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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Commemorating 9/11: Integral Politics

September 11, 2009 2 comments

As a way to commemorate this sad and tragic day in world history, i thought i would take a moment to compile some of the more provocative and politically-oriented audio, video, and written materials from Integral Life. It is my hope that the knowledge and insight gleaned from this content can help each of us hold the impossible heartbreak of the world’s pain in our open and tender hearts, offering our most compassionate blessings to every man, woman, and child who continues to struggle under the weight of our brutally fragmented world.

Note: I’ve decided to make many of these pieces available for free for the very first time, so that you can feel free to share and circulate them however you wish.

 
 

A Tale of Four Americas

Corey W. deVos & Clint Fuhs

A Tale of Four Americas takes a look at the political dynamics and cultural perspectives that influence every part of the Republican and Democratic parties. It explores the ideological divides that exist within each party, and offers a simple map to help make sense of these seemingly conflicting beliefs.

Integral Trans-Partisan Politics

Ken Wilber, written by Corey W. deVos

Ken Wilber discusses the many problems facing the emergence of a genuinely Integral “Third-Way” political party, most notably the issue of developmental elitism, and offers a remarkably simple-but-effective definition of the political Left and Right.

The Deconstruction of the World Trade Center

Ken Wilber

In this fascinating footnote to the book Boomeritis, written in 2002, Ken discussions the many sorts of reactions people had to the tragedy of 9/11, while also presenting a theoretical framework within which a genuinely Integral approach to politics and governance might emerge.

Politics in the 21st Century

Jim Garrison & Ken Wilber, written by Corey W. deVos

In this fascinating 3-part dialogue between Ken Wilber and chairman and president of the State of the World Forum Jim Garrison, the topics range from the increasingly dangerous crises happening around the globe to America’s transition from republic to empire to the ability for Integral consciousness to face the precarious challenges of the 21st century head on.

Is an Integral World Federation Possible?

Ken Wilber

Here Ken discusses the work that is being done by Integral Institute, Integral Life, and Jim Garrison’s State of the World Forum to help move toward a genuine integral “World Federation” government—one capable of meeting the complex and tightly-interconnected nature of our 21st-century problems with the clarity, compassion, and decisiveness they require.

The Integral-Political Imperative

James S. Turner & Ken Wilber, written by Corey W. deVos

In this three-part series, James Turner, a founding pioneer in Integral forms of law, politics, and federal regulation talks with Ken about his days with Ralph Nader, 18th-century American political history, the essential ingredients of an Integral approach to politics, and the meaning of “trans-partisan” politics.

One Person, One Vote—One Catch

Ken Wilber

Here Ken discusses the dangers of “one person, one vote” approaches to democracy. If we consider the fact that people grow through three major stages of development—ego-centric, ethno-centric, and world-centric—and then try to get a sense of where the majority of the people current exists, we find that nearly 70% of the world’s population remains at an ethno-centric stage or lower. Democracy is inherently a world-centric system of governance, and “one person, one vote” an ideal way to enact the democratic process. But if the majority of the voters have not themselves achieved a world-centric level of consciousness, it begins to fall apart pretty quickly, with effects as broad as Kansas banning the teaching of evolution to the democratic election of Hamas in Palestine—even the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (aka the Nazis) came into power through a plurality election in 1933. Although one does not garner a tremendous amount of popularity criticizing the “one person, one vote” ethic, without a sophisticated understanding of how this system of governance actually plays itself out in the real world, and without finding some way to limit the influence of pre-rational beliefs and mob-rule, democracy can actually become the last best hope for fascism in the 21st century.

