Asian scriptures have always influenced the West. Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung analyzed the I Ching (Book of Changes – translated by Richard Wilhelm into German), its hexagrams and tai chi mandala when he was developing his archetypes.
Intellectuals such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche studied Asian philosophical scriptures and influenced Western thought, but were shy of declaring their sources in Asian thought because of the scientific community’s Western-centrism.
Even today the repercussions for the West of the Chinese Empire’s collapse in 1912 – after 2,100 years of imperial dynasties – are underestimated. But an interesting dimension unfolds when one applies Jung’s collective unconscious perspective to group dynamics and systems science.
When in 1900 German Emperor Wilhelm II delegated a punitive expedition to China in response to the killing of his ambassador in the Boxer War (the Chinese Empire’s effort to regain sovereignty from colonial powers), the Chinese Empire increasingly destabilized systemically, leading to its 1912 collapse (after the Xinhai Revolution) and a geopolitical chain reaction of social change in Europe.
In 1914 European aristocracies entered World War I, resulting in the Russian Empire crumbling in the 1917 October Revolution (called the “November Revolution” in Russia), and in 1918 the German and Austro-Hungarian empires collapsed, as China was descending into disorder and turmoil, becoming entangled in revolutionary reorganization processes, resonating and partaking in the collective unconscious flux.
Then democratic, socialist/communist movements took over in Germany and Austria, but didn’t fill the power vacuum. So fascism took advantage of Europe’s economic and political malaise.
In 1912, president Sun Yat-sen established the Republic of China. Then in the 1940s Mao Zedong – backed by Chinese society’s disfranchised segments – battled Chinese president Chiang Kai-shek and his conservatives for control of the country.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Adolf Hitler ascended and expanded his power from Munich to Berlin, taking over in 1933 in democratic elections. Hitler and the Nazis were obsessed with Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) because the intellectual’s sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche (Nazi sympathizer, head of The Nietzsche Archive), had rearranged her late brother’s texts, applying Nietzsche’s individualistic Übermensch (enlightened Buddha-like being) to all Germans collectively, tailoring it for the Nazi ideology and reinterpreting the German collective unconscious: German Herrenmensch (master race) by eugenics.
After two atomic bombs stopped the Nazi ally Japan, the Japanese had to experience their tennō (emperor – a living god, which was alien to the West) being publicly denounced. General Douglas MacArthur urged the tennō to abdicate from being a direct descendant of Amaterasu (goddess of the sun) and declare himself a human being as head of Japan’s modern democratic society. This US dictate imposed on Japan continues to undermine that country’s spiritual self-esteem and religious identity, leaving the Japanese deprived of their age-old spirituality, which has been subliminally replaced by Westernized technology and consumerism.
A stark difference between Eastern and Western thought is the mystical presence of leaders as living gods (tennō, Dalai Lama, Chinese emperor), while Western leaders, functionally adored as emperors, die as normal human beings, as sinners.
Since Tennō Hirohito’s death in 1989 – he had spent part of his life as a living god – modern-day Japan has been stagnating economically. It is as if the death of Japan’s last Shinto god had deleterious effects on the Japanese spiritual identity, its cultural core. Hirohito’s son Tennō Akihito’s accession in 1989 cemented the US definition of the tennō as a normal human being with a representative function – not the living-god-like spiritual center his father was.
Why wasn’t China weakened by the loss of its emperor?
Despite their belief in the tennō‘s god-like power, the Japanese feared the Soviets would invade in 1945 and do to him what they did to the czar in 1917, while in China internal forces pushed the late-1911 Chinese Revolution, overthrowing the Qing Dynasty in early 1912, after colonial powers had compromised Chinese emperors’ spiritual authority and the Chinese people had considered their imperial family unable to protect them against Western imperialists, given the 19th century’s British East Indian Company and the Opium Wars. Considering religion dangerous, later Mao even erased all Confucian-Daoist structures, replacing them with communist ideology and personality cults for Communist Party leaders. Whoever did not surrender “vanished.”
While in China, Mao’s class warfare raged against the Chinese Republic’s conservative president Chiang Kai-shek – who emigrated with his supporters to Taiwan (which the People’s Republic of China perpetually claims) – in Austria, aristocracy was forbidden in 1919 according to the First Wave of Anti-Elitism, following Russia. In Germany, the Second Wave of Anti-Elitism peaked in absorbing many aristocrats by Hitler’s Nazi regime directed against the Jews, an age-old spiritual and educated elite persecuted by Christians Europe-wide over centuries and systematically murdered in the millions under the Nazis within 12 years.
It should be remembered that the term “pogrom” (organized massacre) derives from 1880s Russian riots against Jews. After Vladimir Lenin’s 1917 Communist Revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat, followed by civil war, educated people were considered dangerous for the revolution. Wearers of spectacles were killed immediately; few intelligentsia able to administer the Soviet Union survived, resulting in chaos, famines, and millions of deaths. Later, Georgian communist Josef Stalin, the party’s general secretary, ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist and further terror.
In the 1950s a Third Wave of Anti-Elitism unfolded with Mao’s urge to erase all Confucianist traditions by killing seniors considered knowledge bearers. So already in its run-up to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) – starting in a Fire Horse year – China subliminally stimulated the Western Youth Culture, possibly via collective unconscious impulse. The Western student/social revolution of 1967-68 was pushed via strongly in Chinese-influenced California (ever since an origin of change and trends subliminally driven by resonating with China), with repercussions on the civil-rights movement, which mainland Chinese still are waiting for and British-influenced Hongkongers fight to preserve.
According to my narrative of cross-continental interdependence and unconscious flux, I even see a Fourth Wave of Anti-Elitism around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square Massacre (Chinese authorities’ crackdown on the democracy movement – known among Mainlanders as 1989’s “June Fourth Incident”) peaking in the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the end of the Iron Curtain.
Relevance for today? Eye-catchingly soon after China quakes, the world shakes.