~ The mystery of evil ~
“Guernica”. Pablo Picasso (1937).
Shadow projection, as the transference of personal
inferiority, and the related concept of sin transference,
lie at the
heart of the mystery of evil. Socially corrosive projection neither stems from “misunderstandings”
in the micro-social context nor from predatory instincts. It is an
archaic method of ego emancipation by which the transgressor’s unconscious
suffering is transferred to the victim. It aims at maintaining ego firmness.
By reason of their capacity of free thought, intellectuals are often targets of shadow projection.
It is really a projection of Promethean guilt, as the intellectual may call into question the established order. An answer to the
machinations of evil has been formulated in Christian theology. The ego’s
suffering is laid on the shoulders of Christ, who carries the sins of the world.
The Christ figure is understood as the inner Self (“life-giver”). This helps to promote spiritual awareness
(“Christ lives in me”, Galatians 2). A regress to pre-Christian cultural
values implies a rebound of scapegoat psychology, as exemplified by
the collective shadow psychology of the Third Reich. Western civilization today
undergoes changes which undermine our awareness of the
spiritual Self. If our sins aren’t carried by the inner Self anymore, then they must be
carried by other human beings, with foreseeable consequences. The article discusses the notion of an instinctual foundation of evil.
wickedness, the shadow, Self, sin transference, group
narcissism, intellectuals, scapegoatism, Christian love, Orlando massacre.
is defined as an unconscious repository of
repressed instinctuality, personal weaknesses and shortcomings. The
shadow, in being instinctual and irrational, tends to be projected, thus turning a
personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in somebody else. This
phenomenon is known as shadow projection
In Jungian psychology shadow projection tends to be underestimated. It is viewed simply as
a consequence of the subject’s
unconsciousness. I theorize that it belongs to a psychic economy of sin
] that serves to stabilize
the transgressor’s ego system by making other people suffer. Those who belong to this ilk are incapable of integrating the shadow and must maintain their
shadow psychology. The modus operandi
is to search for “hooks” in the surrounding
on which to hang the projection, and then to subject the victim to diverse forms
of offenses in order to damage his/her emotional self-esteem.
It is important to understand that the phenomenon is not a “mistake” accountable to mere unconsciousness, but a
psychological routine of constantly harming other people for the sake of one’s
own psychic well-being. In society it always manifests its presence, from the evil
contemptuous glance of a passers-by, via outright harassment at workplaces and
in Internet forums, to molestation, manhandling, and rape. Kathrin Asper (1993)
points to a weakness in Jungian theory, as the
integration of the dark side is, to many people in therapy, an insuperable task.
Since their true personality has been “overshadowed” and remains unconscious, it makes them cling to the persona
(outward face), instead. Under such circumstances shadow integration is not possible. Asper describes their character faults as the “narcissistic shadow”. She argues that the condition is not to be confused with narcissistic personality disorder, which warps a person’s character (cf. Asper, 1993, pp. 102; 294).
Those who have taken part in Internet
forums know that trivial banter, or merely expressing a personal view, can lead to
persecutional behaviour from individuals who seem to suffer from an aggressive
pathology. The views that have been expressed merely serve as a “hook” for projection, because the strong reactions are unfounded. The projective factor is commonly misunderstood. People tend to regard such matters as “mistakes” or “misunderstandings”;
but they are crucial to a class of people who have an infantile problem or whose psychic economy is at
an archaic developmental stage. I submit that they remain psychologically at a pagan or pre-Christian stage. According to
Christian faith the Lamb of God takes people’s sins upon himself, carrying
their personal darkness, i.e. their shadow of failures, personal shortcomings,
endless frustrations, etc. (“He himself bore our sins in his body on
the tree”, 1 Peter 2).
A category of the population is deprived of this inner factor. Psychoanalyst
Neville Symington (1993) has termed it the “life-giver”, the life’s flame, something which personality has turned away from in early infancy. Accordingly, the narcissistic personality develops a false and shallow attitude towards life. In Symington’s evaluation, this form of narcissism is a habitual attitude that can be reversed. It coincides largely with Asper’s view.
Thus, the inner life-giver has died down (overshadowed
is Asper’s term). In my analysis, personal “sins” must then remain projected on the outer world, preferably on a dedicated scapegoat, who must be made to suffer.
The antagonist searches for reasons —
hooks for projection —
to ascribe to
an individual certain daemonic qualities, and then to torment him. Ideally, it is
a person of stature — the simpleton will not necessarily attract the same
projection. It ought to be a person with some degree of status,
alternatively a strong-willed individual who is intellectually astute. He will
suffice as sacrificial king
Pagan civilization, such as the Celtic and the Mesoamerican, practiced sacral kingship
. After having enjoyed a period of royal splendour, the king is sacrificed and
sometimes partially consumed. Sir James Frazer’s book, The Golden Fleece
(1922), focuses on this theme. In order to arouse the
scapegoat affectivity the victim must first be elevated to great stature and
adorned in regalia. Thereupon he is tortured, flayed alive, sometimes hacked to pieces and partly eaten. Subjecting an elevated person to torture served to ameliorate the inner suffering of a people remaining at a pagan psychic economy.
It had a therapeutic effect. They felt absolved afterwards, as their own
suffering was relativized. Montezuma, Great Speaker of the Aztec, is reported to have said, after witnessing
the sacrificial strangulation of two young women, that it was a refreshing experience.
The absolving effect builds on the idea that the destructive divine powers must have their fill. Accordingly, the rest of the population are exempt from their punishing rage.
Many a lowborn person today is victim of scapegoatism. But individuals who have a high regard of themselves have qualms about
subjecting their neighbour or spouse to this form of torture, not the least because of the damaging social consequences. So they put a lid on this urge
and unconsciously search after hooks for projections among persons of some
elevation. Eventually, they are so desperate to get it out of their system
that they won’t miss the opportunity when they see a little “hook” on
which to hang the projection.
