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

Excerpts of Sanders' speech at the Vatican on a moral economy:

"Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut, that once the market economy escaped the boundaries of morality it would be impossible to bring the economy back und
er the dictates of morality and the common good. I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be 'practical,' that we should accept the status quo; that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice and the possibilities of a better world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for our common home."

"The challenges facing our planet are not mainly technological or even financial, because as a world we are rich enough to increase our investments in skills, infrastructure, and technological know-how to meet our needs and to protect the planet. Our challenge is mostly a moral one, to redirect our efforts and vision to the common good. Centesimus Annus, which we celebrate and reflect on today, and Laudato Si’, are powerful, eloquent and hopeful messages of this possibility. It is up to us to learn from them, and to move boldly toward the common good in our time."

See this article debunking the "the tragedy of the commons" fallacy and providing a realistic alternative.

"There is just one significant flaw in the tragedy parable. It does not accurately describe a commons. Hardin’s fictional scenario sets forth a system that has no boundaries around the pasture, no rules for managing it, no punishments for over-use and no distinct community of users. But that is not a commons. It is an open-access regime, or a free-for-all. A commons has boundaries, rules, social norms and sanctions against free riders. A commons requires that there be a community willing to act as a conscientious steward of a resource. Hardin was confusing a commons with 'no-man’s-land'—and in the process, he smeared the commons as a failed paradigm for managing resources."

"Yet the fact remains that a great deal of economic theory and policy presume a rather crude, archaic model of human being. Despite its obvious unreality, Homo economicus, the fictional abstract individual who actively maximizes his personal 'utility function' through rational calculation, continues to hold sway as the idealized model of human agency in the cultural entity we call the 'economy.' [...] Paradoxically enough, the heedless quest for selfish gain— 'rationally' pursued, of course, yet indifferent toward the collective good—is a better description of the conventional market economy than a commons. In the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, such a mindset propelled the wizards of Wall Street to maximize private gains without regard for the systemic risks or local impacts. The real tragedy precipitated by 'rational' individualism is not the tragedy of the commons, but the tragedy of the market."

"Ostrom nonetheless showed how, in hundreds of instances, commoners do in fact meet their needs and interests in collective, cooperative ways. [...] Many commons have flourished for hundreds of years, even in periods of drought or crisis. Their success can be traced to a community’s ability to develop its own flexible, evolving rules for stewardship, oversight of access and usage, and effective punishments for rule-breakers."

"Ostrom declared that commons that are part of a larger system of governance must be 'organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.' She called this 'polycentric governance,' meaning that the authority to appropriate a resource, monitor and enforce its use, resolve conflicts and perform other governance activities must be shared across different levels— from local to regional to national to international."

A couple quick observations on the above. As I noted ad nauseum in this forum, the notion of 'rationality' in this system is the deficient or dissociative phase of what is termed formal operations in developmental speak. It is so abstract that it is divorced from other people and the environment, from it's own very embodiment. It is what Lakoff calls false reason. It manifests in an entire philosophy explored at length in Philosophy in the Flesh.

And this disembodied, abstract and false reason is the unconsciously accepted background cultural worldview assumption from which we launch our notions of further development a la the Model of Hierarchical Complexity. As I noted in the real/false reason thread, postformal operations so defined maintain and extend this dysfunctional and deficient 'reasoning' into more complex complications. Hence we get so-called postformalists completely subservient to the dictates of a rampant capitalism, even singing its praises in a more 'developed' form like conscious capitalism, because they are still caught up on this Higher Selfish meme of deficient rationality carried into more 'complex' postformal levels.

And yet, as explored in this thread there is another form of complexity, one which is not surprisingly more aligned with the emerging neo-Commons movement, a complexity not so twisted by the deficient rational structure. I'd add that this 'real' reasoning also manifests in the sort of emerging forms of polydox spirituality we explore at length in this forum.

