For an introduction to this expanding meta-thread see Integral Anti-Capitalism pt I. We continue here because we have, hilariously, exceeded this website's capacity...


I agree that holacracy should be singled out for special investigation. The provocative notion that we are dramatically over-emphasizing the need for "conscious leadership" pertains very pertinently to this discussion. Robertson, like ourselves, is pointing to the fact that business (organizations) which integrally improve the interiors and cultural
spirit of their participants are still predisposed to certain outcomes as a result of their actual structural habits of communication and their specific decision-making protocols.
His notion of a constantly self-correcting dynamic organization drawing upon the capacity of individuals to act as tension-sensors relative to the "evolutionary purpose" of the organization is compelling and admirable.

More important is simply that he is making a stand and making an attempt to construct a protocol (constitution). I am not fully versed in the 4.0 version of the holacracy constitution but we should get deeper into some of these proposals.  

Given the level of your current knowledge of their protocols, what would you want to change or add in order to ethically and functionally empower this approach even more?


First some housekeeping in providing links in part I to comments on holacracy: their website, comment 1, comment 2, comment 3 (and 3 more on p. 7), and the first 7 comments on p. 8

I’m not yet familiar enough with holacracy to know it might need. So for now I’ll ask questions.  From p. 8 there was a blog post on ownership and the model might (but not necessarily) include outside capital investors. I asked:

“One question immediately pops up on outside investors. Are there limits on the amount of outside capital investment? What if their investment is such that without it the company could not financially survive? And/or depends on it for start-up? Then such investment would control the company, like it or not. If you don't do what I say I'm taking my ball and going home. No ball, no ballgame. Not the same as a mortgage or loan company.”

Granted why such investors are included on the Board there are other stake-holders to balance their input. But are there rules about which outside individuals or companies can invest? Do they have to have similar values like triple bottom lines instead of just profit for their investors? Can a Goldman Sachs provide start-up capital? Or Romeny’s ex-firm, Bain? Just wondering, so perhaps it’s time for those out there more familiar with the system to engage us?


I appreciate your inquiry about the potential influence of outside investors in holacratic systems. Perhaps they have a good protocol for that. Or perhaps not. In general, all "smart groups" need to comprehend and anticipate the distortion influence that donors and enablers wield. The psychology of human nature shows that we may believe ourselves to be quite sturdy and impartial while we are really bending in the breeze.

One of the concerns I had while perusing the holacracy constitution was about the voting procedure for filling roles. There are many parts of their approach which impress. In particular I would like to make not of the necessity to place constraints upon discussion. When the mention of a concern is met with the mention of counter-concerns then the intelligence and practical efficacy of discussions drops dramatically. A highly suspicious mind might even supposed that the human hive is encouraged to engage in the constant casual usage of dysfunctional conversation. So their use of controlled phases in both operational and hiring decisions is admirable. However, their actual voting protocol seems (to my naive glance) to be based on a model of transparent majority. A sophisticated "show of hands".

So this may be an area in which holacratic principles can be expanded to include a more thorough use of "secret ballot" and "averaged ranking".

The former often seems like a show of bad faith and an invitation to covert dangers... but these are considerably outweighed by the liberation of individual intelligence from any conscious or unconscious concerns about the social consequences of their input.

The latter evades a primitive "first past the post" approach in which our intelligence is functionally limited to a yes/no determination about each candidate relative to other candidates.

Another thing I admire about holacracy is that it represents a functional procedure and culture in which participants would appear to become better participants by participating. Their capacity and ethical commitment to the good of the organization through its evolving protocols should be an increasing trend. Any smart group needs to be arranged so that even people who try to distort the results will find their capacity and will to do this reducing over time. Replaced by the inspirational efficacy of the group.

This brings me to another issue relative to voting, both in political and economic groups. That is the relative absence of specific instructions about how to translated ones feelings into a vote-mark. This is almost completely unaddressed in terms of popular elections. To discuss it even seems insidious to some people who fear coercion (and/or wish to maintain the current material power structures).

Protocols should have at least a clear suggestion about how to locate both "gut" and "intellectual" data within ourselves and convert that into a numerical value which can be contributed to a group decision. A lack of clarification at this critical junction may act as an invisible source of drag upon an otherwise very functional group organism.