People whose psychic economy is moulded after the pre-Christian sacrificial
theme continue to have a great impact in society. They must needs continue
victimizing people in order to function well. Today, as we lack the
historical institution of sacrificial kingship, the dark urge comes
to fore in any social situation, with destabilizing consequences for
institutions and society as a whole. Such monstrous people are present in
discussions forums on the Internet, always causing disruption with their Hitlerian
projections. The individual who projects competence and intelligence remains their foremost
target. This has harmful consequences for society, as intelligent people are
forced to show a low profile in order to elude scapegoat projections. After all, society
more than ever, due to its complexity, needs outspoken and perceptive
people to cope with the problems.
The meaning of Christian love
The Christian message
of love has been misinterpreted. Today, it is defined as Christian charity,
according to which the poor people of the world must be sustained at all costs.
For example, I found this interpretation: “Christian
love is giving to others those things that you would want them to give you if
you were in their situation —
and it’s doing so even if they can’t pay you
back”. Obviously, then, it revolves around money and material assets.
The message has developed into an ideology centering on materialism and global
welfare, thus turning the spiritual content of the message into its very
Charity is one thing, but what does Christian love really mean? Around the first century a
new psychic economy of the individual began to surface, a modern way of
sustaining ego and psychic wholeness. A new source of
psychic libido (energy) had appeared in the earthly realm, symbolized
by the Christ. The ancient economy of scapegoatism was challenged by a modern
relation, termed ‘agape’, defined as the self-sacrificing love of God for
humanity. Prior to this, in pre-Christian cultures, scapegoating was the ruling
principle. It was institutionalized in different forms, often involving
sacrifice, when “sin” was transferred to the sacrificial victim. Sin
is what causes devitalization, loss of ego wholeness and health. It was
regarded as wholesome to get rid of this malignant metaphysical substance, and
it had an immediate therapeutical effect. Among the Maya, an old woman was
selected. People whispered their sins to stones, whereupon they threw the stones
on the woman until she died. Still today, the principle of sin transference is
what underlies bullying and many forms of victimization.
Following the Christian paradigm shift, the sins of humanity are
carried by the Christ (“Jesus gave his life for our sins”,
Galatians 1:4). A modern psychological order began to take shape, one that draws on a different
energy source (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”,
Philippians 4:13). It is the inner life-flame, the spiritual principle of
love, which Paul identifies with the Christ (“[The letter of God is carved] not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts”, 2 Corinthians 3:3). Yet, the archaic psychic economy of “ego wholeness”
still persists in the modern world (cf. Winther, 2003, here
). It obtains in morally inferior individuals,
immature individuals, and among ethnic minorities that lack a Christian phase in their
history, corresponding to the European Middle Ages. Mass-immigration of ethnic groups
belonging to the phallic-narcissistic
cultural sphere, together with the
ongoing secularization process, contribute to the resurgence of pre-Christian
scapegoatism. A phallic-narcissistic economy implies that ego territory must
ever be expanded, its borders always defended, and personal shortcomings must be
blamed on others, by way of transfer of sin.
The Christian message of love refers to the psychic capacity of living
in sympathy with the surrounding, drawing on an inner spiritual flame, a sense
of wholeness that goes beyond the ego. Therefore the naive and vulgar notion of
Christian love as “helping the poor” fails its purpose, as it merely
contributes to materialism and welfarism. Helping the poor people of the world
is worthwhile when it’s in one’s heart to do so; when one’s conscience is
awakened. However, as long as it derives from an abstract moral principle, it will eventually have destructive and evil consequences. We ought to be discriminative
when doing good deeds, and it should be grounded in heartfelt feeling. Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895–1986) said: “A man who loves with the mind is empty of heart” (Krishnamurti, 1992, para. 14). Thomas à Kempis (c.1380–1471) wrote: “I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it” (Kempis, 1949, bk. 1, ch. 1). This means that people doing good deeds, while merely
following the definition
of conscience, are empty of heart. A central tenet in
Christian mysticism is that the mystic does good inadvertently and unconsciously
in following the path of contemplation. Divine sanction emanates from him where he
walks. I believe it is true. Has prosperous living circumstances ever procured
peace of heart? It’s the other way round, and that’s why poverty and a frugal
lifestyle was always the central ideal in Christianity.
When modern Christians forget about the real meaning of Christian love, it will cause the spiritual flame
to die down, resulting in a regress. In St Augustine,
Christian love is defined as the love of God, a spiritual awareness
that keeps the inner flame burning. Thus, an energy source is maintained which
makes the individual wholly independent of the narcissistic strategy of ego
wholeness and scapegoatism. This, in itself, has a salutary effect on the
environment. The individual has lost the impetus of egotism, and instead
radiates grace, albeit wholly unconsciously. This is the proper Christian way of
“doing good”; to avoid being destructive, unknowingly to
radiate grace. It must not
be replaced with the simplistic and vulgar notion of
giving material assets to people in need, thus transforming a living spirit into
a bloodless and automatic principle of welfarism. If material charity is not rooted in
the heart, then it is false and hypocritical. In that case there is no essential
difference between the Christian person and the Socialist or Communist
Regressive consequences of immigration
The immigration to the Western world has harmful consequences in
that the collective psyche adjusts to pre-Christian ways. Terrorism as
sacrificial theme is not the greatest danger; it is the “psychological
terrorism” in the social context which inflicts the greatest harm. Certain
ethnic groups, in order to mitigate
the inner urge of sin transference, have recourse to honour culture, clan structure, and oppression
within families, most notably victimization and oppression of females. Maltreatment of the outgroup also obtains.
