Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
This dude also deserves a thread, a postmetaphysical visionary of an integral paradigm different from the trademarked variety. And quite "spiritual" to boot, if by that we mean creating a more equitable and humane lifeworld in which all can thrive and aspire to their highest potentials. From the integral capitalism thread:
Have you discussed Jeremy Rifkin's notion of "distributed capitalism," based on emergent peer-to-peer technological models, which he discussed in his book, The Empathic Civilization? I skimmed the thread and didn't see mention of it, so I thought I'd add it to the mix. Here's a brief article on it.
(An interesting notion of his, which is not directly relevant to this thread but possibly relevant to this forum, is Rifkin's notion of an emergent "dramaturgical self" as a stage of self-making beyond the "existential postmodern self." I haven't explored it in depth -- I've just been reviewing his book for a class -- but I'll look into it more and will comment further if it's relevant.)
Thanks for these links. I've heard of Rifkin but have yet to read him. I agree with most of what he's saying but he is stretching the definition of the term capitalism beyond its intended meaning. Recall its meaning from the beginning of the thread. Private ownership of the means of production with profit flowing to the top is antithetical to shared, open and distributed ownership of resources and information and P2P relationships, much like selfish concern and cosmocentric morality are so in a moral hierarchy. Rifkin is right to make the connection between the worldview and economic-communication systems, and that the internet correlates with an empathatic, biospheric view necessary for such shared resources and environmental consciousness. But again, capitalism was all about the exploitation of natural resources as if they were infinite with little to no regard for the environmental consequences. Rifkin laments this destruction and rightly analyzes the consciousness and systems that created it, capitalism, yet by keeping that name in his new view of P2P distribution is a functional misfit.
One can also view him speak on his new book at YouTube. Just watching the first couple minutes it seems to be the same info in the text linked above.
I also had posted this video on his work here on IPS awhile back.
Now I understand hybrid systems during transition phases. For example we have hybrid gas-electric cars which are better than just gas-driven. But we know that it is a transition to a full electric car when we develop the technology and infrastructure to make it feasible. That is, we know we must completely leave behind using a limited resource like petrol for a more sustainable energy source. So with economic systems. There are hybrids of capitalism with open source and of course it is a step in the right direction. But like with petrol we know that at some point we will leave capitalism behind in a more equitable, humane and environmental consciousness with correlative political economy.
So for me it says something about our consciousness to which economic system we attach. Given the I-I agenda of a kinder, gentler capitalism it appears to be on the transition of rational-pluralistic and it calls that integral. Hence you get no language or values about open source, distributed networks or P2P. Whereas I think what Rifkin is describing, that ecologic empathy that is growing out of the informational-pluralistic into the internet P2P network, is what we might call integral. And it is open source, not private property. But again, it is currently a hybrid in transition but we know where it is going and what must be left behind.*
*As to worldview and moral level replacement, see the previous thread on ladder-climber-view. Like I said, I don't think it's a strict or clean dividing line between one level and the next, with transitions containing mixes and hybrids. But we see the trajectory of where it's going and what it will eventually leave behind.
You can find Rifkin's website here. Following is an excerpt from the synopsis on his lecture "The age of access":
"The new information and telecommunications technologies, e-commerce and globalization are making possible a new economic era as different from market capitalism as the latter is dissimilar from mercantilism. In the new century, markets are slowly giving way to network ways of conducting business, with far-reaching implications for the future of society....The notion of exchanging and holding on to fixed property becomes an anachronism in a society where everything is continually evolving."
Seems some kennilinguists see him as 'green.' A few counters to this speciousness follow:
From this post in the Rifkin thread:
Here's a review of the book* by Bruce Gibb in the June 2010 issue of Integral Leadership Review from an SDi perspective. An excerpt:
"One might conclude that Rifkin’s COG is at green because the values he espouses and the demons he denounces are typically those of a person at green. At the same time, however, since his articulation of these values are in the service of global turquoise, one could argue that his COG is at the turquoise level. I conclude the latter....
"His enumeration of the life conditions that support turquoise empathetic emergence will be a challenge to those who only think of turquoise mainly in terms of spiritual consciousness."
Bruce Gibb, PhD, an organizational psychologist, has been in private practice since 1973.... Since 2001 he has been studying and applying SDi concepts of cultural evolution in his practice.
* The Empathic Civilization.
I argue in the Rifkin thread that he is P2P and I see that as most definitely not green. For those not familiar with P2P see Bauwens' website generally and more particularly his essay "P2P and human evolution." An excerpt of the latter:
"For me, P2P is nothing less that the most likely next civilisational stage."
