"LOHAS and the indigo dollar" by Joseph Gelfer is a new article at Integral World. An excerpt:

"My aim here is not to belittle the spiritual experiences sought in the LOHAS marketplace, rather...to challenge constructions of spirituality that promote the subsuming of the ethical and religious in terms of an overriding economic agenda.

"LOHAS business argues that it serves a 'triple bottom line' (Elkington 1998) of 'people, planet and profit' which measures a business's or organisation's success not just by its financial performance, but also its environmental and social performance.... However, the LOHAS marketplace is clearly focused on profit.

"The question is, why is the 'authentic' commercial co-option of the spiritual accepted so uncritically within LOHAS, a demographic identified, driven by and including many very intelligent and spiritually sincere people.... Numerous persuasive arguments claim that alternative spiritualities function freely in a context of late capitalism – characterised by a shift from production to consumer capitalism – so in this sense LOHAS is simply perpetuating the norm. Carrette and King argue that the "consumer world of 'New Age' spirituality markets 'real,' 'pure' or 'authentic' spiritual experiences, but these are manufactured worlds that seek to escape the 'impure' political reality of spirituality”.

"I suggest that in order for LOHAS to appeal to the new progressives with their suspicion of the left, it has jettisoned one of the most explicit characteristics of the left: its economic/class analysis. Ideally, this abandonment of a leftist economic/class analysis would be replaced by something appropriate to the perceived values of the new progressives, however this is not the case. As a result, the LOHAS consumer can identify with those standard liberal values but without any of the economic awareness about what is needed to manifest them. This lack of awareness is filled with the only alternative left on the table: the late capitalist status quo. Some residual leftist understanding is alive in LOHAS, thus the need to rebrand late capitalism to something less unsavoury: conscious capitalism; triple bottom line; social profit.

"I want now to provide an example of what spirituality can begin to look like in the absence of a suitable economic analysis, and once sincere spiritual seekers have become desensitised to the co-option of spirituality by late capitalist tendencies, whether conscious or otherwise. The example is the recent trajectory of Ken Wilber's 'integral spirituality.'”

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"Even a cursory examination of the I-I website can identify how much it borrows from business in its presentation of a spiritual worldview. I-I is a branding machine.... Like any commercial operation, I-I has built a proprietary wall around its spiritual products.

"Other marketing strategies play into the hands of instant demand consumerism. Wilber's integral practices are packaged like convenience food to appeal to the busy consumer with scalable life practices whittled down to '1-minute modules' (Integral Life Practice:N.d.). Wilber's book Integral Spirituality reads suspiciously like a catalogue for I-I products and services, which are referred to on numerous occasions in the text, including various URLs to I-I websites and a whole chapter on Integral Life Practice. This is exactly the type of commodification Carrette and King write of, identifying the selling off of 'ideas and claims to authenticity in service to individual/corporate profit and the promotion of a particular worldview and mode of life, namely corporate capitalism.'

'"Wilber goes further than simply talking in a corporate-friendly language: he also seeks to enclose the integral two percent of the population within an elite wealthy community. One of the Integral Naked podcasts is called 'Entrepreneurial Idealism and the Integral Model' (Johnson and Wilber 2006) with Brian Johnson, certified 'integral friend' and founder of the social networking site Zaadz which focused on 'conscious capitalism' (Johnson N.d.).[7] The podcast introduction states, 'Like Integral Institute, Zaadz is a gated community… . But wait! - isn't that marginalizing, discriminatory, and elitist? Well, not really. If you join a country club, there are certain rules that you agree to follow.' Here I-I likens itself to both a gated community and a country club, simultaneously suggesting two things: first, that belonging to I-I is to be safely tucked away in an economically privileged community; second, that I-I is quite happy to articulate it as such, ignoring the economic realities that enable the existence of gated communities and country clubs.

"I-I is 'assembling a new Board of Trustees drawn from our largest donors,' so it appears possible to purchase a governing position at the evolutionary edge of spirituality (Integral Institute 2009). The irony is traditional late capitalism, on which gated communities and country clubs are based, consciously feeds upon the labour of those outside the club. By ignoring this, I-I and Zaadz are exemplars of unconscious capitalism, a result, as mentioned above, of having no appropriate economic analysis within the allegedly 'new progressive' politics."

For context see our previous discussion in the "integral global capitalism" thread, wherein there is a link to our even earlier discussion from Gaia. A quote from D.G. Anderson kicks off the thread saying in part:

"My purpose is...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."

 

It was in the above thread that Balder came close to closing this forum altogether. Hopefully this thread will not repeat that inclination but I think this stuff if important and relevant.

From Howard Zinn's Marx in Soho (South End Press, 1999):

"Capitalism was a progressive force in history at a certain stage of human development.... It has enabled enormous technological and scientific progress, created huge wealth. But this became concentrated in fewer and fewer hands" (xi).

 

22 Statistics That Prove The Middle Class Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America

MICHAEL SNYDER - Business Insider

The 22 statistics that you are about to read prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

22 STATISTICS SHOWING THE MIDDLE CLASS DYING

* 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.

* 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

* 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

* 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

* A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

* 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

* Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.

* Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

* For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

* In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

* As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

* The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

* Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

* In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.

* The top 1% of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

* In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

* More than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

* For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

* This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

* Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

* Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

* The top 10% of Americans now earn around 50% of our national income.

Just a quick to note to reactive this thread, since I'm presenting alternative, progressive economic views in that thread. Let's compare and contrast. More later. Btw, LOHAS = Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability.

From Geller's conclusion:

"Wilber's nomenclature would 'transcend and include' left and right. Wilber's assumption is that all the analysis and critique of the old left has been fully engaged, dealt with, and transcended. However, this is a problematic assumption....they do not transcend and include the left vs right dichotomy; rather they ignore it. The net effect of this process is that both LOHAS and integralists have no functional political–economic analysis and adopt the only working economic model at hand: late capitalism, which becomes 'spiritualised' and authenticated into 'conscious capitalism,' thus consolidating the connection between the commercial and the spiritual. Wilber further silences a critique of capitalism by denying that there is even an alternative position to inhabit: one article is titled, 'Like it or Not, You're a Capitalist. But Are You a Conscious One?'"

He notes earlier that if one does involve a critical analysis of conscious capitalism then they are automatically an immediately consigned to the lower "mean green meme" and promptly ignored as irrelevant. To recontextualize the name of another commercialized spiritual purveyor of product, sounds true?

Here's a recent blog post from Joseph Geller. Therein he also referenced his IL discussion with Robb Smith and other ILifers.
putting the variable ethnicity, dichotomized as white and non-white, in that "poverty" model, we can see the real differentials appearing. The non-white represent the majority of these measurements. America is still far way from having soved its deeply anchored structural and stratified racism.

theurj said:

22 Statistics That Prove The Middle Class Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America

MICHAEL SNYDER - Business Insider

The 22 statistics that you are about to read prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

22 STATISTICS SHOWING THE MIDDLE CLASS DYING

* 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.

* 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.

* 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

* 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

* A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

* 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

* Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.

* Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

* For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

* In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

* As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

* The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

* Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.

* In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.

* The top 1% of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

* In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

* More than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

* For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

* This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

* Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.

* Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

* The top 10% of Americans now earn around 50% of our national income.

I'd like to bring in Christian Arnsperger here, who is also being used in the progressive economics thread and has appeared in the Wilber blog and the JITP. In his 4/4/10 interview called "Capitalism is experiencing an existential crisis" he 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 created 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 in that thread. 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?

 

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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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