Eight Perspectives On Integral Trans-Partisan Politics

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Introduction- Hokyo Joshua Routhier
(Note: This is will possibly be jargon heavy)

On May 26th, 2008, Integral Life posted an article by Corey W. deVos entitled "Integral Trans-partisan politics" containing a video by Ken Wilber talking about 2008 U.S. presidential election. The article was recently reshared via e-mail to Integral Life subscribers. I looked over the article and found familiar feelings coming up about Integral politics and activism and posted this Facebook status:

"[I] skimmed over the recent article from IL about Integral Trans-partisan politics. I keep finding myself wondering about this Integral Trans-pluralism meme. Effectively the view seems to be to take pluralism and then add the term "Integral" which then somehow makes it more effective while still reifying the same "stuckness". I can understand that an "Integral Perspective" would include as many perspectives as possible (5th to Nth person). But it seems to in its argument [say] that all perspectives are "true but partial", it has effectively dismissed the perspective that a view can be wrong. In my opinion, this is the basis in which Integral moral ambiguity can arise as this may be the point where "green" as a structure is disowned and then found in a sort of organismic [communal] shadow. By not being able to assert which perspectives are right/wrong, appropriate/inappropriate, effective/ineffective, from my perspective, the view from IL is one [of] overt flexibility with zero ability to take a stand in an effort to recapitulate the "no hurt feelings" meme in early "green". This could be why one Zen master said that the [Integral] community is "green". While I don't support generalizations, I can see the perspective." ~Hokyo Joshua Routhier

Erupting from this FB status was a 100 comment discussion speaking about the notions of activism, action, and integrity from an Integral perspective and a critique of the Integral community from the Intersubjective and Interobjective perspectives. In this edition of Six Perspectives On (actually eight!), we will discuss the view of Integral Trans-partisan politics.


Integral Trans-pluralism and the Audacity of Praxis

Joshua Routhier

Bonnitta Roy once said "One could expect that the "higher levels" past "green [i.e. postmodern]" become increasingly problematic, increasingly deficient stages... because spiral dynamics cannot see past its own paradigm to see the kinds of efficient forms of "growth and development" that cannot be named by a theory of structural dialectics. Time to jump that ship."

Those words were the first inclination that my intuition as posted above was not my imagination. For a long time now, I have been in a tension in which I supported the use of Integral Theory but found myself unsatisfied by the enactments of the theory at the community, state, governmental level. By unsatisfied, I mean a fusion cycle of understanding and frustration leading to Facebook debates and deeply embodied gestalt therapy. Part of that frustration lead to the creation of Integral Trollz.

My critique of Integral Theory is based on my personal litmus test. That test is the question about praxis. Does the theory lead to a necessary conclusion of action in the world? To put it another way, is the theory in integrity with the world? My observations are mixed but I find the answer like anything is synthetic (thesis & antithesis) or in this case yes and no depending on how you look.

From the Upper Left quadrant, I find the model holds as I often see many individuals who are engaged and involved/evolved in their subjective lives including the community. That is, that the model seems to lead to a sort of praxis of individual evolution. However from the Lower Left and the Lower Right quads, things seem to get more complicated. If we look at the community of those affiliated with Wilber's theory as an organism, the Integral community from my perspective appears dis-integrated, detached, and lethargic. This becomes truer for me if we look at the movements from previous structures especially Green/Pluralistic/Individualist (Wilber/SD/SCG). To put plainly, we are not having a profound effect in the world regardless of what Wilber tells us; at least not yet.

My belief is that this has to do with three factors that are inherent within the Integral model that are responsible for this discrepancy between our subjective behavior (personal evolution) and our community action (Trans-pluralist stuckness):

1. Integral theory seems to have two major values within the explicit map given forth by Wilber and observed in the behavior of the Integral community. The first is that "all perspectives are true and partial". The contradiction with this is that the perspective that "all perspectives are true and partial" is inherently true and partial as a perspective. For me this means that something is missing in the context of the map. Where is the piece about evolutionary negation? In the evolution of man, several sub-species along the way were forced to die out as our ancestors became the dominant species. What is it about the Integral community that seems incapable of reaching consensus and "killing off"/let go extinct seemingly compassionless and unhealthy perspectives (ex. Randian moral philosophy)? In many ways, this mirrors the very critique that Wilber himself has against his favorite target "Green" and the paradox of "all perspectives are true but the perspective that all perspectives are true is truer", and seems to lead to the same inactivity only more so.

2. The second value within the Integral community seems to be the gaining of perspectives. That is, the underlying assumption of the Integral model is that the more perspectives gained, the better. I contend that this is not the case. In fact, as more perspectives are gained, I believe it's more likely for a person to become stuck in a sort of Integral aperspectival madness (a transcended version of the aperspectival madness of postmodern pluralism). To put clearly the more perspectives a person has, the more likely they are to be stuck insofar as in-the-world action or to be less satisfied by their choices of action.

At best, the Integral map is a great system of organizing perspectives within a structural and developmental model. However from my perspective at its worst, it becomes Perspectival Archaism. Storage with no substance beyond meta-perspective philosophical debate.

3. Teal/Yellow/Context-aware (Wilber/SD/SCG) as a structure seems to be unaware of its own contextually nested nature. That is that the model itself arose in a very specific context and environment. While those influences are not explicit in the map, I believe they are implicit in the map. Wilber himself is from the west and the map itself is structural in the same way that most western philosophies are which I think creates issues. I have heard Bonnitta Roy (who I quoted above) say something in regards to the model not representing a process view. I would add to that by saying that the enactment of the Integral model from its contexts has given it a very ingrained focus on the notion of agency with very little to speak of in the realm of communion.

In the article and video linked above, Wilber is asking us to act from a level of understanding and patience. I do not disagree with any of that nor do I disagree with his take on the American political system. Where I diverge from his critique is that I believe patience and action (or We-Action) is necessary. Not specific projects or categorical focuses such as "Integral business" but in-the-world action based on a choice of values that go beyond simply archiving and selling enlightenment.

For me, the lack of mention of anything looking like involvement or creation of a third party as well as the conflicting political messages in the Integral community such as Robb Smith advocating conservatism or Terry Patten supporting an "Integral Obama" are the wrong direction for me as they do not get to the heart of the matter. Politics is values in action. The way we choose our direction. As of right now with the factors and values I mentioned above, action cannot be taken as we haven't consciously done what all other cultures, communities, societies have done naturally.

We haven't chosen our stance and discarded the perspectives that are not appropriate for the time so that action becomes possible.

(A less enlightened perspective but somewhat accurate to my frustration, via Foamy the Squirrel)

Hokyo Joshua hopes someday to be done with school. He is training in Gestalt Therapy in Michigan and lives with his beautiful family



Plato’s Republic: Ken Wilber’s Integral Redux

Jeremy Johnson

I must admit: politics is not my forte. So much so that you’ll be at a loss for insight from me. I was about to hand in my hat when I found at least one important thing that can be said about Ken Wilber’s “Integral Trans-Partisan Politics.”

So, if I’m understanding this correctly, Ken Wilber suggests that the solution to American politics is to install what he calls a House of Wisdom in government. That is, a house of evolutionarily elite members who can navigate the complex landscape of American consciousness. 

The problem, he rightly asks, is how do you justify a House of Wisdom that is “developmentally higher than 90% of the population.” For Wilber, the answer is development. The more you embrace it, understand it, enact it, the more you represent this developmental elite that is capable of recognizing that “all views are partially right.” Able to mingle with liberals for lunch and conservatives for dinner, fluidly shifting your communication skills to adapt to their memetic center of gravity. 

But the thing is, most folks won’t embrace this idea, let alone enact a government in the spirit of a Plato’s Republic – a nation ruled by Philosopher Kings. If you think you’re catching a whiff of skepticism on my part, you’d be right. It sounds to me that this whole idea retrieves the medieval social structure of the Right of Kings, where the elite rule over the masses in a form of benign elitism. Corey Devos writes that it is an “elitism to which everyone is invited… anyone can continue to evolve to the highest reaches of human potential, despite the fact that so few do.” 

While that’s all well and good, I can’t help but be profoundly skeptical with Wilber’s political philosophy, which happens to sound dangerously close to a memetic version of Reagan’s “trickle-down” economics.

Even if we do consider this idea – and I’m not against the concept of cultural evolution, it’s a major focus in my studies – Wilber’s plan doesn’t seem to push many boundaries but to enable a business-as-usual political system. The Left and the Right need a Third Way, he tells us. Culture evolves, so we have traditional values and then we also have progressive ones. Each is true, but partial. The problem with this ideology (in the sense that it is a conceptual framework – a kind of mantra or reference-map that one may use in Integral for all value systems) is that it dulls the knife of discernment that might be necessary for an actual evolution of American social consciousness. 

What if we do need to push Left a little more? Here’s my thinking. 

Wilber attributes the Left politics to external, social issues. It’s all about the plurality and the collective. Meanwhile, the “right” represent individual rights and capital. The philosopher Jean Gebser, whom Wilber has adapted into his developmental theory, suggests an alternative. 

“Since ancient times,” he writes, “the left side has stood for the side of the unconscious or the unknown; the right side, by contrast has represented the side of consciousness and wakefulness." Gebser’s interpretation of the Left is that it is an eruption of the unconscious – those invisible and intangible “intensities” of the psyche that defy quantification. 



The history of the modern West has since been an ongoing struggle, between what Gebser calls the “irruption of Time” into consciousness and our attempts to systematize it. The breakdown of “meta-systems” – that is, rational and synthetic thought, quantification and systemization, has been part of the cause of crisis in the modern age. In the politics of America, we have an un-finished Left because we have yet to truly realize the implications of this new consciousness. Gebser’s “integral” or “a-perspectival.” All this suggests quite a different scenario than embracing a singular, hierarchical and developmental system to solve social problems. “As people evolve, they move through a particular sequence of stages,” Corey writes on Integral Life, “a sequence that has been long studied by Western psychologists and has been found to be essentially universal to every culture in the world.” [My highlights]. Even progressive psychologists and social theorists would raise an eyebrow at that claim.

If anything, then Wilber’s political philosophy is not very forward thinking, but reactionary; a systematizing approach to the problem of the Left. 

This leads us to the final problem with Integral Trans-Politics, in that it ignores the vast immanent shift our world society is currently undergoing. It argues for a political philosophy where the elite of society rule from the top-down. But everything that is going on today – with networks of social communication, experimental peer-to-peer economic systems, and decentralization of social power – suggests that human culture is undergoing revolutionary changes. It ignores the possibility of mutation. A new consciousness might coincide with wholly different forms of government that are not based upon Confucianist order, Philosopher Kings or “Spiral Wizards” (a la Spiral Dynamics). Evolution is important. Perhaps there is a shift or a “raise” in consciousness that can take place, but let’s dare to imagine the way out through the emergent postmodern knowledge of our day. Not new ways of old thinking. The Leftist “green meme” is a modality of thinking that Wilber’s integral politics has certainly consumed, but seems to have difficulty digesting.

In the end, I challenge and advocate integral political thinkers to re-imagine what development and emergence look like in such an immanent age that is a discontinuous leap from politics as usual. 

Jeremy is a graduate student in the Consciousness Studies program at Goddard College. He researches the emerging planetary consciousness of our time, mythology, the Imagination and esotericism.


Integral Is Not a Necessary and Sufficient Condition

Kaine DeBoer

ken wilber development 1
This will be primarily in response to Ken's "trans-partisan" video (though he doesn't seem to use those words himself) that was recorded during the 2008 presidential primary season. There are a number of things that strike me when I watch this video. When I examined the common thread in my observations, it was why Integral needs people specifically informed (perhaps even experts) in any field in which it decides to participate/involve itself in.

There was something which Ken started with and ended with. In the beginning, he said that with democracy that there is no possibility of Integral politics or stances in governance. In the end, he states that if we continue with democracy, that we will continue to be stuck. The solution, he seems to imply, is a structural change not only within the two-party system (which he seems to equate with democracy in this video) but into changing the legislature into more of a parliamentary system. This was confusing to me, as the current system is technically capable of supporting more than two parties without changing the actual structure of the legislature. But both a multi-party system within our current legislature and an actual shift to a parliamentary system (which is not simply the addition of more parties) still function through democracy. So what Ken is saying is unclear when one is more than tangentially familiar with what he is saying.

Another portion which piqued my interest was Ken's talk about setting up a "House of Wisdom". Whether that is just an ideological grouping inside of the current structure or whether it's an actual structure inside of the new parliamentary form of government depends on how far you take Ken's vague inferences (of which he will not go into how to implement). But this is part of the problem with this entire video, which makes claims and proposes vague solutions with the specificity of a shotgun.

In a number of places in this video, Ken makes what appear to be gross generalizations and over-simplifications (and not just simplexity) on a matter of factors that deserve more nuance than they are given. A particularly egregious example was the idea that the Founding Fathers with their Orange Constitution moved from "slavery to freedom". I could take issue with as that idea is highly contextual. If we are speaking of literal slavery, then this statement seems to be patently false. If you mean freedom from the perspective of white, male land-owners? Then absolutely! But this comes back to my point that if Integral is to have a greater impact, I believe we need to acknowledge that simply being at Integral (by whatever measure) should be supported by actual knowledge and expertise.

Consider other statements that had this issue, e.g. the talk of Third Way politics. Third Way politics is also a name for when a partisan politician borrows ideas from the other party to secure the support from independent voters to secure a majority (see Nixon's presidency). For my last example, the mixture of Amber and Randian Orange in the Republican party was simplified to the fact that the Democrats had moved to include Orange and Green and not a concentrated effort during the Reagan era to create a conservative coalition. 

But this seems to be part of a larger issue inside of the Integral sphere. That simple awareness or knowledge of Integral or even the attainment of "2nd tier" development in the line of cognitive development makes one qualified. Ken speaks about it in relation to Democrats who have "in a sense" endorsed Integral and when he speaks of Integral candidates being elected because of developmental elitism.

There are two issues with this idea that I feel need to be examined.

The first is enumerated by Ken Wilber himself during the video. He mentions that Karl Rove and others have begun to use the Integral model to accomplish their goals. Current political operatives and leaders are using the technology of Integral to implement what could easily be interpreted as not Integral goals. But to once again quote Ken from the video, being at Integral does not actually mean being smarter or better, it means you can be colossally stupid because you have more means in which to accomplish your stupidity. Any Integral candidates that attempt to be elected need to be elected not on the basis of their developmental achievement, but their achievement and qualifications beyond their development. Development does not equal merit, it is only a factor of merit.

The second example is once again brought up by Ken himself, that a number of significant political leaders of this point in time -are- Integrally informed. So not only does one's development not equal a necessary and sufficient condition for progress in a positive direction, but it does not seem to securely necessitate more beneficial outcomes. While it could be said that just because some one can cognitively understand and apply the map it does not mean they are at an Integral stage of development as far as values, that is true. It would seem that the "All Lines" portion of AQAL gets sacrificed either for the sake of convenience or something else. Regardless, I see this as an example of a Level/Line reduction which seems to rear it's ugly head relatively often.

Finally, I want to make a brief comment on the idea of Integral trans-partisanship. While the article with this video spoke of "trans-partisan" politics, this seems to be a smoke screen of simply not taking a stand on any issue involved without further explanation of what trans-partisan Integral politics actually entails. While this could simply be my own confirmation bias, Integral once again takes a stand on absolutely nothing as it remains in the realms of big-picture posturing without any consideration or interest in the details of what that means. "If we can simply hold all of these perspectives long enough, everything will be okay..."

Kaine DeBoer is a curmudgeonly young man often found shaking a cane while yelling at all these Integral Kids to stop trampling his Green lawn



The Autopoiesis of Politics

Karen Anderson

There are a number of things to consider in looking at the article and video on Integral Trans-Partisan Politics from 2008, and the musings on it that resulted. Those with awareness of the different and overlapping value sets of which Wilber speaks are in a relatively unique position to offer clarity out of which a way forward might emerge. If we can back out from the immediate situation, and be aware of the overall processes or forces at work in the more absolute sense, we can then orient the more evolutionary situations within that.

Ken notes the incredible difficulty and complexity involved in this topic, and in a 30 minute video could not possibly touch on all that is inherent in it. I think it answers some good questions and offers some good ideas about where we might go. But he still asks, how? This is the question, and this is also what was discussed in the ensuing Facebook conversation. Hokyo points to some of the issues with so called "integral" approaches to large scale global problems, including (and these are my interpretations/generalizations, I do not wish to put words in his mouth!) distinctions between absolute and relative perspectives, a kind of "Ivory Tower", and about ways in which the theory sometimes leaves out bridges to the territory: who is walking it around the world, how are they doing it, and with what degrees of effectiveness? I am not certain we should depend on a theory to create such bridges for us, but would argue that we can each find our own ways to contribute and serve if we are so called, in whatever ways that shows up (and of course we can share the bridges we do find with one another). And, as Ken says, there may be inherent in this a kind of elitism, but no one is excluded from that if they choose to be a part of it. What I see in the video, article, and discussion is a useful conversation about some of the ways in which we can step toward embodying and learning to breathe this map, as territory, and allow it, as us, to inform and influence our world.

To my mind, a major thing to remember is that the fact of identification is huge, with the vast majority of humans, the vast majority of the time. This is the common theme of our differences-we are attached to what we perceive as important, even if we don't know how we arrived at those stances. In the emergence of a trans-partisan integral politics, we do need to be able to meet people where they are in one sense (because that is where they are!), and communicate the aims we have in ways that show them how their needs will be met and how they will be cared for. This requires integrally informed leaders who can accomplish this through having more fully embodied what the map contains, but without needing to explain the architecture of it. So this speaks a bit to how we might begin to get any such candidates as we could find, into office, in terms of speaking to constituents. Such a leader would also need to have a grasp of so much more in terms of geopolitical chess game that is our world, of the currents and history, global economics and so forth. And still there is the question of the bridge between skillful use of language in explaining things, and actually doing something (doesn't that sound typically political). How do world leaders act, even from a lovely worldcentric place, when worldcentrism doesn't have the boundaries that almost the entire globe holds to be very very real and important?

Part of the criticism aimed at "integral" stances (or scarcity of them) on the political system, and other current problems on the ground, arises out of differences between the points of view of the critiques, and the points of view which they are critiquing. Just as if we back out from the close-in situations in politics to look at the longer view, we can do the same in focusing the lens on the leading wave. Even here, there is more to see than just one snapshot. There is a range, again, of fluency and focus, and it is not always easy to know how embodied and fluent a given individual or group is in using the map as a tool. There seems to be something to the idea that newly integral spheres sometimes repudiate Green a bit and perhaps lose some of Green's on-the-ground enthusiasm for activism, and which perhaps returns at the later integral stages when the capacity to prioritize all that is seen emerges. My sense is that that is part of it. It also seems that some of the later perspectives hold the space that allows things to unfold as they will and there is increasingly less attachment to particular outcomes, and from these spaces my sense is that despite increased care and concern, perhaps this care and concern does not look the same as it looks like at the earlier stages, and the focus may not be on individuals or groups but on universal cosmically-scaled flow-processes.

There seems to be a frustration in the community about how long these kinds of changes are taking, which Ken commented on and which also arose in the dialogue. Hokyo was speaking to the question of how this looks in the LL and LR quadrants, and I think one way to connect the dots is that when something is new, people don't have easy access to it, and it takes time for a more solidified version of it to arise in themselves, much less for these ideas to become structures in the LR and shared understandings in the LL. It has to come through us individually first. My experience is that one of the best ways to share/transmit something is by embodying it and walking it around (UL/UR). This contributes to an eventual transformation in the UL/UR of others, and then to the LL/LR as more people come into resonance with it. Even as the theory says that all occasions co-arise, this still happens in time and space, and so there is some degree of linearity, in different directions, with it.

Is it telling that the suggestion made in the video (that because of the difficulty in getting Orange and Green [i.e. modernist and postmodernist] together the Republican candidate would win) did not come true in 2008, nor did it in 2012. I wonder then if perhaps this could be indicative that the scale is tipping toward, if not a closer unity between orange and green, but to the possibility that the whole of us is inching up the scale. This would be good news!

Ken suggests a "3rd way, 3 party, parliamentary" kind of system where Amber [i.e. traditionalist], Orange, and Green all get their own parties. This seems like a step to me. I don't know how that would look exactly and specifically, but I do feel that what he is pointing to in terms of creating structures in the LR that allow the "truths" coming forth in the other quadrants space to emerge is a step toward a trans-partisan politics. My sense is that in addition to meeting people where they are, we can offer spaces that invite us all forward. I don't know a lot about Holacracy, but I will throw it out there. What about using a version of it to include these newer cultural value distinctions and restructure things? I am not an expert in this system/structure, but have read a bit about it and it seems exciting. I would love to invite comments from anyone with more experience actually using Holacracy and hear how/if it could be applied to politics, as it speaks to the LR systems orientation.

Karen S. Anderson is currently earning a Master’s degree in Integral Psychology at JFK University and has been teaching and facilitating meditation classes and groups in the Minneapolis area for about 10 years. She is a yoga instructor, chef, and musician. She is most interested in being playfully present in service to conscious evolution in whatever ways arise.



Disorienting Generalities

Lincoln Merchant

Why does the integral community have a problem getting politically activated? Why does the socio-political evolutionary strategy coming from KW Integral HQ seem to revolve mostly around encouraging personal growth and the development of exceptional leaders? Why are the descriptions of Green Lower Right political/economic systems so sparse and dismissive? 

Some of the answers can be found by going beyond KW’s “orienting generalizations” in the referenced video/article and diving into the profound, complex, nuanced, and compassionate work of integral political/economic academics and consultants that he heroically helped to gather. I’d highly recommend Christian Arnsperger, Marilyn Hamilton, Peter Merry, Barrett Brown, and David Martin, but here I’ll draw upon work Kevin Bowman’s done on political/economic line/type distinctions and the Spiral Dynamics insights on Variations of Change.

Following Bowman, an individual basically goes from an immature to a sophisticated understanding on the political/economic line as both their cognitive complexity level and their breadth of study in the field increases. Bowman also sees a typology of Liberal, Conservative, and Radical cutting across the ego, cognitive, values, and moral lines of development.  In the contemporary American political context, the Liberal will favor social movements instigating systemic government reform, the Conservative would rather trust free, self-disciplined inventors, entrepreneurs, and leaders to pioneer improvements; and the Radical will mistrust the whole State Capitalist system.  (Here’s an interview Bowman did on this:)

In Don Beck’s SDi, social tension, suffering, and potential collapse result when the dominant biopsychosocial vMeme constellation in a society no longer fits with changing Life Conditions.  The eight levels of Change Variation describe the scale of change necessary to functionally re-adapt (ranging from simple Fine-Tuning at the 1st to the epochal Quantum whole vMeme constellation shift upwards of the 8th).

What occurs to me is that, due to the three political/economic typologies, individuals in the Integral community view the current Life Conditions, vMeme constellation, and the field of potential in America differently and therefore feel a different level of Change Variation is required to produce the greatest depth of goodness for the greatest span of population. This thread at Integral Life is the quintessential example: 

For Sophisticated Liberals like Terry Patten and Jeff Salzman, Obama is pretty close to what is needed at the moment. Obama speaks as the representative of various social movements (civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, labor, environmentalism, etc.) and promises effective systemic government programs to realize their goals. For many Sophisticated Liberals, a relatively simple 2nd or 3rd level Change Variation of improving the givens would make things better for most people right now. I’d say they’d like to take the American political/economic system in the direction of a more explicit, coherent, and effective Rawlsian Social Democracy; rather than the chaotic, redundant, and ad hoc Progressive system we muddle with today. To do that they need to build on Obama’s messaging and develop a more coherent and inspirational partisan ideology that can hold these interests groups together going forward. They also need to promote their government watchdog groups to better reveal which politicians are catering to moneyed interests and which government programs are ineffective. 

Sophisticated Conservative commentators on the thread, like Robb Smith and GameofThriving, see more dire circumstances requiring a higher level Change.  The intra-Republican Civil War between the Immature and Sophisticated Conservative in the 2012 election post-mortem has been fascinating. The sense I get is that Sophisticated Conservatives want to move the country in the direction of a pragmatic, post-Progressive Libertarianism. This would take the 5th Level Change of stretching the Republican Party up the Spiral enough to shake free of the patriarchal, racist, nativist, and war-mongering free-market ideologues in their base. This would be an incredible challenge. The Religious Right controls the Republican primaries. The Neo-Cons make up the Republican foreign policy establishment. Republican think tanks and talk radio hosts want to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and Wall Street regulations, not fix them like Mitt Romney claimed. It might be easier just to work on building and sophisticating the Libertarian Party and let the dwindling, Cold War minded Republican Party die off.


For the Sophisticated Radical, represented on the thread by C4Chaos, the current political/economic system can’t be fixed from within. I see myself falling in this group and my feeling is that representative democracy at the continental scale of 300 million people cannot help but to represent only the most powerful special interest groups. The processes of capitalism, such as monopoly and the business cycle, invariably lead to rising income inequality and the rich getting richer and more powerful…now at the transnational level creating a global plutocratic oligarchy. For Sophisticated Radicals, it’s imperative to wake people up to these inherent systemic problems while developing new, more egalitarian, more liberating, more compassionate, and more resiliently sustainable forms of economic interaction and political decision making. Sophisticated Radicals see in the field of potential of current Life Conditions the possibility of a dramatic vMemetic upshift of the 7th Change Variation.

Of course, we’re not merely “Sophisticated”, we’re Integral, too.  So what could that mean for Integral Politics. I think what comes out of KW Integral HQ is largely Conservative (focus on individual pioneering efforts) and anything more radical than Conscious Capitalism in the still emerging and maturing Green Lower Right is dismissed to a degree.  Because this feels like it comes from KW, it gains an air of authority as the last word on the topic, which can be tough to get past. Liberals and Radicals don’t see themselves as much in all this reaching out to established business and political leaders. It’s not how we understand the kind of change we want happening so we feel stifled and confused. 

Understanding the political/economic typologies allows us to open up our strategy. Liberals pushing for an effective Rawlsian Social Democracy and Conservatives pushing for a pragmatic, post-Progressive Libertarianism would produce a much healthier two-party system while Radicals work tirelessly on making practical new political/economic forms so they’re ready for Liberals and Conservatives to live in when they finally come around… ;-)


Lincoln Merchant is the kind of political nerd who fantasizes about appearing on C-SPAN 2. He lives in southern Indiana with his wife and 5 year old son


integral-spiral dicalva

What is Integral Politics? What is the Integral Movement? Does it even exist? 

Kerstin Tuschik

True, but partial; transcend and include; integrate every person and every sentient being and their partial views. Who wouldn’t agree to that? It’s not rocket science, isn’t it?

But is it really that simple? In watching the so-called Integral movement getting stuck in its own political, personal and systemic issues so often makes one wonder if we might be overlooking something.

