Monday, May 3, 2010

Brin, Heinlein, Jung and Me

There's been some bit of study vis-a-vis politics and Jungian psychology (as expressed in MBTI terminology), and I've frequently lectured about the Jungian qualities and structure of our Constitution as though it were an "independent psyche" of its own. (It's remarkably balanced, down to including ISTJ-like instructions on how to implement it - but without the Bill of Rights, would have been remarkably unbalanced and lacking Fi functionality - so nyah nyah nyah Hamilton!).

David Brin recently posted about the political orientation of Heinlein in his blog and I also had a take on Heinlein from the perspective of Jungian psychology and politics.

Heinlein was probably solely responsible for me starting my journey into the political spectrum as a Libertarian first. As a "gifted" "gay" "geek" "ENFP" who felt continuously oppressed by my suburban culture and any authority (and just plain tired of the overwhelming stupid banality of it all), the Utopian libertarian societies he painted were enormously attractive. But I was always turned off by the sections I found in his work that seemed heartless, and was never comfortable with Randian versions of it, or the callous and anti-social traits I found in real-life people who proclaimed to be Libertarians.

Anti-libertarians have pointed out to me that Libs paint a "I've got mine, you go get your own" kind of attitude, and because I didn't, I attacked that as the anti-libs perspective on it. But that was because *I* didn't feel that way, and as David Brin describes RAH, I considered myself a "compassionate conservative" (and yes, I used that term *YEARS* before Bush did dammit!). My take on it was that non-profits/NGOs/501(c)3s should be the vehicle for our compassion, not the government. In fact, today (in my mode as an Extreme Moderate politically), I'm all about a "progressive flat tax with no exemptions other than donations to non-profits."

After I learned Myers-Briggs and Jung though, I started to understand where I fit on the pyscho-political spectrum, and after studying the Constitution with a Jungian lens, *really* understood where my innate political orientation came from.

xxTJ (Te) Types will try to claim that Extraverted Thinking (that dispassionate cause and effect logic) is responsible for their Libertarianism. After all, if the only rules that exist are the dispassionate rules of physics and nature and Social Neo-Darwinism, everything is "fair."

What they don't realize is that xxFP (Fi) types *also* claim that Introverted Feeling is responsible for Libertarianism, since after all, it is the focus on one's Self, one's inner harmony, sticking up for the little guy, and the "inalienable rights" of (hu)man kind, that are the basis of a free society, and if you don't take them into account, nothing is "fair" to anybody.

So two dichotomous Judging opposites, Introverted Feeling and Extraverted Thinking, both "claim" the ground of Libertarianism, and couldn't be more different in the way they approach it.

Jung described the "Transcendent Function" as the union of opposing functions, usually one conscious and the other unconscious "constellated by thesis and antithesis in equal measure and standing in a compensatory relation to both. It thus forms the middle ground on which the opposites can be united."

I think in some ways Heinlein was able to tap into what Abigail Adams described as genius: "I've always felt that a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic." and he illustrated it in the great debates of his characters in his books, but ONLY in his books. I believe I read that Heinlein bristled at anyone who laid claim to his philosophy. Jung once said "Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian" and I believe RAH would have said something strikingly similar.

Alas, we don't live in Frontierland *OR* Futureland - Disneyland is the Abstract made Concrete (and why it's such a joy to children of all ages). Brin is accurate when he says that Heinlein was an expert at the gedankenexperiment, and he was especially expert at including other great germanic memes as schadenfreude, einfuehlen und ausfuehlen and other great definitions that only the Ti dominant engineers of Deutschland could have defined.

Oh, and Mr Brin? I think you do, too.

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