“But there’s two tendencies that can’t be integrated into Western life… and they’re the far Right and what’s called religious fundamentalism. They’re the two areas that can’t be drawn in.”
- Jonathan Bowden
In Jungian psychology, “the shadow” is understood to be the elements within an individual’s consciousness that are not integrated or “drawn in” to his or her identity. It is the part(s) of ourselves that we do not wish to be seen or acknowledged.
The shadow is the repository of all the traumas (both major and minor) that we have experienced, but not adequately moved through and integrated into our personality; our being.
The shadow is the part of ourselves we wish did not exist… but it does.
Internal alchemists understand that integrating the shadow is key to become a whole, actualized human. This is especially true as there are not only “negative” elements of ourselves that we reject that go into the shadow, but positive elements as well. This is referred to as the “gold” in the shadow- our internal treasure that unlocks our true potential.
However, the shadow is not just an individual phenomenon. Just like there is collective human group consciousness among both small and large groups of individuals connected by blood and/or culture, so too is there a “collective shadow”- the elements within a group that remain unassimilated into the greater whole.
After the Presidential elections, there was an idea being floated by “spiritual celebrities” like Deepak Chopra that the new President and the movement(s) behind him were in fact the embodiment of America’s collective shadow:
“If Trump is the latest expression of the shadow, he isn’t a bizarre anomaly… When the shadow breaks out, what’s wrong is right. Being transgressive feels like a relief, because suddenly the collective psyche can gambol in forbidden fields. When Trump indulges in rampant bad behavior and at the same time says to his riotous audiences, ‘This is fun, isn’t it?’ he’s expressing in public our ashamed impulse to stop obeying the rules…”
However, Chopra displays a very dualist and rather unsophisticated view of the shadow, depicting it as an inherently negative and undesirable thing that hopefully will “go back underground”. Chopra speaks against both denial and full surrender to the shadow, but also speaks nothing of integrating it- the very thing that the Jungian school that invented the term insists needs to be done. Rather, Chopra speaks of the shadow as a somewhat cartoonish villain, reassuring those fearing the threat to “good” modern liberal values that “the shadow never wins in the end.”
But Trump and “Trumpism” is just the latest face put on a boogeyman that has haunted the Internationalist Liberal Empire for over a century; the latest name for modernity’s shadow.
In the social code of western modernity, it is unacceptable to be intolerant to nearly all groups of people- except religious fundamentalists and the far right.
One of the great fears among liberals in the U.S. that was drummed up during the Bush Administration and never really went away is that of a “fundamentalist Christian dictatorship” that would strip away all the “progress” (i.e. abortion) of the last few decades and take away every special right granted to every special class of people.
Ironically, the fundamentalists haven’t held any REAL power since the post-WWII era.
One of the great fears of the Neo-Marxist vanguard left is that of a return to “fascism” by a surge in power by “Neo-Nazis” and the KKK- who also haven’t held any REAL power in the west since WWII.
These people, we are told, are ignorant, xenophobic racists, rednecks, terrorists, and even “Nazis” with an “evil” ideology. Therefore, we as a culture and a society are given a green light to mock, ridicule, belittle and in some cases, even assault and kill “those evil people”. Why? Because their beliefs we are told, if left alone, will “inevitably” lead to oppression and genocide.
But what are these beliefs really? What are the core elements of this shadow?
Both the far-right and fundamentalism are tied to the anti-modernist school of thought known as Traditionalism. One interesting historical side note is that many surviving NSDAP (“Nazis”) to Islam after WWII; Islam being one of the most fundamentalist, life-dominating religious practices there is- a complete and total submission to that way of life.
The primary difference between the left and the right ideologically is belief in equality vs. belief in inequality. Of course, this belief has largely been squeezed out of the modern political right and has become the realm of the far-right “Nazis”.
At its most spiritual level, the far-right believes that inequality produces a sort of spiritual aristocracy and a hierarchy where everyone has a clear role in society.
The primary difference between fundamentalist religion and non-fundamentalist religion is that there is a designated, tried and true “right way” of religious and spiritual interpretation, versus the “this means what I want it to mean” of the modern secularized liberal “universalist” religions.
Perhaps even more importantly, fundamentalism tends to require a complete and utter surrender to a religious way of life that consumes their life in a way that most modern westerners couldn’t even comprehend.
Both the far-right and fundamentalism are fiercely tribal, focusing on taking care of their own.
Both are militant and warrior-like in their convictions.
So we have tribalism and the belief in helping one’s own people first; we have the inequality of Nature as a moral truth and good as it creates the pressure needed for evolution, which in humans ultimately creates a natural/spiritual aristocracy; we have the practice complete submission and devotion to an Absolute set of morals and ideals that comes from “Above”, which takes a tremendous amount of discipline along with the fierce conviction that these things supersede any allegiance to the modern corporate state.
These are warrior virtues.
These are the ideals that have been part of traditional human life across cultures for eons.
But now, these are ideals that are completely incompatible with modern liberal society and seen as “evil”.
But yet these are things that are archetypal and still reside strongly within the human collective consciousness- and not as remnants of an “old age”, but things that are perennial and timeless. They are in our very DNA- if not in form, in essence.
And it is the essence and core of these virtues and practices of Traditionalism that needs to be re-integrated into the modern human experience, rather than shunned as some sort of pariah.
It would be a true “blending of opposites” on a societal level; a kind of “social alchemy“.
The shadow MUST be integrated in order to become what we are truly capable of becoming in our fullness. And the slow, rotting stagnation of liberal society and the legacy of the Enlightenment is proof of this. We may have more money and less death, but inside we are hollow and vapid. We need the gold of this shadow to revitalize and put substance back into humanity.
But if these things are truly completely incapable of being integrated into modern society and are completely incompatible with it; what are we to do if we want a truly holistic society that elevates humanity to the next level?
Build another one.
Namaste and WRA-ALDA’S Blessings.