Spiral Dynamics and the Palestine/Israel Conflict

Don Beck & Jeff Salzman

Here Don offers an intimate glimpse into his own life and career. He discusses the current phase of his work: traveling the world and applying Spiral Dynamics to various geo-political “hotspots” all over the planet. He offers his own ideas about healthy models of society, the crucial distinction between stages of consciousness and the contents of those stages, and the importance of preserving many of the early stages of development that are so often seen as primitive and obsolete. He then goes into considerable depth around the specifics of the Palestine-Israel conflict, describing the needs and problems on both sides of the divide, his hands-on involvement with both nations, and the remarkable receptivity with which his work has been met. At a time when tensions in the Middle East can seem so hopelessly combustible, it is encouraging to see Integral seeds being planted in such surprisingly fertile soil, offering us all a much-needed exhale as we wait to see how evolution will continue playing itself out in this difficult region of the world.

The Middle East: Leveling the Laws of the Land

Ken Wilber

In this video, Ken is asked about one of the most difficult and pressing issues of our time: the violence in the Middle East. How can the West help influence the overall growth of the Middle East, from renegade states to civil societies? Do democratic solutions have any chance of helping a region which, to quote Winston Churchill, “continues to produce more history than it can possibly digest”?

Is the Future Spinning Out of Control?

Ken Wilber

“Is everything spinning out of control?” asked an Associated Press article in Summer 2008. Between rising flood waters in the Midwest, drowning polar bears in the far North, skyrocketing gas prices, plummeting home values, and endless wars on multiple fronts, the future does not seem to be living up to its promise—a promise envisioned since the détente of the Cold War and the proclamation of George H.W. Bush’s “New World Order.” From an Integral altitude, what can we make of the future?

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Here Be Dragons: Conspiracy Theory and the Power Elite

August 21, 2009 8 comments

Someone recently posted a blog in the Integral Life community titled “Perhaps There is a Big Elephant in the Integral Room,” in which Brent Simpson asks:

“Over the last few months I have come across Alex Jones. His views to say the least are radical. He is positing that the government (at the highest levels)… is already non-left/right (Something Wilber pushes for & I believe could be wonderfully powerful if just people run the show). Jones’ view is that however, the left/right paradigm is a hoax it is used as a means to rile people into partisan thought. Where in reality the control is really coming from banking elite. Wacky right? I agree… it sounds/is far out. But, the far out-ness of it does not on its own negate its possibility of truth. As truth claims must be empirically looked into right?

Here’s the scary thing… he in my view provides some real suggestive evidence that there may well be some real truths to what he has to say. The stuff is far out no doubt… but it requires personal inquiry to ascertain if such important info is or isn’t true.

Look for yourself: http://www.infowars.com & http://www.prisonplanet.com”

Brian Oconnell responded by saying:

“Too much reality might make Integral’s and Ken’s Vision have to be revised. The LR would look much different with the truths your pointing to…. Integral thinks it has a grasp of the LR. But does not understanding banking 101. Integral needs a LR awakening and quick before the Elite blob takes over Integral hopes.”

Here was my response.

As a life-long enthusiast of conspiracy theory, i’ve kept an eye on everything from Alex Jones to the Masons, to the Bilderbergers, and all the way to glass domes on the moon, structures on Mars, ancient astronauts, and various forms of (occasionally illicit) extraterrestrial liaison.  Not only is it wildly entertaining to wrap interesting mythologies around the complexity of modern life, it’s also a great way to remind myself of everything i don’t know—and i personally think that it is extremely important for even our best maps of reality to acknowledge the mind boggling mystery at the periphery of understanding, dark seas of incomprehension scribed with warnings that plainly read: “Here Be Dragons.”

The problem with most conspiracy theory is that, when followed through to the end with a critical eye, any particular theory ends up appearing hopelessly naive.  However, it is equally naive to think that, in a world with as dramatically imbalanced a distribution of wealth as ours, there are no conspiracy theories at all.  American and European history has been decidedly influenced by a plethora of secret societies, each with its own sphere of influence, control, and power.  Let’s be clear—those with the most wealth and power will almost always manipulate the system so they can maintain that power.  And they use tactics that have been in play since at least the Roman Empire—even the Babylonian, if you listen to Alex Jones.  But, outside the world of comic books and caped crusaders (the Guild of Calamitous Intent notwithstanding), it is hard to imagine any single room of people powerful enough (or competent enough with their power) to successfully manipulate and control the thoughts and values of over six billion individual agents around the world.

Conspiracies certainly exist, but no prison is strong enough to confine Eros.

Much of the confusion, i believe, is due to an unnecessary personification of the “nexus-agency” of the lower right quadrant—e.g. Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”—there is a very real “intelligence” to the LR quadrant, a self-organizing force that we have begun to intuit, but have found difficult to account for (at least before Ken Wilber’s four-quadrant map made it explicit)—and while looking for some way to “ground” this LR intelligence in the real world, we naturally project it onto the power elite.  After all, if there anyone who could influence the political, industrial, military, and entertainment worlds, it would certainly be the top .0001% of the wealthiest people in the world.  But to think that any of them would be capable of subverting more than 500 years of individual liberty, enslaving the free-thinkers of the world under some sort of monolithic New World Order aegis of global totalitarianism (as Alex Jones suggests) is hopelessly naive, and radically overestimates our own sway on the forces of evolution in this lonely pocket of the galaxy.

It reminds me of my favorite argument against those who believe the Bush administration was responsible for 9/11*—do you really think that those responsible for the FEMA, Guantanamo Bay, and Iraqi WMD fiascos could really carry out an operation as incomprehensibly complex as a 9/11 coverup?**

As to Brian’s comment that “the LR would look much different with the truths you’re pointing to”—would it really?  Isn’t this thirst for wealth and power pretty much covered by the “Red” stage of development?  And isn’t it made pretty explicit that any level of cognition can be hijacked by ego-centric values, and that these power-hungry values can even be dressed up (double-speak style) with the language of pretty much any other stage of values?  While i agree that the integral treatment of political science has remained highly abstract and conceptual, and its real-world implementation needs to take into account the fact that the power elite and the developmental elite seem to share almost no overlap whatsoever, i don’t think our distribution of wealth and power does anything to “break” the integral model.  I also think it can accommodate the concept of “esoteric” and “exoteric” power dynamics as they exist today and throughout history, which is what most political conspiracy theory concerns itself with.

Again, i think it is foolish to believe any given conspiracy theory, on it’s own merit.  The truth is too big, too complex, and most likely too compartmentalized for even the conspirators themselves to fully understand.  And it is easy to become seduced by the sorts of generalizations people like Alex Jones throw around so easily, such as the idea that distinctions between the American Right and Left are mere Illuminati illusions—one only needs to look at the deeply-embedded culture wars of America to see that, on an ideological level, the Left and the Right represent some very real distinctions of modern political thought.  That is, even if the American political system has been manipulated on a structural level by the power elite, it is still inhabited by a plurality of different perspectives—some red, some amber, some orange, some green, some teal, and some turquoise.  Some valuing individualist libertarianism, some collectivist socialism.  Some emphasizing interior values, some emphasizing exterior conditions.  Some socially liberal, some socially conservative; some fiscally liberal, some fiscally conservative.  Again, although i agree that the integral community still needs to find more pragmatic interpretations of real-world power dynamics, we already have all the conceptual tools we need to do so—we just need to continue unfolding the map and unpacking some of these insights.

Personally, i have noticed that i have grown far less interested in conspiracies of imprisonment, and more interested in conspiracies of jailbreak—that is, if any one of the thousands of possible conspiracies was actually true, it would be extraterrestrial contact that would have the potential of radically reconfiguring our integral maps.  Nothing would stretch our definitions of the word “integral” more than interplanetary contact.  Just a couple weeks ago at Ken’s loft, he said something along the lines of “right now in history, we have the biggest opportunity we will ever have to integrate all the world’s knowledge and to get a real sense of the universal—until we make extraterrestrial contact, when we will have to compare our integrated world-truth with all the other integrated world-truths that are out there.”  But we don’t even need to be so visionary—i think that even finding a single microorganism in the seas of Europa would be enough to galvanize a massive upswell of human consciousness, as we would have a new symbolic “other” by which to contrast a new global sense of “us.”

