As some of you know, I am boycotting the Integral Conference because of I-I's unabashed promulgation of global capitalism. (See for example our prevous discussion on Integral Capitalism.) In that regard see Daniel Gustav Anderson’s “Sweet science: A proposal for integral macropolitics,” Integral Review, 6:1, March 2010, pp. 10 - 62. An excerpt:


“I will retell Wilber’s ontology…in order to demonstrate the political significance…which coincide with the particular social regime (or in Wilber’s terms, the “telos”) it expresses, integrated global capital (Guattari, 2000). My purpose is not to explicate the flaws in Wilber’s logic or demonstrate his misreadings of particular texts; such exegesis has been taken up elsewhere; it is instead to suggest ways in which Wilber’s holarchy flickers or mechanically reproduces in the field of metaphysics and spiritual aspiration the social and political structures of late capital, which are not integral at all. Further, because Wilber’s holonography reproduces the present political order and forecloses any legitimized means of transforming its problematic terms of exchange, the unevenness of its development (as I will show), one may plausibly claim that it is not a transformative model but a conservative one in the last analysis, where conservatism is understood as an attempt to maintain the status quo for its own sake” (23-4).

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From the Daily Show:

Hoarders: The big banks make money by taking the bailout money we gave them and lending it back to the government with interest.

Wow. Incredible american ingenuity. This is really freaking me out. This unique american combination of narcissism, entrepreneurial sang-froid and the unshakable belief in Jesus, Our Lord.

"And I thank God for always believing in me"
Forest Whitaker in his Oscar acceptance speech in 2007
Recall from above that capitalism is about private investment and investors (i.e. shareholders) own and control the business. Also recall from Chomsky that in democratic economies ownership and control of business is by participants and communities. This is key to Mackey’s conscious capitalism. Granted I appreciate the beneficial changes he wants to bring to the table, like multiple bottom lines and humane treatment of workers and the environment. But at base is still the assumption that for business to get off the ground it requires private capital investment and such investors should maintain ownership and control. He says:

“The owners/investors must legally control the business to prevent their exploitation by management and by the other stakeholders…. I am not arguing, and have never argued, for anything that weakens the property rights of the investors and stockholders.”

And what of the exploitation by the capital investment system? Is it really necessary for a business to engage in this system to get off the ground? No it is not. There are innumerable examples of businesses that find start-up funding in democratic ways, and that maintain democratic ownership and control of the business. And they not only have multiple bottom lines but create profit as well. But that profit doesn’t have to feed into the capital investment system; it can be distributed to more social goods.
So who exactly owns and controls Integral Institute? I cannot find specifics at the website other than the following. In the “about” page we know that “philanthropists” provided some start-up funding. We know that Robb Smith is the Chairman and CEO of Integral Life (which manages II) and CEO of II, and Robb’s resume is as a venture capitalist.

We know it is managed by a venture capitalist, so we have some idea of his economic philosophy. I would not be surprised if John Mackey is one of the initial (and ongoing?) philanthropist-donors but their identities are not revealed. How much influence do such managers and contributors have in shaping policy, consciously and unconsciously? Is it fair to ask for public disclosure of who owns the company and controls it agenda, with exact details? And is its organizational structure typically top-down hierarchically run like most capitalist business? We know at one point it was flirting with holacracy but did that ever take?

And for that matter is holacracy not itself just a hybrid capitalist model with some nice things thrown in, like Mackey’s brand of capitalism? According to Brian Robertson’s intro to holacracy capital investors are still players in the organizational structure with seat(s) on the Board. Granted he allows for other stakeholders on the Board. But at base it too accepts the inevitability that outside capital investment and control (at least partial) is a necessary ingredient in business.

And the following statement is rather telling and more than somewhat frightening:

“The board’s job is to guide the organization on its own path in life on behalf of the evolutionary process itself, not control it on behalf of the stakeholders.”

This is eerily religious in overtone with the “evolutionary process” in charge? And the Board divines the organization's “own path?” Is this a modern-day Crusade with a self-conscious organization replacing God, speaking through its priesthood-Board? Here we begin to dovetail back to Anderson’s article, which started this thread. More later.

If you have the time to do a little investigation there are several ways to get the information you need. Because Integral Institute is a 501 C 3 tax-exempt educational organization you can get a copy of their annual report from the IRS. However Integral Life is a separate for profit business which funnels its profits to II. You should be able to get a run-down on them from the Colorado Secretary of State. Robb Smith is the head of Integral Life and also on the board of II creating an interlocking directorate, not surprising nor unusual. What Smith does is probably two-fold: market Integral Life products and find donors for Int. Institute as a non-profit fund raiser. I had a brief exchange with him on this Integral Life thread in which he let me know he takes no salary for his work for either entity. It is my turn to respond to him but we are traveling and I have had neither the time nor the interest to get back into the conversation.
I had a little addition to that Post that was eaten by the software after I hit the "save" button, and so to reiterate:

In 2001 Joe Firmage, a dot com millionaire and flying saucer buff, gave Wilber $1 million to start up II. In about 2005 a high level II employee inadvertently let slip to Arthur Gillard that II was over $400,000 in debt. Arthur, not knowing it was a secret posted the dire news all over I Naked looking for donations. His threads quickly disappeared. Robb Smith in his "Beware..." blog post let it be known that II has suffered losses in donations and membership over the past few years due to the recession.
P.S. (I'm a little disorganized today.) What I am riffing on does dovetail back to Anderson because I learned of Robb Smith's "Beware..." post from Anderson's "For The Turnstiles" blog at this entry. He later added another on the subject. And sent me an email as follows: "Steven, you nailed it right there: this is all about accumulating money under the pretense of self-development and spiritual development.