"So in my view, it is a mix, there is a kind of center of gravity, which draws together green/yellow/turquoise types, while making it uninteresting for orange 'capitalist' types, and difficult to adhere to for blue 'fundamentalist' types.... Life is clearly more complex than any totalizing system's efforts to bring it into neat categories.... The difficulty in clearly identifying P2P in that [developmental] scheme, is also a warning against any 'psychological reductionisms', as practiced in the SD system."
As an aside, Rifkin is featured prominently and often at the P2P site.
Lest one responds that this P2P collectivism plays into the green meme notion of pluralistic relativism, and/or the SDi notion of alternating individual/collective memes in the 1st tier, keep in mind the concrete enactment of nodes in a network. Rifkin's P2P network empowers individuals in ways heretofore unimaginable by giving them the capacity to generate their own energy needs at home while being connected to the world via a smartgrid. This narrative sustainably balances the individual nodes with the more influential hyperobjective nodes, and with the network as a whole. That is in kennilingus, it goes 2nd-tier in an individual-collective and well as internal-external manner. Or in ontocologese, the individual machine maintains its own autopoeisis in balance with other machines and the larger environment.
And not coincidentally, the environment is healed through renewable energy generation via the type of empathic (spiritual) consciousness inherent to this meme. This is the kind of secular spirituality I can get behind, the saeculum saectorum.
Here is an excerpt from The Third Industrial Revolution. Therein he notes that Adam Smith's notion of wealth and the capital that produced it was in the context of Newtonian physics, another guiding worldview of the time. Hence markets were seen like the well-ordered clock metaphor of physics, with enlightened self-interest its invisible hand. All of which was based on the reversible nature of Newtonian physics, which had yet to account for the irreversible nature of time via the laws of thermodynamics.* However Smith's economics had by then become an ideology and refused to account for these laws in its economic model.
And which models all have to do with thermodynamic 'energy' production. Smith's economics was based on virtually limitless energy but did not account for the thermodynamic costs of coal usage, since its scientific base did not yet recognize it. And refused to do so when the science became available.
"Enlightenment philosophers, with the exception of Thomas Malthus, came to believe that the pursuit of economic activity is a linear process that invariably leads to unlimited material progress on Earth, if only the market mechanism is left uninhibited so that the 'invisible hand' can regulate supply and demand. The very idea that an acceleration of economic activity might result in a degraded environment and a dark future for unborn generations would have been unfathomable."
Same with today's economists, still caught in this linear capitalist paradigm and who refuse to acknowledge the science of thermodynamics (and science generally). Even to the point of denying climate change and its cause, this very paradigm and its CO2 costs.
"Science today is at a 'pre-historic' stage of development" (viii).
"We have shown that the difficulties in the classical formulation come from a too narrow point of view concerning the fundamental laws of dynamics (classical or quantum)" (8).
"For classical physics and for quantum physics there is no privileged direction of time. Future and past play the same role.... The traditional description is deterministic, even in quantum theory....but the results obtained...contain certainly a large part of truth....[but] these descriptions are based on a too restricted form of dynamics" (10).
"It is remarkable that orthodox QM used classical integrable dynamical systems as a model.... For non-integrable systems the situation...is quite different....that is of systems for which we cannot construct a unitary transformation" (12-13).
"Integrable systems...refer in fact only to exceptional, ideal cases. We are living in a nature in which the rule is non-integrability" (16). That one has some serious implications reminiscent of ideal forms, etc.
Important point that Rifkin makes about the need to consciously bring in consideration of thermodynamics to one's economic system - or in any discussion about systems or in Wilberian terms, the lower right quadrant.
In Prigogine's term "dissipative structure" he appears to be acknowledging the polarity of winding down with that of winding up, which lines up with Odum's (via Lotka) proposed 4th law of thermodynamics (as discussed in Winton's ITC 2013 paper) - “In the competition among self-organizing processes, network designs that maximize empower will prevail” (Odum, 1996)
We thus arrive at the conclusion that any sort of perpetual motion is impossible. A continuous stream of fresh energy is necessary for the continuous working of any working system, whether animate or inanimate. Life is cyclic as regards the material substances consumed, and the same materials are used over and over again in metabolism. But as regards energy, it is unidirectional, and no continuous cyclic use of energy is even conceivable. If we have available energy, we may maintain life and produce every material requisite necessary. That is why the flow of energy should be the primary concern of economics (Soddy, 1926, p. 56).
