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."

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From Christian Arnsperger, “Building an integral economic science: Opportunities and challenges.” Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, 3:5, Winter 2008, pp. 1-16:

“Along some lines of moral or psychodynamic development, Sweden in the early 1980s was clearly superior to the United States of the late 2000s. For example...social-democratic principles implied that  basic social provisions, housing, 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 U.S. mentality makes unthinkable” (4).

“An integral part of what economics is about [is] 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 is 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” (11).

“This would imply an economics that is constructively critical of material reductionism and of capitalist, growth- and wage employment–oriented, competition-driven markets—an economics that would shun outdated reductionisms and would fully heed the need for spiritual issues and religious paradigms” (11).

“On the normative side, work on an economics that might embrace elements from the mystical traditions of Buddhism or Christianity, and/or from the humanistic tradition, 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” (11-12).

Cross-posted from the indigo dollar thread:

In his 4/4/10 interview called "Capitalism is experiencing an existential crisis" Christian Arnsperger says:

"The brilliant and diabolical logic of capitalism plays on the confusion between 'needs' and 'cravings.' That's why we run after consumption and accumulation. Consequently, it's a system that creates repetitive compulsions for most of us - in any case, for those who have the means to treat themselves to certain things - and that simultaneously creates structural inequalities."

This sounds like a Buddhist economic criticism, that craving is the cause of our suffering. And that this cause is facilitated by this particular economic system with the inevitable result in inequality. He goes on:

"One cannot do without the economy, but one can and one will have to do without capitalism. This existential crisis of the economy is a truly essential crisis of capitalism, the symptom of a profound malaise."

Hmm, he is not here proposing that we elevate capitalism via consciousness. He is not an apologist for the types of integral capitalism criticized above. What then could possible replace our much vaunted capitalism that feeds our cravings and causes such suffering?

"I propose the implementation of three kinds of ethos. First, an ethics of willful simplicity, a return towards a much more frugal conviviality ... The second ethos: a radical democratization of our institutions, including our economic institutions, proceeding to the democratization of companies ... And third: an ethos of profound equalitarianism, going so far as 'a universal allocation,' that is, an unconditional base income paid to all citizens."

He argues that this change will not come from the top-down through political leaders but must be a people's movement from the bottom-up. We must take responsibility for our consumption and work toward and create democratic businesses which enact values such as a living wage. Only then will this filter into political legislative support. Part of this worldview change is moving from individualism to an examination of our autonomy.

"The general idea is that we must recreate a critical conviviality. Each person must personally conquer his autonomy; each person must do the work of de-conditioning himself; perform a self-critique of his own complicity with the system. That occurs through an anchoring in the locality and in power-sharing, in an ethos that I call neither communist nor communitarian, but rather a 'communalist' ethos that leads to willful simplicity and radical democratization that result in a relocalization of the economy."

Here we see much of Schumacher and the progressive economics enumerated above. And all from an integrally-informed economist pointing the the next level in our evolution, and it ain't conscious capitalism. I ask this question of all of us, especially me: What are you doing right now to enact this future?

And speaking of some of the "Buddhist" economic ideas above, remember this from the Integral Global Capitalism thread:

See David Loy's essay "Can corporations become enlightened?" in The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory, Wisdom Publications 2003. An excerpt:

The system has attained a life of its own. We all participate in this process…yet with little or no sense of moral responsibility for what happens, because such responsibility has been diffused so completely that it is lost in the impersonality of the corporate economic system.

One might argue…that there are good corporations….The same argument can be made for slavery, there were some good slave owners…. This does not refute the fact that slavery was intolerable…. And it is just as intolerable that today the earth's limited resources are being allocated primarily according to what is profitable to transnational corporations.

My Buddhist conclusion is that transnational corporations are defective economic institutions due to the basic way they are structured…. It is difficult to see how…they can be simply patched up to make them better vehicles for our economic needs. We need to consider whether it is possible to reform them in some fundamental way…or whether they should be replaced by other economic and political institutions (100-01).
Building on Arnsperberger's notions above about recontextualzing our individualism with a wider communalist ethos, in this paper* he shows the root of neoclassical economics in its view of the individual-social relation. Therein you'll see a quite similar critique to Mark Edwards' in for example "Through AQAL eyes part 5" and "The depth of the exteriors" series. That is, this notion of a dominant monad that intersects with society is rooted in a more individualist rather than P2P intersubjectivity.