You can almost smell the pot fumes with this sort of dorm-room philosophizing ^_^

* Which is an entirely different group of people than those who believe the Bush administration wasn’t directly responsible for executing the 9/11 attacks, but knew it was going to happen and allowed it to, precipitated by Cheney’s confession that we “need” a “new Pearl Harbor”—which i find to be a far more believable accusation.

** Just so i don’t come off as a typical liberal Bush-basher (though it can sometimes seem like shooting whales in a barrel) i will say in self-defense that i am horribly disappointed that the media has been ignoring the admirable success of his AIDS work in Africa, as it’s been recently estimated that his actions are responsible for saving the lives of over one million people.  It was a shining diamond in the eight-year rough that should receive far more acknowledgment than it does.  For some reason i doubt very much that Dick Cheney was closely involved in that one.  (Yes, i am a typical liberal Cheney basher.)

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Iran: Evolution, Revolution, or Regression?

August 4, 2009 2 comments

(Note: this was originally written on June 22, 2009.)

Iran, a nation that has spent the last century struggling to make its way into the modern world, now finds itself beset on all sides by massive internal and external pressures.  An enormous amount of civil unrest has been ignited during the recent 2009 presidential election, a response to apparent voter fraud that has crippled one of the few stable modern structures found in present-day Iran.  A maelstrom of cultural, political, economic, religious, and historic forces conspire to turn one of history’s proudest and most colorful cultures into a volatile powder-keg in the 21st century—and if we have learned anything at all from these past 10 days, it is simply that a fuse has now been lit.  What happens next is almost anyone’s guess—will Iran find a way to evolve its own political systems?  Will it retain its currently theocratic status quo?  Or will the country begin to fall apart altogether?

Iran is home to one the world’s oldest continuous civilizations, stretching more than 7000 years into the dawn of pre-history, with a profound heritage of Persian philosophy, art, science, mathematics, literature, and astronomy—a heritage that in many ways forms the cornerstone of Islamic civilization.  Geographically, Iran is located at the outer tip of the “Fertile Crescent,” a swath of rich soil that also cuts through present-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Kuwait, Jordan, and Turkey.  Often referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization,” it is a region where both writing and the wheel were first discovered, and represents the geographic origin point from which all of human society has descended.  Iran shares this legacy as the Womb of the World—a womb that is again suffering violent contractions, shaking the foundations of civilization and rattling our very notions of freedom, justice, and human dignity.

This shaking of the foundations has yielded an interesting effect: it is as if a massive earthquake has struck, exposing the geological strata of consciousness and culture in the process.  And here is where an Integral analysis of the Iranian conflict is truly paramount: in order to fully understand what is going on, we must identify these psychological and cultural strata as separate layers of cultural and psychological development, and recognize that at the heart of the Iranian struggle lies the very same conflict experienced by all industrialized nations around the world—the painful and typically bloodstained transition from traditional to modern values.

Integral theory suggests a wide spectrum of conscious and cultural development, a synthesis of more than 50 years of collective research from the world’s foremost thinkers in the fields of psychology, anthropology, social sciences, etc.  There is an evolutionary arc that guides our interior growth through increasing waves of morality, complexity, and shared worldviews—ranging from archaic, to magic, to mythic, to rational, to pluralistic, to integral levels of development, and beyond.  Philosopher Ken Wilber has designed an elaborate color-coded system to track these major stages of growth, which you will find summarized at the bottom of this page.

