The Devouring Mother 2.0

It’s coming up to the two-year anniversary of the publication of my book The Devouring Mother: The Collective Unconscious in the Time of Corona. As I mentioned in a recent post, the corona hysteria might be done, but the delirium is far from over and the Devouring Mother archetype is, if anything, becoming even clearer as the dominant archetype of our time. I noticed recently that Jordan Peterson has started mentioning the Devouring Mother in reference to gender surgeries and the concept seems to be gaining some traction in the wider culture as a result.

Long-time readers will know I have been continuing to try and sort through the issues raised by my initial Devouring Mother concept, which was inspired by Jung’s Essay on Wotan. I was guided in that initial analysis by my studies of archetypes as tools in writing and analysing narrative fiction. Because our culture requires us to separate “the real world” from the “fictional” world of art, it probably would never have occurred to me to make the jump from one to the other if not for Jung’s essay and I was as surprised as anybody how well the archetypes worked as a tool for sociological study. But there were a couple of differences between my Devouring Mother analysis and Jung’s Wotan analysis that seemed important and which I have been working through since then.

Perhaps the main difference is that Jung posited Wotan as a geographically-specific archetype. Wotan was activated in Germany because of Germany’s location in central Europe, the home of the archetype. By contrast, the Devouring Mother and the Orphan are universal archetypes based in the relation between mother and child. They are not geographically-specific. This was not a problem in relation to corona since that was a global event. But WW2 was also a global event. So, there was a discrepancy between mine and Jung’s analyses in this respect.

This discrepancy was heightened when I realised how well the Devouring Mother accounted for the current state of global politics. Post-war global politics has been shaped in obvious reaction to WW2 and specifically to the appearance of the Tyrannical Father archetype in the form of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin etc. This seemed too coincidental to be ignored and led to me to try and sketch out how the Devouring Mother fitted into the larger historical context.

Meanwhile, I realised that I needed to pay more attention to the Orphan. I had focused on the Orphan’s relation to the Devouring Mother in my initial analysis. But considering the Orphan archetype on its own terms opened up a new avenue of exploration that led me back to Joseph Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey. Every Hero is an Orphan. Every Hero’s Journey is the journey out of “orphanhood” and into “adulthood”.

More specifically, though, the Orphan is the archetype which sits between childhood and adulthood and this is where the anthropological and sociological element becomes important. The Orphan maps to the rites of passage we all must go through on our journey to adulthood which includes the biological changes of puberty and the social changes associated with becoming fully-grown members of our culture.

Of particular importance is the fact that the “initiation” of the Orphan cannot be done by the parents. It must be done by one or more Elders. This is one of the things Campbell had discovered in his analysis of the Hero’s Journey. It is hardwired into the stories we tell about the Orphan and is also present in the anthropological literature around rites of passage.

The Elder must facilitate the transition of the Orphan into adulthood. The parents can only be a hindrance because their job is to provide the unconditional love of the family home and it is exactly that comfortable, cosy environment which the Orphan must leave and face the wider world. In the modern world, schoolteachers have become a kind of proxy Elder. But the school system was never designed to be a proper rite of passage and so this leaves the underlying need unfulfilled.

The combination of all these clues, the Orphan archetype and the historical context in which the Devouring Mother and the Orphan appeared in modern western history, finally came together when I went back and re-read Toynbee’s A Study of History. I realised that the Elder-Orphan and the Parent-Orphan dynamic sits at the heart of Toynbee’s model.

Per Toynbee, the driver of a civilisation is always the minority. These days, we call them the “elites”. In the ascending phase, the elites are a Creative Minority who solve the challenges the culture faces and drive it to new heights. In the descending phase, the elites turn into a Dominant Minority who can no longer solve the problems faced by society and try to make up for this increasing incompetence by becoming dictatorial and authoritarian in relation to the wider public (sound familiar?).

Put into archetypal terms, the Creative Minority are the Elder who successfully initiates the Orphans (the general public).

“The leader’s task is to make his fellows his followers; and the only means by which mankind in the mass can be set in motion towards a goal beyond itself is by enlisting the primitive and universal faculty of mimesis.”

When the culture tips into the declining phase, the Elder-Orphan relationship breaks down and is replaced by the Parent-Orphan dynamic. The Dominant Minority becomes the tyrannical parent ruling over Orphans who are no longer initiated properly.

“But when ‘the cake of custom’ is broken, the faculty of mimesis, hitherto directed backward towards elders or ancestors as incarnations of an unchanging social tradition, is reoriented towards creative personalities bent upon leading their fellows with them towards a promised land.”

Orphans who do not get initiated can either rebel and try to find their own pathway or get stuck with their parents. That is true at the microcosmic level and also at the macrocosmic. That is why the disintegration phase of a civilisation typically sees the rise of new social movements leading towards a promised land and the opposing force of a Tyrannical Father archetype trying to hold everything together.

But this is where the Faustian (European) civilisation has deviated from the normal path. There have been no shortage of would-be Tyrannical Fathers vying for the job: Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco etc. But they were all defeated by the British-American empires. This has led to the inversion of the Tyrannical Father i.e. the Devouring Mother.

This inversion fits with the general pattern of Faustian culture being the opposite of the Classical. Spengler made this point repeatedly and yet he refused to generalise it because he was trying to decouple the Faustian from the Classical.

Here is a list of the primary inversions based on where we are now in Toynbee’s cycle i.e. the disintegration phase:

Universal StateRomeWashington D.C.
Dominant Political FormMilitary Dictatorship (Army)Deep State (Bureaucracy)
Archetype of the Dominant MinorityTyrannical FatherDevouring Mother
Archetype of the ProletariatOrphanOrphan
Exercise of PowerExotericEsoteric

In one sense, therefore, what I had discovered with the Devouring Mother concept was identical to what Toynbee had already outlined. The Devouring Mother is the form of the Dominant Minority in Faustian civilisation. But this represents something that neither Toynbee nor Spengler predicted. Both expected a return of the Tyrannical Father, especially Spengler who gave it the name Caesarism, ironically referring back to the Classical world that he so wanted to decouple from.

In this way, the Devouring Mother is a natural extension of both Spengler and Toynbee’s theories with the benefit of having actually lived through the period in question and seen how history unfolded.

There is also an implied correspondence between the archetypal analysis and the historical. Because I wasn’t considering the historical perspective at the start, I was able to arrive at the archetypal conclusion independently. It’s only much later that I’ve realised that the Devouring Mother-Orphan fits into the historical cycle. This leads to the hypothesis that there is some kind of archetypal relation going on. The historical cycle is itself an archetype that manifests in the broader culture.