Arnsperberger doesn't use that terminology but it seems to point in that direction. Arnsperberger sees neo-classical economics inheriting this from Leibniz's monadological metaphysics which will require us to "re-think the way in which human subjectivity works." He will do this as follows:

"A rigorous understanding of the basic methodological stance adopted by economics, namely the idea that social order `emanates' from a bunch of self-centred subjectivities making separate optimizing decisions. Accordingly, in Section 2, I will trace out the analogy that exists between Leibnizian monadology (and its antecedents in Greek and Roman atomism) and modern-day economics. The aim there will be to show that economics, unwittingly but for nevertheless deep ethical reasons, has remained `stuck' in a very specific metaphysical position which virtually no contemporary philosophy of subjectivity any longer acknowledges. Section 3, then, will show how the combination of monadology and empiricism which still prevails in contemporary economics can be overcome by entering an altogether distinct philosophical domain characterized by the primacy of Other over Self (a somewhat hazy terminology which, I gather, will become clearer as we proceed). While this alternative philosophical stance has experienced a surge of interest in recent decades (see, e.g., Descombes 1979, Taylor 1987, Caputo 1993), it has left the social sciences, and particularly economics, completely untouched.

"Carrying the legacy of atomism and monadology right into modern-day social analysis, neo-classical economics ...has remained `stuck' within a metaphysical framework which seeks to explain the harmony of the social whole on the basis of its self-enclosed parts."

I think you'll see much here that fits with kennilingus notions of dominant monads and its lack of P2P intersubjectivity which results in an individualist and capitallistic apologetics. I look forward to the day when Arnsperger directs his modus operandi to kennilinguist conscious capitalism. It seems to date he has put this off to get accepted into the integral edifice and has merely provided scant hints as to his agenda. Hopefully forthcoming.

*Homoeconomicus, social order and the ethics of otherness," Ethical Perspectives 6:2 (1999)

More from the last referenced article:

"Levinas's central idea is that human subjectivity is constituted ...by a primary relation to otherness.... Levinas suggests a rather different scheme, which consists in showing that individual subjectivity is in fact constituted by, rather than able to represent to itself, the exterior and hence prior otherness of world and other individuals. Of course, all `access' to this exteriority requires an ego, but this ego itself is unable to know itself as an ego by pure reflection, that is, outside of a relation of response to otherness....the constant confrontation with the inescapable otherness of exteriority provides the background of any action, and no individual can ever `step outside' of this confrontation so as to reflect on his or her motivations for action."

Also recall from p. 3 of this thread Lessam & Schieffer's paper on the integrated enterprise, a hybrid between social and private entrepreneurships. The notion of the entrepreneur is critical to capitalism but it is again focused on individualism. Arnsperberger is also on this bandwagon in this paper, "The social entrepreneurship movement":

"It would be quite wrong, however, to infer from what I have just said that I object to the idea of entrepreneurship. I don’t—in fact, I believe it is the way of the future. What do object to is the idea that capitalist entrepreneurship, which includes consumerism as a 'self entrepreneurial' endeavor, is the final word. In that sense, I share a lot of the optimism that has recently been expressed by various advocates of a new kind of entrepreneurship: social entrepreneurship.

"The idea of social enterprise...puts faith in the fact that solutions to social problems can emerge from the decentralized interactions of agents on the shop floor, so to speak. Social entrepreneurship is essentially a bottom-up affair. At the same time, there is a rejuvenation of the very notion of an entrepreneur: not just someone who finds new ideas that can help some shareholders or capitalists make a maximum profit, and not just someone who is able to maximally 'fit in' with the requisites of workaholism and consumerism, but someone who undertakes a risky, uncertain task for the benefit of others, measured by the degree in which
'market failures' as well as 'government failures' get resolved. A social entrepreneur is still, in a sense, a 'self-entrepreneur' because s/he engages in his/her activity in part out of personal joy and enthusiasm—but, precisely, this joy and enthusiasm seem often to come 'from somewhere else,' from a kind of a conversion experience (some even use the word 'epiphany') rooted in a newly acquired existential lucidity: life has little meaning in the profit-making treadmill, and the needs expressed on so-called 'underserved markets' cry out
through the voices of the poor and the vulnerable. The social entrepreneur is looking for alternative ways of financing and organizing a production or service-provision activity so that s/he can be highly effective in terms of his/her non-market, non-government activity (provide high-quality education to the poor, solve a difficult local environmental problem, etc.) while at least breaking even on the financial side.

"This is a minimally capitalist market economy with social entrepreneurs and a facilitating government—the dream of front-line social democrats. No wonder it raises enthusiasm. It’s the best chance we ever had of significant post-capitalist advance without revolution and without planning."