It might even be possible to define an "integral-level organizational set up" for business or politics by simply compiling a list of areas in which intelligence and capacity are distorted. We might recall that most of Wilber's philosophy has emerged in levels correlated to his discovery of "fallacies" or "basic errors". Integral proposals about business and society could be all over the map unless there is a reasonable set of constraints that make sure they fall in the most lucrative zone.

So other than the potential influence of outside "helpers" and "donors" what other sources of distortion or inhibition do you see going mostly unaddressed in otherwise progressive groups?


My next question of holacracy is who came up with it? It seems to be the pet project of Brian Robertson, his own brainchild. I'm wondering if that is so of if it was a community or P2P project? I mean, the structure of holacracy itself calls for distributed decision-making but was the creation of holacracy itself derived from this process or mostly dictated by Robertson? I've yet to find an answer at the site so I posed this question to them via contact info. I'll provide the response if/when received. I think the answer is pivotal in determining if this thing called holacracy arose from its own medicine.


I look forward that answer if it is forthcoming. The notion of self-arising systems is something which haunts the periphery of these discussions. My fantasy is that we can devise a group protocol which so reliably and simply exceeds the cognitive capacity of the individual participants that it would be foolish to predetermine the purpose and nature of the group. Collectively we could a better job of determining what kind of a collective we should be. "Smartgroups" of this kind could then spread through the world in a very radical social uprising. How possible that is remains uncertain...

As I understand holacracy, the different companies making use of it are assumed to engage in their own mutational modifications of the "constitution". So even if Brian wrote the whole thing out in his bathtub it still retains an open source quality. The answer to whether its current forms are or are not the result of distributed decision-making is almost certainly: sort of.

One of the reasons the holacracy approach is so amenable to business organization is that it seems to depend upon the functional axis of a specified purpose. The aim is somewhat pregiven -- our job is to sell widgets or maximize share-holder profit, etc. His use of the metaphor of the sensors on an airplane derives from a mechanism that is assumed to be designed for a well-known purpose.

My question would be whether or not this "aim" is a necessarily functional element in generating enhanced organizational capacity? Or whether it is simply an artifact of the need to make these systems serve a relatively conventional marketplace task?


Your suggestion of a smart group that arises creatively from a continually evolving set of parameters seems to be the intent and practice of holacracy. As to the organizational purpose of Holacracy One, it seems to have multiple bottom lines including but not limited to profit. For example, see this post in the comments where I noted that the top to bottom pay ratio is 3 to 1, and quoted some of those multiple purposes:

"With Holacracy at play, the game is entirely different: with the decentralization of authoritythe separation of people and role, and the dynamic evolution of those roles, we end up with a situation that looks more like free agents going about their work with no central planning. There might not even be a single person who knows about everything you do."

This sounds much more like the sort of emerging P2P organizational structure discussed throughout this thread. And also of significance in the post following this article where The Integral Center of Boulder has "voluntarily relinquished their rights to control their company as owners. Instead, they have ceded authority to a purpose-centered governance process called Holacracy, a model that distributes authority across the organization and gives primary power to the organization itself."

These are indeed advances over the kind of conscious capitalism promoted and AQALly packaged for sale at I-I.


(comment pending)

This is an interesting moment. Apparently is experimenting with a version of holacracy as well. It clearly represents a theoretical advance over the typical kind of conscious capitalism which combines advanced sentiments with a potentially dangerous and uninspected ideological allegiance to more primitive routines of social organization and wealth production. Yet we cannot know the results of the experiment in advance.

I have tremendous optimism about emergent p2p organizational structures. Experimentation is utterly necessary and should be strongly encouraged. I am also very hopeful that advances can be made in terms of quantification. This is very central in my thinking lately.

It seems that experimental protocols for advances social organization systems suffer from the lack of a quantifiable evaluation of their respective degrees of "collective intelligence". Most people are drawn to such possibilities by ethical and aesthetic criteria which do no necessarily persuade the world. So I would love to see experimentation supplemented by the attempt to devise a metric for estimating the intelligence of a social organization protocol.

Along similar lines, my "tetrabucks" type notions represent the possibility/necessity to structure our currency at a level that correlates to advanced P2P organizational structures and post-pluralistic consciousness.

The potential of an evil holacracy has hardly been broached. If it works -- it works. Other than simply the tendency of less complex people not to use more complex systems, and the tendency of more complex systems to complexify their participants, there needs to be some inter-organizational structures which incline all organizations int he direction of broad human well-being. It is my assertion that as long as primary areas of value remain outside monetization the actions of groups trying to utilize official social credits will constantly become unstable.

