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.


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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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That's why I keep hoping that what Sanders represents is a true grassroots peoples' movement, that we can reinstate democracy and get us moving toward the Commons. But I must admit, I have less hope each day and often sink into despair that the eventual collapse of our society is immanent.

Here's Bernard Stiegler's Preface to Michel Bauwens' new book, Saving the World: Towards a post-capitialist society with peer-to-peer.The Preface has been translated into English but the book as yet has not. Coming soon. An excerpt of the Preface:
"...the peer to peer model [...] as a process of collective individuation based on the maximum expression of the possibilities of psychic individuation for every citizen – this installing knowledge and the culture of knowledge at the heart of collective being, exactly the opposite of the decomposition of knowledge that is today pushing towards what some have called the functional stupidity of cognitive capitalism."

"... we advocate a [citizens’] contributory income, granted to everyone, in order to cultivate their abilities (as suggested by Amartya Sen) and provided that they regularly use those abilities in contributory projects, themselves supported by mutual credit granted by contributory banks, and within the most diverse forms of socialisation: associations, public services and businesses."

See Bryan O'Doherty's Integral World article here which references me. My reply:

I suggest you also read my Integral World review of Rifkin's book on the Commons here,* wherein I said in chapter five:

“While the Internet of Things (IoT) is opening us again to more communal sharing, it is not a return to the kind that was pre-capitalism. Instead it is a concern with the balance between individual and communal, so that one can still have control over what private information one shares in social networks. We want to collaborate and share more, be more transparent than the capitalistic individualist, but also retain our private autonomy and property to some degree. Hence having some control over what we choose to share or not is a key security issue in the emerging IoT, as well as reflecting a worldview shift.”

Also this from chapter 16, showing that healthy capitalism is a balance of individual and social concerns. So it is not capitalism or individualism per se that I criticize, but what has become of both that have reached a highly dysfunctional state.

“In the Afterword Rifkin expresses mixed feelings for the end of capitalism. He appreciates the entrepreneurial spirit that animated it. He thinks that it is in fact the so-called 'invisible hand' and disagrees with Adam Smith that it involves pure self interest devoid of public concern. Such a spirit is driven by a need to create newer and better products and services to serve the public, which of course also serves one's own financial interests. And that capitalism was an appropriate and efficient response to the energy-communication regime of the times.”

Also in the Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality forum thread on this book** I noted the following on page 8 when it comes to individual/social, interior/exterior (see the actual post for links to the references):

“So it seems that the political and social revolution arises from the external socio-economic system, the mode of production. This agrees with at least that part of the Wilber that spoke to this as the predominant way most people move into a new level overall. Where it differs with him is that the latter thinks it's more developed individuals that create the new systems from the inside out. It seems it's more individuals being affected by the emerging tech and modes of production that then instills the value logic.

“It's similar to the point I made here about successful trans-partisanship being accomplished not by having a 'higher' model to which one must conform, but by the actual practice of operating within the socio-cultural practice of democracy. This is what transforms individual operators to have a value logic supporting the notion of the public good in distinction from the dysfunctional notion of individuality espoused tireless by the regressive capitalists that prefer oligarchy. Again, it's the social practice that inculcates a working trans-partisanship for democracy against oligarchy, where the Wilber inside-out model has yet to have even a miniscule effect on this stated goal.

“I know, the Wilberian might argue it's not one creating the other, it's all of them tetra-arising at the same time. But as another example, Habermas using Mead determined that it was the cultural system that creates and inculcates the individual ego in the first place. Without it, despite the hardware, one remains an egoless wolf boy. Vygotsky's work supports this notion as well. They directly contradict the Piagetian notion of inherent inner structures that shape external stimuli to fit that structure. It's a very metaphysical system that I examined in depth in the real/false reason thread.

“And again, it's not that the inner/outer, individual/social all tetra-arise simultaneously. That certainly provides for a nice apparent 'balance,' but again it's an imposed systemic assumption that presupposes such a balance that does not match the empirical facts on the ground, but instead tries to match the facts to the created metaphysical system. It is a hallmark of the capitalist system to do exactly that as elucidated in many places, this being but one example.”


We Can’t Address the EU Refugee Crisis Without Confronting Global Capitalism says Zizek. More:

"It was the European intervention in Libya which threw the country in chaos. It was the U.S. attack on Iraq which created the conditions for the rise of ISIS. The ongoing civil war in the Central African Republic is not just an explosion of ethnic hatred; France and China are fighting for the control of oil resources through their proxies. But the clearest case of our guilt is today’s Congo. [...] Back in 2001, a UN investigation into the illegal exploitation of natural resources in Congo found that its internal conflicts are mainly about access to, control of, and trade in five key mineral resources: coltan, diamonds, copper, cobalt and gold. Beneath the façade of ethnic warfare, we thus discern the workings of global capitalism."

