I N T E G R A L A N T I - C A P I T A L I S M
feat. Layman Pascal & Theurj
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Today we face the possibility of Conscious Capitalism and Integral Corporations. We rejoice in these improvements but we also remain deeply critical of the problematic systems which they may be perpetuating. Our bourgeois Integralites & our impoverished integral progressives tend to be predictably divided on this topic. Integral (i.e. integrative meta-philosophy in general) is apparently ambivalent about such things. It would like a more balanced Capitalism -- just as it would desire a more balanced Tribalism and a healthier Imperialism. It includes and addresses all these diverse levels.
Yet, despite this inclusive approach, there are many sharp and passionately engaged voices in this community who constantly demand theories & examples of a workable socioeconomic intelligence... which could exceed today's troubled patterns and operate from a complex depth of systemic understanding which is equivalent to the integrative altitude. At the very least we require a serious integral anti-capitalism to balance out integral capitalism in order to encourage the transcendence of both.
But do we really even know what all these words mean?
I like to say: Capitalism is bad for business. This half-serious phrase reminds us that the style of capitalism is not itself synonymous with a functional economy. Such reminders are useful to help us perform the basic developmental gesture... turning our unconscious allegiances into conscious objects for intelligent inspection.
Theurj, how would you tend to distinguish between CAPITALISM and BUSINESS (or MARKETS)?
I'll start by referencing the IPS "integral global capitalism" thread, which also links to our prior Gaia thread on the topic. In this post I also linked to the IL conscious capitalism post which said: “If you shop, have a job, or own any investments, you're a capitalist. But are you a conscious capitalist?”
For one this presumes that if you engage in markets and business or exchange money you are a capitalist, which is an erroneous and revealing assumption. Cannot one do all those things without engaging in capitalism? One most certainly can. Just because money or capital in involved doesn’t make it capitalism. Technically capitalism means private ownership of the means of production. Whereas we can make money, shop, have a job, engage is competitive markets but the workers can own the means of production and operate the business democratically. Co-ops are but one example, the Mondragon Corporation being the largest. This is Marx's move from capitalism to democratic socialism. I'd add that some of the most democratic and happiest countries have some degree of democratic socialism, like Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.
There are of course transitional phases from one system to another. Jeremy Rifkin's projects moves in that direction with his notion of "distributed capitalism" based on emergent peer-to-peer technological models. He is explicitly developmental in his approach, showing the relationship of evolving consciousness with energy regimes and communication tech. He's working with the EU to implement his Third Industrial Revolution and they are making significant progress.
Another approach is from integrally-informed economist Christian Arnsperger. He wrote a guest post on kenwilber.com called "integral economics" and has since started a website called "eco-transitions." We also have an IPS thread on this work. He also figures prominently in the "progressive economics" thread. A few of his quotes from the latter thread follow:
""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.”
“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.”
I'm with him that we need to create a new economic paradigm that not only provides a critique of capitalism but transitions beyond it, a paradigm more in line with integral principles.
Thanks for those great links & distinctions.
People seem to presume (or act "as if" they presumed) that capitalism is the form of social life appropriate to the "Orange Level" of human development. As if it were simply THE dharma of modern business, the perfect expression of Orange-level individual and strategic skill-valuing rationality. The economic voice of modernism, mechanism & internationalism. Yet groups like Mondragon and other kinds of socialist enterprises have often viewed themselves as rational, international humanists. Who is correct? There is some uncertainty about the connection between "levels" and "habits of production".
We can readily understand that, say, sexually disturbed misogynistic monotheism is not the necessary or inevitable form of dogmatic Amber nationalism. Such manifestations may only be a common pathology at that level. Likewise, there may be some good reasons for thinking that capitalism is unnatural... a pathology of modernity's "lower right quadrant". So we find that we can critique capitalism in two ways: as simply not smart enough, not evolved enough compared to what Comes Next OR as a kind of broken and sick system. A distortion of systems. An economy of shadows.
This is not such a strange thought.
Surely it cannot be exactly "healthy" for 1% or 10% of the working population to pay themselves 5000 times more than everyone else and isolate control over most of our collective resources. If our internal organs began to function in this manner we would die a speedy and unpleasant death! So why don't the majority rise up and fix this problem? This is the ancient anti-capitalist conundrum. Why do hard-working people who are barely surviving vote for billionaire CEOs? Why do the peasants flock to protect the barons? Anti-capitalists attribute this to "ideology". That means the secret group belief systems which benefit business-as-usual... even when it is bad business.
It reminds me of an old philosophical joke: It is easier for Americans to believe in the actual End of the World than in the real possibility of changing their shared economic model. That is the force of ideology. It runs deep.
"It is hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair.
Theurj, what do you think? What holds capitalism in place? Merely its strength and bulldogs... or something more insidious? What is it that inhibits the development of post-capitalist psychology in individuals and groups?
It is a complex question with complex answers.
Recall Wilber saying the following in Excerpt A: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their reality but their economic-material realities that determine their consciousness" (34). He of course qualifies it but agrees that the economic system is an incredibly strong factor is shaping the consciousness of most of society's individuals. So one of the strongest reasons people support those who oppress them is because they have to make a living. Making minimum wage or not much beyond is better than starving to death. And the latter is not just a fanciful hypothetical but a daily reality for many Americans, not only the poor but increasingly the middle classes as well. It's hard to have an ideology when you're working overtime and/or a second job to make ends meet for your family.
Given the above, many of us do not have the time or energy to be educated about political issues and/or to get involved in that process. Which is of course the plan of capitalists, for they realize an uneducated, overworked, underpaid workforce with the apparent freedom to vote and much more easily manipulated with ads and political framing. Hence it is the ideology of those in power, generally those with the most money and want to keep it that way, that program us with scientifically proven linguistic techniques specifically designed to get us believe in something that is against our own self-interest, i.e., getting out of the cycle of poverty or slave wages. There has been a lot of research on framing and, according to Lakoff, the Republicans have been on to this for a long time and have manipulated public opinion to vote for policies that further enrich the already rich and further impoverish the the poor. And obviously they don't explain the reality of that process but lie in their political frames and spin the story that their agenda is all about opportunity and jobs and lifting the poor and middle classes. But it is well-designed lies that have been exposed time and again but the programming is so strong and insidious that those so programmed refuse to accept the cognitive dissonance of facing that they've not only been lied to but that the very things they think they support are what's holding them down.
Now of course integralites also buy into this false story that if you just try and work hard enough and are smart enough you too will succeed financially and become healthy, wealthy and wise. Thing is, most of us integralites have grown up in more upper middle class households and already started on third base, to use a well-worn metaphor. We don't realize that many others don't even start at home plate but never get the opportunity to even get into the game. I'm reminded on a few commercials on MSNBC, where kids that don't have enough to eat cannot learn well, so even though they're given the equal opportunity of an education it's not sufficient. Their parents are both working low-wage jobs and still don't have enough to buy adequate food to feed their families. Also lower-class schools have inadequate supplies or enough teachers, their budgets being slashed by Republicans lying about a shortage of funds yet unwilling to get those funds via reasonable taxes from those who can afford them. Again, part of the plan to keep lower and lower middle classes under- or uneducated to perpetuate the cycle of wealth flowing to the top. We privileged integralites never had to experience this so we unconsciously buy into the program and enable it thinking if we just educate leaders about integral ideas it will flow down to the masses, when in reality just gives leaders better tools to keep the lie going.
Consciousness (they say) is the tip of a submerged iceberg. They also say we use only 10% of our brains. These (possibly outdated) metaphors serve to remind us that most "systems" function perfectly well without knowing what they are doing. This is how I envision the classes who are disproportionately advantaged by Capitalism. A few active agents may initiate strategic projects to mislead the multitudes -- but this is not strictly necessary. We do not have to believe, or know or agree that we are racists in order to BE racist. No doubt people can selfishly distort economies with or without any personal intention to do so. Either way works.
