Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I referenced this site, Kick if Over, in my last post in the Rifkin thread. Like Rifkin it's a different way of looking at economics and a way that might well be considered an advance in developmental terms. Here's the introductory blurb. There are quite a few articles and lots of references, links. etc. And certainly food for thought and discussion here.
"Adbusters invites economics students around the world – especially PhD students – to join the fight to revamp Econ 101 curriculums and challenge the endemic myopia of their tenured neoclassical profs. Read some of the introductory articles, check out the latest dispatches on our blog, then download the Kick it Over Manifesto (and other posters) and keep pinning them up in the corridors of your department. Get a small group together and start jamming! Put your university at the forefront of the monumental mindshift now underway in the 'science' of economics."
One of their introductory articles on the movement's pioneers features E.F. Schumacher, who, interestingly, is also seen as an integral predecessor to Wilber. However unlike Wilber Schumacher was interested in an alternative economic model. Here's a few excerpts:
"Schumacher was sent on a mission to Burma to teach its citizens how to achieve progress by following the Western model of economic growth. Once there, he quickly surmised that the Burmese were better served drawing from their own traditions rather than from Western ones. He coined the term 'Buddhist economics' to describe a model that, in complete opposition to its Western counterpart, didn’t allow for unlimited growth and consumption but emphasized the use of renewable resources.
"To those who questioned the relevance of Eastern philosophy to economics, Schumacher replied: 'Economics without Buddhism, i.e., without spiritual, human and ecological values, is like sex without love.'
"He later returned to the Coal Board, but working at one of the largest commercial organizations of the day contributed to Schumacher’s deep-seated conviction that large-scale technologies were dehumanizing. His experiences had led him to conclude that 'man is small and, therefore, small is beautiful.' It was this syllogism that inspired the title of his 1973 treatise Small Is Beautiful, a sweeping indictment of the neoclassical model. The work introduced Schumacher’s concept of 'natural capital' and outlined an alternative economy based on human-scale, decentralized and appropriate technologies that has inspired generations of environmentalists. To the very end of his life, Schumacher lived by his own prescriptions. He baked his family’s weekly bread supply with locally procured organic wheat that he ground himself in a hand-operated flour mill."
Also see Schumacher's seminal essay on buddhist economics. It's curious that trademarked integral, being buddhist-centric, does not advocate this integral, buddhist economics. However Christian Arnsperger says in "Integral Economics":
"On the normative side, work on a Buddhist economics...would be extremely helpful to delineate paradigmatic ideals of economic organization and economic agency towards which conscious evolution might be geared in a liberation-oriented economy."
Ok then, let's get normative.
It's curious that trademarked integral, being buddhist-centric, does not advocate this integral, buddhist economics.
I've wondered why Schumacher doesn't get more of a mention in Wilber's work or the Integral community. As I noted in this thread, many of Schumacher's ideas seem to anticipate or even to have partly influenced Wilber's Integral model.
Here's more from Arnsperger I find illuminating:
"It might—to take a hard and sensitive issue—show us that along certain lines of moral or psychodynamic development, Soviet Russia in the 1960s, or Cuba in the 1970s, was clearly superior to the United States of the 2000s in the sense that, for instance, Soviets and Cubans had developed a more communal attitude in some sectors of social life (though by no means in all…) and also that communist principles implied that basic social provisions, lodging, health care, etc., were to be provided freely to all citizens, regardless of their ability to purchase these things on markets—something the less evolved US mentality makes unthinkable.”
Leading up to Arnsperger’s comments above about communism being developmentally superior he said the following:
“Such [interior] work is an integral part of what economics is about, namely, to contribute to not only a positive description of how today’s capitalism works but also to a critical description of how tomorrow’s economy ought to work if it’s to be a support for the conscious evolution of all of us (or as many of us as possible) along all (or as many as possible) developmental lines….[a] theory or paradigm [that] respects the necessities of emancipation-fostering methodological pluralism…. This would imply an economics that’s constructively critical of material reductionism and of capitalist, growth-oriented and wage-employment-oriented, competition-driven markets.”
His article was posted on kenwilber.com 3/14/08 and written by Arnsperger in 12/07. So we might surmise kennilinguists felt it was important. Yet we find the integral capitalistic ramblings (criticized in the integral global capitalism thread, and integral capitalism thread before it) appearing on Integral Life sometime thereafter (there is no date stamp). Seems Arnsperger didn’t have much influence?
