Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Carl Jung, East meets West, MMT, and a Glorious New World Awaits Us

I wrote this post in response to Tom hickey's reply under my post about Les Leopold. In ended up getting bigger and bigger until it became a short essay in its own right which I thought it was worth putting out as a new post. One of the reasons I don't write more is that it takes me ages to get it sounding right. So this draft has had on only one edit. I could improve upon it for the rest of the day by which time it might have lost some of its freshness anyway. So here it is, a rough edit, with ropey English, warts and all.

Carl Jung, East meets West, MMT, and a Glorious New World Awaits us.

 I took an interest in Carl Jung for a while. He said that the West was extrovert and took outer reality as very real and acted upon it. And so we became science based and produced our very modern society. Carl Jung considered westerners to be largely extrovert, and we do tend to ridicule introverts and admire extroverts, like Trump.

The East went inwards instead, concentrating on the inner mind and often denying outer reality. The world is an illusion, the Eastern mystics said. Carl Jung said that the East tended to be introvert, going inwards rather than outwards. The yogis often lived alone, and sometimes in cave, so they developed Hatha Yoga to stay physically fit in a confined space.

Carl Jung considered the introverted East and the extroverted West to be the two halves of the whole. In Jungian psychology people get well when they begin to ‘individuate’, which is when they become whole, where introversion is balanced with extroversion, and the good, makes peace with our unacceptable side, the bad and evil part, which usually gets stuffed in the unconscious.  This doesn’t mean to say that we act on the bad, which would be psychopathic, but we don’t hate ourselves for our imperfections so much. Cognitive behaviour therapy does the same thing by getting people to see things in less black and white.  

MMT seems to be the mirror opposite of Conservative neoclassical economics, and especially the opposite of libertarian economics. Loren Mosher say’s that everyone can be well off, and MMT describes a society working at optimum output. If true, this is fantastically good news, but yesterday I went for a mindful walk and felt despair, but then I remembered what Carl Jung said, that Westerners need the ideas of Eastern religion to balance its extroversion, and the East needs to embrace Western extroverted science more.  And this is happening today, especially since we have taken ‘mindfulness’ away from its eastern mysticism, which may be unacceptable to some people, and incorporated it not just in ordinary life, but even into our modern psyychotherapies, like CBT, Dialectic Behaviour Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

I felt the despair because if the Western world went into a very optimum economic state we would soon use up all our natural resources and cause even faster global warming. But there is also much to be optimistic about, with MMT governments will have no trouble finding the resources and money to fight climate change, and develop new green energy efficient technologies, if the private sector won’t do it. Lastly, with mindfulness and the valuing of the inner life, perhaps we can learn to live with a little bit less, with just as many interesting things, but less duplicates. Do you  really need the latest iPhone, when next years will be even better?

Desire creates more desire and can never be truly satisfied, taught the Buddha. If we have a nice house and a good job, we should be happy, but sadly, usually not for long. We will soon start working our butts off to get a bigger house, a better job, and sometimes making ourselves very ill in the process. And then we might start to drink more, get serious physical illnesses, or take antidepressant drugs to make us feel, ‘better than well’, and to even more competitive and extrovert. At this point we are burning our adrenal glands out.

The scientist who developed Acceptance and Commitment therapy came to the same conclusions as Buddha, but did so entirely independently through the Western scientific method. Their research also showed that humans tend to not be happy for long, and so we constantly strive. But it is this striving that has made the human species so successful, they say, but the cost is high as we tend to constantly feel frustrated and discontent. This means that depression and anxiety are far too often commonplace.

The Buddhists have a lot to say about non-striving, like when Jesus said he brings rest. Non-striving doesn’t mean that you give up working for things; it just means that you learn to be comfortable about not achieving what you want. So striving becomes more relaxed. In CBT they teach how striving for perfection, the very top grades, etc, can make you feel miserable, and can even make you less successful. A life of perfectionist striving is a miserable life. We can constantly strive to be happy but constantly end up feeling more miserable instead. Desperately wanting to be happy when your not can make you feel even more miserable.

