Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
President Obama finally spoke up today on the issue at the National Governor's Association today:
"So I believe that everybody should be prepared to give up something in order to solve our budget challenges, and I think most public servants agree with that. Democrats and Republicans agree with that. In fact, many public employees in your respective states have already agreed to cuts.
"But let me also say this: I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service. These times demand it. We’re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. We’re not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don’t properly reward that bravery.
"So, yes, we need a conversation about pensions and Medicare and Medicaid and other promises that we’ve made as a nation. And those will be tough conversations, but necessary conservations. As we make these decisions about our budget going forward, though, I believe that everyone should be at the table and that the concept of shared sacrifice should prevail. If all the pain is borne by only one group — whether it’s workers, or seniors, or the poor — while the wealthiest among us get to keep or get more tax breaks, we’re not doing the right thing. I think that’s something that Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree on."
And there we have an excellent summary of the situation and it is not something Dems and Reps agree upon. Who bears the brunt of the sacrifice? Who isn't paying their fair share of the burden? And who intentionally hides this obvious fact behind the smokescreen of creating resentment of the working class against itself?
Speaking of the "integral" solution of including what is best from both views Obama seems to be trying this. He recognizes the need to curtail budget deficits and that all must sacrifice. But what he rejects from the conservative side is the idea that the poor and middle class should be vilified and blamed while the rich get off cheap. This conservative denigrating recalcitrance is not something to be included in some form of integral paradigm. It is the conservatives that will not do any compromising while the liberals are usually ready to negotiate. This should tell us something of which view, in broad general terms, is closer to whatever we might choose to call integral and which is not even close.
e: "You could raise the taxes on the middle class and the poor (the rich will loophole out of any tax increases) to pay for it like the Governor of Illinois wants to do."
Now I know you like to play devil's advocate right? And I think you're playfully goading Ed quite a bit on this subject too....
But this throw away comment about the rich loopholings out of taxes as if it's no big deal...... Come on e. This suggests that borderline criminal tax avoidance of huge amounts of tax due to the government is really no big deal, and that we should all just shrug and shut up about it. This can't be your real take on this point surely? That it's ok to take up on a big task like breaking the unions in order to pay off debt, but not worth tightening up on tax regulations for the rich in order to do the same? You're joking right?
I'd like to think he is joking but his responses have consistently supported this line of rationale. A line that has also obviously been promoted by kennilingus as witness in the various integral capitalism threads. It's the trademarked integral "party" line and they're sticking to it.
However e will now back-pedal and you've provided him with his out; he was only joking to make a point that the public employees aren't paying their fair share, that unions bully the government for unfair advantage. Which to some degree is true and needs remedy. But they are the ones who have made concessions so far, not the conservatives. And the remedy is to eliminate their rights, the true agenda behind this.
Not to mention that the rights and pensions so obtained were negotiated and agreed to in better times and are willing to be re-negotiated in worse times like now. Unlike the uncompromising fiat we are seeing on the other side. We are witnessing a political and economic regression in integral terms, not some faux integration of liberal and conservative, and to go along with conservative rationale is tantamount to complicity in this regression.
There has been some discussion of this at Beams and Struts, especially in the comments.
Recall that John Mackey of Whole Foods is a kennilingus hero of conscious capitalism. And he is a union buster, contrary to the integral sounding yet empty platitudes the company espouses. This Mother Jones article notes that when the Employee Free Choice Act was being proposed a San Fran WF called a meeting wherein the manager said joining a union would lead to reprisals. WF has notoriously opposed the legislation. For example:
"In recent years they fired union organizers or packed worker rolls with anti-union employees in efforts to prevent workers from forming unions or winning union contracts, government records show."
The article notes though that WF is steeped in the language and norms of the labor movement. However WF's "'anti-union, pro-worker stance is the essence of benevolent paternalism' says Kim Fellner, who...praises many of the company’s other employment practices. 'These are companies that want to do good by their workers, but want to decide what that good is, rather than letting the workers decide for themselves. And that’s a problem.'”
Here we see again the type of authoritarian paternalism, albeit with good intentions, deciding what is best. The more evolved P2P meme empowers the workers to decide. This is part and parcel of the American brand of kennilingus capitalism that refuses to take the next evolutionary step. As I recall a similar argument was used by slave-owners, who took very good care of their chattel.
By the way, show of hands here: How many of actual I-I workers are employed full-time with a living wage? How many have health care benefits? How many are unionized? How many have any job security whatsoever? How many are perpetual volunteers for "the cause?" How many have any say in any working condition or any negotiating power as to wages or benefits? Just curious.
Oh, that's right, they are all individualist entrepreneurs making their own fortunes and just donating energy to the cause in their free time, since they all have vast, self-made fortunes through their ingenious creativity due to 2nd tier cognition...
Here's the last post as of now in the Beams and Struts thread, playing out some of the same themes here. Trevor is addressing David and I cannot wait to hear trademarked integral David's response:
Tuesday, 01 March 2011 11:16 posted by Trevor Malkinson
David, we've come to a strange stalemate in this discussion. We each seem to be stressing one side of a unified story. How will we unify them then?
As a good integralist, of course I'm familiar with the 'dignities' of modernity, with how *aspects of it* has led to great prosperity, growth, health and wealth. Nowhere have I advocated a wholesale rejection of the modern worldview or everything that came with it.
