Living in “Interesting Times,” The Role of the Collective Unconscious/Group Soul in Today’s Political Climate
September 30, 2017
As someone who has been around for a while, long enough to have experienced the Viet Nam anti-war movement from start to finish as both an observer and as a focus of the movement, I may have a slightly different frame of reference than many for evaluating today’s political climate with respect to its effects on the culture and the stability of the governmental system that we live within.
Perhaps more importantly to those in our community, although practicing Metaphysicians are just as subject to being influenced by the Collective Unconscious/Group Soul as anyone, we have some options that are not available to the general public for interpreting events and actions, and it is from that perspective that I am approaching the subject of today’s political climate in what follows.
In the political arena today, debate on policy differences has become almost non-existent. Instead, what we are seeing in place of debate are personal attacks upon individuals, their families, and associates, attacks that follow along the lines of the tactics outlined in the book; “Rules For Radicals.”
If you have read this book and are familiar with its author, then it will not be surprising to you that it is the political movements characteristically labeled as the left, along with the bulk of the media, which are presently shaping their messages in ways meant to provoke an emotional response best defined as “hatred,” rather than a response based upon rational analysis. As a result, what we are experiencing is a rapid spread of ideas and positions that are based almost entirely upon that emotion.
Why the individuals using these tactics are doing what they are doing can be a subject for debate itself, but what is pertinent to this discussion is not the “why” of these attacks, but the realization that most people caught up in this as protagonists are honestly unaware of why they feel the way they do. If questioned on the source of the emotions that they feel so strongly, most can only regurgitate the talking points and personal attacks levied by their party/group without offering any rational arguments to justify their position. But even though they cannot articulate why they feel so strongly, they are absolutely sure that what they feel are valid and reasonable emotions, and that what they believe is based on fact.
So… since I have traditionally tended to steer SMOP away from political discussions, why am I even considering the subject of how the Group Soul affects politics for a topic?
When a number of writers were predicting that California was going to slide off into the ocean a couple of decades ago, I did a series of meditations in which I asked my Guides for any feedback they might have on coming cataclysms. Over all the responses that I received indicated that yes, cataclysms were in our near future, but they would not be geophysical, rather they would be geopolitical. Geopolitical in the sense of political cataclysms scattered across the entire globe.
It appears to me that we have reached the beginning timeframe for these geopolitical upheavals that my guides were projecting, and that an analysis of current events from the perspective of the Science of Metaphysics might be appropriate at this time to assist in enabling us to decide how best we can conduct ourselves during this period, rather than allowing ourselves to become unwilling and unwitting participants in current events.
The geopolitical cataclysms that are building seem predominantly to be driven by group emotion, similar to a mob mind, and can be viewed to a large extent within the context of the collective unconscious paradigm.
The Collective Unconscious or Group Soul is the driving force behind most of our instinctual responses to external stimuli. As an important source of group species knowledge, beneficial for an incarnate individual’s survival, most of the responses implanted by the Group Soul in the incarnate individual are meant to provide a way to deal with perceived dangers. These responses may range from preprogrammed reactions to such common everyday events as a sudden noise, to the fear/caution emotion that is felt when encountering someone not from your tribal group. This last one is being used very effectively in today’s political movements to break us up into groups of victims, or groups that should be fearful of becoming victims, and will be expounded on more fully later.
To begin the discussion though, it would probably be appropriate to start with a review of the several forms of consciousness involved, and how they can be intentionally used by knowledgeable individuals and organizations to shape emotions such as fear in large groups of people.
Jung’s Collective Unconscious
In Jungian psychology, the Collective Unconscious is the part of the unconscious mind that is the product of ancestral experience, and is shared at various levels by a society, a people, and/or all of humankind. It is the part of the unconscious mind that incorporates patterns of memories, instincts, and experiences common to all of our species. “These patterns are inherited, may be arranged into archetypes, and are observable through their effects on dreams, behavior, etc.”
Although as a psychological theory, these shared memories, instincts, etc., are thought to come with birth, I have found no indication that this theory postulates a continued sharing of experiences, thoughts or emotions in the life that follows the moment of birth.
Group Soul – Collective Consciousness
Although inclusive of Jung’s Collective Unconscious theory, the early Theosophical Society’s representation of the Group Soul goes well beyond Jung’s view of the Collective Unconscious as being just something that is inherited at birth. It expands the theory by exploring the functioning of the Group Soul during the incarnate period of the individual, particularly with respect to the real time sharing of experiences of both sub-groups and of the Group as a whole.
In the early Theosophical writings, while incarnate, the Group Soul Consciousness is possessed in addition to the Discreet Consciousness or individualized consciousness (soul) of the incarnate person. The Discreet Consciousness (soul) is unique to the incarnate individual and separate from the Collective Unconscious, and is referred to as the “Personal Unconscious” by Jung.
