“Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”
–Mahatma Ghandi, Satyagraha Leaflet No. 13
How do we get from where we are right now as a species, to a global society centered on the Integral stage? How should the Integral community move society in this direction, before it is too late? These are the questions that seem to be at the heart of a recent string of discussions at Integral World as well as at Beams and Struts and other places.
Over the last 10 years I have spent much of my free time studying the political and economic theories of the 19th and 20th century’s greatest minds. I have studied the US “Founding Fathers,” as well as Marx, Bakunin, Proudhon, Spooner, Tucker, George, Mises, Keynes, Hayek, Friedman and son, Rand, and Rothbard among others. As I studied more and more, my political, and economic views became more radical. I suppose that ignorance is the root of acceptance of the status quo. The more I learned, the less I was able to accept that government had any moral or ethical justification to exist at all. I began to study the works of contemporary anarchists such as Molynuex, Block, Long, the late SEK3, Graeber and others far too numerous to mention.
Concurrent with all of this extracurricular activity (I only hold two bachelors degrees in fields unrelated to politics and economics and have no plan to re-enter academia), I was also reading Ken Wilbur, who really hit a nerve with me. About three years ago, I began to look at the political and economic theories I was researching and try to apply AQAL to them to see what stuck. How could an Integral society function politically, and more importantly; how should an Integral society function politically?
What is the Goal?
When thinking about the organization of an Integral society, one first must have a goal. What is the function of society in general, and Integral society in particular? Humans are naturally social animals, we are told. People the world over form family groups, which expand into larger kinship groups or clans, which then grow into tribes, and ethnic groups, nations, all the way to humanity as a species-family and the oneness of the whole universe. Society is simply the sum of all interactions between the individual conscious whole-parts of the kosmos.
As the pinnacle of consciousness in the known universe, humanity has by far the most impact on this sum total. And the sum total has a value. The sum total can result in destructive consumption of the planet, or enriching husbandry of the planet. It can result in the slavery of the human species, or unleash the free creative potential of the human species. It can suppress spirituality, the arts and sciences, or it can foster their exponential growth.
If the Integral community then, were to iterate a set of goals for an Integral society what would they be? I will not pretend to have the final answer on that question, but I can give you my idea based on the works of Ken Wilbur and many of the contributors to Integral World. I think we could all agree on at least the following:
1. An Integral Society must fully integrate all other levels of the spiral of consciousness. It must honor them fully and encourage them to exist in their healthiest possible form.
2. An integral society must heal the Earth from the ravages of humanity’s flatland materialistic adolescence. It must encourage good husbandry of our planet (and our kosmos).
3. An Integral Society should function in a way that encourages the “greatest depth” (both UR and UL) of wellbeing for the “greatest span” of the population. In other words it should encourage both the material wellness, as well as the mental and spiritual wellness of the greatest number of people possible.
Using axioms like the ones outlined above, we can look at our societies and judge them, positively or negatively, based on whether or not they meet those stated goals. Looking at the dominant modern/postmodern society we have in the West, which has organized itself into a number of social democracies of various types, we can easily see that:
1. They cannot integrate all levels. At worst they simply enforce the dominant vMeme at the expense and alienation of all others, at best they achieve a series of ever shifting compromises and half solutions that make no one happy and typically end up either making problems worse, or creating whole new problems that never existed before.
2. Our society cannot heal the earth when its political and economic systems are based upon the vigorous exploitation of its resources.
3. Our society, with its extreme top down management structure, is incapable of doing anything other than enriching the few at the expense of the many.
The root of these problems, in my opinion, is that our first tier social structures (the height of which is the postmodern “social democracy”) are pathological expressions of social organization. In this essay I would like to make the case that such pathologies will prevent the achievement of a truly healthy second tier society, and at the same time illuminate what I believe is the most ideal path toward achieving such a society.