However, to the extent that these ethnic groups are forced to adjust to a
Western cultural context and Western laws, they have no other choice than to
subject outside society to their venom, in so far as their internal
system of regulation of sin
transference and shadow projection can no longer be upheld. In the UK, certain immigrant groups uninhibitedly prey on
“Police ‘hid’ abuse of 60 girls by Asian takeaway
workers linked to murder of 14-year-old.” (here)
“Mother of murdered girl put into kebabs runs from
court after gruesome testimony.” (here)
Today, Western intellectuals put the lid on, choosing not to relate to such problems. They know that they will infallibly become subjected to scapegoatism should they attempt to opine in the matter. Perhaps,
if they contemplate their own daughter being put into a kebab, they will pluck
up courage. Otherwise, it is likely to come to violent ethnic
clashes in the future, and perhaps a new era of ethnic cleansings. In accordance with the
scapegoat principle, innocent immigrants will be picked out as suitable victims for
retributive actions. That’s how it works. Inferior personalities on both sides
will have their heyday, as in the Balkan wars.
Intellectuals who raise the problem of evil, such as the
victimization of schoolgirls, risk being publicly
flogged and accused of casting suspicion on immigrants. Yet we
have no other choice than to grapple with these issues. Prevention is
better than cure. It is better to dirty
oneself a little than let our grandchildren suffer pandemonium, as repressing the problems
only leads to yet bigger disconcertion in the future. It is a question of taking responsibility for future society. A
mature man should be capable of this provided that he hasn’t been poisoned by all the
hormonal feminizing chemicals in the environment, and his testicles have shrivelled
Shadow projection and “sin transference” lie at the heart
of the mysterium iniquitatis
, the mystery of evil. It does not depend on
“misunderstandings” in the micro-social context; nor on instinctual
predatory instincts. It is predicated on an archaic psychic economy that requires internal suffering to be
transferred onto others. The personality with a weak ego
structure, deprived of the spiritual experience of the ‘inner Self’, lacks the
moral strength to carry his/her own weaknesses and failures. The ego at the brink of
dissolution is always
prone to fits of ‘narcissistic rage’, thinking itself being subjected to constant offenses and insults. It creates a dark cloud of revengeful
evil in the soul. It must sooner or later find expression, if the personality
is going to feel a little relief. Hence the suffering of the feeble ego is coupled with a constant
feeling of inferiority and weakness. It compensates itself in a display of power
and machismo, alternatively in a feigned nonchalant and relaxed attitude,
thus overcompensating a constant inner anxiety. Women, for their part, have the
capacity to compensate by proxy. They tend to marry men who carry
psychopathic or narcissistic traits, which explains their popularity among
In group narcissism we can observe an
unquestioning loyalty and admiration for the group and its ideals (cf. Winther, 2004, here
). Any person
who questions the authority of the overarching ideals of the group is subjected
to persecution. It is necessary for the group to segregate itself from and
take exception to other groups, ethnic or religious. This serves to acquire identity as a group, and thus for group identification to work.
The standard analysis is that group identity is more or less a “mistake”
that feeds intolerance. However, I hold that the underlying psychodynamic is
misunderstood. Again, it’s not a mistake. By identifying with a group the weak
ego may acquire a seeming strength, and the antagonistic groups, the outgroups,
are suitable objects on which to project the shadow. Thus, collective
identification serves a purpose. Hence, it is a self-defeating notion that
disparate groups should be capable of existing in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, as in a “multicultural
society”. The underlying drive of group formation is to set up borders,
otherwise it cannot maintain itself as a separate group. If it cannot maintain
its separate identity vis-à-vis outer society, then its members will
regroup to form a new collective identity, even a criminal identity. Although mature
individuals may cultivate groups capable of existing in relative harmony with
each other, I hold that the general conscious level of society is
undergoing a regress, partly as a consequence of mass immigration (cf. Winther, 2008a, here
What characterizes the group is a narcissistic economy, in which
intolerance and shadow projection play an essential role. That’s the reason
why we can always find the most evil and narcissistic people in organizations
that demand loyalty and secrecy, such as Freemasons and religious sects. The
conclusion is that wherever we observe a pronounced
tendency of segregation, as in groups
that create distinction between themselves and the environment, there is always an underlying need of sustaining the weak ego. It corresponds to a “pagan”
psychic economy, lacking the awareness of the inner Self
, on lines of
the Christian ideal. Group members invariably project the shadow on the
outer world, with accusations of persecution and intolerance. But it is
important to understand that they must needs
the shadow in order to remain “pure”. The need of
ego perfection also gives rise to diverse rules of cleanliness and
faultlessness. The ego is kept unpolluted by sin
, by painting
the Other as unclean. If the weak ego has not recourse to the Other, it
cannot keep itself whole and clean. It is the
of malice. Mary Douglas (1966) accounts for the enormous attention to rituals of purity in primitive culture, and connects it with a wish to be whole, to be one (p. 54). I connect this with ‘ego wholeness’ and Winnicott’s notion of the ‘unit personality’, a primary form of wholeness indicative of an obsolescent psychic economy (cf. Winther, 2008b, here
& 2003, here
The persecution of the intellectual
Intellectuals are likely to become subject of
shadow projection. It is high time to disclose the psychodynamics behind the
notorious aggressions toward intellectually gifted individuals, and why it’s so
difficult to maintain fruitful intellectual discussions on the Internet. The
intellect has a Promethean quality; creative thinking is unconsciously
experienced as a subversive activity to undermine the instituted order of the
gods. Prometheus literally means “forethought”. The intellect
reinterprets, analyses, breaks apart, and sometimes improves on the old order.
People project evil intent on the capable intellectual, who is like the
serpent in paradise, intending to breach the ratified order of God. The intellectual encourages
people to eat the fruit of knowledge, so that their eyes are opened. The serpent
and Prometheus have a similar symbolic value. People are afraid of the gifted
intellectual; like the devil he seems unfettered by the laws of maat
the predefined divine order in Egyptian religion.
