Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
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?
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 authority, the 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.
This is an interesting moment. Apparently Amazon.com 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.
The materiality of the immaterial, from this article abstract:
"Today, two great signs of change are occurring. On the one hand, the capitalist world economy is putting tremendous pressure on the earth’s biosphere and bringing an onslaught of destruction to immediate environments and vulnerable people worldwide. On the other hand, the rise of new and progressive social-economic foundations is the result of an unprecedented increase of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Therefore it is arguably more crucial than ever to understand how social, economic and ecological foundations of the internet and ICT infrastructures are interwoven. What are we – as scholars, activists and citizens - to make of ICTs that seem to emerge from an economic and social system based upon ecological destruction and social oppression, while at the same time engaging millions of people in the proliferation of information, knowledge and active democratic collaboration? This special issue investigates how we can begin to understand this problem, and how we can hope to balance the perils and promises of ICTs in order to make way for a just and sustainable paradigm."
John Michael Greer offers a biting commentary on the candidacy of Hillary Clinton: The Decline and Fall of Hilary Clinton here (which should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any other candidate).
Here's how the article ends (but the best writing is probably in the first half of his essay).
"To a very real extent, Hillary Clinton’s faltering presidential campaign is a perfect microcosm of what Spengler was talking about in his cold analysis of democracy in extremis. Her entire platform presupposes that the only policies the United States can follow are those that have been welded in place since the turn of the millennium: more government largesse for corporations and the rich, more austerity for everyone else, more malign neglect for the national infrastructure and the environment, more wars in the Middle East, and more of the fantastically stupid policy of confrontation—there really is no gentler way to describe it—that has succeeded, against all odds, in uniting Russia, China, Iran, and an assortment of smaller nations against the United States, by convincing their leaders that they have nothing to gain from a US-centric world order and nothing to lose by challenging it.
Those policies have not brought any of the good things their promoters insisted that they were going to bring. Another four years of the same policies aren’t going to change that fact. Every American voter knows these things, and so does Hillary Clinton, which is why her campaign focuses so precisely on everything but the issues that actually concern the majority of American voters today. That’s what lends a savage irony to Madeleine Albright’s brittle demand that American women support Clinton even though, for all practical purposes, she’s offering them very little more than they got from George W. Bush. Albright’s is the classic voice of a senile plutocracy on its way down, demanding a loyalty from others that it has done precisely nothing to earn.
I suspect we’ll see plenty of the same sort of irony as the current election season lurches toward its end. No doubt Clinton and her flacks will keep on trying to reintroduce her to voters who already know her quite well enough, thank you; no doubt we’ll hear all sorts of encomiums about what a nice person she is—as though that matters one jot to people who know that four more years of the policies she supports may well land them out of a job and out on the street. For that matter, facile claims that everything is fine, the economy is booming, and the American people are happier than they’ve been in decades are already appearing in the mass media. No doubt things look that way if you live in a bubble of privilege, and take good care never to step outside it and see how the other 80% live; for that matter, it’s true that if you take the obscene gains raked in by the privileged few and average them out across the entire population, that looks like economic betterment—but those gains are not being shared by the entire population, and the entire population knows this.
For the connoisseurs of historical irony, there will doubtless be plenty of entertainment to be had in watching the Clinton campaign as it tries one tactic after another to get that vending machine to cough up the prize Clinton so obviously and desperately craves. None of those veerings matter in any broader sense, because Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have already demonstrated that rejecting the consensus of America’s dominant minority is a ticket to electoral success. It’s possible—indeed, I think it’s likely—that Clinton will manage to squeeze past Sanders and get the Democratic nomination by fair means or foul; it’s considerably less likely that she’ll be able to overcome Trump in the general election; but even if she does, others will follow where Trump and Sanders lead, and sooner or later one of them will triumph.
The more likely option just now, I think, is that the Clinton campaign will meet a crushing defeat at Trump’s hands, and the decline and fall of Hillary Clinton will also mark the end of the failed consensus that has dominated American politics for decades. That fact alone doesn’t guarantee improvement; no law requires that whatever policies replace the conventional wisdom must be better. Nonetheless, things will change, and it’s at least possible that some of the changes might remove at least a few of the worst features of the bleak era now stumbling to its end around us."
By the same token, Scott Preston offers his take on Donald Trump as as an example of "the new normal," which is the continued breakdown of the deficient form of our currently predominant mental-rational level of consciousness where we experience "the normalisation of what is, actually, a very abnormal and aberrant situation." Every new structure of consciousness must go through a chaotic transition before the new emerges, and Trump displays (and appeals to) what Preston calls "chaotic emotion." Where Greer references Hillary, Preston references Trump; where Greer references Spengler, Preston references Gebser.
Berkeley votes to boost co-op economy in the face of gentrification in this article. Some excerpts:
"This month, Berkeley joined a growing number of cities across the country that are making it easier for co-ops to create jobs like Goldsmith’s. On February 9, the city council passed a resolution requiring Berkeley to create an ordinance supporting worker-owned co-ops. The ordinance will institute tax and land-use incentives for co-ops, create educational support materials for current and potential worker-owners, and make it easier for the city to spend its procurement dollars with cooperative businesses—something no other city has done (Oakland is considering a similar ordinance). To make co-ops more competitive in the bidding process and direct more money to them, the city plans to discount their bids before evaluating them, while still paying the co-ops their full asking price."
