Thursday, October 6, 2011

Carl Jung & the Cowardly Blood Sport of Nazi-Baiting

[Also see this follow-up post: C. G. Jung and the Nazis: notes on two specific allegations.]

1. "Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality ...."
The heyday of European fascism was the period between the end of World War I and the end of World War II. During this time there were a great many fascists in Europe. Tens of millions of them, in fact. The most well known fascist movements were in Germany, Italy and Spain, but there were also large home-grown fascist parties in other countries, especially Austria, Romania and Bulgaria, and smaller fascist groups and grouplets in every European state and also in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. An excellent overview of fascism as a mass, popular movement in Europe is Michael Mann's book Fascists, pictured to the right.

Ironically (perhaps), one of the best ways of gauging the numerical strength of fascist organizations is by their electoral performance. For example, in the German federal election of 1924 the Nazis received 2 million votes. In 1930 that shot up to 6.5 million, and in 1933 over 17 million Germans voted for the Nazis (that was 43.9% of the total vote, almost as high a percentage as John McCain received in 2008).

The United States was home to a very successful and politically influential fascist group during the interwar period: the Ku Klux Klan. During the 20s the Klan wielded tremendous political power in a number of states, including states well outside "the south" like Indiana and Arizona. At its height, the Klan had over three million paid members, and claimed to control half of all the state legislatures in the US. (Here is a link to a long essay on the Klan that delves into the question of identifying the KKK as "fascist". The essay is by John McClymer, Lucia Knoles, and Arnold Pulda, and it draws heavily on the book Anatomy of Fascism by Robert Paxton.)

When the time and place was right, being a fascist was something that people were positively proud of or at least not ashamed of. Out-in-the-open fascists often later looked for ways to cover their tracks and make excuses, but by then it was in many cases too late. For example, everyone knows about the Nazi sympathies of Henry Ford (who was given a fucking medal by the Nazis). Somehow the Klan managed to remain respectable, after a fashion, longer than many other fascist groups. For example the late Robert Byrd said in his autobiography that the main reason he got involved in the Klan in 1946 (after European fascism had been thoroughly defeated and discredited) was in order to help his political career in West Virginia!