In one sense, the basic argument between Capitalist and Non-capitalist approaches concerns "private property". Even today, many people are haunted by the old phantasmal fear that Federal Governments will force us to share our houses, our food, our tools (and our womenfolk!) with undeserving reprobates and foreigners. There is an anxiety in the collective soul about Collectivism. Yet Anti-Capitalism has no special interest in your stuff. Rather it observes, very simply, that it is both unintelligent & immoral for "your stuff" to include the various functional organs of general society -- news, roads, factories, schools, buses, water, etc. But that point is hotly contested.
Is privatization a good idea?
Its advocates point to the creative dynamism of competitive motivation and the adaptive intelligence of distributed individual control over enterprises and innovations. Such an approach is flexible and complex. It is smart enough to produce a sort of "invisible hand" which often generates developmental outcomes that could not have been predetermined by any dictator, policy or social council -- or so the advocates claim! Yet all they are really doing is specifying that the minimum requirement for economic systems is that they be dynamic, adaptable and distributed. Okay, yes. Who could disagree? But, very suspiciously, these advocates are highly personally incentivized to claim that only capitalism can be "effective" in this manner.
A general sentiment exists in which Socialism is treated as a fair-but-ineffective Mommy and Capitalism is the effective-but-tough Daddy. This widespread feeilng is the very definition of an infantile attitude to economics! However, the original idea of Socialism (etc.) was to envision whatever natural form of society could and would supersede capitalism -- replacing its functions, overcoming its internal contradictions and limitations. We have a responsible to try something similar. We must personally and collectively try to feel our way to the edges of the current paradigm. Where do they snag? Where do they thwart themselves? Where are the basic categories of capitalist economics already "going over to the next thing"?
A very banal example is that of membership clubs. Here we pay a fee in order not to have to buy or rent things. Once we are "inside": socialism. The usual business relations recede from our experience. Another area where the lines become permeable is found in the well-known idea that we have extravagant "socialism for the wealthy". They "privatize the profits, socialize the losses". A terrible scheme for society but again it highlights the hinterland between Capitalism & Socialism. Just like American healthcare does! A more fanciful experiment comes from Star Trek -- Gene Roddenberry produced what is arguably the most popular human vision a basically post-capitalist society. Do we see anything in all these hints?
Where do the boundaries and categories of Capitalism blurs out? Where we might already see echoes, albeit distorted, of a system which could supersede the current paradigm? Where do the weakness and contradictions within capitalism experiment with their own resolution and transcendence?
Agreed on our unconscious programs and biases. But that is the beauty and horror of political manipulation through framing. It is a conscious method to downwardly affect our unconscious prejudices. We cannot access that unconscious directly but we can influence it strongly with such conscious methods, reinforcing unconscious desires. And we can use this methodology for good or ill, for the people as a whole or to further enrich the top and disempower the bottom. I’d suggest that the Obama campaign finally listened t Lakoff in the last election and hence via its own framing overcame an unprecedented spending spree of frequently reinforced and unadulterated lies by the opposition, countering it with the same framing methods but based on authenticity and truth. Well not entirely, but certainly more that the regressives.
Now granted there are already existing cultural memes already setting the stage. Hence such research into overarching developmental worldviews. So there is truth to the notions that worldviews are co-instituted with stages of human development and their socio-economic formulas. I’d question though, as you do, whether capitalism is an outgrowth of the so-called orange stage, i.e., egoic rationality. Wilber notes it is the first stage of equality for all and capitalism is most certainly not about that. I’ve suggested often that democratic business, like democratic politics, is indeed an example of this stage. And that capitalism is still a regressive holdover from the aristocratic feudal period. Or in kennilingus, the politico-economic line in our culture is lagging behind other developments. Capitalists are still the privileged aristocrats that do not want equal opportunity but to maintain their privilege. So when governmental forms shifted from the old aristocracy to democracy with a vote for all they fought tooth and nail to subvert that process by refining quickly the art of rhetoric backed by the science of linguistics. And of course coupled with a heaping pile of bullshit lies to feed an already abused mass starving for promises of hope.
As to the myriad questions of to where we should go, for now I’d just like to recommend two classics by Ray Harris at Integral World, “Left, right or just plain wrong” and “Thoughts toward an integral political economy.” The first is a critique of kennilingus on the topic and the second are some general guidelines for how to go forward. Written in 03/04 they are still applicable today and a good base from which to proceed. As but one example from the latter on private property which seems to lend credence to my notion of feudal lords:
“Although its origins are debated it is generally understood that capitalism, as distinct from commerce as such, arose in England as a result of the agrarian revolution caused by the 'enclosure acts'. These were a series of acts of parliament that essentially handed common land used by peasants to wealthy landowners, in other words, open lands were enclosed and privatized (this was accomplished in stages over a long period). This did a number of things. It displaced thousands of peasants who lost the ability to provide for themselves and turned them into waged workers. It also turned the landowners into landlords (the origin of the word) who then charged a rent for land that had previously been rent free. This then created capital which could be used either as investment or as social leverage. The enclosure acts coincided with the beginning of the industrial revolution and the landless peasants became the workers in the new factories.”
He goes on to note that both capitalism and socialism are modernist movements and some combination is needed “to facilitate the ethical redistribution of the surplus to best serve the evolutionary requirements of the whole spectrum.” Although in another ’04 article he did note this developmental sequence:
“We might even argue that there is a correlation between SD's value hierarchy and political-economic systems.
“I don't mind if this scheme turns out to be wrong. But is it? The thing is that integral philosophy has not yet fully examined the question.”
It’s too bad Harris gave up on the integral movement due to being shunned for this kind of work. He’d be an invaluable leader to take the movement forward.
I know less than nothing about Harris' circumstances but I certainly declare it is always a tragedy when a good thinker is rejected by the poor manners of an evolutionary group -- or when he is self-rejected by his own unwillingness to feel and speak his concerns according to the ethic and idiom of a community's soul. Or both. Such losses are felt in all directions...
His and your ideas, shared, above, excellently illustrate two of the critical factors that I think must inform any exploration of integral anti-capitalism or post-capitalism:
Of course the agents and collective which seek to inhibit evolutionary flow will naturally suggest that such surplus does not exist... or that it is all required for the sustaining and building up of the existing system. Otherwise, they argue, where will future surpluses come from? This logic must be examined. But not immediately. Instead I would like to highlight a third factor. One that is not mentioned above --
This third point is the basis of Wilhelm Reich's critique of Marxism, Socialism & Anarchism (whose goals he supported and which, as Harris speculates, are likely to be evolutionarily superior to capitalism). Reich observes that most civilized human beings are not medically, or physio-emotionally, capable of free action and constructive mutual rationality in the service of personal and shared well-being. From a developmental point of we might say that Reich was observing socially promulgated bio-electrical limitations on the capacity of people in Orange (or higher) systems to evolve their emotions and social expectations up to the level of their superficial cognition and moral core.
Political agendas, revolutions, changing technologies and even radical shifts in what we assert about social truth will not help us -- since our bodies will instinctively regenerate the same underlying habits of oppressively imbalanced living which we find in so-called democracies, communist states, monarchies, etc. These are only superficial variations of a economic system whose ideology is imprinted, in seed-form, in the early emotional life of families.
Of course, Reich neglected some key areas like the science of how Collective Intelligence can be enhanced by changes to our decision-making protocols, but he makes an essential point: that capitalism (or any systematic distortions of social life) is not merely the work of those agents who profit from them but are anchored deeply in the unconscious sensibilities and unarticulated belief-habits of emotionally non-liberated human beings.