About 6 months ago I saw a couple of remarkable documentaries. Salud! is about Cuba's community based medical system that they have adapted & exported to some of the poorest areas of the world. I've worked in the increasingly fragmented technology driven American medical system for over 30 years, & I consider the basis of the Cuban system to be superior to our own.
The Power Of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil is about Cuba's adaptation to the loss of subsidized fossil fuels in the early 1990s. Both of these documentaries show how the Cubans communal ethics have allowed them to adapt successfully to resource scarcity.
Americans have responded to our own myriad looming problems with anger & denial. We lack any real sense of the common good. At times I think we are going to fall apart in much the same way the old Soviet Union did.
One of the themes in a progressive economics is that unending progress and growth is unsustainable in an environment of finite resources. We might argue that intellectual as opposed to material resources are limitless so not bound by such parameters. But even our minds, and our spirits, are constrained by the limitations of our embodiment, the latter being part and parcel of the biosphere. It seems that this fixation with never-ending progress and development, even in terms of ever-higher levels of cognition (of whatever line) is endemic to a uniquely American socio-economic paradigm in which trademarked integral is itself embedded, apparently beyond its control.
This might also be where the theory doesn't meet the practice. The theory is well aware that integration must come before a new level can be approached. It seems the pluralistic stage has not adequately been integrated in TM integral, as if in a hurry to get higher and farther and better we took on more than we were ready to chew. As a result we retained the formal rational adherence to the myth of eternal progress, which seems the clue that our integration of pluralism is not yet complete.
I'm reminded of my dance training. When a beginner I was in a hurry to be intermediate, taking on moves and patterns for which I was not ready. I learned them all right but they were lacking without a strong foundation in basic technique. Then I was in a hurry to be advanced and the same pattern repeated, and again those advanced patterns were lacking. In the past few years I've returned to the basics, to get the technique right this time, and now my intermediate and advanced patterns are finally expressing well. And I realized I'm still not a very competent advanced dancer, still a long, long way to go.
It seems this syndrome is playing out in our collective transition from pluralism to integral. I've noted before that we can have the phenomenon of a formal rational cognition that has integrated his lower "state-stages" thorough meditation or contemplation but still expresses it through a metaphysical view, as well as a postformal cognition with a postmetaphysical view that has not integrated his lower state-stages. It seems rare to have both and I certainly don't lay claim to that achievement. It really does behoove us though to at least recognize where we are and are not, to work toward the goal, and to not be so easily mistaken or inflated in our hurry to be better.
The following is from "progressive economics: a field guide":
"Is there such a thing as a distinctively Progressive economics? We believe so — just as there is also a distinctively corporate economics.
"For example, in the lens of corporate economics, people are just one more resource to be exploited. Labor is just one more expense, its cost to be minimized to the maximum extent possible, or eliminated outright. In a Progressive perspective, meaningful work is among the prerequisites of a good life. Progressives believe that most of the value that derives from the work of the individual should benefit that individual, not "shareholders," not CEOs (who are no more, and no less, than one more employee). In the lens of corporate economics, the environment is simply a source of resources to be exploited, and environmental costs to be shirked. In a Progressive perspective, the environment is finite, the source of some of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences a human being can have, and a resource to be protected for the generations yet to come. In a corporate perspective, communities count for nothing, and business siting is purely a matter of finding the lowest possible costs and greatest opportunity to pollute. In a Progressive perspective, communities have intrinsic human value, and corporations who derive their very lifeblood from them also have obligations toward them. In a corporatist perspective, the corporation has no responsibility to community of any kind (and, indeed, no purpose of any kind whatsoever, other than the generation of profit for shareholders and corporate officers), and therefore, if costs can be offloaded to the community, they should be.
"This kind of dichotomy can be explored at great length, but the key point to observe is this: Progressive economics places people, and the values they try to live by, at the very center of economic concerns, just as Progressive politics places people, and the values they try to live by, at the very center of the political process. By contrast, corporatism places people and the values they try to live by at the very periphery of every society in which it appears. People and their values are regarded as a nuisance or outright impediment to ever greater profits for a tiny minority. We see this most starkly in the doctrines of those who promote globalization: the IMF has decreed that civil society in every country must drastically cut or eliminate social safety nets, privatize essential governmental functions so corporations can turn them into profit-making opportunities, and abandon control of their own economies and resources for the exploitation of transnational corporations.
"There are now two indispensable books that pave the way to a clear understanding of this dichotomy between Progressive and corporatist economics. The first, and older, of the two is E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, which is reviewed below. A more recent, and far more systematic and up-to-date statement of Progressive economics may be found in Joel Magnuson's Mindful Economics."