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...

LAYMAN PASCAL

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?

THEURJ

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?

LAYMAN PASCAL

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?

THEURJ

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.

LAYMAN PASCAL

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?

THEURJ

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.

LAYMAN PASCAL

(comment pending)

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?

THEURJ

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.

LAYMAN PASCAL

(comment pending)

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Thanks Ambo.  That entire article and comment thread is worth diving into, methinks, with various perspectives, and along with the many links provided.

And I've been missing Layman also.  Get well soon, LP!

Regarding Avatar,

You may be interested in reading this commentary by a fellow 'integral permaculturist' in response to Ken Wilber's analysis of Avatar.

When Stella pointed me to her article, she wrote:

The interesting thing about Avatar ... is that it (possibly) requires some in depth understanding of permaculture ... in order to see just how this imaginary race could possibly fit into Teal.

But I would have thought that even without that, someone with a solid understanding of integral would have been able to apply integral's own theory to it a lot more imaginatively than Wilber did.  Instead, I found his contradictions (or blind-spots) quite amazing.   And for reasons I equally don't understand I definitely see this kind of lack of imagination (or rigor?) as a pattern in the (self-proclaimed, meta or not) integral movement.   ...

What worries me (using this particular example - there are many others) is that if Wilber himself doesn't recognize some genious like James Cameron as a fellow second-tier colleague, I'm really at a loss as to what the hell is going on.  Not to mention not at all optimistic as to the integrating capabilities of the integral movement.

Hi David - I can imagine how a lot of reaction could happen regarding Ken on this (though I am not remembering his review specifically) and regarding the movie generally.

I'm not innerly prepared to dig into this deeply but I can see some integral themes and general themes that pertain.

For example, I'm guessing plenty of critique has been done about the pre-trans fallacy in different contexts. At a glance towards questioning, I'm wondering if sometimes the pre-trans distinctions are more clear and in other instances the true differences might be less linearly clear and more fuzzy. (I didn't say that well. I have ongoing questions about pre-trans.)

FYI see this prior thread on the movie Avatar, Wilber's review, and our responses to both Wilber and the movie generally.

Thanks, t, that reference to the thread was perfect. Yes, many good points. Naturally, I felt my own judging capacities flit to this 'side' of a theme or point's challenge and then a side of the next and so on. I'll forgo here or on that thread my belated additions to the conversation and my opinions.

I do want to say how beautiful I felt, as did the mainstream, about some evocations of feeling whole with nature and the joys of moving within some of it. The kinesthetic evocations were dynamite to my kinesthetic soul. The navi protagoness peeling off of a tree limb or rock face on her dragon-bird, almost as one physical being, and dropping/wheeling/banking into space - wow!! Holy shit.

The stuff of dreams. Etc.

I don't known the veracity of detailed stories around the news claim that some people leaving the movie felt depressed and even had suicidal thoughts about returning to their non-movie lives and worlds. But, I can relate how powerfully evocative for me it was - so much beauty. (Plus other stuff, not-felt-as-beauty.)

Here's an excellent short review of what looks to be an excellent book, answering the question "How is the myth of the given of the modernist capitalist growth economy perpetuated?" The entire short review is worth reading!

Review of Collision Course (Endless Growth on a Finite Planet)

Kerryn Higgs, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2014

by Herman Daly

Herman DalyThis informative book is about the rise of economic growth to the status of the number one goal of nations; the short-lived challenge to that dogma from the book The Limits to Growth (1972); the solidity of the Limits position as confirmed by subsequent data and the analyses of others; the intellectual poverty and dishonesty of the growth economists’ reaction against the Limits argument; and how it nevertheless happened that through modern public relations and well-financed ideological think tanks, the intellectually weaker growth arguments prevailed. Higgs focuses on the US story, but with informative parallels from her native Australia.

Higgs documents the cogency of the Limits position and how the business as usual projection of the World Model has for over thirty years fit the data better than any standard economic model. She also exposes how the economists resorted to ridicule and arrogance as a substitute for reasoned refutation in their response to Limits. This story is well known to me because I was a participant in the debate. I can testify that Higgs’ retelling is accurate and insightful. It is also refreshing to me that MIT Press published her book. This indicates the welcome likelihood that some anonymous member of the MIT department of economics no longer has a veto over the decisions of the MIT Press.*

Collision CourseWhat to me was new and challenging was Higgs’ detailed historical consideration of the following question: given that the Limits position is fundamentally correct, and that the growth economists’ “refutation” is based on ignorance, vested interests, and dishonesty, how did it come to pass that the economists’ erroneous position prevailed over the much more cogent and scientifically based Limits position? That it has done so can hardly be doubted, even if one still hopes for better in the future. For those of us who believe in the persuasive power of reasoned argument, this fact, and Higgs’ explanation of it, is a real kick in the head. Nor does it bode well for democracy. How did it happen? Can we learn from it? Can we recover from it?