The true intellectual thinks anew, and he thinks independently, thus
breaking free of collective identity. It is this quality of independence and
originality that makes people project subversion, self-sufficiency, and
egomania; a wish to overthrow the collective order of things. It is as if the intellectual
questions the subject’s collective identity, whether Freudian, Socialist, or
multiculturalist. Apparently, it is to make himself the focus of attention.
But this is sheer projection. What’s at work is the archetype of the
rebellious Lucifer (“light-bearer”) that is projected on the
intellectual. It is this very projection which accounts for the sufferings of
the intellectuals under totalitarian regimes. In Kampuchea (Cambodia under
Pol Pot) the regime eventually went as far as shooting people who
wore glasses, because they could be suspected of having improved their intellect
by reading books, thus having acquired an independence of will.
In fact, the accomplished intellectual views
his own thoughts as mere thoughts. He uses them as everyday tools, and seldom
overestimates them. To him or her, intellectual products do not acquire the dimensions
of archetypal constructs laden with feeling, capable of replacing established
order. The thoughts lack this mythological dimension. They are mere
thoughts, like origami
(paper foldings); if they prove useful then make use of them, otherwise dispose of
them. The intellectual is not identified with his own thoughts, and that’s why he has no
emotional problem with criticism, provided that
arguments are not ad hominem.
Thus, when the intellectual formulates a critique, his intent is not to rebel against the established
order and place himself at the summit. Rather, it represents an attempt to keep the ship afloat. He dives down and
discovers a leak, and reports to the captain that the hole must be mended. However, this
is enough to have him walk the plank, as he has put himself above the captain by
telling him what to do. So he is a rebel who must be executed, in order to preserve order
on the ship. In history, the Promethean (forethinking) individual has suffered
enormous injustice. Seamen have been hanged for insubordination when trying to
prevent a ship from sailing into a reef.
The 1986 Challenger space shuttle catastrophe is a case in point. The
engineer Roger Boisjoly had several times called attention to the
problems with the O-rings. He advised his managers that if the problem was not
fixed, there was a distinct chance that a shuttle mission would end in disaster.
He was ignored and no action was taken. Boisjoly found himself shunned by
colleagues and managers and he was forced to resign from the company (cf. Wiki, here
). The intellectual acquires the Luciferian dimension of
rebel against divine order. But he uses the intellect only when it befits the problem at hand. In all other
respects he is a perfectly orderly individual who has no wish to compromise the
stability in his surrounding. This projective
phenomenon damages intellectual life enormously. It impacts how contributors to journals are handled, and
it damages intellectual life at universities, where the nincompoop is taken good
care of, since he is intellectually harmless.
The neurotic system
Intellectuals stick their neck out. It’s a propensity of the intellectual function; to make “propositions”.
But any nail that stands out must be hammered down. The seaman on a ship mustn’t point out that there is a problem with the
ship’s course, since he cannot tell the
captain what to do, insinuating that he is not in full control. It is viewed as aggression, as insubordination. But the motive is really
to keep the ship afloat. Josef Stalin subjected intellectuals to persecution because he knew that they
were capable of independent thought,
thinking outside the confines of the authorized definition of
reality. Thus, the USSR, a whole nation of people, developed a prolonged and
severe neurosis. According to philosopher Nicholas Maxwell (1984), not only people, but also theories and institutions can become neurotic. By example, Freudianism is curiously psychology
and anti-psychology at the same time. It is coiled up around itself, like a
snake that bites its own tail. Thus it satisfies the criteria of neurosis.
Neurosis can be understood as a methodological condition from which any aim-pursuing entity can suffer (cf. Maxwell, 2002, p. 260). Thus, any personality, institution, or theoretical
framework, that is coiled up around itself, and feeds on its own premises, can
be called neurotic. The premises
must be true because this is what the framework builds on, without which it
would collapse. Truth is therefore defined in advance, i.e., it is not what you
discover as time goes. The system is always busy substantiating its premises by recourse
to methods of misrepresentation. This is the technique of the Procrustean bed, picking
out what corroborates the premises, combined with subjective interpretation. However, the oppression of the creative intellect stands out as the
most important factor. To the “self-predicating organism” the healthy intellect
works as a neural poison capable of undermining the neurotic uroboric
self-predication. It is coupled with the fact that the intellect may discover
truths, a capacity which is anathema to the neurotic system, as
is builds on predefined truths that cannot be substantiated other than by
Whenever this phenomenon occurs, i.e, the persecution of the creative
intellectual, we know we are dealing with a neurotic system (personality, state,
theoretical framework, institution), involved in a self-predicating circle of
self-deception. To the system, the “neural poison” of the creative intellect is
unendurable, something which explains expressions of intolerance. Since the
system cannot muster a substantial intellectual defence, it is only capable of
public humiliation, defamation, and exclusion. If the neurotic
system nurtured the capacity of a creative intellect, then it would cease being
neurotic. Instead, it is surprisingly weak in terms of intellectual analysis.
We can also observe this phenomenon in national states having adopted tenets of
political correctness. The political class must needs resort to defamation when defending
the sanctioned tenets against the intellectuals, because they are so intellectually weak
that they are only capable of parroting political watchwords. This factor can be
used as indicator of neurosis in systems of almost any kind. Neurosis will eventually
grow into severe pathology, which is bound to have very damaging effects on social and societal life,
including the scientific community.