So let’s start with the basics!

The word “integral” has at least 4 different meanings that are relevant for us:

1. The name for a Meta-Theory or Map of the territory that is called reality.

2. The name for a structure-stage or even a structure-tier in our personal development. 

3. The name for a set of norms and the intention to live according to these norms: to be more integrative, compassionate, loving and all-encompassing.

4. The name for a new age that was intuited by Gebser as following the magic-mythic and the rational age.

If I look at that, I don’t see a lot that would qualify to help create a movement or a political stand that could be called Integral politics. 

The movement that is claiming that WE have the best map of the world is not really gaining momentum. The set of norms is quite appealing but not enough to get people out of their comfort zones. The coming of the Integral age seems only to be of interest for a couple of elite folks or esoteric dreamers. 

And the stage or tier??? Have you ever heard of a movement created by a new stage of development? Is it enough to say that we want the brightest and most complex thinkers to govern our world? Is that what the Integral approach to politics is all about? Really???


Most movements were started by people who were dissatisfied with the situation in the world. They were angry enough to get out of their comfort zones and on the streets, take risks, gather together with folks that were dissatisfied and angry with the same situation for very different reasons and stand up against some outside force that was seen as the enemy. That is where for example green and red consciousness get along really well. And only later did political parties grow out of these movements that slowly but certainly became established by sorting out the “red elements”.

And that’s an interesting point, because how can the Integral Scene gain momentum and gather folks from different memes with its transcend and include, true, but partial, we are the 100% approach? Where can we actually stand up for, when standing up for something also means standing up against something? Because what we stand up for, grows naturally as a solution for something we stand up against. 

Does the slogan “True, but partial” really mean that we cannot take a stand? That every view is equally wrong and equally right? That would be more of a postmodern pluralistic view that Integral wants to overcome. Yet, it sometimes seems difficult to distinguish. 

When I look at the world, I see a lot of people who are angry at the given systems – for very different reasons – yet cannot hold the complexities of the issues involved, give up in frustration and fall into depression. Then there are those who see the complexities and are able to hold them and either get lost in analysis paralysis or lose their momentum by trying not to exclude anybody including their views instead of trying to gather them together for a common purpose and get them all excited and enthusiastic about it.

I sometimes wonder if the descriptions of the view from the Integral stage of consciousness are kind of constructed by people who have read Ken’s books or Spiral Dynamics and who are thinking about how this worldview must be: integrating the views from all previous levels. But is that really true?

In this construction, there seems to be a confusion between ladder, climber and view, as Ken calls it. The climber (the person) remains the same, the ladder (that is the structure) gets included, but the view gets changed forever (that is transcended). So, we cannot construct the new view by combining all the previous views. This doesn’t work for the move from red to amber, nor from amber to orange, or from orange to green. The only move where people are trying this is in the move from green to teal.

Yes, teal is the first structure that is recognizing the whole ladder or spiral and the importance of each stage for the health of the whole, but that doesn’t exhaust the teal view, and it is by no means the only thing that teal is able to see. You only get to the authentic view of teal and turquoise and indigo… by actually doing the looking from that place!

When I look at the world from my perspective (whatever color my view might have), I see a lot of problems – problems that I wasn’t able to see before, and problems that I didn’t have any solutions for, and problems that were so complex that I couldn’t see the multiple causes of in former stages of my own development. And now, I am looking at these problems, talking with friends, and a new understanding is arising, new solutions are showing up on the horizon, and the only problem seems to be that we need almost everybody to join in and help and do what needs to be done for whatever reason that gets THEM going.

So, the real question becomes: What cause am I really excited for? What is the purpose that is burning in me? What change do I want to see in the world that I believe is absolutely necessary? What need do I see in the world that I can fulfill with my unique gifts and my unique projects that I am enthusiastic to give and co-create? 

The next step then in my opinion is to gather a few people who are able to see and hold the complexity of the issue and who are excited about it and willing to contribute their unique gifts into it, building a strong Core Team, an evolutionary We that is committed to a shared purpose, aligns with that purpose, builds the first structures around this purpose that can actually hold the new consciousness even if it then in the next step gets transformed and communicated across the memes and types and sub-cultures to reach as many people as possible and get them involved and excited.

monarch-butterflies jpg

By that we can create something like imaginal cells in the society that are right now still fought against by the immune system of the whole system. But the more this system gets dysfunctional and starts to break down, the more energy those imaginal cells are getting, starting to spread out, attracting more and more people to them. 

Organizational structures and processes like HolacracyTM might be of help to incorporate the new. Networking or meshworking between the different projects, cells and organizations becomes an additional virtue that will support each part as well as the new emerging whole. 

That’s the real power that engaging in politics and real world applications from the Integral perspective can unfold, and that can be started by Integral folks but that in my humble opinion should not be titled Integral but be centered on the respective shared purpose that it is all about. 

Kerstin Tuschik is an Integral Project Developer, Consciousness Worker, Coach and Trainer. Her passion is to support people in experiencing and living their Unique Selves and to create new structures in the world that are able to hold and resonate with the newly emerging consciousness of integrated wholeness.



The Need for Integral Trans-Partisan Politics and The Question of How to Actually Get it Done

Justin Quirici 

AQAL Collage1In Corey DeVos' article on Integrallife.com entitled "Integral Trans-Partisan Politics," DeVos skillfully recants the structures of consciousness from which the major American political viewpoints spring. DeVos also calls for unification of these perspectives in politics.

This article is well-done, but it's somewhat of a re-hash of a theoretical viewpoint that is not in practice. I will address what I think this practice should look like as well as a point made by Joshua Routhier, namely that in current integral approaches to political views:

"...the view seems to be to take pluralism and then add the term "Integral" which then somehow makes it more effective while still reifying the same stuckness. I can understand that an "Integral Perspective" would include as many perspectives as possible (5th to Nth person). But it seems to in it's argument that all perspectives are "true but partial", it has effectively dismissed the perspective that a view can be wrong."

A view cannot be wrong, but facts stated by the holder of that view can be wrong. Any experience occurring to a subject is always "right", but what the subject then says of the world may in fact be incorrect. This is not functionally distinct from Routhier's point, but important nonetheless – the idea that everyone is right in some way must be preserved. Additionally, values can have different levels of importance, creating a values scale (as opposed to "right" or "wrong"). An Integral politics would include all levels of value but also exclude behaviors initiated by those perspectives which were harmful towards or dominant over other perspectives.

To bring this to the ground, consider the the contentious abortion issue. There is basically a "for" camp and an "against" camp. We do not live under the rule of a government that allows for both camps to get their way. The "against" camp wishes their views to be imposed on all others (no abortions allowed universally) while the "for" camp believes that the decision is individual (allowed to anyone who opts for one). These views are not right or wrong, they are simply views.

How would we include the values of both camps without allowing either one to dominate the other? The answer arises when we separate "inclusion" from "selection." To include a perspective does not mean giving it the power that it seeks by choosing it as the singular approach. Competing sides argue: "abortion should be illegal – it is immoral to harm a developing child," versus "anyone should be able to get an abortion – it is immoral to remove reproductive rights." An Integral politics preserves both of these moral positions without letting one dominate the other. Are we finding that any person in our society can opt for either view without being forced to submit to the other? This should be the goal. Maybe a healthcare system that allows individuals to select which services they would like to fund and have access to would help dissolve the necessity for the nation as a whole to choose one side's view and force it on the other.

With that, the question of who is right and who is wrong is moot as is the question of which view is higher. Views exist, and they are allowed to occupy their rightful territory. This is fundamental to integration – agreeing to disagree.

Though views are never wrong, Routhier pushes us to remember that people can be wrong by applying those views. An example: "trickle-down" economics – the idea that providing tax cuts to the wealthy results in a healthy economy – has repeatedly been proven wrong, but is still used as a justification for political and economic decisions. If the goal is a healthier economy, we know that this is not the way to get it, yet it has been employed with success for many years. Do we have a system that disallows beliefs in such falsehoods? How would we bring that into politics? Could we construct law that would disallow falsehoods to be used as justifications for writing law? Who would write that law if it hasn't been written so far?

Both inclusion of all views and exclusion of all falsehoods in law (and, by extension, of pathological dominance) must exist in an integral politics.

In any political system, lawmakers are given legitimacy socially. For law to be just, it must be agreed to. In the USA's system, we select rulers by vote. This is commendable for its inclusiveness but deplorable for its lack of exclusion of faulty beliefs. Because elections are won with popularity, being persuasive is more effective than being capable (acting on factually correct beliefs) as far as becoming an elected official. Are there measures that expressly restrict entry into public office based on competence? If not, we will have to face the fact that a popular false belief may often become the rule of law. We will also need to face the fact that, to get integral leaders elected, we must be persuasive rather than candid.

If we are going to have integration in our politics, we will need politicians capable of integral thought. Can democratic elections select for this? Not if potential Integral leaders are going to speak in terms of hierarchy and development. If we want the developed to be successful in politics, we should not be talking about development in politics. As Ken says, integral leaders cannot justify themselves as good candidates by saying "we're better than y'all."

It will be the job of Integral leaders and their surrounding community to find out how to be selected for leadership. This is where we should be focusing, as it is the only place that we have any power at all aside from an overhaul of our entire voting system and legal code. If we want to hasten this process, we should be creating integral think tanks, grooming integral candidates, and funding integral campaigns to get integral leaders into office. If we are going to create integral leadership in politics, we should be organizing to place into office those who can understand and value these integral principles.

I believe that our current political system will never be capable of conducting integral politics. I believe that we need a full system overhaul which I will not detail here. For the time being, we must do the best we can with what we have, and the first step should be using our resources to put integral candidates into power.

Justin Quirici is certified in Integral Theory by JFK University. Also, one time, he saw a blimp.



A Truly Integral Political Theory: Transcending and Including Both Translation and Transformation

David Long 


As integralists we need to understand the unfolding of development so that we can work with ideas, systems, and people right where they are. This recognition leads to two different approaches: translation and transformation. Which approach we use is dependent upon where a person or system is in its current unfolding.

For example, some people are new to a stage of development and still have much to learn in that stage while others are well established in a stage and are not going to change their general worldview anytime soon. This is where we use skillful means to try and work with the interpretation of ideas to create a more healthy translation. (Example: getting Christians to care about the environment by referencing the scriptures and getting them to see them selves as “good stewards of the earth”) This often means embracing a quadrant that might be rejected or given less influence. (Like getting the Christian to care about the LR environmental systems). It also might mean doing a better job of encouraging the growth of the previous stage, or more fully taking up the role of the current stage of evolution being occupied. (Example: Red is impulsive/egoic. "I want it now" and Blue is a conformist stage where we "sacrifice now, for something better later." This is often a magic/mythic translation but it doesn't have to be. The main thing that makes a stage healthy is that it keeps the lower stage in check and/or helps it to evolve.)

On the other hand, there is a point in evolution called “the dark night” where the ideas in a stage have reached their natural culmination and new problems emerge that can’t be solved by the old ways of thinking and something new is required. This is where transformation into the new stage is necessary, and old antiquated ideas that inhibit development must be dealt with. This is often a painful process, but it can also lead to a beautiful rebirth into new previously undeveloped potentials and a more positive harmonious way of being.

I find that when I speak to integralists about politics there is a bit of a split.

Many integralists focus on a more short-term approach. There is real excitement in the integral community about more healthy translations that are slowly unfolding. Many integralists want to get more involved and work with our political system where it is to create better lives for the people now. This includes great things like equal rights for different genders, classes, and races; The end of prohibition, and the drug war, etc.

Many other integralists will argue that while these things are positive advances, it’s ultimately just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic; fixing only the symptoms in a system that is destined to go down if the real problems are not addressed. They are seeing that we are stuck in a dark night and find that our current political discussions are not dealing with the real underlying problems that have manifested as a natural result of our current system’s philosophical foundations. 


Here are some of the main problems not being addressed:

1. Unsustainability - in terms of our use and waste of limited resources in the environment as a natural outgrowth of materialism, gluttony, consumerism, and planned obsolescence resulting in environmental degradation and systems collapse.

2. “Haves” and “Have Nots” – scarce resources ultimately lead to a huge gap between rich and poor that is ever-widening. More and more people are finding that the “American Dream” is an unhealthy nightmare that we must wake up from and that these freedoms that we take for granted are claimed at the expense of the systems that support us. (There is an unhealthy balance between positive and negatives liberties i.e., “freedom from” and “freedom to” with a narcissistic, individualistic, “hands off my stuff”, and “I’ll do what I like” type of underlying attitude that has to change.)

3. “Us and Them” Thinking – in a world where all of our systems are becoming ever more connected, ideas like borders and political party lines cease to make any sense. It becomes more obvious all the time that humans share this planet with each other (transcending our ideas of local culture into a historic perspective of unfolding human culture) and with other species. We are now seeing that we are a part of the ecosystem, and that it was not put here for us to exploit like a cancerous virus. We are outgrowing the blue/traditional/ethnocentric and orange/materialistic/nationalistic ways of thinking into a more worldcentric understanding and expansion of care. (This is also a natural outgrowth of a scientific cosmology, and that should be appreciated.)

4. Limited Education and Health Care systems – unsustainability is also evident in human society because there is a limited focus on development. Often what should be seen as “investments in our collective human future” are seen as “handouts to the irresponsible.” To see people as just what they are now and not as what they could be or bring to the table is a flat and static view with a very limited understanding of human development, and results in a limited investment in a natural growth hierarchy. Our current systems are run like a factory and people are treated as cogs in the machine, beasts of burden, wage slaves, means to a mechanistic short term monetary end only reaped by the corporate elites.

5. Biased Problem Solving Methods – all of these problems are a result of legislating taste (top down) vs. taking a vote (mob rule). Everything from corporate corruption in politics (corporations as people and money as speech) to the idea that what is true or good is equivalent with what is popular amongst a people who are not even educated enough to make decisions in their own best interest. (This is the real source of the paralysis in our systems. We need a more unified scientific “peer review process” type of system that factors in natural growth hierarchies, takes good ideas from everywhere based on their merit, tests these ideas, and is open to refinement over time.)

Here is a video I made expressing many of these same points:
Why I Think Capitalism Is Our Main Problem(5:41 mins)

In the face of all these problems, many integralists have stopped participating in our curent systems; but, also see limited to no solutions coming from the green/postmodernist/deconstructionist uprising (e.g., The Occupy Wall Street Movement). While it is a positive sign of growth and shows a deep desire for something better, it is also seen as more:

1) “us and them” thinking (we are the 99% - not we are the 100%),

2) a lack of understanding of development (blaming the 1%, expecting them to be better and/or fix things instead of fixing them and making things better themselves, as well as not appreciating the advancements brought by this way of thinking in an unfolding context),

3) a flatland lack of distinction even within its own participants and their motives, as well as a rejection of the natural growth hierarchies that could ultimately hold the solution.

A favorite quote amongst integralists more focused on transformation is:

"We never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - Buckminster Fuller

So while many integralists are working on short-term healthy translation, conscious capitalism, trans-partisan third-way integral politics, and expressing these ideas in a way that can be heard and appreciated in our current culture (building from the bottom up), many other integralists are focusing on building new integral governance, education, and resource management systems from the top down. (Such as new ideas about “Collective Individualism” and what that might look like in theory and practice.)

Currently we are not just dealing with a single idea, person, or system, but a dynamic spectrum, and so It is my opinion that BOTH of these approaches are important and that for either of them to be truly effective they must inform each other and work together in an unfolding way. This is the importance of integrating the long-term and short-term approaches of integral translation and transformation.

To focus only on the short term is to take action that is not informed by the big picture. To ignore the short term can be seen as a form of integral inaction and paralysis, building castles in the sky in a world that needs us NOW.

I would like to think that as integralists we could see the importance of both approaches and find some way of establishing a means of working on them both together, refining them over time, and unifying them into a REAL integral understanding of “Integral political theory and practice” in an unfolding context.

Each of us may have our own ideas and want to focus on particular areas based on our personal passions and interests; but we must be open to, and have great respect for, anyone who is truly working towards healthy integral translation and transformation. Lets come together with a method and take it further.

For more info on a more transformational approach check out this post, and the videos by Troy Wiley especially “Integral Zeitgeist” and “NeoTribal Zeitgeist – Supreme Ordeal“. Also Check out this song I wrote called "2nd Tier Revolution" from my last album "Spiral Dynamics”. 

David Long is an American Integralist Artist/Musician/Philosopher/Psychologist interested in making integral rEvolution a fun, beautiful, sexy, and practical way of life.


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  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Monday, 26 November 2012 18:32 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    This is awesome!!!

    @Kaine: You said "The solution, he seems to imply, is a structural change not only within the two-party system (which he seems to equate with democracy in this video) but into changing the legislature into more of a parliamentary system. This was confusing to me, as the current system is technically capable of supporting more than two parties without changing the actual structure of the legislature. "

    Have you seen these short videos explaining how the winner-take-all rules of our elections systemically leads to a two-party system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

    This one explains a better system of voting for representative democracy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y3jE3B8HsE&feature=fvwrel

    @ Kerstin: This is beautiful:

    "Yes, teal is the first structure that is recognizing the whole ladder or spiral and the importance of each stage for the health of the whole, but that doesn’t exhaust the teal view, and it is by no means the only thing that teal is able to see. You only get to the authentic view of teal and turquoise and indigo… by actually doing the looking from that place!"

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Monday, 26 November 2012 21:20 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    @Lincoln --I agree that First Past the Post voting is one of the reasons that we do almost invariably have two parties, but that isn't the same issue as Ken discussed. By structure, I mean the actual form of government. Parliaments are inherently different from the way our Congress functions.

    Changing the structure of the legislature to a Parliament (and therefore also the executive branch of government), doesn't change the way that votes are tallied and results calculated. Instant run-off voting or proportional representation could be used with our current structure of government.

    Also, both are still democracy; which Ken states is, in some fashion, part of the problem.

  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Monday, 26 November 2012 22:38 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    I really don't see us changing from a Presidential to a Parliamentary style so I don't have much vibe with Ken there at all. Separation of powers and checks & balances are way to woven into the fabric of our national character. If I was going to fantasize about a Constitutional Convention, converting to a Parliamentary system would not be the first thing I had in mind to change.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Wednesday, 28 November 2012 00:47 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    There's so much rich stuff in here, I look forward to discussing some of it in a couple days. Got term papers due tomorrow, but once those are in will jump on here, lots of points to talk about. thanks to all who wrote on this, and to Joshua for the extra efforts of organizing it all behind the scenes. back later this week!

  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Wednesday, 28 November 2012 01:03 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Some thoughts on this:

    Democracy has many forms, and has morphed a bit even in its brief experiment in the U.S. So to discuss the intersection of any philosophy with democracy, we have to be clear about the nature of the system being addressed. Is it direct democracy? Representative? A "republic" where an electoral college distorts collective will by favoring arbitrary geographical boundaries (i.e. states' rights)? Yet, even with a careful definition, I would propose that it generally isn't wise to overlay philosophical or ideological abstraction over existing systems and institutions - at least not as a starting point in defining praxis. Instead, a pragmatic reification can be proposed that matches one's ideals, and then the transitions, evolutions or revolutions can be explored to reify movement from imperfect to the desired level of perfection.

    As an example, I have long fantasized that having a parliament would allow more diverse representation in the U.S. as it does, say, in Germany. But I am overlooking an important reality, and that is that special interests (i.e. concentrations of money that facilitate specific values blocks) intrude on U.S. politics to such a degree that almost everyone who disagrees with the status quo on the left OR the right believes the system is broken. Whether we complain about crony capitalism or overregulation, at both extremes the problem is special interests determining outcomes more effectively than democratic will. And thus the root cause of a major problem with U.S. elections, legislation and governance could never be solved with a parliamentary system - unless special interests (i.e. money in politics, revolving doors, quid pro quo dealings, etc.) were strictly barred from the participation and access they have today. We must think bigger, more sweepingly, and only then begin to reign in our expectations to a practical praxis.

    As for the installation of "elites" into the status quo with hopes of altering it, I'm afraid that's just foolishness. Over and over again we see power, influence and wealth conforming well-meaning folks to the status quo that supports the lowest, meanest common denominator of sustaining power, influence and wealth. Absolute (fill in the blank) corrupts absolutely, and so on. So this is not how change will happen. I think we have a romance in the U.S. with our great historical heros as knights in shining armor who single-handedly reshaped the fabric of government; whether slaying the dragon, tilting at windmills, being the underdog, or David taking on Goliath...we love this metaphor and collectively invest in it as a worthy ideal. In the same sense, Wilber seems to believe that a small group of evolved individuals participating in a failed system will transform that system, but this is just a romantic bedtime story, not how most cultural evolutions have occurred. Historically, memes may indeed take hold in small groups (imaginal cells is a great term), but it doesn't really matter where those groups reside; if the meme is strong enough, and the environment fertile enough, they will take root and spread. "Integral leaders" will emerge from this multidimensional soup...not the other way around. And if the meme does not take root and spread, well...it may be that the environment is not ready or willing, or that the meme itself is actually inadequate to the task. Time will tell.

    Now, regarding "sophisticated" conservatives, let me propose a radical observation: much of what post-progressive Libertarianism proposes operates in Spiral Dynamics beige disguised in higher tier language; that is, it is not indicative of an upward spiral at all. In this realm too many influential and very smart proponents of AQAL's latest version are starkly evidencing either a lack of personal moral development, or an incomplete translation of their current development into a praxis in the political and economic spheres. Perhaps that sounds harsh, but all I have read from these folks is profoundly regressive in terms of appreciating and supporting the actual, more nuanced sociopolitical structures that already exist in the world - instead, they seem to promote what flourishes in a sort of reductionist-imagined universe, with too few dimensions of being taken into account for strategies to be productively applied.

    So what do I think integral politics really looks like? Well it doesn't operate from a position of "true and partial" but rather a dialectic synthesis that discards multiple perspectives even as it integrates them. Unless I misread them, I think the writers here have already hinted at this. The felt realities of individuals are absolutely valid, and should be welcomed into the intersubjective fray. But ideologies, philosophies, systems and structures - those blessedly artificial creations of the mind - should not and really cannot be considered in the same vein. This is the root problem with overidentification of the individual with an idelogical tribe. The raw material for synthesis (the individual felt reality) is being abandoned in favor of conformance. Our present predicament is as much a consequence of this insecure/immature tendency as it is the sheer complexity of our times. In fact we could say that excessive complexity tends to create polarization through overidentification as a self-protective reaction. It's a fight-or-flight reflex to what we don't yet understand. So helping people manage complexity without fear is likely an important prerequisite. Unfortunately, even among approaches to managing complexity, we see the same tribalism; and of course the Wilber camp has not been immune to this.

    So what is the answer? Well, I have some ideas...but I've already taken up too much space on this thread, so anyone interested in doing so can peruse what I've already written on this topic (books, articles, etc.), or perhaps await a future article that further distills some of my ideas. But allow me to foreshadow the tenor of that writing: in a commercialistic, materialistic culture of self-gratification, where tremendous pressure has been created to consume what I call "false nourishment" as a fundamental value, a value that in turn supports and perpetuates self-destructive sociopolitical and economic systems and institutions, then we may be looking in the wrong place if we think government...or even democratic will...can deter the Beast from feeding itself (in this it seems David Long and I are likely to agree). Further, the solution must go far beyond "conscious capitalism" or any such half-measures. And if is the case, then all political decisions prior to a fundamental values shift will ultimately represent a choice for the most tolerable evil, and not offer us even the slightest whiff of truly integral reform.

  • Comment Link Troy Wiley Wednesday, 28 November 2012 22:33 posted by Troy Wiley

    A great collection of articles, thanks all. There are some excellent points, too numerous too mention.

    It dawned on me that all of the discussion here revolves around the concept of “making decisions”. We are discussing how “decisions are made” through either representative leaders or parliaments or philosoper kings or spiral wizards or even through methodologies such as holocracy.

    All of the above are still inherently hierarchical (although holocracy is better), and they ignore, as Jeremy Johnson put it, “the vast immanent shift our world society is currently undergoing. It [integral trans-politics] argues for a political philosophy where the elite of society rule from the top-down. But everything that is going on today – with networks of social communication, experimental peer-to-peer economic systems, and decentralization of social power – suggests that human culture is undergoing revolutionary changes.”

    Even consensus decision making is still an ineffective method for “making decisions”. Perhaps when it comes to our human organization and problem solving, it’s time we start “arriving at decisions” based upon the use of tools such as the scientific method and the criteria of a natural hierarchy of that which is most life-affirming, for the most people, for the most other forms of life, and for the longest term.

    Some quotes:

    “The Scientific Method, which respects the orders of Natural Law such as physical science and mathematics, the need for nutrition and clean water, and everything else required for our personal and social survival and progress, can be considered the real “constitution” of social governance for species survival on the planet. It is the methodological referent that has stood the test of time. It is likely the greatest intellectual human discovery ever, and each year scientists perfect and refine these understandings through it's processes.

    Given this, we now find that there is a real, near-empirical, emergent, testable measure upon which all our concerns can be contextually considered. This is the platform for true social participation…and presents the basis for “arriving” at any and all decisions. It is the inherent “Social Constitution” by which our decisions must be referenced for clarity. Majority opinion is secondary to Natural Law. It doesn’t matter how many people vote on outlawing gravity; Nature doesn’t care. Nature is not a democracy.

    Given this reality, participation…is hence not to simply “vote” for a person or idea; It is to also interface with the process of logical inference and tested, proven proofs which show what works and what doesn’t in the natural world. In other words, it is not based on the whims or opinions of an ideological group - but based upon physical law and causal reasoning.” ~ Peter Joseph

    "We have to learn how scientists arrive at decisions.  Once you use the scientific method, it doesn't mean that your decisions will be perfect.  They'll be far more accurate than just opinions." ~ Jacque Fresco

    “One should not confuse science-inspired dogmatic worldviews with the body of scientifically validated knowledge generated through the scientific process…Nevertheless, to reduce the cultural contribution of science in the last centuries to the “disenchantment” of the
    world would not only be inaccurate, but it would also be missing an important point, which I would like to develop now. But in order to get there, one needs first to seize the crucial role played by science’s irresistible hunger for increasing accuracy, which I posited earlier. Science is engaged in a never-ending race. Science always wants to see deeper, further, and in more detail, more data, more precision in its measurements, more correlations, more explanations. Most people do not realize how much, by doing so, science has revolutionized the epistemological foundation of human culture.” ~ Gilles Herrada

  • Comment Link Hokyo Joshua Thursday, 29 November 2012 03:03 posted by Hokyo Joshua

    Busy now but I skimmed above. I will respond in full over the weekend.

    (In finals weeks now)

    I will say this though:
    Did we just get a ninth and tenth perspective?

