On the Politics of Individuation in the Americas

On the Politics of Individuation in the Americas

by Murray Stein, Ph.D.
Wilmette, Illinois USA
President Elect, IAAP
Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts

"Individuation, becoming a self, is not only a
spiritual problem, it is the problem of all life."
Jung, CW 12. para. 163

INTRODUCTION

With respect to psychological identity, individuation means creation, destruction, eternal recreation -- an ongoing process whose faraway goal is maximum wholeness through the union of opposites in consciousness. Can we use this concept of individual development to understand the evolution of collectivities such as nations and groups of nations? Is it useful to think about the political and economic dynamics that underlie the movements of world history from a psychological perspective such as 'a politics of individuation'? If so, what does such an analysis look like? These questions pose the challenge of this essay

All the nations of the Americas - whether of North or South - were created from actions on the part off explorative and aggressive European peoples who, in their own way, were largely unconscious of their ulterior motives and of the implications for the future. They invaded, conquered, and often plundered the territories where we now live and which we call home. This is a shared ancestral heritage. A kind of naked power shadow therefore is woven deeply into the fabric of our original identities.

All of us inhabitants of the Americas live on lands that were seized from their previous holders and taken away from them without their informed consent. A vast territory that was from the European explorers' point of view a 'new world' was not all that new to the people who had settled these continents many centuries earlier. These were not 'empty' continents when the European explorers first arrived. Large populations of non-European ancestry who had migrated here from Asia thousands of years earlier in fact lived on them. And on both continents, these indigenous peoples were violently conquered and suppressed, to the point of near extinction.

The period of invasion and colonization, later augmented by a program of slavery from the local populations and from Africa, was completed in a relatively short period of time. The European colonizers and settlers immediately considered the land they occupied rightfully theirs, and they quickly became loyal and righteous citizens of these new world colonies that were themselves still in their infancy. From this mixture of people and forces our nations were born. "The land was ours before we were the land's" is a fitting line of poetry by Robert Frost for both North and South Americans. Even today it is an open question as to whether we have yet fully become the land's. The Europeans and their descendants have claimed the land, but has the land claimed us? Have our identities become truly American? It is an open question.

For centuries after colonization, the immigrant inhabitants of the Americas borrowed their cultural modes and ideals from Europe. (I must confess my continuing Eurocentric habits of mind.) In the North we sought points of reference and orientation in England, France, and Germany; in the South you looked more to Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France. In recent years, however, and especially over the course of the last two decades, the cultures of the Americas, both Latin and Anglo, have ceased checking in with Europe so much for social models and political ideologies and have begun to find them more for themselves and with each other. The North-South economic and cultural axis has become strengthened while the East-West axis has faded in importance. (Perhaps this is true of our field, analytical psychology, as well.) This trend is the culmination of a much longer process of gradually freeing ourselves from the parental homeland by finding our own national styles of expression, forming our own unique national customs, writing our own national literatures, composing our own music, and developing our own political philosophies and economies. As nations in the Americas, we are no longer at the beginning of identity formation, but perhaps we are presently undergoing deep change and transformation of identity. There is much destruction around. This may well mean a present and future period of prolonged liminality and deep restructuring.

The nations of the Americas, North and South, are born of the same Parental stock, European civilization. Our earliest and most fundamental identities are rooted in this parentage. As citizens of these countries we are therefore siblings, collectively speaking. And, like siblings everywhere and in all of history, we tend to love and to hate each other and to make a host of invidious comparisons about one another. There have been and remain strong overtones of rivalry and envy between North and South. Like siblings, too, we rely on each other and indeed need each other for further psychological development. Our separate identities are linked culturally and historically; our individuation processes are intertwined. Can we learn from each other as well as threaten and attack each other?

There are also important historical differences between us. We have gone down separate paths and pursued disparate journeys. To the North, we had the pilgrims and the Mayflower; in the South, there were the conquistadors Cortez and Pizarro. The Anglo nations of the North erected their political and social systems and consequently also their identities on the ground plan of English, Dutch, German and French cultural and intellectual traditions. Our founders were primarily sober Protestants who believed strictly in the Bible and the work ethic. They came to America to escape religious persecution and to begin a new life. They arrived with the intention of settling this land and remaining on it. The Latin nations of the South, by contrast, evolved principally from the Mediterranean cultures of Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Not fleeing religious persecution nor often coming to America to stay, they sought their fortunes and hoped to return to the homeland as wealthy treasure hunters. The explorers and conquistadors were Roman Catholic, and their ties to the old country were perhaps more intimate and enduring. Their identities remained in many ways more European than that of their brothers and sisters to the North. Moreover, many of the most crucial differences between the cultures of Northern and Mediterranean Europe were transported to the Americas, and here the conflicts and mutual shadow projections between these European progenitors were again taken up and repeated.

