Meelis Oidsalu: Freud, Jung and Rogers in the Riigikogu
Jüri Ratas' second term as prime minister landed him in a similar situation of being surrounded on all sides experienced by his predecessor at the helm of the Center Party, Edgar Savisaar, Meelis Oidsalu finds in Vikerraadio's daily comment.
Political scientist Tõnis Saarts published a manifestly dashing book review titled "Scholarly democracy. No, thank you" last year in which he showcased the postulate of two Dutch social scientists according to which the Western political elite finds itself in an education bubble where professional politicians sporting myriad university diplomas are becoming increasingly alienated from the people and the elite's isolation is causing existential problems for representative democracy.
Saarts' revelation was something new as no one had publicly suspected MPs of being too literate in Estonia before. A university diploma is not a plastic bag in the hands of a small child they can use to accidentally suffocate themselves. Whatever the case, having previously talked about the inevitable rise of Trumpism, Saarts' peculiar nanocharter showed that diagnosing the crisis of democracy takes original ideas in addition to nerves of steel.
It is believed in the USA that Americans losing faith in their recent administrative culture is the reason why the confrontation between the ultraprogressive and Trumpism has escalated into a veritable vortex of populism.
Contributing factors were the Iraq war that was started on false pretenses and solving the global financial crisis in the interests of banks and at the expense of depositors, coupled with politicians' attempts to torpedo presidential elections that started in 2000 (Bush vs Gore).
Social media campaigns of dubious origin came to influence democratic representative processes both regarding Brexit and the U.S. elections. Mainstream media revenue drying up and the rise of online media and party press have also played a part.
Jüri Ratas' second term as prime minister landed him in a similar situation of being surrounded on all sides experienced by his predecessor at the helm of the Center Party, Edgar Savisaar.
Like Savisaar, the outgoing coalition practiced what could be described as "Jungian Machiavellianism" representatives of which feel the need to involve dark or perceivably dangerous urges in our collective self-image, drag them to the light so to speak in order to integrate them and bring about the individuation of the electorate, it becoming its own self as per Carl Jung's therapeutic treatment.
This process is facilitated by mythical thinking and love of archetypes. The marriage referendum plan no doubt included a good dose of cynical political pragmatism, while the undertaking also reflected hope of ritually and collectively reconfirming an archetype and it "becoming itself" once more.
The Reform Party's treatment of democratic culture on the other hand seems to be inspired by Sigmund Freud who felt that self-perception's darker nuances need to be suppressed in the name of social life. Let us recall the party's rhetoric from a few years ago of a struggle between so-called white and dark political forces in society.
Whereas the role of superego has been played by the developed West, while social development has been centered around future prosperity and a collective self that is clearly more civilized than its present counterpart and busy enjoying that future prosperity today. Isamaa used to represent this school, while they have now clearly joined the Jungians.
Next to these two democratic cultures that have competed with one another throughout the re-independent period – future-oriented Freudian neoliberalism and Jungian Machiavellianism toying with the nostalgia of a lost "golden age" – we can isolate a third in humanitarian egalitarianism that values scientific administration of society and that has been practiced by the Social Democratic Party.
At the heart of this democratic culture lies a treatment of the person placed into psychologist Carl Rogers' therapy playbook. Mirroring this culture of trying to close the power gap and concentrating on everyday problems growing out of inequality were the "Two Estonias" address from 2001 and the "Charter 12" manifesto from 2012.
Every democratic culture we have described has a right to life as well as hidden crisis potential. The deprivation and suppression of the part of society that is disinterested in progress or threatens attempts to civilize (such as the Russian community) has been described in connection with Freudian neoliberalism.
The Jungian-Machiavellian style of governance is in danger of being buried under combativeness that works to dismantle feelings of security in society and mythology that is removed from the social reality. Some feel that the Social Democrats have been alienated from the electorate by the "excessive enlightenment" of their policy, a search for consciousness the ordinary person finds exhausting and desire for equality that is perceived as a threat to individualism.
Tying famous psychologists' treatments of what it means to be human to party agendas should not be seen as an attempt to politicize psychology or ennoble politics. Politicians are not therapists fighting for the happiness and mental health of voters. However, it might just be that we are not choosing between ideas but rather treatments of Man that these ideas represent at elections.
The government's forced resignation showed that corruption and oligarchs do not go well with any democratic style of governance, which can also be said about the outgoing coalition's plan of liquidating the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee that serves as a landmark of political culture in Estonia.
Plastic bag democracy. No, thank you.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski