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CompensationandtheHegelianDialectic JonahDempcy

Jungproposesamechanismcalledcompensation1 whichguidesthedevelopmentoftheanima mundi2 inanongoingselfbalancingprocess.iekcriticizesJungonthegroundsoffailingto grasptheHegeliandialectic,butIarguethatiekmissesthepoint.3 iekscritiqueofJungfails tograspthatJungscompensationtheoryisaselfbalancingprocessthroughradical antagonismofthetypeiekapprovesof.HethinksthatJungperpetuatesthathorriblefeel goodNewAgerelativisticmythwhichsaysIntwosidesofanargument,neithersideisright. iekwantstoprotecthisfirmlyheld(Hegelian)pointthatintwosidesofanargument,oneside isdefinitelyrightandtheothersideisdefinitelywrong.Butiekiswronginthiscase.Heis wrongthatheisindisagreementwithJung.HimandJungagreeonthepointthatwemustfight againsttherelativisticnihilisticstancewhichsaysyoushouldnttakesidesinastruggle. Jungsselfbalancingcompensationisnotamythofharmoniousbalance,becauseitis selfbalancingthroughradicalantagonism,throughsubjectivedestitution,throughallsortsof thingswhichareanythingbutharmonious.ieksfearwhenhehearssomethinglikeorganic selfbalancingcompensationisthatthereisthisharmoniousdualrelationwhereeachside balancestheother.No!ThisisnotwhatJungissayingatall.Onthecontrary,Jungissayingthat thereisaradicalantagonismbetweenconsciousandunconsciousmindwhichisneverpeaceful orreciprocalbutalwaysunstable.Itisstabilizedonlyinsofarastheradicalantagonismcreatesa sortoftensionoftheopposites,soitcouldbethoughtofasastableconflict.Itsliketwosidesat warcanyousayitisastablesituation?Perhapsattimes,butatothertimesitisunstable,one sidethreatenstotakeover:eithertheconsciousmindtakesoverandutterlysubjugatesthe unconscious,dominatesit,orelsetheunconsciousmindtakesoveranddevourstheego. But,thereisasortofstruggletowardsequilibrium,whichitselfisanantagonistic struggle,aselfcompensationmechanismwhichreliesontensionandalwaysovershoots thereisneveraperfect,harmonious,nonantagonisticbalance.Itslikeachargedtension,an engagedpositionwhichantagonizesitscounterposition.WhatiekfailstograspisthatJungs compensationasselfbalancingisentirelycompatiblewiththeHegeliandialectic.Theyare differentwaysofsayingmuchthesamething. Yet,despitethefactthatnothinginJungcontradictsieksfirmlyheldbeliefinoneside beingrightandtheothersidebeingwronginastruggle,wemuststillgofurther.Whatisatstake hereisthat,foriek,wemustnotonlyaffirmthatonesideisrightandtheotheriswrongina struggle,butwemustaffirmthefactthatsocietydevelopsinsuchawaythatoldproblems becomeirrelevant,thatoldproblemsbecomeunthinkabletoevenpose.Forinstance,ifyouwere
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Althoughitisreferredtoasthecompensationmechanism,itisnotmechanical,butratherintelligent. souloftheworld,alsoGk.psychetoukosmou. 3 iek,Slavoj.ApocalypticTimes,<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQKY4doszCM>