"The resolution, slated for approval in December 2015, was pushed to February 2016 due to concerns from others on the council that it might require too much additional work for city staff and give worker co-ops an unfair advantage over other small, local businesses. 'Worker cooperatives are small local businesses but the benefits they provide are above and beyond what other small businesses provide,' said Eskandari-Qajar, who argues that in addition to giving workers more decision-making power, co-ops generally pay higher wages and have better working conditions. She said that Arizmendi co-ops pay workers double the industry standard."
"The incentives wouldn’t be given to co-ops blindly either, Eskandari-Qajar said. The ordinance will create a tiered level of incentives that give preference to businesses that add value to the community. In other words, a co-op that gives back—whether it’s by hiring minorities, giving workers full benefits, or something else—would receive preference over a co-op that does not. Eskandari-Qajar has found that, once the benefits are laid out, the idea of cooperatives resonates with people across the political spectrum, including the Berkeley councilmembers who were undecided."
I would like to ‘deposit’ this here as I have been running into a lot of knuckleheads misconstruing what anti-capitalism is . Yes, one can be an anti-capitalist with an iPhone, moron! Hey, when one doesn’t own capital then one isn’t a capitalist! Now how hard is that ? Do I exchange my goods , services and talents for money ? Of course, but that doesn’t make one a capitalist . It simply means that I can survive within this system . Now here is a link to Libertarian- Socialism ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism )which is what I am politically and economically ; I am of the variety that espouses complete non-violence when dealing with the power structures of society ( in action/ not thought and speech) ; and of the variety of Christian-Universalism ( the liberal type) ; I believe this theological expression is compatible with reason . My own idiosyncratic take on theology is that god authors everything and on this plane ( not a flat earth reference, necessarily) uses what I call the Right and Left Hand Protocols administered by The Christ or Lucifer ( good luck trying to tell those two apart) . Humans have freewill to choose. The criteria by which one is governed is based on 1) is one naturally inclined to exploit the earth and its life forms and resources for personal profit and gain? 2) is one naturally inclined to exploit other humans for profit and personal gain? Either of these two behaviours plants one distinctly under the authority of The Left Hand Of God; under this system of theological thinking , coincidentally, the whole earth now resides in a state of Anti-Right Hand Protocols
Now, as a consequence of this type of thinking , politically, it behooves society to abandon private property as practised under the current global-corporate-neoliberal-economic paradigm. In my system no one would be allowed to ‘own’ more than one home and the speculative casino of the current system would become illegitimate. As for the state: its main purpose is to guarantee the freedom of individual thought and action as long as private action does not break civil mores or cross ecological and environmental limits . The streamlining of the states social services would be a priority under this system . One 2000.00 a month dividend paid out to all people indexed to inflation . This streamlining of the system will help curtail the unnecessary ‘bloating’ of the state; end mass incarceration and eliminate much of the cost of policing crime directly related to poverty. At issue here is whether this system of dividends would entail that the government take back control of currency creation ; or whether it is the central banking system itself that has created todays chaotic conditions, and whether that system has to be made illegitimate ( I have not decided either way on this issue because of the complexity involved but historically ‘feel’ that the central bank system would need to be dismantled and put in the hands of local ‘co-op’ banking establishments ). One could argue here that it is the central bankers currency system that has made them the beneficiaries of the earth’s ‘dividends’ . It’s an interesting question as to who is getting the most welfare today!
On a tangent note: it is disturbing to me that the alternative spiritual media is only giving voice to the Randian Capitalist Libertarian types . These folks err, to a great degree , Imo .
Also, and last but not least one could, possibly, interpret this post as being a healthy synthesis of Kenny’s blue, orange and green memes !
I'm not too much into chit-chat these days but wanted this here!
I recorded my friends in the winter of 94 in my little studio . My friends got me through the worst winter of my life . I found The Urantia Book in the room i set my studio in ( I read it that winter) . So, I've been hauling around the VCR HIFI masters all these years and tonight converted it to digital in garageband and viola ! On to youtube . I jokingly called this the stalker song . Cheers to Dave and Mike !
"New Systems: Possibilities and Proposals" from The Next System Project explores social democracy, economic democracy, participatory economics and whole systems change. There are viable alternatives to capitalism.
Really excellent song, Andrew. I like your voice in this a lot.
Andrew, you said you recorded "my friends," so in that song you singing or one of them? In any case, good job.
Thanks. One of the proposals especially caught my eye, and looks like it's worth taking a close look at: Whole Systems Change by Riane Eisler.
"New Systems: Possibilities and Proposals" from The Next System Project explores social democracy, economic democracy, participatory economics and whole systems change. There are viable alternatives to capitalism.
Haha! You'll never mistake me for a singer! I write songs and play guitar . Now I didn't mean to get all sentimental . Here is one from a band called Black that I was a member of in the 90's . This one goes to all the folks kicked out of the homeless camp in Denver ( Kenny is asleep at the wheel) ; also to all the rocker types in Texas!I'm also not a pro audio engineer so my advise is to turn it up with the headphones on !
A nd this one is for all the world leaders who continuously break peoples legs around this planet and then want philanthropic awards when they send you a paramedic ! I believe The Lord of Light called them vipers and hypocrites ! Written in 94.
Now occasionally I do make an attempt at 'singing' my own songs . This was the first time I tried to do everything by myself in '89 . The worst drum track in music history !
Really getting tired of all the right wing spiritualist libertarian shills ! Why is it that these people reject that we have a responsibility to care for each other and to create social systems designed to facilitate that endeavour?