With time, the neurotic institution becomes
enriched with neurotic individuals, since it depends on the recruitment of
neurotics for its sustenance. Needless to say, this has highly damaging
consequences for society, should neurotics take over at all levels. The creative intellect is of
utmost importance for the mental health of society at all levels. This is
something that corporations, political parties, and institutions, ought to take to
heart. Creative intellectuals, especially of the introverted kind,
are like white blood cells, who can take issue with neurosis in all of its
forms. They are capable of breaking down systematic self-deception; an
affliction that, due to factors of modern life, will continue to reappear in
The intellectual function serves to differentiate reality. However, should consciousness remain undifferentiated, then it gives the upper hand to the unconscious, which is prone to produce archaic and pagan ways of thought. A frail ego system is connected with a weak conscious function. Thus, by strengthening the latter, the ego doesn’t need to rely on the unconscious impetus, usually involving power and control, in order to bolster the weak ego. As long as the ego doesn’t think, then the unconscious has to do the thinking. This doesn’t always produce inferior results, but is always connected with moral ambivalence. Archaic archetypes, such as human sacrifice, always boil up. Yet, the trolls are creatures of poor intellect who cannot stand daylight. The same is said about the vampires, denizens of evil. The upshot is that conscious light works as a medicine against evil.
are self-predicating forms of thought. To subscribe to an ideology is to practice automated thinking, preprogrammed thinking. But this is an inferior form of reason, clouding reality rather than shedding light on it. So it leaves the upper hand to the unconscious. All societies governed by ideological thought succumb to the archetypes of the unconscious. And all people who have a strong ideological conviction become dangerous. One should avoid such people, because they cannot think of their own accord. Their consciousness is clouded, which means that they are under the influence of the unconscious. In medieval terms, they are possessed by an “evil spirit”. Ideologism is the modern counterpart of historical paganism, where intellectual algorithms
have been substituted for the transcendent order. William S. Lind (2004) says:
As Russell Kirk wrote, one of conservatism’s most important insights is that all
ideologies are wrong. Ideology takes an intellectual system, a product of one or more
philosophers, and says, “This system must be true.” Inevitably, reality ends up
contradicting the system, usually on a growing number of points. But the ideology, by its
nature, cannot adjust to reality; to do so would be to abandon the system.
Therefore, reality must be suppressed. If the ideology has power, it uses its power
to undertake this suppression. It forbids writing or speaking certain facts. Its goal is to
prevent not only expression of thoughts that contradict what “must be true,” but thinking
such thoughts. In the end, the result is inevitably the concentration camp, the gulag and
the grave. (Lind, 2004, p. 2)
The instinctual perspective
Mary Midgley (1992, pp. 65ff) criticizes the simple-minded idea according to which aggression, connected with our predatory instincts, is seen as the innate characteristic responsible for wickedness. Sigmund Freud’s view has done much damage, because it assimilated aggression to evil. Konrad Lorenz (2002) countered this view by distinguishing evil from aggression, demonstrating that the latter has also a positive biological function. But his views have been largely ignored or misunderstood. On the positive side of human aggression is the capacity to say “No!”, and thereby to go against the stream. It is frowned upon because it means adopting a negative attitude and taking a stand against the collective. But this is how many a destructive development is thwarted.
People have a pronounced tendency to unthinkingly follow along with the group, since this is the social and well-mannered thing to do. It explains the many examples of collective moral negligence in society, such as when a company dumps toxic waste in the environment, or when an industrial project runs aground because nobody is brave enough to take responsible action and disrupt collective unmindfulness. It requires a great deal of aggressive stamina to stand up for what is right, and this would explain why Jesus stands out as such a bellicose personality in the bible.
Aggression in the animal kingdom is not simply destructive, but typically serves to defend territory or social position. Quarrels are seldom fatal. Often fights are ritualized in order to determine who is stronger, and contenders seldom sustain serious injury. The conclusion is that there is a pronounced difference between natural aggression and destructive hatred. Nevertheless, in the social context, slight anger and aggressive display is today perceived as asocial, if not downright evil. Mildness and social conformance is what’s expected of us. A person who has stood up for what is right, since it indicates an underlying combativeness, will consequently be looked upon with fear and suspicion. This cultural attitude is at variance with human nature. It has dire consequences because it abets an attitude of unthinking conformity. Accordingly, people meekly follow along with the collective, disregarding the consequences.
The bias against aggression builds on a misinterpretation of human nature, dominating our culture. It is believed that mankind is inherently good, and consequently we only need to clean away the dirt that has accumulated in the form of aggression and diverse “misunderstandings”. But reading any history book, such as Jonathan Glover’s Humanity: a moral history of the twentieth century (1999), it is easy to see that dark nature is deeply entrenched in our soul.
The apostle Paul discusses this problem as original sin: “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Romans 7:22-23). It is necessary to acquire a better understanding of human nature and to abandon the view that we are like kindergarten children that merely need a little moral education. It is not that easy. Very many people are affected by grave personality disorders accompanied by asociality and aggressiveness. Such people aren’t healed by listening to a TED talk.
In the modern era, we have again and again created social systems according to ideological premises, incommensurable with human nature. The consequence is an upsurge of dark nature. By example, Mao’s China was merely an ideological product of thought. It resulted in volcanic eruptions of evil, most conspicuously the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. There was even a call to exterminate sparrows and finches. This left free rein to the pests, which destroyed the crops.
In the Western world, we are today making the same mistake: we are building societies that are at odds with human nature. Politicians do not understand how human beings function, nor do they want to know. Whereas the rulers of China had recourse to Mao’s Little Red Book, today’s Western politicians have recourse to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The consequences are horrendous.
Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter, murdered people who belonged to a different ethnic group, a different religion, and a sexual category conflicting with the Islamic norm. From an instinctual perspective, he succeeded in promoting his own kind, by creating Lebensraum. Does this suffice to explain the heinous act?
The principle of Lebensraum was not invented by Hitler. Mother Nature invented it. Ants wage wars to acquire Lebensraum. So do chimpanzees. For territorial motives, they attack and sometimes lethally injure other chimpanzees (vid. Peterson & Wrangham, 1997). Presently, in my country, there is a call among certain immigrant groups that “we shall take over Sweden”. A young man phones in to Al Jazeera and declares that “all Swedes must die!” From a genetic point of view, this seems logical. Arguably, it is dark nature manifesting its own truth, and this is original sin.
