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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Robert Reich today released an excerpt of his new book, Saving Capitalism. The following excerpt relates to my last post in that a 'free market' of self-interested individuals is moot without the rules of the social contract via laws and regulations.

"There can be no 'free market' without government. The 'free market' does not exist in the wilds beyond the reach of civilization. Competition in the wild is a contest for survival in which the largest and strongest typically win. Civilization, by contrast, is defined by rules; rules create markets, and governments generate the rules."

And this one as it relates to so-called universal individual evolutionary structures that get transferred to social structures.

"The rules are neither neutral nor universal, and they are not permanent. Different societies at different times have adopted different versions. The rules partly mirror a society’s evolving norms and values but also reflect who in society has the most power to make or influence them."

I'm not posting this to be antagonistic. But after a brief search I couldn't really find anything on tax dodgers in these social democratic countries . If anyone could provide that info I would appreciate it .

I also think that libertarianism has to be balanced by socialism if it isn't to be distorted. Libertarian Socialism seems closer to the mark as far as the way I think . I believe Liberty is fundamental but it has to be juxtaposed to Social Justice . 

Hi, Bryan, if you are still here and if you have the interest, would you mind explaining what you mean when you say, "the means must justify themselves"?  Theurj hears the "metaphysics of presence" in such a statement, and that may be the case, but I think that also may not be the case, so I'd like to hear more of your thinking on this suggested first principle.

This doesn't seem so radical to me. If you just observe eco-systems over time, for example look a newly scrubbed barren landscape.  First come weeds that compete individually.  Over time a complex eco-system develops, such as a mature forest where you see complex "structures and processes that serve the well being of the whole." 

I've been told that Darwin only used the phrase "survival of the fittest" once. His message was skewed by the predominant vMemes that were emerging - when the social evolution of the time was at a stage where emphasizing capitalist competition was effective.

theurj said:

Kurt posted this link at FB, wherein he and co-author discuss the difference between individual and social evolution in the following quote. We discussed this in different IPS threads, how in kennilingus individual evolutionary levels are just carried over wholesale onto social evolution which isn't necessarily, and likely not at all, the case.

"Wilson differentiates between natural selection for individuals and natural selection at what is called the 'group', or 'multi-level.' While at an individual level, natural selection often operates in a selfish, survival-of-the-fittest fashion, at the group level (think of group dynamics within larger eco-systems), it selects for structures and processes that serve the well being of the whole, and not self-interest groups. In other words, evolution is trending toward a world that works for all. This is a radical reversal of standard evolutionary understanding."

A point on your point David . What you correctly describe are non-personal laws and processes within systems . This isn't how we got into the mess we're in . We are here in this situation because of human intention. I believe we got into this situation because of the control mechanisms of a small and select group of very unwell people ( psychopathology) . What I am suggesting is that even a psychopath can see the end of the road coming when driving upon it and will most likely always stop so as to avoid unnecessary injury or death . Everything i will suggest on this site are the means for the global elite to change directions and prevent their own injury and death . This isn't to say that the rest of us are not to blame and are helpless ; we are partly to blame and we are not helpless ; but not addressing one of the primary causes of our situation is inadequate , too. 

@Balder & theurj: I think theurj (please correct me if I am mistaken), when he hears metaphysics of presence, may simply be responding to the “initiation of force” concept, and particularly the “initiation” piece of that concept, which assumes that there is no prior justification for that initiation (i.e. it privileges the present). He may be pointing to an argument along the lines that “initiation” could never be established because there are always contributing events and circumstances which precede “initiation” and therefore the concept of initiation itself comes into question.  Thus when I say “The means must justify themselves” and by “justify” I mean that they must be morally/ethically valid in and of themselves, and then go on to claim that validity is rooted in the question of initiation of force, he draws the metaphysics conclusion. I do not mean to put words in his mouth, but I would suppose that is where he is coming from.

As I alluded to in a response to david however, the term “initiation” itself presumes consideration of either/both events prior to or immediately after the application of force. This is why the concept is less “black and white” than at first glance and we must use reason and evidence to determine if use of force is justified.  I think there must be some rational basis for a “statute of limitations” on events in the past or on future potentialities.  And I think that we can establish such through a “common law” method.