While this sort of 50,000-foot view of human development is essential to our understanding of current and historic realities in Iran, we cannot allow ourselves to become lost in such generalized abstraction.  Like a finely crafted quilt, it is best to admire each individual square and the overall pattern tying the squares together—that is, while the conflict between traditional and modern forces is universal to sufficiently-advanced societies, the particulars of those conflicts vary greatly among different cultures, different geopolitical locations, and different points in history.  The American Civil War, the French Revolution, the Spanish Inquisition, the rise and fall of the Japanese Empire, and the current strife in Iran—all of these share the very same inherent source of conflict (the developmental divide between traditional and modern stages development), but have all played themselves out very differently according to the needs, conditions, and technologies of the time.  We must explore those details of the Iranian struggle that are truly unique to this region and this era, demonstrating how the rubber of Integral theory can hit the road of real-life emergence.

Although we certainly hope to see Iran blossom into a legitimate modern civilization, bringing the mighty Persian empire into a new era of historic significance, it must be a distinctly Iranian form of modernization, rather than being forced upon them by the Western world.  If recent years in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us anything at all, it is that modern democracy cannot be simply exported and imposed upon foreign peoples—it must arise organically from within its own historic context, the result of a developmental tipping-point of modern and moderate voices coming to the forefront of society.  It is not enough to spout the platitudes of Western liberalism to foreign societies who do not share our history, nor to hope that the iconic struggles of the American forefathers will hold any resonance whatsoever in distant lands. They must discover and express these things for themselves, find their own unique embodiment of the rational wisdom found in Thomas Jefferson’s famous quip: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”


Originally published on Integral Life – Iran: Evolution, Revolution, or Regression? (w/ Steve McIntosh, Jeff Salzman, and Robb Smith)

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Integral Trans-Partisan Politics

August 4, 2009 6 comments

While surveying the current American political landscape, it can be easy to feel as though the country is divided into two radically opposing populations: the Left and the Right. When watching the speeches, interviews, and debates on either side of the fence, there is such an incredible difference between the tone, rhetoric, and messages coming from the two major political parties that many pundits have commented that it is as though we live in two utterly different Americas, with very little overlap between the two. But the truth is, we do not live in two Americas, but in a single America composed of at least four or five different sets of values, all crammed together into a two-party political system that is becoming increasingly incapable of representing these wildly different perspectives. Many are beginning to recognize this systemic inadequacy and are searching for a genuinely Integral “Third Way” politics—a new way to break free from the restrictions of such rigidly calcified party lines, transcending both sides of the partisan divide, including the very best of both parties, without resorting to the effete compromise of mere centrism that has been typical of the political “Third Way” to date.

In order to fully understand and appreciate the different sets of values and beliefs that make up the flesh and bones of America, we must allow ourselves to step back and take a developmental view of American culture—one which can make sense of the full spectrum of perspectives that are currently at play in the political arena, while also being able to account for America’s rich political history, as the oldest functioning democracy in the world.

The premise of this sort of developmental view is simple: people evolve. As people evolve, they move through a particular sequence of stages, a sequence that has been long studied by Western psychologists and has been found to be essentially universal to every culture in the world. Taking a developmental view accounts for the “multiple intelligences” every human being possesses, including cognitive development and intelligence, values and beliefs, charisma and interpersonal skills, etc. There is a long list of these different sorts of intelligences, each growing along its own particular developmental track, but there is enough congruence in their overall development that we can begin to take a meta-view of our growth and development by using a very simple concept known as “Altitude.” Altitude is essentially a barometer of overall human growth, which uses the color spectrum to denote several major stages of development—each of which has slowly evolved over the course of human history, though still very much at play in today’s world:


Magenta (egocentric, magic): Magenta Altitude began about 50,000 years ago, and tends to be the home of egocentric drives, a magical worldview, and impulsiveness. It is expressed through magic/animism, kin-spirits, and such. Young children primarily operate with a magenta worldview. Magenta in any line of development is fundamental, or “square one” for any and all new tasks. Magenta emotions and cognition can be seen driving such cultural phenomena as superhero-themed comic books or movies.


