How Sex, Politics, Money and Religion are Killing Planet Earth

Friday, October 22, 2010

Male and Female Archetypes and What They Mean for Planet Earth

We live in a patriarchal world. Many would protest this generalized statement or discount as a flagrant expression of the “f” word (feminism). In order to support such a bold statement, it becomes necessary to objectively define masculine vs. feminine values, but how does one assign a value to gender without generalizing or seeming stereotypical? Of course, exceptions always exist within every rule, but certain universal truths reveal themselves across cultures and time. In almost every culture on Earth and as long as archaeologists can study back in time, the female of our species cares for and nurtures the young, while the male hunts.

Carl Jung, noted 20th century psychiatrist, wrote extensively about gender archetypes. To the female, Eros, Jung attributes fertility, intuition, intimacy and relatedness. The male, Logos, embodies authority, reason and discrimination. The care received from one’s mother as a helpless infant provides the basis of the closest relationship in life. The mother/child bond is also one of complete unselfishness. From a personal survival standpoint, mothers have little to gain in caring for an infant but much to lose. She will share her food and everything else she possesses with her child often at her own expense. The connection fostered between mother and child is universal, and women, mothers, are the facilitators of inter-human connection. The female bond to her community is not one that is rationalized. She is drawn emotionally and intuitively and instinctively seeks connection in all her interactions.

Eros’ logical antithesis, Logos does not rely on intangible feelings to make his way in the world. Every liaison is carefully analyzed, judged and weighed for costs and benefits before commitments are made. The male is cool and rational. In a world inhabited by constant danger, his very life may depend on the quality of decisions he makes. Enemies who lurk in the dark compete for resources, steal your women and stab you in the back. Self preservation depends upon being able to discriminate and make judgments about people and the hostile world, and if necessary, violence will keep the adversaries at bay.

The Jungian Eros and Logos would seem to be fundamentally at odds with one another. On the one hand, the feminine connects, loves and nurtures, and on the other hand, the masculine thrives on discrimination, judgment and aggression. But the two are in reality interdependent halves of a cohesive whole. The nurturing feminine cannot survive in a hostile world without the protection of the discriminating masculine. And the aggressive Logos would implode upon itself without the buffering love of Eros. We know this truth to be universal. Without the union of male and female, complex life would not even be possible.

On the other side of the world in the Far East and as early as the 14th century B.C.E. the ancient Chinese noted the essence of the universe could be described as a unity of opposites and everything in nature, on Earth and in the cosmos could be designated as ‘yin’ (feminine) or ‘yang’ (masculine). The polar opposites do not exist independently but together form a union that forms the essence of the entire universe.

The Chinese do not ascribe qualities of good or evil to either yin or yang, as the two entities are simply opposite sides of the same whole. Neither is better or worse than the other. Furthermore, they believe that the two forces need to be maintained in balance. When either yin or yang overwhelms the other, disaster strikes in order to shock the system back into stability.

If the Chinese are correct, a massive correction awaits us. In modern Western society the accepted mantra is that women enjoy equal rights to men. We have the right to vote, the right to work and drive and choose whom we marry, unlike many women living today in other countries. Yet we do not live in an equal society. To realize the truth of this statement, one only has to look at the way our society is organized. Go back to the basic archetypes. Women nurture, love and relate. Societal institutions based on feminine values include all those involved with care and collectivism, childcare, eldercare, healthcare, caring for the underprivileged, caring for the environment, feeding the hungry and working towards a peaceful global community. Archetypal male values revealed in society include defending the turf, securing resources and facilitating industry.

If spending reflects values, the U.S. Federal budget is telling. In 2010, the federal government allocated $671.1 billion dollars for defense, by far the largest line item in the federal budget. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, arguably wars that were unnecessary and may prove to have been futile, will probably cost as much as $3 trillion by the time they are truly over. In 2008, politicians from both political parties rushed to bail out America’s excessive risk-taking banking industry to the tune of $700 billion. In the latest, mid-term elections, while politicians fall all over each other to boast who will cut the most taxes for the wealthy and reduce spending for the underprivileged, nobody is recommending reducing the size of the military elephant in the room.

