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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I will.  He was present at the Bhaskar post-conference event last time, when I mentioned these threads, so he might already have checked them out.

A tough call on which debate to attend.  This one will be interesting, but also high on my list would be Sean E.H.'s debate with Terry Patten on the role of spirituality in Integral. 

True.  I would definitely like to hear Zak make his case, but given the spiritual emphasis of my presentation and a lot of my own writing, it would make more sense for me to attend Sean's debate.

Will these debates be recorded and available after the conference?

Yes, they should be.

Zak responded to my emails that he'll check out this IPS discussion, so he has apparently not done so yet.

There's some discussion over at Facefuck on this with Zak that I thought I'd share here for those not so afflicted with that maleficent malady. I don't have time at the moment though but will post some when I do.

Lex Neale: An open letter to Zac Stein, re his: "The Integral Movement Is An Anti-Capitalist Movement" manifesto.

I quote a couple of sentences from that as a sounding board for this letter. "...integral practitioners should be explicitly and actively anti-capitalist or trans-capitalist." "...integral activism aimed at replacing capitalism with a new economic system should be one of the goals of the integral movement, perhaps its most important goal."

In the current IPM thread pertaining to this, I posted a couple of comments:

"If I am not mistaken, "anti-" anything is not a Second Tier strategy. Also, I said Yellow (Wilber Newtonian) because I use Wilber's original color scheme before he went SD. And again if I'm not mistaken, conscious capitalism is simply capitalism attempting to go Green. Eric, are you following this thread? I'd like your take on that."...

"In Second Tier you are not trying to negate another's right of passage by being anti- their due process. As I said above, Second Tier can take steps to facilitate another's right of passage, such as opening the way for an easy transition from capitalism to positive Green alternatives, thereby helping prevent the negative Green formations that are the "anti" reactions to change. There is no place here for a Second Tier facilitator to be using "anti" language in this very delicate and nuanced process of transcending/including and transcending/replacing." ...

So Zac, in the spirit of the theme of the ITC 2015 regarding Integral Theory making an impact, I would like to offer to you a more integral alternative to realizing your anti-capitalistic goals. Let's take a very current real-world scenario unfolding right now. Bernie Saunders, if he understood Integral Theory, would probably approve of your manifesto. As a classic Green he is sticking his neck out (as in turkey shoot) at the Plutocrats and calling for the redistribution of wealth. I hope he survives to his election! However, as much as he is a humanitarian and conscious capitalist, he is not yet coming from Second Tier - in being able to carry out the measures I mentioned above.

So I put it to you, Zac: The transition you talk of, say to a new economic system, would be far more integral if you initiated the process with Integral Conscious Capitalism, thereby not alienating the very people (culprits) you would ultimately need to integrate. What do we mean by ICC? By giving those who hold the wealth and power the opportunity to participate, and become altruistic. For example, Bernie has already made mention of the fact that the wealthy need to be taxed appropriately. But a truly Integral manifesto to transition Wilber-Newtonian Yellow to Green would be to give them Green All Quadrant incentives. Wealth invested in those very areas of disenfranchisement that the wealth would otherwise be taken punitively and with great resistance to the detriment of the spiral. In fact the opposite needs to happen: inspiration and creativity are the best incentives.

My suggestion for you to make a real Integral impact is this: Present Bernie Saunders with an Integral Conscious Capitalism manifesto that he can use to create the new policies needed, and that he can run for office on. This goes way beyond his laudable intentions of "putting America to work" to rebuild infra-structure through the punitive tax measures. For example, Sweden is well-known for applying 100% taxation beyond a certain threshold. But rather than deterring the wealthy from making more wealth (their creativity is to make money) they find a new altruistic elitism in providing the 100% taxed profits to go for the common good. This is positive Green Conscious Capitalism, yes, but it is not yet Integral. Sweden suffers through huge deficiencies in other Quadrants, particularly the Left ones. So make an Integral impact with this beautiful opportunity to turn things around without creating alienation.
The Integral movement is famous for alienating itself. Mainly by its academic ivory tower and associated jargon. Take, for example, the various color codes of Levels. Who in First Tier (the whole planet) can understand them? This is the reason I have reverted back to Wilber's original, the Newtonian spectrum - because it is so naturally relatable to a First Tier mind.

The only other thing I might add here is the deplorable state of the AQAL Square as an Integral model. Integral Publishers is coming out with my book, possibly in time for the ITC, (and allow me to indulge in an integrally consciously capitalistic plug here!) called "KNOWING THE KNOWER - An Integral Science of Self" where I expand the standard model to the AQAL Cube, differentiating AQAL "Inside" perspectives and AQAL "Outside" perspectives as one AQAL Cube PER PERSON. All the "I-You-Them" required to develop the new socio-political-economic policies you'll be needing for Bernie! All the best to you with that!

Some more from the FB IPS thread anti-capitalism not quoted above:

Neale: Surely the stance "Integral Anti-Capitalism" is a Green stance, along with all the manipulative strategies to "do something about it". The bell curve embracing capitalism in (Wilber-Newtonian) Yellow will move on as and when the Yellows are good and ready. I would have thought a more evolved Integral stance (if that's where the participants of this thread are coming from) would be more to prepare the Green pastures that evolving capitalists will be looking for, rather than taking an anti-capitalist stance. I'm sure everyone on this thread went through their capitalist phase, and to be asked is how did we come to move on? What inspired us to go Green, and then start applying those measures in an Integral way for others to follow.

