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."

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IPCC Summary for Policymakers tainted. So says Robert Stavins, co-coordinating lead author of chapter 13 of working group 3 of IPCC's 5th assessment report. He is clear that his criticism only concerns "the government approval process of the Summary for Policymakers" (SPM). And that "the Technical Summary and the 15 chapters of WG 3 -- retain their full scientific integrity," as they were "completely untouched by the government approval process of the SPM." He goes into the details of why the summary was more a political than scientific process, and that such politics is a conflict of interest to scientific integrity. And that the SPM process should be corrected. See the article for the extensive and articulate details.

According to this brief clip, the sharing economy is inducing capitalism to take risks it normally would not have and thereby producing beneficial innovation.

The big green Danes are destroying the quality of life of their people by putting the huge noise polluting wind turbines close to peoples homes creating sleep depravation of their populations. They could have kept the turbines off shore but neoliberal economics wouldn't allow it. 

One interesting quote from the doc: " if one ignores the invisible factors from their assessments one will come to faulty conclusions".

New climate report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program noting climate change is already here.

The link to the sharing economy clip is giving me a 404 error.

FYI, I just found out my backyard is going to be host to 1/2 hour show about "living the sharing economy" on May 18th.  However, it may be several months before the show goes online. From the Peak Moment TV series. I'll keep you posted.

theurj said:

According to this brief clip, the sharing economy is inducing capitalism to take risks it normally would not have and thereby producing beneficial innovation.

Yes Bruce, Rifkin seems quite "Integral." Which in many ways is a new version of good old American Pragmatism. Why waste anything that might help make a better sustainable outcome? Open our minds to whatever might really work. But "open" them not in a vague, impressionistic, greenish, or natural sort of way only. Open our minds in rational, organized, technical, ways also. Not just "green," but "integral."

I think Rifkin and anyone else who is really sincere about making the world a better place, ends up being "integral." Open but rational. Probably a means to make sure we activate and use both the left and right brain hemispheres, instead of only one or the other. The left side of the quads seems more right brain. The right side more left brain. I suppose that every other stage veers right or left, or at least "agentic" (left-like) and "communal" (right-like).

Behind all this philosophical conceptualizing ("integral," "green," etc.) is a subconscious attempt to integrate the human brain so that the mind can be more whole and proficient. We sense our brain structure more or less intuitively, as though we have x-ray vision!  And we then dream of specific ways to help balance out and then integrate the brain structures. 


I borrowed his new book from the library today. After reading the Intro and first chapter a few comments. On p. 6 he discusses how monopolies intentionally thwart competition and innovation so as to maintain their stranglehold. But he claims entrepreneurs find a way around it and end up forcing competition with their better tech and price reductions. Yet he discusses on pp. 7-9 Larry Summers 2001 paper, wherein Summers acknowledges the emerging information economy was indeed moving to near marginal cost. Summers though didn't propose something like Rifkin but instead recommended "short-term natural monopolies" (8).

Recall Summers was Obama's pick for Director of the National Economic Council. His policy suggestions were well in line with the earlier promotion of "natural monopolies," and his resume attests. And we're seeing exactly this economic philosophy at play with the FCC Chairman Wheeler's proposed pay-to-play rules, where the ISP monopolies will destroy internet neutrality. Recall that Wheeler was another Obama pick, and was a former, and will return to being, a cable and wireless lobbyist. While Obama claims to back income equality and net neutrality he appoints the likes of Summers and Wheeler who make no bones about their support of monopolies. And without net neutrality good bye to Rifkin's entire plan, which requires it to succeed.

If you haven't yet, please take action to preserve it. Here's one place and you can find several others if you but look.

Chapter 2 was about the transition from a feudal to market economy. The feudal system was based on the Great Chain of Being, a strict theological and hierarchical structure with God at the apex. Property was communally shared based on one's position in the chain. It was when property became 'enclosed' that it turned into private ownership. And with this the shift from a theological Great Chain to a more secular worldview of individual rights, at least for those that owned property. The hierarchy was retained on a societal level but now based on property instead of God. We might also say that these conditions led to the widespread emergence of egoic rationality for said individual property owners.

We can see that kennilingus retains the Great Chain in its transcend and include philosophy. Granted it no longer sees it as pre-fixed Platonic forms but does retain the morphogenetic gradient which involves from Spirit, or God by another name. Sure evolution plays its part, but it still must follow this gradient back up to Spirit. And we can directly experience Spirit via meditative techniques. Sure we will then interpret Spirit through our evolutionary level, but give proper evolution through transcend-and-include, and proper meditative training, we can and do advance up the chain back toward God. This structure is feudal and theological to the core.

Kennilingus, like the transition to a market economy, retained the hierarchy but also included the shift to individual private property. Along with this came the notion that one was better than others based on their degree of private ownership, if not God. Granted those still into religion combined that into the belief that God favored those who owned more, even in secular circles this better than thou attitude prevailed. It was through one's hard work and merit that they earned a higher socio-economic status. And those without such status deserved their lot due to sloth and laziness.