After WWII, European fascism had definitely lost it's luster (although as noted above, America's own unique contribution to fascism, the KKK, was a somewhat different story). It quickly became an increasingly popular past-time to accuse anyone you disagreed with, or simply didn't like, of having been a secret Nazi, or of having secretly harbored fascistic "sympathies". Britain was well ahead of the curve on this, to the extent that fascist-baiting had become so ubiquitous there that George Orwell could say already in 1944 (in his essay "What is Fascism?"):
[I]f you examine the press you will find that there is almost no set of people — certainly no political party or organized body of any kind — which has not been denounced as Fascist during the past ten years. Here I am not speaking of the verbal use of the term ‘Fascist’. I am speaking of what I have seen in print. I have seen the words ‘Fascist in sympathy’, or ‘of Fascist tendency’, or just plain ‘Fascist’, applied in all seriousness to the following bodies of people:
Conservatives: All Conservatives, appeasers or anti-appeasers, are held to be subjectively pro-Fascist. British rule in India and the Colonies is held to be indistinguishable from Nazism. Organizations of what one might call a patriotic and traditional type are labelled crypto-Fascist or ‘Fascist-minded’. Examples are the Boy Scouts, the Metropolitan Police, M.I.5, the British Legion. Key phrase: ‘The public schools are breeding-grounds of Fascism’.
Socialists: Defenders of old-style capitalism (example, Sir Ernest Benn) maintain that Socialism and Fascism are the same thing. Some Catholic journalists maintain that Socialists have been the principal collaborators in the Nazi-occupied countries. The same accusation is made from a different angle by the Communist party during its ultra-Left phases. In the period 1930-35 the Daily Worker habitually referred to the Labour Party as the Labour Fascists. This is echoed by other Left extremists such as Anarchists. Some Indian Nationalists consider the British trade unions to be Fascist organizations.
Communists: A considerable school of thought (examples, Rauschning, Peter Drucker, James Burnham, F. A. Voigt) refuses to recognize a difference between the Nazi and Soviet régimes, and holds that all Fascists and Communists are aiming at approximately the same thing and are even to some extent the same people. Leaders in The Times (pre-war) have referred to the U.S.S.R. as a ‘Fascist country’. Again from a different angle this is echoed by Anarchists and Trotskyists.
Trotskyists: Communists charge the Trotskyists proper, i.e. Trotsky's own organization, with being a crypto-Fascist organization in Nazi pay. This was widely believed on the Left during the Popular Front period. In their ultra-Right phases the Communists tend to apply the same accusation to all factions to the Left of themselves, e.g. Common Wealth or the I.L.P.
Catholics: Outside its own ranks, the Catholic Church is almost universally regarded as pro-Fascist, both objectively and subjectively;
War resisters: Pacifists and others who are anti-war are frequently accused not only of making things easier for the Axis, but of becoming tinged with pro-Fascist feeling.
Supporters of the war: War resisters usually base their case on the claim that British imperialism is worse than Nazism, and tend to apply the term ‘Fascist’ to anyone who wishes for a military victory. The supporters of the People's Convention came near to claiming that willingness to resist a Nazi invasion was a sign of Fascist sympathies. The Home Guard was denounced as a Fascist organization as soon as it appeared. In addition, the whole of the Left tends to equate militarism with Fascism. Politically conscious private soldiers nearly always refer to their officers as ‘Fascist-minded’ or ‘natural Fascists’. Battle-schools, spit and polish, saluting of officers are all considered conducive to Fascism. Before the war, joining the Territorials was regarded as a sign of Fascist tendencies. Conscription and a professional army are both denounced as Fascist phenomena.
Nationalists: Nationalism is universally regarded as inherently Fascist, but this is held only to apply to such national movements as the speaker happens to disapprove of. Arab nationalism, Polish nationalism, Finnish nationalism, the Indian Congress Party, the Muslim League, Zionism, and the I.R.A. are all described as Fascist but not by the same people.
It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.
Yet underneath all this mess there does lie a kind of buried meaning. To begin with, it is clear that there are very great differences, some of them easy to point out and not easy to explain away, between the régimes called Fascist and those called democratic. Secondly, if ‘Fascist’ means ‘in sympathy with Hitler’, some of the accusations I have listed above are obviously very much more justified than others. Thirdly, even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.
Orwell ended that essay by expressing the hope that in the future cooler heads would prevail making it possible to define fascism objectively as "an economic and political system" rather than as "a swearword". But if anything the situation is significantly worse in the 21st century than it was in 1944!

2. What did you do during the war, Herr Doktor Professor?
There is no evidence that Carl Gustav Jung was ever one of those tens of millions of fascists in Europe. Nor is there any evidence that he ever expressed support, admiration or "sympathy" for Nazism or fascism. Nor is there is any evidence that Jung ever "collaborated" in any way with fascism or Nazism.

Jung was Swiss, and there were fascists and fascist groups in Switzerland throughout the interwar period. Once the Nazis were in power in Germany, there were even groups that wanted Switzerland to become part of the Third Reich. The largest and most important fascist group in Switzerland was the National Front, which advocated radical changes to the Swiss Constitution along fascist lines. A movement was initiated by the National Front, and also supported by the Young Catholic Conservatives, that succeeded in obtaining enough signatures to put their proposed Constitutional changes to a national vote (the National Front obtained 2/3 of the required signatures, while the Young Catholic Conservatives provided the rest). When the referendum took place in September of 1935 the pro-fascist side received over 25% of the total, demonstrating that while the movement was in the minority, it had a significant base of support among the Swiss population, and it is almost certain that the support was highest among German speaking Swiss, like Jung. However, there is not the slightest indication that Jung had anything whatsoever to do with the National Front, their referendum campaign, or any other fascist groups or activities in Switzerland. [For more on the National Front referendum see Ellen Lovell Evans' The Cross and the Ballot: Catholic political parties in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, 1785-1985, pp. 162-164.]

So what does it mean when one finds people making the claim that Jung was a Nazi, or at least a Nazi supporter, sympathizer, or collaborator? Well, it does not mean that someone has discovered secret pro-Nazi writings by Jung, or that they have discovered his secret membership in some underground Swiss Nazi group, or that they have discovered Jung's secret activities working for the Nazis or their Swiss allies.

What people mean when they say that Jung was a Nazi supporter is that they have a subjective impression that Jung's ideas have something vaguely "Nazi" about them. The basic idea is that Jung was, you know, all into völkisch-ness and mythology and folklore and Wotan and Occultism and so forth, and, well, that's all Nazi stuff. I mean, it is, right? And, like, he was German, you know? (Or Swiss-German, anyway.) Oh, and his politics were, drum roll please, conservative.