But isn't there a more nimble integral yoga that has to be done here, where we hold that truth firm while simultaneously rejecting those pathological aspects of modernity that still wreak havoc on the Earth and millions of people (thus upholding the deep *valid* and healthy truths of the postmodern moment)? Isn't there an ethical imperative to do this? Are you suggesting that the all of the gross injustices of modern (corporate, monopoly capitalism etc.) are simply the unfortunate but *necessary* by-product of this modern growth machine? Is this really true? Why can't we strip out and preserve those aspects of modernity that are healthy, and negate those aspects that are unhealthy. Are we not capable of this dialectical move?
If your only effort is to play wack-a-mole with everything you think is 'mean green meme' or simply a 'postmodern' critique that doesn't appreciate the benefits of modernity, you might render yourself incapable of recognizing other more complex movements at play. Your attempt to reduce Andrew's and I's critical views to simply some sort of Canadian jealously I found laughable, so thanks for the chuckle. However, my allegiances and my critical stance are located somewhere else entirely, which might make for a deeper and more interesting discussion.
I too had those conversations with my father funnily enough (for me in the early 90s though), and I too moved through a period where I corrected the one-sided or partiality of this stance. My concern is that your corrective is in danger of becoming an over-corrective, one that can easily result in misperceiving the location of where someone is coming from.
I have indeed seen the video by Hans Gosling, but your sweeping and in my view simplistic claim that this growth and improvement is simply due to this amorphous thing called "modernism", I think lacks an enormous amount of complexity and granularity. No where in your analysis do you give voice to the fact that people had to fight for many of the laws- child labor laws etc. on down the line- that allowed for much of that very health and prosperity. Democracy and rights were not given by the modern ruling elite, they were fought for and required conflict and great sacrifice. In Europe, democracy did not result from natural evolution or economic prosperity. It certainly did not emerge as an inevitable byproduct of individualism and the market. It developed because masses of people organized collectively and demanded it. You seem to claim that all the prosperity, wealth and health we now enjoy is simply a trickle down by-product of the capitalist modern world-system, and I think this is a false understanding of both history and of power.
You say- "Sure, go back a hundred years and you will find all the industrial countries exploiting other countries in a gross manner. That was par for the course for that era. But it has without question become more and more subtle since then; that is to say, things have improved".
I find there's a certain moral callousness in these types of statements from you. How is a more subtle exploitation necessarily an improvement? The amount of suffering that neoliberal economic policy has caused in the last forty years- as the wealth of many nations gets redistributed to elite hands, often foreign- is profound and real. I think we have an ethical duty to demand the cessation of these types of economic imperialism. This is not an improvement, it's a *virulent form* of capitalism and it's a disaster for millions. This is not simply a 'postmodern' or MGM critique, and please stop reducing it to one. As an integralist I'm fully capable of recognizing the 'contexts' of the modern epoch while all the while morally rejecting the pathological excesses of that period, excesses that are very much still in play today.
You say your "not a fan of the job Bremer did". Do you mean taking part in the arrogant mishandling and destroying of a country that has left over a million citizens dead, and a country in ruins? Ya, I'm not a fan of that either. Again, there's a certain callousness when you toss out these kinds of statements. Could it be an over-corrective on your part that's allowing for these types of seemingly morally detached statements?
You say that "postmodern perspectives are important", that your not a fan of how corporations have behaved, and that you are for more regulation. Great, let's have those discussions; and now that maybe we've heard each others' concerns in upholding healthy modernity (you) and healthy postmodernity (me), perhaps we can have that discussion from an explicitly integral viewpoint. You also critique postmodern narcissism and it's LL culture. Fantastic, let's have those discussions too and advance those critiques, they'll be critical for opening up developmental channels as well.
To finish, I stumbled across a strangely timely article last night that speaks to many of the issues I hear running through our discussion. It's an article on Integral World from 2004 written by Ray Harris, called "Left, Right, or Just Plain Wrong", critiquing some political viewpoints among integrally oriented folks.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the ideas raised in that article. One of my favorite passage, of many, is this:
"I have not yet seen an effective integral criticism of US hegemony. Wilber has rather glibly stated that US hegemony is relatively benign and much more preferable to any other. Really? This ignores the problem of hegemony and imperialism period. Are some kinds of hegemony okay? Or does any hegemony create a power imbalance that necessarily leads to privilege for some and misery for a great many others?...Wouldn't the prime directive argue that a significant and radical redistribution of wealth is required".
I first came across it on a post yesterday over at Edward Berge's site 'Integral Postmetaphysical Enaction'. In that post Berge says, "For these views [Harris] was ostracized from trademarked integral and branded a mean green meme. I'd say he was more like a healthy turquoise that wasn't recognized through a capitalistic lens". [http://bit.ly/ef87Vb]
Would you agree?
See Jon Stewart's expose of conservative spin about teachers on the 2/28/11 show entitled Crisis in Dairyland. There are several short clips (Angry Curds, Message for Teachers). You can see its coordinated message reverberate throughout the echo chamber from source to source. And interestingly enough, it's the same "arguments" being used by the kennilinguists.
You can also see the whole episode a bit lower if you have the time and interest, with guest Howard Stern.
Michael Moore gave a powerful speech to the protesters in Madison yesterday at this link, with both video and text. An excerpt of the beginning. Check out the rest:
"America is not broke.
"Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
"Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.
"Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer 'bailout' of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.
"And I can see why. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we'd have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic -- and, until this past month, the rest of us have felt completely helpless, unable to find a way to do anything about it."