Or in the case of kennilingus, not evolving enough based on its own theological Great Chain structure, combined with its market-based private property rights. There too is a version of the "if you can manifest money and own more private property it's a sign of your spiritual progress." There is no sign of evolving into the kind of commons Rifkin promotes, or the kind of consciousness that goes with it. Or any analysis of the energy-communication infrastructure that goes along with that. Kennilingus is still stuck in both the feudal and market economic and consciousness models.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts as you read through the book. If you don't subscribe to the Transcend and Include approach, can you briefly summarize the alternative frame you would use in relationship to the transition from feudal to a market economy, or to alternatives such as a commons based approach?

Last year I started a blog series on "Lessons From the Ages," but I did not end up continuing after the agrarian period. I mostly used the Wilberian model as a frame, but added my critique that "in general Wilber  tends to put more emphasis on the “technological-economic” structural base behind the periods of human history than he does on the biosphere that supports and makes that technological-economic structure possible."

My emphasis is that the availability of energy and other resources is key. It makes sense, regardless of any moral judgements that in the industrial period that had available a huge pulse of available fossil fuels that we had a proliferation of dominator hierarchies. This aligns with Howard T. Odum's Maximum Power Principle as a 4th law of thermodynamics (Richard Heinberg mentions this in his masterful new essay: "The Anthropocene: It's Not All About Us").

As available resources decline (the period we're entering now, I believe), these kinds of dominator hierarchies become less and less effective and more and more harmful (see Piketty's book), and a more egalitarian sharing economy becomes a more and more viable and effective way to live.  On barren ground, competitive, dominating weeds proliferate in an exponential growth environment, but in a mature forest ecosystem, a symbiotic steady state sharing economy is the key.

I don't see this as conflicting with the Wilberian AQAL approach, but it does seem that many in this camp may have a blind spot regarding energy, resources and the biosphere, and tend to think the techno-economic base can continue to grow to infinity (and some percentage of them believe this rising tide will lift all boats).

To underscore my belief about the primacy of energy and resources, and to point out that history has cycles rather than a straight upward line of progress, I quote David Holmgren:

"The broad processes of human history can be understood using an ecological framework that recognises primary energy sources as the strongest factors determining the general structure of human economy, politics and culture. The transition from a hunter-gatherer way of life to that of settled agriculture made possible the expansion of human numbers, denser settlement patterns and surplus resources. Those surplus resources were the foundations for what we call civilisation including the development of more advanced technologies, cities, social class structures, standing armies and written language. Archaeology records a series of civilisations that rose and fell as they depleted their bioregional resource base. Lower density simple agrarian and hunter-gatherer cultures took over the territory of collapsed civilisations and allowed the resources of forests, soils and water to regenerate. That in turn, gave rise to new cycles of growth in cultural complexity."

I certainly accept progress, which is tied to a kind of 'complexity.' But of a different kind than kennilingus transcend-and-include. We discussed this at length in several threads but this one is a good place to start, bringing in Cilliars, Morin, Prigogine, Bryant, DeLanda, Deleuze, Bhaskar and others. All of which, not surprisingly, are completely absent from kennilingus.

And, btw, Rifkin addresses this other form of complexity science by bringing in thermodynamics. His apt analysis shows how economics was stuck in Newtonian science sans such thermodynamic considerations. The same is true of certain kinds of complexity, chaos and quantum science as well, explored in the link. All of which stems from certain kinds of worldviews.

Rifkin is also good at showing the relation of worldviews to modes of production and communication. It is no coincidence that kennlingus has yet to embrace the emerging Commons, or its concomitant p2p structural dynamics.

Ah yes, very good. And I liked Rifkin's section in TIR on "Why the Energy Laws Govern All Economic Activity."

"Even though the transformation of energy, in all of its various forms, is the very basis of all economic activity, only a tiny fraction of economists have een studied thermodynamics. And only a handful of individuals inside the profession have attempted to redefine economic theory and practice based on the energy laws."

And we could say the same about philosophers.

There is always a tendency among philosophers to err too heavily on the side of "information" just as they general public leans to heavily toward "objects".  Any integrative metatheoretical approach has to maintain a pretty balanced approach that keeps Energy & Nonduality in the mix alongside "thought" and "stuff".  

Eric Chaisson's work to describe the evolving complexity of the material universe in terms of increasing energy-rate-density (instead of informational entropy) is a nice correlate to some of Rifkin's work (as well as the great trend of spiritual philosophers who are all too tritely dismissed today as "vitalists").  

I would assert -- in a broadly Nietzschean vein -- that the constant struggle of individuals to feel healthy and energized within themselves makes them reluctant (or ill-equipped) to perceive dynamic flows as the organizational driver of the world around them.  Their own experience of such internal flows is a matter of some doubt, concern and disengagement.  

As Wilhelm Reich said of his (somewhat dubious) "orgone" -- those who cannot feel subtle energy flowing in their bodies will necessarily not give it significance on their maps of reality.  The exact same thing could be said of more prosaic forms of physical energy management in the world.  We might expect stronger, healthier, more physically and organically energized citizens to become increasingly capable of perceiving and intuiting the importance of energy management as a primary patterning force in social and historical affairs. 

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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?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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