And that's it. Seriously. That's it.

Here is a typical example, taken from Richard Wolin's The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance With Fascism:
"When the Nazis came to power in 1933, brandishing swastikas and advocating neopaganism, it seemed like an instance of preestablished harmony: Jung thought he was witnessing his own theories come to life. Since the break with Freud, Jung had been convinced of the phylogenetic superiority of Aryan archetypes. Having rejected reason as an inferior mode of cognition, he found the National Socialists' recourse to Aryan symbols and myths highly congenial. Hitler, he was convinced, was Wotan reincarnated, a modern-day shaman. From his safe haven in Switzerland, Jung jumped aboard the Nazi bandwagon with alacrity." [p. 17]
Wolin cannot produce a single quote in which Jung himself in his own words says that he found National Socialism to be "highly congenial." And as already mentioned, there was indeed an openly organized and publicly functioning "Nazi bandwagon" in Switzerland, and there is no evidence that Jung, with or without "alacrity", was on it or even cheering from the sidelines. As far as "witnessing his own theories come to life", Jung did believe that "his own theories" helped to explain the advent of National Socialism, but that in no way meant that he supported or was sympathetic to National Socialism. In fact, when Jung did "psycho-analyze" Hitler and the Nazis he concluded that Nazi Germany was on a "course toward perdition" (see his 1936 essay Wotan, excerpted below), and that Adolf Hitler reminded him of some of his psychotic patients (see Gary Lachman's Jung the Mystic, p. 174).

In the above excerpt, Richard Wolin also states that "Since the break with Freud, Jung had been convinced of the phylogenetic superiority of Aryan archetypes." But in 1908 Sigmund Freud had famously stated that he felt more intellectually compatible with Karl Abraham than with Carl Jung, because Abraham was a Jew and, therefore, Freud and Abraham shared a closer "racial kinship" (Rassenverwandtschaft), whereas the situation was quite different with Jung whom Freud described as "a Christian and a pastor's son," and because of that Jung "finds his way to me only against great inner resistances." [See Michael Vannoy Adams' The multicultural imagination: race, color, and the unconscious pp. 41-43]

Not only did Freud himself believe in "racial differences" in the psychological make-up of Jews and Christians, the whole field of "scientific racism", which was solidly ensconced in mainstream western intellectual culture, was based first and foremost on a racist psychological hypothesis: the superior intelligence of whites. But the issue is even broader than that. Those who have expressed the opinion that there are decided racial differences in intelligence include Voltaire, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Carl Linneaus, and T.H. Huxley. IQ test results in the early 20th century were claimed to demonstrate objective, measurable correspondences between "race" and intelligence. Therefore, the claim by Wolin that there was some special alignment between Nazi racial theories and Jung's psychology (any more so than the theories of other psychologists of the time) is a mind-boggling example of intellectual malfeasance, or possibly just symptomatic of the depth of Wolin's ignorance.

3. Where do ideas come from?
Lets turn to another example of the essentialist argument that Jung's thinking was intrinsically Nazi-istical. This example is notable for the refreshingly explicit way in which the author articulates his claim. In a short essay on Jung and Antisemitism (Originally published in The Jewish Quarterly Spring 1994) Andrew Samuels (University of Essex) first states that he is not interested in what he calls "psychobiology". He then explains what he is interested in:
"What I do ask is whether there is something in the deep, fundamental structure of Jung's thought, in its heart or essence, that made it inevitable that he would develop a kind of antisemitism. When Jung writes about the Jews and Jewish psychology, is there something in his whole attitude, his 'take,' to use the colloquialism, that just had to lead to antisemitism? Is there something to worry about?

"My brief answer, in contradistinction to that of many other leading Jungian analysts, is 'yes' and my hope is that by exploring the matter as deeply as we can, a form of reparation will ensue. I believe that many strengths and subtleties of analytical psychology are being lost - not just because of the alleged Nazi collaboration and antisemitism, but also because of the evident inability of many Jungians to react to such charges in an intelligent, humane way. This permits the Freudian establishment, and the rest of the civilized world, to continue to ignore the pioneering nature of Jung's contributions, and hence the work of post-Jungian analytical psychologists."
At that point in the paper, Samuels proceeds to completely ignore Jung for the moment while launching into his own potted redaction of the history of "nationalism", and in particular the historical antecedents of Hitler's ideas about "race" and "nation". In the course of this, Samuels makes a very interesting statement that is quite true: "Hitler regarded all history as consisting of struggles between competing nations for living space and, eventually, for world domination." Of course, and as Samuels is quick to point out, Hitler didn't get all worked up over "struggles between competing nations" as an abstract notion. Indeed, Hitler's mind was focused, to the exclusion of all else, on the struggle between two nations in particular: the Aryans and the Jews.