Participatory Economics, an excerpt:

"The defining institutions of a capitalist economy are: private ownership of the means of production, limited liability corporations, and markets. In contrast, the major institutions that comprise a participatory economy are: social ownership of the productive 'commons,' democratic worker councils and federations, neighborhood consumer councils and federations, and a very carefully constructed procedure we call participatory planning that these councils and federations use to coordinate, or plan, their interrelated activities themselves."

"The goal is clear enough: We must convince a majority of people that ordinary people are perfectly capable of managing our own economic affairs without capitalist employers or commissars to tell us what to do. We must convince a majority of people that groups of self-managing workers and consumers are capable of coordinating their own division of labor through participatory, democratic planning, rather than abdicating this task to the market system or central planners. But how this goal will be achieved, and how people will be prepared to defend necessary changes from powerful, entrenched, minority interests who will predictably attempt to thwart the will of the majority, will vary greatly from place to place. All that can be said about it with any certainty is that in most places it will require a great deal of educational and organizing work of various kinds, given where we are today."

Which sounds like one strain of libertarian socialism.

Which of course reminds me of Corbett's article on "Libertarian Eco-Socialism."

"Keeping these socio-developmental distinctions in mind, if what we want at this point in the crisis or failure of modern and postmodern capitalist values and institutions is an integral post-postmodern society at yellow, it's probably not going to be a kinder-gentler 'conscious capitalism' (a functional modern-postmodern system), but rather a libertarian eco-socialism; that is to say, a low fossil-fuel permaculture based society organized around self-managed decentralized local communities of direct democracy federated into regional, national, and global governing bodies. Local communities would be much more energy generating and autonomous than they are today, and the people themselves would decide directly how they would live among themselves, not mediated by representatives "under the influence" of big money or far removed from the lives of the citizenry, but through the independent municipalities where they live and work in citizens' assemblies, workers councils, trade unions, and peer-2-peer cooperatives. So it's not that there wouldn't be a city, state, and national structure under an organizational mode of libertarian eco-socialism (a post-postmodern integral society), but how that structure operated within and between the parts would be vastly different."

Please read this article by Rabbi Lerner of Tikkun Magazine about progressives forming a Tea Party of the Left, the Love and Justice Party. He encourages Sanders to use his organization to mobilize a long-term movement implementing the people's agenda. And to do it now while he still has some media attention, for when that fades, and it will if/when he loses the nomination, it will be too late. Come on Bernie. Forget the corrupt Democratic Party establishment. If you want to see your/our values implemented you'll have to help organize a new Party. The old one will simply never go along with your/our agenda; it's too far gone. Otherwise a Clinton candidacy and Presidency will also quickly abandon any pretense to progressive change as did Obama. For example:

"Subservience to Wall Street and the policies favored by the 1 percent whose money shapes elections on the national and state levels, the false belief that terrorism can be defeated by our own brand of terror (war through drones), fossil fuels will continue to be extracted from the earth and accelerate global warming, millions of people languishing in our prisons (many for nonviolent crimes), social services (child care, health care, elder care, etc.) will continue to be sacrificed on the alter of 'no new taxes,' the economy will continue to depend on endless 'growth' with devastating consequences for the life support system of the planet, the U.S. will continue to have the most expensive and least successful health care and pharmaceuticals in the advanced industrial countries, the values of selfishness and materialism that are the 'common sense of global capitalism will continue to pollute friendships and families causing psychic pain and family instability, and cynicism toward government and despair at the possibility of fundamental change will give new opportunities for racist, sexist, xenophobic and fascistic forces to gain public credibility."

The new Party will be more like the following:

"In place of the globalization of selfishness, our Love and Justice party would call for the globalization of caring– caring for planet Earth and all its inhabitants. To make our world safe for loving families, caring relationships, and environmental sustainability we will need to overcome the ethos of global capitalism—and that insight will never emerge in the Democratic Party till it has been transformed by a Tea Party-style movement of the Left that is un-intimidated by those who believe that a new bottom line of love and caring is extremism and utopian fantasizing. Just as the civil rights and anti-apartheid movements, the feminist movement, the movement for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality were all dismissed as 'unrealistic,' so too the Love and Justice movement will be ridiculed by the mass media. Yet if it speaks to the longing of most people on the planet for a world of love and generosity and social and economic justice it will break through the media manipulation and repression from those loyal to the 1% and will liberate tens of millions of people to envision the world they really want and then to become active in building that world."