Common clichés abound. For example:
We of the North are sober, work oriented, and ethical;
You of the North are power hungry, egotistical, and schizoid;
We of the South are creative, family centered, and generous of spirit;
You of the South are undemocratic, corrupt, and manic-depressive.

Sometimes there seems to be little common ground between us. Our perceptions of ourselves and of our neighbors are so different.

For a long time the peoples of North and South America were content to congratulate themselves and to project the shadow on the distant 'other.' Today this kind of naive splitting and projecting is becoming more difficult as the populations of North and South are mixing together much more vigorously. In fact, many of the most glaring historical and cultural differences between us are rapidly disappearing. As familiarity and similarity increase, it is becoming harder to project the alien other upon our neighbors.

The work of freeing ourselves from the Parental homeland is still actively in progress at a cultural and spiritual level, and perhaps some of our lands are further along than others in this respect. It is as though these adolescent Americas are finally overcoming both the tendency to imitate their European Parents and the need to rebel against them. Certainly rebellion and imitation continue to operate powerfully, but not as routinely and indelibly. As Americans, we are now in a position to make our own unique marks in world affairs and upon history. At the same time, the Parental homelands are looking at their offspring with new respect and even considering them, at times, on an equal social and cultural footing. There is little doubt that in the broader world today the dynamic movements leading toward global change and innovation are seen as having passed from Europe to the Americas. Europe and Asia imitate us today more than we do them. This is not to claim that the twenty-first century will be the century of the Americas, which is a rather inflated fantasy because, who knows? this may well turn out to be the century of Asia or Africa. But it is to say that the Americas have powerfully individuated, in the sense of separating spiritually and psychologically from their Parental ancestors over the course of the past one hundred years, and today they loom large on the stage of world affairs. We have become adults, perhaps still young but strong and influential nevertheless.

What about the future? Can we see more individuation ahead for North and South America? From a Jungian point of view, it must be said that individuation is characterized not only by separation from the parental imagoes and by the formation of a separate and autonomous identity, but also by opening a dialogue between conscious and unconscious. When this happens, it invites the next important phase of individuation, perhaps the key to it all, namely the constellation of the transcendent function. Out of the dialectical interplay between the opposites, the transcendent function emerges, which represents a higher unity and a closer approximation to wholeness, the ultimate goal of individuation.

It is my thesis that the Anglo and the Latin cultures of North and South America represent important elements of the unconscious for each other. Therefore, in the interaction between them this critical pair of opposites is constellated, and here we should be able to identify the emergence of the transcendent function and the beginnings of new identity formation. This will in turn lead the way ahead to broader unity, to greater integration within each of our separate cultures, and to a closer approximation to wholeness on both sides of the division. If we look in the mirror facing us from the South, and you in the mirror facing you from the North, do we not find ourselves looking into the face of the unconscious? Do we not see there a shadow brother or sister? The anima and animus?

A FAIRYTALE

On May 17, 2000 U.S. President Bill Clinton said in a speech in New London, Conn.: "The central reality of our time is that the advent of globalization and the revolution in information technology have magnified both the creative and destructive potential of every individual, tribe and nation on our planet" (New York Times, May 18, 2000, p. A13). Surely this pertains to the situation in the Americas.

To reflect on this dynamic transitional situation and on the present interactive field between Anglo and Latin cultures, I would like to recall the well known Brothers Grimm fairytale "The Spirit in the Bottle," used by Jung in his essay "The Spirit Mercurius". I recognize that this reference may seem Eurocentric in the extreme, but let us assume for the moment that this story tells of archetypal figures and dynamics and does indeed pertain to forces and patterns beyond the culture that put words on them in this tale.