We cannot deny that there are active, ongoing and insidious attempts to perpetuate the theft of the commons and puff up the "false nobility" of wealthy clans... but the ideology does not only run top-down. It runs also bottom-up and enters from the sides. If the "lords of capitalism" and all their agencies were slain or neutralized, the great momentum of the system might simply regenerate them from out the general population like a hydra growing new heads.
What do you make of this idea? We may find that accepting a decently complex version of Communism and/or Anarchism represents an appropriately Second Tier political economy -- but in many ways the individual quadrants of the people may not be ready, capable or truly unwilling to permit, sustain and fight for a more functional non-idealistic system? We can assume that most people currently lack the social complexity to sustain the emergence of higher economic holons. Where do they get this complexity? And what factors in their own souls may be thwarting this evolutionary flow? For we can do little against the overt manipulations of "barons" until we are really sensible, really available to each other, authentically selfish rather than putatively selfish, constricted, vaguely self-destructive and behaviorally accommodated to pathological social fields. No?
I was a bodyworker in a previous career. I was led into it in part by getting Rolfed. During the sessions my Rolfer introduced me to a Reichian therapist, so I did that too in this period. So I’d certainly agree that our body and emotional armoring prevents us from fulfilling higher endeavors. And that we get it very early from our parents, who got it from their parents ad infinitum. After getting those therapies, then later getting trained in, and then professionally performing, bodywork over an extended period, I was acutely aware of those holding patterns and did my small part to release them. I was also a tai chi student/instructor in those days, so also training oneself and others in breaking one’s habitual movement patterns was part of moving beyond our armor. Rolfing itself also had a movement education program for that purpose.
However what allowed me to get such expensive treatments was that I had my own business and had the time and money to explore self-improvement, even to read and find out that such things existed. A key issue is how do we provide the time and money for others to get such an education to open such possibilities? Being stuck in one’s job closes a lot of doors that one doesn’t even know are there. The bottom line is having the surplus money, and time, to even go there. It seems that the socio-economic circumstances of one’s life are the prerequisite for even getting in this game of evolution. Hence it is up to those of us with privilege (time and money) to not only work on ourselves and others but to create the socio-economic means to provide enough surplus on these lower levels to allow for one to recognize they even have body and emotional armor, let alone then afford its treatment. Hence my focus on those who are working towards creating such a system of surplus on the material level.
For now just a teaser that the surplus Harris talks about is related to the excess of restricted economics. See e.g. this post on capitalism, and how the excess surplus goes into personal consumption instead of social programs. (Using work from this Ph.D. dissertation, "Potential economies: complexity, novelty and the event.")
We cannot expect much socio-economic progress if individuals are neither spiritually cultivated nor free from bio-emotional oppression in the bodies. Yet, on the other hand, the work of self-development and liberating renormalization can occur only where material resources permit it to do so. This is presumably why an integrative "all quadrant" approach is so necessary. There are regressive and progressive causes operating simultaneously in different domains.
My hastily drawn quadrant diagram (somewhere in the thread below) indicates what I think are among the mutually supportive necessities for economic evolution: the sane, adequately-informed good will of individuals sharing surplus, the existence of surplus resources, unarmored bodies, a capacity for extending trust & teamwork with others of different types, and advancements in our protocols for ownership, control and voting procedures. Which one is a prerequisite for the others? All of them. Change can (and must) begin in all these areas. Each depends upon the others.
Compassionate, intelligent & viable deployment of resource surpluses in a future-oriented economy is certainly a "prime directive" for any Integral Economics. This vision needs to unfold its own patterning at both the general scale of the dominant global economic order AND in the more diverse scale of interpenetrating economic systems of varying complexity. And, interestingly, each developmental layer of social instincts has its own phantasy about the appropriate style for redistributing surpluses:
Red tribalists are self-aware of the Pride System and the dominators tend to distribute extra to their status-favorites. Amber feudalists are self-aware of a traditional People. So the oligarchs and their representative (the "king") tend to distribute surpluses according to the ruling corporate councils and also to expend resources on symbolic projects which divinize the People... sponsoring official artists, philosophers, etc. Orange is self-aware of private human individuals and hopes that redistribution will be morally centered upon personal selection of charitable causes and investments. Green become contextually self-aware and wants to rearrange the contextual variables in order to systemically funnel extra toward under-represented classes and progressive cultural trends.
Integrative economy must exceed these by its own style and systems but it must also embrace them, give their agents a place and enhance the mutual workability of these sub-systems of the Spiral. Both exceeding and incorporating older systems seems to be somehow necessary in order to maximally reinvest surpluses from any domain into further surpluses in all domains... inner, outer, shared, private, eco, ethical, spiritual, etc. I tell myself that (so to speak) I don't care how many people are on welfare as long as they have to drink a glass of clean water and spend twenty minutes in the brainwave machine in order to receive their money. A culture of cultivation is the necessary organization principle of integrative society.
And while we might look forward, as Badiou does, to an "event" which creates new subjects capable of instantiating a novel social order, we also understand that in all the practical ways the participants of the Event are those who make premature attempts to enact the possibilities they can already comprehend. Punctuated equilibrium doesn't happen on its own!
But the question I want to tackle next is: decentralization.
How important is the general issue of anti-monopolization, decentralization, de-contraction, etc. to the establishment of healthy evolutionary integrative human economy?
I agree we need to do a tetra-enaction in all quadrants and/or zones. But you ask a pertinent question: “Which one is a prerequisite for the others?” I know it sounds balanced to say they all arise simultaneously but I’m not so sure about that. I’d have to agree with Wilber in my second response above that one’s economic realities is likely a prerequisite. Once that ball is rolling of course we go round the quadrants in feedback loops. And perhaps as Wilber has also noted it takes those with advanced interior personal development to formulate advances to economic systems, but again, after they’ve had the privilege of a secure life with money and education. I’m reminded of Edwards’ work on Vygotsky and Mead. We have a thread on Mead (with a link to the original Gaia thread). Habermas used Mead extensively in his book Postmetaphysical Thinking to establish his own communicative action. The premise in all being that we are enculturated from the outside in, so perhaps there are some prerequisites? (E.g., this post summarizes some of their notions.)
I’m still struggling with how an integrative economy “both exceeds and incorporates older systems seems to be somehow necessary in order to maximally reinvest surpluses from any domain into further surpluses in all domains.” This has to do with my references to Wilber’s differentiation between transitional and basic structures here and following in the comments below. What is to be transcended and included and what is to be transcended and replaced? Per Wilber levels in such lines like worldviews and morals are replaced, not included. I’m guessing this would also apply to socio-economic forms. However, I’m exploring this topic in another thread as well, where elements are included, so perhaps there are indeed elements from other socio-economic levels that are included if not the entire worldview. That of course is a very technical discussion, yet to be firmly worked out there let alone how to apply it here. But I’m working on it for purposes here as well and will report on progress as it’s made.
As to decentralization, it is a key question and I’ll come back to it after some more research and writing.
Prioritizing quadrants is tricky business. The question, "Which type of changes are the necessary general & practical prerequisites for other types of change?" is a little different from asking, "From where can we initiate changes that make change easier in other domains?" The answer to the former moves very much into the distribution patterns of material resources. The answer to the latter is a bit more... egalitarian.
The other question you pose above is critical. Our understanding needs to be able to separate the essential parts of any level/system from those elements which are improvised within it. The latter can be appropriated by the patterning style of a new Whole which replaces the old Whole. This is especially important because "pathological elements" should be among the contingent aspects of a system.
The level of functional order of a living body is not necessarily tied to the contraction habits which appear to control that body in its daily affairs. Chronic muscle rigidity, isolating behaviors and exaggerated predominate of the head or some other region represent separative focal points which can be dramatically rearranged or undone under new regimes of Self. These have rough parallels to the concentrations of patterning authority in social groups. It reminds of the standard story about King John of England signing the Magna Carta.