But perhaps this historical influence is itself an element of the Faustian. The Faustian has, far more than any other culture, been preoccupied with history. The Faustian has not sat passively back and waited for history to unfold. It has at least made an attempt to learn from history. It may well be that the reason the Faustian so reliably inverts the Classical is exactly because of our historical consciousness. Even now, we are terrified of the emergence of a Tyrannical Father because that’s what history tells us to be on the lookout for. Because of that, we are oblivious to the warning signs as the Devouring Mother becomes ever more voracious.

The Faustian’s obsession with history also raises the possibility of a meta-meaning of the Orphan. We may, in fact, say that the dominant archetype of the Faustian has always been the Orphan. The Faustian consistently needed to justify itself in relation to the Classical just like a child trying to impress its parents. The acquiescent Orphans of the Faustian revered the past. The rebellious Orphans, beginning with Luther, broke with the past. This dichotomy of reverence and rebelliousness even solidified in politics in the last couple of hundred years with the conservative-liberal distinction.

Viewed this way, Spengler’s work was a cry for the Faustian to finally “grow up” and become independent of the Classical. He was not alone in this. The theme was also present during the Enlightenment. Immanuel Kant wrote that laziness and cowardice keeps us as “children”. The Enlightenment was supposed to make us “adults”.

A final meta-meaning for the Orphan is the fact that, because of the global reach of the Faustian civilisation, almost everybody in the world has been brought into its orbit. We are all members of the proletariat of the Faustian and therefore its Orphans. But we are Orphans in a culture which is itself an Orphan! That’s why I am calling it the Age of the Orphan. I’ll be exploring the ramifications of that in my upcoming book of the same name.

In Search of the Sacred

To balance out last week’s post about the political background to our current situation in the West, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the other side of the civilisational coin and talk about religion. Arguably, our current predicament is far more of a religious problem than a political one, although, as we saw last week, the two have always been intertwined in Faustian civilisation as they are in every society.

It’s precisely because we live at a time when the founding religion of Faustian civilisation, Christianity, is but a pale shadow of its former self that our understanding of spiritual matters is pretty much non-existent. Take the words “sacred” and “holy”. To the extent that we use these words at all, they mean something like “good” or even “nice”. The New Age crowd uses terms like “sacred masculinity” or “sacred femininity” and this mostly constitutes a laundry list of things which are good about each sex. The sacred feminine is nurturing and the sacred masculine is strong etc. The truth is that the sacred is almost the opposite of the good.

The word sacred comes from the Latin where it has a variety of meanings. One of them is “to make holy”. The word holy is related to the word whole and the word health. So, we can also say that sacred means “to make whole” and “to make healthy”. But this implies that the thing in question is not whole or not healthy. That leads to another implication: what is sacred may not be interfered with in a way that threatens its holiness, its wholeness, its health. If you do mess with the sacred, you can expect punishment. The sacred is, therefore, also powerful and dangerous. It must be respected.

All these various meanings are present in the Bible. But just as Christianity has now been watered down to the point where all the sacredness has gone out of it, so too we now think of Jesus as some kind of peace-loving hippie. Really? Consider this passage from Matthew 10:34-36:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

Does that sound like a peace-loving hippie? Truth is, Jesus was dangerous. That’s why they had him killed. In doing so, they made him one of the most sacred figures in history.

We can get a better appreciation of the meaning of sacredness by sidestepping the millennia of cultural baggage inherited from Christianity and taking a wider, non-European view. This will also give us a useful point of comparison to better understand the revolution that Christianity brought.

Let’s start with an example that is completely foreign to us in our jet-setting world of global travel and tourism: the stranger. For most societies throughout history, strangers were sacred. Which is to say, strangers were dangerous. The arrival of a stranger at your home or in your village was a big deal.

The anthropological literature shows two predominant responses to the arrival of a stranger. The first is to either kill them, drive them away or run away yourself. This strategy allows you to avoid the danger.

The second option is far more nuanced and introduces the idea of sacred rites. Rites and ceremonies are ways of navigating through the danger posed by the sacred. The anthropologist, Arnold van Gennep, noted that sacred rites have a three-part structure: separation – transition – incorporation. The arrival of a stranger constitutes a separation from the normal world. The community is no longer in profane (normal) status but switches into sacred status. In order to get back to the profane, the community invokes sacred rites of transition and incorporation.

The goal is to get back to the profane (normality). But the rites do more than that. They incorporate the sacred. Remembering that the sacred is dangerous and powerful but also potentially impure and diseased, sacred rites have a protective function. But they also integrate the stranger at a physical, social, political and metaphysical level. This incorporation can take forms that those of us with a Christian heritage would find very strange; in particular, one of the more common rites of incorporation: sex.

Those who have read The Travels of Marco Polo might remember his accounts of villagers in China who send their young women to meet a traveller (stranger) and have sex with him. It’s tempting to think such stories were inserted to, errrr, sex up the narrative and boost sales of Polo’s book back in Italy. But, actually, this is a well-attested phenomenon in the anthropological literature.

A Tahitian dancing ceremony, an incorporation rite to integrate strangers into the community

We also find it in stories from the British explorers. Tahiti was particularly famous on this score. Both Captain Cook and William Bligh’s crews were treated to a free-sex environment which, for a Protestant of that era, especially one of low social status such as a seaman, must have seemed unbelievable.

Strangers are sacred and the sacred has power. When you incorporate a stranger into your community, you incorporate his power. The power can be material as in money or goods for trade. But there is also a metaphysical power; something like mana or chi. A stranger is assumed to have mana and the woman who sleeps with him incorporates that mana. That’s why the Chinese villagers were happy to have their young women sleep with travellers from Europe in Marco Polo’s day.

If all this sounds far-fetched, bear in mind that modern pick-up artists have recaptured the same dynamic. The one thing you cannot be as a pick-up artist is a “nice guy”. Nice guys do not have mana. Pick-up artists have rediscovered the sacred power of the stranger.

Sex as an incorporation rite can be used wherever such a rite makes sense. One such context is negotiation. In Australian aboriginal culture, when two tribes were carrying out a negotiation, women from one tribe would come to the place of negotiation with the men. Once the negotiation was finished, the men from that tribe would return to camp while the women would wait a short distance away from the negotiation area. The men from the other tribe would stay to discuss their decision. If they decided to go ahead with the deal, they would go and find the women and have sex with them. If there was no deal, they would return to their own camp.