Although we spare no expense for our military, social programs carry an air of pariah. Ronald Reagan famously maligned “welfare queens,” who in his opinion chose a decadent, lazy lifestyle over an honest day’s work at the taxpayer’s expense. Reagan’s sentiments ring true for a large proportion of the American public, who believe the poor have only themselves to blame for their unfortunate predicament.

Timeless battles between individualism and collectivism, yin and yang, dominance and submission, masculine and feminine punctuate the history of humanity. The powerful usually win. The Imposition of American will on foreign lands by military force, the unsustainable consumption of natural resources, the battle for control of feminine reproduction and predatory capitalism are all patriarchal in nature. As the masses of humanity organize and find a voice to exercise their collective will, the powerful merely find more insidious ways to maintain their stronghold. The spoils go to the victor, and the Earth loses. We all lose.


  1. What might help you to be more at peace is to look at the US government as the Male Logos in this case. American values strive to bring more power to the individual and less power to the government. So you will not see the true character of the people by looking at government spending. The Eros factor show up more in non-government circles such as charitable giving (which has been around $300 billion in the last few years).

  2. @Anonymous. The Eros factor is definitely the hope for the future. While $300 billion pales in comparison to the money spent on war, corporate subsidies, negative campaign ads, etc., it is certainly cause for optimism. I would disagree on the "power of the individual" point. After all, it is the Eros that represents the collective community, while Logos goes it alone. The value of the individual, which expresses itself as flagrant consumerism, sociopathic accumulation of wealth, militaristic invasions of soverign lands and the domination of women's reproduction and the environment is precisely the problem.

  3. $300 billion is just a small fingerprint of Eros that defines our society. In your daily life, I'm sure you can see myriad examples of Eros. For me when I bought Starbucks this morning, not only did I do something for myself and my coworker, I made it possible for the barista behind the counter to have an income and a living. Most of us have jobs so we can take care of our families. We build roads and airports and cell phone towers to connect with each other. What do you think our total care-related expenditure is?

    I can't agree with you about the collective community point because you are still talking about government programs. It sounds like your suggesting charity, but what your suggesting is forcing people to be generous, which is hostility and not in the character of Eros at all.

  4. And you can even see the fingerprint of Eros in our Military conflicts. Protecting and defending Kuwait from Saddam in the first gulf war. Bringing Democracy to Iraq and Afganistan, and bringing basic human rights for girls and women. So you can't assign all military conflict to Logos, can you?

  5. @Anonymous, thank you very much for your comments. I apprecite the opportunity for clarification. In your first statement, you feel that your purchase of a coffee is an expression of Eros because you are assisting the market that makes the job for the barista. Your purchase is based on your need, not the need of the barista. In reality, there is no act of charity in your behavior at all. Buying a coffee is certainly not "care-related" expenditure, neither are the roads, airports and cell phone towers (all of which, by the way are subsidized by tax payers). Furthermore, if the barista is making less than a reasonable living wage (as is the case in many American jobs such as fast food, Walmart, farm labor, etc.), you are supporting the exploitation of her labor.

    In my blog post above, I do talk about government programs, but I am using government spending as an example of where our values lie. I do think our government social programs are grossly underfunded, but I am not suggesting people be "forced" to be generous. On the contrary, I am suggesting that people (particularly corporations, who are now also people apparently) be expected to pay for all the costs of their actions. To use your example above, when a corporation like Starbucks hires someone for less than a living wage and doesn't provide them with healthcare and a decent pension, the tax payers end up picking up the tab for these needs, while Starbucks rings up profits. When Corporations are allowed to "externalize" costs, we the tax payers end up paying the price. Being an individual is fine, as long as that individual is not impeding on the rights of others in their own selfish pursuit of profit. If we had such a world, we would not need so much charity. Most of the people in this country who are on Medicaid and food stamps are actually working full time. Some are working two or three jobs to try and make ends meet. Clearly those jobs you are providing just aren't cutting it.

    And I am sorry, but I have to say you have totally bought into the propaganda of the justification for our wars of choice overseas. When we went into Kuwait, we were selfishly protecting our fossil fuels interests, nothing more. And our motivation for the invasion if Iraq and Afghanistan was certainly not "bringing democracy and human rights." A real Eros action in those countries would have been offering much needed food, medicine, schools, hospitals rather than bombing their homelands to smithereens. Military action can never be dressed up as anything resembling Eros.