This historical establishment of constitutional government can be read in two opposite ways. Perhaps this was a terrible mistake? It ceded the kingdom to the barons. A dangerous precedent. Historically, it has only been Emperors who have been able to overturn the control habits established by oligarchs and their militias. Julius Caesar's famous (putatively) progressive plans for Rome were savagely squelched when the plutocrats branded him a "tyrant" and killed him. It is always to the benefit of barons to brand the socio-economic repatterning power of the leader as tyranny. We may have played right into their hands with our tendency to demonize tyrants.
On the other hand, maybe the Magna Carta was great! It appears to have released the clench of temporal power from a single officer to a cluster of officers. This decontraction is very suggestive. It evokes the image of functional decentralization of economic patterning capacity. And it could be argued that healthier, more productive modernity followed in its wake. In that case, our job today is to follow this up by de-contracting the currently multitude of control concentrations. The concentration of vast control in the hands of private corporate executives, the monopolization of currency by privatized national banks, the exaggerated status of intellectual property and political lobbying can all be read as forms of functional contraction which need to be unclenched... to relax and invigorate and increase the intelligence of our group functioning relative to resources.
What do you think? Is there a functional parallel between the pattern of unclenching the ego, de-contracting the body-mind, opening the heart and de-centralizing the sites of economic control?
Your questions remind me of two recent posts in the comments starting with this one on Loy followed by one on Arnsperger. Both see the clenching, contracted ego as a coefficient of corporate capitalism. For both we must examine our individual autonomy to separate its functionality from its dysfunctionality, its needs from its cravings. Greed and overconsumption are prime examples of the latter and endemic in American culture and expressed through the current stage of corporate capitalism, both feeding on each other.
Loy notes that corporations did not start this way, going though the history. They had to have a social function in their charter and if/when that ceased so did the charter. But greed came in and off they went to bigger and bigger corporations with more centralization via amalgamation (acquisitions) with less and less concern for society and more for their own profit. Hence the point has been reached that it cannot be fixed. A radical move must be made back to a healthy individual autonomy balanced with a healthy social responsibility. And both suggest more local, decentralized economic structures that remain in touch with the concerns of its citizens and motivated by a healthy agency-communion mix.
Arnsperger thinks we need to instill a return to a voluntary simplicity of lifestyle so that we can recognize the difference between healthy needs and unhealthy cravings. If businesses become democratically run by such healthy people then they can instill these healthy values on their companies, returning them to healthy profit-making while balancing this with a community mission. But again, it requires a smaller, more localized company and economy to keep in touch with such concerns.
It seems that for Loy the corporation as is cannot be redeemed, nor for Arnserpger the current form of capitalism, based as they are on such ego-clenching greed and power beyond reform. It seems times to replace them with a more equitable and healthy economic structure.
Great links. Loy & Arnsberger certainly resonate with this sense that certain types of structural centralization (including the standard form of capitalist-corporate enterprises) are a social mirror for the pathological contraction patterns within human beings.
Along with Loy, we can agree that the very layout of contemporary, legally-protected, transnational corporations inclines them to be socially imbalanced, humanly dangerously & spiritually regressive. An "integral approach" should remind us that merely filling such an organization with healthier people united in a shared spirit of benevolence is not enough to fully correct problems in the structural system. In order to get responsibility, compassion and generalized intelligence out we would need to build it in. To in-corporate it in the structure and behavioral rules of the group entity.
Arnsberger draws our attention back to ourselves -- to the psychology and feeling-states of revolutionaries and regular folk. Like Reich, he reminds us that militants must be free & convivial beings themselves or they will unintentionally re-generate the problematic elements of the system under new names.
There is a strong analogy between Arnsberger’s critique and Fasting. The un-illumined belly is often depraved in its desire to maximize access to its socially programmed dietary regime. If I don't get ALL my bacon and eggs my whole day is ruined! To derive the physical and psychological benefits of fasting we need to be able to reduce activity in this region and undergo the sensations which result.
This idea easily transfers one level to the "solar plexus chakra" -- the metaphorical & bio-phenomenological site of personal power, feelings of abundance, sheer capacity to cause interpersonal effects, to make life-decisions, to stand your ground, to feel worthy and undertake missions, etc. If we accept this as a general region of the being then we see immediately that 90% of the issues which fill the global news are the outcries of people who feel they need more strength and energy in this "center". Until this empowerment comes it is largely a joke to expect people to migrate into higher emotional and spiritual concerns.
The traditional military and economic leaders of our species are "strong" in this region. Integral would like us to be strong in all the centers but that means we have something to learn from people who exemplify single chakra. Donald Trump (host of the Solar Plexus Olympics: "Celebrity Apprentice") is just a Manipura Chakra with legs. He barely has a vision, heart or groin to speak of... but like many far worse individuals he can show us something about the power which needs to be more widely distributed among human beings. The executing, the standing-to-be-executed, the leveraging of persona, the ease of aggrandizement, comfort with the aesthetic of treasure.
However these are the only qualities of the more potent solar plexus. It is the ancient seat of the chieftains... for good and ill. We have only a vague notion of what a simultaneously powerful, progressive and healthy solar plexus looks like. We expect the "true kings and queens" to be benefactors of the special, able to easily harness resources, generate surpluses and convivially reepattern the array of resources. Yet as much as find wickedness in the predatory re-pattern-ers and their system (Capitalism feeds off weak solar plexuses... the alien from Alien bursting of the "lower center of the chest") we find collapsed or hollow power among the best of us.
We too easily accept the ancient slogan radix malorum est cupiditas. Certainly the solar plexus must not act without differentiation from the ravenous animal appetites of the belly... but the fire of greed, the urge to have more and do more must be the ally of change. Too many today are nihilistically convinced that the only improvement can come through reduction, minimization. And they begin to act it out. Noble -- but we need more of them and less of other types.
Where I live (and periodically counsel people on bio-energetic psychology) we sit on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and bemoan "the coming water shortage". Anyone who raises the idea of desalination risks being shouted down by sensitive ecological progressives who fervently belief that positive change always equal less energy usage. And that the catastrophe is coming. These good people are almost what Nietzsche meant by "christians".
So I contextualize "voluntary simplicity of lifestyle" in this sense. It often elicits the wrong idealism and, if it comes, should be the side-effect of clarity and empowerment rather than a self-asserted goal of reduction spreading among the people who I wish would control MORE of the world's resources. As Arnsberger says:
“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."
A terrific intimation of solar plexal empowerment! And one significant part of that -- in his work as in Reich's call for "work-democracy" is the extension of democracy. That means in WORK not just in politics... since politics is really a small part of our lives. But it also does not mean the silly mob world of one-person, one vote majoritarian phantasies.
Democracy must spread... not abroad only but across the categories of our own society. AND it must get smarter and stronger. Not just bigger and more frequent.
What do you think about the current state and future potentials for "the democratic workplace"?
Your discussion of the chakras reminds me of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. And of our recent discussion of Harris of the surplus of one level being applied to growing the next. It's most difficult if not impossible to build up our solar power when our very basic survival instincts are constantly activated because we cannot make ends meet financially. I.e., there is no surplus at this level to apply toward the next, let alone empowering our citizens to make any kind of power play on their own, their family's or their society's sake. So I'm still for redistributing monetary surplus to those in need via the tax code and well as higher minimum wages, government sponsored training/education, etc.
I also hear you about voluntary simplicity, in that it can become an escape from social responsibility. I see far too many ex- and continuing hippies that drop out, just sharing simple living with their loved ones and their micro-communities. They give up on the broader political system because it cannot be changed, it's too big, whatever. Hence I stand my ground, as you say, and fight like hell for raising the standard of living to a living wage and the other progressive political policies. And I live simply.
