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).

Views: 1539

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


You wrote: 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.

I understand the sensibilities behind this statement, but I think it is a little too broad-brush and could use more in-depth analysis. A good place to start is in the early 1950 when the civil rights movement was coming into its own. If seen from a neo-Marxist (Marcuse and Fromm especially) perspective, the movement's rising power was the direct and indirect result of the U.S. economy shifting from industrialization to consumer driven. The ending of WWII and the Korean War left the country with a surplus of industrial capacity for which the major corporations still owed money. Instead of selling an infinite number of tanks to the U.S. military, GM retooled to sell an infinite number of cars to the American public. Mechanization and technology had reduced the need for manpower. The large pool of unemployed/underemployed labor which was an asset to them in the 1930s became a liability 20 years later because the individuals who make up that pool didn't have the discretionary income to buy a car, nor, for that matter, did their own work force to whom they eventually conceded a great deal of power--in order to sell more cars. (The civil rights movement and the increased power and prestige of the UAW had a lot in common.) So, 1954, laissez les bons temps least up to a point. Now while that example is also over-simplified it still is valid and I suspect there are very few historians, reading only facts unladen by dogma, who would maintain that the civil rights movement and the brief but relatively meteoric rise in the power of organized labor sixty years ago were not good for the U.S. economy. And the capitalists knew that too, otherwise both movements would have met far greater resistance from the moneyed class.

I think that the subsequent transitions that followed from the mid-70s, point to other factors in the earlier mix such as the demographics of region, age distribution, broadened educational opportunities, growing demands from the service sector, limited inflation, etc. also helped create a window of political and economic opportunity that at some point started closing down. (I recently read an essay by David Michael Green called "Gen X Justice: Standing for Nothing," a critique of Obama and Kagan as "bloodless careerists," that examined from a sociological perspective the effect of these factors in creating this particular generational zeitgeist.)

I do not think that it is entirely accurate to equate Paul with old line conservatives and capitalists because he, as a libertarian in essence, is not conservative but radical, and not a capitalist but a bubble-dwelling, petite bourgeois professional. As such he belongs to an economic strata that is perhaps the most unfairly taxed and regulated in the U.S. For example, if he employs five people he is subject to the same worker's comp requirements as if he employed 50 or 150. His narrow profile employee requirements leave him with far greater discrimination suit exposure than the broad profile personnel rosters of an industrial capitalist. Financial capitalists (Wall Street) are not concerned with these things at all. Paul and the other petite bourgeois professionals and entrepreneurs do not have the high rates of capital investments, constant operational indebtedness, write-offs, production incentives, etc., that allow industrial capitalists to get away without paying any net taxes at all. But the Paul Class, because they do not contribute significantly to the maintenance of over-all economic growth of the U.S. pay high rates of taxes to make up for that lack. One could see in the policies of the Junior Bush administration capitalists do not want to down-size the federal government because the government works for them but they don't have to feed it. They leave that to Paul and his people.

This is not to let the capitalists off the hook or say they are the benefactors of the over-all population. It did not take long after the "post industrial" consumer revolution started that producers and financiers both realized that the consuming class had just replaced the working class as the exploit-ees of choice with bottomless credit cards and variable rate, sub-prime mortgages. Sharks yes, vultures no for they need all the living that can be found to stay alive and stay spending.

Oh, btw, Karl Marx would probably disagree and say you are a capitalist because you are kept alive in some direct or indirect way by the for-profit utilization of saved/invested capital. It is a status determined by circumstance and not choice. Marx was the only writer of his time who was perceptive enough to show that the anarchist Swiss watch making collectives were capitalistic despite all their protests to the contrary.
Thanks for some historical context Steven but I’m not sure how relevant it is to my points.
To begin, Chomsky made clear above that we’ve never had anything remotely like pure laissez-faire capitalism, since big business would never allow for suffering the consequences of its own failures. To wit, bailout after bailout. And on a more mundane level, oil companies for example receive so much in government subsidies, tax cuts and exemption from responsibility for error. It is big business that has the “surplus” profit to buy legislators to create their too-big-to-fail economic environments. This is not in the least the kind of capitalism Rand Paul champions, at least philosophically.

Now granted businessmen like Paul, with a relatively small medical practice, indeed does not operate under the same rules as big business. So if a small business fails it is gone; there is no social (government) bailout to prop up its failures. In that sense it is much closer to the ideal of laissez-faire capitalism, and perhaps explains why Paul champions such an economic philosophy. And yet Paul is “applying” for a federal job that will create laws regulating big business. He seems compelled to rationalize excuses for it because they fall under the same general rubric of capitalism. Perhaps he is blinded by his own ideology to the point of not seeing the realities of state capitalism? (And which is why I make the same case for the likes of laissez-faire integralites.)