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Thursday, 29 November 2012 03:39 posted by David MacLeod

    Lots of rich material in these offerings, I agree.

    What I found the juciest and most alive for me is the comment from T. Collins Logan, especially in the paragraph that begins: "So what do I think integral politics really looks like? Well it doesn't operate from a position of "true and partial" but rather a dialectic synthesis that discards multiple perspectives even as it integrates them."

    A very clear way of expressing this concept!

    Shortly after reading this post, I came across another piece that also focused heavily on "perspectives." Fascinating to me that someone whom I've never seen associated with the Integral community would do so well in holding up the importance of perspectives, and not fall into the pre-trans fallacy when discussing the topic "Beyond Civilized and Primitive."

    I THINK it's relevant to this discussion - as T. Collins says, "we may be looking in the wrong place if we think government...or even democratic will...can deter the Beast from feeding itself," and that a fundamental values shift is necessary to precede meaningful political reform.

    In that spirit, Ran Prieur suggests the fundamental values combination of "complexity, change, invention, stability, giving, freedom, and both the past and the future. This isn't the only combination that could be suggested, and I doubt it's the easiest to put into practice, but it's surprisingly noncontroversial…"

    "To achieve stability, and freedom, and ecological responsibility, we must learn to halt the slide from life into control, to maintain the bottom-up energy structure permanently, even in large complex systems..."

    "Primitive people see time as a circle. Civilized people see it as a line. We are about to see it as an open plain where we can wander at will. History is broken. Go!"


  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Saturday, 01 December 2012 10:32 posted by Joe Corbett

    a common theme i saw in the authors here was a discontentment with the anemic nature of integral aperspectivalism, particularly with regard to the socio-political dimension. why doesnt the integral core leadership just come out with a progressive stand on political economy and then declare that the higher ground in order to help move us forward in the current impasse, instead of, for instance, declaring the 'middle way' of blue dog democrats (clinton and obama) 'integral', and thereby prolonging our underdevelopment as a society?

    well, if you go over to the website (https://associates.metaintegral.org/about) of the latest attempt to reboot integral institute in the form of metaintegral you will see that much of the core integral leadership is still very concerned about alienating any potential customers that are willing to pay big fat corporate consulting fees for official integral services. and as long as this is the case, you can kiss your dreams of a progressive integral stance on issues of social justice coming from the core integral leaders goodbye.

  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Saturday, 01 December 2012 18:54 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    @ T. Collins Logan:

    If you have a chance, could you give examples of where you see conservatives in the Integral community enacting "beige disguised in higher tier language"?

    Do you reject Bowman's suggestion that Conservative, Liberal, and Radical might be types existing at every level? Personally, I take the idea only as interesting notion that helps dispel the error of thinking of the different levels on the values line (or ego, or morals, etc) as types themselves. (e.g. a Green person [derp...a Liberal Democrat], an Orange person [derp...a Libertarian Republican], etc.).

    Part of my thinking here is that a Conservative, Liberal, or Radical integral person will be able to authentically jump into action easier by figuring out their types and engaging their fellows of the non-integral persuasion.

  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Sunday, 02 December 2012 05:40 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Hi Lincoln,

    Thanks for the question. First off I'd very much like to avoid anything that could be perceived as personal criticism, so I won't be naming individuals. However, all of this information can be found by searching through public Integral Life posts, doing compound searches on key terms with the names of various Wilberian key players, Ken Wilber himself, etc. So I'd like to push back a bit on personalizing this topic. Also, I should preface that I myself do not view the world through a Spiral Dynamics filter. Rather, I have my own model of moral evolution, and in that model different dimensions of being advance and regress at different rates in a continual dance - sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious. This is how I resist the "types" issue you raise. There is a brief overview of that model at the beginning of this article: http://www.integrallifework.com/forum/?page_id=237, as well as a more developed exploration in my book True Love. So in these posts I am just borrowing language (because it has become shorthand in the integral community) from a system that I don't really subscribe to, and applying it to an agenda that I don't really agree with.

    Now, as to that agenda, what I am referring to is the promotion of Randian objectivism (albeit in "a more evolved and nuanced form"); the advocacy of "conscious capitalism;" and the bizarre accolade of "turquoise Libertarianism" as applied to some of Ken Wilber's ideas or members of his team, and so on. The friendliness with corporate culture and corporate business-as-usual dealings is also part of the mix, as has already been alluded to by other folks here. When targeting the corporate community for integral leadership development, and applying integral ideas to organizational development and management, this friendliness has an understandably lucrative benefit. All of this converges in a distinctly conservative-leaning, free-market, pro-corporate endorsement of the status quo...but with an "integral value-add." Yes, this approach may inject new ideas and methods into the business-as-usual environment, but no more or less than any other business leadership paradigm ever has, IMO. Perhaps I have been jaded by endless superficial and utterly futile values revision campaigns within corporate and institutional cultures where I once worked. But, in this vein, why is Whole Foods made out to be a respectable example of an evolved business, when by any multidimensional measure it is not? Why is prosperity a mandatory leg of the Game of Thriving's values optimization? Robb Smith makes an excellent argument for why increasingly influential corporations should be engaged in a more world-centric orientation (see his overview on the Chrysalis website), but immersion in corporate culture to integrate and elevate existing capitalist memes is endemic to this effort.

    My point is that such an agenda is not, and could never be, an adequate evolutionary mechanism for the kind of intersubjective complexity that Jeremy Johnson alludes to in his essay (i.e. "revolutionary changes"). And, if this is true, charting a spectrum of immature to sophisticated among different political ideologies may just be an artifact of the "true but partial" fallacy. That is, each ideology may actually contain elements that are less evolved - or perhaps even be dominated by less evolved memes - which both inhabit and attract less developed moral strata. And so, in order to integralize a forward-looking and multidimensional approach, some of these memes will need to be radically de-prioritized. I say multidimensional rather than inclusive quite deliberately. Multidimensionality, from the perspective of Integral Lifework (a separate system, not a variation of AQAL), is inclusive of twelve distinct dimensions of being as they are expressed individually and collectively across widening arenas of intention and action. Multidimensionality is egalitarian in its validation of individual felt experience, but not the efficacy of every ideological perspective. Instead, here aperspectival or integral connotes the most effective, discerning and compassionate approach as guided by an overarching intentionality. Multiple perspectives are ordered, related and even subjugated by this filter. (This is all pretty abstract as stated, but you can read more about the twelve dimensions here: http://beamsandstruts.com/essays/item/1139-mysticscall.)

    Okay...so against this backdrop, is it such a stretch to assert that what we might call "integral conservatism" is dominated by an (underlying) SD beige vMeme? Well, what could be more reflexive, instinctive and survival-oriented than American capitalism? A belief in competition, survival of the fittest, winning at all costs, morality-neutral markets, rewarding of unethical behavior, a sociopathic emphasis on profits over people, a callous dismissal of externalities (environmental impacts, etc.), and host of other behavioral and philosophical patterns that facilitate primal survival urges and select for monodimensional, non-empathic, Asperger-esque personalities. Yes, we can seed corporate culture with "post-progressive turquoise Libertarianism," or advocate a more conscious approach to value-add propositions, but we're really just talking about layering integral philosophy over animalistic economics - what I call the Beast. And this Beast is not capable of operating in (or integrating) higher moral strata; it will just superficially parrot what it thinks will best serve its acquisitive and destructive appetites.

    So, as alluded to in the previous post, I believe a much more fundamental, cultural shift must occur first in personal, interpersonal and transpersonal arenas, because established institutions and traditions do not push the envelope of change...they restrain it. In my worldview, all of this is reminiscent of the confusion of material success with spiritual maturity, or the corruption of compassion-based service to fellow human beings with "prosperity theology" or the like. It's not exactly the same, but it smacks, to me at least, of similarly indigestible pabulum. A related misunderstanding is that, for example, religion changes culture, when really all religions conform to the surrounding culture's longstanding patterns and unfolding zeitgeist. The objectives of integral conservatism tend to be framed within the same error. We can dress up an old dog gone feral with greed in the finest, sparkly garments that academic language can afford, but is the dog really evolving? Can the old rabid dog become an effective alchemist, or will he forever confine his imagination to turning lead into gold? Can we put new wine into old wineskins...?

    Anway, I hope this clarifies things a little, and of course I'm open to being edumacated if I'm missing something here. Please let me know.

  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Monday, 03 December 2012 05:43 posted by Joe Corbett

    the general criticism, beautifully stated by logan:

    'what I am referring to is the promotion of Randian objectivism (albeit in "a more evolved and nuanced form"); the advocacy of "conscious capitalism;" and the bizarre accolade of "turquoise Libertarianism" as applied to some of Ken Wilber's ideas or members of his team, and so on. The friendliness with corporate culture and corporate business-as-usual dealings is also part of the mix'...'

    the specific criticism, again beautifully stated by logan:

    'When targeting the corporate community for integral leadership development, and applying integral ideas to organizational development and management, this friendliness has an understandably lucrative benefit. All of this converges in a distinctly conservative-leaning, free-market, pro-corporate endorsement of the status quo...but with an "integral value-add."'

    potential solution to the corrupted trans-partisan problem:

    'each ideology may actually contain elements that are less evolved - or perhaps even be dominated by less evolved memes - which both inhabit and attract less developed moral strata. And so, in order to integralize a forward-looking and multidimensional approach, some of these memes will need to be radically de-prioritized.'

    insightful reminder of the core problem:

    'all of this is reminiscent of the confusion of material success with spiritual maturity, or the corruption of compassion-based service to fellow human beings with "prosperity theology"...'

    yes. a little 'integral americana' via metaintegral and integral life, anyone?:

    'A related misunderstanding is that, for example, religion changes culture, when really all religions conform to the surrounding culture's longstanding patterns and unfolding zeitgeist. The objectives of integral conservatism tend to be framed within the same error.'

  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Monday, 10 December 2012 06:57 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    Here's a debate between Integral Libertarian Mark Michael Lewis and Integral Liberal Jeff Salzmann. It's a 2 1/2 hour discussion, but Bowman's typologies are very evident.


    Lewis makes many fine points about needing to have a decent understanding of economics and political incentives in order to evaluate politicians, rather than judging candidates based on interpretation of the value codes in their scripted and focus group tested rhetoric. I think he is cutting at Salzman's tendency to take the view from 30,000 feet and thereby seeing these great waves of supposed societal development. Lewis points out that while the ultimate evolution of the spiral was undamaged, the fall of Rome, for instance, was terrible for the actual people of Rome and specific policy choices were taken that contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire.

    He also makes a subtle point about how persuasion transforms into force through our political system. Salzman, for most of the debate, seemed to dismiss this offhandedly by pointing out that every level of the spiral has this same process, but that it's gotten better and better over time. Lewis was wanting people to own this choice to force others to live according to your idea of the good (or good for you, at least) and not just be swept along. I think Lewis' point also is that over time our particular method of transforming persuasion into force has led to ever more centralized and ever enlarging government bureaucracies, the weight of which is threatening to subsume individual freedom. Maybe there's a limit and a danger to what more and more government redistribution programs and more government regulations can do to help us achieve social goods?

    I thought Salzman had Lewis on one point early on, but then Salzman got increasingly overbearing and snippy, while Lewis finished very strong in response to the final question from the audience.

    Salzman called Lewis out on a classic Libertarian maneuver, what I have come to call the "Little House on the Prairie" fallacy. Basically it's an idealization of the social, political, and economic system of pre-Industrial rural/small town America where people were self-supporting farmers and craftsman in tight-knit communities that took care of each other without a government safety net or regulations. Setting aside the patriarchy and racism of the era...if you can...the fact is the Industrial Revolution completely wiped that entire world out. What does harkening to that ideal accomplish in contemporary circumstances?

    Anyway, it was an exhibition in the typologies of Liberal and Conservative, where one is looking from the perspective of social movements and systems and the other is looking from the perspective of individual choices and responsibility.

  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Tuesday, 11 December 2012 18:03 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Lincoln I watched the videos with interest, and now I would like to pose some questions to you.

    Is it possible to entertain the idea that this is an issue of style over substance? In other words, for the sake of discussion let's say Lewis is a polished presenter with 20 years of consulting and presentation experience, and is an excellent "integral communicator." He is able to package his persuasion in a language and tone that appeal to multiple "altitudes of development," including some of the higher ones. At same time, again for the sake of discussion, let's say that the substance of that presentation lacks equivalent developmental depth and breadth. Perhaps it is factually incorrect, or only persuasive by virtue of being incomplete or oversimplified. Perhaps it is predicated on an underlying bias that itself is not supported by sound evidence. Perhaps application of the ideas being presented does not, in reality, lead to thriving, but instead reifies values hierarchies that reside mainly in lower altitudes, or even stimulate regressive change (i.e. "Change Level 4").

    Now, also for the sake of discussion, what if we were then to discover that this condition is pervasive? What if an entire segment of the integral-friendly political spectrum appears to be trapped in a false sense of sophistication? That is, where the language of change mechanisms is extremely advanced, the understanding of economics and politics is well-educated (i.e. in Bowman's terms has "a maturity of expression"), but the desired objectives actually embody a kind of cultural recidivism...? If the style of information packaging and transmission is polished and urbane, but the information itself is faulty, incomplete or low altitude, could this indicate that certain segments of the political spectrum are less evolved in their values orientation, rather than, as Bowman suggests, simply possessing a different [personality] type?

    By the way, I do appreciate how Bowman emphasizes the key difference between wanting to "get it right" vs. wanting to "be right." As evidence of personal development, this certainly rings true. But I challenge the idea that personal development - the understanding and appreciation of complexity, attenuation of ego, openness to new information or contrary perspectives, etc. - readily translates into the arenas of economics and politics across diverse ideologies as he and other trans-partisan proponents imply. I think there may be some missing pieces here.

    So, with these considerations, could we instead reasonably conclude that "true but partial" mainly applies to the quality of an argument, rather than its conclusions and objectives? And could we therefore surmise that even the most sophisticated of ideological positions are really irreconcilable without de-prioritizing certain fundamental values, or revising them entirely?

    I look forward to your thoughts.

  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Friday, 14 December 2012 08:00 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    T. Collins,

    I love this. Very challenging! I enjoyed the links to your morality scale and your 12 dimensions of lifework. My lifestyle is way out of integrity with my inner life! I blame society. :'-(

    Do you think individuals at comparable cognitive and moral levels should agree in their analysis of and prescriptions for particular, specific political questions? This is the value of Bowman's types for me.

    I don't know Mark Michael Lewis, Robb Smith, or David Martin personally, but I sense very high levels of cognitive complexity and moral concern ....and I also sense something essentially Conservative about their political/economic views. Something which could resonate throughout the Conservative world, inspiring it towards healthier expression at any given point (especially Orange strive-drive capitalism) and creating conveyor belts to higher/broader capacities/embrace. There's nothing about them that frightens me, even though I've disagreed or discorded with their expressions. There's a huge chunk of the American population that is Conservative which is practically addicted to the snake oil and pablum emanating from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. This scares me!

    Economic and political analysis conclusions are an extremely uncertain proposition in a field of enormous theoretical/data complexity. How certain are you that you could knock out the legs from some of the ideas you're assuming are foundational to their ideological positions?

  • Comment Link t.collins logan Friday, 14 December 2012 18:22 posted by t.collins logan

    Lincoln I think you make some excellent points.

    Firstly, I agree that at extremes of the Bowman's maturity/sophistication spectrum, we might find an emphatic/knee-jerk reaction at one end contrasted with a nuanced, carefully crafted position at the other. In my experience, however, it is the underlying beliefs that are problematic rather than the level of sophistication that dresses up those beliefs. And it is the beliefs that evoke concern for me - so much so that, well, here I am engaging the topic in this thread. There are, after all, plenty of well-meaning folks in the world who are motivated by compassion and unitive insight, but who, because they aren't skillful in their compassion, inadvertently end up doing more harm than good. Intentionality does not guarantee wisdom and discernment. So my objectives would be to either help them improve their skillfulness if they are open to that, or warn others of the dangers inherent to an unskilled approach.

    As for your conveyor belt observation, I think it's wonderful to have integral ambassadors to the conservative viewpoint - as long as those ambassadors aren't promoting conservative belief systems, which is the problem I see here. Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, such "change agents from within" are often corrupted by the environment they are trying to serve. It's kind of like an undercover cop being tainted by the mob - it can be very hard to resist the pull of unhealthy mental, emotional and indeed spiritual habits.

    And yes, I also agree that the positions and prescriptions can be very complex and multifaceted, and indeed in some cases impossible to argue in the hypothetical when underlying assumptions are at odds. Once again, though, for me this about some glaring errors in those underlying assumptions. Lewis, for all his education and advanced understanding, still seems to be building his argument on unsound foundations, and his own reasoning - at least from this presentation - appears to be rife with irrational disconnects common to the Libertarian position. So again, this isn't about economic theory or even integral theory, it's about some pretty basic stuff, things like consistent logic, diverse evaluation metrics, historical evidence, recognition of current realities, flexibility of mind, and so on. The difficulty here, as I have experienced in many conversations with Libertarian-leaning folks in particular, is that these fundamental building blocks are obscured by devout deference to ideological principles. This ideological devotion often cripples any ability to see even simple things clearly or discuss them rationally. Further, when those principles are profoundly abstracted from the real world (and in fact were created solely through imagination rather than observation and experience - or any sort of pragmatic validation), it can be challenging to reach a person at ANY level of development who has been infected with that memeplex.

    Hmm...I just realized that I have some graphics used in my books (i.e. the "Expanding Mind" secition of True Love) that may clarify what I'm trying to define. You can see them here (apologies to anyone without a FB account!): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4229317050414.2154787.1209971049&type=1&l=bfc7da144c

    Lastly, regarding the twelve dimensions...my observation is that we are all always a little out of balance in the way you describe. It's a healthy part of the process, a function of dynamic equilibrium. The key, as always, seems to be our level of awareness regarding that process. :-)

  • Comment Link Benjamin Lee Saturday, 15 December 2012 21:05 posted by Benjamin Lee

    Hi, I am a token backwards white conservative Integral libertarian responding to your posts.

    I found this interesting, but really a distinction between unhealthy corporatism (orange) and healthy free market oriented orange.

    "Well, what could be more reflexive, instinctive and survival-oriented than American capitalism? A belief in competition, survival of the fittest, winning at all costs, morality-neutral markets, rewarding of unethical behavior, a sociopathic emphasis on profits over people, a callous dismissal of externalities (environmental impacts, etc.), and host of other behavioral and philosophical patterns that facilitate primal survival urges and select for monodimensional, non-empathic, Asperger-esque personalities."

    Of course, before we can meditate or study, we must satisfy our immediate hunger, shelter, clothing needs. This is reflected and directed in the free exchange of goods and services, with prices set by market actors, consumers and producers. While some aspects of capitalism focus on the immediate survival needs of society, does not make it un-evolved. Lower level values exist in order to satisfy the basic needs of the holon. While we need not be obsessed with them, we can’t get rid of them, or society will self destruct. A common symptom of unhealthy green is the desire to ignore/deny the utility/necessity of the lower levels.

    "I think it's wonderful to have integral ambassadors to the conservative viewpoint - as long as those ambassadors aren't promoting conservative belief systems, which is the problem I see here. Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, such "change agents from within" are often corrupted by the environment they are trying to serve."

    Are “change agents” trying to change blue meme cultures to green? We must differentiate between 1st tier classical libertarians from 2nd tier libertarians. The idea that agents can get corrupted by hanging around with the wrong crowd, applies mostly to the green meme post-modern integral intellectuals who campaign for Obama and see the world through a 1st tier Marxist/socialist perspective. They are the loudest voices at Integral Life. Couching basic spread the wealth terminology in spiritual integral mumbo jumbo.

    "The difficulty here, as I have experienced in many conversations with Libertarian-leaning folks in particular, is that these fundamental building blocks are obscured by devout deference to ideological principles. This ideological devotion often cripples any ability to see even simple things clearly or discuss them rationally. Further, when those principles are profoundly abstracted from the real world (and in fact were created solely through imagination rather than observation and experience - or any sort of pragmatic validation)"

    Again this is equally problematic on the liberal side of the street. Liberals are also ideologically married to their own positions. The myth of the given is rampant in the integral community.

    "Now, also for the sake of discussion, what if we were then to discover that this condition is pervasive? What if an entire segment of the integral-friendly political spectrum appears to be trapped in a false sense of sophistication? That is, where the language of change mechanisms is extremely advanced, the understanding of economics and politics is well-educated (i.e. in Bowman's terms has "a maturity of expression"),"

    This is rampant on all sides. The integral map is like a kaleidoscope or crystal ball, I am afraid we all see in it what we want. It is very hard to separate our projections, personal experiences from reality. This is made doubly hard, because there is no “objective” reality. The myth of the given leaves us all projecting our interpretations onto a supposed singular world that we all live in. When in fact there is no purely “objective” truth, just truth as viewed by different values systems using different methodologies. AKA Methodological Pluralism.

    While I can loosely agree with you critique of a first tier libertarian/conservative, your same critiques could equally apply to first tier liberals. You are failing to differentiate between 1st and 2nd tier political values. There are valid conservative and liberal 2nd tier beliefs, and it is my ongoing theory that people resonate with either liberal or conservative just as they tend to follow different personality archetypes.

    The smug idea/attitude that we all need to follow the leader towards a more “progressive, liberal” future and that any conservative ideas are regressive and backwards is revolting to me at all quadrants.

  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Sunday, 16 December 2012 03:41 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Hi Benjamin. Nice to make your virtual acquaintance.

    First, one thought on the progress of this thread: I am feeling a bit self-conscious about perpetuating discussion around things I have written here, and would like to redirect a bit to the excellent work of the authors who contributed the initial Eight Perspectives. There's a lot of rich fodder to explore in what they have thought about, much of which I have simply restated or amplified. In particular, I'm thinking of Joshua Routhier's practial litmus test; Jeremy Johnsons' immanent societal shifts; Kaine DeBoer's concerns about development vs. qualification in change agents; Karen Anderson's astute observation about "the whole of us inching up the scale;" Lincoln Merchant's introduction of Kevin Bowman's interesting framework; Kerstin Tuschik's critique of "true but partial; transcend and include;" and David Long's mistrust of capitalism. They all stated these positions eloquently and expansively - I just wanted to remind others (and myself) of that.

    So, to now continue the discussion they framed for us....Benjamin, I think you are absolutely correct that the same criticisms that have been discussed so far could be leveled at other values orientations. No dispute with you there at all.

    However, something else you said seems to support an idea (promoted by Wilber and others) that each altitude of development is somehow reliant on those that have gone before; that in fact those previous values orientations must be holistically integrated and honored, mainly as part of the "true but partial/transcend and include" construct. This is reminiscent of Maslow's heiarchy of needs, and I've been skeptical of both models for a number of reasons. For one, I rely on a different model that describes primary drives, fulfillment impulses and a corresponding functional intelligence (see http://www.tcollinslogan.com/?p=334). For another, what I often find married to these models is a belief that certain developmental tendencies are expressed in identical ways across all of human experience. As a fan of cultural anthropology, what I have observed in studying various lines of cultural development across the globe and throughout history is how diversely different peoples have adapted to their environments, and how indeed social mores and values hierarchies in even the most "primitive" of cultures can diverge in starkly contrasting ways. And, just to clarify, I am not speaking in terms of an ever-popular romantic primitivism, but of purely pragmatic adaptations that are well supported by research, many forms of which persist into modern times.

    So, for example, one tribe meets its basic survival needs in highly cooperative and peaceful ways, while another is violently competitive. One group elevates and honors the role and value of women in societal structures, while another denigrates and minimizes that role. One culture is intent on making sure that everyone, even the weakest or most vulnerable, is provided for, while another venerates strength or physical prowess and neglects the weak to the point of ostracism or even death. It has been suggested by some researchers that these differences roughly correlate the availability and stability of sustaining resources, and I tend to agree with that assessment.

    Now, I don't mean to change the conversation here. What I am alluding to is that some of these adaptations are more animalistic or morally primitive than others, even though they are addressing the same basic survival needs (see my "strata of moral development" here: http://www.integrallifework.com/forum/?page_id=237). What is especially important to appreciate in this context is that, in many of the cultures that have existed and still exist around the globe, there is little evidence to suggest that humans shared the same survival strategies universally. In "Western culture," by which I mean culture exemplified by Greek, Roman and Northern European ascendance, the prevalent and/or dominant memes have been extremely competitive, brutally violent and war-prone, enjoying closed authoritarian hierarchies rather than an open and flexible or egalitarian ones, generally patriarchal and dismissive of the feminine, persecuting anything perceived as different, non-competitive or "weak," and so on. And whenever Western cultural expansion encountered a cooperative, friendly, non-warlike, feminine-empowered, egalitarian structure in a foreign society, it tended to quickly crush, enslave or otherwise subjugate it.

    How is this relevant? Because here in America, the champions and standard bearers of this Western cultural memeplex have mainly been, well, conservatives. I don't think this is particularly debatable, at least from the perspective of cultural anthropology. Everything that is highly valued in a conservative mindset aligns perfectly with this panoply of domineering cultural imperatives. Along the lines of the Red Queen hypothesis, these tendencies are viewed as "appropriate fitness" to succeed against alternative values hierarchies, and any group that champions different priorities. I would simply argue that, increasingly, this view of survival - although it has indeed been dominant and successful in some parts of the world for many centuries - creates unnecessary and counterproductive stress on individuals and communities, in the systems and institutions that employ it, and indeed on the surrounding environment. This memeplex is unnecessary, not because we can do away with basic survival needs as a product of cultural advancement, but because these memes have always been and continue to be an "unhealthy approach to Orange" as you might say.

    Consider your own statement, Benjamin, that "Of course, before we can meditate or study, we must satisfy our basic hunger, shelter, clothing needs." In some cultures - even very primitive ones - this assumption would be vigorously challenged. In those cultures we find that art, spirituality, meditation, play, relaxation, fellowship - and equal sharing regardless of reciprocal effort or contribution - all outweigh survival productivity in terms of cultural importance. In the West, we value ideas like "a strong work ethic" or "rugged individualism" or "pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps," and readily internalize folk teachings like "idle hands are the Devil's workshop." When I lived in Europe, there was a widely held POV that southern European cultures "worked to live" (i.e. worked as little as possible to enjoy other facets of life) but the northern Europeans "lived to work" (i.e. thrived in their passionate devotion to hard work and professional dedication). Too often Western culture has habitually projected such valuations and prejudices on other cultures who do not share them. This is one of the most detrimental mistakes we in the West have made throughout history, IMO. And, to the point, I have become more and more certain over time that various mainstays of a conservative worldview are just echoes of this same error.

