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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/10/14

Jay Sherry Sees Jung as an Avant-Garde Conservative (BOOK REVIEW)

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Jung was fascinated with Hitler, but he was not quick to detect what a threat Hitler was. Hitler and the Nazis represented Emersonian self-reliance on steroids, as do today's conservative libertarians in the United States..


Dr. Sherry considers the humanist tradition of thought to be conservative. Of course Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were also products of the humanist tradition of education, as was President Franklin D. Roosevelt later on. But Dr. Sherry does not mention Jefferson or Adams, even though he does mention Roosevelt in passing.


If we were to follow Dr. Sherry's classification of the humanist tradition of thought as conservative, then we would also classify the thought of 19th-century Roman Catholic popes as conservative as well. To this day, the Roman Catholic tradition of thought tends to be conservative, except for certain aspects of the Catholic tradition of social justice.


In the Roman Catholic tradition, the elaborate educational training of Jesuits was part of Renaissance humanism, and Jesuit education, both secondary education and undergraduate education, in the United States was strongly oriented toward humanist education at least until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Roman Catholic Church.


DIGRESSION: For a history of anti-Semitism in the Roman Catholic Church, see James Carroll's book Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History (2001). END OF DIGRESSION.


In any event, if we were to take President Franklin D. Roosevelt as an exemplar of a liberal humanitarian, then we would have to say that Jung, by contrast, was basically non-political in the sense that he did not usually propound specific political proposals.


According to Dr. Sherry, Jung was interested "in exploring the psychological basis of human behavior and culture rather than promoting social programs for ameliorating human suffering" (page 210).


However, Dr. Sherry reports that Jung made the following comment in a 1936 interview: "A decent oligarchy -- call it an aristocracy if you like -- is the most ideal form of government" (quoted on page 15; also quoted on page 162). Jung's preference resembles in spirit at least Jefferson's famous reference to a natural aristocracy. But of course Jefferson was strongly opposed to having a hereditary aristocracy.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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