Your discussion of energy production and use is interesting in noting the hippies again might only promote less energy use instead of smart investment in alternative energy sources. That one I've not seen, as they typically are all about alternative energy production. And yet I think it is fair to say they might note that in addition to transitioning to alternative energy sources we still need to gear down overally energy use. Even though alternative energy generation creates a far lower carbon footprint that oil and coal it is not a zero footprint. We still need to keep in mind our discussion of the ego's craving for more of anything, including energy to have our houses be at 68 degrees in the summer versus 80, etc. We still need to remove cravings and find true needs, the latter often being more in line with living simply.
Which of course reminds me of religious monasteries, where taking a vow of poverty doesn't mean poverty in the sense of not having enough to eat, drink or be warm in the winter. It means more like having those needs met and using the surplus left over to move on up the chakras to open other centers, instead of greedily having 3 cars or owning a summer home in the Bahamas. I don't think that even with alternative energy we'd have enough resources for everyone to live that sort of lifestyle. Nor would such a lifestyle be conducive to higher pursuits.
Now, as to economic democracy that is indeed one of the characteristics we've seen in several 'next level' visions in the comments and in posts above. One example given above was the Mondragon Corporation. Local food-coops are a smaller version, but all sharing the same co-op principles as Mondragon by being part of the international cooperative alliance. See this link for their statement of principles and values. The definition follows is: “A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” Such an enterprise still makes a 'profit' or surplus but that is used to invest in higher functions up the chain. For example, when someone has ownership and say in how his work is run he activates those higher functions instead of just making a buck doing something he hates just to get by.
I know, I hear some kennilinguists snickering that nothing ever gets done if we allow constant debate on every little business issue that comes up. But that is not how co-ops are run. It is run more like our political representative democracy combined with regular business practices. A board of directors is elected democratically by members and they set the high-end agendas and hire a business manager. The latter does all the hiring in line with the BOD directives and makes all the final business decisions. Employees are hired to fill jobs according to skill, training and experience and move up the ladder of increasing responsibility and pay according to merit and performance. But if the member have any problem with any of this they can bring it up at committee and or board meetings, air their grievances and get a democratic vote. But of course they cannot sabotage or vote out the core co-op principles, one of which is democratic ownership and control.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying democratic workplaces are the natural extension of democratic political structures. They might even be considered 'orange' in that sense instead of green, with the typical hierarchical corporate structure still adhering to the previous 'blue' feudal structures. Or in kennlingus we might phrase it that our economic line is at a lower level than our political line and it needs to catch up. We might even say that capitalism, if by that we mean private ownership and control, is the out-of-synch lower economic level that does not functionally fit our political reality.
We are in substantial agreement. I like that. It suggests there may be a common basis for an integrative economic transcendence of conventional capitalism. Like you, I see simplicity as a variable -- potentially a sign of strength and clarity but also potentially a sign of reductive withdrawal from the struggle to benevolently repattern the world on a broader scale of relationships. Likewise, the spirit of conservation & reduction can be either idealistic-reactionary or a natural tactical means of pursuing surpluses. The scale and complexity and multidimensional nature of the material that has to be developed calls, I think, for an "all chakras, all types" approach. My long-practiced Tantric sensibility suggests there will not be much widespread adoption of progressive habits unless they are able to both constrain and also seduce the "greedy" (both in society and within ourselves).
I also agree that nutrition puts us in the position to amplify our solar plexus and higher types of chakra conductivity. Pragmatically speaking, we must try to stabilize and empower people with modifications of our existing system in order to produce the openings necessary for further development. These modifications are inevitably a rethinking of rules or behavioral protocols such as law, tax code, voting procedures, legislative routines, etc.
The intensification of capacity-force in the quasi-metaphorical "solar plexus" is closely linked to the force of autonomy-in-communion that is offered by co-operative styles of economic enterprise. What Marx called “class consciousness” & Reich called “skills-consciousness” refers to a crucial sense of worth, capability and expectation which rises from a practice of having relevance and “ownership” in ones own affairs. And that in turn depends not only on having basic health, nourishment and safety but also a system of social protocols which is actually empowering... rather than one which is nominally empowering while it is acts to increasingly sequester resource control (and its accompanying consciousness) in a small fraction of the population.
In general, it seems to me, we are talking about the universal issue of "collective intelligence protocols”. In one sense, an autocrat is simply a very dumb group. Not only must a few parts of one person try to manage a system of vast networked complexity but everyone in the system (as Robert Anton Wilson always pointed out) is incentivized to deceive or minimize intelligence-sharing with the autocrat and his representatives. So a board of directors or a council of oligarchs, experts or executives is legitimately smarter -- but often not by much. The odds that a handful can "manage" is not much better than the odds that one man armed with overwhelming symbolic status can successfully navigate. Probably he/they will produce imbalances and periodic crashes no matter whether they are well intentioned or not... and they probably aren't.
But what is better than this? The notion of "democracy" gives us a hint but it remains a minimal presence in our lives. It is mostly confined to politics -- rather the the workplace or most of the other groups which actually structure our lives. It also runs the risk of reinstalling the autocrat under a new name. For what is the "majority" or the "consensus" except a dictator with better PR? Everywhere we look, we see the potential for smart groups being collapsed into partial and simplified and often unethical and unsuccessful decisions.
There are now many reasonably well known facts about how to get smarter results of out groups. Critical questions include (a) How is informed shared? (b) How it is compiled? (c) how it is enacted? (d) What are the actual qualifications of the participants in terms of understanding the elements in the decisions? (e) How great is the formal diversity of the participants?
We know, for example, that secret ballots elicit more intelligence and better choices from voters. That's why we do it in our general elections. But we don't do it in our legislatures??? We typically don't do it in our boardrooms? Or we confine voting to the "members" of a special status-bearing subgroup... whether they can demonstrate understanding of the topics of not. Etc. Etc.
There are many situations in which the decision-making protocols of corporate groups, while less fair, may be smarter and more agile than those of nation-states. When we look to cause the proliferation of democracy from politics into economy we must make sure that it is "smart democracy".
Like you, however, I am more than half-convinced that "capitalism" is an Amber throwback which inhibits the production of modern economies while claiming to be its very avatar -- not an uncharacteristic move for Amber... which claims all virtues and efficacy for anything that promotes its symbolic-traditional "type" of patterning. While plenty of Green must be expected in any area with co-operative phrasing the simple, individual-empowering rational and international mechanisms of democratized business seem quite resonant with the appearance of these same factors in national governance.
Other than corruption (the obvious influence of corporate monies to distort the political process) what do you think makes the governments of the "advanced nations" seeming in adequate to the challenge of more sanely, smartly, ethically and productively wrangling the patterns of economic organization which are constantly emerging?
What makes both governments and business respond is organized, effective social action by the masses. E.g., on a small scale when tuna companies were using certain netting practices that also killed large numbers of dolphins people boycotted tuna. It had a dramatic effect on their bottom line so that major companies quit doing and even advertised on their product dolphin-safe. But on a massive scale this last election demonstrated it much more emphatically. The Republicans had and continue to have a concerted campaign to disenfranchise minorities, the elderly and the youth, aka those who vote for the Democrat Party.* But this just served to activate these groups, along with a huge progressive ad campaign of its own, to ensure these constituents had the proper registration, get them to the polls and have them stand in line for up to 12 hours. It was a massive demonstration of how the people can overcome the enormous financial effort that went in to stopping their votes.
So as to what can get big business and government to change, the people can. What makes the former inadequate is the status quo, since they reap the benefits of increased power and money. But when they suck up so much of that that not only is there no surplus for the rest but woefully inadequate crumbs leftover starvation of both food and personal power get us off of our assess and into the streets. Ironically its the very greed of the power brokers that have as usual created such a drastic disparity in wealth distribution that the folk will gather up their pitchforks and retaliate, much like in the story of Frankenstein. Corporate capitalism, including the revolving government door that supports it, are this Frankenstein and their only motivation is when we come calling en masse with the pitchforks.
