Why the Integral “Establishment” is wrong about Trump, wrong about Clinton, and wrong about what it means for the world.

trump-landslide-2My facebook feed is literally awash in hate right now, and it’s not coming from my right leaning friends. I understand the grief caused by the election results. Although I do not share it, I do understand it. I don’t mix politics and facebook though (it’s a matter of personal policy. I use twitter and this blog for that purpose) so all I can do is give the occasional “like” as a show of empathy, but usually I just don’t respond. Believe me; sometimes that is very difficult.

What I see in my left leaning friends, including left leaning—communal—Integrals (I still love you all!) is an inability to understand and empathize with the other–agentic—side. It is fundamentally a failure to understand their true motivations. And for the most part those motivations are not about racism, misogyny, bigotry, or any of those things (although admittedly that element does exist on the fringe, I have not encountered it personally). Such “identity politics” are almost always a creation of communal bias (common at Purple, Blue and Green levels) and are typically incomprehensible to those with agentic bias (particularly Orange). In any case it is important to point out that if the tables were turned it would be the left gloating, and the right lashing out in similar fashion. I think all people who are truly Integral seekers of truth can acknowledge that. All “Subsistence” levels on the “First Tier” are incapable of taking an a-perspectival view. Their worldview is the only correct worldview and so all others must be coming out of some “dark” place.

Of course, as integrals we know that the truth is more nuanced—that the worldview of each level is correct from the vantage point of that level, and that we are all travelers on a journey toward greater consciousness. Where we stand on that path colors our view of the world.

What many integrals overlook far too often is their own position on the Agentic – Communal axis. What I will call “Establishment” Integrals (E-Integral), i.e. those who form the vanguard, so to speak, of the self-aware integral wave have held a predominately communal bent. This is actually contrary to what one would expect of those centered in Yellow (which can be explained by the likely-hood that most rapidly moved on to Turquoise, a communal stage, and centered there).

I have made the claim before that our Agentic–Communal disposition in many ways determines how we move through the stages. It explains why some stages are more comfortable for us than others, and why we linger in some stages longer, while in others we embrace and then immediately try to transcend to a more comfortable stage. This is much more obvious for those on the more extreme edges (i.e. those who lack balance).

I am admittedly in that camp (on the agentic side) but I would caution that E-Integral is generally dominated by the extreme communal. In and of itself that is perfectly fine. However what it means is two things:

  1. That E-Integrals are ill prepared to empathize with the coming social order that will be centered in Yellow. They may fail to understand it and will tend to misinterpret its agentic tendency as an expression of Red or ORANGE vMemes.
  2. Because of the above they will tend to interpret the emergence of an agentic-YELLOW social movement as a regression to ORANGE, BLUE or RED rather than transcendence from GREEN. This is exacerbated by the fact that RED, BLUE and ORANGE elements will attach themselves to the emerging populist YELLOW movement’s message as it speaks to their vMeme.

There are a few ways we can know we are seeing the beginning of a transcendent social movement centered in YELLOW:

  1. The movement will be a populist movement which rejects the established social order. We know this because it has been so with all transcendent social orders. They all begin as populist movements, at their peak they achieve their goals, and then they entrench themselves and become the Established order, ready to be transcended by something new.
  2. The voices directing the movement (its academia) will have, themselves, come out of GREEN in the recent past. They will recall this frequently in their discourse, and will often praise GREEN for its virtues, while attacking the GREEN Establishment (regardless of party affiliation) as having betrayed those very virtues.
  3. The new “academia” will tend toward political anarchism. That is not to say all will be anarchist, but rather they will tend to prefer a breakdown of political structure toward more local and individual autonomy.
  4. As it was in past transitions, lower level vMemes will attach themselves to the emerging Social Movement, RED will sense the shift in the wind and be attracted to the newly powerful, BLUE will see the new populism as an opportunity to push a nationalistic agenda, ORANGE will embrace a rejection of communal GREEN values for something more objective and agentic, etc.

Ultimately we will know that our society is centered in YELLOW when the existing social order has been replaced by something else. I have put forth my vision of an Integral Panarchy. I believe a Being level Society will indeed adopt a similar model. Obviously we are not there yet.

Trump is not Integral. I would never suggest he was. I believe he is centered in ORANGE. It is possible I am wrong (I do not know him personally after all). But I think if he were RED, he would have entered politics long ago. Modern Politics attracts those who are centered ethically in RED. Not all, but a large portion of Establishment career politicians are motivated by RED values. They may “sound” BLUE, or ORANGE or GREEN, but look to their actions, not their words, and you will know them.

The Clintons and their associates seek power for power’s sake. To them and others centered in RED it is the ultimate end goal. They may rationalize it to themselves and to others, and frame their rhetoric in GREEN terms, but look to their actions. The evidence is prolific. Agentic people tend to judge a person’s motivations based on their actions (objective reality), Communal people judge a person’s motivations based on their words (subjective reality). You can see this in the Main Stream Media. Nearly all the complaints regarding trump boil down to, “He said something mean.” The complaints about Clinton are all based on things she has done.