So I am imagining a line leading from pathological capitalism to standard capitalism to conscious capitalism to trans-capitalist network organizations to such organizations bound together by a integrated set of metrics for determining the intelligence of groups and splicing together (at least) four broad domains of human value.

Along these lines -- how will we decide whether holacratic integral business is working better?


As to how we determine whether alternative economic paradigms are 'working,' I'd suggest that even by the standards of typical business democratic workplaces like co-ops are successful. If by that we mean the organization runs smoothly, has low employee turnover, high employee satisfaction, makes a profit or surplus over operating costs, and other such typical measures. Plus they fulfill their stated purposes as expressed in theRochdale principles, like community education, cooperation, democratic control, etc.

I'd say the same applies to holacracy. They also have to accomplish the usual business parameters like above but also meet stated principles like in their constitution. Given Robertson's business acumen I'm sure at the site he has precise and measurable indices to track such progress, though I didn't try to find them as yet.


(comment pending)

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Beyond capitalism and socialism.

See this article about an alternative approach from the Capital Institute. Some teaser excerpts:

"The Capital Institute report, titled Regenerative Capitalism, emphasizes that the world economic system is closely related to, and dependent upon, the environment. [...]What is needed now [...] is a new systems-based mindset built around the idea of a regenerative economy, 'which recognizes that the proper functioning of complex wholes, like an economy, cannot be understood without the ongoing, dynamic relationships among parts that give rise to greater wholes.' In practice, this might lead to close analysis of supply chains, investigations of the effects of water use, circular economy initiatives, community economic development work or a host of other sustainability efforts." 

"This holistic approach flies in the face of a great deal of long-held beliefs. For example, while decision makers usually focus on finding a single ‘right’ answer, holism focuses on finding balanced answers that address seemingly contradictory goals like efficiency and resilience, collaboration and competition, and diversity and coherence.[...] The report emphasizes the importance of innovation and adaptability over rigid structures and belief systems. It also embraces diversity, suggesting that, instead of trying to find a globalized one-size-fits-all approach to change, it is vital to recognize that each community consists of a 'mosaic of peoples, traditions, beliefs, and institutions uniquely shaped by long term pressures of geology, human history, culture, local environment, and changing human needs.'"

Regressive rationalization:

Yes, I listened to the Alperovitz interview. Not a lot that was new to me, but he talked a fair amount about cooperatives, and that there are already a fair number in place, such as credit unions.  Lerner replied that the credit unions he's observed generally don't operate much differently than corporate banks. 

Yes, Aplerovitz replied, but the structure is there; we just need to get involved, to take back democracy (I don't remember if he used those words). But the structure is there - one person, one vote - so the opportunity is there for change if we get involved and organize.

theurj said:

I did not get a chance to listen to it before the expiration? Did you? If so, a summary?

The excerpt from the "Beyond Capitalism and Socialism" article sounds pretty darn good.  I took a brief look at their website, and didn't recognize any of their board of directors, but they do have some impressive board of advisers, including Hazel Henderson, Hunter Lovins, David Orr, Gus Speth, and Allan Savory.

theurj said:

Beyond capitalism and socialism.

See this article about an alternative approach from the Capital Institute. Some teaser excerpts:

I smile, t, at the cleverness of this game-board message.

theurj said:

Regressive rationalization:

That last paragraph from the Capital Institute reminds me of this post from another thread.

Here's Amy Schumer and Bill Nye on New Age nonsense. Very funny. There's also an element of this in integral conscious craptalism, though subtle and ironically beyond the adherent's conscious awareness.

On the last comment, here's Berge from Chapter 11 of his review of The Zero Marginal Cost Society.
[T]he capitalist invisible hand [...] was itself a holdover from a theological God in control to rational, self-interested individuals in control. Lack
ing a systems view it replaced God with the invisible force of a marginally less superstitious autonomous Market. Backed by ecological and other scientific advances, it is being replaced with the visible systems view of the global eco-social commons and redefining our place within it.

Note that the invisible hand [job] of the market is still metaphysical in that it must posit some supernatural agency that operates on its own if we but focus on our self-interest, i.e. the market will take care of itself. Moving into systems science and ecological consciousness thus naturalizes this process, making previously supernatural agencies like Gods or markets visible and understandable, and reconnecting us with ourselves, our peers and our environments, but in a postmetaphysical framework. This also applies to the sort of instrumental rationality inherent to 'enclosure' of disciplines of study rather than to interdisciplinary cross-sharing more indicative of Habermas' collaborative, communicative action.