And lest I go on some NSA watchlist combing through meta-data, I mean metaphorically that we will activate via non-violent, peaceful demonstration and the kind of political action aforementioned that re-elected Obama. Despite how the the corporate-government capitalists have plotted and executed the disempowerment of the people we've proven time and again that when properly motivated, as we are now after heinous abuse, we are an unstoppable force for human rights and dignity. Workers unite! We shall prevail once again, but only if you get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.**
* And male no mistake, their agenda is not about preventing voter fraud, which has proven time and again to be a red herring. ALEC is behind this legislative assault and has openly admitted its true agenda.
I have very mixed feelings about this sentiment. It seems, all at once, to be both ideally practical & practically idealistic. Perhaps this double-impression simply results from how starkly it invokes the popular spirit of contemporary "democracy" -- in which many obvious liberations and subtle oppressions reside.
We have certainly come to expect that informed, mutually-supportive, social action of organized individuals, in defense of their well-being, ought to be the major driver of change. And that this change must apply itself to the rules of our capitalistic government & the behaviors of the governing bodies of our capital corporations.
So we rejoice in instances of successful fight. We are galvanized by situation in which the response of "the people" has actually mobilized effectively to thwart various obvious and highly-financed efforts that have attempted the strategic inhibition of the flow of intelligence through our system. It is noble and necessary to take this side and enter the fray. And it CAN work. But I also experience a yawing feeling of suspicion when I contemplate it. This significance of this feeling is in doubt. But here is what I am reminded of:
Where I live (British Columbia) we have tried, several times, to make a minimal improvement to our voting system. Single Transferable Vote is no panacea but it is a perfectly good start in the effort to make our system "smarter" -- better able to adapt to the intelligence of the people. There was massive electoral support from those who could demonstrate and understanding of how this would work. Yet it was soundly defeated by the mobilized efforts of people who either did not understand it or who (mostly rural citizens) felt a strong instinctive allegiance to the archaic pattern of "one man stands for one region". Certainly this benefits the status quo and certainly we can do a better job at educating people but all the same there is something very curious about this affair. The curious element seems to reside in the fact that both "the people" and "governing bodies" are largely empowered to take stands without any verification of comprehension.
On Charlie Rose I saw a member of the Federal oversight committee which gave the go-ahead to legitimize those fractionalized default credit-swaps which played such an insidious role in the "crash of '08". The fellow admitted to not actually understanding the proposal. And, he subsequently learned, none of his fellow committee members had really understood it either. Yet they could vote Yay or Nay. Totally without demonstrating a working comprehension of the referents of their decisions or feelings. So they "upload" intelligence which is non-intelligence. Like transfats making us sick by taking up the slots which healthy fats should occupy. Both in "the people" and in corporate and political governing bodies there are many of these kinds of faulty mechanisms which are constantly contributing to negative results. And structural issues almost never mobilize the people with the urgency to make the changes which would facilitate the capacity of people to cause benevolent changes.
Most of us would agree that political and corporate governance should (and can) be patterned for more general benefit by the organized popular response to the corrupting influence of those who benefit from imbalance. But we need a lot more than vocal fervor to amplify, clarify and edify the power of such movements.
1. How do we rely on the mobilization of the People in way that does not leave us prey to their potential ignorance, gullibility & capacity to be coerced? What distinguished mass action from mass reaction and mob action?
2. Which (potentially modifiable) elements of our existing political and economic habits make it most difficult for "the people" to change the system by their organized mobilization? And what can be done to overcome those potential limits?
I share your mixed feelings about “the people,” for it depends on their center of gravity (COG) as to whether their actions are beneficial or destructive. I will grant that for many the COG is not beneficial to most of us, i.e., society at large but more ethnocentric at best. This is in fact why conservative framing always tries to set up class, race and gender divisions, for a house divided is more easily manipulated to their own group-self interests instead of the whole. Meanwhile, back at the corporate headquarters, policies that in no way benefit either society as a whole or the so manipulated divided group interests are promulgated favoring the top 1% group-self while blatantly lying about their agenda and hiding their framing methodology.
So yes, this must be combated by manipulating the “the people” with progressive framing. Yes, it is still manipulation but it stems from a developmentally advanced view that truly is working for all people, not just interest groups. We might call it a post-conventional moral code. But we also know that there are not enough voters as this moral stage so in the meantime we need to get the votes of those not there, who are being manipulated anyway by the regressive spin meisters. The difference is that the later do so for their own good while the former do so for the good of all. The later lie, cheat and steal to get there while the former, even though spinning, bring in truth, compassion, humanity and facts. And interestingly enough, progressive framing within these parameters also serves the higher purpose of eventually lifting people up to next moral stage. Hence ‘manipulation’ becomes ‘education’ at the same time, the latter being a healthy form of the former to lift all boats.
Hence those two methods are key to raise up the general public. It seems the Obama campaign and progressives generally actually listened to Lakoff on progressive framing this time around in formulating their messages. That it was also successful in several House and Senate campaigns despite the humongous onslaught of regressive money and negative framing was encouraging. Hence we have better chances of getting policy enacted that actually helps float all boats, which boats then have the surplus to advance through education and more postconventional moral codes. The key though is in the frame and its honest use by morally postconventional leaders leading their flocks to liberation and justice for all.
I know, again there is some hesitation by relying of the good will of the enlightened and progressive few. That such influence might lead to their own power abuses. Too true. But that’s where the rest of the progressive moral minority like each of us come in, by keeping our elected progressives honest and true to their humanitarian service. We too need to use framing to keep their frames in line. Hence the power of the word via rhetoric is a most effective sword in our ongoing struggle. Or as I prefer to call it, rhetaphor, using semiotics to communicate, persuade, even incite each of us to apply our surpluses for the benefit of society at large, which benefits ourselves in the process. And yes, to so manipulate those who as yet have not the surplus to grok this agenda. Agent provocateur indeed.
We have covered a lot of ground and should keep going in order to traverse and map as much of this crucial terrain as is possible. Yet we might also want to engage in some synthesizing summaries. Surely the world is not over-saturated with integral economics manifestos? So tell me what needs to be added or modified in the following item:
Naturally, the first basic principle of any Integral Economics is an upwardly evolutionary flow of surplus -- inside & out. There must be widespread surpluses of around, among and within us in order to thrive. To thrive is to allow the pattern of our wealthiness to unfoldy more widely, deeply and intelligently in all ways. A general raising is necessary.
For human beings to get more generally enriched we must make the best fit of all the different real stages of human economic development. The integral planetary economy needs to have all of its internal organs intact, organized and contributing. These stages must be protected, enhanced & transcended. Not just at once but in a reliable and ongoing fashion. Such integration requires that they each be clarified and purified. Such refinement would distinguish between the minimal necessary pieces of each stage rather than elements that are merely contingent or worryingly self-destructive. They will become more adaptable to interlinking with their ancestors and predecessors.
Among the necessary components of each emergent layer of economic understanding:
1. The capacity to attract & receive surpluses from more simplistic systems, and
2. Ability to root itself in our psychology, our bodies, our environments, and even our meaningless and sacred habits while harmonizing them in a maximum healthy balance.
3. The adaptive capacity to permit and encourage people and surpluses to go to the next stage.
Upward flows like these depend upon their own most fundamental conditions. They are also endangered by group activity which is parasitic upon the economy, namely: the excessive capturing of ascending resources into narrow channels of their own control. Therefore the most primitive and essential integral economic action must be to secure and enrich the wealth of material control, both in quantity and quality, for the greatest span of human beings while also mobilizing aggressively to thwart and disempower those agencies which are intentionally or unintentionally profiting from the legal or illegal reduction of generalized material well-being among human beings, and the psychological, social and systematic requirements thereof.