Once upon a time there was a poor woodcutter. He had an only son, whom he wished to send to a high school. However, since he could give him only a little money to take with him, it was used up long before the time for the examinations. So the son went home and helped his father with the work in the forest. Once, during the midday rest, he roamed the woods and came to an immense old oak. There he heard a voice calling from the ground, "let me out, let me out!" He dug down among the roots of the tree and found a well-sealed glass bottle from which, clearly, the voice had come. He opened it and instantly a spirit rushed out and soon became half as high as the tree. The spirit cried in an awful voice: "I have had my punishment and I will be revenged! I am the great and mighty spirit Mercurius, and now you shall have your reward. Whoso releases me, him I must strangle." This made the boy uneasy and, quickly thinking up a trick, he said, "First, I must be sure that you are the same spirit that was shut up in that little bottle." To prove this, the spirit crept back into the bottle. Then the boy made haste to seal it and the spirit was caught again. But now the spirit promised to reward him richly if the boy would let him out. So he let him out and received as a reward a small piece of rag. Quoth the spirit: "If you spread one end of this over a wound it will heal, and if you rub steel or iron with the other end it will turn into silver." Thereupon the boy rubbed his damaged axe with the rag, and the axe turned to silver, and he was able to sell it for four hundred thaler. Thus father and son were freed from all worries. The young man could return to his studies, and later, thanks to his rag, he became a famous doctor.
(Jung, CW 13, par 239)

When the bottle is opened, Mercurius, spirit of the unconscious, bursts forth from it, and the opposites are constellated. This is a tense scene full of danger and threat, much like the one described by President Clinton in his New London speech, but it is also a pregnant moment of opportunity. Out of this confrontation a new future will be born that surpasses anything one could have predicted on the basis of purely rational expectations. A new identity emerges for the lad who popped the cork and found a Genie.

Can we locate a 'genie' on the loose in the confrontation between North and South in the Americas today? If Mercurius is out of his container, where do we find him active today?

THREE FACES OF MERCURIUS

There are at least three giant sources of anxiety in the psychic atmosphere that prevails in the relations between Latin and Anglo nations today, and each of them has to do with the issue of losing an established identity: 1) the side effects of globalization, 2) the Apollonian vs. Dionysian face-off, and 3) the massive movement of populations between South and North.

The unbridled force of globalization has stirred the roots of anxiety about loss of identity in North and South. This widespread movement has purported to be a giant force for good that can raise all ships and spread peace and prosperity all across the globe. While it promises to raise the living standards for everybody, however, it also threatens to benefit some few privileged people much more than others and at the same time also to level all cultural features and reshape every nation into the image of a giant shopping mall filled with the same objects and stocked with identically clad consumers. The prospect of globalization unleashes the threat of rampant commercialization and universal sameness, a flattening of cultural differences and identities. It is a kind of danger often spoken of by Jung. The individual tends to get crushed by the collective. This brings about a loss of soul in which the individual person's unique identity becomes merged with the collective. The same thing can happen to groups and nations. They can become absorbed into larger collectivities. In large groups, Jung argues, the level of consciousness is reduced to the lowest common denominator. In the case of a global marketplace, this is the minimal consciousness of consumerism, of a mob in a frenzy of shopping. The individual becomes a mere consumer of mass produced products, and local tastes, customs, preferences, and inventions are wiped away in favor of fast food chains, sprawling shopping centers, and freeways filled with the same automobile brands from Detroit to Sao Paulo. Every city eventually will look alike; the food of every country will taste the same. This is the threat of mass homogenization. The genie of globalization threatens to swallow us all up. This is no less the case in North American than it is in Latin America. Everywhere local tastes and colors are eliminated in favor of 'name brands' and mass-produced, commercially created and promoted styles. And to make this physically possible, the planet is sacrificed.

The driving force behind globalization is commercial. The money complex, housed and managed by huge international business concerns and corporations, is greedily devouring the entire globe. With the demise of ideological warfare between East and West and the fall of the iron curtain, the commercial interests of international corporations have been unleashed and there are no competitors or rivals. Neither national governments nor religions can stand seriously in the way. The marketplace is without cultural or religious preference. The way has become clear for business interests to sweep into every corner of the globe, to set up shops and industries in every village square and on every bend in the river, and to increase profit margins and fatten the bottom line without restraint. This is a genie with all the force of unleashed atomic energy.

Lest we be too quick to point the finger at 'them', that is the greedy CEO's of major multinational corporations, we should look into our own participation in fueling up this juggernaut. Anyone who owns shares of stock in these companies - and of these there are literally hundreds of millions of people - is a contributor, cheering when the value goes up and up and selling out when it goes down. Are not most of us tied into this gigantic system?

For the most part it looks like the threatening genie of globalization springs from a bottle in the North. From there it goes out and seeks to overpower and dominate the people of the Latin south.