Having established that what he is getting at is the intellectual pedigree of the specific idea of a life-and-death struggle between Aryans and Jews, Samuels is now ready to inject the following: "Jung, too, was interested in the idea of the nation." But Samuels is in such a hurry to shout "Aha!" and impugn Jung with this insinuation, that he appears to be completely unaware that it is a well established historical fact that not only did Hitler and the Nazis not get their "idea of the nation" from Jung, but the sources of Nazi ideology concerning "race" and "nation" are well known and well documented and they have nothing whatsoever to do with Jung.

Anyone who has ever bothered to look into the matter even slightly knows precisely where Hitler and the Nazis did get their idea of a global-historical winner-take-all struggle between Jews and Germans. Hitler's conception of nation and race (and Aryans and Jews in particular) were taken bodily from an ideology already spelled out very clearly and explicitly in manifesto form when young Adolf was still a schoolboy. The manifesto in question was Houston Stewart Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, first published in the year 1900. The Nazi intellectual debt to Chamberlain was loudly, publicly, and frequently proclaimed.

Adolf Hitler was honored and delighted to personally meet his intellectual hero in 1924, just one month before the Beer Hall Putsch. As a result of the failure of the Putsch, Adolf Hitler found himself with some time on his hands. As he cooled his heels in a Berlin jail cell, the future Fuhrer began work on Mein Kampf, a work in which he singles out Houston Stewart Chamberlain and praises him by name. Chamberlain turned 70 in 1925 (the same year that the first volume of Mein Kampf was published), and on the occasion of his birthday the official Nazi press hailed his Foundations as "the gospel of the Nazi movement." That editorial was written by Alfred Rosenberg, the race-theorist-in-chief of the National Socialist movement. Rosenberg's own racist masterwork, Myth of the Twentieth Century, was explicitly written as a sequel to Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. Rosenberg's paean to Chamberlain and his ideas was the second best-selling book in the Third Reich, only beat out by Mein Kampf. When Chamberlain died in 1927, Hitler personally attended the funeral.

The three key texts of the racist ideology of Nazism are Chamberlain's Foundations, Hitler's Mein Kampf, and Ronseberg's Myth. (For more on Rosenberg and Chamberlain, and also Chamberlain's life-long friend, leading Protestant theologian Adolf von Harnack, see this previous post: Rosenberg, Chamberlain, Harnack.) None of these works has the slightest relationship to the ideas of Carl Gustav Jung. As for Jung, he appears to have taken little, if any, interest in the books that formed the basis for Nazi racial theory. Chamberlain's Foundations, it must be emphasized, was a world-wide best seller, and was especially popular in Germany and German speaking areas of Europe (such as the German speaking parts of Switzerland). So far as I know, the only mention that Jung ever makes of Chamberlain is in the famous 1936 essay Wotan, in which his reference to Chamberlain as "a symptom which arouses suspicion" is hardly flattering:
"For the sake of better understanding and to avoid prejudice, we could of course dispense with the name 'Wotan' and speak instead of the furor teutonicus. But we should only be saying the same thing and not as well, for the furor in this case is a mere psychologizing of Wotan and tells us no more than that the Germans are in a state of "fury." We thus lose sight of the most peculiar feature of this whole phenomenon, namely, the dramatic aspect of the Ergreifer (the one who possesses) and the Ergriffener (the one who is possessed). The impressive thing about the German phenomenon is that one man, who is obviously 'possessed,' has infected a whole nation to such an extent that everything is set in motion and has started rolling on its course towards perdition.