Prof. J. Philippe Rushton sheds light on this problem in his article ‘Ethnic nationalism, evolutionary psychology and Genetic Similarity Theory’ (2005).
Rushton connects ethnic nepotism with the evolutionary psychology of
altruism. Altruism toward genetically similar people serves the purpose of replicating shared genes. This implies that ethnic nationalism, xenophobia and genocide is the ‘dark side’ of human altruism. As always, light gives rise to shadow. Co-ethnics are related to each other on the order of first cousins. It means that, when an altruist animal (or man)
sacrifices its life for its kin, it ensures the survival of common genes. Already Darwin intuited this when he
wrote, “sympathy is directed solely towards members of the same community,
and therefore towards known, and more or less loved members, but not all the
individuals of the same species” (Darwin, 1871, vol. 1, p. 163). Rushton concludes that “seemingly purely
cultural divides are, in fact, rooted in the underlying population genetics”.
Moreover, shared genes means that individuals can be expected to adopt ideologies that promote their group over others. Political ethologist Frank Salter (2007) extends this evolutionary theory, arguing that genomic commonality is the glue of social intercourse. Evidently, developing a morality of ethnic interest is a great quandary, especially if it encourages the notion that vulgar racism is rational. Nevertheless, Salter argues that ethnic groups have a vital interest in protecting their homeland from genetically dissimilar people: “For all of past human experience and still today, control of a territory is a precious resource for maintaining ethnic genetic interests in the long run” (p. 61). From a moral point of view, ethnic groups can certainly decide not to play the evolutionary game, although not playing the game simply results in extinction. Thus, in order to optimize global genetic interests, Salter proposes a ‘universal nationalism’, which involves ethnic monopoly of a homeland (ch. 7).
Genetic Similarity Theory highlights the problem of ‘dark nature’. To refrain from grappling with such issues in a conscious and responsible manner only gives free rein to the dark unconscious motives that I have sketched above. Thus, to react with denial is counterproductive. The innate motif of genetic kinship and alienage provides the most accessible framework for the unconscious impetus of sin transference, shadow projection, and group narcissism. On this view, the genetic motif is not enough to explain the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting (cf. Wiki, here). A weak ego structure in the shooter was the catalyst behind the mass-murder, because it activated the unconscious archetype of human sacrifice (cf. Winther, 2008b, here).
It has been argued that such heinous deeds follow from a combination of religious zealotry, homophobia, and the availability of firearms. However, the problem with a multifactorial point of view is that it allows us to tip-toe around the heart of the matter, by pointing to a lot of “causes” that are really secondary. It seems obvious that Mateen was affected by a personality disorder that probably was genetically grounded. It added insult to injury that he was a misfit in a culture incongruous with his indigenous nature. On this view, religious zealotry coupled with homophobia only served as a pretext for his actions, determined by archaic conceptions that had boiled up in his unconscious.
The November 2015 Paris attacks, which took 130 people’s lives and injured 368, are still fresh in memory (cf. Wiki, here). To discourse about such formidable evil, it requires that dark nature is acknowledged. Yet, we tend to cling to the belief that mankind is inherently good, whereas evil is merely something that has put stains on our pure souls. It can be removed with the aid of social engineering and information. Such a postmodern ideological view disinclines us to delve deeper into the problem. After all, the ugly aspect of human nature, Nietzsche’s “ugliest man”, does not accord with the politically correct view of mankind. It is regarded intolerable because it shatters our pretentious illusions. There are numerous implications of modern psychology that are anathema to today’s political and ideological consciousness, such as the natural ethnic interest that Salter points to. The current misapprehension of human nature has the consequence that we cannot learn to understand and control our collective shadow, something which is becoming more and more evident. It is necessary to face up to ‘dark nature’, our unconscious mooring in the earth of instinctuality, as portrayed in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
The ratified order of the gods
Paganism is the root of all current religions. Since it is associated with a certain psychic economy, individuals, groups, and sometimes whole nations, have a tendency to fall back on old-fangled ways of thinking and relating to the world. Characteristic of paganism is the perception of constant intervention of the divine into mundane affairs. Thus, much focus is put on ordinary and daily concerns, but also on important worldly enterprise. Since the spiritual and temporal are closely intertwined, paganism has a this-worldly focus. It is necessary to maintain good relations with the celestial realm in order to safeguard mundane well-being. Divine order is imposed on the world with the aid of the citizens, conducting the proper external forms. Thus, also worship has a ritualistic bias. Morality is essentially a question of right conduct (i.e. following the sanctioned rules) and purity rituals, such as ablution. Breaching the rules brings divine retribution, which may strike down on the individual as well as society. It could even lead to earthquakes and other catastrophes. There is an interdependency of the two poles of reality, which means that humanity is required to uphold creation, viewed as essentially divine. This is why orderliness was in antique times identified as the principle of Good whereas disorder was Evil. I hold that such an entropic morality is better complemented with a moral of the heart, contingent upon a capacity of interiority (cf. Winther, 2015a, here). Michael York (2003) observes that paganism has endured a long association of being linked with fascist tendencies (although this is not true of all forms of contemporary paganism). This is consistent with the pagan belief that the mundane situation must receive the impression of godly organization and structure, serving to produce an earthly paradise.