Well done and well spoken.

Anderson claims that integral theory, via Wilber and Litfin, grounds itself in “higher powers” that have historically been responsible for rationalization and injustice. He does not decry hierarchy or unity per se but how these have been formulated into said higher powers.

Litfin finds our current political crises founded on a lower level worldview with of course the solution being the higher integral worldview, which is directed by “Spirit” as a fundamental reality “which knows better than we do” (18). According to Anderson Wilber defines this Spirit as the superholon. By definition a holon includes but transcends all lower holons, reorganizing them into a higher, more complex pattern. Of course there can be healthy and pathological holons, with the latter mistaking itself for a whole that is not also a part. And yet that seems exactly the nature of the AQAL superholon of everything, itself the end of history and development, the ultimate attractor drawing up everything into its benevolent embrace. It is the one and only exception to the pathological holon rule because it is the superholon. Or is it?

The frightening part is the circular justification that one who achieves a higher integral view can speak for the superholon as One within it in a 1-to-1, direct relationship. Of course this really is an old, old story told throughout the ages, the story of God in one form or another. And how the privileged few with direct access speak for God and by divine right lead and control all others. For their own good, of course. It seems that this is the pathological holon par excellence, not the exception to the rule.
Steven, I too have neither the time nor interest to engage with integral-lites directly, given their response to you is typical of the pre-packaged pablum one gets. There is an actual religious halo suffusing them, a "turquoise" hue to their lenses through which all is viewed in its proper box, your view being of obvious lesser frequency. I have this same aversion to most, but not all, Christians that believe that the only way to heaven is through our lord jesus h. christ. I understand both views, can even tolerate them, but I really have little to communicate with such folks other than some plesantries about the weather and maybe directions to the bathroom.
Hey, y'all, where's the john?

Actually, truth be told, I'm planning to shut this forum down. It's gone to the crapper, in my opinion.

Someone asked me to shut it down a few weeks ago, and I reacted negatively to that. But now it makes sense.

I'll make a formal announcement later, but in the meantime, if anyone has written anything here they want to keep, I recommend saving it before I give this place a big flush.

theurj said:
Steven, I too have neither the time nor interest to engage with integral-lites directly, given their response to you is typical of the pre-packaged pablum one gets. There is an actual religious halo suffusing them, a "turquoise" hue to their lenses through which all is viewed in its proper box, your view being of obvious lesser frequency. I have this same aversion to most, but not all, Christians that believe that the only way to heaven is through our lord jesus h. christ. I understand both views, can even tolerate them, but I really have little to communicate with such folks other than some plesantries about the weather and maybe directions to the bathroom.
I just watched the TV News and heard Wolfgang Schaeuble, the german Finance Minister talk about ways to manage the Euro Currency Crisis. He said he supported the new Eurowide Taxation on speculative financial transactions (which was called the Tobin Tax by globalisation critics ten years ago) which passed the parliament in today. If someone told me last year that Schaeuble, a conservative christian Helmut Kohl student, supported the Tobin Tax, I would have declared him officially crazy. And now this is exactly what happens. And they even want to implement it on a global scale. Tell me how this is not amazing. A Communist's wet dream come true. lolol

I'm sure you've heard Rand Paul's statements about the Civil Rights Act? Rand Paul, the Rep. candidate for Senate in KY, confirmed his long-held views that private business should not be regulated to prevent discrimination, that the rights of private property and capital are supreme. Even to the point that business should not be required to accommodate people with disabilities. Here you go, Ayn Rand-style laissez-faire capitalism at its best.

And all of which survives in the basic tenet of capitalism, private ownership and operation of business. Which of course works magically for the benefit of everyone because everyone has equal opportunity to enter into the business relationship, to say no. Yep, a business person can say "no" to serve you if you are black, and the black can go shop somewhere else and everyone will be the better for it. Never mind that the black had to shop at places with higher prices because all the white-only businesses had all the capital investment to buy in such bulk to set lower prices with which smaller, black-owned businesses could not compete. Yep, that's the mutual benefit of all from those "conscious" decisions of the hoarders of private capital.

Paul's faux pas was more that he openly admitted it, not that he held such views. Most conservatives have exactly the same view but cannot publicly admit it. It's the strong undercurrent of corporate capitalism, what makes for such astounding profits for the capitalists while the workers get nothing by comparison. And the latter are made to eat the slop they are given and be grateful for it. Yes, Paul only brought to light what conservatives and capitalists have always supported, and it makes them look like the vultures and sharks that they are. And they know it. That's why they are running from Paul's statements, not because they disagree with them.

And this is what the likes of II supports with their support of capitalism. Like it or not, YOU are a capitalist. I am not.
Rand Paul is the bellwether for the conservative, capitalist worldview. This morning on “Good Morning America” he said that Obama is being too tough on BP for the oil spill, that he is “un-American for his criticism of business.” Paul has heard nothing about BP not paying for the spill, and besides, “accidents happen.”

First of all, BP and other big-oil lobbyists are fighting tooth and nail, with of course conservative support, to defeat the proposed raising of the liability cap from $75 million to $10 billion. And this was an “accident?” This was deliberate negligence that could have been prevented had BP invested a miniscule fraction of its profit margin in safety equipment. But safety is not part of the equation in capitalism, never was. Once again the costs of doing business should be socialized while the profits remain privatized.

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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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