From our view, however, there is another side to the threatening genie of international commerce and traffic, and this is a second source of deep anxiety. This one has the face of Dionysian excess and intoxication. As much as North America exports Coca Cola and MacDonalds to the Latin South, it imports cocaine and heroin and marijuana back from the same region. This stream of imported drugs is, of course, illegal and heavily criminalized, hence painted with the heavy brush of shadow projection. While the drug trade could be seen from one perspective as just another business venture - one that in fact creates a living for many impoverished and otherwise starving peasants - it is also labeled as criminal and attacked by armies and police.

The Latin countries appear Dionysian to us in the North for other reasons as well. The cultures of Latin America seem vastly more oriented toward sensuality and physical pleasure than to the sober work routines and emotional restraint so typical of cultures in the North. The Carnival of Rio is a vivid exhibition of all that is fearsome to a repressed Anglo consciousness - rampant sexuality, full display of the body beautiful, intoxicating music and dance, delirious all night revelry, excess, excess, excess! Moreover the literature of the great novelists and poets of Latin America invokes a state of mind in Anglo readers that is exotic, strange, and unstable. And the music moves our bodies in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways, while the paintings are full of too bright colors and bizarre looking images. The spirit of Dionysian intoxication and excess from the South has invaded our northern lands. Our children listen to Latin music, take Latin drugs, and dream Latin dreams. In all of this, the unconscious threatens.

In response the United States has turned a stern Apollonian face to meet the Dionysian one, with a thundering if frightened voice that speaks of strict rational control and undiluted ego hegemony. The moralistic overtones are unmistakable, and neither side feels seen or understood.

The invasion of Latin culture into the North has also taken the form of massive human migration, creating a third anxiety. One of the largest population movements in all of human history has occurred during the last several decades from the countries of Latin America to the United States and Canada. In Chicago, my home city, there live today over one million people of direct Hispanic descent. The political map of Chicago has been redrawn in the last twenty years and is now divided into three more or less equal parts: one third European, one third African American, and one third Hispanic. In cities like Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego the percentage of Latin inhabitants are even higher. And Spanish is rapidly becoming a "must learn" language throughout the United States if one wants to relate to the general population, not to mention getting through the airport in Miami.

This threatening genie of invasion - perhaps matched in the South by the invasion of the English language in business and entertainment, by Anglo television, movies, rock and roll, and pop culture in all its variety -- creates anxiety about losing the fundamental values and images that have gone into forming the identity of our northern European based cultures. The psychological threat of cultural regression and dissolution leads us to anticipate a return to the ouroboric mother, to a loss of ego boundaries and autonomy, to a blurring of cultural markers and a muddle of psychological elements that have been separated and differentiated through centuries of conscious reflection. In this threatened loss of familiar cultural identity, there is the fear of loss of soul.

The genie is out of the bottle and free, and there is no putting Mercurius back in there. The spirit of transformation - dare we say, individuation? - is fast upon us.

THE GENIE INTERROGATED

Certainly the collective shadow is among us and walks tall in the cultural landscape as we look upon it today in the Americas. Can we interrogate this fearsome Genie in this present situation of turmoil and anxiety to see if the constellated opposites reveal evidence of the transcendent function at work (or play)?

In the present confrontation of Anglo and Latin cultures, there is most certainly a strong constellation of opposites, of mutual unconsciousness and projection and contamination. There is also a stark confrontation of radically opposed psychological factors - images, attitudes, patterns of perception and behavior - that taken together make up impressive collective shadow representations. Our historical complexes and archetypally-based cultural structures have entered into a lively confrontation, and they are no doubt concocting a new blend of old and familiar features. Is a new identity possibly coming into being from this that is made up of both Anglo and Latin elements and yet transcends their specific features? If so, what are some of its qualities?

One of the powerful consequences of globalization and the Latin invasion on North American consciousness has been the implacable advance of multiculturalism as an all-pervasive and indeed dominant attitude in the contemporary scene. A spin-off of this, often spoken of humorously about the United States by other countries, is the obsession with so-called 'political correctness' in our public life. 'Political correctness' forbids prejudicial treatment of any minority in the general population. Occasionally people are forced into extreme verbal contortions to avoid giving offence. Differences between groups of people, of course, remain and are perceived, but they do not bring about value judgments such as: This nationality is 'higher' or 'better' than another. Instead of up-down value hierarchies, the new ideal is to have side-by-side collaborators and fellow citizens.