But it’s not only that. Big business itself knows well this ideology and sells that shell game with gusto. It’s the opiate of the masses, that dreamy pipe smoke in all our eyes: that if we work hard, have a good idea and stick to it we too can be healthy, wealthy and wise. The invisible hand of God-capital will see us through to success. And all the while knowing the game is rigged, that it is a lie, and that the likes of Paul will keep it alive and well, the masses anesthetized with the latest HD TV or IPad. The problem is that Paul, in his ideological naivete, also cannot help but reveal the underbelly of the philosophy, like the right to exploit such worker-consumer dupes to feed its voracious, insatiable appetite. It's like little Toto unknowingly barking at the ruffling, back-stage curtain while everyone else is watching Oz's on-stage performance.
I'm also wondering to what extent Paul is a purist because as a physician he likely has medical malpractice insurance, my line of business. So if he makes a catastrophic medical mistake he is insured from paying that loss, i.e., from suffering at least the financial consequences of his (rugged) individual responsibility.
I started reading chapter one from an interesting book, Democracy in America by August Nimtz. In the following he quotes Marx talking about the US, making Chomsky's point about state capitalism. The US is a "country where bourgeois society did not develop on the foundation of the feudal system, but developed rather from itself . . . where the state, in contrast to all earlier national formations, was from the beginning subordinate to bourgeois society, to its production."
Notice the similarities between Paul and John Mackey. I discussed some of Mackey's ideas about conscious capitalism above. Mackey admits to be a free market libertarian and admirer of Ayn Rand. Dupes of a feather...
Ohaaaaaay! Whatt a devastating match against Ole England. 4 : 1 says it all.

Despite all the World Cup Fuzz, I couldn't help but notice that the G8 has cancelled Chancellor Merkel's attempt to establish a global taxation of the financial markets. It's highly probable that it's gonna fail for the G20 meeting also. At the same time, the EU Parliament has delayed the decision about stricter controls for Hedge Fonds. More of the same old, same old. No substantial change in sight, No Sir.


I found this recent Huff Post article by Sam Harris on the US political economy and it fits here, so I'll revive this thread for it. Here's an excerpt:

"To make matters more difficult, Americans have made a religious fetish of something called "self-reliance." Most seem to think that while a person may not be responsible for the opportunities he gets in life, each is entirely responsible for what he makes of these opportunities. This is, without question, a false view of the human condition. Consider the biography of any "self-made" American, from Benjamin Franklin on down, and you will find that his success was entirely dependent on background conditions that he did not make, and of which he was a mere beneficiary. There is not a person on earth who chose his genome, or the country of his birth, or the political and economic conditions that prevailed at moments crucial to his progress. Consequently, no one is responsible for his intelligence, range of talents, or ability to do productive work. If you have struggled to make the most of what Nature gave you, you must still admit that Nature also gave you the ability and inclination to struggle. How much credit do I deserve for not having Down syndrome or any other disorder that would make my current work impossible? None whatsoever. And yet devotees of self-reliance rail against those who would receive entitlements of various sorts--health care, education, etc.--while feeling unselfconsciously entitled to their relative good fortune. Yes, we must encourage people to work to the best of their abilities and discourage free riders wherever we can--but it seems only decent at this moment to admit how much luck is required to succeed at anything in this life. Those who have been especially lucky--the smart, well-connected, and rich--should count their blessings, and then share some of these blessings with the rest of society."

Recall this from "the army's spiritual fitness test," quoting Hedges:

"Positive psychology, which claims to be able to engineer happiness and provides the psychological tools for enforcing corporate conformity, is to the corporate state what eugenics was to the Nazis. Positive psychology is a quack science that throws a smoke screen over corporate domination, abuse and greed. Those who fail to exhibit positive attitudes, no matter the external reality, are seen as maladjusted and in need of assistance. Their attitudes need correction. Academics who preach [the benefits of positive psychology] are awash in corporate grants."

I finally saw Casino Jack last weekend, the story of Jack Abramoff. The movie starts with him brushing his teeth in front of the mirror, giving himself a positive thinking speech, justifying his behavior because he's a good man with good motives doing good things in the world. He does this before meeting with the Congressional committee charging him with fraud etc. This is a fine example of the kind of "positive" rationalizations used for propping up a corrupt system, and quite reminiscent of the kennilinguist excuses to prop us capitalism. Our positive, beneficial, world-changing, second tier consciousness can of itself transform a corrupt, heinously inequitable and no longer useful economic system. Yes, still useful to the rich, capitalist class of course, which it seems kennillinguists have aspirations of joining.

In one scene one of Abramoff's cronies says to a reporter that without capitalism there is no democracy. Again, utter nonsense, as the two are even antithetical, capitalism being rather a hold-over from feudalism. Democratic business is consistent with democracy, not capitalism. And no, per above democratic business is not some pluralistic equalizer of qualitative distinctions where every point of view is valid or every worker gets the same wage independent of skill level or relative responsibility.

Debate is still ongoing on integral capitalism at Integral Life, for example, this 1/4/10 post and comments.
For comparison here's an old, 2007 Open Integral discussion on emerging economic systems, where Michel Bauwens and Ray Harris participated.

Since you didn't frame the stats in that video I'll respond as if they prove capitalism is what raised the standard of living in the world. I'll even operate from the perspective that indeed it was the driving generator for this development. That in no way negates the inherent inequities of capitalism that are now the dominant drivers of its continued existence. Perhaps capitalism was a necessary good in the appropriate time and context. The question is, has that time and context passed and is it time to move into a more beneficial economic model to address the inequities? Marx argued for a developmental economic trajectory in this way, with socialism coming after capitalism. We see this already happening in western Europe with social democracies and more socially-based economies.

Would not a self-professed leader in developmental studies, i.e., Integral Institute, not promote the next development in an economic model? One might argue that is what they're doing with conscious capitalism, but why not conscious democratic business? Good capitalism is much like Loy said above about being a good slave owner. The slave's standard of living was certainly raised but they were still chattel, as is most modern day labor, despite the toys they can buy. Well not so much anymore, since many don't even have a job. And why? Ask the speculative capitalists on Wall Street who devastated our economy, and not adhering to their vaunted principles of capitalism were not allowed to failed but bailed out by what? Socialism.

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.

© 2024   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service