  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Sunday, 16 December 2012 16:28 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Benjamin I neglected to include a critical point, and that is that by my observations the Western memeplex persists into 2nd Tier thinking among conservatives, and so the same unhealthy and unnecessary values hierarchy informs being-centered adaptations as well. I agree that these tendencies may resonate with certain personality types - heck, they may even be influenced by genetics or neurology to some degree. But the enduring contrast is one of what I would call compassionate skillfulness, and, in an integral sense, I feel the contributive validity of conservative values should therefore be seriously questioned. I apologize if this sounds revolting to you, and it is not my intention to flippantly or casually devalue anyone's POV. However, as a practical imperative for the human species, I think it is time to depart from the Western memeplex altogether.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Sunday, 16 December 2012 21:02 posted by David MacLeod


    Thank you for adding your comments here. Although I mostly agree with T. Collins, it is good to have your perspectives in the mix, and you make some excellent points.

    T. Collins: "“But I challenge the idea that personal development - the understanding and appreciation of complexity, attenuation of ego, openness to new information or contrary perspectives, etc. - readily translates into the arenas of economics and politics across diverse ideologies as he and other trans-partisan proponents imply. I think there may be some missing pieces here.”

    Benjamin: "Liberals are also ideologically married to their own positions. The myth of the given is rampant in the integral community."

    T. Collins' response: " In the West, we value ideas like "a strong work ethic" or "rugged individualism" or "pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps," and readily internalize folk teachings like "idle hands are the Devil's workshop." When I lived in Europe, there was a widely held POV that southern European cultures "worked to live" (i.e. worked as little as possible to enjoy other facets of life) but the northern Europeans "lived to work" (i.e. thrived in their passionate devotion to hard work and professional dedication). Too often Western culture has habitually projected such valuations and prejudices on other cultures who do not share them."

    And so I agree with you both, that the myth of the given is rampant across all cultures, and includes the integrally informed. Even at higher states and stages, we are still embedded in a culture, and I don’t think we automatically see the ‘true and correct’ perspective on every issue; we don’t automatically transcend every aspect of the culture in which we live; we don’t automatically see every subject as an object, and the myth of the given can live on in a number of realms.

    David Holmgren, co-originator of Permaculture, uses a pyramid chart in some of his presentations as a visual model where the fundamental ground of the pyramid is Ethics, or Fundamental Values, and then proceeds up to Design Priniciples to Design Methods to Strategies to Techniques and Specifications to Design Solutions to Actions.

    Holmgren points out that its the Design Principles that most often gets missed or go unstated. I equate these principles to the 'myth of the given.'

    Holmgren points out that we often discover the solutions that have been implemented need tweaking, or we need to go back to fine tune the previous stages - maybe the strategy we’ve implemented is not appropriate. Sometimes we even need to go as far back as needing to rethink the design principles that are so deeply embedded in our thinking that we’re often barely conscious of them. Then in that process we can be driven back to thinking about our fundamental values.

    Sometimes people will miss that awareness of the Design Principles that are informing what they do, and they’ll jump straight to their fundamental beliefs.

    As Holmgren puts it, "The design principles often go missing because we don’t assume that there are design principles operating in what we do, but the way the whole society works is really based around often unstated design principles...Many principles in operation today are both embedded and emergent, rather than thought out principles."

    The principles that seem to be operating in our Western culture are, as T. Loggins points out, "rugged individualism" or "pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Or principles that Holmgren identifies - "get big or get out" and "economic growth is necessary."

    Then Holmgren makes the following argument:
    "...the core ideas of permaculture remains conceptual not practical. The old idea that our actions should be “principled” is a reminder of the need for a conceptual framework of enduring value. Principles in permaculture design and education is a balance to the dangers of poorly understood action that can fail to lead to effective and useful replication."

    "What is needed is that we internalize a new set of systemic design principles that will allow us to continue our culture of innovation, in a radically different context without being too set on a particular set of design solutions or even strategies as the final word in sustainability."

    Holmgren offers his 12 Permaculture Principles; these principles can be understood at a very simple and basic level, but also have a lot of room for divergent interpretation and application. He goes into astonishing detail and development in his book (Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability). These principles are designed to be used together, as different principles bring balance and perspective to other principles.

    1.Observe and Interact
    2.Catch and Store Energy
    3.Obtain a yield
    4.Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback
    5.Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
    6.Produce No Waste
    7.Design From Patterns to Details
    8.Integrate Rather Than Segregate
    9.Use Small and Slow Solutions
    10.Use and Value Diversity
    11.Use Edges and Value the Marginal
    12.Creatively Use and Respond to Change


  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Monday, 17 December 2012 05:37 posted by Joe Corbett

    david, i see the design principles as quite literally the genetic codes of the collective, and what a wonderful creature those permaculture codes would give birth to!

    logan, i agree with many of the well stated positions you have expressed here, and thats a nice summary of the core ideas in the authors above, but i must say, other than lincoln where is the dialogue from those authors here in the comments? i find that quite pathetic.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Tuesday, 18 December 2012 06:07 posted by David MacLeod

    "the design principles as quite literally the genetic codes of the collective, and what a wonderful creature those permaculture codes would give birth to!"

    Joe - woah, that's a great vision!

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Tuesday, 18 December 2012 07:20 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    @Joe -- I didn't know you were in a particular place to judge the actions or lack thereof as "pathetic". I am sorry that my schedule and current life goals don't meet with your previously implicit expectations of an author.

    Expectations are just resentments waiting to happen.

    @Everyone -- It's difficult to comment on much of this, because I found myself nodding quite a bit to T. Collins Logan. I should have more to say on his offerings once I've looked through the links he posted.

    I feel reticent to repeat myself here things I've said in a number of other places, but I'll do it any way.

    On Libertarianism -- The free market envisioned in the expression of Libertarianism is, from what I can tell, a unicorn. When I say this, I mean that it is a mythical thing that has only existed in conception without basis in the collective of perspectives that encompasses apparent reality (don't want to get accused of a Myth of the Given offense!).

    The Libertarian Free Market construct as it has been expressed to me requires few to no undue influences to the laws of supply and demand. This only functions in the theoretical in a large number of smaller firms which encourage competition. However, economic actors once they get to a certain mass become the very undue influence that is said to infringe on the free market. Refer to merchant guilds in the Rennaisance, the economic collapses of the late 19th century and the Great Depression and the removal of the Glass-Steagall Act for evidence thereof.

    Also, as classic economic thought does, it makes the assumption of the rational actor. That people (and therefore the market itself) acts in a rational actor is often seen to be false in a number of ways that I would be happy to enumerate if anyone feels it is necessary.

    Adam Smith's commentary on the Invisible Hand of the market required that each person making choices that maximize productivity and resource use, would therefore be serving the public good. However, the private sector in it's current mode of operation is not about enhancing productivity, but maximizing profit.

    Profit is not product. Money is not actually capital. Money is only a measure of capital if it is being used for the sake of production. Some would argue that money being kept and not invested acts as capital in that the multiplier effect or other manners of creative accounting leads to more money existing in the system which then leads to further production of goods and services. While this may function in theory, in reality is that money is stockpiled, hoarded and hidden away more than it is used in the production of goods and services. Money only has value in that we place in it to exchange for goods and services.

    @Ben -- Before I can engage on a number of points, is there any qualitative difference between 1st and 2nd tier? Can you point to any evidence of such a tiers existence? I am not attempting to be reductionary, but I have not seen any evidence to suggest there is a vMeme in which such a sudden change is evident in people. I personally believe the advent of the construct was used to separate vMemes for marketing and egoic purposes.

    If such a 2nd tier exists, it would not effect what we are talking about. Taking the idea of transcend and include and vMemes at face value, even if I am at Super-Sparkly Transcendance, that Sparkliness is built on and depends on the expressions and manifestations of all the previous vMemes. If I have script damage or unresolved issues at previous stages, my expression of higher rungs on the ladder is going to be effected by that. So if I am a 4th tier Libertarian who never resolved certain conflicts at Beige or Orange, it is going to be reflected in my actions.

    And this might be being an asshole, but your argument effectively boils down to "But the other guys do it too!" I think I understand from the tone of your post that you find yourself beset and besieged by the majority of the Integral community. But as someone on the other side of the fence, I find many of the main voices in Integral (especially at Integral Life) to be irritatingly run-of-the-mill corporatists with flowery language.

    @David McCleod -- Could you clarify the definition of Design Principles? I think there are some interesting facets of this, but before I speak about them I would like to have a clearer understanding.

    @Everyone -- I'll come back tomorrow. It's late and as we can see I am much more pleasant when I don't start out by being judged. ;)

  • Comment Link Justin Quirici Tuesday, 18 December 2012 07:44 posted by Justin Quirici

    Response to Joe Corbett:

    You said:

    "why doesnt the integral core leadership just come out with a progressive stand on political economy and then declare that the higher ground in order to help move us forward in the current impasse, instead of, for instance, declaring the 'middle way' of blue dog democrats (clinton and obama) 'integral', and thereby prolonging our underdevelopment as a society?"

    I don't know the answer to this. However, If I was a part of Integral core leadership, I would be hesitant to declare anything at all to be the Higher ground." This, I believe, is an excellent way to lose followers and discard any possible momentum that the Integral movement may have. It's sort of a catch-22 -- in some ways, you must cater to the stage of thought you wish to transcend in order to gain the power to transcend it. I believe this leaves us stuck in a situation where we cannot move beyond the current level of discourse by preaching a higher level because it will be rejected by a large segment of the population, and the paradigm that grants power to ideas at this time is based on the popularity of those ideas.

    As far as your calling out the "middle way" compromises of centrists like Obama and Clinton, I think that's an accurate call. There is a difference between a true Integral approach and a compromised meet-in-the-middle approach. An Integral approach requires no one to sacrifice anything for synergy and harmony to flourish, whereas compromise requires painful sacrifice from many perspectives just to end up with something no one really wants.

    I'll reiterate here that I don't think that clarification of a stance is needed -- action is needed. We should be organizing to get integral thinkers into office since there is no other way to exercise legitimate power. As Troy Wiley pointed out, "all of the discussion here revolves around the concept of 'making decisions'." The task of influencing or even controlling decisions which have power and effect over society is what we need to be focusing on because no amount of pontificating, debating, endorsing, or persuading will ever convince people who have not reached an integral viewpoint to... well, to have an integral viewpoint.

    It is our job not to adopt a stance of our own and stick to it but to demonstrate to the general population that we can adopt all of THEIR stances as well as all of the stances of those they disagree with (as well as our own) without anyone losing anything. That's the only hope we have of getting integral leaders democratically elected on an effective scale, in my opinion. Then again, Obama has been trying this for quite some time with the "party of 'no'" as they call it, and has gotten close to nowhere on many issues. In that light, I am less sure exactly how we can begin to influence those decisions which hold political weight.

    Also, apologies for ignoring the thread. I have not been tracking it!

  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Tuesday, 18 December 2012 14:33 posted by Jeremy Johnson

    Hello all!

    Apologies for neglecting to respond to this awesome thread. I've been following it for some time – when I had the time between end of semester wrap-ups and the family – and had to neglect the urge to respond for some time.

    Since the conversation is so well established, and IMO just as interesting as the original article, I'll try to speak to a few things that struck me as very significant.

    @T.Collins, good to see you here. Your post certainly resonated with my section, I feel, when you wrote:

    "In the same sense, Wilber seems to believe that a small group of evolved individuals participating in a failed system will transform that system, but this is just a romantic bedtime story, not how most cultural evolutions have occurred."

    Recently, I was re-reading an old favorite book of mine by the novelist and writer, Daniel Quinn, who zeroes in on this problem. The problem being that we are not deeply considering that the approach to an "integral politics," is, equally, an approach that is deeply evolutionary in nature. We aren't talking about business as usual, nor belief in naive political elitism. Somehow, it's got to be something more: discontinuous, upheaving, maybe even overturning. I very much enjoyed your point, Collins, that "what do I think integral politics really looks like? Well it doesn't operate from a position of "true and partial" but rather a dialectic synthesis that discards multiple perspectives even as it integrates them." Like you, I'm arguing that a "true-but-partial" philosophy is not enough. We must go further somehow. Hence my inclination to point out that Integral Politics does not appear to go deep enough to the fundamental cultural issues of our time, which are in the midst of tectonic movements.

    @Troy Wiley, I think you would resonate with this quote too:

    "The workers of Mesoamerica merely perceived themselves as having an alternative to misery, which they eventually exercised (by walking away). We didn't, so we slogged on, building a ziggurat here, the Great Wall there, a bastille here, a Maginot Line there–and one and on–to the present moment, when our pyramids are not being built at Giza or Saqqara but rather at Exxon and Du Pont and Coca Cola and Proctor and Gamble and McDonald's." – pg. 51, Beyond Civilization.

    The "age of immanence," as some call it, is an often neglected scenario of futurism. We seem more apt to imagine the techno-pyramids of Blade Runner than a future discontinuous in shape and nature to our own. Of course, intrinsic to Integral Theory, it seems, is a developmental vision of reality. At times, the ideological, and conceptual pillars of Integral might also serve as blind spots. We can't see what we've ruled out as a possibility.

    Daniel Quinn also wrote,

    "If we go on as we are, we're not going to be around for much longer–a few decades, a century at most. If we're still around a thousand years from now, it will be because we stopped going on as we are... if the world is saved, it will not be because some old minds came up with new programs. Programs never stop the things they're launched to stop."

    We have to think differently today if we are going to help enact that future. Sometimes to think evolutionarily, might we also have to embrace the discontinuous pattern that is evident throughout life's history? The punctuated shifts and jumps that take place, bringing forth a new order and a new world with them. Perhaps it's time we stopped thinking in terms of building pyramids, and imagined other possibilities?

    As a secondary note to challenge the notion that capitalism IS a developmental "stage" of individuality, we might also consider, as an alternative, that it it might not be so evolutionary at all, but a form of religious possession (aptly resonant with Quinn's point on the new pyramids which, despite their invisibility, are no less real). In his recent publication, Daniel Pinchbeck had articulated something in the forward to "Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness."

    "Just as every belief system and ideology is ultimately a cult, every state of consciousness, is in essence, a kind of trance. Capitalism, for instance, is a materialist cult, and its worshippers are believers in a technological progress that has no connection to a natural world or an ensouled cosmos. The normative consciousness of a worker within our capitalist society is awake to the daylight world of work and responsibility, political maneuver and financial calculation." – Pinchbeck viii

    While Integral Theory is certainly calling for us to think deeply, and broadly, about many issues, I do wonder if, at its heart, the politics of our time and the cultural trance of the modern West still has its hold on some integral advocates. A hold that, ironically, restrains the potential of integral theory from being truly systemic and sensitive to our age's transformation – that immanent shift I was talking about – and left it true, but partial and even conservative, views of the future.

  • Comment Link Benjamin Lee Tuesday, 18 December 2012 16:39 posted by Benjamin Lee

    A more integral libertarianism would recognize the inherent limitations and strengths do each vmeme, level. It would provide the legal civil rights framework to allow each level to lead its own life, while not overtly damaging other level/worlds.

    Remember the myth of the given isn't a call to be objective about your own world, but in fact a recognition that there is no purely objective singular world, but multi dimensional layered worlds cohabiting one earth.

    The flaw of green is that it sees the complexity of the different world views and then attempts to legislate them to green values (hate speech laws, gun laws, public school curriculum that promotes global awareness). Green often acts as a colonialist to the other lower values, while crushing any sort of actual discernment, nothing can be right or wrong.

    l Libertarian would recognize that people have the right to be at their current stage and protect that right in order to promote growth to higher levels. A project that will take 1,000's of years.

    While I share your critiques of crony capitalism the military industrial complex, etc, you must offer up a competing vision of an alternative structure. Capitalism provides a good way to market price, deliver food/products needed for survival, and provide incentive for development and productivity.

    If you find this process unhealthy, I would argue that integral liberals and conservatives to join forces to repeal the patriot act, reinstate glass-Stegal, repeal the NDAA, protect the Internet, break up the mega banks, and wind down the military empire/CIA torture interogation network. provide a stable base governmental framework to work from.

    We can't just promote tax the corporations, spread the wealth, promote feminism and get rid of all those nasty male chauvinists. It may be integral to you, but it is not a recipe to unite integral liberals and conservatives.

    If we no longer believe in tiered values, then we have fallen back into a postmodernist flatland labyrinth and we have no map.

  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Tuesday, 18 December 2012 23:39 posted by Jeremy Johnson

    Hey @Benjamin,

    Your post left me thinking about my socio-political assumptions.

    While I share your critiques of crony capitalism the military industrial complex, etc, you must offer up a competing vision of an alternative structure. Capitalism provides a good way to market price, deliver food/products needed for survival, and provide incentive for development and productivity.

    I'm not sure if you are responding to me or not, but I just wanted to say I agree with you here: a critique is not enough, we have to follow by a constructive alternative. That being said, let's push for alternatives to emerge as quickly as possible. There are times
    in history where evolutionary pressure acts as a catalyst for rapid and new adaptations to occur. While in the relative lifetime, not much seems to change, I think in the young generations of today, they will be developing wholly new economic and sociological structures. And I think these will be decentralized, rhizomatic, and built upon new ways of thinking and organizing society.

    You wrote: "If we no longer believe in tiered values, then we have fallen back into a postmodernist flatland labyrinth and we have no map."

    I question whether or not these are the only options that we have. Why are we repulsed with a world that sprawls and crawls? I just wonder if we as integral thinkers have questioned these kind of statements deeply, because I have heard them spoken commonly enough.

    Is a tiered government necessary in an age of increasing decentralization and networked thinking? Isn't this what we may have to "overthrow," so to speak, in order to survive in this century, and enact whole new methods of living and livelihood that are sustainable with the rest of the planet? Isn't this the evolutionary leap we must be making? I'm thinking out loud here, because I don't have much of a grasp on libertarianism. But from my own background in sociology and media studies, everything points to a massive re-structuring of global human society in the 21st century, barring a technology apocalypse. We are still catching up to what's happening to us (or through us). I just wonder how useful it is to reject non-tiered thinking in our time, when what might be called for is a deeper understanding of how evolutionary trajectories must also be understood from their immanent sprawl.

    tl;dr: let's not demonize non-tiered thinking?

  • Comment Link Hokyo Wednesday, 19 December 2012 01:17 posted by Hokyo

    I have hesitated to speak on this thread due to a couple of factors.

    The first is that I have been exceedingly busy due to school. I said as much. That is not "pathetic". That is honest based on the real limitations in my life based on my priorities. Do I spend valuable study time posting to this article when for a majority of the commentary I have agreed with it (save for the libertarian nonsense). Sorry if that is offensive as I do not mean it to be, but I do find it funny that I agree with all of the actions spoken of but for vastly different reasons.

    The second is that I was planning to do so until I read the "pathetic" comment. I'll be honest. That hurt. I put a lot of work into this article despite being horribly bogged down in my academic life.

    Barring all of this, I will respond to a few sniped pieces until I can post more later.

    @T. Collins Logan: Love your stuff. I find myself nodding just like Kaine was. Nothing to add really, just feeling really met by the overall piece.

    @Troy Wiley: Love the quote. Fantastic offering.

    @Joe Corbett: I really liked that you brought up that the real reason the Integral community hasn't committed to a position is that the higher ups are more worried about the bottom line than philosophical integrity. Right with ya on that. As for the pathetic comment, please read the above again.

    @Benjamin Lee: Do you realize that you just straw manned Kaine's position? Tiers as a concept originated from a side comment that Clare Graves made about a possible trend in SD system. There is no actual psychological data to support this mythic separation. Wilber places it at the Green-Teal(Yellow) Split. Susanne Cook-Greuter placed it at the Orange-Green split. And Clare was referring to a possible recapitulation of each of the energies of the previous structures. For example, Yellow is the existential survival version of Beige. Coral would be the new enlightened red. And so on... This reified construct of elitism is not a system to base a governmental structure on, at least from my perspective. Not using it does not render us back to a post-modern hell. It simply reinforces the simplexity of reality and does not allow us to simplify the complexity of people. Said another way, I wish the Integral community would stop looking for easy answers and cheap maps. I mean, we can talk about a tiered system but who runs it and why? Is development as Kaine said in his article the major criteria for positions? Because if so, that is terrifying as it removes the notion of expertise. It also doesn't answer who is doing the testing on these structures or how reliable the testing is which is a glaring issue. As for the libertarian notion, as Kaine mentioned. This assumes that everyone in a libertarian system are rational actors AND developmentally sophisticated. Walk into any major city in the US and show me how that works because I don't see it. Even if I assume that there really is a construct such as a "Free Market", that doesn't explain how that free market isn't impacted by multi-lined psychographs of all users. To put another way, just because someone is as Teal(Yellow) cognition, doesn't mean that the rest of them is there. I know that seems simple and we can all say that we already knew such, but the assumptions in a Libertarian system seems to completely ignore such, from my perspective. Lastly, I also want to point out how much the Green meme was brought up in your previous post. I strongly recommend you check out our trollz vids on the topic of Green bashing and Wilber's philosophical conflation between the New Age movement and actual Green because my take from your post is that you are assessing something here or someone here at Green. I am unsure how anyone via this medium can determine development without strict developmental testing.


  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Wednesday, 19 December 2012 03:22 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Hmmm. I had read posts were going to be disabled today, per TJ Dawe's holiday announcement, so I'm glad we have still been able to keep things going here.

    In perusing all of these thoughtful comments, it occurs to me that it may be beneficial to differentiate between separate streams of argument that may easily be entangled or conflated. Those arguments, as I read them, orbit around a flurry of distinct questions:

    1) Is Libertarianism a healthy memeplex? More specifically, does it have something positive to contribute to an integral vision for the future?

    2) Is it necessary to integrate all worldviews - or treat all worldviews with equivalent value - when synthesizing integral solutions? Is it necessary to appeal to everyone, and meet everyone where they are?

    3) Do Graves' 1st and 2nd tiers exist? If so, can distorted or regressive values hierarchies pollute being-centered orientations?

    4) Has the Wilber team's manifestation of integral evolving been clouded by ethnocentric, lower-level cultural imperatives? And, along those lines, does their appeal to the status quo and reliance on an integral leadership model create sufficient change agency?

    5) Does Western-style capitalism contain constructive, viable memes that deserve inclusion in a global cultural evolution? If not, what are some alternatives in terms of economic systems (even other forms of capitalism)? Further, what are the incremental next steps we could reasonably expect to implement those alternatives, short of a radical departure?

    6) How should advocates of integral envisioning correct for the flaws of their own subjective perceptions of, and consequential assumptions about, the world around them?

    7) What is the most effective, compassionate and inclusive means of encouraging transformation in existing cultural systems, structures and institutions?

    8) Is Spiral Dynamics the best model for evaluating values hierarchies, their evolution and sophistication?

    I probably missed something, but these seem central to me. And many of them have been addressed from multiple perspectives already. So all I'd wish to do...briefly...is tackle one or two that haven't been addressed in depth, and perhaps clarify a few previous statements along the way. But before I go there, I am compelled to quote some recent comments that brought a big affirming grin to my face:

    " Many principles in operation today are both embedded and emergent, rather than thought out principles." - Holmgren (via David MacLeod)
    "The free market envisioned in the expression of Libertarianism is, from what I can tell, a unicorn. " - Kaine DeBoer
    "We seem more apt to imagine the techno-pyramids of Blade Runner than a future discontinuous in shape and nature to our own." - Jeremy Johnson
    "I would argue that integral liberals and conservatives to join forces to repeal the patriot act, reinstate glass-Stegal, repeal the NDAA, protect the Internet, break up the mega banks, and wind down the military empire/CIA torture interrogation network." -
    "We are still catching up to what's happening to us (or through us)." - Jeremy Johnson
    " I am unsure how anyone via this medium can determine development without strict developmental testing." - Hokyo Joshua Routhier


    Now, just to touch on some of the "distinct questions" where we haven't yet plumbed the depths, as it were. I am working on an essay around #5, since I think this is indeed a very important piece in this puzzle, and is something I've been mulling over for some time. Without a proposed alternative to the status quo, it is understandable that most of our solutions will ricochet within the confines of Western-style capitalism. Once I have a decent draft completed, I will post a link on this thread.

    Regarding #6, I would propose that we apply some simple rules to our epistemology, combining elements of the scientific method with the latest philosophies of perception, then adding a pinch of mystical salt. On the one hand, we can evaluate the internal consistency of our perceptions and the beliefs they support, appreciating that our cultural context and personal experience significantly colors this process. On the other, we can then test our assumptions, evaluating the results to see if our perceptions and beliefs remain coherent. To begin, the "criteria of adequacy" for testing any hypothesis will point us in the general direction of coherent perceptions and beliefs. I've added a few of my own skeptical criteria to this process, which I call "The Seven Deadly SIMS," and you can read a casual discussion of those here: http://www.tcollinslogan.com/?p=366. Finally, we need an additional, higher order filter through which to evaluate our evaluations...we need a metaframe for epistemological proofs. For me, that metaframe consists of two elements. The first is a particular quality of felt compassion that arises from unitive perception-cognition. The second is a profound clarity of non-attached observation that also arises in unitive states. The first I would call agape or metta. The second I have described as "the art of suspension" or "neutrality of will," which is kind of one step beyond witness consciousness. Most writings on mysticism contain these two elements, and my own writings follow suit, so there's nothing terribly new here. I'm just combining some processes and practices that seem to work well together...but of course we need to continually evaluate their efficacy as well. Ha. In any case, it is my perception-belief-meme that conditioning ourselves to such coherence building and testing allows for fluid and self-correcting navigation of "the given" or any other construct.

    Regarding #7, my take is kind of a small-group-meme-replication model. The latest manifestation of this is called "Integral Coregroups" and you can read about them in the final section of Being Well (http://archive.org/details/BeingWellBeginningTheJourneyOfIntegralLifework). However, I am also looking forward to learning more about Holmgren's permaculture principles and methods.

    And, lastly, #8. Well...I've touched on this already, but it probably needs clarification. Alas, though, my brain is tired, so it will have to another time.

    In case the commenting facility of Beams and Struts really does shut down until January 4th, I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone Happy Holidays and (as they say in Germany) "a good slide into the New Year."

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Wednesday, 19 December 2012 04:03 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Hey all, this has been a rich discussion, almost as epic a whopper as the original post itself. :) Here's just a few things from my end.

