Sunday, September 29, 2013

Integral Political Imperatives

The discipline of integral politics requires that we stand aloof from the daily occurrences of first tier assumptions.  From an integral perspective, we are always in the midst of a first tier political food fight.  In America right now there is plenty of non-stop entertainment everywhere we look.

Domestically, the Congress and the President are engaged in their routine denunciations of one another, with the House Republicans being labeled “crazy,” “lunatic,” “terrorists,” etc.  The President admonishes them to “compromise” while refusing to do so himself.  The Republicans, meantime, are engaged in a vertiginous civil war, with the establishmentarians led by the former “Straight Talk Express” guy Senator John McCain getting rolled by Tea Party favorites Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.  It’s all part of the pass-the-budget, raise-the-debt-ceiling slam dance that Beltway types do so well.

Then there’s the Middle East, with Syria and Iran both now pretending to be good guys so the Advanced Sector can avert its eyes again from the really nasty things a-brewin’ there.  Poor Binyamin Netanyahu is—publicly at least—being ignored so that the niceties will be preserved.  Al-Shabab keeps reminding everyone that al-Qaeda did not die with Osama bin Laden.  Vladimir Putin, fresh from his Syria intervention, continues his project to recreate the Third Russian Empire, bullying the Ukraine to abandon its strategic Drang nach Westen and remain docilely in the Russian sphere.

Deeper in the background are the signs of serious economic slowdown in India and China, something that worries financial analysts as they read the bird entrails of the latest Federal Reserve meeting minutes regarding its “quantitative easing” policy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Integral Politics: A Primer

[This piece is an in-depth lesson on how to develop an integral analysis of political matters, written in part to provide background to a dialogue with Layman Pascal on the Integral Life web site.  The issue we are wrestling with concerns the nature of integral politics, which I contend must await the emergence of teal in a critical mass of people.  Until then we can certainly work hard at being "integrally informed" on matters of politics and power relationships.]

In his extended interview with Tami Simon on Kosmic Consciousness, Ken Wilber makes the distinction between integral consciousness and being “integrally informed.”

The latter is the threshold of the former.  Being “integrally informed” is using one’s cognitive capacity to apply the AQAL model to any given situation.  Integral consciousness is the first transpersonal band of awareness, incorporating enough lines of development to constitute a center of gravity in the second tier.  Wilber’s observation that the cognitive is almost always the first line of development to expand into the next wave applies quite aptly here.

I have yet to find a discussion of integral politics that isn’t actually an attempt at integrally informed analysis rather than politics from an integral perspective.  Wilber’s discussion with Simon about an actual integral politics is not only highly speculative but suffers from the usual translation challenge that a second tier perspective has in communicating to first tier.  My own sense is that an actual integral politics awaits the day when there are enough people with a second tier center of gravity to take it on and invent it.  We’re not there now, especially with people running around proclaiming that Barack Obama operates from teal.

But it is quite useful, in the cheerful spirit of AA’s “fake it till you make it” injunction, to practice an integrally informed look at particular political situations.  This way we can begin to familiarize ourselves with the AQAL method and intuit, if not directly observe, where an actual second tier perspective might be reaching out to us.

So let’s take the example of Abraham Lincoln’s extraordinary achievement in guiding the United States through the Civil War and, applying AQAL analysis, see what it might suggest in the way of an eventual integral politics.

First Step: One's Own Perspective

Effective AQAL analysis begins with an awareness of our own perspectives, since we will be starting by an “objective” look at the historical period in question as it appears to us as an LR expression.  How this subject looks at and interprets that object is a necessary prerequisite to practicing Integral Model investigation.

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Boulderdash

That which we call Boomeritis by any other name would still reek of narcissism.

Jeff Salzman, who calls himself “an integralist, an evolutionary, and now a public commentator who, swimming against the current of prevailing culture, is heartened by the state and future of things,” offers a weekly broadcast called “The Daily Evolver,” during which he works hard to offer an integral look at daily events.

The problem is how to arrive at a common understanding of “integral,” something I’ve written extensively about.  I am sure that Mr. Salzman is a fine person and really does consider himself an integralist, but the actual content of his talks reveals him to be more of an integral wanna-be.  He tends to be so uncritical of the Boomeritis assumptions that permeate his network in Boulder that he presumes much that is not actually in evidence.  Like so much of what comes out of the “integral” networks around Ken Wilber, the rigor necessary for achieving escape velocity from the first tier is sadly lacking.

This detracts not one iota from the honor we should give to Mr. Wilber and his circle for their willingness to tackle the evolutionary opportunity that Spirit, visible via the cognitive line at teal, appears to be calling forth. Our capacity to witness the elements of the Integral Model and to explore how to assess today’s experiences thereby is a truly remarkable gift, and we acknowledge the courage it takes to be willing to be commanded by its insights.

In his most recent broadcast, Mr. Salzman spends time attempting an integral analysis of the George Zimmerman trial and its aftermath.  For the most part, he is on solid but very conventional ground when he begins by noting that the “Big Three” levels of first tier consciousness that prevail in the United States—amber, orange, and green—each have a different way of seeing and interpreting the matter.

But his lack of rigor renders the balance of his presentation ineffectual (when not downright hilarious).