Geologic processes, atmospheric systems, ecosystems, and societies are interconnected through a series of energy transformations . . . each receiving energy and materials from the other, returning same, and acting through feedback mechanisms to self-oranize the whole in a grand interplay of space, time, energy and information. Processes of energy transformation throughout the biosphere build order, degrade energy in the process, and cycle materials and information in networks of hierarchically organized systems of ever increasing spatial and temporal scales (Odum, 2001, p. 4).
Georgescu-Roegen is another mentioned in the wiki. He's been preaching thermoeconomics for decades but has been largely ignored by the economic ideologues wedded to Enlightenment-era mechanics (and its brainchild capitalism). Here are a few excerpts from one of his 1975 articles, "Energy and economic myths":
"Economists over the last hundred years remained stubbornly attached to one particular idea, the mechanistic epistemology which dominated the orientation of the founders of the Neoclassical School. [...] They thus had some attenuating circumstances, which cannot, however, be invoked by those who came long after the mechanistic dogma had been banished even from physics. The latter-day economists, without a single second thought, have apparently been happy to develop their discipline on the mechanistic tracks laid out by their forefathers, fiercely fighting any suggestion that economics may be conceived otherwise. [...] The consequence of this indiscriminate attachment to the mechanistic dogma [...] is thus reduced to a timeless kinematics. [...] Complete reversibility is the general rule, just as in mechanics" (347-48).
Recall this post from the pomo and complexity thread, wherein a Ph.D. dissertation applied the Prigogine and Morin sort of complexity to various issues. The referenced post is the last chapter's application to capitalism. Consistent with the above are some excerpts from that post indicative of capitalism's metaphysical and dualistic idealism typical of Enlightenment formal operations:
He starts by describing capitalism as a restricted economy with ideological components [...] [which] causes one to avoid any empirical evidence to the contrary, because the idea is what is important, not the empirical material on the ground. [...] A general economy though does not oppose the ideal with the actual, and consequently impose the former on the latter. This opens the system to possibilities never considered in the restricted version due to contingent forces on the ground.
Restricted economies like capitalism are present-centered. The future can only be based on possibilities inherent to what is present, not some novel challenge. It’s a 'feedback trap' that only narcissistically reinforces itself instead of responding to a changing environment. Interestingly, this is tied to 'awakening' to truth, 'a different consciousness' where time stops in an eternal present (259-61). Which all of course feeds back into a timeless Causal or Ideal [that is] bivalently juxtaposed with the actual or material.
It seems this stuff is taking over everywhere but the US. Hmmm, wonder why that is? From the Office of Jeremy Rifkin newsletter:
This century will see the emergence of a new 1st World. In the meantime, the U.S. is slipping from 1st- to 2nd-World status...
That's what sticking to good old State-corporate capitalism (aka fascism) gets us.
From this 2010 Rifkin riff:
"The real crisis lies in the set of assumptions about human nature that governs the behavior of world leaders--assumptions that were spawned during the Enlightenment more than 200 years ago at the dawn of the modern market economy and the emergence of the nation state era. The Enlightenment thinkers--John Locke, Adam Smith, Marquis de Condorcet et. al.--took umbrage with the Medieval Christian world view that saw human nature as fallen and depraved and that looked to salvation in the next world through God's grace. They preferred to cast their lot with the idea that human beings' essential nature is rational, detached, autonomous, acquisitive and utilitarian and argued that individual salvation lies in unlimited material progress here on Earth.
"The Enlightenment notions about human nature were reflected in the newly minted nation-state whose raison d'être was to protect private property relations and stimulate market forces as well as act as a surrogate of the collective self-interest of the citizenry in the international arena. Like individuals, nation-states were considered to be autonomous agents embroiled in a relentless battle with other sovereign nations in the pursuit of material gains.
"It was these very assumptions that provided the philosophical underpinnings for a geopolitical frame of reference that accompanied the first and second industrial revolutions in the 19th and 20th centuries. These beliefs about human nature came to the fore in the aftermath of the global economic meltdown and in the boisterous and acrimonious confrontations in the meeting rooms in Copenhagen, with potentially disastrous consequences for the future of humanity and the planet.
"What is required now is nothing less than a leap to global empathic consciousness and in less than a generation if we are to resurrect the global economy and revitalize the biosphere. The question becomes this: what is the mechanism that allows empathic sensitivity to mature and consciousness to expand through history?