We can see such practices at play in the modern world. Back when I worked at a lawyer’s office, one of our most interesting cases was a professional man who was suing his company for wrongful dismissal. His company asserted that he had behaved inappropriately on a business trip to Hong Kong by sleeping with a prostitute paid for by a client. His counterargument was that this was the way business was conducted there and therefore he had done what was necessary to close the deal.

Years later, I would experience something very similar myself on a trip to Chengdu where I inadvertently ended up in a private karaoke room full of high-end Chinese call-girls. But that’s a story best told after a few beers. (Don’t worry, I showed my repressed Catholic heritage and politely declined their services).

Sacred rites facilitate the navigation of situations which are dangerous or powerful. Prior to a negotiation, the relationship between the two parties is in a profane state; an equilibrium or stasis. That stasis is broken when one party changes the relationship by suggesting a new deal. At that point, both parties enter the sacred state which must be navigated to ensure a return to the profane. Failure to do so can lead to negative outcomes. The war in Ukraine is a reminder of that.

Although it would never occur to us with our secular mindset, a business deal is a sacred rite. A business lunch is a communal meal. A handshake is a rite of incorporation. A suit and tie is the sacred outfit worn for the occasion. In some parts of the world, it is natural to include a sex rite in a negotiation. There is nothing remarkable about this from an anthropological point of view. In fact, it’s arguable that nations with a Christian heritage are the weird ones with our strange views towards sex.

Of course, the anthropological literature is full of other practices that we would consider not just strange but horrendous. Bestiality, cannibalism and paedophilia have been practiced widely including in Ancient Greece and Rome. Given the obsession of Faustian culture with the Classical world, why were such things unknown? The answer is that they were airbrushed out of history by the Church. And here we come to the point: the influence of the Christian church on Faustian notions of sacredness.

I mentioned last week that the Christian Church largely created Faustian society beginning around the year 1000 A.D. We can now be more specific about one aspect of that dynamic. The Church created a shared zone of spiritual understanding. It defined the sacred rites and practices for the people under its influence. It did so by systematically repressing folk religions. Each region in Europe would have had their own versions of sacred rites defined by local custom. The Church got rid of all that and replaced it with the Church’s sacred rites.

The prevailing notion these days is that all this was achieved through violence and coercion. No doubt there was some of that. But there is a more fundamental reason why the Church was able to unite disparate communities in Europe and then later around the world.

In the 19th century, European anthropologists and linguists had access to the global reach of European civilisation and were able to sift through the languages, customs and sacred rites from cultures all around the world. They realised that, while there was enormous variety, there was also what appeared to be universal elements of human language and culture. The argument between what is universal and what is not is still ongoing to this day.

Whatever the theory says, it is simply a fact that the Christian church had a number of sacred rites that are found across a wide variety of cultures. Baptism, the use of water in rites of purification and incorporation, is almost a universal of human culture. The Last Supper is an example of a communal feast; another universal. Jesus healing the sick is a universal sacred rite because sacredness is linked with disease and impurity. Jesus’ 40 days in the desert is a prime example of an initiation rite. It has direct equivalents in the Australian aboriginal walkabout and the Native American vision quest to take just two examples from unrelated cultures.

But perhaps what was most important about Christianity was that it brought in a level of abstraction. Let’s take one of the most important Christian rites – the Eucharist.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” (John 6:53–55)

The people Jesus is addressing in this Bible passage take his words literally and think that Jesus is telling them to eat his body. But Jesus was speaking in a parable. His meaning would later be captured in the rite of the Eucharist where bread and the wine are ceremonially transformed into the flesh and blood of Christ and then consumed by members of the congregation.

When Christian missionaries arrived in Australia and began explaining the Christian rites to Australian aboriginals, the aboriginals recognised some of the rites as being similar to their own tradition. One of those rites was ritual cannibalism. Close family members would eat the flesh and drink the blood of the deceased. They did so for exactly the reason stated by Jesus in the quote above; namely, it was believed that the flesh contained power, spirit or “life”. It was sacred. Ritual cannibalism is an incorporation rite that aims to integrate the power of the sacred.

The Eucharist replaces ritual cannibalism with a symbol, an abstraction, that means the same thing. It is precisely because ritual cannibalism was practiced in a number of different cultures, not just Australian aboriginal culture, that such a rite could resonate. This is how the Christian message was able to spread in vastly different cultures from the one it originated in. It was also what allowed the church to unite the disparate peoples of Europe under a single religion and create the Faustian culture in the first place.

That unification began to break down with the Reformation and the subsequent wars of religion. If Catholicism was already an abstraction away from localised rites, Protestantism went one step further and created what Kierkegaard later called the single individual before God. To a large extent, Protestantism removed the social nature of sacred rites. Everybody was now answerable directly to the most sacred being of all: God. But remember that sacredness is danger and power. Protestantism had left people alone to face what they believed to be the highest power in the world.

This is not a theory. It was a lived experience. Many protestant priests complained that members of their congregation came to them with crippling anxiety. Protestantism created what Kierkegaard called the sickness unto death (remember, sickness is one of the meanings of sacred). To live every moment of your life in front of God is a matter for saints. It means there is no let up. There is no transition into or out of the profane but just a never-ending (eternal) sacredness. While Catholicism retained the social element of sacred rites with a social hierarchy of spiritual expectation, Protestantism left people alone in the face of the sacred.

Protestantism had demanded of its followers something that most people were not ready to achieve. As a result, the Protestant message began to be watered down to make it palatable. It ended up morphing into bourgeois materialism. By Kierkegaard’s time, all the sacredness, all the power and all the danger had already gone out of Protestantism. Most people were just going through the motions. It was the beginning of the mass hypocrisy which is still with us to this day.

With Protestantism no longer sacred, people began looking elsewhere for meaning. The aforementioned bourgeois materialism was one such avenue. Another was nation-state politics. There was the rise of nationalism, communism and anarchism. Meanwhile, another -ism, industrial capitalism, radically altered and de-sacralised society.

When nationalism blew itself up (literally) in the world wars, we were left with capitalism and its stepchild “science and technology” as the sole remaining sacred forces of our society. Economists and experts became the high priests and we had a decades-long fossil-fuel driven party. The abstract, spiritual power of the sacred had been replaced by the entirely material power of machines.

The sacred is power. It is energy. It is dangerous. The negotiation of the sacred gives a rhythm to life as people navigate through the dangers involved. These dangers give meaning and excitement to life. A life without the sacred is boring and monotonous; a perfect description of post-war suburbia.

A life without the sacred, even in the presence of historically unprecedented material prosperity, also leads to anxiety. The sacred rites are a journey through danger. They are a mental test and to pass the test and come out the other side is to build character or, to say the same thing with different metaphysics, to incorporate the power of the sacred into yourself. Without such experiences, one is permanently anxious and permanently in need of reassurance that one is “safe”.