At certain times, fascistic paganism or pagan fascism has become a reality. For example, the German Völkstumsbewegung promoted “Aryan” notions of eugenics and racial purity. It also spoke in terms of the “pagan” gods of the fatherland and the Teutonic peoples. Some of these ideas and practices survive, to be sure, in the contemporary Odinist and Asatru movements […]
Völkish ideas emerged at the end of the nineteenth century upon a foundation established by the Grimm brothers’ monumental study, Teutonic Mythology, and by Richard Wagner’s operas. The German nationalistic spirit was particularly influenced by the works of Guido von List and Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, writers who developed the notion of Aryosophisme, or “Aryan wisdom.” The popular Völkstumsbewegung, or “folk movement,” embraced ideas that glorified both the fatherland and Pan-German tribalism. Racism and anti-Semitism were consequences of this Germanic folk movement and, in particular, its spiritual form designated by List as Armanism. (York, 2003, p. 163)
In a traditional form of paganism, unlike certain contemporary forms, everything revolves around implementing and maintaining the orderliness of the gods, created at the beginning of time. In Egyptian religion, it was called maat
, representing the ethical principles that every Egyptian citizen was expected to follow throughout their daily lives. “They were expected to act with honour and truth in matters that involve family, the community, the nation, the environment, and god” (Wiki, here
). Encyclopædia Britannica says:
Maat (also spelled Mayet): in ancient Egyptian religion, the personification of truth, justice, and the cosmic order. The daughter of the sun god Re, she was associated with Thoth, god of wisdom.
The ceremony of judgment of the dead (called the “Judgment of Osiris,” named for Osiris, the god of the dead) was believed to focus upon the weighing of the heart of the deceased in a scale balanced by Maat (or her hieroglyph, the ostrich feather), as a test of conformity to proper values.
In its abstract sense, maat was the divine order established at creation and reaffirmed at the accession of each new king of Egypt. In setting maat ‘order’ in place of isfet ‘disorder,’ the king played the role of the sun god, the god with the closest links to Maat. Maat stood at the head of the sun god’s bark as it traveled through the sky and the underworld. Although aspects of kingship and of maat were at times subjected to criticism and reformulation, the principles underlying these two institutions were fundamental to ancient Egyptian life and thought and endured to the end of ancient Egyptian history. (Encyc. Brit., 2012)
Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (cf. Wiki, here
). She was successful and much liked. However, because she was a woman, her kingship was considered problematic. Thus, her cartouche was hacked away from monuments after her death, because it represented a breach against Maat
to institute a woman as pharaoh (despite the fact that she wore a false beard). Although they had nothing against her personally, the ancient Egyptians feared divine retribution and hoped to placate the gods by removing her name from the list of kings.
This way of thinking is still in vogue. It is what characterizes phallic-narcissistic
culture and also a class of people in Western countries who remain at a lower level of consciousness. Since the individual remains subject to forces beyond himself, he does not really carry responsibility for himself. He may instead follow the static rules of conduct and contribute to the divinely instituted order on earth. On account of the latter concept, the pagan universe has a static character. The relation between man and woman belongs to the many fixed rules (except in ancient Greece, where womankind was seen as a punishment inflicted on man). Breaking this rule by engaging in a homosexual relation is tantamount to sacrilege. In the pagan mind, such conduct is an insult against divine decree, and it will undoubtedly have calamitous consequences. This is also why the free-thinking intellectual is stigmatized as an insurgent —
a serpent in the Garden. Ultimately, it is necessary for the world’s perpetuation that people have recourse to religious law and preordained rules of conduct. If they refuse, it is best for themselves and the world that they are removed from existence. It is an important ideological motive behind much violent evil in human history.
From this perspective, Omar Mateen did service to the pagan god when he executed the homosexual infidels. This also gives an insight into the minds of Western neurotics, of whom many are curiously hostile against homosexuals. It is the same archaic principle at work. Such people really believe that the homosexual act means a breach of divinely sanctioned order. Thus, it promotes disorder, equal to the manifestation of the evil principle, and this would have repercussions for many people. The stock price could go down, for instance.
Jesus and St Paul revolted against such thinking, and declared that the Law now resides in the heart (“For in my inner being I delight in God’s law”, Romans 7:22). People were no longer required to follow religious law, because it had not a destructive impact to go one’s own way. It means the freeing of individuality. Emphasis is instead put on personal responsibility. Although it didn’t make the task of living easier for the individual, it was no longer necessary to adjust to preordained dictates. Earlier, it was regarded immoral for a slave not to adjust to his fate, because his role as slave was part of the divinely sanctioned order. Thus, the highest good were no longer identified with external order, but now took the form of personal commitment to truth, morality, and inner harmony
. It meant that one needn’t accept one’s lot in life, but would better make an individual journey. St Augustine (2015), for his part, took issue with the pagan ideal of an earthly utopia. He rejected the pursuit of transitory things, upholding instead the eternal City of God, whose citizens live after the spirit (cf. Winther, 2015b, here
But it is a hard-won fight. Still, in Islamism and Communism, order is regarded “good” whereas disorder is “evil”. That’s why they strive to organize a controlling society, where disorder and uncontrolled events are prohibited. Many ideologists think along these lines, which is a pagan concept. This was how people thought during classical antiquity —
disorder was equated with evil. It was Jesus of Nazareth who, for the first time, introduced an entirely different concept. That’s why he is one of the most important thinkers in history, regardless of the religious connotations.
, i.e., continual deterioration, neither the universe nor society could function. This is because order is only created at the cost of generating an even greater amount of disorder. That’s why the universe as a whole is dying, according to the second law of thermodynamics (cf. Wiki, here
). Still, there are many politicians and debaters who think that a perfect societal order can be created on earth. They are blind to the fact that our society, and the entire world, is replete with suffering, companies that go bankrupt, and people whose tragic fate it is never to strike lucky.
This is the underlying cause for the enormous vitality of society. Some career men and companies are knocked out, whereas others succeed. Humanity expands, and people become richer, at the cost of the destruction of the environment. So that’s why both order and disorder are morally neutral. Yet, the average politician and ideologist thinks that order can be created without generating entropy. They really believe that all people of the earth can be taken out of poverty, and this will only have good repercussions. In fact, it leads to a massive increase in entropy.