    There's two main points I want speak to. The first is Benjamin's valid request that if we're going to critique the status quo, we need to offer an alternative to it. That's fair enough. On the one hand, I appreciate Jeremy's call (and his ability) to hold open the space of imagination for a different future to emerge. (Also Troy Wiley for his courage in also opening up this type of space- http://beamsandstruts.com/articles/item/991-neotribal-zeitgeist-%20-companion-guide ). We've become so immersed in the structures of state-capitalism that it's hard for us to even imagine something different. I think it was Slavoj Zizek who said recently that people today can more easily imagine the end of the world then they can the end of capitalism. That's the condition of being seriously enmeshed in a system that has become the air we breathe. I'm also reminded of this quote from John Maynard Keynes:

    "The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves after the war, is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not just, it is not virtuous- and it doesn't deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed". ('National Self-Sufficiency')

    So at this stage in history, with capitalism so dominant a social form, many are increasingly coming to reject it, but have a tough time imagining a different future from it. Having said that, I do think many alternatives are emerging (and faster and faster), such as the permaculture movement that David has been giving voice to, to resilient communities, transition towns, the food movement (and issues of food security), alternative currencies and alternative economic forms, and the list goes on. I agree with Jeremy that a more localized decentralized form is what is generally emerging. There's many reasons for this to be a favorable future, with increased resiliency being only one of them. Here's Nassim Taleb from a recent article in Foreign Policy:

    "The most stable country in the history of mankind, and probably the most boring, by the way, is Switzerland. It's not even a city-state environment; it's a municipal state. Most decisions are made at the local level, which allows for distributed errors that don't adversely affect the wider system. Meanwhile, people want a united Europe, more alignment, and look at the problems. The solution is right in the middle of Europe -- Switzerland. It's not united! It doesn't have a Brussels! It doesn't need one"


    But whatever we do going forward, we do need to implement new forms with our actions for this to hold, so again I think Benjamin's prompt is an important one. Even the political theorists Hardt and Negri, two of the biggest promoters of a networked rhizomatic politics, write this in their last book 'Commonwealth':

    "Revolt becomes powerful and long-lasting only when it invents and institutionalizes a new set of collective habits and practices, that is, a new form of life". (p.356)

    One other resource in this area that might be of use is a book I recently bought but have only started, called 'A Postcapitalist Politics'. It's a book length study of alternative economies and social forms. http://amzn.to/U7Dy5m

    In terms of the libertarian question, I was reminded of something that William Irwin Thompson said in his interview with Jeremy Johnson. He says that "the real dialogue now has to be between the greens and libertarians...There's an area in which they overlap". He says more about that but I won't transcribe the whole thing, but it begins at 15:10 and goes to about 17:45ish. The overlap he sees there has always struck me since I first heard the interview, and I offer it here because it might be valuable in finding paths forward that combine various schools and communities, rather than the usual either/or situation.


    Just to put on my admin hat for a moment, I want to put out my hope that this discussion can continue to be as civil as possible going forward. That there's been multiple positions voiced on politics and no major scrap has broken out is already a minor miracle, so let's keep that going. I can appreciate Joe's prompt to want to hear from the other authors (and I'll let him respond to his response), but now that more of us are here, let's do our best to keep the public sphere here a respectful one.

    Lastly, I just saw T. Collins comment as I was writing this, and I/we have decided to keep the comments on (instead of our proposed freeze due to our Christmas break as mentioned in TJ's post) because this thread is still very much alive at the moment. We might switch to a moderation setting in a few days (where we have to approve the comment), but as for now I'll take the responsibility of following along and moderating as this thread continues. cheers all.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Wednesday, 19 December 2012 04:20 posted by David MacLeod

    Kaine DeBoer,
    You asked for a clarification/definition of Design Principles.

    David Holmgren makes the argument that design principles are constantly at work, shaping human systems – both the built environment as well as human behaviors. In many cases, these principles are not consciously thought out and named, but rather are often implicit and emergent. During the last two hundred years or so, our ability to harness the massive energy available from fossil fuels has allowed a technological ascent, and some principles such as “dog eat dog” and “get big or get out” have been proven to work very well for those who employ them.

    Given that we live on a planet with finite resources, and what Holmgren believes to be compelling evidence that in the very near future the availability of high-powered/concentrated energy will become increasingly less available, he sees the need for a new set of principles that will “allow us to creatively re-design our environment and our behaviour in a world of less energy and resources.”

    The Permaculture Principles Holmgren has developed are rooted in his understanding of systems ecology. He emphasizes that these principles are not intended to be cast in stone. One reason he emphasizes principles rather than specific design solutions is because every situation is context dependent, and that even the principles need to be constantly questioned and updated. There is no “final word” on sustainability, and we should expect continuous change as we navigate energy descent. The ‘steady state’ is likely a pipe-dream.

    Discussing why having a set of consciously adopted principles will be helpful, Holmgren writes:

    “The idea behind Permaculture principles is that generalized principles can be derived from the study of both the natural world and pre-industrial sustainable societies, and that they will be universally applicable to fast-track the post-industrial development of sustainable use of land and resources.

    The process of providing for people’s needs within ecological limits requires a cultural revolution. Inevitably such a revolution is fraught with many confusions, false leads, risks and inefficiencies. We appear to have little time to achieve this revolution. In this historical context, the idea of a simple set of guiding principles which have wide, even universal application is attractive.”
    - Introduction, Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

    See Holmgren give a very short overview of his "design principles as thinking tools that when used together allow us to creatively redesign our environment and our behaviour in a world of less energy and resources" in this youtube video:

    And see how Holmgren presents the idea of how Ethics and Principles can affect the many facets of human life with the Permaculture Flower illustration:

  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Wednesday, 19 December 2012 05:13 posted by Joe Corbett

    let me just say my 'pathetic' comment wasnt directed at anyone in particular and im sorry if anyone took it personally. i know this time of year is busy.

    i just felt that with so many contributors to the original article there would have been more dialogue from the authors. i guess i could have used other words such as 'puzzling' or 'interesting' or 'disappointing', but i chose 'pathetic' to describe my feeling, especially since i saw several of the authors over on facebook were still quite active, and many days had passed since the original article was posted.

    each day that passes without participation in a dialogue decreases the likelihood of drawing others into participation, and if people cant even be brought into participating in their own ideas in timely fashion, well then you can choose your own adjective for that.

    at least it seems i got a rise out of some people to respond and keep this thread alive with diverse input, and if i offended anyone hopefully it was for a greater purpose and a higher good. may our dialogues be fruitful.

  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Wednesday, 19 December 2012 11:37 posted by Joe Corbett

    i think we all mostly agree that an 'integral trans-partisan politics' would be beyond any particular interest, and yet would include them all at a higher level of unity (but not equality) between perspectives, as some priority must be established for advancement to higher levels of development. i think we are also all in agreement about how this would require an alternative system based on a mix of different possibilities from permaculture design principles to local peer-to-peer cooperatives to some kind of green-libertarian (off-the-grid) eco-socialism, etc. the question is, how do we get there?

    i think we also agree that the practical and potentially lucrative business model of working with and for the powers that be, which seems to be the approach beck, kw and the inner-clique takes, as if we can transition to the next stage of societal development by transforming the corporate boardroom from within, is not sufficient or realistic.

    change does not come by working with your opponents, the vested interests of out-moded powers, but rather by seizing power from them for yourself and imposing change from above. i know this sounds horrific and contradictory to the green crowd slogan of being the change you want to see, but its the only way i see for the center of gravity to be shifted to green or higher, and history bears this out. the capitalist classes brought us into modernity and shifted the center of gravity in the west from static-tradition to mobile-achievement by seizing power with force, and codifying their values into the legal and institutional practices of society.

    so for me, the discussion of integral trans-partisan politics really shifts to how power can be seized from the corporate mainstream and regulated out of existence through alternative design principles, before its too late for all of us and countless other species on this planet.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Wednesday, 19 December 2012 19:39 posted by David MacLeod

    Trevor, your short brainstorm list of alternatives is very interesting, because I see each item as an aspect of Permaculture. Not that Permaculture has ownership of these ideas, but that they all reflect aspects of Permaculture (I keep trying to remind folks to let of their thinking that defines Permaculture as sustainable garden design).

    The Transition movement (spearheaded by a Permaculture teacher) in its essence is applied social Permaculture. The food movement/food security, alternative currecncy/economy, etc. can all be seen in Holmgren's Permaculture Flower, and are all aspects of what we in the Transition Initiatives are working on. Two of the most common watchwords in Transition are resilience and relocalization. It's good to hear that Taleb supports the relocalization concept in some form at least.

    The Transition "Cheerful Disclaimer" states that we truly don't know if this will work, but we are convinced that if we wait for government it will be too late, and that if we try to accomplish these goals as individuals it will be too little; but if we come together and work as communities, it just might be just enough just in time.

  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Thursday, 20 December 2012 07:53 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    I do understand the reaction some people are having to the word "Libertarian" (Aren't they the ones who think poor sick people should just die in the street?). That's a pretty unsophisticated understanding of the Austrian theory of economics at the heart of Libertarianism. Personally, I like hearing from both Austrian and Marxist economists because they both provide a perspective on the state-capitalist/mixed economy/neoliberal status quo.

    I suppose it's due to the Cold War that the Free Market champion Austrians (Hayek, M. Friedman, Ron Paul) got hyped while the Marxists were basically squashed out of existence. Basically the American Left doesn't know where to go since they were stopped from even thinking outside of the box of [incremental progressive change through government regulation/programs] by the McCarthy-ites and even the Big Labor union establishment back in the 50s.

    Austrians generally fail to see any problems with Free Market Capitalism, but every single problem with government. Marxists see every flaw in Capitalism, but fail to see the danger in utilizing State power to incrementally reach their goal of classless socio-economy. Both of these theories are probably dead-ends, in my opinion, but they both open people's eyes to the mere fact that they are caught up in a political/economic system that is run from the top down for the benefit of the elite. It's hard to get a fish to realize it's wet.

    The weird Integral Centrism (that I don't think anyone on this thread has supported) seems to promote the idea that Integral should somehow infiltrate conventional politics and show people how to do a state-capitalist mixed economy right. Austrians can tell you how it's systemically inevitable that using government power to regulate/redistribute will lead to tyrannical centralized rule. Marxists can tell you how capitalist economics inevitably leads to the indentured servitude of the masses to a hereditary plutocratic elite.

    An Integral Conservative and an Integral Liberal really ought to be Radical relative to the current mainstream. Once Integral Radicals finally get their New alternative economic/political systems functioning and scaled, they will become the Conservatives and Liberals within that New system. Eventually outlier, sensitive Radicals will emerge from that New system too. It's such Integral Conservatives, who may resonate with aspects of the Libertarian memeplex, who I'm suggesting could function as ambassadors to the wider Conservative community.

    p.s. I would love to hear a Libertarian perspective on this tidbit from Elinor Ostrom's Nobel Prize speech discussing property right schemes. I think one of the most central problems with capitalism is the idea of absolute individual property rights. The question of "what can legitimately be privately owned and what power does ownership confer?" is a thread that takes one into the maze of semi-conscious social agreements that bind capitalism together.:

    "Schlager and Ostrom (1992) drew on the earlier work of John R. Commons
    ([1924] 1968) to conceptualize property-rights systems as containing bundles
    of rights rather than a single right. The meta-analysis of existing field cases helped to identify five property rights that individuals using a common-pool resource might cumulatively have:

    (1) Access – the right to enter a specified property,
    (2) Withdrawal – the right to harvest specific products from a resource,
    (3) Management – the right to transform the resource and regulate internal use patterns,
    (4) Exclusion – the right to decide who will have access, withdrawal, or management rights, and
    (5) Alienation – the right to lease or sell any of the other four rights."

  • Comment Link t.collins logan Friday, 21 December 2012 02:56 posted by t.collins logan

    Lincoln I find myself agreeing with your observations that McCarthyism placed limitations on "allowable" progressive thought, and that outlier radicalism is indeed a prerequisite to the next iteration. From my perspective, this is part of what informs Trevor's observation that "We've become so immersed in the structures of state-capitalism that it's hard for us to even imagine something different." In your words, Lincoln, "It's hard to get a fish to realize it's wet." The question for me is whether we can (or will) create environments where outliers flourish...and can be easily heard above the din.

    I also appreciate your observation that there is a poor understanding of Libertarian foundations - that is probably true among many Libertarians as well. It might even be helpful to say certain perspectives from the Austrian School may be interesting additions to forward-looking economic theory. Taken as a whole, though, I think most reasonable people would agree that our understanding of human motivation, volition and action have come quite a long way since Menger. There is also the issue that the central "individual motivations" orientation of the Austrian School contributes cascading a priori assumptions within that philosophy and its offspring. In fact, we could say that the Austrian School has been infected with a particularly virulent "myth of the given" from the get-go, as nearly all of its proponents have vigorously resisted statistical or empirical analysis in favor of economic models "logically derived from self-evident axioms" (see the Mises Institute for more on this). This is why, frankly, it is so easy to poke holes in the Libertarian position - there simply isn't much evidence in the real world to support it. At the same time, experiencing the world through the comfortable cocoon of a thought experiment can be very enticing, even intoxicating.

    I would further observe that the only reason Libertarianism is on the radar right now is because that memeplex propagated and matured more than several others, attaining a large enough constituent host to place it in a political launch position. Something was needed to energize the void of a floundering, post-neoliberal conservative tribalism, and Libertarianism (from Ron Paul to the peripherally conjoined TEA Party movement) was well placed to do just that. There is even a certain recursive elegance to this opportunism, don't you think? But I would say we shouldn't conflate readiness with usefulness or wisdom. Throughout the Middle East, the Arab Spring has been expunging oppressive institutions only to have radical Islamists overtake the liberation narrative and impose shari'ah law. Why is this happening? Because those opportunistic Islamists were organized, disciplined and consistent in their message, offering an enticing illusion of stability that promises to lead revolutionary populations into constrictive legalism. I would suggest that Libertarianism is - in the contexts we have been discussing - relying on analogous circumstances to offer us the same sort of false hope. So yes, we do need an alternative...but, to answer Benjamin Lee's criticism, the lack of a clearly defined alternative does not mean we can't reject much, if not most, of a bad idea. (Apologies to Trevor for resurrecting "the usual either/or situation," but I think this is one of those cases where we would be ill-advised to allow certain memes into the sandbox...).

    As for alternative economic systems and strategies, there is quite a lot to choose from, as has already been touched upon in this thread, and which will hopefully be expanded. There is Switzerland! I also hope Jeremy Johnson's insight holds for that discussion, when he says "I think these will be decentralized, rhizomatic, and built upon new ways of thinking and organizing society." In response to Joe Corbett, I suspect we will want to circumvent traditional silos of power, however that is possible. Also, if folks really do value a pluralistic process, then the whole "Green v. Orange" contrast needs to be sidelined, and a new appeal should be generated that attracts folks to higher frequencies, rather than attempting to resonate with lower ones. Even if we can't offer up a menu of specific ideologies or economic models (yet), perhaps we can assemble some working criteria to guide our envisioning and filtering. But if we are to meet the challenges of emergent complexity, we simply cannot rely on approaches that are not supported by real-world data, or that promote a narrow and exclusive values vocabulary, or apprehend the world through an overly narrow metrics aperture, or that glorify individualism (or "the individual holon"), or don't specifically counteract cronyism and corporatism. And we can't rely on shari'ah law.

    Last thought for David MacLeod: At first glance the Transition movement seems to resonate with my own values and modus operendi. I'm very much looking forward to exploring that further.

  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Friday, 21 December 2012 04:59 posted by Joe Corbett

    the promise of libertarianism is that it jibes well with the needed transition to local self-sufficiency alternatives (which is a link to the passion of 'liberal radicals'), and it also fits well with the long american and western tradition of individual self-help (which of course is the link to the passion of conservatives). so building from there on this basis could be productive.

    however as logan noted, putting hope in libertarianism may well be a dangerous route, since more regressive and conservative intentions to destroy all but the mythical and militaristic expressions of the non-local collective can very easily be grafted onto the libertarian approach.

    and finally, a mix of transitional alternatives are certainly the way forward, but again, its not like we have the next hundred years to make this transition. the earths ecosystems are in rapid decline, and the powers that be have no serious intention of helping the transition along. therefore, there must be two fronts of change: one, to build alternative systems, and two, to bring an end as soon as possible to corporate capitalism by arresting and seizing power whenever and wherever the opportunities emerge, and by whatever integral means necessary.

    it would be nice if we all could just focus on the utopian alternatives, but there are harsher current realities that need to be dealt with too, and they wont just fade away without a disturbing and inconvenient fight.

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Friday, 21 December 2012 18:08 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    Just to let folks know, I have not forgotten this conversation and a little later in the day will be posting again here.

    But I'm excited to see how this conversation is moving!

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Friday, 21 December 2012 19:19 posted by David MacLeod

    T. Collins,
    Re: the Transition movement, I've written bits and pieces about it in the following comments here on Beams.

    How Transition is uniquely situated to synergize with Integral theory and practice, and with links to a few basics about Permaculture and Transition:

    Principles of Transition:

    Transition’s relationship with Spirituality and protest culture:

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Friday, 21 December 2012 20:32 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    David, thanks, that's yet another prompt for me to take a deeper dive into permaculture. Bergen and I were signed up for a course this past spring here in Vancouver, but it got cancelled at the last minute by the organizers. But there are other courses too, and it's at the top of my list to do one. I'm probably guilty of the "only garden design" view of it, as my entry was through food (Joel Salatin from 'Omnivore's Dilemma', urban farmer Will Allen, among others). I look forward to understanding the more comprehensive vision.

    Just a couple comments on some recent lines that have really resonated with me, particularly this pair from Joe:

    "change does not come by working with your opponents, the vested interests of out-moded power", and

    "the powers that be have no serious intention of helping the transition along. therefore, there must be two fronts of change: one, to build alternative systems, and two, to bring an end as soon as possible to corporate capitalism by arresting and seizing power whenever and wherever the opportunities emerge, and by whatever integral means necessary".

    I agree with this view, and history seems to support it strongly. Elite power does not give up control of its power easily, and as a recent book has argued/shown historically, the clinging to power and the greed of the elite often lead to societal collapse. Here's couple paragraphs from a review of the book:

    "What separates successful states from failed ones is whether their governing institutions are inclusive or extractive. Extractive states are controlled by ruling elites whose objective is to extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Inclusive states give everyone access to economic opportunity; often, greater inclusiveness creates more prosperity, which creates an incentive for ever greater inclusiveness.

    The history of the United States can be read as one such virtuous circle. But as the story of Venice shows, virtuous circles can be broken. Elites that have prospered from inclusive systems can be tempted to pull up the ladder they climbed to the top. Eventually, their societies become extractive and their economies languish".


    I think that's where we're at on a vast scale, and I think Joe is right that waiting for dominant centers of power at the moment to steer us in a new direction is wishful thinking. Neoliberal capitalism is carrying out a systematic orgy of class warfare plundering, and many of us in the wealthier nations seem to be in a state of suspended animation, as we hope and pray that it will somehow stop; meanwhile in a country like ours, neoliberal Stephen Harper is rolling back decades of environmental law and protection so that corporate plunder is made easier (and that's only one example of his cynical assault on the nation). We're in a fairly fast freefall in my view, and I think we need to collectively snap out of our paralysis and go on the offensive. Of course, this scenario is already happening in western countries like Spain, Greece, Italy and so on who have felt the decline faster, and the people are responding there with both confrontation and new social forms; but that tsunami is here on these shores already too and will only get worse imo. This is why I appreciate Chris Hedge's voice so much over the past two years, it's just an uncompromisingly fierce wake up call. And he's willing to get arrested, and to sue the government and so on, so he's leading by example too, which is important.

    T. Collins, I appreciate your critique of many aspects (perhaps even the full foundations) of libertarianism, and really I agree with all of it. In the spirit of pragmatism and finding a way beyond the 'empire machine', I was wondering where there was overlap that might enable alliances and cooperative efforts between different camps (hence the Thompson video link). I think Joe captured where I was going nicely with these lines- "the promise of libertarianism is that it jibes well with the needed transition to local self-sufficiency alternatives (which is a link to the passion of 'liberal radicals'), and it also fits well with the long american and western tradition of individual self-help (which of course is the link to the passion of conservatives). so building from there on this basis could be productive".

    Like I said, there's overlapping space on the venn diagram between a few key groups, and I'm wondering how that could bear political fruit in an engaged way. Perhaps Benjamin's call for "integral liberals and conservatives to join forces to repeal the patriot act, reinstate glass-Stega..." etc. is a good place to start, maybe building alternative communities together is another one.

    Lastly, I know most have probably already seen this 3 pronged model of change by Joanna Macy, but I continue to find it a useful framework for teasing apart a few of the strands here in the conversation. I hear Joe calling for much more (in general, but from the 'integral' scene in particular) in the way of what she calls "holding actions". Chris Hedges would agree. I've heard him say a few times now that it will be only "bodies on the ground" challenging power and willing to suffer the consequences that will stop the juggernaught at this point. A "disturbing and inconvenient fight" is indeed at our doors. Of course, alternative systems (or 'structural change' in her model) have been mentioned a lot too, and are also simultaneously key.


  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Sunday, 23 December 2012 12:02 posted by Jeremy Johnson

    Hey @Trevor,

    Really loved this post. I think you honed in on a few key points made throughout the commentary.

    It inspired me enough to feature a few statements from you and Joe Corbett on my blog earlier today:

    "Institute for Cultural Evolution Goes Live: Is there Room for More Radical Alternatives?"

    Check it out if you'd like as an addition, and follow up to Eight Perspectives on Integral Trans-Partisan Politics.

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Monday, 24 December 2012 23:13 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    I wanted to address some of these questions since I was mulling them over a bit. I won't get to everything now, but I will endeavour to finish responding early on Wednesday.

    @T. Collins Logan

    1) This may be my intolerance talking, but I do not believe so. Further along this discussion Joe will mention it's links to self-sufficiency, but I do not believe these are at all inherent in the Libertarian ideals. I think that the talk of self-sufficiency is often a smoke screen for the Myth of Personal Responsibility, which is in and of itself, a rejection of what I consider the reality (with a little "r") of interdependence.

    2) Some worldviews are mutually exclusive. One factor of the idea of "true but partial", limits us from being able to discern what views or perspectives have outlived their usefulness. When we accept "true but partial", it limits our ability to take a stand because we get lost in perspective taking and including.

    I don't believe it is possible to appeal to everyone if structuralist models are to be believed. Even if by a stroke of brilliance someone was able to translate an integral or otherwise holistic model or worldview to those of previous structures, from my perspective it would be at best benign trickery.

    3) From my understanding, the tiers were something briefly mentioned with no further supportive evidence or reasoning behind them. I honestly believe that they have been adopted by many as unintentional developmental elitism.

    4) I have no desire to say that "Team Wilbur" is engaging in necessarily ethno-centric imperatives, but rather reacting to the circumstances that exist in our culture. To continue the work, there does need to be funding. The most active source of funding is likely to be far more economically conservative people than myself.

    Do I think that they, and others, are tailoring their advertising and material as a hot, new business tool to attract people who focus on vMeme Orange goals? Yes.

    5) I would like to take a bit more time and give this question the time it deserves later. Hopefully on Wednesday.

    6) The real question I have here is whether any of us can truly plan around our own subjective bias' enough to be able to correct for them.

    I can say that becoming much more aware of my cognitive processes and the inherent meaning-making I do has helped with this. But in some ways there are risks and pitfalls to that approach which make clarity and immediate confidence difficult.

    7) I'll address this with question 5.

    8) I don't know. I tend to prefer Susan Cook-Grueter, but they are rather similar. I've been asking myself this question quite a bit recently. I content myself to view the SD system not as actual, concrete information but as a construct that I use to communicate large amounts of data about tendencies I notice in a short amount of time.

    I'll respond more tomorrow hopefully. Off to holiday things.

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Wednesday, 26 December 2012 19:30 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    To clarify my last post about the Libertarian construct not having any valuable elements... I don't think any of the valuable elements are unique to the Libertarian model. Social freedom is an element I particularly enjoy, but it's not something that is the sole territory of Libertarianism.

    I do not mean to be the guy with the pin going around popping balloons. It could either be where I'm at, or it could be a natural aptitude.

    @Joe -- If I recall correctly, T. Collins Logan mentioned the difficulties and dangers of attempting to change a system from the inside and I think those do support your ideas on the subject.

    There's the old cliche of young people who wish to change the system becoming involved and... well, "I didn't sell out son, I bought in" is probably the best way to put it.

    Historically speaking, large shifts in social systems have required conflict in some sort to lead to the next stage. I have heard some in the Integral community respond by saying that these emerging levels of development and the like are (or should) have the capacity to come up with a more genteel way of going about it.

    The only possibility for the "incremental change" strategy for movement towards the changes we are talking about would be very long-term in which we alter the very basis of our educational system so as to make things more likely for the next generation. At least from what I can see of the situation.

    The current culture is far too enmeshed with the current systems and is still violently reacting to attempts to change.

    @David -- I only have a passing familiarity with Permaculture. I admit that the ideas behind it as well as some of the material you've shared here is useful. Especially in how we develop strategies and plans of action and what to keep in mind.

    But when I read this quote from Holmgren,

    "The idea behind Permaculture principles is that generalized principles can be derived from the study of both the natural world and pre-industrial sustainable societies, and that they will be universally applicable to fast-track the post-industrial development of sustainable use of land and resources..."

    that I became very skeptical. This smacks some of the Pre/Post fallacy to me to think that this study will generate "universally applicable" principles. I would need more examples to really understand how this would work I think.

    @Trevor & Jeremy re: decentralization & localization -- I have heard these sentiments echoed elsewhere. But what evidence that there is a larger shift towards localization? Especially here in the United States, are we even capable of it at this point? Population density when combined with available, fertile land. Manufacturing infrastructure is either in decay or is simply non-existent...

    This is just looking at some of the economic factors. When we take into account political and policy issues we get into a further milieu. What happens when socially regressive areas become localized? While it has been decades since the struggle for Civil Rights, if allowed there are many places that would happily backslide into repression.

    From my perspective, the issue often comes down to nationalism both in the difficulties of integration such as the EU and the decentralized models. One deals with existing, lingering ideas of nationalism and the other is the bed in which it grows.

    Can they be mixed? Can we take centralized power structures and layer them with local community and infrastructure? If not, can we localize without engaging in unhealthy tribal or socio-centric structures?

    What is the balance and how do we get there?

    Switzerland is also a complicated example because they are a very unique case. To attempt to generalize data or examples from Switzerland is tricksy. Relatively low population, a consistently strong economy partially based on the wealth deposited into their financial system and supported by a developed manufacturing base which exports high-cost goods.

    @Everyone -- Alright. I'm going to try and sort out whether I'm just playing the role of the guy with the pin for all your balloons. I'll try to get back to this later today.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Thursday, 27 December 2012 19:43 posted by David MacLeod


    I can understand the concern about the Pre/Post fallacy, especially the way that paragraph is worded. I think Holmgren falls into that trap very little, if at all. I highly recommend his book "Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability." It is both theoretical and practical at the same time, and I think it is an excellent book to sit alongside other 'big picture' books (such as Wilber, et al).