That’s where we are today. A society obsessed with “safety” because we have run out of sacred rites completely. We tried to fill the void left by the absence of sacred Christianity with the nation state, science and technology and economics. Corona represents the defeat of economics. The decision to lockdown, with the inevitable economic repercussions which we are only just beginning to see, were a changing of the guard. The economists have been turfed out of their sacramental role. Our Dominant Minority knows that they can no longer deliver economic growth and they are desperately trying to create new sacramental rites to replace the economic ones that have been the mainstay of the postwar years.

Where are they turning for those rites? One area is the medical profession. This is not that surprising when you think about it. Birth and death are the two most important sacred rites in any society. For most humans throughout history, birth and death occurred in the home or in a sacred place set aside for the purpose. In the modern West, we are born and we die almost exclusively in hospital. Ergo, the hospital has become the most sacred place in our society. This actually makes perfect sense because holiness and healthiness are both elements of the sacred and many sacred rites in pre-scientific societies are aimed at protection from illness.

The huge problem, of course, is that medical professionals are not trained in the sacred and don’t consider themselves to be doing sacred work. Nevertheless, we have increasingly come to rely on the medical industry as a proxy for the sacred. Medical spending in the post wars years has increased in inverse proportion to church attendance. That is not a coincidence.

This has two effects. Firstly, the medical industry is treating people who have nothing physically wrong with them but rather have a “spiritual” problem. Naturally, such treatments do not work because they are not addressing the underlying problem. Because any medical intervention has side effects, the cost of the side effects outweighs the benefits and the medical industry is becoming a net cause of illness rather than its cure.

Secondly, the increasing demand for medical services has massively increased the price; a price we can no longer afford and are running up huge debts to pay for. Without the necessary money, the medical system is increasingly failing to maintain even a basic standard of care and what should be the sacred rites of birth, death and illness are increasingly morphing into the kind of outright inhumanity that only an underfunded bureaucracy can produce.

We have looked everywhere for the sacred except the one place which can actually deliver it: religion. But what we are starting to see now is a reversion to pre-Christian forms of sacred rites; albeit in the guise of “science”, “medicine” and “progress” and this is where we re-connect to politics because these new “sacred rites” are being promulgated by the Dominant Minority; the global “elites”.

Consider the stories of Silicon Valley billionaires using blood transfusions from the young to “live forever”. This is nothing more than a high-tech version of drinking blood; a classic incorporation rite.

The gender surgeries and associated medications for young people fit clearly into the category of bodily mutilation rites that are almost a universal in the anthropological literature. Van Gennep says of this rite:

“The mutilated individual is removed from the common mass of humanity by a rite of separation…which automatically incorporates him into a defined group; since the operation leaves ineradicable traces, the incorporation is permanent.”

The trans craze has created new sacred groupings with associated mutilation practices consonant with initiation rites given to adolescents in many societies throughout history. The increasing number of vaccinations given to young people also fits into this category of sacred rites during childhood.

Another childhood rite is teaching about sex. Van Gennep notes that the arrival of the second set of teeth is the marker for the beginning of sex education in many cultures which would put the age of sex education at 7 years old. The recent craze in exposing young children to sexually explicit material fits this category as do moves by globalist bodies to reduce the age of consent which would revert back to non-European historical norms (the northern European paradigm is anthropologically unusual for the late age of both consent and marriage).

Here in Australia, we have the Welcome to Country ceremonies which refer back to the sacred rites performed on the traveller in non-European culture. We see similar concepts in New Zealand, Canada and the US with land acknowledgements.

Corona is, of course, the big one; possibly the first ever global sacrament. Before corona, each of was profane: pure, un-diseased, not dangerous. In the early days of 2020, we all became sacred: impure, diseased and dangerous. It didn’t matter that you had no symptoms. Having no symptoms just meant you were asymptomatic. Everybody was now sacred.

Having moved everybody into the sacred category, we needed a purification rite to get them back to the profane. That was the vaccine; your ticket back to “normality”.

Corona was a perfect example of the structure that Van Gennep identified. Every sacred rite of passage has three stages: separation, transition and incorporation. The lockdowns were the separation phase. The incorporation phase was the vaccines. In the transition phase, we were told we were entering a new normal and that is totally fitting because the whole point of a rite of passage is to transition out of an old world and into a new one.

The problem with every one of these new “sacred” rites is that they are not really intended to bring us back to the profane. On the contrary, they seem custom designed to keep us in an eternal sacred state. The never-ending new covid variants and the never-ending booster shots to go with them (the word “booster” implies energy and power and, therefore, sacredness).

This makes perfect sense when you consider that all this is driven by the Dominant Minority of Faustian culture. From the Dominant Minority’s point of view, the general public really is sacred; it is dangerous and impure. That is why all of these new rites have suddenly appeared in the wake of the Trump and Brexit votes which were markers of the power of the public. Ironically, this eternal “sacredness” that never lets up is just Protestantism re-packaged for the modern world.

Once again, the Faustian represents the inversion of the Classical. The Dominant Minority in Ancient Rome governed by pushing exoteric rites that no longer had any esoteric content. The esoteric was re-created from the Proletariat in the form of Christianity. In the modern West, it is the Proletariat who still believes in the exoteric institutions and morality of society while the Dominant Minority undermines those institutions esoterically. The Dominant Minority of Rome was trying to keep its population unified. The Dominant Minority of the West rules by divide and conquer.

What has changed in the last 30 years is that the esoteric activities of the Dominant Minority are no longer productive but destructive. That’s the sign that we are moving out of the Universal State and into what Toynbee called the Interregnum. According to Toynbee, we should now see a new religion arise from the Proletariat.

Both Toynbee and Spengler, and also Jung in a more roundabout way, predicted that it would be Christianity that would rise again to form that new religion. Although that seems incredibly unlikely looking at the current state of the church, I think they are right. Once the lights start going out and the internet is unavailable, people will have to turn somewhere for sacred guidance and, as much as we deny it, our culture is still predicated to an enormous extent on Christian assumptions. It won’t take much to rediscover those assumptions. It may very well be that the second coming of Christ really is at hand.  

Dictators and Deep States

I’ve been very much enjoying Tucker Carlson’s new series of videos on Twitter. Episode 4 dropped on Friday Australian time and this was one that I was particularly interested in since it touches on several issues I’ve been writing about here for the past year. For those who haven’t seen it, you can watch here.