My main issue with controlled economies at the macro scale such as state-socialism or state-capitalism is that they assume that the controlling body (the state) is a) omnipresent, b) faultlessly virtuous, and c) clairvoyant. This is of course not the case, and that is why controlled economies have never worked, and are indeed struggling today all over the world. I do however believe that controlled economies can work on a smaller more micro-economic scale (such as a community scale say from a few dozen up to—with really good organization--several thousand individuals). On such a small scale it is more feasible to implement a controlled economy because the controlling body is more immediately accessible to those who are directly affected by their decisions.

If you like (and given time) I can provide some more specific examples of what I mean.  

@andrew - I am responding to you next ;D


I guess the first point that I am having trouble with is your tendency to not see relativity . Not all degrees of murder are the same ; not all coercion is equally toxic . There are destructive forms of government and less problematic types . In the meantime I think it's imperative that humanity seek out the least coercive and destructive forms of government . 

Oh sure. I am totally with you on that. I would prefer less destructive forms of government over more destructive forms. But that is also like saying, “I would rather be enslaved by a kind master, than by a cruel one.” I mean yeah sure, but wouldn’t it be infinitely better not to be enslaved at all?

As to my C.T. allusions : even you concede in one of your papers that Integral could be easily co-opted . This was one of my first instincts 15 years age when I first came across these ideas . 

At this point in time I'd be more inclined to put my hopes into a healthy green /yellow state ( chartruce)than a 10,000 points of light Integral non-state .

Yes integral can be co-opted, and an integral state could come about. However I think the result would be very very bad. At best it would be a sort of soft-tyranny, an integral dystopia. At worst it would be the end of us. If you can imagine integral level technology in the hands of non-integral nations (nano-tech, gen-tech, robotics, etc.), I can think of some outcomes that make nuclear war seem like a sunny day at the beach.  

Another note. I get the sense that you think I am a Libertarian. I have roots there certainly, but I see libertarianism as really just the ideological opposite of socialism, and thus not really integral by itself. I am arguing for panarchy as an integral political framework (think “integral UN” if you want a bad real-world metaphor) that would have within it a multitude of communities of all types, and representing all levels of development.

Hi Andrew,

Yes, this is where you and I disagree, in terms of emphasis. I do not agree that we got into this situation due to a small and select group of people.

I like Peter Pogany's framing of the stages of recent world history as Global System 0, Global System 1 (GS1), Global System 2 (GS2), and Global System 3 (GS3), as discussed before here. Pogany saw these world systems as self-organizing systems, and the people embedded in them are so embedded socially, culturally, spiritually, etc. that it becomes their 'myth of the given' or 'fallacy of mis-placed concreteness.' They can't see other ways of being or organizing and the system itself reinforces what contributes to the system and squeezes out opposing forces and ideas. Therefore it's very difficult to change the system. It only happens when the existing system goes into decay, and through a chaotic transition the next oncoming system "overdetermines" (Gebser) the previous system.  Therefore it is not very useful in pointing fingers at evil actors (though that doesn't mean there are no evil actors). 

Also, you can see a kind of progression or cultural evolution through these different stages, gradually becoming more like an evolved, mature, dynamic ecosystem where dominator species do not thrive, and collaborative species thrive more and more. Though it's not a gradual progression, it is more like a series of abrupt bifurcations, along the lines Gebser outlined.

GS0 is prior to the establishment of a Global System.

GS1: "By the end of the 18th century, cultural evolution demanded global-scale organization to maintain its accelerating mode. The chaotic transition that began with the French Revolution...led to the establishment of the world's first global system (GS1), characterized by laissez faire and metal money. It lasted from approximately 1834...until the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914." (Pogany quotes from this paper on Fifth Structure Emergence in Economics) .

This was a step forward for its time, but it eventually became deficient.

GS2: "The period 1914-1945 was another chaotic transition [two world wars and the Great Depression] that brought the second and current global system (GS2) --mixed economy/weak multilateralism -- into existence."

This was another step forward, where Keynes' economic ideas incorporated by F.D.R's administration helped put the brakes on un-restrained ("free market") capitalism and put in processes that cared for the less fortunate, providing a social safety net, etc.

However, GS2 has been in a deficient state since the mid-seventies (see Erik Lindberg's article referenced in the energy thread). Pogany again:

"At present, physical limits are beginning to slow cultural evolution. Its demand for free (accessible) energy (in the form of low entropy matter and energy carriers), and capacity to absorb pollution are coming into conflict  with nonexpendable terrestrial constraints. As a consequence, the world has either entered or is on the verge of entering another period of chaotic transition.