    Holmgren spends a third of his time doing hands on work developing his own Permaculture homestead, one third of his time teaching, and one third of his time thinking and writing. This comes through in his writing, which is very grounded in systems ecology, and which I think balances much of integral theory, which in its practical application tends to not go much deeper than the "techno-economic" base. I tend to think any human system works better the more it aligns with natural systems (holarchies).

    Having said that, it is true that the Permaculture community in general can easily get caught in the pre/trans fallacy, as well as get into trouble by having its center of gravity squarely in the "green meme." Tim Winton has done a good job writing about this, and how integral theory brought a better balance.

    Also, Permaculture teacher Graham Strouts wrote this helpful series on "Back To Nature", to counteract the pre/post fallacy:

    All of this contributes to why I think "Integral Permaculture" as well as Winton's Pattern Dynamics offers the best of both worlds.

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Monday, 31 December 2012 08:38 posted by Eric Pierce

    (anarcho-libertarian, ex-bahai here)

    Seen on sign in front of Esalen:

    Jive Shit for White People

    I read all the comments, but not the article(s). With all due respect, but frankly, I was disgusted by much of what was said, in the same way I've been repeatedly disgusted by the pathological aspects of "green" counterculture/academic postmodernism for over 40 years. The same lies of omission, distortions and self-referential "echo chamber" mentality are present that mirror's the Right's "communications" pathologies.

    (see Harold Rheingold, "Disinformocracy" or Arthur W. Frank's "Notes on Habermas: Lifeworld and System" where the underlying pathologies shared by both "orange/right" and "green/left" are surgically examined.)

    To be clear: KW, Rabbi Michael Learner of www.tikkun.org, and other similar people on the "spiritual left" have been saying the same thing for decades:

    the abysmal failure of the Left/PoMo/Green camp to reliably deliver ACTUAL PRACTICAL social change or transformation, on a significant basis, is what created the "vacuum of meaning" (cynicism, hopelessness and despair) that the Fundie/Right was able to exploit and gain power from.

    The abandonment of working class and populist labor activism in favor of radical "green meme" extremism, political correctness, thought policing, etc., resulted in the left losing its oars, and drifting on discredited ideological currents for decades. And then it crashed on the rocks of the "culture wars". At which point the crew and passengers were totally screwed.

    There was massive incompetence of Left/PoMo/Green leadership, internal purges, squabbling, etc., which had all been surgically deconstructed in the 1930s by Orwell! (in _Homage to Catalonia_, etc.)

    You can still go into the Barri Gotic (medieval quarter) in Barcelona and stick your fingers in the pockmarks in the 500 year old stone walls where the sociopathic, radical Left blew the doors off of churches with canons, dragged unarmed, unprotected nuns into the streets, and executed them in front of firing squads.

    Again, to be clear: the "corporate" right has ruthlessly exploited the populist/agrarian conservatives and "libertarians" for several decades. Since Reagan.

    And, see Paul Ray's flawed but insightful "New Political Compass" for an analysis of how the "corporate left" similarly exploits the progressive "cultural creatives".

    The left has done NOTHING to show sympathy or compassion toward the exploited conservative populists, or to try to build common ground. I have frequently seen deeply psychotic people on the far left use the most revolting forms of psychological violence to repel any attempt at bridge building, and to viciously attack anyone from their camp that dares to show any nonconformance to leftist orthodoxy by uttering any interest in working on common ground.

    Instead the Left has wrapped itself in a BIZARRO cocoon, insulated from the reality of its inability to deliver ACTUAL transformation on a BELIEVABLE, widespread basis.

    Most of the actual experiments in trans-partisan politics have been when academics, populists and small business people on the middle-Right "converted" to Integralism! (Because of the revolting corruption within the Republican/Tea Party scam.)

    By the late 60s, the PC/Left had completely discredited itself, and sold out labor union activists (there is a useful article, I think at www.exiledonline.com on how the ACLU was "secretly" funded by the KOCHS back to the 1950s!)


    One particularly creepy comment in this discussion thread advocated what is essentially memetic genocide. Someone has some big time "shadow" stuff to deal with. And no one explicitly called that person on the disgusting psychological violence involved. Intolerance in the name of tolerance.

    re: William Irwin Thompson Interview

    Y'all apparently missed the critical moment when Dr. Thompson said that "green" was an epic fail because all greens do is sit around exchanging neurosis-based consensus with little result. Until some deadline looms and crisis erupts. And then some books get published. Woo Hoo. That doesn't get anybody's oil changed or the hay baled.

    My experience is that the academic/left/green and the counterculture/green are deeply pathologized w/ "boomeritis" and incapable of exhibiting the necessary authenticity and openness to be worthy of the trust and vulnerability needed for any real integral project to succeed. See M. Scott Peck's Foundation for Community Encouragement for the prerequisites for authentic unity.

    There is a fundamental lack of honesty, and a ruthless and vicious "mean green" need to tribalize postmodernism and wall out any other perspective or criticism. In the "corporatized" version of green-academia, the viciousness is taken to dizzying heights and combined with predatory and dehumanizing acts that rival some of the worst "orange" nastiness.

    For people that have been traumatized by nasty-green, this thread drips and oozes with disgusting contradictions, arrogant oversight and hypocrisy. Not to mention the usual inquisitorial tone.

    Like Wilber, I grew up in a military family. Was exposed to Japanese culture, and imprinted with Zen memes. A lot of the east-west fusion in USA culture was probably a result of WWII/Korea/Vietnam contact with Asian culture. (similar to how christians brought "eastern" refinements and culture home from the crusades in the middle east.)

    Dr. Thompson has realized that many decades of "green meme" neurosis at Lindisfarme (which I think I remember being in the Whole Earth Catalog in the 70s?) were basically a waste, and he should have stayed in academia! Wow. And he now waxes nostalgic about the integrity and authenticity of the intellectual traditions within Catholic academia!

    Seriously, people. Green weeping over blue/amber! That really should tell you everything you need to know.

    On technology impacts on culture, please see Bernie Neville's work. Latrobe.edu

    And, here is what I personally would consider an academically legitimate attempt at stating a constructive (non-green-meme) path for Integralists:


  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Monday, 31 December 2012 22:07 posted by Eric Pierce

    Thought exercise:

    What is the liberal, vs. conservative, vs. libertarian analysis of the following?

    Banks coordinate with national security apparatus to suppress OWS protests and free speech:


  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Tuesday, 01 January 2013 07:24 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Hi Eric. Thanks for the entertaining rant.

    I have to say I did have a good chuckle at your opening Esalen joke. That and the reference to boomeritis pathology have a lot of validity, IMO.

    Something we haven't yet clarified on this thread is that most of the discussion around Libertarianism is implicitly addressing Right-Libertarianism (i.e. market-centric Libertarianism). We have only peripherally touched on Left-Libertarianism in that much of the distaste voiced here for capitalist institutions (privatization, corporationism, etc.) is widely shared by Libertarian socialists. With this in mind, it would be helpful (to me at least) if you clarified your orientation. Do you see yourself as "free market anarchist" or "anarcho-capitalist" Libertarian (Right-Libertarian), or more of a "collectivist anarchist" Libertarian (Left-Libertarian)?

    In an echo of your own criticism, folks like Noam Chomsky would say that Right-Libertarianism isn't really Libertarianism, since it doesn't reflect the values of classical liberalism (in precisely the same way that neoliberalism doesn't reflect the values of classical liberalism). Left-Libertarians would say that market-centric folks like Anarcho-capitalists have co-opted and exploited the Libertarian label to such a degree that, at least in the modern context, mainstream America thinks of most Libertarians as "free market oriented." However, to paraphrase a great Woody Allen line, "if Adam Smith came back and saw what people were doing in his name today, he wouldn't stop throwing up." At least that's what a Left-Libertarian might say.

    I also appreciate your viewpoint about intellectual violence, although I think you may have overstated things a bit. Tolerance is not reflexive inclusion, and compassion doesn't mean having a passive or condescendingly encouraging response to culturally corrosive ideas. Sometimes "integral differentiation" includes a bit of pruning, as Wilber himself does this with some philosophers, psychologists, etc. whose ideas don't resonate with his. As stark examples regarding what's been said in this thread, I think excluding Stalinism from our vision for the future is a wise approach. I also think excluding the legalism of religious fundamentalists (of any flavor) would also be helpful. I've also met some quite charming and personable schizophrenics over the years, but I can't see how adopting their paranoid hallucinations as part of multi-perspectival or "transcend-and-include" approach would be all that enriching. And no, I'm not equating Right-Libertarianism with any of these. I'm just illustrating that, sometimes, unskillful approaches don't really need to be included in forward-thinking strategies. It's not memetic genocide - or violent in that sense at all. It's simply recognizing that some memes are unwise, and therefore have already de-prioritized themselves as vestigial structures. Observing and acknowledging this de facto de-prioritization can be done tactfully, gently and humbly...or loudly, dismissively and arrogantly. I confess with chagrin that sometimes I can be more fierce than sensitive. But no one is suppressing your or anyone else's POV here (perhaps Trevor can speak directly to this, but I don't think posts have even been moderated on this thread) and no violence is being done.

    Now, for comparison, I'm not sure that a rant like yours - despite its many astute and relevant observations - could be considered humble or tactful. So...does that make it violent...? Just saying. :-)

    I did read through the Murray article you linked to, and it will take some time for me to parse it thoroughly. At first glance, it seems to offer some excellent tools and considerations for conducting integral dialogues. I would say, as a gentle encouragement to avoid hypocrisy on all sides, that if we are going to comment on other people's posts without reading their links, we can't really expect folks to read ours, can we? Mutual respect and meaningful exchange generally are built on a shared willingness to invest equally, at least in my experience. I think we can probably infer that from Murray's article as well.

    Happy New Year to All!

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Tuesday, 01 January 2013 18:51 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    @Eric -- Do me a favor, instead of speaking in the general when you talk about what disgusted you etc, or what you saw as psychological violence please give useful data. Because currently that is useless observations for me and I would really like to know what ground I might be retreading.

    Also, do the same with your "disgusting contradictions, arrogant oversight and hypocrisy. Not to mention the usual inquisitorial tone." Because again, I'd like to see what I'm missing or how your perception is interpreting what's here.

    I agree with you over the abysmal failures of the Left over the past few decades. Though I think it's overly simplistic to conflate the Left and Green in all cases and I think that the Meme split in the Left as Wilber pointed out is one of the reasons they've had many issues.

    From what I can tell, you suffer from Wilber-itis which is caused by some trauma by or internal judgment of the Green meme or perhaps the natural allergy and irritation of the next developmental stage to the previous stage. When reading what you've written Green is associated with pathology directly or indirectly nearly every time you mention it!

    The only time I could think of that you might be talking about in Spain is during the Spanish Civil War. If I'm wrong, please correct me. But in response, your talk of the Barri Gotic is nothing but incendiary bullshit. Especially considering the contexts in which such killings happened during the Spanish Civil War. I suppose it's inconvenient that the body count between the Leftists (or Republicans in that conflict) and the Nationalists is very much imbalanced in "favor" of the Fascists. Or that such killings were institutionally approved and ordered by Nationalists but amongst the Republicans were often due to a breakdown in order/not institutionally approved.

    But beyond that, I agree with you on the abandonment of the populist elements of the Right though I haven't seen the "psychotic" behavior to prevent any bridge-building. Could you explain that more?

    As far as the believable lack of change leading to the vacuum of meaning, I think that's true. However, I think you ignore the circumstances and contexts which lead to their inability (and may have more knowledge of others as I've never heard much of ideological purges on the Left, any more data on that?) when you lay that blame strictly on the shoulders of the Left.

    My issue as it stands today is that all political actors are inherently indebted and dependent on the private sector which leads both sides to be pursuing roughly similar goals with no avenue for change agents to really enter the system without becoming beholden to it.

    Aside from all of the above, what are your alternatives and views? The preceding post was a lot of why you don't like Green so I don't really have much view of what you think.

    If you don't feel comfortable mentioning the particulars I asked for, I will be leaving my email address here.

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Tuesday, 01 January 2013 19:21 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    Also, to clarify when I was talking about the Spanish Civil War I was not trying to fall into the Left vs. Right dichotomy once again. I was attempting to give context and maybe point out that what led to those atrocities was not necessarily their political affiliation. I would guess that it was more motivated by the circumstances and what altitude war seems to bring out in people.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Wednesday, 02 January 2013 20:46 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    @Kaine, I owe you an answer regarding your question about decentralization and the local. It's a good question, but I'm going to write an answer as a short post in the Blog section of the site (I'll try to have that up by the weekend, and I'll post a link here). I have lots to say on that one and it would be a bit of a whopper of a comment here, and it's important enough a topic for me that I'd like to give it a separate treatment. But thanks for the prompt and pushing in on that one.

    A couple other quick comments about some points that have been recently raised. I'd agree with Kaine that the Left cannot be simply equated with "green" or the postmodern. As Karl Polayni showed in his seminal 'The Great Transformation', there has been what he called "a double movement" since the beginning of capitalism, where resistance to its more extreme liberal (free market) forms and the effects on society has been a countermovement bubbling alongside it/against it the whole time, long predating what we'd call postmodernism or the 'green meme'.

    Also, some of the biggest critics of postmodernism and postmodern philosophy have been Marxist philosophers, in particular Fredric Jameson, Slavoj Zizek, Terry Eagleton and David Harvey. They recognized many of the politically deleterious aspects of postmodern culture and thought and have criticized it pretty hard. Terry Eagleton's two books 'The Illusions of Postmodernim' and 'After Theory' are particularly insightful and heavy hitting. Also, from another Left angle, the book 'The Rebel Sell' critiques postmodern culture/politics too, and has some important points to make imo. http://amzn.to/134xRZd

    In terms of bridge building between conservatives and progressives, I think this is an important move, and from my side of things, I've been supporting the local food movement as a locus for such mutuality. In fact, there was a cover article in the American Conservative magazine a few years back that was making the argument that the local food movement should be a conservative cause too. Here's a short paragraph:

    "The proposal, put slightly differently, is that our attitudes toward food—which nourishes and sustains us, which binds us most fundamentally to place, family, market, and community—provide a measure of our respect for what Russell Kirk called the “Permanent Things.” We are not just what we eat but how we eat...The suggestion that the inculcation of such values might be an essential part of an adequate education ought to resonate beyond the confines of the doctrinaire Left".


    I also think that the rapidly (re)growing movement of around the commons is also a sign of this bridge building. The Marxist political theorists Hardt and Negri have increasingly made it a part of their project together, and titled their recent book 'Commonwealth'. In the preface they write:

    "One primary effect of globalization, however, is the creation of a common world, a world that, for better or worse, we all share, a world where there is no "outside"".

    and then:

    "The political project of instituting the common, which we develop in this book, cuts diagonally across these false alternatives- neither private nor public, neither capitalist or socialist- and opens a new space for politics".

    I highly recommend an encounter with their work, particularly this latest book. I'm not saying that they have everything all wrapped up, but I think they offer many tools for the toolbox and lots of innovative, cutting edge thinking. In general I'd say that much of what calls itself conservative these days are in fact 'corporate radicals' and not conservative at all, in fact precisely the opposite. Here's an article from a political theologian that articulates this point as good as I've read anywhere. It came out during the first months of the Occupy movement, here's the key paragraphs near the end:

    "If the Occupy movement bears the mantle of one form of anti-statist, anti-capitalist school of anarchism that stretches back to the anarcho-syndicalism of Proudhon and Sorel, many of the bankers seem driven by an alternative stream of anarchism, what Murray Rothbard, a student of Ludwig von Mises - the grandfather of neo-liberalism - called "anarcho-capitalism."

    This stream is equally anti-statist but pro-capitalist. It is no less a millennial vision of the end of history than that embodied in the TAZ or witnessed in the worship at the Cathedral. It sees the best of all possible worlds as an apolitical socio-economic realm that spontaneously organizes itself and provides material prosperity for all through the free decisions of individuals in the marketplace.

    In this vision it is government and regulation that must be resisted and defeated if the new time and space when there will be prosperity for all is to be ushered in."


    On another front, T. Collins, I loved your articulation of why we need to transcend and 'exclude' too, that this is also a key and healthy aspect of development. Wilber's 'transcend and include' was first coined by Hegel is his concept of aufheben, which meant to "negate and preserve"; it has also been translated as simultaneously "anulling, preserving, and raising up to higher level". Although the negation in Wilber's 'transcend' is implicit I don't think it's explicit enough, and I think many people have had trouble while working with this concept around how to relate to past stages/ideas etc. while using it. I think your last comment spoke to this nicely, and offered some important clarifications/pointers. (In fact, it was this point/problem that instigated Joshua's original facebook post that started this whole piece in the first place).

    Ok that's probably enough from my end. Eric, just wanted to say that in case you haven't already watched it, it sounds like you'd enjoy the show 'Portlandia'. Here's a post of mine on it after I watched the first season. Season 3 starts this week. http://beamsandstruts.com/bits-a-pieces/item/1013-portlandia

    (oh, and we've always had comments on auto-publishing mode at the site, but had it on moderation over the past ten days during our Christmas break as announced in the Magazine section. It's back to auto publish now).

  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Thursday, 03 January 2013 06:15 posted by Joe Corbett

    as a self-described libertarian socialist with a militant predisposition, i resonate very much with the issue of what to transcend and include vs what to transcend and exclude. for me, eliminating the more destructive and eco-genocidal forms of predatory global capitalism is a matter of self-preservation for the species and its current inhabitants. no other priority (other than creating the alternatives to replace predatory capitalism) could be more important at this stage in human development.

    now, as to how this can be accomplished by skillful means, i keep in mind two things ken wilber has said: first, if you see hitler on the street, by all means, kill him; and second, change never really happens until the generation that is hegemonic and in control of social laws and institutions simply start to die off from old age, leaving open space and room for alternatives to emerge and the center of gravity to shift upward.

    the trouble is, we dont have time for the capitalist ruling class generation (the orange moderns) to die off of old age. that could take many generations, and the earth simply doesnt have the time to wait for this to happen, especially given the ability of the ruling classes to reproduce their cultural ideology through control of the mass media, the schools, and the political system.

    therefore, it seems to me there is a need for even more drastic and militant measures than ows enacts through organized mass protest. self-preservation, and the clarity for further human development in its wake, requires more than civil disobedience as usual. it may require a vanguard of integral visionary militants who are willing to be very rude and dangerous threats to the entrenched interests of power and wealth, and not, as the inner integral circle has been, the gentle friends and accomplices of the modern (suicidal-homicidal) pathology.

    self-preservation and further human progress may even require, to the shock and horror of all civilized beings, uncivilized means to the end of saving the golden goose from the predatory wolves. was this not how the world was saved from the nazis? and in our current crisis, can we transcend the slow rot of barbaric civilization without including the swift means of a violent end to its existence? future generations will want to know why we 'gentle souls' did not at least give this 'unthinkable path' serious consideration.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Friday, 04 January 2013 21:49 posted by David MacLeod

    A quick comment to Kaine and Trevor, to note that the concept of "relocalization" is near and dear to my heart.

    A short summary article by Jason Bradford here:

    Which is excerpts from this longer piece:

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Friday, 04 January 2013 21:50 posted by David MacLeod

    Correction on the 2nd link in my comment above:


  • Comment Link Lincoln Merchant Sunday, 06 January 2013 18:24 posted by Lincoln Merchant

    Joe Corbett said:

    "the trouble is, we dont have time for the capitalist ruling class generation (the orange moderns) to die off of old age. "

    I agree it may eventually come to blows, but until the majority of people awaken to:

    - our complicity and dependence on extractive, exploitative, destructive, and murderous global labor, energy, and resources supply chains;

    - having a false belief that we and our children have a fair chance of thriving in a system which works ceaselessly to centralize wealth and power in an ever narrowing circle of global plutocrats;


    - having a false belief that our now global/financialized state capitalist system can be improved to the point of acceptability using the current political processes...

    ...until more people come to see these things, find them immorally oppressive, and disidentify & reject the legitimacy of the system, violently attacking the current plutocrats and their systems of control will be seen as an attack on the people themselves.

    The global state capitalist system itself must be understood and rejected or new plutocrats will simply rise up on the same systemic currents to occupy the same cultural, political, and economic chokepoints.

    And like everyone is saying...people must have local, practical experience with the new and different methods of political/economic relationships, production, distribution, and decision making in order to feel confident that they can scale up to replace the rejected global state capitalist system.

    Unless, that is, you're suggesting that even the chaos that would come with disrupting the current system without a prepped general population would be better than allowing the current system to continue?

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Sunday, 06 January 2013 22:28 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Joe, I can resonate with a lot of what you said in that last passage, I've gone back and forth on this one for years. I've turned towards a different kind of militancy these days, that of the radical/liberation Christian tradition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_radicalism ) but damn if I don't waver from time to time. I think oppressed populations should always be prepared for violent revolt as an option at some point, but when that point is is an open question I guess.

    I watched the documentary on the Earth Liberation Front recently, called ‘If a Tree Falls', and there was a scene where they were recounting this story of some factory in an Oregon town that was putting to death large amounts of wild horses on a regular basis, and blood from the operation was spilling into and contaminating the local drinking water, and the people of the town had been protesting this operation for a decade and could get no where vs. its money and power. One night the ELF just burnt it to the ground, one of their first arsons, and it was gone and the company never came back. I must admit part of me felt the allure of that sort of action for a moment while watching the film.

    Having said that, I have two questions. At this point the national security state apparatuses seem very powerful (particularly in the US), as evidenced in the article that Eric linked to above, and in this one about the FBI and Anonymous recently told in Rolling Stone:


    Those hacktivists have to go to incredible lengths to hide themselves and are still being infiltrated and put away (although, granted, Hammond got a bit sloppy). I also posted about the growing police state and the increasing attack on those with 'radical ideas' via militarized police forces: http://bit.ly/LByGhT

    So on one level I'm wondering, how ultimately successful is that sort of action going to be at this historical moment given this increasing totalitarianism?

    And what do you make of Chris Hedges’ argument during his recent Blac Bloc debate that their violence "is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state"? [http://bit.ly/xny2eK] It seems to me that under these prevailing conditions (and the giant meta-narrative of ‘terrorism’) that violence would only strengthen and justify the capabilities and actions of dominant power. Stephen Harper’s government is rapidly turning its rhetoric against ‘domestic threats’ here in Canada too, playing out this same script here in increasingly authoritarian ways.

    (Oh and btw, we might as well officially now welcome CSIS to this thread. Hello boys! :))

    There’s also something else I’ve been wanting to say, but been having a hard time articulating for some reason, which is why it’s taken me a couple of days to post this comment. But I feel the beginnings of a certain ‘love revolution’ that’s been arising over the last few years in the multitude of global protests that have been occurring. There’s been a certain planetary-solidarity showing up where the people in Egypt are supporting OWS, or over a hundred cities marching in solidarity with the Quebec protests, or the people of Iran and Israel sending messages of peace to one another, and so on. Just yesterday I saw an image of people in Mongolia holding up signs supporting the Idle No More protests in Canada. There’s a global consciousness that seems to be emerging that I’m feeling is going to be a big part of the way forward. I think that the movie Occupy Love captured a lot of this well. http://occupylove.org/

    This is not to be naïve and think there will not be suffering and pain and even possibly death on the parts of the resisting populaces; this is why I wrote a piece called ‘What’s Wrong With Martyrdom?’, trying to look at the concept of martyrdom again as a possibly powerful political force. ( http://bit.ly/ivbfvZ) And that’s also not to offer a single solution that blocks others from different actions, I can respect David Graeber’s rejoinder to Hedges that there needs to be a plurality of responses to the current situation. But I felt compelled to express that there seems to something new emerging in our current global context that I think holds a lot of power and hope, and should be fed as much as possible by those interested.

    And for what it’s worth this current situation can also be looked at through the lens of the concepts of Eros and Thanatos. The “modern (suicidal-homicidal) pathology” that Joe speaks of is deeply Thanatos based in my view. It’s the disintegrating death-drive in full display. But as Freud and others have noted, these two powers seem to intertwined in some strangely inseparable way. And perhaps it is precisely the deep Thanatos of our period that is spurring forth this new planetary Eros or trans-national solidarity. Here’s an interesting passage from Freud’s ‘Civilization and Its Discontents’:

    “Men have gained control over the forces of nature to such an extent that with their help they would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man. They know this, and hence comes a large part of their current unrest, their unhappiness and their mood of anxiety. And it is to be expected that the other of the two ‘Heavenly Powers’, eternal Eros, will make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with his equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?”.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Sunday, 06 January 2013 23:11 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Lincoln, I liked what you had to say there, and I resonate with the pressing need to have people see through a series of false beliefs. It reminded me of couple of things I thought I'd throw out there, neither of which I know that much about, but maybe others will know more and offer that or find value in following up on it.

    The first was Antonio Gramsci's notion of the 'organic intellectual'.

    "What was required for those who wished to overthrow the present system was a counter hegemony, a method of upsetting the consensus, of countering the ‘common sense’ view of society...The creation of working class intellectuals actively participating in practical life, helping to create a counter hegemony that would undermine existing social relations was Gramsci’s contribution to the development of a philosophy that would link theory with practice".



    And the other was Paulo Friere's 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed'. I've just gotten a copy and am only passingly familiar with the basic thrust of the work, but I'm pretty sure his basic method of emancipation is similar to what you were giving voice to above.


    I think with the internet and with avenues like social media in particular, we're as equipped as we've ever been to catalyze the type of awakening you're speaking to, so I think there's some hope in that realm at the moment.

  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Monday, 07 January 2013 04:48 posted by Joe Corbett

    lincoln, you are absolutely right that there is the risk of backlash against certain methods used to oppose power and money, which reminds me of that matrix quote where morpheus says most people are so completely asleep and identified with the system they will do anything to defend it.

    however, with this in mind, and also relating to what trevor says about chris hedges critique of the black bloc anarchists, on the one hand there are destructive acts of violence that almost always invite backlash and never accomplish anything but negative returns, such as throwing bricks into store windows, burning parked cars, fighting the police, or blowing up buildings and innocent people. this is indeed senseless and counterproductive in an unskilled and unwise use of violence. so im actually in agreement with hedges as far as this goes.

    the question is whether violence can ever be used in a way that is instructive and mobilizing of the people against power and money, and i think it can if it is used in an intelligent and precisely targeted way. for instance, if key leaders of the 1 percent, e.g. central players in the banking collapse, corrupt corporate politicians, unrepentant fossil fuel energy executives, billionaire neocon-philanthropists, and racist/war-mongering media pundits and their owner-masters were assassinated (without innocent bystanders being harmed) the mass media would be virtually forced to put a spotlight on the criminal and anti-democratic histories of these individuals and the motives behind killing them.

    in fact, this may be the only way most people would ever be exposed to the issues that the alternative media cranks out on a daily basis. for perhaps the first time in the history of the mainstream media, pundits would be forced to publically look at themselves and their masters as accomplices in the oppression of the people. and for the people themselves, it could finally give clarity and direction to the anger and frustration that is already seething and just waiting for the right moment to trigger it into action. in america it could become a teaching moment (and a call to action) over what the right to bear arms is really all about, namely, rising up against ones oppressors.

    and as for those who might step up to take the places of the fallen elite, i dont think there would be many takers in such a climate. remember, the war on terror recruits new members with nothing to lose on the basis of a backlash that is ethnically and religiously inspired against foreign invaders, but the petty bourgeois corporate managers and owners have everything to lose and everything to gain from a quiet retirement to the swiss alps where nobody is likely to bother them.

    let me close with another reminder from ken wilber that the cultural revolution of the renaissance really only involved a few dozen people, a vangaurd of visionary revolutionaries who were willing to go where no one else dared or could imagine to go, and sometimes under the direct threat of death by burning at the stake from the authorities who were watching over them. i think we should take state surveillance by the likes of the fbi as a badge of honor and a credential of authenticity for standing up to the roman guards. for some fine day, o lord universe, may peace and love reign over this world.