The video is an extended joke pretending that Joe Biden isn’t behaving exactly like a dictator even though he’s having his political opponents arrested, is enriching himself and his family at the public expense and doing other things that are very dictator-like. The question which Tucker almost poses but never quite gets to is this: why does nobody see it? How can the United States of all places not see a dictator in action? After all, the country was founded on the rejection of absolute power.

The answer lies in the distinction I’ve used many times over the last year or so: exoteric vs esoteric.

The exoteric is the overt, official and explicitly recognised. In the political sphere, the exoteric tells us that Joe Biden is a democratically elected president. It also tells us he is a frail old man with a habit of falling over and a tendency to speak gibberish. Biden wears a suit, not a military outfit. In all these ways, the exoteric tells us that Joe Biden is not a dictator.

The esoteric is the hidden and secret. Psychologically, the esoteric is the things which have been pushed out of consciousness and into the unconscious. In relation to Biden, these are all the things which Tucker Carlson raises in his video: Biden’s crackhead son, his dodgy brother, numerous shady business deals with foreign nations etc. These are all matters that have been swept under the rug, pushed into the unconscious and made esoteric.

The distinction between the exoteric and esoteric does not have to relate to grand matters of politics and religion. I described an example last week with the concept of shadow work. People who commute to their workplace are doing work. But our society does not recognise that work. That lack of recognition is all it takes to push something into the esoteric. But just because we refuse to recognise something, does not mean it isn’t there.

Important matters which are pushed out of the exoteric (consciousness) and into the unconscious generate esoteric energy and that energy finds outlets that are unrelated to the original problem. That is exactly what Freud and Jung realised was happening with their early psychiatric patients. Those patients displayed neuroses that were unrelated to the underlying problem. The psychiatrist’s job is to get to the root cause of the problem and bring it to consciousness; make it exoteric.

It turns out the same thing works in the public domain. The journalist’s job is to bring the esoteric into consciousness. The propagandist’s job is to push things out of the exoteric and into the unconscious. When propaganda replaces journalism, we can expect exactly the psychological problems that Freud and Jung discovered only at the societal level. That is the reason why we are seeing obvious neuroses in our society right now. The MSM no longer does journalism. It does propaganda. The result is a tidal wave of esoteric energy looking for something to grab onto.

That’s why Tucker Carlson got booted out of the MSM and also why his new Twitter series is getting seriously interesting. However, he got it wrong by implying that Joe Biden is a dictator. The Biden presidency is the equivalent to having Grandpa Simpson in the White House. And Grandpa Simpson is not a dictator.

We know what dictators look like. They wear military uniforms. When a dictator takes out a political opponent, we expect scenes such as were recently filmed in Pakistan where Imran Khan was grabbed by a bunch of soldiers in front a courthouse and whisked away in a car. In dictatorships, we expect to regularly hear that some public figure has disappeared and we know we will never hear from them again.

An old fashioned dictatorial move: having the army arrest your political opponent

Similarly, we know how dictators come to power. They do so at the head of a large military force such as Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon. At the very least, we expect some people to get killed as in the Night of the Long Knives. These are the exoteric signals people associate with dictatorship.

Joe Biden does not look like a dictator, therefore he is not a dictator. No more thought goes into it than that. People take things on face value. They trust the exoteric. It’s this blind trust in the exoteric that forms the core battleground of modern democratic politics. Whoever defines the exoteric, official version of events wins. That’s why billions of dollars are spent manipulating the media.

One of the main tactics in that battle is to simply leave out the things you don’t want to become exoteric. Even on the internet, this technique is all pervasive. How many times have you seen a short snippet of video which gives you one interpretation of an event and then later saw an unedited version of the same video which leads you to draw a completely different conclusion? The MSM works on the same principle. It’s not technically a lie. It’s an “omission”. Whoops, we forgot about that bit. We’ll do better next time. We promise.

In dictatorships, the media is tightly controlled and promotes a single message. But Joe Biden does not send around the military or a group of toughs to rough up journalists who step out of line. Instead, as the Twitter Files showed, this is all done through the deep state and its connections with large corporations. The process by which dictatorial power is wielded in modern America is not through a single leader but a network of shady, secretive departments and their corporate allies: the deep state.

Dictators look something like this

Practically all dictators throughout history have had absolutely no shame or scruples about manifesting the exoteric, overt properties of their role. Most dictators are quite happy with their situation. You get to do whatever you like and if anybody disagrees you have them disappeared. Pretty sweet deal while it lasts. Whatever else can be said against it, there is no lying or deceit going on in your average dictatorship. On the contrary, it’s in a dictator’s interest that you know he is a dictator because you’re less likely to cause trouble.

The United States is a nominally democratic system. But this exoteric form of government does not match its esoteric behaviour. This is not an accident. In fact, it follows a long tradition within Faustian (European) civilisation.

The USA has ended up becoming what Toynbee called the Universal State of Faustian civilisation. It is to the Faustian what the Roman Empire was to the Classical. But, as with everything Faustian, it is an inversion of the Classical. Everybody knew the Roman Empire was an empire. But the United States is an empire pretending not to be an empire. It is a dictatorship without a dictator.

Right from the start, Faustian culture has been run on the esoteric. It is for this reason that Oswald Spengler is arguably the greatest historian of the Faustian because his entire work was based on his discovery that the only way to understand the real Faustian was to look beneath the exoteric surface. That’s true in politics, religion and the general culture.

Since we are talking about politics, however, let’s take some prime examples from history to show how the exoteric has never matched the estoeric in Faustian culture and why the United States represents the culmination of that tradition.

Example 1: The Christian Caliphate

The Faustian was constructed by the Christian Church which knitted together a network of European warlords into what amounted to a caliphate. This was an extension of the paradigm established in the dying days of the Roman Empire when Christianity became the state religion. The combination of Roman church and state was used as the inspiration for the new Faustian civilisation. More specifically, the Faustian borrowed the exoteric forms of the Roman Empire. But it overlaid them on what was a completely different political structure and culture. Hence, right from the start, the exoteric and esoteric were out of alignment.

The church in Europe starting around the year 1000 A.D. raised taxes and waged wars. What kind of church goes to war? A Faustian church. In fact, the early church behaved far more like a government. Exoterically, the church was a church. Esoterically, it was a government.

Various European kings came to resent the church precisely because they realised it was a politically entity that limited their power. They proceeded to wage war. The church put up a decent fight but ultimately lost at which point there was a negotiated settlement where the church and the nobility shared governmental responsibility. The church retained significant political power and the ability to extract money from the public. It took until Luther for somebody to finally demand that the church align its exoteric function (indulgences for payment) with its esoteric meaning (repentance of sin).

