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)

Views: 8558

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Clinton (I) versus Sanders (we). A lot is revealed in their language. Same difference between capitalism and the Neo-Commons, oligarchy and democracy, integral (I-I) and syntegral (we-oui).

Interesting article by Edwards. I have some problems with different parts of it, but the most frustrating is that he only gives the briefest passing nod to the role of energy in the LR and LL at the very end. This is where that I think is in desperate need of attention by the Integral community.

Here is an article on Energy and the Evolution of Culture by legendary anthropologist Leslie White.

It is worth reading the new introduction to his 1959 book Evolution and Culture: The Development of Civilization to the Fall of Rome, for a discussion on White's role in the controversial debate about cultural evolution in anthropology circles, as well as for a summary assessment of the book's contents. Methinks it is a quite integral book.

DavidM58 said:

I have not been aware of this 2003 article by Mark Edwards.  I will have to take a look at that - thanks!

I agree about the old Edwards article. It's intent was only to briefly offer a new twist on AQAL theory with the energy-form dimension, not to deeply explore the role of energy production.

Also see this post.

theurj said:

Me: I agree with Wilber in Excerpt A that the "techno-economic base of a society constrains its various probability waves in very strong ways" and "clearly has a profound influence on the types of beliefs, feelings, ideas, and worldviews of men and women" (34-5).

David Brooks, mind you, is glad it's the end of the Reagan era. He's not happy that it took Trump to destroy it it, but it's time to reorganize around different principles. It will require that the GOP give up the old ways of Adam Smith's utilitarian individualism and be open to Durkheim's collective social relations based on compassion and love. Fucking wow, this is a monumental moment of realization for a Republican.

In this piece Reich sees the establishment continuing on after this election, with further cuts to social programs and tax breaks and subsidies to the wealthy. Which will cause yet another crash and the people will finally be fed up to form a third Party, the People's Party. Said Party will draw in the disaffected from the rigged system on all sides and will stand for the following. A nice vision:

"Getting big money out of politics, ending 'crony capitalism,' abolishing corporate welfare, stopping the revolving door between government and the private sector, and busting up the big Wall Street banks and corporate monopolies. The People’s Party also pledged to revoke the Trans Pacific Partnership, hike taxes on the rich to pay for a wage subsidy (a vastly expanded Earned Income Tax Credit) for everyone earning below the median, and raise taxes on corporations that outsource jobs abroad or pay their executives more than 100 times the pay of typical Americans."

Hmm, sounds curiously like The Green Party, (currently running Jill Stein for President) except Reich doesn't include climate change or the environment in the soundbite quoted. By talking about creating a "third party," it implies that multiple parties don't already exist.  The problem is not that there are not enough parties, but that the current structure reinforces the dominance of the top two corporate establishment parties.  A start would be to somehow implement instant runoff voting.

I do think Reich is on the right track in terms of the coming apart of the dominance of the two parties; we may see a progressive party gain traction, but we'll also likely see the continued rise of regressive politics (represented by Trump, Tea Party, etc.).

For myself, I agree Ted Rall that for this election "lesser evilism" is the wisest course in an attempt to keep Trump or Cruz out of office.  That means caucusing for Bernie (which I did yesterday here in WA state), and then supporting Hillary in the general election if she becomes the Democratic nominee.

Fascinating opinion piece by Republican columnist David Brooks.  I've always respected his intelligence, but here he demonstrates his wisdom.

theurj said:

David Brooks, mind you, is glad it's the end of the Reagan era. He's not happy that it took Trump to destroy it it, but it's time to reorganize around different principles. It will require that the GOP give up the old ways of Adam Smith's utilitarian individualism and be open to Durkheim's collective social relations based on compassion and love. Fucking wow, this is a monumental moment of realization for a Republican.

Anti-capitalism is more than a deconstruction but also a reconstruction to a better socio-economic system. And to be better requires something beyond socio-economics in itself. So see the Network of Spiritual Progressives spiritual covenant with America, which provides a spiritual context for a better political economy. The bullet points are below but the article goes into much more detail.

1. We will create a society and economic system that promotes rather than undermines loving and caring relationships and families. We affirm the deep yearning of most people on this planet to be recognized as fundamentally valuable not for what they do or how much money, power or fame they accumulate, but for who they are as embodiments of the sacred energy of the universe, a yearning to contribute to the common good, to have work that has higher meaning than to accumulate money or power, and to live in peace and mutual respect with their neighbors and all people on the planet, connected through a bond of caring for each other's well-being.

2. We will take personal responsibility for personal ethical behavior

3. We will build Environmental and Social Responsibility into the normal operations of our economic and political Life. We will end the role of money in politics, require free and equal media time for all major candidates, and take major steps to democratize the economy.

4. We will reshape our education system to teach the values of love, caring, generosity, intellectual curiosity, tolerance, gratitude, repentance, humility, forgiveness, and awe and wonder at the universe.

5. We will seek a single-payer national health care plan and also broaden the public’s understanding of health care to provide ample access to exercise facilities, pollution-free transportation and energy, healthy and nutritious and affordable organic food, pollution free air and water, and free psychological and spiritual counseling, chiropractic and other approaches to health that move beyond the confines of past Western medical thought.

6. We will be stewards of the environment and protect the life-support system of the planet Earth.

7. Foreign policy and homeland security must be governed by a commitment to non-violence and a spirit of generosity, ending (not ameliorating) domestic and global poverty, opening all borders and transcending national chauvinism.

8. We will seek the separation of Church, State and Science, and encourage inner spiritual development.

9. We will dramatically reduce economic inequality, insist on a “living wage” not just a “minimum wage,” and a guaranteed annual income for all, free childcare, elder care, and a reduced work week to 30 hours per week. We will prioritize restorative justice over prisons, focus on rehabilitation and not punishment in prisons, and reintegrate former prisoners into society with generosity and open-hearted concern for their ability to rejoin society and receive productive work.

10. In every aspect of life, we will give priority to enhancing our capacities to respond to other human beings as embodiments of the sacred and respond to the universe around us with radical amazement at the grandeur and mystery of all that is, recognizing that our well-being depends on the well being of everyone else on the planet and the well-being of the planet itself.

Neoliberalism: The Zombie Doctrine. It's a good analysis of what it is and why we unconsciously accept it. And it's true that we need to find a socio-economic system to replace it. But he is mistaken that as of now progressives don't have an alternative. The Neo-Commons is alive and well and gaining strength daily and fulfills all of the necessary requirements. Perhaps the author is also so embedded in capitalism that he can't see what is blatantly in front of him?

Capitalism or Socialism?: There's an even better option by David Korten. Excerpt:

"Assuming that capitalism is about the economy and democracy is about governance, we fail to recognize an essential truth: There is no political democracy without economic democracy. [...] Democracy is a governance system in which power resides in the people. That power cannot be limited to voting for political representatives every few years. It must be rooted in economic structures that distribute power equitably and link it to the interests of communities of place. Such structures can come in many forms: Individual and family enterprises, community-owned enterprises, cooperatives–large and small—and even governmental and quasi-governmental bodies. Democracy is the life-serving alternative we seek to the life-destroying capitalist tyranny under which we now live. Democracy, not the false dichotomy of capitalism or socialism, should be the election’s framing issue."

Reply to Discussion


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?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2023   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service