Jung on Individualism

Jung on Individualism

A Mediterranean Brigantine Drifting Onto a Rocky Coast in a Storm, by Willem van de Velde the Younge (circa 1700)


Our day is filled with chaos and disorder. America and the nations of Europe have been suffering severely the past decade or so because of an overemphasis on the collective, as opposed to the individual. C.G. Jung would not share today’s obsession with collectivism. He had very specific ideas on individuals and what they offer mankind. The idea of individualism is inherent in Jung’s psychology–in his process of “individuation.” Even though there is, I believe, a phenomenon of world individuation, which I have written about, the primary Jungian doctrine is the individual undergoing a process of soul enrichment. World individuation will never occur until a certain number of individuals become individuated.

In a BBC broadcast talk Jung gave on November 3, 1946, he comments:

. . .there is one simple rule that you should bear in mind: the psychopathology of the masses is rooted in the psychology of the individual. Only if one succeeds in establishing that certain phenomena or symptoms are common to a number of different individuals can one begin to examine the analogous mass phenomena.1

Around 1918, Jung described this event: “I noticed peculiar disturbances in the unconscious of my German patients which could not be ascribed to their personal psychology. . .There was a disturbance of the collective unconscious in every single one of my German patients”2 Their dreams indicated the manifestation of archetypes that displayed “primitivity, violence, and cruelty.”3 After observing this phenomena for some time, Jung came to the conclusion that “the ‘blonde beast’ was stirring in an uneasy slumber and that an outburst was not impossible.”4 The failure of the Germans to integrate these uneasy forces led to the mass psychosis and ensuing disasters of World War II.

Jung implies that, if there had been enough individuals who had had the ability to integrate the tremendous forces rising up from within themselves, the evils of war could have been avoided.

The integration of unconscious contents is an individual act of realization, of understanding, and moral evaluation. It is a most difficult task, demanding a high degree of ethical responsibility Only relatively few individuals can be expected to be capable of such an achievement, and they are not the political but the moral leaders of mankind. The maintenance and further developments of civilization depend on such individuals, for it is obvious enough that the consciousness of the masses has not advanced since the first World War. Only certain reflective minds have been enriched, and their moral and intellectual horizon has been considerably enlarged by the realization of the immense and overwhelming power of evil, and of the fact that mankind is capable of becoming merely its instrument. . .Therefore, it is only too obvious that the vast majority are incapable of integrating the forces of order5

Integration of unconscious contents is an “individual act,” a choice one makes that requires a certain amount of freedom. Remember, freedom and individualism go hand-in-hand. Our age is fraught with the delusion that the Left can come to power, transform our society into a socialist/communist Utopia, and thereby solve the problems of humanity. But how can this be, when Marxist states always eventually disallow freedom and individualism? The emphasis is always firmly on the collective, which is radical collectivism. Radical collectivism cannot integrate the evil forces Jung is referring to. It requires a number of dedicated individuals to carry this off. They don’t even believe these forces exist!

The psychologist believes firmly in the individual as the sole carrier of mind and life. Society and the State derive their quality from the individual’s mental condition, for they are made up of individuals and the way they are organized. Obvious as this fact is, it has still not permeated collective opinion sufficiently for people to refrain from using the word “State” as if it referred to a sort of super-individual endowed with inexhaustible power and resourcefulness. The State is expected nowadays to ac­complish what nobody would expect from an individual. The dangerous slope leading down to mass psychology begins with this plausible thinking in large numbers, in terms of powerful organizations where the individual dwindles to a mere cipher.6

This is exactly the situation we find ourselves in today in America. The Left expects the State to be the “sole carrier of mind and life.” It is surmised that it can solve all economic, social, and moral problems facing us as a nation. Jung says “nobody would expect this from an individual.” Why should we expect it as a collective? What state government in all of human history has accomplished this? Obviously, none have. Utopia will never occur. That is one good reason why Marxism fails.

Consider that, in points of crisis throughout history, the archetypes always manifest. Jung says, “Whenever an archetype appears things become critical, and it is impossible to foresee what turn they will take.”7 Think of the chaos of the French Revolution, one of the most glaring examples. Of course, Jung is referring to the rise of Hitler and the National Socialists in Germany, but these forces have manifested many times in human history. According to Jung, Hitler and his minions displayed the collective archetype of the Shadow. A majority of the German people assented to their doctrine, and the result was extreme totalitarianism. What collective archetypes are we seeing come forth in our day? Leftists would obviously cite Trump and his “Make America Great Again” movement. I, myself, have rejected Marxism, along with their disdain for classical liberalism and individualism, which I consider myself a proponent of. I am waiting to see how things develop. There are evil forces erupting in America and Europe, of that there is no doubt. I refuse to accept that a Marxist government, which is seemingly what the new Democrat Party desires, can do anything but harm our great nation. Remember, individualism is a prerequisite for integration of unconscious contents, the evil powers that we usually repress. If America becomes a Marxist state, that will cease to exist, along with all freedoms promised to us by the current laws.

Jung was clearly a strong proponent of individualism. He believed it was the only way a society could be integrated. In 1928 he wrote the following:

Society, by automatically stressing all the collective quali­ties in its individual representatives, puts a premium on medioc­rity, on everything that settles down to vegetate in an easy, irre­sponsible way. Individuality will inevitably be driven to the wall…Without freedom, there can be no morality. Our admiration for great organizations dwindles when once we become aware of the other side of the wonder: the tremendous piling up and accentuation of all that is primitive in man, and the unavoidable destruction of his individuality in the interests of the monstrosity that every great organization in fact is.8

There is a war raging in America. Will we abandon the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Marxism, or even what they call Democratic Socialism (which is an oxymoron)? New York Times columnist, Bret Stephens, writing of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ victory last week, defines Democratic Socialism as “political hemlock for the Democratic Party.”9 I don’t know about you, but I choose to remain free and very much an individual who is attempting to benefit the collective good by trying to improve myself. This is all we can do. The State won’t do it for us.


Works Cited

Jung, C.G. Essays on Contemporary Events. trans. R.F.C. Hull. Bollingen: Princeton, 1989.

  1. Essays on Contemporary Events, p. 1
  2. Essays on Contemporary Events, p. 2
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. Essays on Contemporary Events, p. 4
  6. Essays on Contemporary Events, p. 8-9
  7. Essays on Contemporary Events, p. 76
  8. Essays on Contemporary Events, p. 75-76
  9. Democratic Socialism is Dem Doom, July 6, 2018

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