Red (ego- to ethnocentric, egoic): The Red Altitude began about 10,000 years ago, and is the marker of egocentric drives based on power, where “might makes right,” where aggression rules, and where there is a limited capacity to take the role of an “other.” Red impulses are classically seen in grade school and early high school, where bullying, teasing, and the like are the norm. Red motivations can be seen culturally in Ultimate Fighting contests, which have no fixed rules (fixed rules come into being at the next Altitude, Amber), teenage rebellion and the movies that cater to it (The Fast and the Furious), gang dynamics (where the stronger rule the weaker), and the like.


Amber (ethnocentric, mythic): The Amber Altitude began about 5,000 years ago, and indicates a worldview that is traditionalist and mythic in nature—and mythic worldviews are almost always held as absolute (this stage of development is often called absolutistic). Instead of “might makes right,” amber ethics are more oriented to the group, but one that extends only to “my” group. Grade school and high school kids usually exhibit amber motivations to “fit in.” Amber ethics help to control the impulsiveness and narcissism of red. Culturally, amber worldviews can be seen in fundamentalism (my God is right no matter what); extreme patriotism (my country is right no matter what); and ethnocentrism (my people are right no matter what).


Orange (worldcentric, rational): The Orange Altitude began about 500 years ago, during the period known as the European Enlightenment. In an orange worldview, the individual begins to move away from the amber conformity that reifies the views of one’s religion, nation, or tribe. The orange worldview often begins to emerge in late high school, college, or adulthood. Culturally, the orange worldview realizes that “truth is not delivered; it is discovered,” spurring the great advances of science and formal rationality. Orange ethics begin to embrace all people, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….” Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, the US Bill of Rights, and many of the laws written to protect individual freedom all flow from an orange worldview.


Green (worldcentric, pluralistic): The Green Altitude began roughly 150 years ago, though it came into its fullest expression during the 1960’s. Green worldviews are marked by pluralism, or the ability to see that there are multiple ways of seeing reality. If orange sees universal truths (“All men are created equal”), green sees multiple universal truths—different universals for different cultures. Green ethics continue, and radically broaden, the movement to embrace all people. A green statement might read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, regardless of race, gender, class….” Green ethics have given birth to the civil rights, feminist, and gay rights movements, as well as environmentalism.

The green worldview’s multiple perspectives give it room for greater compassion, idealism, and involvement, in its healthy form. Such qualities are seen by organizations such as the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Doctors Without Borders. In its unhealthy form green worldviews can lead to extreme relativism, where all beliefs are seen as relative and equally true, which can in turn lead to the nihilism, narcissism, irony, and meaninglessness exhibited by many of today’s intellectuals, academics, and trend-setters… not to mention another “lost” generation of students.



Teal (worldcentric to “kosmocentric,” integral): The Teal Altitude marks the beginning of an integral worldview, where pluralism and relativism are transcended and included into a more systematic whole. The transition from green to teal is also known as the transition from “1st-tier” values to “2nd-tier” values, the most immediate difference being the fact that each “1st-tier” value thinks it is the only truly correct value, while “2nd-tier” values recognize the importance of all preceding stages of development. Thus, the teal worldview honors the insights of the green worldview, but places it into a larger context that allows for healthy hierarchies, and healthy value distinctions.

Perhaps most important, a teal worldview begins to see the process of development itself, acknowledging that each one of the previous stages (magenta through green) has an important role to play in the human experience. Teal consciousness sees that each of the previous stages reveals an important truth, and pulls them all together and integrates them without trying to change them to “be more like me,” and without resorting to extreme cultural relativism (“all are equal”). Teal worldviews do more than just see all points of view (that’s a green worldview)—it can see and honor them, but also critically evaluate them.