The second basic principle of any integrative economics is the downward flow of truly useful, humanly benevolent and more practically insightful artifacts. These include but are not limited to:
The third basic principle is a thorough but radical critique of the existing situation of the planetary economy. Today the exemplary icon of captured-upward-flows and resistance-to-higher-types-of-intelligence is: trans-national corporations. Like the worst side of organized religion, these groups are predictably predisposed to distort both the economy and the thinking patterns of those within it. Lobbying, revolving doors between business and government and "contributions" are very definition of corruption.
When a modern economy is corrupt, toxic or obstructed is tends to behave as if it were premodern. Regression restores feudal-oligarchic sensibility. Societies that become destabilized or overly stressed tend to regroup into simpler forms where they hope to secure a more functional balanced between knowledge, instincts and tensions. To counteract this we must not only provide for a more balanced and healthy form of medieval patriotism-culture but also make sure that authentically modern social and ethical emotions are driving the arrangement of the systems we arrange ourselves into using our modern tools.
All of the above tasks must make maximum practical use of all opportunities to modify the existing legal, marketplace, educational and tax codes to skew them in the direction of general surplus in both quantity and quantity.
Okay, what would those paragraphs have to accommodate in themselves in order to really be THE definitive statement on integral economics?
To take a step back, this post in the horror thread brought up an issue. It has to do with the process of initiation and this old essay, “Giving guns to children.” Joe brought up a good point in the horror thread about putting ideas into general circulation, ideas that can be misunderstood and misused. Especially ideas that seem obscene, pornographic, shocking or the like. The deeper meaning of such ideas--assuming there is such a meaning; it might just be base porn—goes over the head of the uninitiated public so they respond with scorn or over-indulgence, etc. Hence the process of an initiatory ordeal is to not only provide the shock of opening one’s system but also the environment to contextualize and give it meaning. It is a controlled environment that shocks responsibly, as it were. Each level of initiation is thus another shock to the system, changing one’s worldview time and again. And it takes a shock to do so, to completely upend one’s comfort zone so as to enter the dark night of the soul and come out again. Or in kennilingus, one moves from fusion to differentiation before one can integrate what came before.
Now in the guns essay the usual kennilingus seminar back in ’04, when I-I was cutting its baby teeth, provided an initiation of sorts. I say of sorts because there was no ordeal involved, just intellectual information provided. A new view was provided but there was no challenge, no test, no shock to get the information. All of which involves many other aspects of psyche, from imagination to will to imagery to smell and sound, etc. Without this complete initiatory process of opening the entire psyche a new view just doesn’t take. All that has been accomplished is to provide an intellectual overlay to one’s existing view. In this case we have given some integral management techniques to capitalist overlords who use it to increase ‘productivity,’ meaning longer work hours for less pay while treating labor like a commodity to be used up, discarded and replaced.
Another aspect of the initiatory process missing from such workshops is the commitment required up front to dedicate oneself to the new program and the ongoing testing to prove oneself time and again in the eyes of those who have come before. It’s an ongoing process of continual learning, examination and when ready, further initiatory ordeals. Without all of that it again just reinforces where one already is, not where one needs to go. And as I argued in the guns essay, it seems that this poor excuse of an initiatory ‘cult’ is itself indicative of the capitalistic worldview, caught in its formal operational web of ‘reasons’ only without the integrations of the other ‘psychic’ aspects, a general term meaning the body, emotions, imagination etc. I.e., kennilingus corporate workshops are themselves not an integral initiatory process that actually changes views to the next level, largely because such kennilingus is itself not at the integral level, being based on false reason. Yes, the theory has the ingredients but the practice has not yet implemented and integrated them because there was no ordeal to breakdown the formop. If you pay your money you get the ideas, the only requirement necessary. Like money and ideas is all it takes?
I know, I hear the refutation. If we did all that no one would ever buy our product and we’d starve to death. Not so. Is Harvard starving to death because it has such high admission standards? And such high standards to maintain enrollment? Their testing to move to the next grade is arduous in the extreme. How much more so then should be the move to the next level of human evolution? If you want to sell an elite product that produces elite human beings it better be damned hard to get in and stay in. And cost and involve a lot more than just money and the ability to vomit words back in your face.
I do not know how the business of selling kennilingus seminars is going these days; I don’t keep up with it. I’m just wondering if it has changed to take some of these processes into account, as well as the ideas in the guns essay. Anyone out there care to update me? It is certainly one of the things we need to implement in moving to an integral economic paradigm.
Okay, let's shift focus from "integral anti/capitalism" to the capitalist patterns and limitations of the "business of integralism". An important topic. Hopefully, we'll get back to the half-serious, half-whimsical, notion of summing ourselves up manifesto-style.
Individual cash-for-concepts transactions have some inherent limitations. One is that they encourage the populist consumer fantasy of direct, easy-to-understand assimilation of higher-stage evolutionary wisdom. The false democratic instinct which levels all knowledge, etc. Criticisms of this kind are well known. Uncle Gurdjieff famously critiqued this as the main evil of modern civilization -- what he call "journalism" and "bon ton" language. The majority of such signals are sequestered and seemingly quarantined by the social personality rather than being allowed access into deeper regions of the individual being.
Another problem is that such transaction promote highly fragmented relationship patterns... the individual book buyer, or seminar attendee, is not dynamically entered into a new circle of humanity. So while these are not problems exclusive to integral business, nor are they absolute limits of any kind, they are certainly areas of concern.
Whether or not we are thinking of "initiatory ordeals", we must certainly be thinking about:
(a) the general perils and limits of superficial communications
(b) the ever present challenge of having higher-stage data co-opted by lower-level comprehension structures... even in people who are capable of engaging higher patterns.
(c) the twin challenges of producing and valuing elite materials while also freely and potently promoting widespread embodied community.
There may be, as some have said, a "psychotropic" effect just from exposure to the words, concepts and maps of higher stages. Terrific. But this is often unfortunately minimal. We must ask what would amplify its power? Does it require hurdles, stresses, shocks, immersions, pledges? New names? Shaved heads? At the very least all that stuff suggests a kind of direction...
I am such an impoverished curmudgeon & hermit that I have never taken an integral seminar or workshop (although I have informally led a few). My sense is that their primary function is not exactly to provide an intellectual overlay -- but rather to provide some conceptual tools to people who already have a grab bag of integrative insights and feelings. It elicits a little clarity, stability and potential sociability among people who already have one foot in the water. As Lakoff might say, it stimulates already existing and more desirable parts of their psyche. So that's a great function. But in many ways it is also a small function.
The capacity of social engagements and economic transactions to transmit integral wisdom is limited by (not to sound like a broken record!) the level of sophistication of the collective intelligence protocols used formally by the group. AND also by the degree to which group members actually work together on something for mutual benefit... a life-task with the "information" as a backdrop.
Experiential sessions are a start. Guided glimpses are good. The quasi-therapeutic exposure of the internal contradictions which inhibit growth and alignment would be great. And maybe certain overt gestures of self-overcoming (initiatory ordeals) to convince the unconscious mind of the importance of the material. Such conviction may allow significant re-patterning of the self toward more inclusive and radiant attractors. But, crucially, there is the simple matter of people operating together in a human fashion rather than a consumer-student fashion. A class taught on a hike might be considered superior to whatever can be learned in a room full of chairs. Or cleaning up the park. Or building a barn. All that classic sort of thing.
Integral exists, in the material-economic sense, only when people are combined in its name (in the intuition of the meanings of its symbols) to be of general human benefit and also direct material benefit to themselves as a group. This is still nascent in our civilization.
