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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He also said that the left has no systematic program to replace neoliberalism, that it just cant be anti-neoliberalism. Which of course some 'integralists' have claimed about the FB thread on this topic, but are typically those who have failed to read the myriad alternatives provided above. There are alternatives and we've explored them in this thread and the FB thread. And it is incumbent upon us to promote and enact them if we are ever to overcome the injustices and inhumanity of neoliberalism. I can think of no greater responsibility for the integral and/or progressive movements.

Zak Stein on integral anti-capitalism.

"[We assume] to be integral we can't be anti-anything, but in fact to be integral you're anti a lot."

"When people say the anti-capitalist movement is green meme, to me they're using terms like green meme and second tier as substitution for actual thought."

"The principles of integral theory often talk about transcending and including. But there's a basic confusion between transitional and enduring structures. You can think about transcending capitalism, but negating and preserving it as opposed to transcending and including it in its entirety."

It's the mean gene meme.  Amazing how the neo-liberals, with their (mis-interpreted/mis-applied) Darwinian approach embodies one of the real fears of the early fundamentalists about Darwinism - that it would promote a kind of secularism that justifies immorality. And yet, many conservative Christians today have basically embraced neo-liberalism, having swallowed the propaganda (mostly regarding "freedom") hook, line, and sinker.

theurj said:

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."

Ha! I posted my "mean gene meme" (just made up, you read it here first) comment about neo-liberalism before seeing your post with Zak's reference to the fabled "mean green meme."

I like it. And unlike kennilinguists that just respond with MGM without their own thought process, you had to think that new one up in an applicable setting.

Uhm, t, this is very good. I'm glad you post it. I was there when he spoke, yet I am getting much more as I read it now, framed in a different moment of me, in a different context.

What all is it about how zak lays out and explains things that is so potent?

I smile at, " a substitution for actual thought." Excuse me - but a pithy injunction/justified-put-down :)

Who do we know who actually engages in his or her own original and free thought? Hah.

theurj said:

Zak Stein on integral anti-capitalism.

"[We assume] to be integral we can't be anti-anything, but in fact to be integral you're anti a lot."

"When people say the anti-capitalist movement is green meme, to me they're using terms like green meme and second tier as substitution for actual thought."

"The principles of integral theory often talk about transcending and including. But there's a basic confusion between transitional and enduring structures. You can think about transcending capitalism, but negating and preserving it as opposed to transcending and including it in its entirety."

I decided to go into the belly of the beast recently and am watching the 3-part movie of Atlas Shrugged, closely based on the book except that it's set in 2016. That is the dominant, diseased ideology infecting all of us, and we need therapy to get out of it. And we must also replace it with a new, healthy meme, the collaborative commons.

Also see this article on Wetiko. We explored how wetiko capitalism has unconsciously infected the integral movement in the anti-capitalism thread, which also links to this very topic being addressed at the last Integral Theory Conference. One might also check out Carlson's work on integral ideology. And this article on how the left has unconsciously internalized the system of their oppressors.

Interestingly, in Atlas Shrugged the producers decide to no longer participate in the corrupt government/business alliance and withdraw altogether from participating in that system into their own hidden Atlantis. Granted Rand called that corrupt system socialism, that definition being based on the 50s conception from Russian socialism and Cuban communism. Still, it is ironic that Rand hated that sort of corrupt fascism and her followers now are completely embedded in it.

It seems these producers (aka job creators but no so much) decided they needed to infiltrate the system in order to change it. Hence their long-range plan succeeded as they own most of the legislatures and courts. And they no longer 'earn' monopoly status by being the best and brightest with the best products for the best price, but manipulate the system so that they create overpriced shit protected by a government they own.

Granted at base of Rand's system is greed and self-interest with the belief that those things in themselves generate social good. That is part of the Wetiko malaise. Plus the current collaborative commons is nothing like the socialism of her time, because it too can recognize and reward earned individual achievement but also place it in balance with communal needs. I.e., libertarian socialism, not state or totalitarian socialism. Hence her version of libertarianism went to extremes given her social context.  

Capitalism eats everything. Good new rule from Maher on capitalism run amok, and the need for socialism to keep it in check. Btw, per Rifkin the new socialism, aka the collaborative commons, does exactly that. Capitalism will still exist but in a much smaller and ancillary role that limits its power and destructive inclinations.

Trickle down clowns. Here's Maher's interview with Nick Hanauer. He debunks the myth that when wages goes up jobs go down. Hanauer explains that when wages go up so does employment and profits. It's a canard not based in fact but in the rich maintaining their stranglehold on their wage slaves, period. Plus per the last video it's a form of socialism for the rich because by keeping wages low people need to rely on public assistance that the rest of us pay for, i.e., subsidized socialism.

Over at FB IPS Balder linked to a new book on Crowdocracy. Someone else then provided a link to an Integral Life interview with its author by Kennilingam. My response:

I listened to the free first 5 minute clip, since I don't have (or want) a subscription to IL. Therein Wilber acknowledges that there is a shift happening that this thread has voluminously documented. But then he launches into yet another sales pitch claiming that his AQAL model is part of this shift. And of all the various expressions of the collaborative commons above none of them have used the AQAL model, or any model whatsoever. This shift is happening from the outside in, in that the practices of peer production made possible by social media is inculcating a different consciousness. Its more of an organic movement than a top-down model-first imposition that leads the way. That very fact is what is motivating this shift, and to do model first is still part of the old school.

And it's only getting worse.

I'm reading the new book People Get Ready. Here's a brief, edited excerpt:

"In our view, the evidence points in one direction: the economy needs to be fundamentally reformed, if not replaced. Capitalism as we know it is the wrong economic system for the material world that is emerging. [...] But researching this book, what is striking to us is that many, perhaps most, of the people who have studied these matters [...] recognize that if the system is left alone, it will not right itself. Instead, structural changes are needed, and government will have to play the central role in determining and instituting these changes" (113-14).

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