Water Man Spouts

Monday, June 12, 2006

A-Z: the archetype of Zarqawi

Section One: Zarqawi
"Would you have believed that a whole nation of highly intelligent and cultivated people could be seized by the fascinating power of an archetype?"
-- C.G. Jung; Analytical Psychology: Its Theory & Practice; Vintage Books; 1968; page 183.
The death of the man our media called Zarqawi raised a number of questions last week. Who was he? How did he die? What was he doing in Iraq? And what will be the consequences of his death? Could it possibly mark the beginning of the end of this ugly, brutal war?
Almost immediately after the "official" story was reported in the corporate news, even journalists from MSNBC mentioned previous reports that the US military intelligence had, to some extent, used Zarqawi's image in parts of sophisticated "psychological operations." Progressives on the democratic left used the internet to remind people that psy-ops are not only aimed at the Iraqi population. The US public has been served images of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman that have turned out to be "perception management."
Just as Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman's images were used to appeal to the public as wholesome and patriotic, representing the "good" in President Bush's holy war on "evil-doers," it is clear that the image of Zarqawi was presented as pure evil. And, in fact, most Americans would no doubt agree that Lynch and Tillman represent goodness, and that Zarqawi was a dangerous killer. For the sake of this discussion, I am not as interested in these people as individuals, but rather as symbols that communicate messages at a "gut level."
Another description of that "gut level" message would be the attempt to communicate on an unconscious or subconscious level. Just as when we teach our children to recognize the subliminal messages in corporate advertisements, we do well the nature of the images of the war presented to us by the corporate state. In the Vietnam era, Jonathan Myrick Daniels wrote about the "raw material for a living theology"; in the Iraqi war era, we may be examining the symptoms of the administration's death cult.

Section Two: King
"If Washington and Jefferson risked 'crucifixion' by kings to establish democracy, he preached, the lowliest American should do no less to refine the spirit and practice of equal citizenship."
-- Taylor Branch; At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68; Simon & Shuster; page 641.
A generation ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. died trying to raise the public's conscious awareness of the dangers of what he called "the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism." In his day, Martin was not the first black leader to connect American military aggression in Southeast Asia with racism within our society. Malcolm X had done the same, just as he connected domestic racism with Uncle Sam's African policy.
When Malcolm began to take his message to Africans, in hopes that it would reach the United Nations, he was killed. Today we can look back objectively, and see that Malcolm was actually attempting to refine the spirit and practice of equal citizenship, but in the 1960s, the media created an image of a dark, evil, and violent thug that posed a serious threat to American society.
Similarly, when Martin began to address the true nature of the disease that threatened the very soul of America, he became a "threat." When he bridged the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements, he became a danger to more than just the racists who were upset by the thought of blacks sitting at a public coffee counter. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had long considered King a danger: the aging Hoover -- who was clearly not the man his "image" was made to project -- combined his fear of Martin's passionate nature with a belief that King was being manipulated by communists. When King delivered his "A Time to Break Silence" speech in 1967, the decision was made to kill him.
In his powerful book, Branch notes that shortly after Martin's death, his close friend Stanley Levison was upset by the fact that most Americans had "already distorted the loss of 'their plaster saint who was going to protect them from angry Negroes'." (page 769) Branch's book penetrates the mythology of Martin's last days and weeks. Perhaps better than any other author, he makes the reader conscious of the fact that Martin suffered greatly as a man, and was crucified between the two "criminals" that are a part of all of our sad and weakly human nature.

Section Three: Jung
"He is our culture hero, who, regardless of his historic existence, embodies the myth of the divine Primordial Man, the mythic Adam."
-- C.G. Jung; Selected Writings; BMC Books; 1997; page 320.
In "Christ, A Symbol of the Self," Jung engages in a discourse on "Christ and his adversary, the Anti-Christ," in psychological terms. The discussion includes his examining the intersection of the unique and the universal, the unitemporal and eternal, of good and evil, and of the spiritual and of the material. Jung is not as concerned with a study of the historic Jesus, but rather with Christ the archetype.
Jung details how Christianity has attempted to deal with the concepts of evil and sin. From Paul to St. Augustine, there was an attempt to separate the natural world, which clearly contains pain and suffering, from the definition of "God." By the time of the Renaisance (or "rebirth of the antique spirit"), the symbolic nature of the ancient texts was confused, and their message lost to many. For example, in the case of Jesus's journey to the desert, where he was tempted, being understood as an internal, psychological process, the church began to teach that Jesus was tempted by an external entity.
It's interesting to note that Malcolm said the Dead Sea Scrolls would "take Jesus off the stained-glass windows, and place him in the context of humanity, where he belongs." Jung also talks about images from the Essenses and Gnostics, which speak of Jesus as being the "younger brother" of the Anti-Christ. Their images of "light" and "dark" recognize the relationship between the two potentials. Jung notes that their texts speak of good and evil, and light and dark, as being the right and left hands of God.
The Gnostics referred to the lower "God" of the less enlightened mainstream church of their day. This is the angry, jealous, and punishing God that in psychological terms could be described as the collective unconscious that Jung wrote about. It is the "god of war" that our president worships.

