Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — an intriguing example of enantiodromia aka reversal or the hairpin bend ]

Let’s start with this tweet from Glenn Greenwald on September 11th 2013, a dozen years on from that tragic day:

Click on Greenwald’s link, and you’ll find it leads to an article by Mike Riggs, and refers specifically to this image of an ad in a DC metro station:

Riggs, who had written his article Oath Keepers Group Places Massive Pro-Snowden Ad Inside Pentagon Metro Station a couple of months eariler on July 24 2013, clearly thought that OathKeepers’ ad was strange enough to comment:

Last Thursday as I was rolling into the Pentagon Metro station I noticed from the train window a giant sign that read, “Snowden Honored His Oath. Honor Yours! Stop Big Brother!”

Before I could snap a picture or see who’d sponsored the sign, the train was rolling out. For the rest of the weekend I wondered who had the chutzpah (and the inventiveness) to praise Snowden at the Pentagon stop, where it’s far more common to see ads from lobbyists praising the merits of some piece of military tech.

Turns out it was the Oath Keepers, “a coalition of current and former military, police, and other public officials [who] have pledged not to obey unconstitutional commands.”

Following hot on the heels of Greenwald’s tweet of September 11, Charles Johnson wrote a piece on LGF titled Why Is Glenn Greenwald Promoting an Extreme Right Wing Militia?

And that in turn led to friend JM Berger’s tweet, also on Sept 11th:

And the enantiodromia here, the sudden switcheroo? That’s to do with Greenwald suddenly tweeting an appreciation of the OathKeepers — not his usual allies by any stretch of the imagination. So this one might equally be filed under “strange bedfellows”.

Or a “one two combo” perhaps? Left jab right cross, to be specific?

So where does the word come from? Carl Jung more or less borrowed the word from Heraclitus, as quoted by Diogenes Laërtius (ix. 7) in a passage that defies easy translation. Fortunately, as Wikipedia helpfully notes:

Plato in the Phaedo will articulate the principle clearly: “Everything arises in this way, opposites from their opposites.” (sect. 71a).

Jung explains Heraclitus’ meaning as he understands it:

In the philosophy of Heraclitus it is used to designate the play of opposites in the course of events — the view that everything that exists turns into its opposite…

and as he himself uses the term:

I use the term enantiodromia for the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time.

Would you prefer a more contemporary reference? John Perry Barlow even gave a TED talk about it:


Enantiodromia turns out to be one of the classic forms of paradox in history — t’s a form I’ve written about before on Zenpundit, in my post Jung in Tehran, aka “enantiodromia”, and also referred to in a comment on Pamela Geller.

Here are two notable examples. The first comes from Reinhold Niebuhr‘s The Irony of American History:

Everybody understands the obvious meaning of the world struggle in which we are engaged. We are defending freedom against tyranny and are trying to preserve justice against a system which has, demonically, distilled injustice and cruelty out of its original promise of a higher justice.

The second is from UK’s Labour MP, Sir Gerald Kaufman, who once said:

My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town a German soldier shot her dead in her bed. … My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.

Right or wrong, Kaufman was in effect asserting the danger of enantiodromia


Note well that enantiodromia is mostly used to refer to a single switchback: iterative enantiodromia would be a form of boustropehdon.

Note also that David Myatt, whose comment on enantiodromia in Heraclitus I linked to above, is an interesting fellow in his own right, having been a leading UK neonazi for decades, then converting to Islam and preaching jihad and praise of bin Laden — now finally settling into his (hopefully, final) role as an English country gentleman and proponent of moderation in all things — an ex-twice-extremist anti-extremist, itself quite an enantiodromic turn of events…

Hurrumph! Enough for one post…