  6. First,thank you for engaging me, I enjoy this. I love to deconstruct and reconstruct everything, and would never "buy" anything thats being sold to me. However these replies are getting lengthy, and I will try to stick to one topic at a time.

    In this post you go to great lengths to show how Eros and Logos complete each other, but then you lose me when you suggest we don't have a need for Logos, and say things like "The Eros factor is definitely the hope for the future". Are you saying there is no place for Logos in the future? Surely you can see how a situation would arise where a truely bad character could be in charge of a country and a military. The Eros factor is no more use in this situation than a mother in our prehistoric past inviting a predator over for a campfire dinner with her children.

  7. Thank you also. I too enjoy a challenging and civil conversation. I do not intend to convey the message that we should switch over to an entirely Eros system. Like you, I believe the solution lies with balance. But the basic premise of this entire blog is that we are way out of balance with regards to masculine values vs. feminine values, and the signs of the imbalance are starting to show. With regards to "hope for the future," we are going to need a lot of Eros to rebalance the equation. You should read my most recent post "Collectivism vs. Individualism," which goes into this theme a bit further. I would be interested in hearing your take on it.

  8. I don't share your desire for balance. I would like to see the Eros element greatly expanded in the future at the cost of Logos. Human history shows an overpowering and dominating Logos element, at the detriment to human welfare.

    However, I don't think this can happen without a strong Logos. Eros cannot thrive in a hostile environment, and in America there is a strong Eros groundswell that drives Logos to act. Defending Kuwait in the first Gulf War, routing the Taliban in Afghanistan, overthrowing Saddam in Iraq were steps our country took so that feminine values could continue to take over on the world stage.

    I'm sorry, I should not have assumed you were anti-military. What role do you suggest our military should have taken, and what should their role be in the near future?

    Thanks, I will give your new post a look!

  9. To answer your question, I believe President Eisenhower's admonition to beware the military industrial complex has unfortunately come to fruition. Military is the planet's number one, $1 trillion/year industry, and the U.S. are the leading entrepreneurs. I don't think any of the wars in the Middle East, including the first Iraq war, were justified. If you want to use coming to the aid of the Kuwaiti people as justification, then we shouldn't sanction and militarily supply the Israelis to do the same thing in Palestine. I think World War II was justified, but our contemporary use of the military to spread our national agenda is heinous.

  10. So with our understanding of the role of Logos to protect Eros, how would the United States go about protecting its people without a strong military?

  11. I'm sorry, I've read and re-read your replies, and I am not getting a clear signal. You explain the need of Logos to protect Eros, and then suggest Logos existence is a $1 trillion/year scam. Is a strong military important to you, and if not, how would you go about preventing the strong from overrunning the weak?

  12. Seriously, when was the last time the United States "defended" itself from an external military, never. Even our Revolutionary War was an act of treason against a soverign nation. It could even be argued (and I do not hold this belief BTW) that the 9/11 attacks, which represent the only foreign attack on U.S. soil, were retaliation for the imperialist policies of the United States. In any case, all our great military powers did nothing to prevent that most devastating attack in history. And all our military powers are doing nothing to reduce that attack now. Our aggression is just fanning the flames of their hatred for us and recruiting more numbers to their members.

    In any case, we certainly don't need a military that is larger in terms of expendature than all of the other military forces on Earth combined, particularly in light of the fact we have never had to defend ourselves.

    In fact several the self declared neutral countries like Switzerland, Austria and Costa Rica get by very well with minimal military forces, and nobody is attacking them either.

    Our percieved need for the outrageous military industrial establishment that we collectively subscribe to is a delusion perpetuated by those who profit from it most and use it to force their own agenda on the world.

    Until after World War II, the military was always assembled as needed rather than being a standing army. I think we should reconsider such a strategy.

  13. Our military might is likely why (not disguised as terrorists - which often is the case- terrorists are mercenaries by and large)the United States has not defended itself from am external military attack. -TC

  14. TC, I think our geography has more to do with it. Many countries have limited histories of warfare without great military strength, like Switzerland, Canada, much of Scandanavia, etc. Plus the U.S. has only been the military force it is in the past century or so. Before that, we had to rely on France to help us fight out battles:)