We all want to be liked, and so people will project a feeling of happiness outwards as this makes us more attractive. But this can make a depressed person feel very discontent, and question why they feel bad when everyone else feels so good? But what if their unhappy feelings are not so unusual?    

So, could we have MMT and learn to be happy with less? Could we learn to be content? Paradoxically this comes by accepting feelings of discontent and discomfort without trying to make them go away; and also by accepting unhappy feelings as well. When we accept such feelings, which include physical pain as well, a surprising thing happens: we feel less pain and discomfort. Yes, our intense striving to get away from unpleasant feelings can actually make them far worse.  

In the future could there be less wars and less terrible poverty, could we work together to curtail world population growth?  As technology seems to move towards almost being like magic, and at ever faster speed -  such as computers that now design even better computers for us, and 3D printing comes to mind - a great new world awaits us.


Ralph Musgrave said...

Whenever a new idea arises, a host of windbags and time-wasters appear from the woodwork, trying to jump on the bandwagon: trying to make themselves look with it by writing about the new idea. They often end up by wrecking the idea. Theologians, arguably, wreck religion. The author of the above rather fits that description I think.

As for his question “So, could we have MMT and learn to be happy with less?”, the answer is “yes – no problem”. As for the REASONS, I’d guess they’re pretty obvious to most MMTers, but apparently not obvious to the author of the above. So what’s he doing writing about the subject I wonder?

jrbarch said...

The modern triangulation seems to be psychology, politics and economics, with psychology the most important, as it provides quality to appearance or form. Unfortunately, its far too often used to condition and control, divide, manipulate; rather than bring people closer together, and uplift the whole (humanity).

Hence our rapid evolution seems to have hit a temporary brick wall - politics, economics (technology & communications) are a useless vessel on the ocean of human nature, without a good compass and rudder. Parents tell little children to 'share', but that seems to be lost on those who have even greater responsibility. It is so simple: - sharing is how we managed to progress. That has always been our survival mode. In fact there's a definition of psychological maturity arises from this: - 'a responsible human being'.

Schofield said...

It's not too difficult to link MMT, psychotherapy/psychology, religion and sustaining the biosphere together since all are concerned with co-operation both between human beings and with their environment with MMT showing a better way of using the co-operative device of money to achieve these two purposes.

Tom Hickey said...

MMT shows that money is a public utility and public utilities are for public purpose. Money as a public utility enables the governing authority responsible for fostering security, order, and welfare in a society to employ and deploy available real resources for those purposes. As such it is concerned with means for achieving these specific ends. As a consequence of this the creation of money as a public utility can also be used for private purposes in employing and deploying available resources not being used for public purpose.

Note that most economists would say that the governing authority gets to use only available resources that don't put it in competition with the private sector other than for maintaining security and order. That is a value judgment in a particular social-economic construction called "capitalism." It its based on a particular ideology that does not accord with perennial wisdom since it assumes narrow self-interest as the foundational criterion. This is indicative of extreme immaturity from the POV of PW.

According to perennial wisdom, East and West, needs should be distinguished from wants in a rational ordering, and the needs of all should be served before the wants of any if they conflict. Then wants can be dealt with on a discretionary basis. The more mature a person, the fewer the needs and the less the wants. Maturity is the degree to which a person is self-sufficient internally. The end-in-view is unfolding potential in the direction of abiding happiness and real freedom rather than the alternating of happiness and suffering under the illusion of freedom but in actuality slavery to desire and aversion.

It's doable, not that difficult, and within reach — depending on maturity.

Economist E. F. Schumacher explored this, for example.

Andrew said...

Nice, Tom.

I try to understand why I don't really care much about "stuff" anymore and now I learn that I'm "mature." I'm thinking maybe it's the same thing as "old" :)

Environment plays a huge role in all of this, of course. Stories about of people moving from environments where consumerism reigns supreme to a slower and quieter place (and vice versa) are often instructive. People who haven't made such transitions have a hard time wrapping their heads around the possibility of another kind of happiness and freedom.

Kaivey said...