A new global system (GS3). two-level economy/strong multilateralism, will be needed to create a sustainable balance between culture and humanity's ecological niche. Micro-activities will have to be made legally subject to globally-determined and nationally allocated macro-constraints. The required transformation of individual behavior and institutions will be vast." [Here referring to integral consciousness.]

With the above frame we can characterize the Reagan Revolution republicans, tea partiers, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, Donald Trump, etc. as groups of people who think that the way to solve the current deficient state is to get us back to un-regulated free market capitalism (GS1).  They achieve success every time they roll back the New Deal/Great Society programs. They are quite mistaken in their goals - the way back is not the way forward.

We can also characterize the vast majority of liberal/progressive thought as trying to shore up and restore the accomplishments of the New Deal and Great Society. This line of thinking is well represented by folks like Robert Reich and Paul Krugman.  No, we don't want the perfect to become the enemy of this good - we must acknowledge that this line of thinking is light years ahead of the GS1 stage. But they are  also mistaken in thinking this move will reverse the current deficient stage we're in.

Lindberg again: "As Paul Krugman has exclaimed at the prospect of repeating the post-war economic miracle, “If they could do it then, we should be able to repeat their achievement.”[i] The logic is graceful but fallacious.  None of this is necessarily true.  At best, its falsehoods were held at bay for a couple of hundred years by vast ecological margins.  As I will later suggest, these liberal and progressive fixtures of faith are true only when society is in a growth or expansion phase, when energy and resources are so abundant as to appear limitless."

"Thus when I say 'The means must justify themselves' and by 'justify' I mean that they must be morally/ethically valid in and of themselves, and then go on to claim that validity is rooted in the question of initiation of force [....]  and we must use reason and evidence to determine if use of force is justified. [...] And I think that we can establish such through a 'common law' method."

You literally say the means "must be morally/ethically valid in of of themselves." So is there no perspective that interprets such means from its particular AQAL orientation? Is there some objective space outside of interpretative perspectives where the means are "in of of themselves?" Apparently not, for we can "use reason and evidence" to understand such an objective "in itself" to establish a "common law?" But which type of reason and evidence, from an integral-aperspectival perspective? And if so, who decides what is IA?

From this article on Pope-onomics:

"But the kind of economics he reserves his highest praise for has less to do with ledgers and figures than with the challenges of people sharing and governing their enterprises together. It’s not an economics of the right or left, of Democrats or Republicans, but an economics of cooperation."

"Over and over, he has turned to grass-roots social movements, rather than economists, as his source of hope for change. While in Bolivia, he told a gathering of activists, 'The future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands, through your ability to organize and carry out creative alternatives.' The future Francis hopes for is one that comes chiefly from the bottom up."

"Key economic advisers to both Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, come from the school of civil economy, which seeks to foster not just wealth, but also vibrant, values-driven, self-governing economies. This approach has roots in the ancient Christian insistence on the priority of the common good over short-term profits and private property."

"A different kind of economics also means a different kind of business. In his recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, Francis recommends cooperative enterprise as a means of both humanizing technology and converting to renewable forms of energy. Co-op businesses are owned and controlled by the people who depend on them most, rather than designed to maximize profits for the founders or investors. Some, for example, are owned by their workers, others by their customers. Though they unite around values of democratic management and profit-sharing, co-ops come in many different forms."

"The priest-economist John Ryan surveyed these efforts in his 1916 book Distributive Justice and concluded, 'Co-operation is a golden mean between individualism and socialism. It includes all the good features and excludes all the evil features of both.' More important, he wrote, cooperatives cultivate 'a greater development of the altruistic spirit than is possible under any other economic system that has ever been tried or devised.'”

And who is the only US Presidential candidate suggesting such a thing? From Sanders' platform:

Creating Worker Co-ops

We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.

Yes I am saying there are objective universal ethical principles that that define the LR quadrant of AQAL. Just as there are objective universal scientific principles that define the UR quadrant of AQAL.

I didn't think there was any controversy there, as economics and politics is firmly in the LR quadrant. That is not to say anything about the LL aspects of society (i.e. culture), but that is not my focus here.

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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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