Healing Our Collective Sickness
Sunday, 26 March 2017
In these uncertain, crazy, polarizing and scary times we live in, one thing I think everyone can agree on is this: if viewed as a single macro-organism, humanity has fallen ill. There has been a sickness—a type of madness—existing deep within the soul of humanity that for many years has been infecting the global body politic that, instead of continuing to hide in the shadows, is now becoming glaringly and undeniably obvious. Current political events are the manifestation of a deeper process that has been brewing in the cauldron of the collective unconscious of humanity for many years, maybe even from the beginning of our appearance on this planet.
With the ascension of Donald Trump onto the highest throne of political power on planet earth, some of us might feel that the sickness is finally going to be called out, illumined and healed, while others feel that Trump and his administration are themselves the current purveyors, lineage holders and embodiments of the sickness. Either way, the fact that humanity is not well—afflicted with some sort of disorder—is something I think we can all agree upon; this might be a good starting point for our inquiry. The obvious question: What is the nature of this deeper sickness that is pulsing through the veins of humanity?
In contemplating this very question, philosopher John McMurtry, author of the brilliant book The Cancer Stage of Capitalism, refers to the “Great Sickness” that pervades our modern day capitalist system as having all of the hallmark qualities of cancer. He is pointing out that the diagnosis of cancer precisely maps onto a macro-analysis of our current body politic, which is to say that what is happening collectively in our world can be recognized to be a form of cancer.
Professor McMurtry is taking a whole systems approach as he analyzes what is happening in our world from a meta-perspective; he is pointing at the deeper fundamental process that connects, informs and gives shape to the events that are happening in our world today. Without taking sides, I will simply be contemplating the nature of this deeper pathology, and will leave it to the reader to recognize how this might help make sense of the ever-amplifying contagious madness that is playing out in our current political and psycho-social landscape.
THE PUBLIC SECTORIn diagnosing our global disorder as being cancerous, Professor McMurtry is not speaking metaphorically, but rather, is offering an explanatory model. What other disease exponentially metastasizes so as to increasingly capture the resources of the life-host it is invading so as to foster its own proliferation? It is as if cancer, a disease that typically happens within an individual body has changed channels and is materializing in, as and through the global body politic.
If humanity and the biosphere as a whole are seen as a single organism, this carcinogenic seeming-entity continually degrades our social and natural life-support systems, depredating the productive life of societies at every level, while it itself is devoid of any productive life-function, other than to create ever-more wealth for the already unthinkably wealthy – a process that McMurtry describes as “incarnate evil.”
The cancer sponsors a never-ending attack on the public sector, which it is continually trying to defund, dismantle and privatize. Public treasuries are hollowed out on all levels, which generate the direct blood flow to the cancer system. The carcinogenic agent pollutes, strips, depletes and despoils the earth ever more deeply and widely at every level, all the while accepting no accountability. It expropriates and re-channels revenues that should be devoted to people’s life-sustenance to feed its own private financial circuits at every turn. The cancer infiltrates and subjugates more and more public resources to privatize them so as to financialize them, i.e., turning them into money. And one thing we can be sure about: most of us—in modern parlance, the 99%—are not the ones seeing this money.
Public money is continually injected to sustain the carcinogenic circuits, funds that are not only taken out of citizens’ lives—now and in the future—but are being myopically extracted from the lives of the yet-to-be-born. As the system collapses, the financial liabilities are transferred to taxpayers to hold as their debts or toxic assets. In an inversion typical of abusive family systems, blame is placed on the victims, who are accused of, for example, “spending beyond their means.” The more the cancer invades the host and metastasizes, the more public money is allocated to its growth to further the ever-deepening downward spiral, feeding what McMurtry calls the “publicly subsidized transnational oligopoly.”
To put it simply: The entire carcinogenic process is financed by and paid for by the public. To the extent that we are unaware of the cancer and think and act as if everything is normal, we are buying into and colluding with its growth. Recognizing our complicity is a crucial step in accessing our power to stop being part of the problem and start becoming part of the solution.