todebatewhetherNazisortheirvictimsarerightorwrong,itwouldbeaninsulttothevictimsof theircrimestoevenraisethequestion.Wemustbeabletoaffirmthatonesideisdefinitelyright andtheotheriswronginadebate,tointernalizethisknowledgeintothesocioculturalmilieuand tomoveontothenext,morepressingmatter.Incidentally,thisispreciselythepointJungmakes whenhesaysthatwedonotsolveourproblems,weoutgrowthem.Jungandiekarein agreementherethatcertainproblemssimplyloserelevance,societymoveson,societyhas agreedonaconclusiveanswerandtoevenaskthequestionisgauche. iekmakesthesamepointabouthowitshouldbecomeunthinkabletoevenbroacha questionofwhethersomethingisrightorwrongbecauseeveryonehasagreedthatitiswrongto doit,liketortureforinstance.HiscriticismofZERODARKTHIRTY(2012)isevenmorea criticismofthemoviecriticswhowatcheditandsaid,Thisfilmraisesinterestingquestions abouttorture.ieksays,no,weshouldntsayitraisesthesequestions,becausethatsa closedissue.Wevealreadydecidedonesideisdefinitelywrong,liketheNazis.Wedontneed toaskiftheywereright,becausewehavealreadycometoacceptasawholethattheywere wrong. Iagreeentirelywithiekthatwemustprotectourhardwonabilityforonesidetobein theright,andtheothersidetobecompletelywronginagivensituation.Wecannotallowfor somesortofrelativisticanythinggoesideologywhichsaysthatbothsidesarejustanopinion no,onesideisjustanopinionandtheothersideisbothanopinionandacorrectone. Certainlythereisnothinginherentintheopiniontomakeitcorrect,butithappenstooccupythe positionoftruthinagivensituation.Idonotbelievewecangetoutsideofthepositionsof languagetospeakobjectivelyaboutthenatureoftruth,butIdoaffirmthatthereisatruthofa situationwhichcanonlybeseenfromasubjectivelyengagedposition.Whatthismeansisthat eachsidethinksitisrightbutactuallyoneofthemisrightandtheotheriswrong.Itsavery simplepoint,reallyiekjustwantstoprotectthestakewehumanshavemadeinourabilityto takesides,andaffirmthevalueoftakingsides. iekcallsthisabilitytotakesidesradicalasymmetrywhichisawayofsayingthatina givenconflict(e.g.Nazisversustheirvictims)onesideisrightandtheotheriswrong.Its asymmetrical.iekaccusesJungofnotbeingabletoaccountforthiswithhiscompensation theory.Accordingtoiek,Jungscompensationtheoryismissingthisasymmetrybecause eachsideisgivenequalvalidity.Wellactually,humorously,firstieksaysJungisadisavowed Hegelianwhodoesnttakeitfarenough(i.e.isunabletofullythinkthroughHegelsdialecticso insteadhasaprotodialecticorpoorimitationofHegel),thengoesontosayJunglackstheability toaffirmthatonesideisrightandtheotheriswrong. But,Iwillforgiveiekforhismissteps.HesimplyhasntspentthetimereadingJung, andwhocouldblamehim?IttakesapassionforJungianthought.Likemostthings,youneedto hearthecalling,toseeyourselfinthecall.GettingintoJungisavocation.Youdontjustcasually pickupJung,especiallyalchemicalJungnottomention,thereissomuchassumed knowledge.Thewritinggetssoequivocalattimesastoinfuriatethedemandingreasoningmind.