The type of capitalism that trading ideas for money can only "get the word out" in very limited ways. Such transactions are limited by their structure and context.
We absolutely need to be arranging for material support for people entering and traversing "higher worldspaces". This is as, or more, critical than selling the story, selling the map, etc. I am as guilty as anyone of gravitating to books, talks and meditation classes. But it is just as practical to rent living quarters from an overtly integral landlord. To work with progressive food cooperatives. Not just helter skelter, however an individual can manage, but with the encouragement and organizational assistance of "official integraldom".
Why is there no "integral ebay" or "integral dating services"? These only half-flippant suggestions would expand the variety of bio-material integral business without being as sequestered by the usual patterns of capitalism. Many theorists might suggest that the the implicit structural logic of our general economy wants no challengers, prefers spiritual-but-not-religious, creates deep morphic grooves which lead the advanced thinkers and experiencers into self-minimizing patterns of social exchange. Spooky.
Theurj, you mention the high standards of Harvard as being no obstacle to getting students and student monies. What commonalities do you think exist between setting a high bar for elite products, establishing initiatory ideals & trying to get beyond the "commercial classroom" to ground integrative wisdom in the unconscious mind, heart and bodies of people in real communities? All of these seem to share a need to surpass the limiting idealism of trading individual dollars for the capacity to regurgitate half-comprehended patterns from higher-stages. And "half" might be putting it generously...
Joseph’s last post in another thread on open source (OS) is thought provoking. Balancing OS with an initiatory system is quite a challenge, since the latter has been conducted in secret for most of its history lest the teachings be profaned and misappropriated. With open source availability to any and all information, and the ability to do what we will with it in the hopes that we’ll find our way to an individual, creative and societally useful expression, is at best naïve and at worst dangerous. Still, open source is the wave of the emerging paradigm, economic or otherwise, so how do we temper the legitimate concerns?
Again I’ll use the example of a school system, free public education in grades K-12. This is an open source educational model, free of charge, recognizing the need for inculcating societal mores as well as intellectual development capable of civic duty like responsible voting and obtaining a productive job. While the information is free and openly available there is still an initiatory system in place. One starts in K by learning their alphabet and their numbers, etc. One gets feedback from a teacher and graded on their progress, and is required to make sufficient progress in various subjects to move on to the next grade. One doesn’t have to get all A’s; C’s will pass one along. Everyone has equal opportunity here but not equal results.* Still, the K-12 educational system is open source and in some ways similar to an initiatory system.
Where the latter is different and the public educational system can learn is in training other aspects of the human being, not just their intellectual capacity. As one small example, the use of imagery in learning, as well as music, chant, movement. Granted these things have been staples of public education for eons but the recent trend has been to defund such programs and remove them from the curriculum. We’ve even seen trends to remove the likes of critical thinking courses. We’ve come to just want trained workers so they get vocational training. Without a well-rounded education they find themselves in jobs without the other skills and training to fulfill the rest of their lives. Hence consumerism is what’s left.
And then there is ‘spirituality.’ That’s a tough one for public education because a landmark of the Enlightenment has been the separation of church and state. And spirituality goes into the religion bin, and that just cannot be taught in public schools. So we let that aspect of our lives be indoctrinated by churches and/or esoteric orders, which are again ‘schools’ with teachers and grades and tests, all necessary. Or course we are also familiar with the many abuses here, given that with this particular topic we are dealing with God, Reality and other ultimates, not just how to do a better mundane job or recite poetry. And with this field comes immense power over not just education but entire lives and souls.
So first thing is of course to implement postmetaphysicality into spirituality. One aspect of that is to remove the illusion that we can come to know directly what God wants of us, the universe and everything. And/or perhaps that there even is a God as traditionally conceived. We’ve seen time and again where this metaphysical path leads and it is not pretty. We can still have the 'spiritual' without God or such metaphysics. But it is of an entirely different breed.
Hence this forum is one avenue for exploring how this might come to be. And open source. And within a sanctified generative (en)closure. And within a pluralistic community of the adequate that provides feedback and direction.And P2P. And distributed. We are integral postmetaphysical spirituality. And right here, right now, we are part of the solution.
* A recurrent liberal argument on this point is that if one comes from a poor family with insufficient money for adequate nutrition, there are not getting a true equal opportunity. Hence the need for raising minimum wages to living wages so that such families, whose parents may have only got the C’s and have lower-wage jobs (not equal results) still earn enough to feed their families properly to give their children the opportunity to do better.
The principle of holarchy is another way of discussing our need to have a system that is both "open source" & "initiatory". Broad, flexible access must combine effectively with graduated competencies and meaningful specializations. I think you are quite correct in pointing out that the idealized version of our collectively funded ("free") public education system is a good example of a functional hybrid of this type. Perhaps it has more general applicability to both business and evolutionary-spiritual endeavors.
For such a system to be successful, it must both maximize throughput (competently get a lot of people to higher levels) and be of significant benefit to those who do not migrate to higher levels.
As people move through such a system they must discover that their opportunities are clearly but non-oppressively varying in response to their effort and their "type". Yet in order to get such a system moving in the first place there has yet to be a practical or moral substitute for the nation-state -- requiring a minimum functional basis upon wihch the education of citizens make occur. For the system to run efficiently, everyone must be -- at least in principle -- guaranteed a living wage, health services and access to preferentially beneficial resources. I say preferentially because we do not instinctive invest surpluses in healthy ways... especially if unhealthy things are easy to access. Having sufficient money is critical... but totally inadequate to guarantee that nutrient is being consumed or that basic physical and neurological exercise is occurring.
We should take heart from the fact that the public school system has actually periodically functioned well. It was never designed to produce well-educated, competent citizenry. It was devised as a quasi-oppressive factor for throwaway citizens... but the illusion of its potential role has always haunted us. It haunts us still. As Nietzsche would tell us, hypocrisy is not the enemy of truth. It is the seed of what could be. We have made gains and suffered losses, left behind much that was good and bad, prioritized much that is functional and dysfunctional. We need an intelligent principle upon which to discriminate among possible approaches to education.
This is especially true in the most critical and significant area: "spirituality". Every term in such a field is contested. And we must be able to unearth and tease apart the developmental from the static versions of everything. One "god" is not the same another "god" any more then all calorie sources can be treated as equal in our diet. Clearly a post-metaphysical approach to spirituality must be the framework of the system. But that cannot be imposed upon participants. They require technologies which accelerate people to a inner stage in which post-metaphysical is something they can comprehend and hunger for.
The adjunct to that is the development of a generic "proto-way" -- a set of skills and practices which is (and is advertised to be) a means of getting better at any path one chooses. Spirituality must be stripped down to those factors which make a real organic Christian, a real organic Mohammedan, a functional Buddhist, a profound atheist, a transcendental agnostic-humanist, etc.
But we have perhaps swayed a little from economics!
How could these hybrid systems we've been discussing function at the level of business. Can profitable companies be set up that are somewhat like the school system or the French foreign legion... where they take most everyone, train them, use them according to their capability and temperament while also demanding their improvement? Who is already doing something like this?
What companies are doing something like this? We’ve already mentioned the Mondragon Corporation and co-ops. But in terms of a company with an integrally informed bent, how about Brian Robertson’s organization (referenced here), HolacracyOne? It operates on the principles of holacracy, which is explained at the referenced site. I’ve had my complaints with this system in the past (like here) but it is a least a valiant attempt at incorporating some of our characteristics into business. For example: distributed leadership, purposeful work, full-person development, supporting human potential, worker input/feedback, more equitable distribution of salaries. This link is a video about the relation of holacracy with integral theory. Perhaps we could explore this for just a bit?
I agree that holacracy should be singled out... uh oh... we have just officially exceeded the limit of an post!