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Monday, 07 January 2013 18:59 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    @Joe -- "...the mass media would be virtually forced to put a spotlight on the criminal and anti-democratic histories of these individuals and the motives behind killing them."

    And this is where we disagree. If I was in that position, I would never even touch the real motives of those who did the act. That would be a failure in messaging. They would be painted as extremist with the broadest stroke and I would only ever report the craziest, most off-the-wall theories and ideals of people tangentially related. I would use words so misunderstood and negatively viewed such as "socialists" so as to never have to validate or explain the reasons for these attacks.

    This is the difficulty with the idea of armed revolt from the place that we are at now. When people started to exclusively look for information from sources that confirmed their own bias', messaging became the tool/weapon of the 21st century.

    Control/influence the ideas enough, and there's no chance of change. Look at the past twenty years for evidence of this. The Right has done amazing things in shaping the national discussion. We don't talk about spending increases or expanded social services anymore... we talk about how much spending we are going to get rid of. Every few months there is another round of talks about how much more we can slash from spending... and no one questions it. Obama himself has declared that only 30 years ago he would of been a "moderate Republican".

    But this thread has brought up an interesting discussion between Joshua and I. In the cycle of oppression and revolution, where the newly freed often become the new oppressors (whether it takes 200+ years (U.S.) or less than 2 years (Africa and the Middle East)) it seems that the seeds of violent revolution only bring more of the same. Even the United States shows these scars in our fascination and love affair with violence and our uses of coercive power.

    So, is there a way to consciously utilize violence? What if an uprising, after the fight has been fought, expressed how they did not approve of their own methods in retrospect? What if instead of demonization they were to acknowledge and mourn those who fought in the struggle on both sides? Would it change the cycle?

    Is there such a thing as conscious, compassionate violence? Is it even violence at that point?

    But aside from that tangent, I think that those that want to see a different future need to find a way to break into the information stream of many people or work on making wide changes in the education policy in this country.

    But I, like you it seems, am not sure if we have time for that.

    @David -- I read the article that you provided. I think that sustainable, local economies should be developed but it would require retooling our infrastructure and redistributing our population. I say this because not only would most people be royally screwed without being able to drive in their relatively local areas (due to how we have done our civil engineering in many areas), but because there are likely places in the country where the local environment could not support the population density in terms of food.

    At least if we are talking about more than isolated pockets of relocalization. How would you suggest we handle those challenges?

    @Lincoln -- Umm... yeah. I agree. Don't have much else to say.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Tuesday, 08 January 2013 05:55 posted by David MacLeod


    You are correct that it would require retooling our infrastructure and redistributing our population. Big cities = big problems. But we have to start with where we're at. The sooner we start, the less pain there will be. And it starts with us as individuals making the choices to become more resilient in our own homes and working to do the same in our communities. If you can move to a better location it might be wise to do so, otherwise "adapt in place," where you'll find there's more that can be done than what is visible at first glance.

    Transition founder Rob Hopkins likes to quote David Fleming: "Localisation stands, at best, at the limits of practical possibility, but it has the decisive argument in its favour that there will be no alternative."

    James Howard Kunstler talks about suburbia being "the greatest misallocation of resources the world has ever known." But David Holmgren, for just one example of what we can do, writes about "Retrofitting the Suburbs for an Energy Descent Future"

    And "Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability"

    ...and I totally agree with Lincoln's most excellently stated most recent comment above (while at the same time resonating with Joe's comment that "we don't have time." And yet, we certainly don't have the time it would take to recover from getting our response wrong...and the problems are too big to be solved by such a small segment of the population that currently "gets it").

  • Comment Link Hokyo Joshua Tuesday, 08 January 2013 12:12 posted by Hokyo Joshua

    Hey all, it seems as if some of the more aggressive posts have subsided and I find myself with a bit of time.

    I wanted to speak about the nature of revolution that seems to be the common thread right now. From my perspective, one of the issues that we face is the notion of cycles. I believe that Wilber really doesn't consider this a notable phenomena but if I were to "edit" Integral theory, this is something I would add the to core of the concept right up there with quadrants and lines.

    It seems as though certain types of phenomena are recapitulated by every structure. Right now, the best example for this in context of this discussion is the shift in power. In almost every governmental or revolutionary change, the method used was some form of violence even if it is just the violence of the assumed separation or cut from the original direction. We can see or species literally keep getting stuck on the same problems. How to have healthy hierarchy? What is power and how do we use it well? What are human rights and how far do they extend?

    Another great example would be the similarity between economic actions now and in the 1890's when deregulation was at its peak.

    My standard and belief is that only through finding a new way of revolution can we shake off the tyranny of the "Continued Co-creation of Cycles". Otherwise, if we use violence as a means of change. Then it seems that violence enviably becomes the standard of the new regime.

  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Wednesday, 09 January 2013 04:15 posted by Joe Corbett

    hokyo, thats a great idea about adding the notion of cycles to integral theory, particularly with regard to the entrenched interests of power within social hierarchies. it would probably be linked to the need for collective shadow work, as social classes tend to become the ossified expressions of a collective ego that needs to be periodically shattered for progress to take place.

    and as anybody knows who has gone through a dark night of the soul process, its not a very pleasant experience and can sometimes feel very violent indeed. but can we avoid or skip over this process altogether by simply 'being the change we want to see'? its doubtful, and that would seem to be contrary to the whole notion of a built-in need for cycles in the first place as a condition for the advancement of stages. as ken wilber says, the true guru is going to fry your ass and take no prisoners. i dont think we can expect any less from social revolution.

    for those interested in alternatives that build on linking the radical tradition of relocalization with the libertarian tradition of community self-help, i recommend this book by a marxist from the midwestern heartland of america:


  • Comment Link David MacLeod Thursday, 10 January 2013 01:07 posted by David MacLeod

    Thanks for the book link, it looks interesting. I have a book recommendation as well, also by someone who has been associated with Marxism.

    The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century by Grace Lee Boggs. http://www.amazon.com/Next-American-Revolution-Sustainable-Twenty-First/dp/0520272595/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357751382&sr=1-1&keywords=grace+lee+boggs+the+next+american+revolution

    A fascinating book, especially because of her background as an activist involved in numerous causes over many decades, including the civil rights movement, labor movement, women's movement, Black Power movement, environmental justice movement, etc.

    She now believes the idea of the "top-down" revolution has been discredited. She writes, "it becomes clearer every day that organizing or joining massive protests and demanding new policies fail to sufficiently address the crisis we face. They may demonstrate that we are on the right side politically, but they are not transformative enough. they do not change the cultural images or the symbols that play such a pivotal role in molding us into who we are."

    So instead she now seems to be more on the "be the change" side of things.

    Again, she writes "We are in the midst of a process that is nothing short of reinventing revolution. For much of the twentieth century the theory and practice of revolution have been dominated by overarching ideologies, purist paradigms, and absolutist views of a static Paradise; arguments over which class, race, or gender was the main revolutionary social force; and binary oppositions between Left and Right. Big victories have been prioritized over small collaborative actions that buld community and neighborhoods: the end has been valued over the means. We rarely stopped to wonder how much this view of revolution reflected the capitalist culture that was dehumanizing us...the struggle doesn't always have to be confrontational but can take the form of reaching out to find common ground with the many "others" in our society who are also seeking ways out from alienation, isolation, privatisation, and dehumanization by corporate globalization."

    She never mentions Permaculture or Transition Towns or relocalization or Integral, but her writing seems to me consistent with all of these.

    "...the movement today, in this period and this country, is being created not by the cadres of a vanguard party with a common ideology, but by individuals and groups responding creatively with passion and imagination to the real problems and challenges that they face where they live and work."

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Tuesday, 15 January 2013 00:31 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    @Kaine, I'm still working on my response re: decentralization and the local. What began as a blog post has moved toward an article and is dangerously sliding towards an essay. :) Not that you're exactly waiting with baited breath on that one or anything, just thought it was good etiquette to touch base on that. You have prompted me into working on a piece that I'm glad to be writing, so thanks for that.

    and some other good resources in the last few comments there, my Amazon wish list gets longer. :)

  • Comment Link Kaine DeBoer Tuesday, 15 January 2013 02:29 posted by Kaine DeBoer

    @Trevor -- Well, I'm actually still paying attention to this so I do appreciate the touch in. I'm looking forward to seeing what your thoughts are on the subject as I found myself underwhelmed at the answers to my questions.

  • Comment Link Bryan O'Doherty Wednesday, 16 January 2013 03:51 posted by Bryan O'Doherty

    How exciting and refreshing to find (literally only in the last year or so it seems) so many people thinking outside the box in terms of what "integral politics" and "integral economics" really means.

    I have my own take of course

    But what is so exciting to me is all the people I see coming out with more radical ideas of what an integral political transcendence should look like. Because indeed the shift from first to second tier is so radical, that it demands an equally radical shift in the way we organize ourselves as a human society.

    The business as usual, work with the system we have and try to influence it type of mentality (what I would consider the "old guard" integral political approach) will never bring about the type of change that is necessary to save us from, if not extinction, at least a horrible age of darkness and regression.

    The recent (12/3/2012) http://new.livestream.com/accounts/155684/evolver12032012/videos/7275469 discussion between Jeff Salzman (old guard) and Mark Michael Lewis is extremely illustrative of the types of questions we need to be asking ourselves. I don't agree with Mark completely, but I think Jeff, beyond being a bit obnoxious with his constant interruptions, holds a rather simplistic and frankly dangerous view of integral politics that I think is relatively widely held amongst most integrals who, as Mark might put it, simply don't have the background knowledge in political and economic theory on which to base their thinking (i.e. they are not questioning their own long held opinions that have been inherited from first tier ideologies).

    I definitely plan to expand on this line of thought as well as contribute my own ideas to this exciting and important discussion.

    Please keep it coming!


  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Wednesday, 16 January 2013 05:51 posted by Jeremy Johnson


    Lovely reading more of your thoughts on the notion of cycles in evolution. This is something that intuitively bubbles up in my thinking concerning history.

    My question is:

    * If some phenomena are recapitulated in every structure, does that diminish the importance of adhering to strictly developmental stages? *

    Let's say there are cultural cycles in history. Would this, then, imply that there is actually another "meta-structure" aside from the "developmental structures" spoken of in integral theory? I remember when Wilber first broached this topic sociologically in "A Sociable God," with "Developmental Logic." Cycles that repeat up through history seem to point to another set of structures. I suppose this is getting abstract, but I think it's also a way to highlight something visceral and important.

    It means things keep resulting in violence and bloodshed. It means the corruption of politicians and accumulation of wealth via corporate dynasties are just as karmically responsible as the old Kings and monarchs, the old tyrants and Pharaohs. It places us in the same archetypal struggle as our ancestors. History hasn't begun yet until this endless cycle is somehow transmuted.

    Perhaps we can really acknowledge a new "stage" of human consciousness at the moment where this fundamental cycle of history, and human suffering, is alleviated.

    Not to ramble too much, but the nerd-scholar in me wanted to pass along a few texts/names that might interest you. If you're a history buff, you'll note that a lot of classical writers talked a lot about cultural cycles.

    1) Mircea Eliade, with his book "The Myth of the Eternal Return"

    2) Oswald Spengler, a famous classical historian who posited cultural cycles of history, of which all civilizations appear to adhere to. His famous book is The Decline of the West.

    3) Check out John Ebert's work and his website Cinema Discourse. He utilizes a lot of Spengler's thought and describes his philosophically excellently.

    4) Giambattista Vico: A famous historian and philosopher. He adopted the Egyptian mythology of "Four Ages" – the Age of Gods, the Age of Heroes, The Age of Men, The Age of Chaos. Check out stuff on his book: The New Science (I tried to read this a few years back but it was too much of an undertaking in grad school).

    5) William Irwin Thompson adopts this notion in his two books: The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light (which I think you'll appreciate more, Hokyo), and Darkness and Scattered Light (which really utilizes these ideas into more cyclical notions of history).

    6) Ibn Khaldun: considered the world's first sociologist and early Islamic historian. He developed a theory of cultural cycles of history: the duality between civilization and savagery (not to be interpreted in a derogatory way). The nomad and the city state. He developed these ideas in his magnum opus: Muqaddimah (roughly translated as "beginnings"). Really love this guy's mind. He is also one of the founding thinkers of modern social science. At the end of a civilization, the "nomadic" consciousness of the desert dweller sweeps into the corrupted and stagnant city-state, re-setting history with the rise of a new, young and effective city state. Only ages later it would suffer decline. Khaldun was appreciated widely by Western scholars, especially today (more recently) for his organic understanding of cultural cycles.

    7) Many of the ancient world's mythologies and traditional cosmic cycles. The Hindus and the Yugas (Four, coincidentally). The Astrological signs (See Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas).

    There was something else I had in mind, but now I can't recall. Ah well! Hope this was helpful, and maybe a little interesting for those who are geekily into cultural evolution/historical writers.

  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Wednesday, 16 January 2013 12:09 posted by Jeremy Johnson

    How could I have forgotten? One last thing, just to bring it all around (and speaking of cycles)...

    It might bear repeating, one last time. @Hokyo, this is definitely for you, and our recent chats on Facebook, but really it's for everyone here discussing the immanent shift, decentralizations of power, and the potential for an "archaic revival," as well as new mutations – a rhizomatic planetary society. Is it possible? What would this imply? How would we organize ourselves into some greater unity without centralization?

    These questions imply, I think, the notion of a cycle or a season. Here we are, at the "end of history" as Fukuyama says. Here we are with Nietzsche's Last Man. And now there is talk of decentralization. Egalitarian societies. Local economies. Gift economies. Organic food and decentralized production. All awesome stuff, and certainly "harkening back" to the origins of human culture, way before civilization began.

    I wonder if we are misidentifying this archetypal pattern – or structure, to keep in step with my last post – with the "past." Perhaps it is part of a cycle. If that is the case, then it's no simply regression or return, but a recapitulation of an archetypal form. The sun rises. It has risen innumerable times before; and yet this sunrise is new, like no other. It is both ancient and progressive. It can recall the past and harken the future. This is Ouroboros. This is the eternal return. Somehow, the snake of time slithers between eternity and novelty.

    This makes me think of a carving in Jung's garden, "I am a child and an old Man." The answer appears senseless, mythical, irrational. Yet somehow it may be true.

    To tell you the truth though, I don't know if the answer lies in theory. The horizon of our knowledge is always Myth. So what does that mean?

    I only hope that we can live in a world where such things might be gleaned again. More importantly, that somehow this kind of knowledge can again be used toward some better world. Ouroboros is about to bite his tail, so do we have something new to say to him, this time? How shall he sink his fang into tomorrow, so that our sunrise would not be stained so red?

    Anyhow, I just wonder if the archaic revival, and decentralization point towards some greater evolutionary cycles; ones that slither between the ever-new and ever-old. That is, history!

  • Comment Link Joe Corbett Friday, 18 January 2013 05:29 posted by Joe Corbett

    jeremy, these are some interesting questions and food for thought on cycles. there are some economic theories about long-waves of boom and bust created by over-accumulation and falling rates of profit beyond the short-wave boom and bust cycles in capitalism created by speculative bubbles. but these are part of the developmental structure of capitalism itself and not attributable to a meta-structure.

    i think the same applies to the rise and fall of civilizations, where the natural course of accumulation and ossification of institutional laws and norms within the relations of society eventually become the fetters on further (and much needed) social development, at which point there needs to be a radical transformation of the social relations to accommodate or to be the new vessel, temple, or collective body of the underlying potentials that so desperately need to be developed.

    this is all pretty straight forward historical materialism without any need for a separate meta-structure of cycles. the cycles are built into the developmental process itself in a series of accumulation and ossification at each new stage. each new self-society recapitulates the need to build its new forms and then eventually ossifies to the point of rigor mortis, which then needs to be autopsied and dismantled by dissection before it is burned and buried for good, making way for the new generation of life.

    indeed, the process of development and evolution is the cycle of life itself.

    my 2 cents.

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Sunday, 20 January 2013 18:02 posted by Eric Pierce

    Sorry I' have not had time to keep up with the discussion.

    The following is a "TransPartisan" update about MoveOn.org and Tea Party people getting together to discover common ground.



    my facebook comment on the "Coffee Party" group
    The whole point of the transpartisan movement is to encourage populism, local grass roots politics, (transcend partisanship). In California, the corrupt political establishment is dominantly Democratic, so populist progressives/greens should seek "common ground" with populist libertarians/independent/conservatives around issues of progressive-grassroots reforms that the "corporatist" Democratic Party leadership is afraid of.

    Example: years ago, a Green Democrat from Mendocino county tried to run for Governor on the basis of reforming the corporate corruption in the party. He had his teeth kicked in (metaphorically speaking) by the usual party thugs, so he ran as a Green Party candidate. Also, see Rabbi Michael Lerner's critiques of the liberal-corporate establishment in "Surplus Powerlessness" and on www.tikkun.org

    Please do not forget that Joe McCormick (an ex-conservative/republican) had already done much work on this, with some of the same people. See McCormick's Transpartisan Alliance. http://coffeepartyusa.com/transpartisan-daly-city

    What McCormick's work reveals is that it is possible to hold conversations about "the common good" at very high levels (they had Al Gore talking with Grover Norquist!) and coming to surprising agreement on some issues. However, when people walk away from such elevated settings, they frequently revert to their previous hard-line positions, conditioned paths of thought and behavior, conformism to the norms of their social "tribe", and so forth.

    Also: the Transpartisan movement grew out of Integral Theory (Ken Wilber and others in the Transpersonal Psychology movement, Human Potential, Aurobindo, Zen, and other East-West movements, etc.).

    The big issue that Wilber ultimately raised was about "Boomeritis", or the tendency within postmodern/green/progressive culture toward intense narcissism and nihilism (in academia, the "culture wars", political correctness, postmodern deconstruction, thought policing). Wilber was attacked by the "far left" elements, and drifted off into capitalist circles ("spiritual capitalism", the Whole Foods sham), corporate "life coaching", expensive conferences in ex-urban resort settings for upper middle class people searching for meaning and spirituality, and all that stuff. This led to a major negative reaction from within the Integral movement from people that were not wealthy, or who wanted the movement to focus on social justice and environmental issues.

    The reaction is exemplified by some grafitti sprayed on the sign in front of an exotic new age think tank called Esalen Institute in Big Sur California that said "jive shit for rich white folk". These issues are an echo of the popularity of eastern mysticism and guru fetishism that was popular amongst upper class american socialites 100 years ago.


    So, in a weird way, the Integral Movement, and the subset of Transpartisans, has come full circle. Will populists or elitists prevail? Can they build bridges between their viewpoints? While maintaining, or discovering some new dynamic, some vibrant, flourishing form of authentic culture?

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Sunday, 20 January 2013 18:34 posted by Eric Pierce

    re: Spanish Civil War

    As I may have mentioned earlier:

    Leonard Liggio, a deeply paleo-libertarian scholar of classical liberalism wrote an interesting paper on the roots of democracy (local representative institutions) in the 500 years before 1492, such as the Fueros and Cortes in what later became Spain. Some of these institutions, including local militias, were a product of aristocratic grants made to entice settlement in the Spanish March, a depopulated area south of the Pyrenees formerly under Roman control that "French" aristcrats and church leaders wanted settled as a buffer zone against Moorish/muslim moves over the mountains into "France". The trade off that the settlers made was more independence for less safety. There was apparently no shortage of takers of the deal.

    Prior to 1492, local wisdom flourished in some areas around such early form of democracy. Religious reform movements encouraged alternative economic schemes and representative politics, for instance as spread along the pilgrimage routes of the Camino de Santiago from the Cluniac Abbeys.

    By 1492, materialists/modernists began to see the possibilities of power and global trade and Absolutism, and began to think about how to eradicate the "snake pits of human nature" (Ivan Illich) such as democracy and free trade.

    Lingistic conformity and standardization became the weapon of the "modernists" in their quest for domestic control and global imperium. When the politicians took over the church in order to launch imquisitions, they also created Papal Concordats that destroyed the Fueros, Cortes, and other similar "medieval" representative institutions, and replaced (post-feudal) free trade with mercantilism.

    Over the next several hundred years, various peasant rebellions against imposed foreign leadership took place, and the "liberales" (liberals) came about in opposition.

    Romanticism developed much later (in response to the horrors of industrialism), which gave birth to the cousin ideologies of fascism and marxism.

    So, there is a very long history of conflict and uprisings, and counter-revolution.

    The radical leftists that systematically executed unarmed nuns and priests did so as part of a larger pattern. The executions were not random. My late wife's grandfather was a small family businessman and was targeted for assassination by an anarchist cell. The family had to suffer from the schemes of the Left and then later endure bombings by German dive bombers in support of the Fascist attack on Barcelona.

    The result was 50 years of fascism and dictatorship.

    The non-aligned upper classes were forced to "take sides". They saw the deep dysfunction of the Left and went the other way out of survival. Their complicity with the Franco regime was as "secret" as possible, but has recently been unearthed by scholars and journalists.

    The facts are complex, and can be teased apart to support the confirmation biases of various opposing viewpoints.

    The reality is that the Left has a history of failure and terrorism that has to be taken into account if people are thinking about the need for violent opposition to the current form of global state-capitalism.


  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Sunday, 20 January 2013 18:55 posted by Eric Pierce

    Liggio's paper:


  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Sunday, 20 January 2013 19:09 posted by Eric Pierce

    To vastly oversimplify, Liggio establishes the value of "libertarian" independent populism over intellectually fashionable nonsense:



    ... The great Liberal historian, Augustin Thierry, had documented the development in the middle ages of free institutions. Basing himself on the economic theory and political studies of Jean Baptiste Say, Destutt de Tracy, Benjamin Constant, Charles Comte, and Charles Dunoyer, Thierry undertook voluminous researches and publications of the growth of commerce and industry, the emergence of the middle class, and the charters and oath-associations from the eleventh century where by the legal and constitutional rights of the middle class were protected. Thierry's work showed how the individual rights of Europeans were sanctified in the progression of oath-bound associations from the peace of God-Truce of God movements through the town charters and the formation of representative institutions. The memory of this magnificent Classical Liberal historiography was practically lost.

    Thierry's historical contributions show how rights emerged in the great religious movements of the Peace of God and the Gregorian Reformation, and were consolidated in the oath-bound associations creating town-charters and representative institutions. In the debris of the Carolingian Empire and its tradeless feudal system, there arose commerce, industry, with watermills and windmills and private property in land. The feudal institutions were challenged by the oath-bound associations, usually led by abbots or bishops. Contract and consent became the center of the struggle against the feudal institutions of autarkic economy. In the conflict against feudalism, the emerging market forces of commerce and agriculture created the edifice of medieval legal and constitutional institutions.

    The remnants of medieval legal and constitutional institutions in Cataluna and Castile were attached in the eighteenth century with the succession of the Bourbons.

    In the flowering of Liberalism in the early nineteenth century, one of Hayek's favorite authors, Benjamin Constant, raised a serious question. He challenged what he perceived to be Charles Dunoyer's determinist view of progress. Constant asked: If we believe that economic and technological improvement is accompanied by improvement of moral sentiments, how do we explain the fact that while all of the more advanced peoples of Europe - French, Lombards, Flemish, Dutch, Germans, and Austrians, - accept the tyranny of Napoleon Bonaparte, it was the Spanish peasants alone who rose up against the French occupation, and exhausted and then destroyed Napoleon's rule? Constant saw the Spanish peasants as the liberators of Europe.

    It is exactly in the context of the Spanish struggle for liberation from Napoleon that arose the first use of the word, Liberales, which was adopted by the English and French admirers of the Spanish vanguard. However, there was a strong conflict among the Spanish Liberales and among their French and English friends. The opponents of the monarchist Absolutists in Spain divided between the Josephist supporters of King Joseph Bonaparte and French modern statism, and Constitutional supports of the Cortes of Cadiz and the Constitution of 1812.

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Sunday, 20 January 2013 19:44 posted by Eric Pierce

    Here are some of the classic attacks on Wilber's "Mean Green Meme" construct. Hilariously, they perfectly illustrate the thinking that Wilber is critical of: an intense focus on self and deconstruction in the "green meme" culture, as well as thought policing, political correctness, attraction to fashionable intellectual nonsense, and so forth!


    And again, Wilber's alienation from these "MGM" elements of the counterculture/new age movement seemingly resulted in not a further move toward sublime reform, but drift toward another type of regressive fashionable nonsense, the "jive shit for rich white folk" scene, or the absurd "spiritual capitalism" mantra such as the Whole Foods scam, etc.

    Both the MGM academic/spiritual elites and the Wilberian conscious-capitalism elites are "disconnected" from the history of peasant rebellions, independent populism, labor wars against plutocracy/capitalism, etc.

    So, this appears to be at least one "missing element" in the *actual culture* that has been "enacted" from the integral movement.

    The main "take away" being that academic and intellectual integralism or other holistic reform movements will not be taken very seriously by populist independents or libertarians when it becomes obvious that academia is an institutionally "captured" mode by the structures of state-capitalism.

    An anecdotal example: the membership of the Jean Gebser society was dominated by academics/theorists. At some point, they got the brilliant idea to actually invite some non-academic people to their excellent annual conference, mainly Buddhists or similar, that were advocating for Integral values. The academics were stunned at the interest that such common people had in Gebser's theory, and how much it had inspired them to take various actions toward reforms and personal transformation.

  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Wednesday, 23 January 2013 00:45 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Apologies for abandoning this thread, folks. I had a death in the family and two bouts of the flu that's been going around, so my ability to concentrate has been...shall we say, fractured.