IMMUNE SYSTEMThe key to succumbing to cancer is the immune-system’s failure to recognize and respond to the rogue code of what is attacking it. McMurtry writes that “the ultimate problem is that the disorder has not been recognized for what it is.” Without recognizing what McMurtry also calls “the great disorder,” we remain lost in its symptoms, distracted from the root of the problem, as the pathology endlessly deepens. When what attacks an organism is not recognized, a malignant system mutation has occurred. We always know that a civilization is breaking down when it excludes recognition of and social response to its own degenerate trends.
The carcinogenic invasive agent avoids detection, as it suppresses, disables and eventually hijacks the immune system of the host. The disease incessantly attacks all systems and institutions that can successfully overcome it. When the social immune system recognizes the invasive element and corrective feedback loops begin to respond to the disorder, they are invariably targeted, invaded and diverted to feed the pathology, deepening the global disorder rather than resolving it. The fact that the immune system is compromised to the point that the disease isn’t even recognized is showing us that one of the fundamental channels of the cancer’s operations is the human psyche.
Official policies keep feeding the metastasizing cancer, even while the system is in the process of bankrupting (i.e., killing) itself, which is the tell-tale sign of life-host capture by the carcinogen. In a financial and corporate global coup d’etat, the ravenous appetite of the financial juggernaut (Matt Taibbi’s infamous and aptly named “vampire squid”) continually subjugates governments and the rule of law to protect itself from any accountability. Individuals, political movements and institutions can unwittingly become mere instruments of these deeper, more powerful forces. Like a body’s immune system being co-opted and turned into an accomplice of the very disease that it is supposed to monitor, instead of governments and courts reining in the carcinogenic invader, they have become its primary enforcers, paralyzed and subsumed by the disease. Though taken over to a large degree, our judiciary is still slightly independent, which is one of the few remaining safeguards left against full takeover by the cancer.
Cancer usually exists long before it is diagnosed; the current outbreak has been a long time coming. This carcinogenic process can take many years to bypass the organism’s (be it a person or a society’s) immune system.The cancer spreads not only without any regulators to stop it, but with continual deregulation of the rules that could potentially stop it; it makes sure to remove all existing defenses against it. This points to the fact that the forces behind deregulation—be they Big Oil, the financial industry, the military-industrial complex or any number of other private interests—are all facets of the disease.
THE GREATEST EPIDEMIC SICKNESS KNOWN TO HUMANITYWhereas McMurtry refers to the great sickness, scholar Jack Forbes, author of Columbus and Other Cannibals, refers to “the greatest epidemic sickness known to humanity” – what the Native Americans call wetiko disease. Wetiko can be conceived of as an immaterial, formless cancer of the human psyche, as the psyche is both its source as well as the medium through which the disorder covertly operates and propagates itself throughout the human family. Working through the projective tendencies of our minds, wetiko hides itself from being seen—thereby disabling our cognitive immune system—by distorting our perception of the world, ourselves and our place in it so as to act itself out through us while simultaneously rendering itself invisible (Inspired by Forbes’ work on wetiko, I have written a book on the subject – Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil).
Analogous to McMurtry’s great sickness, those taken over by wetiko consume the life force of others, both human and nonhuman, for private purpose or profit, and do so without giving back anything of real value from their own lives. By whatever name we call it, McMurtry and Forbes are both pointing at what seem to be interrelated aspects of the same deeper underlying sickness. As best as I can tell, McMurtry’s great sickness is a full-bodied, incarnate manifestation of wetiko acting itself out in the social, political and economic realms. In other words, McMurtry’s cancer appears to be an expression and creation of a wetiko-ized collective psyche writ large on the world stage. As I wrote in Dispelling Wetiko, “The corruption in the global financial system is one of the most rapid vectors and pathways through which the ravenous virus of wetiko is wreaking havoc, propagating itself and going pandemic in our world.”
An inner psycho-spiritual disease of the soul, wetiko explicates itself through the medium of the external world. It has the amazing ability to transcend the seeming boundary between the inner and outer worlds so as to reveal itself through its manifestations—such as McMurtry’s great sickness—in the external world. Wetiko nonlocally informs, configures and gives shape to events in the outside world so as to express itself in full-bodied form, while at the same time synchronistically revealing what is going on deep within the psyche (which is its ultimate source). This is reminiscent of and precisely isomorphic to how unconscious, unhealed abuse gets compulsively re-enacted and literally and symbolically played out—in full-bodied form—in our lives.