IfyoucangetintoATHOUSANDPLATEAUS(1980)thenyoucangetintoJungsMYSTERIUM COIUNCTIONIS(1977)orREDBOOK(LiberNovus,2009).Butalotofpeoplecantevenget downwithPLATEAUS.iekhatesit!HethinksGuattariruinedDeleuze.So,Imnotentirely surprisedthatiekdislikesJung,andIstillhaveaplaceinmyheartforbothofthem. WhatIdowanttodo,whatIfeelinsistinguponme,compellingmetodo4 istoshowhow iekfailstograspJungscompensationmechanismbuthowtheyareactuallyinagreement witheachother.Itsquitesimple,really.ieksaysthatJungscompensationtheoryisa symmetricalmodelwhichdoesnotallowforonesidetoberightandtheothersidetobewrong. iekalsoaccusesJungofperpetuatingthatNewAgefantasyofaharmoniousholisticunitywith nature,freefromantagonism.IhopetoshowthatJungisnotguiltyofeitherofthesecharges. Compensationisnotsymmetricalasiekdescribesit,nordoesJungperpetuatethemythof harmony.Indeed,prominentJungianscholarRichardTarnashascritiquedthatverysamemyth ofharmonyastheMythoftheFall.WhenieksaysthatHegelteachesusThefallconstitutes whatwasfallenfrom,i.e.theharmoniousEdenthatweostensiblylostisanonticillusionwe neverhadittobeginwith,andweneedtomoveonfromthemythoflosstoanacceptanceofan ineluctablelackthisisentirelyinagreementwithTarnas,andbyextension,Jung.Theonly caveatisthatTarnasalsoholdsinchecktheequallyperniciousMythofProgresswhichiek doesnotseemtohaveaproblemwith. ieksaysitisgreatthatwebrokefreefromtheholisticunitywithnatureandthatto returntoitwouldbedeath.5 ButhehasntreadhisJung,becauseJungsaysthesamething, effectively.Toreturntoitisegodeath,tolosethehardfoughtgroundofmediationthatwasonly claimedlittlebylittleovertheages.Iftheindividuallosesthisgroundofmediationandmerges withtheholistic,harmoniousworldthisiseffectivelybecomingpsychotic,becomingcaptatedin theImaginaryandbeingunabletoengagewiththeSymbolicorderassuch.iekandJungare entirelyinagreementaboutthedangerheretheconstantriskoftheindividuationprocess whichexposestheegototraumaswhichcouldevenshatterit,whichcouldsendtheperson careeningintopsychosisforever. JustasJacquesAlainMillerwarnsanalyststodetectsocalledordinarypsychotics beforetheyhavehadabreak,sotomakesurethattheyarenotgivenanalysis,Jungadvisesthat certainpeopledonotundergotheindividuationprocess.Throughouthiswritingshesaysmany
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Desireisalwaysthedesireoftheother,andwefeelthingsasmuchastheyfeelus,sotospeak.WhenI feelcompelledtodosomething,itisasifanothersdesireisinsisteduponme,asifIfeelanalien intelligence(whichIrecognizeasmyownunconscious)whichmakesdemandsofme.Inthiscase,Ialmost feelasifJungisinsistingthroughmetofightthegoodfightanddefendhishonor.OfcourseIknow consciouslythatthisisuntrue,butIneverthelessfeelanunconsciousaffinitywiththenotionofan insistencewhichcompelsmetomakethispoint.IonlywritethisessaybecauseIfeelcompelledto,andI havetowonderifthecompulsionisentirelymine,orifmydesireisnotinlargepartstemmingfromtheother inallitsambiguity(myownunconsciousortotalityofSelf,butalsootherpeopleatthepresentmomentand fromthepastwhoinformmylife,whohaveinspiredmeandsoon). 5 iek,ApocalypticTimes

timesthesentimentthatindividuationisnotforeveryone,thatsomepeoplearebetteroffwith theirneuroses,becausetheirneurosesaretheonlythingwhichpreventsthemfromfallinginto psychosis.iekscritiqueofJungasperpetuatingtheNewAgemythofharmoniouslovingunion withnature,oceanicblissetcisavalidcritiquepinnedonthewrongguy.Jungquitesimplydoes notperpetuatethatmythinhiswork,andIdontthinkmostJungiansdo,either.VonFranz, Edinger,Hillmannoneofthesewritersperpetuatetheideathatweshouldmergewiththe unconscious.Farfromit,VonFranzdescribesJungsindividuationprocessasprogressive disillusionment. Letshearfromiekhimself,fromthesametalkIvebeenaddressing,whichisbasically thesameargumenthemakesacoupleyearslaterinLESSTHANNOTHING(2012):
[Mocking Jung:] Both elements are onesided and we need a third position. No! We dont need a third position. The polarity in Hegel is never [symmetrical] so you go into this stupid, Neither [side is correct] but some higher synthesis [is correct] the first step in a Hegelian analysis when you are dealing with a struggle, a contradiction, is to isolate thedetermining element, the one which generates its opposite as itsownshadow,maybealittlebitinaJungianway. For example, I am the first to advocate that we should make a pact with liberals against racism and so on. But when we are dealing, today, with the opposition of, let us say, liberal individualism and socalled communitarian totalitarianism, we should avoid like hell the Jungian notion One goes too far in one direction, the other goes too far in the otherdireciton, so weshould do[...]what Icall soft fascism[...]It doesnt work this way. Why? Because there is no higher element. The whole point is that in the opposition between liberal individualism and lets call it communitarian fundamentalism the determining factor is liberal individualism, its this global Capitalist liberal logic. And this doesnt mean we blame it. We should make pacts with them in concrete struggle, but we should always insist on one crucial point: it is todays fundamentalism which is the symptom of liberalism, not vice versa. The determining factor is liberalism. Which means the only way to enact the change is to change it, not to destroy it with new totalitarianism but, as long as you have liberalism thewaywe haveit, itwillgeneratefundamentalism. Slavojiek 6