"Another feature shared by these rich countries is the rise of a new slavery. While capitalism legitimizes itself as the economic system that implies and furthers personal freedom (as a condition of market exchange), it generated slavery on its own, as a part of its own dynamics: although slavery became almost extinct at the end of the Middle Ages, it exploded in colonies from early modernity till the American Civil War. And one can risk the hypothesis that today, with the new epoch of global capitalism, a new era of slavery is also arising. Although it is no longer a direct legal status of enslaved persons, slavery acquires a multitude of new forms: millions of immigrant workers in the Saudi peninsula (Emirates, Qatar, etc.) who are de facto deprived of elementary civil rights and freedoms; the total control over millions of workers in Asian sweatshops often directly organized as concentration camps; massive use of forced labor in the exploitation of natural resources in many central African states (Congo, etc.). But we don’t have to look so far. On December 1, 2013, at least seven people died when a Chinese-owned clothing factory in an industrial zone in the Italian town of Prato, 19 kilometers from the center of Florence, burned down, killing workers trapped in an improvised cardboard dormitory built onsite. The accident occurred in the Macrolotto industrial district of the town, known for its garment factories. Thousands more Chinese immigrants were believed to be living in the city illegally, working up to 16 hours per day for a network of wholesalers and workshops turning out cheap clothing."

Newly elected UK Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on public ownership:

"I believe in public ownership, but I have never favoured the remote nationalised model that prevailed in the post-war era. Like a majority of the population and a majority of even Tory voters, I want the railways back in public ownership. But public control should mean just that, not simply state control: so we should have passengers, rail workers and government too, co-operatively running the railways to ensure they are run in our interests and not for private profit. This model should replace both the old Labour model of top-down operation by central diktat and Tories favoured model of unaccountable privatised operators running our public services for their own ends."

See this interesting article, "Toward an open cooperativism." The abstract:

Two prominent social progressive movements are faced with a few contradictions and a paradox. On the one side, we have a re-emergence of the co-operative movement and worker-owned enterprises which suffer from certain structural weaknesses. On the other, we have an emergent field of open and Commons-oriented peer production initiatives which create common pools of knowledge for the whole of humanity, but are dominated by start-ups and large multinational enterprises using the same Commons. Thus we have a paradox: the more communist the sharing license used in the peer production of free software or open hardware, the more capitalist the practice. To tackle this paradox and the aforementioned contradictions, we tentatively suggest a new convergence that would combine both Commons-oriented open peer production models with common ownership and governance models, such as those of the co-operatives and the solidarity economic models. 

Hello, and thank you for making room for me on this forum. This is a topic that is very important to me. If you have not read my articles on Integral World, please do, as most of the basis of what I will argue here is already there.

Edward (theurj) has been good enough to respond to me via several different means. Rather than arguing over the details of how railroads should be owned and operated, or poking at straw men such as "evil capitalism," or "evil socialism," I would like to go back to some very basic assumptions, and ask contributors to this discussion to consider these root assumptions, and then from there (assuming there is some agreement on premises) take our arguments forward to their conclusions. I think this would be a more productive means of coming to some conclusion on what is "integral economics," or what is "integral politics."

When we talk about economics in general (regardless of capitalism or socialism) we are talking about the means by which people exchange goods and services among themselves. At its most basic level economics boils down to an exchange between two actors, each with something of value to the other. Now these exchanges can be voluntary or non-voluntary. Voluntary exchanges are probably very familiar to everyone. They are the easiest, everyday exchanges we make. Because they are voluntary, we can safely assume that both parties to the exchange are gaining something which they value more than the thing they are giving in exchange for it. For example if I give a homeless man a meal, I value the feeling I get for having done something good, and the gratitude I receive from the homeless man, more than I value the meal that I have given him. Conversely, the homeless man values the meal he receives more than the words of thanks, and the grateful smile he gives his benefactor in return. The exchange here is voluntary, and each party to the exchange has benefited. 

Non-voluntary exchanges are more complicated. because they are non-voluntary, we can assume that one party is benefiting from the exchange while the other is not. In order for the exchange to take place there is usually an element of force involved, which compels the non-benefiting party to make the exchange. So rather than voluntarily giving the homeless man a meal, I am instead compelled to pay a tax, the proceeds from which may eventually provide a meal to a homeless man I will never meet, or it may pay for a war in a far off land, or it may fund a contract awarded to the largest contributor to the local politician's election campaign. In any case I realize little or no benefit from the exchange and therefore will not voluntarily enter into the exchange. Thus force (law, threat of imprisonment) is required to compel me to participate in the exchange. That use of force is what brings morality into economics is the first place. If it were not for the application of force in non-voluntary economic exchange, we would not be having any arguments about economics at all! 