In p. 2 of this thread I brought in Kevin Bowman and questioned some of his apparently kennilingus-biased interpretations. As one brief example from the referenced article he's talking about Chomsky's criticisms and solutions emanating from stage 5 pluralism, which “fights dominator hierarchies without acknowledging growth hierarchies” (24). Has Bowman never heard of Chomsky's famous hierarchy of grammar? Even the most rudimentary exploration of Chomsky cannot miss this significant contribution to linguistics, that is, if one spent the 2 minutes to find it without proceeding with preconceived blinders. This is part of Chomsky's “universal” grammar which is not culturally constructed and is not part of the supposed pluralistic wave's inability to make such non-relativistic stances. According the Chomsky's wikipedia entry, even “some arguments in evolutionary psychology are derived from his research results”* in this area.


There is much, much more criticism that can be leveled against Bowman's acceptance of this faux green meme representation but I'll leave it to each of you to explore it. As just one source see Natasha Todorovic's Spiral Dynamics take on from where this green meme nonsense comes. One excerpt:


Ken Wilber's Boomeritis...has confused orange, green and yellow. Whereas he criticizes something he calls the “mean green meme” he uses orange v-meme descriptors to make his case suggesting he's not clear on the differences between green and orange. Then, when it comes to yellow, he uses green value system descriptors as a contrast, again confusing green and yellow. Wilber applies an inappropriate term to the behavior and thinking of those who cannot be described in those terms" (12).


Also see their Boomeritis FAQ and Ray Harris' "Rescuing the green meme from boomeritis" and part 2 of that essay.


* Granted there is contention about this in the field from the likes of Lakoff, for example. But that's another story for another day.

In my research I came upon an '08 blog post at Indistinct Union called "Capitalism 3.0," which references a book of that name by Peter Barnes (free e-book). Chris says:

"While well-intentioned, the whole concepts of Enlightened Business or Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), and/or Conscious Capitalism really don’t make the kind of transformative effects they otherwise desire. You can only make the system so moral, but individual conscious CEOs are not going to change the heart of the issue. For it is structural, legal, and political in nature."

Check out both the blog and the book. More later.

Also here's a P2P Foundation wiki on the book.

Related to what I just said in the "spiritual leaders" thread, here are some excerpts from Arnsperger's "Never quite enough":

"Existential economics....led to me into this—somewhat iconoclastic—direction...an anchoring within what, roughly, we might call Christian humanism, a way of doing philosophy that accepts that anthropological reflection need not (and, in fact, cannot) be disconnected from radical reflection on religious and spiritual issues.

"Don’t expect me to draw...a well-meaning denunciation of economic materialism in the name of 'spirituality.' If I did that, I’d be ignoring the very roots of modern economic thought. In reality, in fact, the great thinkers of economics were working very consciously for the salvation of humanity.... I think we need to go as far as saying that economic thought has a strictly spiritual root.... The economy is, therefore, less a technical-operational domain than an existential-spiritual one.... Economics, therefore, the science of the economy, is part and parcel of theology—not only neo-liberal economics (as some left-wing critics claim, using the word 'theology' as a degrading term), but all of economics to the extent that it ultimately seeks to liberate Man. Marx, Keynes, and Hayek were, literally, the most influential theologians of the 20th century; I say this not by analogy or as an image, but as a literal description of what their study of economic activity was about."



I'd like to provide an extended excerpt from the last referenced article:

"A 30 percent tax on the world’s two hundred highest fortunes...could give every poor person on the planet a lifetime of nutrition, health, and education. The irony of the situation is that the psychological suffering of a handful of billionaires each' 'robbed' of one third of his fortune would quickly overshadow the physical and psychological suffering experienced today by the 'bottom billion' of the poorest among the poor.

"I fully realize that in the depths of my own body and my own psyche I am just like those billionaires.... For Western man, asking for a third, or even a tenth, of his income in order to feed, house, and educate the whole world is simply too much to ask; each Western Man is the whole world unto himself—we have been
manufactured that way by our culture. It’s called modern individualism.

"We can choose differently, we can choose to look at our lives in another way and to realize that we have made the capitalist market economy into our church, and modern economic science into our religion.

"Existential economics...led to me into this—somewhat iconoclastic—direction was a twofold factor: on the one hand, an anchoring within what, roughly, we might call Christian humanism, a way of doing philosophy that accepts that anthropological reflection need not (and, in fact, cannot) be disconnected from radical reflection on religious and spiritual issues; on the other hand, a deep indignation with the injustice of capitalism, together with a growing difficulty to fit my thinking into Marxist schemes of reasoning.