Turquoise (“kosmocentric,” integral): Turquoise is a mature integral view, one that sees not only healthy hierarchy but also the various quadrants of human knowledge, expression, and inquiry (at the minimum: I, we, and it). While teal worldviews tend to be secular, turquoise is the first to begin to integrate Spirit as a living force in the world (manifested through any or all of the 3 Faces of God: “I”—the “No self” or “witness” of Buddhism; “we/thou”—the “great other” of Christianity, Judaism, Hindusm, Islam, etc.; or “it”—the “Web of Life” seen in Taoism, Pantheism, etc.).


We can begin to see how the two major political parties have largely become amalgams of several of these stages. In the early history of politics—during the French Revolution—the Right was largely comprised of Amber traditionalists, while the Left were mostly Orange modernists. But over 200 years later, the world has become considerably more complex, having experienced the emergence of an entirely new stage of political consciousness: namely Green pluralism, otherwise known as post-modernism, during the mid 20th century. As such, Republicans now typically represent both Amber traditional values and “Wall Street” or “Ayn Rand” Orange values, while Democrats represent both Orange and Green forms of liberalism—two very different modes of liberalism that have thus far been extremely difficult for the Democratic party to unify.

If we truly want to begin creating some form of Integral “Third Way” politics, it is going to depend entirely upon leaders who have themselves achieved “2nd-tier” values, as it is only from the teal and turquoise stages of development that we can authentically honor and incorporate the entire spectrum of development. To put it another way, we need a form of “enlightened leadership” to enact decisions unfettered by partisan politics, for the benefit of the whole, rather than pandering to the few.

There is no sense in parsing words—what we are talking about here is a very real sort of elitism, a developmental elitism in which leaders more evolved than the majority of the populace are elected to office, for exactly that reason. Of course, it is an “elitism to which everyone is invited,” meaning that anyone can continue to evolve to the highest reaches of human potential, despite the fact that so few do. But merely mentioning the word “elitism” puts us on very dangerous ground in today’s political atmosphere, in which voters seem more interested in electing leaders they can “have a beer with” than ones with the moral, intellectual, and perspectival sophistication required to heal the tremendous cultural schisms that exist in America, and in the rest of the world.

Considering this spectrum of human development, it can be easy for liberals to assert that their values are “higher” or “more evolved” than those of typical conservatives—and in certain ways, they would be right. However, one of the fatal flaws of “1st-tier” stages is the complete inability to include the values of other 1st-tier stages, which makes liberals arguably more developed than most conservatives, but equally partial in their own values. As any genuine “Third Way” politics seeks to incorporate the very best of both parties, it must be inherently integral by nature, as only Integral consciousness can recognize the significance of development itself—and it is only by fully acknowledging human development, and accounting for the entire spectrum of consciousness in our conceptions of the world, that we can begin pulling together the many fundamental contributions that both the American Right and Left have made to the world.

Everyone knows about the difference between Democrat and Republican, Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative. But as ubiquitous as these distinctions are, there have been a multitude of theoretical explanations as to what drives this split, many of which fall apart upon closer inspection.  An Integral approach to politics suggests a very simple dualism at play: camps on the political Left attribute the fundamental cause of human suffering to external causes, whereas camps on the political Right attribute the fundamental cause of human suffering to internal causes.

For example, why are people homeless? Left: because they are downtrodden, they lack opportunities, they are victims of the system—all external forces. Right: because they have no work ethic, they have no family/religious values, no internalized sense of shame—all internal forces. Of course, you can be an internalist or externalist at different altitudes of development, and historically these have changed over time, as we’ve already seen. But what hasn’t changed throughout it all? You guessed it: Right is still internalist, and Left is still externalist. And if we hope to have any sort of comprehensive approach to politics and the problems of the world, it is absolutely essential that we include the revelations of both, without limiting ourselves to the tyranny of either.


Related:

A Tale of Four Americas
by Clint Fuhs and Corey W. deVos

A Tale of Four Americas takes a look at the political dynamics and cultural perspectives that influence every part of the Republican and Democratic parties.  It explores the ideological divides that exist within each party, and offers a simple map to help make sense of these seemingly conflicting beliefs.