    So now I'm finally getting around to answering question #5. Apologies also for the length of the article...it turned into more of a pamphlet with everything I wanted to say. This has been something near and dear to my heart for some thirty years, and I have come at it from several different angles in the past. However, these previous attempts failed to constitute any sort of coherent, unified vision of how to address the problems of capitalism as they exist today. So here is my attempt at a more evolutionary approach. This is just a first draft, but I'm hoping you will find it interesting nonetheless (and can give me feedback on how to improve it!)

    Here it is, then: http://integrallifework.com/images/PolEco-UnitivePrinciple.pdf

    On other fronts....David MacLeod I've been reading up on Holmgren, Permaculture, Fryers Forest, ecosynthesis, etc. and am finding all of this to be pretty interesting and thought provoking. I'm even borrowing the concept of "design principles" in my own work. Thanks for introducing me. At the same time, I really don't think it is sufficient...it doesn't go far enough in rectifying what we might call the "embedded assumptions" in a market-centric capitalist system, which in turn tend to permeate every "grass roots" attempt to reform that system. More on this my the article....

    Joe Corbit, I read your Integral World article in response to non-violence, and I have included what I think to be more non-violent sort of revolutionary strategy at the end of my article (though...not entirely, as you will see!). I tend to agree with Kaine and Hokyo that the ends do not justify the means...instead, the ends need to manifest in the means. However, there are certainly some structures that need a more forceful nudge, and I try to address that in keeping with Aristotle's observation that the equitable sometimes supercedes the just.

    Jeremy, I also discuss at length the decentralization you speak of, and why it may be restricted to only certain layers of exchange (what I mean by "layers" is explained in the article). This is a critical distinction that is too often overlooked in rhizomatic proposals, IMO. However, I agree that there is certainly something cyclical in all of this. We are just too close to the action to recognize what it is yet. :-)

    Kaine, when you say "Control/influence the ideas enough, and there's no chance of change," this is what inspires, I think, one acceptable form of "violence:" haktivism and forced information equality (i.e. WikiLeaks).
    Trevor, I actually AM awaiting your article with baited breath. :-0

    Eric, I'm not sure what you were aiming for (dialogue-wise) with so many lengthy posts in a row....? Maybe you can clarify/summarize for us at a 30,000-foot level...? Regarding Libertarian ideals (both Right and Left), I address those in the article and show why Libertarian socialism is impractical in the short-run, but that many of its elements are ultimately desirable.

    Okay...all for now!

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Monday, 04 February 2013 01:24 posted by Eric Pierce

    T Collins and All,

    The lack of threading is not conducive to efficient understanding or discussion.

    S&B should put getting better software on their list of things to do? Or maybe B&S should have broken this thread up into meaningful subthreads to begin with?

    I read all of the comments, then the actual articles (at considerable frustration and pain over many weeks), so I fail to understand your complaints.


    Anyways, T, a while ago you asked me if I considered myself to be left-Libertarian or right-Libertarian (etc). Answer: neither. I'm more of an agrarian "prairie" populist. I'm also a labor activist. Both groups have been exploited and f*d over by the Left/Green "establishment" many many times, and it is "dangerous" to point out that fact in PC/left settings such as academia.

    Some of my ancestors came to the USA to settle in a Mennonite area on the great plains. The prairie populist movement was a collaboration between working people and intellectuals. Many of the "progressive" elements of that movement gave up fighting corrupt State-Capitalism and left the USA, particularly for Canada.

    Other parts of my family stayed in the middle classes from the 1880s via farming and related small town businesses, then since about 1900s, in telegraph, radio and aviation.

    To return to the topic of violent change, the prairie populists had seen the deep level of violence used by corporate Plutocrats against the labor movement from 1890 to 1915, and the reaction from the radical Left, including the assassination of the Governor of Idaho by radical labor activists from the mining industry. Please note that middle class wealth was repeatedly VAPORIZED by economic cycles (corporate plutocracy) in the mid to late 1800s.

    Economic chaos and labor wars were major inputs into Teddy Roosevelt's anti-trust "reforms" and later FDR's "New Deal".

    I did grow up in several cultures and was influenced by both eastern and western religions. My children are dual citizens of the USA and Catalonia/Spain, and are bi-lingual. We are all hoping for independence of Catalonia from Madrid. Then the Catalans can really start to go at each other, unhindered by their current common enemy, the Castellanos. (sarcasm)

    In Spain you can see the cyclical nature of incompetent Leftists trading places with the evil, predatory Right, over and over. I can separately repost my earlier comments about that cycle if you want.

    Have you read Orwell's classic analysis of the problems on the Left? I'll post a link to a .pdf excerpt from Michael Lerner's "Surplus Powerlessness".

    The "economic" crisis in Europe is illustrative of the practical problems in political economies. Germany is a fabulously well organized and efficient example of state-capitalism. They run huge trade deficits with the rest of the world, but particularly, with the poor areas in southern europe. The Big Banks (City of London, etc.) are acting as the national credit card, enabling "bubbles" that plunge their "victims" into debt poverty and social instability. The Germans don't want to give up the money they made, so they are not supporting an aggressive move toward the euro-centralized regulation of predatory business that is necessary to curtail both the trade deficits/imbalances and bank corruption.

    The Germans are clearly not "libertarian" in their political economy. They are an example of what Keith Preston, an excellent anarcho-libertarian writer calls "state organized and supported" industry. Preston explains how during the industrial revolution, "classical liberalism" became "conservative" in the sense that it increasingly accepted both "state interventions" (such as statist bank policies) and foreign imperialism. Henry Thoreau's famous anti-war classic "Civil Disobedience" was an early "small government" protest that questioned the need for a large military establishment.

    In one of the links given in these comments, the situation of "bad integralism" on both the left and right is perfectly illustrated:

    "Daily Evolver
    Mark Michael Lewis with Jeff Salzman"
    (Mon Dec 3, 2012 8:55pm EST)

    2 hours and 15 minutes of ghastly stuff!

    Salzman is a creepy green-memer, quibbling with the "libertarian" (business coach) Lewis.

    As fascinating as Salzman's creepiness was, I stopped listening when Lewis, who is very "polished", STUPIDLY stated that the IT industry was the product of "free markets". On the contrary, the entire computer industry as we know it was the result of 100% "government" (defense) funded basic research programs in the 1950s at a few of the most elite "liberal" universities in the USA! (google Eric Schmidt, Google chairman of the Board, C-SPAN archives.)

    T, I skimmed your long article, and saw what seemed like a lot of good and interesting ideas. I would suggest that it needs to be better organized, and the stuff in the first part about philosophy and history should be boiled way down, and/or moved to an appendix. I read about 15 pages of the stuff at the top, and then started skimming. :)

    Again, my main concern is that Left/Green integralists, of either the "suburban" or academic sort, may not have any knowledge of the practical struggles that farmers and industrial workers have had to deal with over the last 125+ years. They are not aware of the brutal destruction of farm and factory communities by state-capitalism (including the educational establishment) and american imperialism, or the resulting spiritual damage.

    The academic labor movement itself has been a massive failure in recent decades. As a professional guild, academics "sold out to the Man" and showed almost no opposition to the destruction of the classical liberal tradation by corporatists that infiltrated academia (Glynn Custred, CSU, Hayward). The comments from the Lindesfarne founder are another stunningly honest recognition of the basic inability of the Left/Green/counterculture movement to accomplish much of anything other than ritually abusive collective neurosis.

    Did you listen to the YouTube link?


    "William Irwin Thompson Interview: Consciousness, Occupy Movement and Planetary Culture"
    Uploaded on Jan 4, 2012

    When people start talking about engaging in genocide against "memeplexes", it doesn't surprise me that conservatives rush out and (stupidly) buy more guns and bullets. They presumably do not understand that they are being seduced into proto-fascism of a far more dangerous type than the "government tyranny" they fear.

    If people want a model for civil war (violent social change) in the USA, I would simply suggest that they look back at the four previous civil wars in anglo-american history. American corporations (particularly these sectors: Oil, Defense, Real Estate and Banks) of the "aggressive" kind, are directly connected to the Civil War Confederacy through at least cultural inheritance, if not actual direct family inheritance.

    Yes, read it and weep: former slaver families in the american south were inadvertently unleashed *by the New Deal* and allowed to resurrect themselves in corporate form. The much better idea that had previously been in place by the remnants of the Union elites that actually ran the USA was to smash such slavers in the face without flinching and never allow them any kind of real political or economic power. That is one of many examples of how common sense escaped from liberalism. (Sarah Robinson, Alternet)

    I have a deep respect for the processes of the learned classes, and a correspondingly deep distrust of the corrupt influences that are rampant in academia, on both the Left and Right.

    These are all forms of intellectual flab that can no longer be afforded.

    The real danger to america, from my perspective is not singly one "side" or the other, it is the confluence of the worst of the Right and the worst of the Left in a new form of Totalitarian Humanism.

    The recent discussions in the Integral movement about politics are all too predictable in that they tend to descend into squabbling over how to best rehash the "left vs. right" debate.

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Friday, 08 February 2013 19:22 posted by Eric Pierce

    .pdf excerpt from Michael Lerner's "Surplus Powerlessness:


  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Monday, 11 February 2013 03:31 posted by T.Collins Logan

    Eric thanks for the feedback on my article - I think what you are saying is fair. Also thanks for the Lerner link - I don't always find his ideas resonating with my own, but this article definitely does. And I do appreciate what you are saying about what I would describe as "idealist academics." Though I'm sure there are exceptions, that's probably why I didn't do so well in college myself (I dropped out). When abstracted to "pure ideology," it's a problem all across the sociopolitical spectrum, and especially wherever it intersects with any sort of real-world activism. In fact I think it contributes to Lerner's "Surplus Powerlessness" in terms of change agency for all sides. And, lastly, thanks for your own back story and personal synthesis. Since Beams & Struts is winding down to a close (and I imagine the commenting facility will be disabled soon), I won't expand on any of this now, other than to say I hope others will get their comments in before the thread is put to rest for good. ;-)

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Friday, 15 February 2013 00:26 posted by David MacLeod

    I'm still hoping we see Trevor's article on 'decentralization and the local' (http://beamsandstruts.com/articles/item/1143-eightperspectivespolitics#comment5992) before B&S shuts down. In the meantime, I've put something up on my own website that I probably should have titled "8 Perspectives on Decentralization and Going Local." Instead I called it "Aspects and Perspectives on Localization and Relocalization." Basically it's my "linking machine" tendency at play again, with links to 8 posts on the topic. Some of them my own.

    Most of my links are supportive of the concept of relocalization, but I include aspects of the topic that are not so favorable. One of them is my post on "Community Rights vs. States Rights vs. Federal Rights." I bring up the Tea Party and associated groups that would like to assert states rights over federal rights for the purpose of overturning federal environmental regulations, for example.

    To be clear, the Transition movement does not support that kind of localism. Rob Hopkins has a helpful chart in The Transition Companion, explaining his view of what localization is, and what it most assuredly is not. John Michael Greer, on the other hand, makes the argument that we likely won't be able to control which style of localization pops up where...but nevertheless in the biggest picture he still sees it as the best alternative going forward.

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Friday, 15 February 2013 01:34 posted by David MacLeod

    T. Collins,
    Condolences on the death in your family.

    Regarding your paper on "Political Economy and the Unitive Principle" - wow, your integration of perspectives here is very impressive. I really want to spend some quality time with this document you have shared - you obviously have put a lot of time and thought into this. So far, however, I cheated by scanning down to the parts where you discuss Permaculture and Ecology.

    You've done a good jog reflecting on these disciplines. However, one aspect I would like to see more attention on is the role of energy in all systems.

    My take on this is deeply influenced by systems ecologist Howard T. Odum (who also deeply influenced Holmgren). His book "A Prosperous Way Down" is highly recommended. Online, a good starting place is his classic 1973 article "Energy, Ecology, and Economics" http://movimientotransicion.pbworks.com/f/IN%20-%20Energ%C3%ADa,%20econom%C3%ADa%20y%20redistribuci%C3%B3n.pdf

    Odum wrote: "many are beginning to see that there is a unity of the single system of energy, ecology, and economics. The world's leadership, however, is mainly advised by specialists who study only a part of the system at a time.

    Instead of a single system's understanding, we have adversary arguments… Many economic models ignore the changing force of energy, regarding effects of energy sources as an external constant; ecoactivists cause governments to waste energy in unnecessary technology; and the false gods of growth and medical ethics make famine, disease, and catalytic collapse more and more likely for much of the world. Some energy specialists consider the environment as an antagonist instead of a major energy ally in supporting the biosphere.

    Instead of the confusion that comes from the western civilization's characteristic educational approach of isolating variables in tunnel-vision thinking, let us here seek common sense overview which comes from overall energetics…

    With major changes confronting us, let us consider here some of the main points that we must comprehend so we may be prepared for the future.”

    My discussion of his article begins here:

    Another key article is David Holmgren's "Money vs. Fossil Energy: The Battle for Control of the World."

    Holmgren writes:
    "The unfolding climate/energy/economic crisis is heating up a very old rift in global industrial politics. This rift derives from two core beliefs on what constitutes the source of wealth. Does wealth come from human creativity and innovation or is it found in the natural world? Is human capacity the source or a by-product of real power?

    I believe two alternative (and mostly complementary) paradigms that are implied by these questions, have shaped the history of the modern world perhaps more so than the Left-Right political ideologies. I characterise these increasingly conflicted paradigms by the following shorthand: faith in wealth and power from “human brilliance” (meaning “faith in human brilliance to overcome physical limitations.”) verses faith that wealth and power emerge from control of “holes in the ground”, ie. physical resources.
    In a world of energy descent and climate change, both these beliefs are failing and increasingly we see the believers of both paradigms at war in a futile battle for control of the world..."

    Hokyo and Jeremy,
    Going back to your comments around Cycles - thanks for sharing these thoughts which I found very intriguing.
    Hokyo's comment: http://beamsandstruts.com/articles/item/1143-eightperspectivespolitics#comment5974
    Jeremy's comment: http://beamsandstruts.com/articles/item/1143-eightperspectivespolitics#comment6003

    My own take on cycles was expressed in a blog post on "The Wave/Pulse of Human History." I do reference you Jeremy, but my emphasis was largely on resource flows - especially energy. I originally thought this post might end up here on B&S, but it needed a lot more editing, which I never got around to.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Saturday, 16 February 2013 20:52 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    David, thanks, my piece on networks and decentralization will be published on this coming Wednesday. I just got back my edits last night, and I have still have a conclusion to write. I've been working on it for six weeks, it's at 5000 words (so that means Journal/Essay section) and I wasn't even able to tackle the localization part!! Oy vey. Not only that but it's going to be a total snapshot in time and completely outdated before too long. Ah, but what the heck, hopefully it contributes something to the conversation at this present time, and feeds that future in some sort of way. Looking forward to having you (and others) read it, cheers!

  • Comment Link T.Collins Logan Saturday, 16 February 2013 23:05 posted by T.Collins Logan


    Odum's paper is great. Thanks for that. And indeed I need to expand energy considerations in my piece - they are there, but they aren't well-developed. So thanks for that as well.

    Regarding Odum's paper, I think he really nails it when he talks about "steady state non-growth" as necessary and inevitable, and the necessity to place quality and stability above constant gain in our values hiearchy. Very astute and echoed by many other of my favorite thinkers, and of course captured in Permaculture principles as well. All great stuff, and really it underlies my own values assumptions about what constitutes a sustainable political economy, so I'll be expressing this more explicitly in my paper for sure. :-)

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Monday, 18 February 2013 12:44 posted by Eric Pierce

    Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, who in recent years has promoted "4 Environmental Heresies" and sits on various NGO and corporate think tanks and boards, stated something interesting about his experience in the counterculture that gets at part of the "left vs. right" and "mean green meme" problem with the integral movement.

    Brand always saw himself as more libertarian than progressive/left.

    He promoted self-reliance and use of "tools" rather than waiting for the establishment's political system to roll out new forms of social engineering programs.

    Brand's statement seems consistent with Wilber's "unique" (AQAL) way of describing how the left and right see the source of suffering/evil in different ways. (where the right sees suffering from an "interior" perspective, as the result of failure to take personal responsibility, and the left sees suffering from a structural/exterior perspective, such as income inequality.)

    As I probably mentioned previously, Wilber was from a military family, and grew up on the great plains. In the Cold War era. He had one foot in the old paradigms of modernist warrior and agrarian commune, and the other one in postmodernism/ counterculture.

    When Wilber emerged from being a recluse and tried to advance integral theory as a social change movement, he was immediately suspect in the eyes of the many "purists" on the Left. He was not a creature of urban culture. He was, !gasp!, a "religious" (spiritual) person. He was not interested in being forced into the narrow confines of postmodern deconstruction, thought policing, radical political correctness, etc., thus further alienating himself from the Pure Left.

    The "Mean Green Meme" controversy with the Spiral Dynamics people (and probably elsewhere) blew things wide open. He confirmed his position in "Boomeritis", most of which, along with lots of other stuff, used to be free on his shambhala web site.

    So, as he came under attack from the PC/Left elements in the integral movement and from other critics, and his organizational work stumbled, it seems that he "paradigm regressed" in Gebser's/Koestler's terms, to a more comfortable, primitive "republican" mode, supporting the corporate life coach types, holding yet more seminars based on the hope that education, consciousness raising and spiritual rhetoric (expressions of "interior" self-reliance memes) would *magically* carry the movement forward (and continue generating profits).

    To be fair, Wilber did go in with the Big Mind people who advocated street activism, such as Roshi Glassman's famous projects: http://causecapitalism.com/greyston-bakery/

    This article makes some similar points: http://postmasculine.com/ken-wilber

    On a side note, Wilber's statement in an audio file on the Big Mind site about how the idea that the "all religions are one" idea is not true, was particularly interesting to me as recent ex-bahai. Wilber explained that there are really four different paradigms in which religion developed historically, and they are largely incompatible. As a bahai, I had been taught that there was some common "spiritual" basis for all spiritual experience. What I sensed was that that was only true in a narrow sense, within what Karen Armstrong calls the "Axial" cultures, which created civilizations on the basis of patriarchy, law and order, and contemplative transcendence.

    In those traditions, the "body religions", "paganism/shamanism" and all of the models based on a dominant Divine Feminine are considered "idolatry", etc., so they were clearly violating the principle of non-exclusion. And probably for culturally imperialistic reasons.

    Wilber of course makes clear in many statements that his view of spiritual pluralism comes from a perspective in which the brutal historical realities of human conflict are the foundation of his analysis (although there is a slippery quality, a love/hate relationship to tradition). Wilber seeks to redeem spirituality and all of the unspoken, deep ritual meanings associated with it. Which of course horrified the Pure Left, whose exterior-structural perspective took great umbrage that the great new age philosopher of the counterculture had dared to point out the "partial" nature of its truths.

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Monday, 18 February 2013 12:58 posted by Eric Pierce

    re: Wilber seeks to redeem spirituality and all of the unspoken, deep ritual meanings associated with it. Which of course horrified the Pure Left, whose exterior-structural perspective took great umbrage that the great new age philosopher of the counterculture had dared to point out the "partial" nature of its truths.

    Here is an earlier example of Wilber's analysis:



    Shambhala Sun | July 1999
    Liberalism and Religion - We Should Talk
    By: Ken Wilber

    The way it is now, the modern world really is divided into two major and warring camps, science and liberalism on the one hand, and religion and conservatism on the other. And the key to getting these two camps together is first, to get religion past science, and then second, to get religion past liberalism, because both science and liberalism are deeply anti-spiritual. And it must occur in that order, because liberalism won’t even listen to spirituality unless it has first passed the scientific test.
    In one sense, of course, science and liberalism are right to be anti-spiritual, because most of what has historically served as spirituality is now prerational, magic or mythic, implicitly ethnocentric, fundamentalist dogma. Liberalism traditionally came into existence to fight the tyranny of prerational myth and that is one of its enduring and noble strengths (the freedom, liberty, and equality of individuals in the face of the often hostile or coercive collective). And this is why liberalism was always allied with science against fundamentalist, mythic, prerational religion (and the conservative politics that hung on to that religion).
    Modern liberalism came into being, during the Enlightenment, largely as a counterforce to mythic religion, which was fine. But liberalism committed a classic pre/trans fallacy: it thought that all spirituality was nothing but prerational myth, and thus it tossed any and all transrational spirituality as well, which was absolutely catastrophic.
    Liberalism attempted to kill God and replace transpersonal Spirit with egoic humanism, and as much as I am a liberal in many of my social values, that is its sorry downside, this horror of all things Divine.
    we would have, I believe for the first time, the possibility of a postliberal spirituality, which combines the strengths of conservatism and liberalism but moves beyond both in a transrational, transpersonal integration. The trick is to take the best of both, individual rights plus a spiritual orientation, and to do so by finding liberal humanistic values plugged into a transrational, not prerational, Spirit. This spirituality is transliberal, evolutionary and progressive, not preliberal, reactionary and regressive. It is also political, in the very broadest sense, in that its single major motivation, compassion, is pressed into social action. However, a postconservative, postliberal spirituality is not pressed into service as public policy, transrational spirituality preserves the rational separation of church and state, as well as the liberal demand that the state will neither protect nor promote a favorite version of the good life.

    [here is where Wilber gets in a huge dig at his "enemies" in the counterculture and new age movement, equating their love of thought policing and disdain for intellectual freedom with conservative backwardness!]

    Those who would transform the world by having all of us embrace their new paradigm, or particular God or Goddess, or their version of Gaia, or their favorite mythology, these are all, by definition, reactionary and regressive in the worst of ways: preliberal, not transliberal, and

    [*] thus their particular versions of the witch hunt are never far removed from their global agenda.

    A truly transliberal spirituality exists instead as a cultural encouragement, a background context that neither prevents nor coerces, but rather allows genuine spirituality to arise.

    But one thing is absolutely certain: all the talk of a new spirituality in America is largely a waste of time unless those two central dialogues are engaged and answered. Unless spirituality can pass through the gate of science, then of liberalism, it will never be a significant force in the modern world, but will remain merely as the organizing power for the prerational levels of development around the world.

    ---end excerpts---

    I believe that Wilber's rhetoric did not go unnoticed by the Pure Left, far from it.

    And when Wilber emerged from his reclusive life to try to start a mass integral movement, the seeds of doom had already been planted in that mutual disdain was already present between the two "camps".

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Saturday, 23 February 2013 02:55 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Alright my post on networks and decentralization is now finally up over in the Journal section. It's a bit of a beast, but it's nice to finally bring it to completion. http://beamsandstruts.com/essays/item/1158-network-logic-2-resources

  • Comment Link David MacLeod Saturday, 23 February 2013 21:52 posted by David MacLeod

    T. Collins,

    Many thanks for taking the time to read and choose to incorporate elements gleaned from Odum.

    One cannot discuss 'steady state' without acknowledging the contribution of Herman Daly on steady state economics. And that reminds me of the interesting work of Daniel O'Connor, a contributor here at Beams. Worth checking out is his piece on "Sustainable Growth: Irreconcilable Visions?" where he incorporates Herman Daly's contribution into his own "Integral Economic Worldview." The summary thought is "The primary goal of our post-visionary analysis is therefore to craft public policies, business strategies, and personal practices that will move the economy toward a pattern in which physical growth is systematically replaced by mental growth even while overall growth in terms of monetary prices continues to rise consistent with the rate of interest on money/credit and the rate of growth in people's demand for goods. This is the key to reconciling these apparently irreconcilable visions and learning our way out of this overwhelming predicament." See
    http://www.catallaxis.com/2006/02/sustainable_gro.html and also his piece here at Beams, "Debt Trapped: Exploring Monetary Futures": http://beamsandstruts.com/essays/item/385-debt-trapped-exploring-monetary-futures

    However, it is interesting to note that Odum later in life came to the view that achieving a long term steady state economy was unlikely (especially at the current level), and that instead we could likely expect continuous change via waves and pulses. Next up for us is the back side of the wave that was the recent long term period of growth, hence the title of his last book "A Prosperous Way Down."

    Likewise, Holmgren talks "energy descent" and continuous change. Here's a quote from David Holmgren from his Pemaculture Teaching Kit video presentation (and also relates to the conversation about decentralizaton):

    "Two Main points about why we can’t just deal with design solutions or techniques:
    1) More recent pulsing models of nature suggest dynamic understandings of sustainability that can deal with continuous change. Continuous change expands the scope of possible futures. Strategies can become inappropriate over time. Spreading appropriate answers by just replication inevitably leads to them becoming inappropriate, useless, or even dangerous. In the future, change won’t slow down. ‘Energy Descent’ is a continuous change culture. The ideas of ‘permanence’ or ‘sustainability’ that are embedded into our thinking are actually false – that we’re just going to get it, put it into place, and that then it’s all going to be right. Climate change, for one thing, makes a bit of a nonsense of that. We’re going to be dealing with continuous change, so that means we need to be working down at the basic level of principles, where you can build responses to constantly new situations.
    2) The second argument for the importance of principles rests on the diversity and differences between low energy natural systems. High energy availability allows for growth. Rapid change and convergence during ‘energy ascent’ led to globalization. This rapid change tended to lead so often to 1 big solution. However, energy descent will more likely lead to fragmentation and local, contextual solutions. What will work in one place, will not necessarily work in another place. In the future, copying dominant global systems will be less and less successful.

    While geographic proximity may be a cue to potential relevance, variation in soil type, microclimate, available skills and resources may nullify this relevance."

  • Comment Link Eric Pierce Sunday, 24 February 2013 23:57 posted by Eric Pierce

    Sorry if the below link is a duplicate, I just found it again.

    It is old-school Spiral Dynamics-Integral stuff. similar to Don Beck's SD work in S. Africa to end Apartheid decades ago.


    Integral Leadership Review
    Volume VI, No. 2 - June 2006
    Field Testing the Integral Model in the Middle East ,
    Elza Maalouf, Integral Insights Consulting, www.integralinsights.net


    My Work in The Middle East consists of three parts:

    (1) Integral Cultural work that consists of facilitating emergence of new value systems in the Arab countries through culturally fit projects in various arenas. I am, for example, working with Dr. Don Beck on translating the integral conceptual framework to a real model that can be used for progress with real steps forward in Israel and Palestine.

    (2) Integral Consulting/Coaching with corporations and governmental agencies in Kuwait and Dubai.

    (3) Development of Integral Women, working with Arab women to support their transformation and full participation in their culture.

    Palestinians in the West Bank are facing difficult life conditions and dealing with paradoxes in their society and culture. The stream of well-meaning, peace-loving Westerners with non-violent communication initiatives and Ahimsa training programs has left them suspicious of all new initiatives since success to date has been minimal. Needless to say it is not easy to present a new systemic approach with a new perspective to solve their problems!

    Many said to me, “We are tired of people coming here to test their theories on us.”

    Wafaa Abdel Rahman, the Director of Filastinyat, an active NGO in Ramallah, put it best: “We feel like lab rats, but we do not have the luxury to say no to any initiative. We have to try anything and everything that comes our way.”

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