The starting point for Higgs’ explanation is the classic 1928 work, Propaganda, by Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, and pioneer in public relations. Bernays wrote:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country . . . It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

Propaganda becomes advertising, which becomes public relations identifying “the greater good” as defined and propagated by well-endowed “public interest” think tanks. According to Higgs, soon-to-be Associate Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr.’s 1971 memorandum to the US Chamber of Commerce gave strategy and operational structure to Bernays’ philosophy. It led to the establishment of think tanks with the explicit purpose of defending “free-market capitalism” against labor unions, welfare legislation, and taxes on business. This docket was extended to include combating environmentalism and any questioning of the primacy of economic growth that would only “confuse” the masses. This opposition was already being put in place by the 1972 publication of Limits.

Democracy presupposes a citizenry capable of thinking for themselves rather than being misled by propaganda. But with the average family now holding two full-time jobs that are often uncertain, plus raising kids, there is little time for keeping informed and understanding increasingly complex economic issues. The appeal of easy ready-made answers lends force to Bernays’ cynical view of democracy as the art of manipulating the opinions of the masses...

Read More Here

For more on Edward Bernays, watch the legendary BBC documentary, The Century of the Self.

Adam Curtis' acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? "Century of the Self" tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund's devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund's great grandson, Matthew Freud.

Sigmund Freud's work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal.

 

 

This graphic sums up nicely the waning years of capitalism and the emergent Commons.

Critique of Mackey's book on conscious capitalism, something we did early in this thread.

I suppose WinCo is a step up from Walmart, but I think we need to do much better.  We have both Walmart and WinCo in my town, but by far my preference is our local Community Food Co-op.

Agreed, a co-op is the ultimate goal. But some progress from WalMart is a step in the right direction. The more of us that shop at co-ops the more we move it up.

The 1% are parasites. Debunking the lies about free enterprise, trickle-down, capitalism and celebrity entrepreneurs. See the Salon article. An edited excerpt:

"The rich don't generate jobs. Rising tides do not lift all boats. And they probably built that with government help."

"U.S. billionaire Nick Hanauer is refreshingly honest about this: ‘If it was true that lower taxes for the rich and more wealth for the wealthy led to job creation, today we would be drowning in jobs.’ So why hasn’t the spectacular shift in income and financial wealth to the rich over the last four decades led to unprecedented jobs growth? [...] as Nick Hanauer makes clear, hiring more workers ‘is a course of last resort for the capitalist.’ Extra workers may enable more output, but if firms can find other ways of expanding output that are cheaper, they will."

"[T]rickle down’ arguments are wrong. Yes, the rich employ a few servants and provide demand for accountants, tax advisors and luxury services, but far fewer jobs result from this than would be case if their income were redistributed back to ordinary people with a much higher propensity to consume. The best way to get money to cascade down from the rich to the rest is to tax them – or stop them extracting it in the first place! As Ann Pettifor argues, any trickle-down effect is dwarfed by the reverse ‘hoovering up’ effect of rent and interest in directing money to the wealthy."

"[I]t’s easy to swallow the usual media tales of heroic individuals doing it all themselves, or at least starting off on their own – the maverick-kids-in-garages stories. But research on innovation reveals a different picture of the involvement of multiple individuals, groups and agencies in which people interact and build on the achievements of others. If there appear to be ‘breakthroughs’ they are typically the final stage in long processes of learning that involved many people. As we’ll see in Part Two, so much of our wealth depends on those who have gone before us."

In a recent roundtable discussion with the CEO at my workplace, the CEO flatly stated that the tax levels do not greatly affect hiring practices, how many people are employed, etc.  He said it likely has an effect on small mom&pop businesses, but not on larger businesses.

But we should already know this.  Even George H.W. Bush called trickle-down "voodoo economics" when he was campaigning against Reagan.

And Reagan's first budget director, a young, idealistic, and principled Republican, David Stockman, was very candid in a 1981 interview with The Atlantic, which made it very clear that supply-side, or trickle-down economics was not working. I had voted for Reagan, and that piece in the Atlantic was profound for me, and played a significant role in shifting my thinking.

See The Education of David Stockman

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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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