Example 2: The Holy Roman Empire

Our second example of the exoteric not matching the esoteric in Faustian culture is the Holy Roman Empire. As Voltaire’s joke went: it was not holy, not roman and not an empire. In fact, the epithet “holy” was added later by one of the German emperors who was trying to usurp the authority of the church in Rome. So, you had a politician pretending to be religious in order to win political power. How Faustian! Henry VIII would later go one better by making himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England.

The history of the Holy Roman Empire begins with the Carolingian Empire where the Pope crowned Charlemagne as “Roman Emperor”. From that time on, the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire claimed their authority directly from the ancient Roman emperors. When Napoleon declared himself emperor, he too claimed authority directly from ancient Rome. As always, the Faustian constructed an exoteric veneer that did not match the underlying reality.

The word emperor comes from the Latin imperator. The imperator title was originally given to a general of the Roman army who was elected to that role by his soldiers. When Julius Caesar became dictator, the senate conferred on him the title of Imperator. Later, the same offer was made to Octavian who refused it. Instead, Julius Caesar’s surname became a proxy title for emperor and was used by Octavian and others emperors down to Hadrian. The German word for emperor, Kaiser, and the Russian equivalent, Tsar, are both derived from “Caesar”.

Thus, when the Pope crowned Charlemagne as emperor, he was in fact using an exoteric title that was originally based on a democratic vote within the Roman army. The same title was later bestowed on a dictator by the Roman senate. And now it was bestowed on a northern European warlord by a Pope. Make sense?

The exoteric structure of the Holy Roman Empire was a facade. The real governance model which lay beneath had nothing to do with the Roman system. Nevertheless, for more than a millennia, people kept referring back to Rome. This is why Spengler was at pains to point out time and time again that the real Faustian was completely different from the Classical. Educated scholars, many of whom still believed that Aristotle was the fount of all knowledge, completely failed to grasp that the exoteric did not match the esoteric.

Example 3: The British Empire

Our third example of the exoteric not matching the esoteric is the one directly relevant to the current situation in the United States since it is, in fact, the precursor to the US Empire.  

Britain declared itself an empire in 1533 in all of the chaos surrounding Henry VIII’s break with the church in Rome. Because European power must always be tied back to the ancient world, Henry had his historians make up a story about how his new power was derived from the Fall of Troy. Full marks for creativity.

The new political structure in England was declared an empire mostly for marketing purposes. The decision was made not to call the King an emperor, although Henry insisted on being addressed as “Your Majesty” to copy the then emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

Centuries later, George III also declined the title of Emperor in 1801 at a time when Britain clearly was running an empire. Partly this was because Britain had already gone through a civil war over the issue of absolute power and parliament would not have been happy with a king declaring himself emperor. Partly, it was because George was also an elector in the Holy Roman Empire and it would have been weird to have an emperor electing another emperor (even one who wasn’t really an emperor!).

But the real reason was because the British Empire really was different from historical empires and it therefore did not need to have anyone in the exoteric role of emperor. One of the main differences was that foreign vassal states such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand were considered not subordinate but equal to the home country. Of course, this was not really true but if there’s one lesson from European political history it’s that truth is not just unnecessary but actively harmful to the system.

Nevertheless, the functioning of the British Empire really was different to historical examples and so, once again, the official exoteric structure hid the underlying reality which became esoteric.

Most empires historically work on the tribute system whereby vassal states are required to pay a tax in much the same way that the subjects of a king are required to pay. This system is exoteric. There are formal agreements. Everybody is clear on who is the emperor and who is the vassal state. If the vassal state breaks the agreement, they can count on a visit from the emperor’s army in short order. The history of the Roman Empire is full of such “visits”.

The British Empire earned its money via trade and finance. That’s why it was able to pretend that its vassal states were really “friends” and also why it didn’t need an emperor. What it did need was a distributed network of mercantile interests, diplomats and bureaucrats; in other words, a deep state.

It’s for these reasons that some historians refer to the British Empire as an “informal empire”. But that’s just another way of saying an empire which does not manifest the external, exoteric forms. The real operation of power is pushed beneath the surface and becomes esoteric. The average person does not see the empire at work because they are judging reality by external apperances.

When the exoteric archetype is not fulfilled, the matter gets pushed down into the esoteric. Psychically speaking, it lives in the unconscious. That is why I would also say that the British Empire was the first Unconscious Empire.

The Battle Between the Exoteric and the Esoteric

Taking all this into account, the battle between the British and Napoleon was really a battle between an exoteric and an esoteric empire. Napoleon was the arch-emperor. Like every dictator throughout history, he wasn’t shy about showing who was boss. At his coronation, he had two crowns made, one which matched the Roman crown and one which matched Charlemagne’s crown. Again, the Faustian justifies itself by appeal to history. Napoleon also announced that his imperial system was to be based on the Roman model. In Napoleon, you had an attempt to create an old-fashioned, exoteric imperial system.

Ultimately, he was defeated and the esoteric, Unconscious Empire of Britain came to dominate the world. That domination lasted all the way until WW2 when Hitler and the Nazis made another attempt to set up an exoteric Empire – the Third Reich. Of course, this was also a lie since the Nazis were technically still governing under the constitution of the Weimar Republic.

The pattern which runs throughout Faustian culture in general is that the exoteric is a façade, a mask, a veneer. Faustian culture has always been run behind the scenes. It is an esoteric culture. It is, therefore, fitting that the British Empire, which had no emperor and no vassal states, would win against its exoteric competitors. But the coup de grace is the way in which that empire was silently, effortlessly and invisibly transferred to the United States in the wake of WW2.

Example 4: The US Empire

History tells us that great events are done out in the open, on the battlefield, in palaces and churches. History tells us to trust the exoteric. In the exoteric world, empires are defeated in battle. Everybody knows who won and who lost.

Once again, Faustian civilisation turned history on its head. Britain was technically on the winning side in WW2 and yet it lost its empire in the process. Conversely, the USA did not win its prize from its defeated opponents, Germany and Japan, because those defeated opponents never held the prize in the first place. It won the prize from its “ally”.

The prize which the USA won was the British Empire. In truth, it had already been won due to the enormous debts Britain had accrued to the US to pay for its war effort.

The handover of the British Empire to the United States did not happen at a political or military level. The British did not sign a document of surrender. There was no exoteric occasion to mark the transfer of power. Rather, the transfer happened behind closed doors at the Bretton Woods Conference. It was done by men in suits, not by men in military uniform. It was facilitated by technocrats, not by political leaders. Britain’s Empire was based on control of trade and finance. It was that control which was transferred to the USA at Bretton Woods.