To quote the great doctor of the soul C. G. Jung, “A political situation is the manifestation of a parallel psychological problem in millions of individuals. This problem is largely unconscious (which makes it a particularly dangerous one).” If we don’t realize that our current world crisis has its roots within, and is an externalized expression of the human psyche (what Jung calls “the World Power that vastly exceeds all other powers on earth”), then, as if having a recurring dream, we are fated—doomed—to unconsciously, compulsively and repeatedly re-create endless destruction in more and more amplified form. Our waking dream will then be destined to continue with ever-alarming intensity, becoming a nightmare until we receive its message and take appropriate action.
TOTALITARIANISMBy whatever name we call it, this cancer of the psyche induces what Sci-Fi author Philip K. Dick refers to as a “negative hallucination” – i.e., instead of seeing what’s not there, as if suffering from a form of blindness, we can’t see what is there. Interestingly, the wetiko carcinogen is a form of psychic blindness that believes itself to not only be sighted, but fancies itself to be more sighted than those who are actually seeing clearly.
The cancer can also be likened to an “anti-information virus,” in that not only does it block the reception of information, it substitutes false information for the real thing. Whether it’s fake news, alternative facts, mainstream media propaganda or our government’s lies, it is getting increasingly harder in this Orwellian world of ours to discern what is in fact actually happening. It is noteworthy that according to Buddhism, lying is the origin of all evil.
McMurtry writes, “This collapse of the distinction between truth and fiction opens the way to totalitarian occupation of consciousness.” Instead of occupying national territories, the cancer and its tumors occupy and feed off of public consciousness. As political theorist Hannah Arendt pointed out long ago, the big lie (what McMurtry refers to as the omnipervasive lie)—the most notorious characteristic of totalitarianism—takes hold when the line between fact and fiction becomes overridden as a matter of normalized routine. This is why totalitarian regimes depend on keeping knowledge and free public discourse silenced and repressed. As soon as enough people start seeing through the lies, recognize what is in fact actually happening and are able to creatively transmit their lucidity to others, the collective spell is broken.
Jung, though obviously not familiar with either McMurtry’s or Forbes’ work, referred to a similar idea by the phrase “totalitarian psychosis.” Unless we are lost in denial, it is clear that we are living at a time in which totalitarian forms have re-emerged onto the political landscape. Fascism is the result of corporate economic power merging with the political power of the state. It takes willful blindness to not see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare. This marriage of wealth and power can transform a democracy into a totalitarian state.
Arendt warns us in her classic study The Origins of Totalitarianism, that totalitarianism is “an ever-present danger” grounded in “the endless process of capital and power accumulation” – a process, it is worth noting, very much at work in today’s world. She was keenly aware that a culture of fear, the dismantling of civil and political rights, the projection of the shadow onto an other (a process that Jung simply calls “the lie”), the ongoing militarization of society, the centralization of power and control, the relentless attacks on labor, an obsession with national security, human rights abuses, the emergence of a police state, ever-increasing surveillance, a deeply rooted racism, and the attempts by demagogues to undermine education so as to dumb down the citizenry—all happening in America today—are characteristics of a society trending towards fascism.
MONEYThe built-in, unquestioned highest value of our capitalist system is money-value, as compared to and distinct from life-value, which is to say our economic system values profits over everything else, including living beings and the environment. Pope Francis himself points this out, when he says that in the prevailing ethos of our current system, “money is more important than people.” Our value system is a modern day version of worshipping the Golden Calf. In a recent interview, ex-head of ExxonMobil and recently appointed Secretary of State (the highest diplomatic position in our country) Rex Tillerson, when asked about his philosophy, stated simply, “My philosophy is to make money.”