Force is not always unjustified. But it is philosophy that determines how we decide when force is justified and when it is not. My argument, and the premise (or ground) upon which my entire moral/ethical and philosophical foundation rests, is that fundamentally, the initiation of force is evil. Not force in and of itself, but its initiation. Force used in response to or in defense against the initiation of force is not evil. This fundamental premise is the basis upon which all of my arguments will rest. Thus in much of my writing regarding integral politics and economics I will refer to political and economic ideologies which condone the initiation of force as "pathological" or "mean" expressions of their stage/wave, while those that do not are healthy.

I would like to at least start with this very basic premise. If we can at least agree upon the foundation (i.e. the parameters under which force is justified), we can build our temple from there. If we cannot... well then there really isn't much else to talk about, because arguments from conflicting premises cannot be reconciled.  

Hi Bryan,

Welcome to the IPS!  You'll have to say more about what you mean when you talk about "the initiation of force," perhaps with some examples, for me to understand where you're going with this. Thanks.

Bryan O'Doherty said:

...Force is not always unjustified. But it is philosophy that determines how we decide when force is justified and when it is not. My argument, and the premise (or ground) upon which my entire moral/ethical and philosophical foundation rests, is that fundamentally, the initiation of force is evil. Not force in and of itself, but its initiation. Force used in response to or in defense against the initiation of force is not evil. This fundamental premise is the basis upon which all of my arguments will rest. Thus in much of my writing regarding integral politics and economics I will refer to political and economic ideologies which condone the initiation of force as "pathological" or "mean" expressions of their stage/wave, while those that do not are healthy.

I would like to at least start with this very basic premise. If we can at least agree upon the foundation (i.e. the parameters under which force is justified), we can build our temple from there. If we cannot... well then there really isn't much else to talk about, because arguments from conflicting premises cannot be reconciled.  

Thanks David. Firstly force comes in two general flavors.

1. Direct Physical Force; as in one actor physically violating another actor, or compelling another to take some action through physical violence.

2. Indirect Force; as in one actor compels another actor to perform an action against their will through the threat of violence to himself or another.

Initiation of force means simply to initiate one of the forms of force above on an actor in the absence of any prior use of force by that actor upon the initiator.

A simple example of initiation of direct force would be beating up a stranger to take the money in his wallet.

A simple example of initiation of indirect force would be threatening to beat up a stranger unless he gives you the money in his wallet.

OK, but you also seem to be saying that non-voluntary exchanges, such as taxation is an indirect force. Therefore the initiation of taxation is necessarily an evil? I'm not ready to agree with that as a foundational premise, if that is what you're arguing.

I still feel like I'm missing something, or not completely understanding where you're going with this.

Only income tax is evil ! Any sane person knows only to tax goods and services but never both ( income and GST). Hahaha, I am a rEpuBlIcAn :) 

Ok, questions: 

1- is every nation state on the planet a coercive agent via direct or indirect force ? Hey , I hate the fact that N.A. governments spend my money killing millions and millions of arabs . NOTE: yes, Arab to Arab ( Muslim to Muslim) conflict has always existed. That truism doesn't exempt us from our complicit immoral behaviour on  this issue . I still pay the taxes .

2- is every nation state a proxy agent of the central banking /fiat currency cartels? ( the rise of this finance system was concomitant with the rise of these nation states ). There is no nation state on earth that does not use this system . It is a global monopoly  mono-culture . 

3- if question 2 is affirmative then it is impossible to have a multiplicitous panarchic culture on this planet . Coincidentally , this is what I see : no where can anyone go to live in any other manner than this global central banking cartel nation state system . BTW : I call this system the left hand of god under the authority of the left hand protocols and its agents . It is inherently anti-right hand protocols on a global scale . BUT PLEASE ignore this last part and don't respond to it on this  forum . Your free to muse on the idea on your own:)

Robert Reich's new book is due out shortly, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few. It seems to be about reforming capitalism to be consistent with democracy. It might be a step in the right direction toward the developing  neo-Commons but it's still capitalism. But it's only a right step in that we're actually going back to a time when capitalism wasn't as corrupt and greedy, when it was held in check from those things by democracy and there was a more equitable distribution of wealth.

Still, we need that sort of capitalism as a springboard toward a true democratic economy, and that is indeed the neo-Commons when capitalism has run its course. And no, the neo-Commons is not the sort of socialism we've seen to date out of Russia and Cuba, but more out of the socialist democracies of Scandanavia and Bernie Sanders. That is the sort of democratic socialism/capitalism hybrid that is the forerunner of a true neo-Commons. From the Amazon blurb:

"Reich exposes the falsehoods that have been bolstered by the corruption of our democracy by huge corporations and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street: that all workers are paid what they’re 'worth,' that a higher minimum wage equals fewer jobs, and that corporations must serve shareholders before employees. He shows that the critical choices ahead are not about the size of government but about who government is for: that we must choose not between a free market and 'big' government but between a market organized for broadly based prosperity and one designed to deliver the most gains to the top. Ever the pragmatist, ever the optimist, Reich sees hope for reversing our slide toward inequality and diminished opportunity when we shore up the countervailing power of everyone else."

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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?

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