"Generating constant economic growth within a framework of constantly expanding globalization—this is, in a nutshell, the capitalist project when it comes to economic development. I want to argue that such a view—the massively dominant view—of development is existentially wrong....to move towards a genuinely post-development view, we need to tackle the issues raised by existential economics. For us in the rich, Western countries, capitalist, growth-oriented development has been a three-century-old cultural choice. It has been based on specific anthropological premises. It has been an anthropological and spiritual disaster.

"The identification of growth with development comes from a deep-seated conviction in the Western cultural landscape: more stuff is better than less stuff. By 'stuff' I mean material goods but also all sorts of non-material objects such as services and images. The Western human being is a being who has made consumption into an existential imperative.

"Don’t expect me to draw...a well-meaning denunciation of economic materialism in the name of 'spirituality.' If I did that, I’d be ignoring the very roots of modern economic thought. In reality, in fact, the great thinkers of economics were working very consciously for the salvation of humanity.... I think we need to go as far as saying that economic thought has a strictly spiritual root.... The economy is, therefore, less a technical-operational domain than an existential-spiritual one.... Economics, therefore...is part and parcel of theology—not only neo-liberal economics (as some left-wing critics claim, using the word 'theology' as a degrading term), but all of economics to the extent that it ultimately seeks to liberate Man. Marx, Keynes, and Hayek were, literally, the most influential theologians of the 20th century; I say this not by analogy or as an image, but as a literal description of what their study of economic activity was about.

"What is post-development? It is, essentially, a move from capitalism to post-capitalism in all parts of the globe. This includes pre-capitalist economies which still exist. These economies are no longer viable; the existential critique of capitalism should never be an alibi for a nostalgic—and completely illusory—return to pre-capitalist forms. The idea, instead, is that poor countries need not necessarily go through a capitalist 'stage' in order to go beyond the misery which we, in the West, have bestowed upon ourselves through the massive growth of our wealth.

"Capitalism functions on what I call imaginary scarcity: what makes accumulation, competition, and consumption 'work' is the fact that each of us somehow feels he never has enough. Wanting to get more just deepens the feeling of 'never quite enough.' This process is never-ending; it never exhausts itself; more not being enough, it calls for even more, and this creates growth and the need for growth to create existential reassurance.

"Now, real scarcity could, in principle, be eliminated through a form of egalitarian capitalism. You could try to 'channel' the dynamism and incentives of capitalism into a system where we produce, distribute, and consume (and even 'exploit' each other, which is inevitable whenever there is division of labor)—a system that would establish one single barrier to capitalist rationality: everyone should be protected from real scarcity, so that  there should be massive and constant redistribution. But alas, egalitarian capitalism is an unstable creation; when you establish it (as did the promoters of social democracy in the mid-20th century), it gets attacked from all sides by those who have no interest in it. Why? Simply because capitalism and equality are like oil and water: you can mix them up vigorously, but if you don’t coerce them into staying mixed they will separate again. The basic reason is that egalitarian capitalism eliminates real scarcity but is incompatible with imaginary scarcity.... [We need] a profound change in our theology, a change towards a new fundamental reflection on what it means to be human beyond liberal individualism... Capitalism can’t transcend itself.

"In a truly post-capitalist world, human beings should be free from both real and imaginary scarcity. The idea that constantly growing aggregate wealth can be stimulated only through relative poverty—an idea that lies at the heart of capitalist market incentives—has to be replaced with the idea that moderate wealth can be maintained through relational and social investment.

"One thing that is very urgently needed is development aid to the First World from the Third World—to the extent that the Third World hasn’t itself already given up its traditions.... What the Third-World traditions are still rich in, and what we tend to have become very poor in, is spiritual resources to deal with existential anxiety in 'adjusted' ways—integrating death into the rituals of life.... Spiritual resources would allow us to see things differently, and to live differently, giving economic wealth production its rightful—and relatively minor—place and giving relational and social investment the priority."
Even though he sees we cannot return to a pre-capitalist economy nevertheless in our way forward he recommends reintroducing from pre-capitalist, third world countries their metaphysical notions of spirituality, up to an including immortality of the soul. It is these metaphysical beliefs that take us beyond our materialist limitation that create the never enough existential feeling inherent to capitalist individualism. While I agree we need to reinject spirituality back into the equation it needs to go postmetaphysical and in this regard Arnsperger could use a good dose of this forum.

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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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