To quote one of the major inspirations for this line of thinking, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, “The one and only responsibility of business is to make as much money for stockholders as possible.” Turning money into more money becomes an end in itself (a pathology that Aristotle called chremastatik), justified by any means possible. According to Friedman, “the only responsibility of business is to maximize profits, regardless of the social and environmental costs.” Subscribing to the same logic, billionaire George Soros unabashedly proclaims, “As a market participant, I don’t need to be concerned with the consequences of my actions.”
From this point of view, it makes no difference if the cost of doing business is wrecking economies, making people homeless, dispossessing formerly sovereign governments or destroying the environment. These perspectives sound like the textbook definition of psychopathy – deliberate and willful disregard of the impact of one’s actions on the wellbeing of others. According to the prevailing logic of our current capitalist system, it is a rational imperative to maximize one’s private interests in money-value terms at the expense of everything else.
The corollary to this is that it is good and justifiable to override all public protections and regulations which are barriers to optimizing one’s profits. From this perspective, for example, environmentalism obstructs business, as it gets in the way of corporations’ “opportunity to profit.” The insanity of the underlying logic which drives this system is revealed when we extrapolate what would—and is—happening over time when the system is followed to its logical conclusion. A Native American prophecy comes to mind: “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”
Cancer grows at the expense of the life-host, which over time experiences more of its life-supporting systems melting down. Over time this carcinogenic entity requires ever-more resources from the life-host in order to continue spreading. The meta-program of the cancer system is structured to relentlessly consume and despoil without end. Insatiable, the cancer is never satisfied; enough is never enough. The cancer always wants more, which is to say it becomes addicted to ever-increasing growth and never-ending consumption as an end in itself. The disease exhibits what social activist Naomi Klein calls “the junkie’s logic” – “where is the next fix?”
The disease insidiously eats sovereign governments and the life of societies from within. In an interview, McMurtry points out that “de-regulated corporate globalization is eating the world alive.” Unless the illness is accurately diagnosed and properly treated, the prognosis is always fatal.
In creating an economic system that has to keep making more money, at a certain point the system develops a seeming autonomy such that it is has no choice—i.e., is forced—to do as programmed. We have then unwittingly tapped into supra-human forces—the Bible’s “powers and principalities”—which, as if having life of its own, can become, Golem-like, an irremediable, out-of-control Frankenstein monster. We—even those lucky among us who seem to be the winners (the 1%)—become captives of this force that’s got us all by the throats. The ones who are the most amply compensated by this pathological system are, except in the rarest of cases, the least free of all. The rulers and financiers of this system are themselves mere puppets in the clutches of these far more powerful archetypal forces.
“Genocide,” McMurtry writes, is the “leading edge of the cancer system.” He points out that the disease “is mass-homicidal by its nature.” A living death sentence, it is a self-devouring operating system, ultimately destroying everything within its sphere of influence, including itself. It should be noted that there is no counter-evidence to the cancer diagnosis, only denial, blindness and ignorance.
Like a parasite that tricks its host, the cancer has to deceive the host organism into believing that the intruder is actually a healthy part of the body politic that needs to be supported, nurtured and taken care of. In a reversal of meaning that creates a cognitive dissonance within our minds, the carcinogenic invasions are always portrayed to be in the name of freedom and against terror. In the process, however, human rights are overridden, social programs stripped, taxes on the rich reduced, financial fraud multiplied,endless wars of aggression to capture resources for private corporations are increased, and ever-more terrorists are created. Our air, soil, forests and water cumulatively degrade, the climate destabilizes, more species become extinct by the day, economic inequality increases, the forces of fascism grow and every life-system on the planet is pushed into further decline, with no evident action but more “war against the terrorists.”
This systemic devastation of all life-support systems on our planet is without historical precedent. This is to say that the cancer that McMurtry is pointing at presents a greater danger than any prior threat to the human species in all of our history. This is not an exaggeration or being overly alarmist, paranoid or conspiratorial, but rather, is an open-eyed, sober assessment of our current situation, supported by ever-increasing data. Jung writes, “Everything could be left undisturbed did not the new way demand to be discovered, and did it not visit humanity with all the plagues of Egypt until it finally is discovered.”...
Read more: Awaken in The Dream
Thanks to: http://www.earth-heal.com