In pagan times, consciousness was weak, always in peril of unconscious invasion. To the ego, it evokes immense fear, for it is formally equal to the annihilation of the sun and the daylight world. A weak conscious function is characteristic of the neurotic system, whether it occurs in society or in the individual. It explains why there is a regressive tendency toward archaic conceptions that really belong in a pagan era.
means to transgress against an eternal and heavenly blueprint of creation. Accordingly, the transgressor threatens society, if not the whole world, with cataclysmic disarray. An Islamic hadith
says: “When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes”.
In the present time, many people can still not attain true individuality, but remain stuck in the pagan earth. In Asper’s terms the true individuality, the Self, has been overshadowed
, which means that is has sunk into the unconscious earth. In this sense, Islamic culture and religion remains curiously pagan. Evidently, it has enormous problems with the growth of tares in its garden, for reasons already described. According to theologian Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), Islam must be characterized as a pagan religion, something which sheds light on its problematic nature (vid. Rosenzweig, 2005). Regrettably, many Christian congregations are back-pedaling to a pre-Christian standpoint, interpreting the bible as divine law.
When a person or a society becomes neurotic, divided against itself, the archaic pagan thoughtway will begin to surface. Fixation on uniformity and regulation compensates inner disorder, as in a personality disorder, neurosis, or a collective neurosis. The internal turmoil, characteristic of ego weakness, is externalized by means of sin transference
. The sinner must be eliminated, one way or the other, and thus the victimized individual may carry away the sinful substance from the earthly realm. The citizens must be made to think and act correctly
, so that perfect order, purity, and goodness may prevail. Goodness is equal to purity and order.
In order for the inferior psychic economy to operate, an enemy is
required, who must be made to suffer. It does not always suffice, as is commonly
believed, to rectify a misunderstanding between parties, making either party
withdraw projections in order to “integrate the shadow”. If the foe
cannot be singled out he must be sought elsewhere, because there must always be
an antagonist, a saboteur, and a traitor. Stalin needed victims because his purges
satisfied an inner need. When Montezuma, king of the Aztec, was asked, “why
he had suffered the republic of Tlaxcala to maintain her independence on his
borders”, he replied, “that she might furnish him with victims
for his gods!” (Prescott, 1974, p. 59). This is why
headmasters at schools often allow mobbing to continue without taking measures
against it. They know instinctively that it satisfies a need and that it
contributes to stability and order. Otherwise other victims would soon be sought
out, alternatively the school’s fixtures be destroyed, or the headmaster
himself could be made to suffer.
The principal method of creating great damage and suffering is to
throw suspicion on people. If there is no enemy then he must be created, for
instance, by capitalizing on little “mistakes” found in the wordings in
a text. That could be enough to prove that the author is an
insurgent, intent on destroying consecrated order. In relating to the principle of evil one cannot expect to placate it,
that is, to remove whatever causes the projection, and make the assumption that
the problem is solved. The adversary will only search out new hooks for projection.
Whenever possible, one should turn the other cheek; alternatively, one should get away. But to bow down, to placate the devil, only sustains the unconscious condition —
evil is strengthened, and the cockscomb only grows
bigger. One ought to contribute to an increased level of consciousness, and in due
time evil will hopefully destroy itself. To this end the introverted Promethean
intellect (the Epimethean corresponds to the extraverted intellect) is an
efficacious force, and this explains why the intellectual invokes such
fear and why he time and again is subjected to persecution. There is nothing that
the devil fears more than enlightenment, the increase of consciousness.
Thus, to turn the other cheek (Sermon on the Mount) is an act of defiance and a
response of strength. Somehow, people have come to interpret this saying as
being submissive. But what Jesus is saying is “carry the projection” —
the devil to strike you again. It could mean that the offender is no longer capable of slapping you, but must now stroke you, because the inside
of the hand was never used to deliver a slap. Thus, it could mean moving out of harms way, as Jesus himself did when he withdrew to Ephraim (John 11:54). But to make concessions, and correct oneself according to the offender’s wish, does not mean that the problem
is resolved. In fact, the problem has only gotten worse and evil has increased. Soon
the persecutor will begin to infer from appearances that antagonism, sabotage,
treason, misogynism, anti-Semitism, and racism, still obtain. Adopting a submissive stance
means that the oppressor’s demands will continue to accumulate, and
his inviolable ego realm will only expand. Soon it is enough to appear in any
way different than the offender, to be experienced as the archfiend.
This is why multicultural society is unrealizable, as certain European politicians
recently have acknowledged. It builds on the idea of always making concessions
to people of different beliefs, allowing room for incompatible cultures and
mores, ever stepping back, always bowing down, placating the different groups.
But this is counterproductive as it only gets worse. The feeling of being
wronged is only strengthened.
© Mats Winther, 2011 (2016)
Originally, “sin” does not
imply a value judgment according to conscious normative standards. The notion of
sin transference did not begin with the moral conceptions of the world
religions. It derives from the archaic functioning of the psyche. Sin
in its original meaning, is a survival of the animistic era. It is almost like a
substance, and therefore it is a neutral concept. It is what destroys wholeness
and health, and what causes devitalization. The transfer of sin to a victim, as
in the human sacrifice of the innocent, has a therapeutic function in that the
participators are relieved of their own failings, because they are transferred to the
victim. This is also what underlies bullying in the school yard and at workplaces. From Manipurtimes:
The word “sin” in early Greek was actually an archery term; it
literally meant to “miss the mark.” When an archer shoots at a target,
he aims at the “bull’s eye” — the center of the target. When the
arrow landed anywhere else, the archer “sinned” — he missed the
mark. The term began to be used in Christendom when people began to miss the
mark — the absolutes of God found in His character or His commands found in
Scripture. In other words, when I live my life contrary to the precepts, counsel
or commands of God (the center of the target for my life),
I have “missed the mark, I have sinned.” (Manipurtimes, here)
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