Applied to the North-South differences, this means that we cannot judge North as better because it is 'up' or 'higher' on the map, while South is 'down' and therefore 'inferior'. Multiculturalism decentralizes the map. Instead of a single 'center of power', there are now many 'loci of influence'. Multiculturalism also transforms 'opposites' into 'contrasting poles' or 'polarities' and thus eliminates splitting and gross shadow evacuation and projection on to the 'alien other'.

Multicultural awareness gives birth to a type of consciousness that can move through many different national and social environments and contexts without prejudiced judgment. This does not mean that there is no judgment at all, but rather that judgments are made on the basis of analysis and examination rather than on instant projections.

It is precisely in countries like the United States and Brazil, which have

been 'melting pots' for people from so many different nations and cultural backgrounds, where multicultural consciousness has become a vital necessity. The Americas today, both North and South, are gigantic cultural containers for populations from all parts of the earth. Beginning with the invasion of the explorers and colonists from Europe, this movement continued with the importation of large African populations during the years of slavery, the immigration of Asian peoples during the years of expansion and development, and further mass migrations and immigrations during the last two hundred years. The Americas are the only place on earth where all the peoples of the world are now living together in large numbers under single flags and assuming similar national identities. And the present strong confrontation and interaction between North and South in the Americas is increasing the heat in these containers and pressing the process of transformation ahead still further.

The consciousness that is being born, because it is required here on these colonized continents, is a harbinger of the future, a type of consciousness that will be required more and more throughout the entire world. With it comes the concept of the human being as citizen of the world wherever he or she happens to live or come from. Ironically enough, the very forces that are driving the mass movements of collectivism and homogenization are also producing a global setting in which the individual can be more adequately respected and prized. This is the magic of the Genie at work.

Another feature of consciousness that is emerging out of the interaction between North and South is a sharp awareness of the exploitation of nature and the 'natural peoples' who inhabited these lands for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. As the forces of globalization and modernization push ever further into the rain forests and other wild and undomesticated regions, there is a growing awareness of the fragility of the environment and the savage exploitation and elimination of the few people who still live there. Five hundred years ago when Pedro Alvares Cabral and his Portuguese crew landed at what would later be called Santa Cruz Cabralia on the coast of this land that would later be named Brazil, both of our continents were natural and utterly unspoiled, though far from uninhabited. Today they are mostly exposed to the corrosive wastes and excesses of human populations who in their race toward modernization and development are heedless of the environmental consequences of their actions. The dramatic nature of this change in the natural world over the course of such a brief time in the long history of the planet has raised a burning question: How much longer can this continue without causing irreversible damage to the planet as a whole? And in the course of this questioning, which is of course taking place on every continent today, our peoples, both North and South, have discovered the people whose lands these were before the Europeans arrived. I say we have recently 'discovered' them because while the early explorers and settlers certainly knew these indigenous people were here and were in fact much more familiar with them than most of us are today, they did not really 'know' them in their own terms. In a sense, modern anthropology 'discovered' these people for the first time because it was the students of anthropology who first systematically listened to them, observed and questioned them in their own languages and cultural contexts, and respected their customs and their incredibly detailed knowledge about their surrounding environment. Previous to that they were generally consider benighted sub-humans and were either killed outright, or pushed away and driven into out of the way places, or 'educated,' 'converted', and made more like Europeans.

The discovery of native peoples among us and the increasing awareness of the environmental crisis are, I believe, leading us as cultures to a deeper connection to the collective unconscious and the anima mundi. What is emerging is an ecological consciousness that harks back to the Great Mother. But this is not a movement of cultural regression back to a pre-technological state of paradisal oneness with the world in the glow of participation mystique; rather, it is a movement forward that will motivate human beings to use technology in a new way. For technology, which is arguably the greatest human achievement of the last millennia, must not be abandoned by ecologically minded people. In fact, it is the key for gaining awareness of what is happening to the earth. Technology instead must become redirected. As a tool in the hands of conscious people, technology is not considered an end in itself but a means for nurturing and protecting the environment and for relating to the planet in a more powerful and responsible fashion. Technology is a Genie with awesome power to destroy or to heal. Technology must be a tool, not a master. The wisdom to handle technology in this way belongs deeply to the heritage of the native peoples who occupied these lands in the first place. We are tuning into their cultural attitudes and religious sensibilities, and this is advancing our contemporary individuation and movement toward wholeness.

So the point is not to trick the Genie of technology back into the bottle and 'go back to nature' but to use the gifts of the Genie creatively and wisely and to create a culture that respects nature and cares for its needs.