Iagreeentirelywiththissentiment,andIdonotseetheincompatibiltywithJung.However,tobe aworthycritiqueImustnotonlyofferwhatIthinkisthecorrectwayofseeingthingsbutalso showhowthewrongwayofseeingthingscametobeseenthatwayinthefirstplace.7 SoIwill


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Ibid.Transcriptionfromvideo.Emphasismine. IamindebtedtoDeleuzeforthisideathatcritiquemustalsogiveanaccountofthegenesisoftheobjectof critiquealongwithreasonswhyitswrongandanotherwayoflookingatitisright.Itsnotenoughtomerely

addressnotonlywhatIthinkistheagreementbetweenJungandiekbutalsohowIthinkiek gottothinkingtherewasadisagreementinthefirstplace.Tobeclear:iekmisunderstandsa disagreementherehethinksthatJungdisagreeswithhimbutthatisjustnotthecase. iekspointisthis:todaysfundamentalismisthesymptomofliberalismandnotvice versa.HethinksthatJungdoesnthavetheabilitytoaffirmliberalismgenerativeof fundamentalism,butthatserroneousofiek.Infact,Jungscompensationtheoryisabsolutely inagreementwithiek.Thinkaboutit.Jungscompensationtheorysaysthatanytimeyouhave anextremelyonesidedpushtowardsoneagendaaboveallothers,itwillcreateabacklash. Thenyoucanaccidentallydemonizethisbacklashastheproblemfailingtorealizethe backlashisreallyjustrespondingtotherealproblemwhichistheonesidedagendayoure pushing. Jungscompensationtheoryagreeswithiekthattodaysfundamentalismisa symptomofliberalismacompensationforliberalism.Liberalismisaonesidedpushwhich createsafundamentalistbacklash.Furthermore,Jungstheorysaysthatthebacklashisoften misunderstoodexactlywhatiekissaying,thatpeopleoftenthinkthefundamentalistsarethe probleminsteadoflookingatthethingtheyarerespondingto,i.e.liberalism.iekswholepoint isthatifwetrytofightthefundamentalistswefail.Wemustaddressliberalismitselfifwehope tosolvetheproblemoffundamentalism.HereiekcouldnotbemoreinagreementwithJung. Infact,thecompensationmechanismsayspreciselythis:ifyoujustfightthecompensation,you failtorealizewhatitiscompensatingfor.IfIjustfightthefundamentalistcompensationthenIfail tograspthatImustaddresswhatthefundamentalismiscompensatingfor,i.e.liberalism. Itisreallyasituationwhereieksimplydoesnotunderstandthecompensation mechanism.HeisinutteragreementwithJungwithoutrealizingit.Iamsaddenedbythis, becauseIwishIcouldsaythatiekreallygetsJung,butagain,Iamnotentirelysurprised. ThereisatremendousinvestmentoftimeandenergylearningaboutJungsthoughtwith relativelylittleintellectualpayoff.Jungismorelikefoodforthesoul.8 Itresonatesatadeeplevel whichmaynotimmediatelyringthebellsofacademictypeslikeiek.Also,Junghasbeen prettymuchleftoutofthecontinentalphilosophicaltradition.Soitisdisappointingtomebutnot entirelyunexpectedthatiekrejectshimflatoutwithoutgivinghiscompensationtheorya chance. Besides,wheniekcriticizesJungforperpetuatingthemythofaharmoniousoneness withnaturewhichwelost,hefailstonoticeJungssubjectivedestitutionexperienceswhichare preciselytheHegelianLacanianlossoffantasies,lossofthemythoflossitself(i.e.losingthe
saysomethingiswrong,wehavetoexplainhowitcametobeseenwrongly.Kindoflikeincomputer programmingwhenyoufindabug.Youdontjustsay,Itsworkingnow,youtrytofigureoutwhatthebug wasandhowitwasfixed.Wecantjustsayawayofseeingthingsiswrongwithoutalsosayinghowthey cametobeseenthatway,i.e.whythingslookwrongatfirst(orfromacertainperspective,youdontsee thingsthecorrectway). 8 IthasbeensaidthatJungdoesnotprovideintellectualfoodbutratherfoodforthesoul.