Noam Chomsky


Suppose that Sanders won, which is pretty unlikely in a system of bought elections. He would be alone: he doesn’t have congressional representatives, he doesn’t have governors, he doesn’t have support in the bureaucracy, he doesn’t have state legislators; and standing alone in this system, he couldn’t do very much. A real political alternative would be across the board, not just a figure in the White House.

It would have to be a broad political movement. In fact, the Sanders campaign I think is valuable — it’s opening up issues, it’s maybe pressing the mainstream Democrats a little bit in a progressive direction, and it is mobilizing a lot of popular forces, and the most positive outcome would be if they remain after the election.

It’s a serious mistake to just to be geared to the quadrennial electoral extravaganza and then go home. That’s not the way changes take place. The mobilization could lead to a continuing popular organization which could maybe have an effect in the long run.

Marxism 101 with Dr. Richard Wolff:

"I think the best way to understand it is that the difference between Marxism and other things is that it wants to go to the root. It is radical in that sense. It wants to see these problems: homelessness, inequality, an economy that bounces around having a recession or depression every 3 to 7 years, a society that concentrates political power in the tiny number. These recurring problems of capitalism, Marxism says, are built into the system, and if you want to solve them you can’t do that within the framework of the system. You have to face the fact that this system itself is the problem, which is why Marxists tend to be people who abide by the idea that we can and we should do better than capitalism. We should reorganize society because that will be a better way to deal with all those problems than dealing with them individually as if you could solve homelessness or solve inequality by a quick fix, by a marginal adjustment. No, the problems are systemic, so you have to understand how capitalism as a system works in order to begin to work your way to a solution."

David Brooks, the conservative Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times (and frequently representing the conservative view on NPR and PBS), is very interesting to follow right now.  It seems that the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency has woken him from some kind of slumber.  His latest column is the #1 trending article on the Times website right now, and he's calling for "communitarianism"!

In response to the likelihood of Trump becoming the Republican nominee, he says that the leadership of the Republican party are "going down meekly and hoping for a quiet convention. They seem blithely unaware that this is a Joe McCarthy moment. People will be judged by where they stood at this time. Those who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after for the degradation of standards and the general election slaughter."

Brooks' suggestion is to take the long view and start building the kinds of communities we want from the ground up.  He says that we need to start paying attention to the pain so many are experiencing, and why they are turning to Trump as a result. We need to work on real solutions to society's problems, in contrast to what Trump is offering.  Brooks writes, "We’ll probably need a new national story. Up until now, America’s story has been some version of the rags-to-riches story, the lone individual who rises from the bottom through pluck and work. But that story isn’t working for people anymore, especially for people who think the system is rigged."

Brooks also confesses his own complacency and his recent metanoia:  "I was surprised by Trump’s success because I’ve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata — in professional circles with people with similar status and demographics to my own. It takes an act of will to rip yourself out of that and go where you feel least comfortable. But this column is going to try to do that over the next months and years. We all have some responsibility to do one activity that leaps across the chasms of segmentation that afflict this country."

It will be interesting to see where Brooks goes from here.  This is especially interesting, coming from a conservative columnist. A healthy kind of conservatism, or so it appears at the moment.

Yes, Nader is talking about a left/right alliance on a number of issues, this being one of them. We the people can, and must, take back our democracy.

Neoliberalism is the heart of our system whose premises we unconsciously accept as the only reality. From this article. See it for much more detail.

"We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages -- such as education, inheritance and class -- that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances."

"So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin's theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power." 

"Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve."

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