London)
If, for a moment, we regard mankind as one individual, we see that the human race is like a person carried away by unconscious powers; and the human race also likes to keep certain problems tucked away in seperate drawers. But this is why we should give a great deal of consideration to what we are doing, for mankind is now threatened by self-created and deadly dangers that are growing beyond our control. Our world is, so to speak, disassociated like a neurotic, with the Iron Curtain marking the symbolic line of division. Western man, becoming aware of the aggressive will to power of the East, sees himself forced to take extraordinary measures of defense, at the same time as he prides himself on his virtue and good intentions.
What he fails to see is that it is his own vices, which he has covered up by good international manners, that are thrown back in his face by the communist world, shamelessly and methodically. What the West has tolerated, but secretly and with a sense of shame (the diplomatic lie, systematic deception, veiled threats), comes back into the open and in full measure from the East and ties us up in neurotic knots. It is the face of his own evil shadow that grins at Western man from the other side of the Iron Curtain.
It is this state of affairs that explains the peculiar feeling of helplessness of so many people in Western societies. They have begun to realize that the difficulties confronting us are moral problems, and that the attempts to answer them by a policy of piling up nuclear arms or by economic “competition” is achieving little, for it cuts both ways. Many of us now understand that moral and mental means would be more efficient, since they could provide us with psychic immunity against the ever-increasing infection.
But all such attempts have proved singularly ineffective, and will do so as long as we try to convince ourselves and the world that it is only they (i.e., our opponents) who are wrong. It would be much more to the point for us to make a serious attempt to recognize our own shadow and its nefarious doings. If we could see our shadow (the dark side of our nature), we should be immune to any moral and mental infection and insinuation. As matters now stand, we lay ourselves open to every infection, because we are doing practically the same thing as they. Only we have the additional disadvantage that we neither see nor want to understand what we ourselves are doing, under the cover of good manners.
The communist world, it may be noted, has one big myth (which we call an illusion, in the vain hope that our superior judgement will make it disappear). It is the time-hallowed archetypal dream of a Golden Age (or Paradise), where everything is provided in abundance for everyone, and a great, just, and wise chief rules over a human kindergarten. This powerful archetype in its infantile form has gripped them, but it will never disappear from the world at the mere sight of our superior points of view. We even support it by our own childishness, for our Western civilization is in the grip of the same mythology. Unconsciously, we cherish the same prejudices, hopes, and expectations. We too believe in the welfare state, in universal peace, in the equality of man, in his eternal human rights, in justice, truth and (do not say it too loudly) in the Kingdom of God on Earth.
The sad truth is that man’s real life consists of a complex of inexorable opposites- day and night, birth and death, happiness and misery, good and evil. We are not even sure that one will prevail against the other, that good will overcome evil, or joy defeat pain. Life is a battleground. It always has been and always will be; and if it were not so, existence would come to an end.