The Transition Will Not Be Smooth Sailing - an interview with Michel Bauwens (P2P).

Rabbi Michael Lerner's response to the Pope's new encyclical, posted at Huffington Post

The Pope Might Save the Planet...If You Would Join an Interfaith Effort to Support His Direction!


"...spiritual progressives can challenge the values that underlie global capitalism and materialist versions of socialism and instead chart a path to a fundamentally different global economic, political and social world. We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives have begun to do that with our proposed Global Marshall Plan (please download the full version at and our proposed ESRA--Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (please read it at

The reason why Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and most secular humanist organizations have not yet embraced this path is that they are dependent for funding both from the capitalist class and from many in their membership who are attached to the materialist and looking-out-for-number-one worldview of global capitalist societies and hence dismiss any fundamental alternative as "unrealistic." Ironically, it is precisely the undemocratic and hierarchical nature of the Catholic Church, and its previous accumulation of huge wealth, that frees the Pope from these concerns and hence made it possible for someone who genuinely is rooted in the spiritual values of the Bible to actually ask the world to remake itself in accord with those values. I don't recommend the undemocratic or hierarchical path, but I do rejoice that this made it possible for a religious leader and a religious movement to develop that would be unequivocal in its critique of capitalism without falling into the narrow economistic and materialist worldview that has characterized most Left movements. It is their economistic, materialist and religio-phobic perspective that keeps most people on the Left from embracing the path of the spiritual progressive, even though in their hearts most people on the Left simultaneously embrace the values of the New Bottom Line (and were they to do so more explicitly, and get progressive organizations to publicly embrace and emphasize the New Bottom line the Left would be far more successful).

Of course, the Pope's stand is generating considerable opposition from conservative Catholics who have already found ways around the Bible's social justice teachings so that they could explain why they are champions of the rich and still call themselves Christians. All the more reason for the rest of us to embrace this Pope, even as we gently and lovingly chide him to consider applying his message of caring for everyone more fully by embracing full rights for women and homosexuals.

The best way to support the Pope is to build an interfaith movement based on these values articulated in the New Bottom Line. It is only when people begin to see a spiritual progressive movement in the public sphere with a strategy for how to save the planet that is willing to challenge the fundamentals of global capitalism that they will be able to imagine overcoming their own passivity, emotional depression, and mistaken certainty that "nothing will ever make possible a new economic system." It is only when they see millions of us working together for a fundamentally different world that they will overcome this mistaken commitment to "being realistic" and instead recognize that "we never know what is possible until we join with others to struggle for what is desirable." So I invite you to become a member of the NSP--Network of Spiritual Progressives at You don't have to believe in God or be part of a religious or spiritual community to be a spiritual progressives--you only have to embrace the New Bottom Line articulated above--so the NSP is not only interfaith and welcoming people from every religious community in the world, but also welcoming to secular humanists and atheists who want the kind of world we are seeking..."

Here is Zak Stein's opening statement for a planned debate on Integral Theory and capitalism at the upcoming ITC:

The Integral Movement is an Anti-Capitalist Movement


"[W]hile I do not think Ken is conservative by any stretch of the imagination, he clearly differs from Bhaskar, for example, in his hesitant criticisms of capitalism. Indeed, some of the first and most enduring applications of AQAL (Integral Theory) have been in advertising and consulting.

Yet the implications of Integral Theory are not so copacetic with current conditions. As with Hegel’s dialectic, there is a world-transforming vision implicit within Integral Theory, even if those who work closely with it can sometimes use it to make the existing world appear “reasonable” and “justified.” There is a better reading of what it means to engage in integral praxis, and it does not look like pulling in six figures by doing lucrative consulting gigs with fortune 500 companies. Integral practitioners should be the articulators and demonstrators of post-capitalist futures, where value is represented across all four quadrants (not just in the LL, as money), where human creativity is not bound by the dictates of profit, and where knowledge itself is liberated from perpetuating the ideologies needed to maintain oppression."

Impressive. I emailed him with links to this 2-part thread. My hope is that he reads and uses them as a reference in his opening statement. If you talk to him before the conference Balder please suggest this as well.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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