"It seems to me that Wotan hits the mark as an hypothesis. Apparently he really was only asleep in the Kyffhauser mountain until the ravens called him and announced the break of day. He is a fundamental attribute of the German psyche, an irrational psychic factor which acts on the high pressure of civilization like a cyclone and blows it away. Despite their crankiness, the Wotan-worshippers seem to have judged things more correctly than the worshippers of reason. Apparently everyone had forgotten that Wotan is a Germanic datum of first importance, the truest expression and unsurpassed personification of a fundamental quality that is particularly characteristic of the Germans. Houston Stewart Chamberlain is a symptom which arouses suspicion that other veiled gods may be sleeping elsewhere. The emphasis on the Germanic race -- commonly called 'Aryan' -- the Germanic heritage, blood and soil, the Wagalaweia songs, the ride of the Valkyries, Jesus as a blond and blue-eyed hero, the Greek mother of St. Paul, the devil as an international Alberich in Jewish or Masonic guise, the Nordic aurora borealis as the light of civilization, the inferior Mediterranean races -- all this is the indispensable scenery for the drama that is taking place and at the bottom they all mean the same thing: a god has taken possession of the Germans and their house is filled with a 'mighty rushing wind.' It was soon after Hitler seized power, if I am not mistaken, that a cartoon appeared in PUNCH of a raving berserker tearing himself free from his bonds. A hurricane has broken loose in Germany while we still believe it is fine weather.

"Things are comparatively quiet in Switzerland, though occasionally there is a puff of wind from the north or south. Sometimes it has a slightly ominous sound, sometimes it whispers so harmlessly or even idealistically that no one is alarmed. 'Let the sleeping dogs lie' -- we manage to get along pretty well with this proverbial wisdom. It is sometimes said that the Swiss are singularly averse to making a problem of themselves. I must rebut this accusation: the Swiss do have their problems, but they would not admit it for anything in the world, even though they see which way the wind is blowing. We thus pay our tribute to the time of storm and stress in Germany, but we never mention it, and this enables us to feel vastly superior."
A great deal has been made of Jung's Wotan, and it is often seized upon by those who wish to perpetuate the "Jung-was-a-Nazi/the-Nazis-were-Jungians" narrative. But if one actually reads the essay for oneself (link, again) one finds Jung describing Nationalist Socialist Germany as "rolling on its course toward perdition", and Jung is obviously glad to be at a safe distance in Switzerland!

Serious scholars of fascism, and, in particular, the genesis of fascism in interwar Europe, have very little, or in most cases nothing at all, to say about Carl Jung. The origins and roots of Nazi ideology and Nazism as a social movement remains a hotly, indeed, fiercely, debated topic among academicians, with many competing theories, but Jung simply does not figure anywhere in the discussion. Just as Jung appears to have been in no way sympathetic to Nazism, one searches in vain for any hint that Jung's ideas were in any way influential or viewed with sympathy by the Nazis. For example, there is no mention of any Jungian influence on the Nazis in the writings of such scholars as: Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (Hitler's Willing Executioners, Worse Than War), Christopher Browning (Ordinary Men, The Origins of the Final Solution), Michael Mann (Fascists, The Dark Side of Democracy), Robert Paxton (The Anatomy of Fascism), Peter Fritzsche (Germans into Nazis), William Sheridan Allen (The Nazi Seizure of Power), Ernst Gellner (Nations and Nationalism), Ian Kershaw (Hitler, 1889-1936), Eric Weitz (A Century of Genocide), Richard J. Evans (The Coming of the Third Reich), Mark Mazower (Dark Continent: Europe's 20th Century), Stanley G. Payne (A History of Fascism), and Roger Griffin (The Nature of Fascism).

In those books, by the way, one does find references to Edgar Jung, personal secretary to vice-chancellor Franz von Papen, and also to the Jungdeutschland-Bund, the umbrella organization for all Nazi youth groups, including the Hitler-Jugend of which the future Pope Ratzinger was a member. But Carl Gustav Jung? Not so much. Although the last author, Griffin, does, in fact, make use of Jung's ideas in his own analysis of fascism, which is quite reasonable since Jung was a pioneer in the study of "mass psychology".

This list of authors and books given above is offered as a resource for anyone genuinely interested in understanding the phenomena of fascism and Nazism, as opposed to those who cynically view the atrocities that occurred in Europe between 1933 and 1945 as nothing more than a convenient and highly effective club for beating those whose ideas they dislike over the head.

The bottom line is that those who believe that they perceive some essential commonality between Jungian psychology and fascism are inevitably people who understand neither, and, moreover, who have made no effort whatsoever to understand either. Either that, or they have made the effort but the task is simply beyond their limited capacities.

[Also see this follow-up post: C. G. Jung and the Nazis: notes on two specific allegations]