I have not studied economics or MMT, but I find the subject interesting and have been reading about it for a few years now and watching the videos. I've been told that you can't grasp MMT fully, or the theory of money for that matter, without studying economics, but I'm not sure, I reckon it can be grasped.

Modern Money Theory seems to be the reverse of Austrian school economics, and this is why I am fascinated by it. That it is so counter to all of the conservative austerity that has been inflicted on the West for over the last 40 years. I'm quite excited about MMT, so I may sometimes get carried away with it at times.

When I was a young working class lad and Margaret Thatcher was in power, I found conservative economics difficult to repute as they did seem to make some sense to me, even though I didn't like it much. I had colleagues that bought the Thatcher's neoliberalism entirely and it was hard arguing with them, but nowadays I have the tools to fight back. It might be a simplistic version of MMT, but it is getting better. MMT is too good to remain just intellectual property, and the more that ordinary people that try to understand it the better.

MMT is likely to go right over the heads of most people because it is counterintuitive, and that's why the Conservatives can get away so easily with their austerity programs. People like Ellen Brown, Michael Hudson, and those at Positive Money do a good job at demystifying modern banking. It is from this large number of sources that I am learning about MMT, and at an enjoyable rate too, as I have other hobbies that take up my time as well.

I watched a number of the MMT videos yesterday but there was one by Warren Mosler where he said at the end of it that we can all be very well off if we wanted, it's just the politics that gets in the way. But it was that what bothered me as I went on my mindful walk yesterday evening - the Earth has only finite resources.

Kaivey said...

When I was young I had nothing as my dad wasn't well and couldn't work. My mates dad's did work, but my they didn't seem to have much either. Anyway, that didn't stop us kids from having an enormous amount of fun.

I can remember exploring everywhere and sometimes I worked go quite a long way off, and sometimes on my own. I was only about five years old.

Yep, I world walk straight up to the front door and my mum would just let me out where I would play on London's old bombsites with all my friends there who were also my age, and we world find all manner of interesting things.

I remember some boys once coming up to my gang holding a shell, a bomb that they had found. They were taking it to the police station, they said, and off they went with it. Thinking about it now, I bet the police all jumped for cover when the boys walked in with it.

Anyway, I survived the old bombsites, and the derelict houses we used to play in.

Nowadays when I mindfully walk, I can sometimes reconnect with that simplicity and innocence. It's very nice.

Six said...

Some of Earth's resources are finite, but a lot of them are essentially infinite. It is not a closed system. We have infinite energy from the sun, which we are still learning to harvest. Plants turn the sun into matter. Water is finite, but reusable, as are metals. Prosperity is not predicated on material things; once the basics are met ... music, art, exercise and endless other human endeavors can enrich our existence. The potential for wide spread prosperity exists, but I doubt it will be soon realized.

Tom Hickey said...

@ Six

Bucky Fuller made this point decades ago, pointing out that the obstacle is the commitment of those resources largely to military use rather than domestic production, R&D, education, health care, etc. If countries invested in what counts rather than military power, things could be radically different owing to humankind unlimited resources, which Bucky called metaphysical resources — the existing store of knowledge and reflexive consciousness that enables learning, which increases that store. Moreover, contemporary technology makes wise dissemination of humankind's metaphysical resources available globally.

Bucky summed it up on the title of one of his books, Utopia or Oblivion.

Kaivey said...

Years ago I had to carry a tripod with me and a whole load of lenses in a shoulder bag which weighed a ton to get good low light photographs, like streets dimly lit at night, or of scenery at dusk or dawn, etc. But now with modern technology I have a small lightweight camera with a superb ultra wide angle to telescopic zoom on it, which also has anti shake technology built into it where a sensor can lock onto an image and it will still give good photographs despite it being handheld and used in low light. Gee, even the mobile phones are catching up now.

Technology is just getting so incredible nowadays, so it seems a shame that modern civilisation could end sometime soon in the future unless we change our lifestyle. I can see how if we go over to a MMT monetary system then the government could spend significant money on research and development to produce better, more efficient, green energy systems. I don't know how the politics will play out, though, with such a large section of the one percent making most of their money out of oil.