A mouth that prays, a hand that kills. Arabian proverb
How do you find a lion that has swallowed you? asked Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, commenting on the moral dilemma posed by the shadow, his insightful term for the dark, hidden side of the human psyche.
The answer to Jungs questions is you cant find or see that lionnot as long as you are inside the beast. And therein resides the essential dilemma of a groups dark side or shadow: it is nearly impossible for those caught inside a groups belief system to see their own dark side with any clarity or objectivity. This hidden side grows over time, regressing, becoming more and more aggressive. Its the long bag we drag behind us, says poet Robert Blywhere, as individuals, we dispose of all those things that are too uncomfortable to look at. The long-repressed shadow of Dr. Jekyll rises up in the shape of Mr. Hyde, deformed, an ape-like figure glimpsed against the alley wall.(1) Now imagine millions of Mr. Hydes and you have a sense of the group shadow of fundamentalist, right wing extremists dressed up as compassionate conservatives, led by George W. Bush. Its like shifting from a hand gun to a nuclear bomb. And it began long ago in both the Moslem and Christian worlds.
The invasion of American Democratic institutions by fundamentalist, historically militant (as in crusades,(2) witch hunts, inquisitions, and support of slavery) Christianity has significantly increased the stench coming from the already disturbing dark side of U.S. politics. Its like a nightmarish replay of the Christian crusadespolitics with a militant, convert-the-heathens dark side. Potent, cult-like group dynamics combine with unacknowledged and unseen shadow qualities to easily overwhelm the individuals sense of right and wrong, often unleashing pure evil en masse.
Fundamentalists use labels as weapons, dialogue-diverting smokescreens that reveal a lot about their own shadow. For example, they have demonized Liberal Democrats using phrases like the Liberal elite, repeated over and over, who they claim are part of some vast liberal media conspiracy. In fact, there is an actual conspiracy underway and it is the fundamentalist Christian cults shadowy, carefully planned, two-decade-long infiltration and gradual takeover of the Republican Party from the grassroots-up. Elitism, in reality, is at the core of the Bush administrations dark side, especially their pretentious, religious and political elitism.
George Ws elite base includes the wealthy and the powerful. They are the hidden people he really represents, those economically elite, special interest bosses he described so accurately in a speech at one of his private, campaign fund raising dinners: Youre my base: the haves and the have mores. They must have been some of the people he was referring to at a 2002 meeting with his economic squad about a second round of tax cuts: Havent we already given money to rich people?
Activist (fundamentalist), right wing politicians are promoting moral and economic agendas we are all too familiar with: loading the courts with right wing religious extremists, eliminating womens right to freedom of choice, preventing equal rights for gays, using the Patriot Act to destroy our constitutional rights to privacy and freedom from unlawful search and seizure, undermining our democracys essential liberties including the rule of law, the cornerstone of a civil society.
Shadow dynamics can shift the focus of our beliefs with stunning speed to another evil enemy. Petty dictators are convenient hooks on which groups can hang their shadow, their dirty laundry; a perfect example being Saddam Hussein who, in 1990-1991 magically transitioned from being a relatively obscure U.S. ally (receiving military aid, weapons, satellite intelligence, and high tech equipment)(4) into an incarnation of evil and a dire threat to humanity that we had to eliminate. Such is the hypnotic power of group paranoia combined with propaganda in stirring up a nationalistic, lynch mob mentality.(5)
Once a belief system gains control, those beliefs are much more likely to move us to action, propel us into roles and conduct we would never contemplate on our own. Voltaire warned, Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Moreover, under the influence of any fundamentalist ideology, beliefs (often paranoid and delusional) tend to override factsa very dangerous mental environment for making life and death decisions, or declaring war. Independent critical thinking and logicqualities that are most threatening to any destructive groupexpose absurdities. Consider this excerpt from a speech by the Nazi Party leader Rudolph Hess on June 30, 1934: The National Socialism of all of us is anchored in uncritical loyalty (my italics). What good fortune for those in power that people do not think, observed Hitler, knowing that thinking citizens were a real danger to his political ambitions.
Ignorance of the group shadow and its destructive consequences locks us into a mutually destructive embrace with our enemies. In a perverse way each side needing the otheran ironic, group co-dependency on the others evil in order to perpetuate themselves. Thus the twisted rationale for a never-ending War on Terror(6) (recently recast by the Bush administration as a struggle against violent extremism) that is the mirror image of the never-ending Islamic Jihad against the West. The president made this unending mission clear when he announced, Theres no telling how many wars it will take to secure freedom in the homeland. The notion of permanent war against a designated evil or tyranny is a classic dark side of Christian fundamentalism that mimics the Moslem worlds fundamentalist doctrine that declares non-Moslem countries as Dar-al-Harb, which means The Home of War.(7) Its no surprise to realize that George Ws fundamentalist dark side also echos Islamic fundamentalisms oft-stated goal of a global Moslem theocracy, which, the words of one prominent Iranian ayatollah make perfectly clear: It will . . . be the duty of every able-bodied adult male to volunteer for this war of conquest, the final aim of which is to put Koranic law in power from one end of the earth to the other.(8)
Sounding a lot like a description of our current world situation, Erasmus (d. 1536), a peaceful, educated, psychologically savvy, Catholic humanist observed: There is no injury, however insignificant it may be which does not seem to them [Christians] sufficient pretext to start a war. They suppress and hide everything that might maintain peace; they exaggerate excessively everything that would lead to an outbreak of war.(9) In his book, People of the Lie, author M. Scott Peck explains the slippery nature of good and evil. He points out that evil people are often destructive because they are trying to destroy evil. Instead of destroying others they should be destroying the sickness within themselves. This paradox is similar to Jungs observation that a so-called good to which we succumb loses its ethical character, meaning that we paradoxically facilitate evil when we become one-sided, when we believe our group is on the side of goodness and virtue. When one-sided, a so-called quest for peace inevitably produces a group shadow filled with aggression and violence.
There will never be world peace until Gods house and Gods people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world,(11) proclaimed Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson. The Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams, contained this statement: The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation. Whats really scary is the politicizing of religious intolerance in the form of the Bush administrations evangelical(12) crusade to spread our political and economic beliefs around the globe, to conquer the lesser political gods, to save and convert democratically and economically unenlightened countries.
Fundamentalism in politics has resurrected a nightmarish apparition in the form of Wilsonian political monotheism. We could summarize Wilsons foreign policy as the imperative of Americas mission as the vanguard of history, transforming the global order and, in doing so, perpetuating its own dominance, guided by the imperative of military supremacy, maintained in perpetuity and projected globally(13)all thinly veiled religious elitism and hubris, missionary theology masquerading as peace, freedom and liberty. Similarly, in a much applauded speech in 1899, Theodore Roosevelt (just before becoming President) proposed righteous war as the sole means of achieving national greatness.(14) And, speaking through his groups fundamentalist mouth that prays, Bush made his paranoid mission quite clear: We will rid the world of the evildoers.(15)