Me: I question that anti-anything is not second tier. In the Stein piece he discusses Hegel's "negate and preserve." Wilber also discusses the difference between"transcend and include" and "transcend and replace." The latter is akin to Hegel in that basic structures are included, whereas transitional structures like worldviews and morals are replaced. We discussed this in detail in this Ning IPS thread.

I'd agree with you that conscious capitalism is on the transition from orange to green. As we discussed in the integral anti-capitalism thread (linked above) democratic socialism is more green proper. And the emerging neo-Commons is the transition into yellow or 2nd-tier socio-economics.

Hence this is why I'm focused on the democratic socialist Sanders for President. And Senator Warren. And the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This is the cutting edge of the next wave in US politics and socio-economics, a step that the majority of the people are ready for and willing to support. And a step beyond conscious crapitalism, which still maintains a lot of the injustices of capitalism, often unconsciously.

Neale: In Second Tier you are not trying to negate another's right of passage by being anti- their due process. As I said above, Second Tier can take steps to facilitate another's right of passage, such as opening the way for an easy transition from capitalism to positive Green alternatives, thereby helping prevent the negative Green formations that are the "anti" reactions to change. There is no place here for a Second Tier facilitator to be using "anti" language in this very delicate and nuanced process of trancending/including and transcending/replacing.

Me: We still have to have laws that enact the highest level in transitional structures. I agree with Wilber again in his statement "The war in Iraq." It addresses that we can support one's development in lower stages in terms of basic structures, but at the same time enforce exterior law from the highest transitional structure. You're associating the word 'anti' as a blanket that denies the former and that's not necessarily the case. And not so in this case.

Riane Eisler has an interesting take on capitalism. Wilber got from her the idea of actualization and dominator hierarchies. The former are when the poles like male/female etc. are balanced in partnership, the latter when one, usually male, takes dominance. Eisler thinks certain periods then are not continually evolving but in some cases devolving. Capitalism with it's unbalanced dominance on the individual (usually male) can be seen in this light as a regression instead of an evolutionary step forward. I've often wondering whether capitalism is a continuation of the feudal system and functionally unfit to coordinate with democracy. Democratic economics would be the more functional fit with a democratic politics. That capitalism currently dominates our political system as an oligarchy seems to support that view.

Camosy: An integral point of view on neoliberal capitalism would be post-capitalism. If you look at the results of such efforts as micro lending, "conscious capitalism" starts to look like a version of trickle-down spirituality. Since we all are in the same boat - we share space within the same LL & LR systems and networks, integral action is not merely a case of gently encouraging some kind of growth to goodness model. There IS a place for an Integral form of resistance, hacking, and negation - working to accelerate the deconstruction, delegitimization, and dissolution of harmful structures.

However, I do expect that the main sentiment at the ITC will be to DOUBLE-DOWN on Conscious Capitalism. It should be an interesting debate! smile emoticon

Neale: Integral praxis deals with every level of the spiral, for a whole and healthy spiral. The scenario I presented to Zak is a situation happening now, in Green, with Bernie Saunders. And so in the spirit of Integral making an impact, how can Bernie's political agenda - in dealing with out of control capitalism - go Integral at that Green level, to integrate capitalism at Green without causing disruption in the rest of the spiral. It is time for Integral to start proving itself at ALL levels of the spiral, and I think this is a great opportunity to make an impact, make a difference in the "real" world. It's called right action in Green.

Corbett: i think to suggest we shouldnt be anti-capitalist and should give the plutocrats a chance to come around on their own to a voluntary surrender of power and wealth is naive in the extreme, revealing the bourgeois origins of such sentiments. having said that, i think the integral orthodoxy would like it, and that they would probably make such an argument themselves. sorry, lex.

Roy: Lex Neale does have a point, in saying that an integral approach would include conscious capitalism, and build from there. This is a prime example of the limitations of integral systems thinking which has a strong (should I say exclusive?) developmental bias. When we are thinking of individual persons, the developmental systems narrative is adequate. But when we are thinking of social systems -- of populations and network effects, of complex adaptation of societies of members -- developmental logics is not only not adequate, but a serious category error. We need to switch to evolutionary thinking, of thinking of emergence.

Here is the difference. Developmental logics says that the next higher form is built upon the most recent form (the current highest level). This is the natural hierarchy of development - I have to be 2 feet tall before I am 3 feet tall. I have to be a systems thinker before I am a meta-systematic thinker. Natural hierarchies are somewhat trivial, and therefore they are not problematic.

In evolutionary ecology we see something drastically different. We see that time and time again, the next higher form represents a radical disconnection from the current higher forms. Evolution builds on/ works on flexible, maximally adaptive forms, not on highly evolved, highly interdependent forms. The more interdependent the form, the more interconnected the system, the less it can adapt (because the entire system has to shift all at once). Therefore, evolution proceeds by disrupting that system entirely, by decomposing it down to minimally viable forms, and re-booting the adaptive process.

Because late-stage capitalism is reaching an evolutionary apotheosis (you can prove this rigorously through panarchy theory and the fact that late-stage capitalism, as late-stage socialism, is the result of a long period of relying on K-strategies)... Therefore, the greater possibility is that capitalism as we know it will crash, that therefore, any more energy put into its survival (k-strategies) only pushes it closer toward collapse, In the wake of that decomposition, there will be many opportunities to re-compose what it is to be an economy, a people, an earth. This is either a post-integral position. Or a 3rd or 4th tier version of it.

Whatever we say here, won't make the final difference. What is MORE real has the MOST chance of becoming the case. The only difference is who gets to look back and say "I told you so."

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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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