"The pivotal turning points in human consciousness occur when new energy regimes converge with new communications revolutions, creating new economic eras. [...] Today, we are on the cusp of another historic convergence of energy and communication. [...] Whether in fact we will begin to empathize as a species will depend on how we use the new distributed communication medium. While distributed communications technologies-and, soon, distributed renewable energies - are connecting the human race, what is so shocking is that no one has offered much of a reason as to why we ought to be connected. We talk breathlessly about access and inclusion in a global communications network but speak little of exactly why we want to communicate with one another on such a planetary scale. What's sorely missing is an overarching reason that billions of human beings should be increasingly connected. Toward what end? The only feeble explanations thus far offered are to share information, be entertained, advance commercial exchange and speed the globalization of the economy. All the above, while relevant, nonetheless seem insufficient to justify why nearly seven billion human beings should be connected and mutually embedded in a globalized society. The idea of even billion individual connections, absent any overall unifying purpose, seems a colossal waste of human energy. More important, making global connections without any real transcendent purpose risks a narrowing rather than an expanding of human consciousness. But what if our distributed global communication networks were put to the task of helping us re-participate in deep communion with the common biosphere that sustains all of our lives?
"If we can harness our empathic sensibility to establish a new global ethic that recognizes and acts to harmonize the many relationships that make up the life-sustaining forces of the planet, we will have moved beyond the detached, self-interested and utilitarian philosophical assumptions that accompanied national markets and nation state governance and into a new era of biosphere consciousness. We leave the old world of geopolitics behind and enter into a new world of biosphere politics, with new forms of governance emerging to accompany our new biosphere awareness.
"Continentalization is already bringing with it a new form of governance. The nation-state, which grew up alongside the First and Second Industrial Revolutions, and provided the regulatory mechanism for managing an energy regime whose reach was the geosphere, is ill suited for a Third Industrial Revolution whose domain is the biosphere. Distributed renewable energies generated locally and regionally and shared openly--peer to peer--across vast contiguous land masses connected by intelligent utility networks and smart logistics and supply chains favor a seamless network of governing institutions that span entire continents.
"The European Union is the first continental governing institution of the Third Industrial Revolution era. The EU is already beginning to put in place the infrastructure for a European-wide energy regime, along with the codes, regulations, and standards to effectively operate a seamless transport, communications, and energy grid that will stretch from the Irish Sea to the doorsteps of Russia by midcentury. Asian, African, and Latin American continental political unions are also in the making and will likely be the premier governing institutions on their respective continents by 2050.
"In this new era of distributed energy, governing institutions will more resemble the workings of the ecosystems they manage. Just as habitats function within ecosystems, and ecosystems within the biosphere in a web of interrelationships, governing institutions will similarly function in a collaborative network of relationships with localities, regions, and nations all embedded within the continent as a whole. This new complex political organism operates like the biosphere it attends, synergistically and reciprocally. This is biosphere politics.
"The new biosphere politics transcends traditional right/left distinctions so characteristic of the geopolitics of the modern market economy and nation-state era. The new divide is generational and contrasts the traditional top-down model of structuring family life, education, commerce, and governance with a younger generation whose thinking is more relational and distributed, whose nature is more collaborative and cosmopolitan, and whose work and social spaces favor open-source commons. For the Internet generation, "quality of life" becomes as important as individual opportunity in fashioning a new dream for the 21st century.
"The transition to biosphere consciousness has already begun."
Here's another Rifkin article from 2010. The following short excerpt shows the stark difference between status hierarchies inherent to the capitalistic Enlightenment paradigm, which focuses on individual self-reliance, and democracies that express empathy for all. He even notes that the more empathetic a society is the more democratic. To wit, northern Europe. The more individualistic, the less democratic and the more totalitarian and feudal. To wit, the US. No surprise then that "income inequality and relative poverty in the United States are among the highest in the OECD and have substantially increased over the past decades" (see this OECD report).
"Status hierarchies are, of course, designed to create inequalities. Status is about rankings and the claiming of authority over others. Every society establishes various boundaries of exclusion. A highly stratified society generally is low on empathetic consciousness because such societies are segmented between so many status categories that the ability to empathize beyond one's own group, both up and down the hierarchy, is limited.
"The ability to recognize oneself in the other and the other in oneself is a deeply democratizing experience. Empathy is the soul of democracy. It is an acknowledgment that each life is unique, unalienable, and deserving of equal consideration in the public square. The evolution of empathy and the evolution of democracy have gone hand in hand throughout history. The more empathic the culture, the more democratic its values and governing institutions. The less empathic the culture, the more totalitarian its values and governing institutions."