Multicultural and ecological attitudes are being born out of the dialogue and interplay of cultures in North and Latin America. We are seeing greater sensitivity to individual and cultural differences and greater respect for the 'other', and there is a deepening connection to the unus mundus and the collective unconscious. These are signs of individuation happening even in the midst of our confusing engagement with the threatening Genie that has been released from the historical process that we are living in our time.

One more signal of individuating cultures is the emergence of a new type of political leader. The leaders of the past on both our continents were principally male heroes, many of them military. First came the ones who ventured across the terrifying seas and planted the flags of Europe on these shores. Colonizers, conquerors, religious, merchants, and settlers with their families followed these. Then came the lords and ladies who had been given huge land grants in this uncharted place, and they had to be protected by strong police forces. In some of our countries, we saw the rise of rebel heroes who fought their way out of the controlling laps and hands of the Motherland and who founded autonomous and independent nation states. Conquest, rebellion, division and differentiation, formation of autonomous units with a new identity - all of these are features of vigorous individuation in the first half of life. This can be seen as necessary and essential for the formation of the national and regional identities of the past.

Today, however, the identities of the countries of North and Latin America that were formed along these lines are undergoing considerable restructuring and change. Liminality prevails. And the identities on both sides will in the future be based principally not upon the remembered and revered images of heroic founders and ancestors but rather upon new archetypal structures and images that are still in an early stage of emergence. They will be global and ecological.

The individuation challenges are now very different from earlier heroic identity consolidations, and they require a new kind of leadership. These new imperatives pertain to dealing sanely with the forces of globalization, with the mass migrations of populations, and with the threatened destruction of natural environments and the simultaneous creation of polluted urban jungles. Raw macho power no longer adequately meets the demands for further individuation. The grand ideologies of the past are also spent and passé. The new challenges can only be met by leaders who embody in themselves some degree of integration of the opposites, who themselves give concrete image to the new identities forming. They must combine the energies of masculine and feminine, of logos and eros; and also the identities of master and servant, teacher and student, governor and governed. The relevant and effective leader today must be someone who does not split these archetypal polarities but holds them intact and represents a pattern of wholeness for society.

Do we see such figures stepping into roles of political leadership in our countries, North and South? I believe we do, at least to some extent. In many countries, though certainly not all, the electorate demands evidence of compassion and sensitivity to issues of human welfare, to education and health care and environmental threats, as well as to the traditional issues of security, expansion, and economic advantage. I think the image of the ideal leader has shifted from the heroic mold of the fierce warrior to a more psychologically integrated and balanced type. While image is not reality, at least it is a sign that the collective psyche has something other in mind than one-sided aggressiveness, heroic action and masculine prowess. Remember that Mercurius is duplex!

CONCLUSION

As Jungian analysts we are aware of the shadows that fall within the process of individuation. There is chaos, uncertainty, and anxiety in a process that moves toward greater integration and wholeness. Mercurius frightens us and puts us off our balance. If there is a politics of individuation, it requires a dialogue between the constellated opposites, and there will be doubt and states of nigredo. The ego becomes relativized through individuation and former identity is destabilized. We can see this shadow aspect of individuation today in the interplay between the American countries of the North and the South. There is no controlling ego in charge of this process, and the center, if there is one, is virtual and invisible.

A politics of individuation requires questioning one's own most cherished cultural certainties and dearly held convictions. It means letting go of earlier identifications and being open to exploring what is unknown and uncertain. There must be an open attitude toward the 'alien other' and a willingness to engage in dialogue with that foreign element. This draws out also the foreign element in ourselves, the repressed, the shadowy, the frightening and the forgotten.

The politics of individuation must engage differences without demonizing them and judging them as 'bad' when they are simply different. Its goal is wholeness, which means welding together into a single totality the four elements of the quaternity: light and dark, masculine and feminine.

In this endeavor, North America and Latin America need each other. From the dialectical play between their cultures there stems a movement toward greater cultural wholeness for all.

Recall the gift of Mercurius-the-Genie once he was tempered and became restrained. He offered an instrument for healing and the creation of prosperity. He created the conditions for a new identity to emerge, that of the healer. Could this be showing up in the massa confusa of our contemporary politics?

References

Jung, C.G. 1948. The Spirit Mercurius. In Collected works, vol. 13. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.

______. 1970. Psychology and alchemy. In Collected Works, vol 12. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970.