Friday, January 27, 2012

Marx condemns the false god of money

Copied and abridged from

“Six stallions, say, I can afford,
Is not their strength my property?
I tear along, a sporting lord,
As if their legs belonged to me.”

- Goethe: Faust (Mephistopheles)

Shakespeare in Timon of Athens:

“Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold?
... Why, this
Will lug your priests and servants from your sides,
Pluck stout men’s pillows from below their heads:
This yellow slave
Will knit and break religions, bless the accursed;
Make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves
And give them title, knee and approbation
With senators on the bench: This is it
That makes the wappen’d widow wed again;
She, whom the spital-house and ulcerous sores
Would cast the gorge at, this embalms and spices
To the April day again. Come, damned earth,
Thou common whore of mankind, that put’st odds
Among the rout of nations.”

And also later:

Thou visible God!
That solder’st close impossibilities,
And makest them kiss!

Shakespeare excellently depicts the real nature of money. To understand him, let us begin, first of all, by expounding the passage from Goethe.

That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy) – that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. What I am and can do is, therefore, not at all determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who has power over the clever not more clever than the clever? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable of all that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?


Shakespeare stresses especially two properties of money:

1. It is the visible divinity – the transformation of all human and natural properties into their contraries, the universal confounding and distorting of things: impossibilities are soldered together by it.

2. It is the common whore, the common procurer of people and nations.

The distorting and confounding of all human and natural qualities, the fraternisation of impossibilities – the divine power of money – lies in its character as men’s estranged, alienating and self-disposing species-nature. Money is the alienated ability of mankind.

That which I am unable to do as a man, and of which therefore all my individual essential powers are incapable, I am able to do by means of money. Money thus turns each of these powers into something which in itself it is not – turns it, that is, into its contrary.

If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or desired existence into their sensuous, actual existence – from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, [money] is the truly creative power.

No doubt the demand also exists for him who has no money, but his demand is a mere thing of the imagination without effect or existence for me, for a third party, for the [others],||XLIII| and which therefore remains even for me unreal and without object.


Since money, as the existing and active concept of value, confounds and confuses all things, it is the general confounding and confusing of all things – the world upside-down – the confounding and confusing of all natural and human qualities.

He who can buy bravery is brave, though he be a coward. As money is not exchanged for any one specific quality, for any one specific thing, or for any particular human essential power, but for the entire objective world of man and nature, from the standpoint of its possessor it therefore serves to exchange every quality for every other, even contradictory, quality and object: it is the fraternisation of impossibilities. It makes contradictions embrace.

Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust, etc. If you want to enjoy art, you must be an artistically cultivated person; if you want to exercise influence over other people, you must be a person with a stimulating and encouraging effect on other people. Every one of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life. If you love without evoking love in return – that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a beloved one, then your love is impotent – a misfortune.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Correcting Sexism in Jung

Carl Jung's terminology provides a powerful tool for analyzing the complexities of the mind. His basic goal is to show that God, while not consciously experienced by everyone, is an empirical psychological fact of the psyche. I believe he succeeds brilliantly in this. However, his beliefs are not without error. Jung believed that humanity could never be free from the false gods of "dominating ideas." He sees these dominating ideas as being universal to the human condition.
Man has always and everywhere been under the influence of dominating ideas. Any one who alleges that he is not can immediately be suspected of having exchanged a known form of belief for a variant which is less known both to himself and to others. Instead of theism he is a devotee of atheism, instead of Dionysus he favours the more modern Mithras, and instead of heaven he seeks paradise on earth. -
Jung failed to see the simple Marxist truth that class society is the source of the same "dominating ideas" he assumes to be universally embedded in the human psyche. He was writing during Stalin's rule of the USSR, and it is likely that a number of his patients clung to the false hope of Soviet communism. As a result, Jung may not have made a thorough reading of Marx. From Jung's assumption that dominating ideas dictate humanity's fate, it follows that Jung would color these "dominating ideas" as male and female, because gender is the most fundamental and most pervasive class division.

His sexism comes out when he describes psychological tendencies that characterize each gender. In the following passage, "anima" refers to the "feminine" soul of men, while "animus" refers to the "masculine" soul of women:
Turned towards the world, the anima is fickle, capricious, moody, uncontrolled and emotional, sometimes gifted with daemonic intuitions, ruthless, malicious, untruthful, bitchy, double-faced, and mystical. The animus is obstinate, harping on principles, laying down the law, dogmatic, world-reforming, theoretic, word-mongering, argumentative, and domineering. Both alike have bad taste: the anima surrounds herself with inferior people, and the animus lets himself be taken in by second-rate thinking.["Concerning Rebirth," CW 9i, pars. 222f.]
Note that the anima / animus distinction is often quite useful. Class society reinforces gender roles, which then repress the opposite traits, where in Jung's conception, they are encompassed in the individual's soul or shadow. Jung's mistake is that he believes the male and female traits are universally true, rather than reflecting specific conditions within society.

An online essay - - describes Jung's mistake regarding a better society:
Jung remained convinced that there was a higher self and that humans were capable of attaining to it: his theory of ‘individuation’ aimed at precisely this outcome. However he won this optimism lightly; he managed to posit the existence of a higher self in part by under-estimating the scale of the problem... He simply could not envisage how a fundamentally different society could emerge nor the extent to which the social forms hitherto (in particular social forms based on class division and exploitation) were premised precisely on the need to ‘repress’ and keep the full attainment of life out of reach for the majority of the population.
This error does not affect the bulk of Jungian theory, however! The theory requires only one small adjustment of moving the gendered aspects of the soul to the INDIVIDUAL unconscious, rather than the collective unconscious, where Jung had placed them. Note that the soul remains in the collective unconscious; it is just the soul's gendered traits that should be placed in the individual level of psyche, rather than the collective level.
4/6/2012 update:
I was wrong about "moving the gendered aspects of the soul to the individual unconscious." I went in the wrong direction. The archetype of the Self, or "God-image", is the ungendered part of the soul. I just didn't see this earlier. So the soul for Jung is ungendered once you go deep enough, but we just don't usually experience it that way, because nearest to the surface of the dividing line between conscious and unconscious, the soul is still "mixed" with the effects of our gender.