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The Tent City of Rothschild Boulevard and the Coming Pogrom – Part I

August 21, 2011 – 9:06 pm5 Comments

Searching for meaning in the tent city, Tel Aviv. Image: Spiegel Online

By Yoram Symons

Turn on the news.  It is becoming obvious that the world is literally falling apart. Governments are defaulting, stockmarkets are tumbling, London burns, Greece riots, the Arabic nations are descending into civil wars, the Palestinians are on the verge of declaring statehood and in Israel for the first time in a generation the entire country finds itself united in the singular purpose of change.

Why is all of this happening now?

Karmic Forces

There is a core principle in Judaic cosmology known as middah k’neged middah. In essence this principle is a schema for understanding the relationship between human action and cosmic reaction. It loosely translates as “measure for measure”, and in its most superficial context means that God both punishes and rewards the actions of human beings in accordance with the substance and quality of those actions.

A similar principle is found in Indian cosmology and is known as karma. Loosely rendered, karma states that the Cosmos will return our actions to us in kind. If we give to others, the Cosmos will give to us, if we take from others, the Cosmos will take from us. We even find an analogue to this principle in Newton’s Third Law of motion – to every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

The notion of a cosmic system of justice linked to human activity is prevalent through all the cosmologies of the world. And most of us comprehend the basic principle of cause and effect as it relates to our lives. We accept that if we smoke cigarettes we increase our chances of cancer, and if we put together an outstanding resume we increase our likelihood of obtaining employment.

Yet cause and effect in the moral realm is less readily understood. While many of us pay lip-service to the concept of karma, none of us write a hundred-dollar cheque to our favourite charity expecting to find a hundred-dollar bill lying on the ground on our way to work. Few of us have experienced, nor expect to experience, the mechanics of cosmic justice operating in so direct a fashion.

The Subconscious Cause of Material Effect

Freud taught that the conscious activities of a human being were a thin veneer veiling the far more potent and powerful desires of the subconscious mind. Freud’s disciple Jung expanded upon this principle, believing that the subconscious state was not only responsible for conscious emotions, but manifest within material existence as well.

Jung’s principle affords us a new way to understand middah k’negged middah. A separate and impersonal God does not arbitrarily mete out punishments for our crimes and rewards for our services. Rather, reality manifests around us in accordance with our true desires. When we are able to alter one of our subconscious desires, material reality will literally shift around us to accommodate the new state of being. Wealth and poverty, health and sickness, war and peace, are all externalized manifestations of our own subconscious longings.

The Agonies of Materialism

Jung’s investigations into the inner workings of the human psyche were originally motivated by his work as a clinical psychologist. From his surgery in Switzerland, an advanced, prosperous and wealthy nation, he treated patient after patient for various forms and manifestations of a single disease – depression. Why were these people depressed, he wondered? They were relatively wealthy and relatively healthy. They had few genuine tragedies in their lives that required psychiatric healing. Yet patient after patient presented symptoms of this crippling malaise.

Jung’s quest for an answer eventually took him to the Pueblo tribe of Arizona. There the tribal elders informed him that each morning they go to the desert and perform a ritual to make the sun rise. The elders were adamant that should they fail to perform this ritual the sun would fail to rise over their lands. They further warned that when their people would finally become extinct and there would be no one left to perform the ritual, the sun would soon cease to rise for the entire human race.

Jung understood that this insight explained the general malaise of the West. The materialist conception of the Universe that forms the underlying presupposition of contemporary popular cosmology had reduced the significance of human activity to nil. In a Universe that spanned billions of light years, where the Earth was an infinitesimal mote of dust in a colossal cosmic sandstorm, individual human experience was totally and utterly worthless.

While the conscious mind in the Western world busied itself with chasing the dreams of material prosperity, the subconscious self languished in a prison of spiritual agony. Human beings actually needed to believe that their actions made the sun rise. For a human being to be happy, his life had to be imbued with cosmic purpose.

The End of Zionism and the Tent City of Rothschild Boulevard

When the early Zionists began building the yishuv they were all seized with a cosmic sense of purpose. The Jewish People, who had lain dormant and slumbering for two thousand years, was finally reawakening to national purpose. When Ben-Gurion declared independence the State of Israel was gripped with a sense that they were witnessing the visions of the Prophets manifest in reality. The dry bones lived again; the voices of happiness and joy were heard in the hills of Judah once more. When the second generation of Israelis captured Jerusalem messianic fervor gripped the air and when they prevented the collapse of the State in 1973 they were imbued with the feeling that the sounds of their actions were echoing in the halls of eternity.

But then Zionism reached its apogee. Its stated goal of establishing a normalized state had been achieved. Herzl’s dream of a nation like all other nations had been attained. From that point on Israeli society would increasingly come to be dominated by the themes of Western culture; themes that have not altered significantly since Jung.  That is, a general and enveloping feeling of impotence and irrelevance. This impotence cannot be solved by the transitory achievements of capitalism or the mass-media reality-television fuelled dream of achieving celebrity. As Israel continues to realize the mandate of Herzelian Zionism it slides deeper and deeper into a pit of existential despair.

For the contemporary Israeli, who has been raised on the stories of 1948 and 1967, there is nothing left to achieve. The glory belongs to their parents and their grandparents and all that is left to do is simply live the lifestyle. The Sisyphean struggle for prosperity within the capitalist paradigm is a poor consolation prize next to the historical purpose that was the pay-cheque of generations past. They toil but do not receive a reward.

Then came the Tent City of Rothschild Boulevard.

What initially began as a small student protest over the increased cost of housing has metamorphosed into a pan-Israeli movement demanding social justice at all levels. The Tent City is makeshift and simple, yet it buzzes with an excitement that cannot be found in any Herzeliyah Penthouse or Caulfield Mansion. Musicians play and artists paint and young people sit and debate the merits of the welfare state over the free-enterprise system. The dwellings are crude and basic but the reward of this struggle is the dynamic and exhilarating sense of participating in history.

While the conscious minds of Israel’s protesters demand affordable housing, an improved medical system and a host of other welfare-state related issues, the collective subconscious demands the protests themselves; a feeling of national unity, a feeling of collective purpose and a feeling that Israel’s most glorious days lie in the future and not in the past. How goodly are thy tents O Jacob!

Yoram Symons is the Executive Director of Ark. His blog can be found here.

 

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