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 Unconscious aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 
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Post Unconscious aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
When Montezuma, king of the Aztec, was asked, "why he had suffered the republic of Tlaxcala to maintain her independence on his borders", he replied, "that she might furnish him with victims for his gods!" (cf. Prescott, 1974, p.59). In the ceaseless wars between the two states, prisoners were taken on both sides that the angry gods may be pacified. The Tlaxcalans were later to join the Spanish campaign under Cortez.

How does the mutual consent to war and victimization, in the Tenoctitlan-Tlaxcalan relation, reflect on the modern Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Is there a genuine wish for peace among the two peoples? I suggest that, underlying the conflict, lurks the same archaic thinking that became institutionalized in the Mesoamerican civilizations. The status quo of mutual victimization and scapegoating fulfils the archaic need of transferring and abolishing one's own sins, thus to impart suffering to the other party so that one may oneself avoid suffering.

The primitive way of thought implies that suffering, life and death, happiness and beauty, are substantive in a metaphysical sense. In a manner which is hard for present-day people to grasp, the Pythagoreans thought of numbers as metaphysical entities, i.e. as "4-things" and "5-things", etc. In the Mayan civilization the numbers were regarded as divine entities, i.e. as gods. Archaic logic says that if the "one" has shown up repeatedly in the latest dice throws, then the risk of throwing a "six" is greater. The "one" has fulfilled its quota and this particular number god is appeased. Correspondingly, if another person is subjected to suffering and death, then the risk of "me" coming to harm is lessened. The death god has been appeased, for today. If you think that such archaisms find no place in modern society, then you should make a visit to a casino.

By the theology and rituals of destruction the Aztec kept the world alive and made sure that the sun would rise in the next morning. In fulfilling the quota of destruction, they made sure that destruction would not strike uncontrollably in the cosmos and in the Aztec kingdom. The Aztec state could be perpetuated this way, underpinned by the bones of sacrificial victims. By the efforts of sacrificial priests the forces of destruction were kept in control. The way in which people today tend to gather around a gruesome and bloody scene, when an accident has occured, depends perhaps on an unconscious conception of a cruel god that must have his fill.

Arguably, in the Israeli and the Palestinian collective unconscious, an archaic thinking subsists according to which the state must be replenished and invigorated by sacrifice, much like the Aztec temples were built over mass graves, and inaugurated by blood sacrifice. There is no genuine wish for peace because, similar to the Tenoctitlan-Tlaxcalan relation, the state can only be maintained, and its glory in the future can only be attained, by way of fulfilling the quota of suffering and destruction. The Israeli state could not get along without the Palestinians. They are bound to impersonate the losers that throw a "one" so that the Israelis can throw a "six". Psychologically, the Palestinians could not bear life without the Jews, thanks to whom they can transfer their own faults, incompetence, corruption and shortcomings. A people living in collective identification, where there is no real sense of personal responsibility, is dependent on a nation of scapegoats.

The archaic unconscious rules in the Middle East. Futile peace initiatives will have no effect while the parties have no real wish to make peace. That's why it's necessary to openly admit the underlying unconscious rationale. The unconscious complex is exposed to conscious realization. The mad thoughtway that unconsciously controls the collective can thus be challenged.

Mats Winther

Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:23 pm
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