In addition to Jung’s model of inheriting knowledge and species memories at birth, in the Group Soul concept the incarnate individual continues the sharing post birth of experiences, memories, etc. with the other members of its species, both incarnate and discarnate, but the level of sharing is not uniform throughout the entire human race. The more that an individual has in common with others through nationality, culture, past lives… even social interests, the greater the likelihood of sharing of those thoughts, emotions, and experiences of that subgroup will be. Which means, in the case of political affiliations which are a focal point of this discussion, the more that one is aligned with a particular political movement; the greater the influence of the group emotions will have on that individual’s emotions.
Note: The New Age Movement’s definition for the concept of a Group Soul has changed dramatically from the description provided above, and seems to have moved over to a concept limited to a Group or Hive Mind as it relates to human interpersonal relationships, as opposed to a sharing of information by a common species (the Group Soul concept in Theosophy applies to all species, whether animal, vegetable or mineral).
A modern approach to the concept of group souls is Rupert Sheldrake’s Morphic Resonance, the means by which information or an activity-pattern is transferred from a previous to a subsequent system of the same kind. In a given morphic system an animal “tunes in” to consciousness’s of both the members of that species that are living at that moment, and the previously living but presently discarnate member of its species.
Morphic resonance thus involves the influence of like upon like, the influence of patterns of activity on subsequent similar patterns of activity. This is an influence that passes across space and time from past to present, and does not to fall off with respect to distance in either space or time. The greater the degree of similarity of the systems involved, the greater the influence of morphic resonance. The example that is usually provided to illustrate this concept is the “Hundredth Monkey Theory,” which is based upon a study of monkeys done in Japan a number of years ago.
Morphic resonance provides for an inherent memory embedded in energy fields at all levels of complexity. In the case of squirrels for example, each individual squirrel draws upon, and in turn contributes to, a collective or pooled memory of its species. In the human realm, this kind of collective memory corresponds to what the psychologist C.G. Jung called the Collective Unconscious.
Mob or Crowd Psychology
“Crowd psychology, also known as mob psychology, is a branch of social psychology. Social psychologists have developed several theories for explaining the ways in which the psychology of a crowd differs from and interacts with that of the individuals within it. Major theorists in crowd psychology include Gustave Le Bon, Gabriel Tarde, Sigmund Freud, and Steve Reicher. This field relates to the behaviors and thought processes of both the individual crowd members and the crowd as an entity. Crowd behavior is heavily influenced by the loss of responsibility of the individual and the impression of universality of behavior, both of which increase with the size of the crowd.” (Excerpted from Wikipedia, but emphasis mine)
Mob or Crowd Psychology is basically a subset of the Group Soul Collective Consciousness, where the emotion of the subset, the mob, overrides the intellect or Discreet Consciousness of the individual and takes control of the individual’s actions. Each one in the “mob” begins to act based upon the feelings of the mob as a whole, as opposed to acting based on individual rational analysis of the situation.
Why is any of this important?
Group Consciousness can be very helpful to human survival, but not always. If a group concept becomes strong that is based on false narratives, rather than as the result of successful survival enhancing experiences, the impact upon a group, large or small, can be devastating. In great part, today’s cultures seem to be driven primarily by fear, a topic I addressed a few years ago in an article titled: “The Contagion of Fear in Today’s Culture”, which I have included a link to below. This tendency towards being fearful of nearly everything, particularly the fear of those not of one’s tribe, is what is being exploited by the left and the media as they continue to try to divide the country up in to groups, each group being presented as victims of the other groups. What we are experiencing today within our political discourse does not appear to be making us stronger as a culture; rather it seems to be tearing the culture apart.
This tendency towards a fear mentality is what is being capitalized on by the political movements to trigger hatred towards specific groups by amplifying the natural apprehension of those outside the tribal group that comes as part of the Group Soul experience base. When an individual can be convinced that those in a group identity other than that that the individual identifies with wishes them harm, the fear of harm that can be done by members of that group can be intensified utilizing a number of different means to the point that fear becomes hatred. Once that point is reached all reason can be dispensed with and any defense, including violence, can be justified in the mind of the individual that has been maneuvered into that mindset.
The prime methodology being used to imbed this fear modality is known as a “Disinformation Campaign”. For information purposes I have included a link to an article titled: “What are the elements of a successful disinformation campaign?”, but basically, a Disinformation Campaign, developed originally by the old Soviet Union in the 1930’s and adopted by other nations in the years since, is a form of propaganda where typically, bits of truth are taken out of context and presented in ways to promote things, events, that are not true, but what is being presented is always based upon a truth, just not a whole truth.
What Can, Could, or Should We Do?
I am no Guru, I have no enlightened answer to give for any of this, but I think that the most important responsibility for the practicing metaphysician is to simply be aware. That is to say that we need to not take anything that we are being presented with at face value, whether we are in agreement with it or not. And particularly if we are feeling very strong emotions being generated by what is happening in our culture today, stop for a moment and attempt to analyze what we are feeling, and in general, we should attempt to do an intellectual analysis of everything that is happening around us, responding to nothing based upon an emotional response, but rationally, as is outlined by Sun Tzu, in The Art of War.
© John R. DeLorez
 Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals by Saul D. Alinsky
 The Contagion of Fear in Today’s Culture
 What are the elements of a successful disinformation campaign?
 The Art of War by Sun Tzu (I prefer the translation by Thomas Cleary)