The Individual Problem

Carl Gustav JungFriedrich Hayek
Carl Gustav Jung and Friedrich Hayek.

I had occasion to contribute to the Jung-Circle discussion group the following cut from The Symbolic Life, and, with it, this comment: “It would be a worthwhile study to investigate the definite, and considerable, overlap between Jung’s suppositions and those of the Austrian school of economics, (Hayek and Von Mises.)”

Together with these illusions goes another helpful procedure, the hollowing out of money, which in the near future will make all savings illusory and, along with cultural continuity, guaranteed by individual responsibility. The State takes over responsibility and enslaves every individual for its own ridicu­lous schemes. All this is done by what one calls inflation, devalua­tion, and, most recently, “dilution,” which you should not mix up with the unpopular term “inflation.” Dilution is now the right word and only idiots can’t see the striking difference between this concept and inflation. Money value is fast becoming a fiction guaranteed by the State. Money becomes paper and everybody convinces every­body else that the little scraps are worth something because the State says so. (C.G. Jung; Psychology and National Problems (1936) The Symbolic Life

My comment was unrefined. Actually, given the essential psychologizing move at the first order of Austrian Economics, and, the explicit radically empirical posit of classical Analytic Psychology, their conceptualization of human behavior depart from each other right at their beginning. They are similar in their anti-scientism, in their view of the inherent limits to quantification, and, in their broad thrust favoring individuality in response to their dissimilar foundational conception of the dichotomy, individual/collective.

Allegiance to Praxeology, (the deduced axioms of human action in Austrian Economics,) is behaviorally subject to archetypal analysis. The psychology of the person who is in the grips of their belief in this particular axiom-driven system is interesting. Jung would likely have found attachment to the praxeological system, for which, as Hayek asserted, empiricism and facts are of no import to be particularly laden with unconscious features.

Ironically, and pun intended, the Praxeology could be said to be about inflation.

Criticism of the basic, and partly shared, dichotomy at the center of each system, were of no interest to Hayek, von Mises, or Dr. Jung. Although, to the latter’s credit, the evolutionary, intrapsychic, core structural supposition, the collective unconscious, is a ‘social’ conception. The two frameworks are opposite one anther at this level of genetic supposition.

(coda) C.G. Jung:


Can there be an optimism of austerity?

Instead of “optimism,” I would have said an “optimum” of austerity. But if “optimism” is really meant, very much more would be required, for “austerity” is anything but enjoyable. It means real suffering, especially if it assumes acute form. You can be “opti­mistic” in the face of martyrdom only if you are sure of the bliss to come. But a certain minimal degree of austerity I regard as benefi­cial. At any rate, it is healthier than affluence, which only a very few people can enjoy without ill effects, whether physical or psychic. Of course one does not wish anything unpleasant for anybody, least of all oneself, but, in comparison with other countries, Switzerland has so much affluence to spare (however honourably earned) that we are in an excellent position to give some of it away. There is an “optimum” of austerity which it is dangerous to exceed, for stands a devll, and behind every poor man two.

Since “optimism” seems to have been meant, and hence an optimistic attitude towards something unpleasant, I would add that in my view it would be equally instructive to speak of a “pessimism” of austerity. Human temperaments being extremely varied, indeed contradictory, we should never forget that what is good for one man is harmful for another. One man, because of his inner weak­ness, needs encouragement; another, because of his inner assurance, needs the restraint of austerity. Austerity enforces simplicity, which is true happiness. But to live simply, without regret and bitterness, is a moral task which many people will find very hard. (Return to the Simple Life; 1941; The Symbolic Life)

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