Section Four: Bush
"...(P)eople had simply no idea that our personal psychology is just a thin skin, a ripple on the ocean of collective psychology. The powerful factors, the 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."
-- C.G. Jung; Analytical Psychology; page 183.
Much of the ancient world was aware that human nature included both good and bad potentials. We can think of the concept of "yin-yang," or of the Iroquoian tribes understanding of people being a complex mix of light and dark, or even St. Patrick's introduction in his Confession ("I, Patrick, a sinner, the most unlearned and least of all the faithful and despised by many..."), who re-introduced the concepts of compassion and forgiveness to a rigid and political church.
The opposite of that awareness of self in terms of human nature, is the unconsciousness that Jung notes is unabled to distinguish between good and evil. He writes that, "Today humanity, as never before, is split into two apparently irreconcilable halves. The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves."
It is difficult not to see President George W. Bush's policies reflected in that description of unconscious conflict. Even if we are generous enough to grant that he is sincere in his misguided attempts to "fight evil-doers" in his violent policies in Iraq, it seems evident that he is unaware of the terror and pain and suffering that his actions has caused. If we again accept the description of Zarqawi being a thug and a brute, we surely must recognize that no force on earth will create more Zarqawis than this administration's Middle East policies.
In his "A Time to Break Silence" address, Martin quoted a letter from a Buddhist monk: "Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the imafe of violence and militarism."
For a variety of reasons, men like Bush and Cheney have no conscious understanding of Vietnam's lessons. They are likewise unconscious of the realities of their evil in Iraq, and rather than take responsibility for the pain and suffering they have caused, they will instead project it upon the next Zarqawi. They have created a nightmare.

Section Five: Us
"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.; A Time To Break Silence.
Ninety years ago, as Carl Jung has noted, intelligent people said that there would be no "great war," because they were "far too reasonable to let it happen, and our commerce and finance are so interlaced internationally that (such a) war is absolutely out of the question...." Yet Jung "saw it coming, I said in 1918 that the 'blond beast' is stirring in its sleep and something will happen in Germany...." (Analytical Psychology; pages 182-3)
Jung was convinced that a great war was coming from examing the archetypes moving beneath the unconscious levels: ".... what the unconscious really contains are the great collective events of the time. In the collective unconscious of the individual, history prepares itself; and when the archetypes are activated in a number of individuals and come to the surface, we are in the midst of history, as we are at present."
President Bush is as unconscious as any machine, such as a lawn-mower. He is representative of the collective unconscious mass of republicans who believe that the death of a common thug in Iraq is going to bring peace to that war-torn land .... just as they believe the execution of a death row inmate will end crime in Texas.
When they hear a Mr. Berg speak to the futility of killing the man who reportedly murdered his son, they are mildly uncomfortable, for they are unable to relate to that belief. They do not believe that this type of forgiveness is part of "human nature." They want Christ on the stained glass window, and King to be cause for a holiday sale.
President Bush has become so intoxicated with the illusion of power, that he has passed out at the wheel. He is driving our nation towards a greater war in the Middle East.
As citizens of this nation, and as members of the global community, we need to sound the alarm clock. We need to wake up, as a people, and become conscious of our humanity. We can not expect a sleeping "leader" to end the war in Iraq by killing a thug; we need to end the war by reaching the consciousness of Martin Luther King, Jr.
What would Martin do, were he here today? That's exactly what we need to do.


At June 17, 2006 at 7:40 PM, Blogger Tom Lowe said...

Prior to WWI, Jung himself had dreams of Europe being covered in blood, which he interpreted as the collective subconscious being prepared for war.


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