abilitytobelieveinalostunity,alostharmony)basicallyJungssubjectivedestitutionisexactly whatiekissuchanardentsupporterof.ItsreallytoobadiekcantseethatJunghimself wasastrongadvocateofpreciselywhatiekissoardentlydefending.Theyareonthesame side,butiekcantseeit! Theotherreasonieksunderstandingofcompensationassymmetrical1sidedforces isjustplainwrongisbecauseJungtalkedaboutcompensationasanunconsciousmechanism, notthateachsidecompensatesfortheotherbutthattheconsciousegoisalwayscausingthe unconscioustocompensate.Jungsaidthattheoverlyconsciousfocusinthemateriophysical wouldcauseacompensationintheunconscious,butnotviceversa.Jungscompensation actuallyisasymmetrical. LetsjustbesureIamnotmakingallthisstuffup.LetsreadtheJungianglossarytogetit straightfromthehorsesmouth: Compensation: the selfregulatory tendency of the unconscious. When consciousnessis too onesided, the unconscious usesits autonomy to compensate by pushing some of its contents upward in order to reestablish organismic balance. Example: a selfish man (conscious posture) suddenly indulges in an impulsive act of generosity (unconscious counterposition). The compensationisintelligent(ifinstinctive)ratherthanmechanical. 9 Okay!Ithinkthisisprettymuchgettingiekdeadtorights.Theupshotisthatheisactuallyright inwhathesaffirming.Thatssomething!But,hesstillwronginwhathesdenying.10 ieks rejectionofJungisflawed.Theyhaveperfectlyreconcilableopinionswitheachother.Thatisto say,iekisabsolutelycorrecttoaffirmthatfundamentalismisacompensatorybacklash againstoverlyonesidedliberalism.iekisjustwronginwhatheisdenying,whichistosay, whenhedeniesthevalueofJungianthought.Wewoulddowelltorememberthatalltoooften,in anintellectualdebate,wearecorrectinwhatweaffirmbutwronginwhatwedeny.11 References:
Deleuze,Gilles,andFelixGuattari.Athousandplateaus:Capitalismandschizophrenia.Burns&Oates,1987. Evans,Dylan.AnintroductorydictionaryofLacanianpsychoanalysis.Routledge,1996. Jung,CarlGustav,andRichardFrancisCarringtonHull.Mysteriumconiunctions:aninquiryintotheseparationand synthesisofpsychicoppositiesinalchemy.Routledge&KeganPaul,1963. Jung,CarlGustav,andSonuShamdasani.Theredbook:Libernovus.WWNorton&CoInc,2009. Zizek,Slavoj.Apocalyptictimes.2009.<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQKY4doszCM> Zizek,Slavoj.Lessthannothing:Hegelandtheshadowofdialecticalmaterialism.Verso,2012.

AGlossaryofJungianTerms,<http://www.terrapsych.com/jungdefs.html> IamindebtedtoJohnStuartMillforthisideaandRichardTarnasforincludingitinhisexcellentbook COSMOS&PSYCHE(2006). 11 Ibid.


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