The USA then became the second Unconscious Empire and, more importantly, the Universal State of the Faustian civilisation. There are no more exoteric challengers to that role. It’s fitting that the transfer of power also happened esoterically. To this day, most Americans are unaware that their country is an empire at all even as the requirements of maintaining that empire starkly conflict with the needs of the American public and even as the official version of events is now so far misaligned with reality that the entire public discourse in the US is complete and utter nonsense; a total fabrication.


This brings us back to Tucker Carlson. Tucker is wrong to imply that Biden is a dictator. Most dictators are good at being dictators. It’s not a job that rewards incompetence. Biden can barely finish a sentence. He is the antithesis of a Julius Caesar or a Napoleon.

And that’s the whole point. The US empire runs the same way the British did: behind closed doors. The British Empire did not need an emperor and neither does the US Empire. In fact, an emperor represents an existential threat to the system. That’s why they need to destroy Trump.

As Tucker Carlson correctly pointed out, the unforgiveable sin that Trump made during his presidential campaign was to directly challenge the US role as Universal State and suggest that the US step back from that role. That is why the whole system turned against him and not just the system in the USA but the entire global system whose interests align with the Universal State. That’s why the official narrative in Germany, Britain, Japan and Australia religiously mimics the party line from the US deep state.

We’re all in this together.

What is absolutely fascinating right now is that the deep state is having to come out of the shadows to take out Trump. Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson is exposing the system for what it is. He is only able to do that because Elon Musk bought Twitter and put an end to the censorship. Will any of this make a difference? What happens to an Unconscious Empire when it is brought into the light? Does it shrink and die like Dracula? We may be about to find out.

Poverty vs Subsistence

One of the most popular claims made by people who want to insist that the world is still making “progress” is to cite the number of people in China who have been pulled out of “poverty” in the last few decades. This is the same claim that the Chinese government itself makes for its own internal political purposes. But the more truthful statement is that the Chinese government has pulled millions of people out of “subsistence”. That is a different thing and the difference is worth thinking about.

The word “poverty” is derived from the Latin pauper which means “not wealthy”. It is related to paucity, a lack of. The Christian vow of poverty is the deliberate decision to lack property and there are many quotes in the New Testament where Jesus advocates for such a position. Most religious creeds have similar notions. Yet our default definition of poverty implies an involuntary state into which someone has fallen and must lifted out of.  

Poverty is a relative concept. It is defined by convention and always has specific cultural assumptions built in. When used in political context, it is subject to the standard distortions that come with spin doctoring. I first came across the relativity of the concept of poverty back when I was at university. But I didn’t learn it in sociology class.

Back then, I was paying my way by working part-time at a dingy hotel in the CBD. It was Melbourne’s answer to Fawlty Towers. The guy who owned and ran the place was an unusual character who didn’t mind leaning into the grey area of illegality to make a dollar.

The hotel was the cheapest in the CBD and its customer base reflected this. Colourful regulars included a middle-aged guy who was diddling his secretary. He had a regular booking for Friday after lunch. The bed sheets in the room were duly changed before the evening customers arrived (thankfully, not my responsibility). That’s the kind of place it was.

In hindsight, it was a good job to have since it was the kind of place where you can learn some valuable life lessons. The other advantage of the job was that there were long periods where there was nothing to do (I was on the reception desk) and I was able to get some of my university work done on the job.

On one particularly slow day at the hotel, I was leafing through the newspaper and there was an article on poverty which included calculations on how to measure your own situation. I ran through the calculations and realised I was living 1/3rd below the poverty line.

That was news to me. At the time I was living in a share house that had a swimming pool in the backyard. I owned a (cheap) car. I did karate training three times a week, played in a band and was probably the fittest I have ever been in my life. From memory, I was even able to save a little money each week. Nevertheless, according to the newspaper article, I was living in abject poverty.

Poverty is relative. A healthy, single young man who stays active is obviously going to need far less than an elderly person for whom regular medical bills might be a fact of life and who may need to pay for additional help to get daily tasks done. A generic measurement of the “poverty line” necessarily averages out over such demographic differences.

But poverty is also relative between cultures and societies. When Europeans first came to Australia, they saw the aboriginals and assumed they lived in extreme poverty. There was no question the aboriginals lacked the physical goods that any European of the time would have considered basic to survival. And, yet, the aboriginals had been living in Australia for upwards of 60,000 years.

This brings us to our second concept: subsistence. In Latin, it means to stand firm, to be on solid ground. Subsistence also used to have the connotation of independence because the person who stands on solid ground is not in need of assistance. In the early history of modern Australia, the British sometimes offered aboriginals various objects like cooking utensils or blankets only later to find that they had been discarded in the bush. The aboriginals did not need such goods. They were independent.

The same thing occurred at the geopolitical level when the Japanese and Chinese refused to trade with Western nations and even tried to close their borders to westerners. They didn’t need what the West was offering.

It was the West that needed to trade because it had started down the path of industrial capitalism. Industrial capitalism creates a surplus of goods and poverty (a lack) of people to sell them to. Over time, it also leads to a poverty of the natural resources needed to create the goods. Thus, nations running industrial capitalist economies have always lacked markets for the their products and natural resources for their factories.

Industrial capitalism swapped subsistence for poverty, often quite literally. The enclosure acts in England and the highland clearances in Scotland forcibly removed populations who were living in subsistence i.e. who knew how to take care of themselves. This was the continuation of the wars of religion which had also displaced enormous numbers of people and removed them from their subsistence.

What has been happening in China in the last couple of decades is exactly this process of removing people from subsistence. Upwards of 100 million people have been moved from the land, sometimes forcibly, and relocated to the cities where they are housed in new high rise apartment buildings. There are well-known terms for this process in Chinese called “exchanging homestead for apartment” and “exchanging land for security”. The “security” in this case is the social security net including basic healthcare, pensions etc.

It has been said that China has done in a few decades what it took the West centuries to achieve. That was only possible because the Chinese have had the benefit of letting the West make all the mistakes. Industrial capitalism requires a social security net in order to function. That is something that had to be learned the hard way in the West. The boom and bust cycles must also be smoothed out. That is another thing we learned the hard way. That and other lessons were available to the Chinese alongside all the technical know-how to build railways, bridges, tunnels and high-rise buildings.

What is forgotten in all this apparent material prosperity is the alienation that comes with industrial capitalism. The nihilist, pessimist and existentialist movements of the 19th and 20th century in Europe were the direct result of people losing their subsistence. In China, we would expect the hundreds of millions who have been removed from their subsistence and placed in apartment blocks to be suffering from the same alienation of modernity that we in the West have adapted to over centuries.

I don’t think it’s too hard to see that the corona hysteria and lockdowns in China were driven by exactly those psychic forces. In this respect, the first SARS hysteria was the obvious precursor to the corona event and the details of the two match almost exactly including a purported origin in exotic animal species.

On my work trips to China, one thing that surprised me was the palpable feelings of nihilism and pessimism of the Chinese colleagues I dealt with. These were intelligent, university-educated people who had high-status jobs. Without any prompting on my part, they were happy to express their hatred of the Chinese government.

But the problem clearly went beyond politics. One of my colleagues summed it up best in a saying that he said was in common use in China and which captures the nihilist sentiment. I can’t remember the exact names of Chinese dynasties he referred to, so I’ll just use placeholders here:

The Japanese inherited the culture of the Tang dynasty, the Koreans inherited the culture of the Ming dynasty, and the modern Chinese inherited nothing.

The emotional undertone of such a statement reminds me a lot of the tone of late 19th century German intellectuals. The break with tradition was felt hardest in Germany because, just like modern China, it was enforced on the people by the government (Bismarck) rather than evolving organically as it had in Britain.

What lift people out of poverty really means is to remove them from subsistence and place them in a system where they are graded according to the amount of riches they possess. This activates the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses psychology but also makes the individual dependent on the State thereby triggering the Devouring Mother-Orphan archetypal dynamic.

Welfare states are inevitably introduced in the declining phase of civilisation. They are part of what Toynbee called the Universal State. Thus, the Devouring Mother-Orphan dynamic is, in fact, a psychological description of conditions in the late stage of civilisation where the general public are Orphans in need of subsistence from the State. I’ll be exploring this more in my upcoming book on the Orphan.

The modern West, however, has taken this dynamic to an extreme never before seen and now most of the population of China is being pulled into it as well. In fact, the Chinese government has provided perhaps the ultimate version of the Faustian Universal State (Benevolent Totalitarianism) and that is why many western “elites” openly express their admiration for China and why we copied China’s covid response.

In Toynbee’ s model, when the Universal State fails, the Universal Church takes its place. The conditions for this are already building and could very well include China too. Could we see a genuinely global religion arise and what would such a religion look like? Whatever it is, I suspect a vow of poverty might be at its heart.

What Lurks in the Shadows

A few weeks ago I was contacted by an ex-colleague who was looking for a new job. Her reason? The company she is currently working for are requiring staff to come back to the office three days a week. This has been happening across the IT and broader office-based industries for some time. Now that the corona “pandemic” is officially over, the justification for working-from-home has also disappeared.

Way back at the start of the “pandemic”, there were the calls for a new normal. Those calls invariably came from the salary class. The salary class, of course, were the ones working from home while the working class were either furloughed or, if they were deemed essential, required to show up to work as normal. If ever there was a case of class discrimination, it was that.

But we don’t talk about class anymore and a big part of the reason is that the political parties who used to represent the working class sold their souls to neoliberal economics back in the 80s. It might seem hard to believe now, but once upon a time there used to be an actual two-party system in most western nations. The left wing represented the interests of the workers while the right wing represented the interests of capital and small business. The result was a public discourse that revolved around real issues related to the real differing interests of workers and capital.

One of the more useful concepts from the left side of politics back in those days was one which can help shed light on the issue now facing office workers who are being dragged back to the office kicking and screaming: shadow work.

Shadow work is the unpaid work you have to do in order to carry out paid work. A classic example is commuting. A worker is not paid to commute to their place of employment. They are only paid from the time they arrive til the time they leave. Commuting is the unpaid work you need to do in order carry out the paid work of your job. It’s shadow work.

The phrase shadow work has a nice Jungian ring to it. To use terminology I’ve become very fond of in the last year, paid work is exoteric. It is officially recognised. It appears on your pay slip and in your bank account. Shadow work is esoteric; secret. It’s the work that has been pushed into the individual and collective unconscious.

Back when there was a real left wing party that represented the interests of the workers, the question of shadow work was a real issue that was up for negotiation in pay disputes and the wider public discourse. Now that we don’t have any real left wing parties left, shadow work itself has been relegated to the shadows. That’s a big problem because shadow work has been on the rise in the last few decades.

Here in Melbourne and other Australian cities, population growth has outstripped infrastructure capacity during that time. Australian governments have inverted the old saw – build it and they will come – to something like let them come and then build it (based on the money they bring).

The result has been a steady decline in the quality of all forms of commuting (with the exception of cycling). Commuting now takes longer and is more stressful. Because commuting belongs to the domain of shadow work, a reduction in the quality of commuting increases the burden of that work. That burden is borne silently by employees.

Prior to corona, the commuting problem here in Melbourne had been getting ridiculous. The system was well beyond capacity and people would regularly show up late to work complaining that they simply couldn’t get on a train or tram. If you were lucky enough to get on, you were squeezed in like a sardine.

What happened with the corona lockdowns was that the pressure was released. That was what was behind the strange feeling of exhilaration that came from the salary class during the lockdowns. All of a sudden, the burden of shadow work had been lifted from their shoulders.

That burden is not insignificant. For most office employees, their commute here in Melbourne would be somewhere between 5-10 hours per week. If you consider that the total work time is usually 37.5 hours per week, shadow work makes up a large percentage of overall work done and that percentage had increased in the years before corona.

None of this was recognised by employers, government or the public discourse. It was pushed into the shadows just like many other real economic issues. Psychically speaking, it then becomes part of the esoteric. In Jungian terms, it is the shadow esoteric. The more shadow work, the more negative psychic energy builds up and looks for an outlet.

It’s tempting to say that all this is just politicians trying to avoid accountability. But there is another dynamic to this which has also been building for a number of decades. Modern politics increasingly operates in the psychic domain. The manipulation of psychic energy is increasingly done by governments to achieve political goals.

Cynical politicians throughout the ages have always used religion to help them govern. But at least religion is exoteric and out in the open. The manipulation of esoteric psychic energy by both corporate and government interests in recent decades is itself esoteric; hidden.

The result is a shadow government – aka the deep state. This shadow government has arguably more power than the exoteric government which it nominally serves. It has that power precisely because there is so much free-floating psychic energy looking for something, anything, to latch onto.

This has created a positive feedback loop. Politicians get elected by manipulating psychic energy. The decisions they make increasingly unleash more psychic energy which gives them more power to manipulate the public.

Positive feedback loops are inherently unstable. Eventually something breaks. At the rate we are going, we are headed for a collective psychic breakdown on a mass scale. Corona was one of the first psychic earthquakes but it almost certainly won’t be the last.