Trump is driven to succeed, to compete, to negotiate and to win. He’s an arch-typical Agentic Alpha-male. He makes the arch-typical Communal Beta-male nervous. Similarly, agentic women love him and communal women hate him. That’s natural. Agency is more prevalent in males, and Communion in females. That’s natural too, part of our evolutionary biology. I don’t think Trump cares about power for power’s sake. He just wants to recast America in its ORANGE image.

That’s OK for now. It gives us some time. I am hoping for time enough to make the transcendence to Integral Panarchy a peaceful one.

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18 Responses to Why the Integral “Establishment” is wrong about Trump, wrong about Clinton, and wrong about what it means for the world.

  1. Jason Gosnell says:

    Another good take.

    The Hillary Clinton is really integral group may not like it though!😃


  2. Jason Gosnell says:

    I am still baffled by my green friends and even apparent integrals who insist that Trump and all of his supporters are racist. Do you have any explanation for this? It seems odd given that they are mostly privileged white people themselves…the blue-orange orange group where I live is more diverse than the green actually! Also…another interesting point, although minorities tend to vote Democrat, most of them are blue or red ans even purple it seems…not green. So…it’s a confusing picture from some angles.

    Anyway, Ken and Beck both note that green tends to collude with red and reads more into red’s level of being than is actually there… perhaps that’s why it looks so weird to me.



  3. donsalmon says:

    I”m curious – how do you see the emerging anarchists in comparison with the anarchists of the late 19th century? Do you think there was any “Yellow” in the 19th century anarchists (I know that Wilber has this utterly bizarre idea that structures of consciousness related to Green and Yellow and beyond only emerged after the 1960s – I’m assuming you don’t agree with him)

    Liked by 1 person

    • brodoland says:

      Great question. I don’t see “anarchism” itself as attached to any particular stage. Anarchism is not a thing, but the lack of a thing. People speak of it in a positive sense as if we could “institute an anarchist society” and expect it to work a given way. I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think 19th century anarchist philosophers were largely at “Green,” along with communists (their followers are a COMPLETELY different matter however…). All of whom were reacting against Orange at the very peak of it’s philosophical influence during the height of the industrial revolution.

      The early anarchists, and many modern anarchists as well, confused economic power (Wealth) with political power (Rank). They are not the same but they do have a strong relationship in that economic power can be “traded for” political power, and vise versa. Early anarchists attempted to get rid of both. But that just results in a re-juggling of the holders of wealth and rank from the “bourgeoisie” to the “party officials” or whatever.

      Wealth can only ever be used to influence or to persuade. I can trade you my wealth, in order to achieve my desired outcome. But I cannot use my wealth to force you to do anything, unless I use my wealth to buy Rank. Rank works through force. That is it’s purpose. The higher the Rank, the greater your capacity to force others to your will. This operating principle is the same for gangsters, mafia, and government. So one sees the wealthy buying rank, and sees those with rank using it to gain wealth, and they equate the two, or assume they are the same. True Anarchism to me is merely the abolition of Rank. This is necessarily accompanied by some means of socially enforcing the “Non-aggression principle.”

      I’ve repeatedly argued that Rank (or the State, or Government, whatever you want to call it) is a social pathology. It’s a social disease of the first Tier. Probably inevitable without the benefit of Second Tier vision. And it is the job of Second Tier (starting at Yellow – Integral) to inoculate the First Tier against Rank. Much like 20th century doctors introducing penicillin to the world. I believe that Integral Panarchy (doesn’t have to be that exactly but something like it) will be the social penicillin of the 2nd Tier Age.

      The converse of that, continuing pathology into second tier, will result in something like an “Integral World Government” which has been proposed by many in the “Integral Establishment.” That will at best result in a sustained techno-dystopian nightmare, and at worse result in a forced regression to first tier levels via war, or even extinction at the extreme.


      • donsalmon says:

        If government is inevitable at first tier, then unless all of first tier is pathological, government can’t be pathological.

        As a New Yorker, to address a different point, there’s just not a smidgeon of evidence that any part of Trump is functioning at Orange. You may have heard the calculation that if he had sold the “empire” bequeathed to him in the late 1970s (worth about 220 million) and simply put it in a relatively risk free fund, he would now be worth 10 billion. He is a completely incompetent businessman who most other business people wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole.

        His single modus operandi since he learned how much he loved to beat up other kids and hit teachers and kill small animals as a child is power. The Calvin and Hobbes cartoons circulating around the net that put his face in the actual Calvin cartoon have almost completely summed up his personality. he barely reaches Red! (not that I think there’s any psychometric validity to spiral dynamics, but when in Rome and all that:>))


      • donsalmon says:

        sorry, said that wrong – much government is pathological, no doubt, but again, using simple logic, if ALL government is pathological, and if your point is correct that it is needed at first tier, then all first tier would have to be pathological. It’s like Shankara condemning the world for existing (not that Shankara himself really did that, though many of his followers misunderstood him to be doing that).

        Besides, how can anything coherent be side about development if there’s no understanding about what is developing? What is it, the “authentic self?”


      • brodoland says:

        I think you misunderstood me. Think of government as a disease (an actual not figurative pathogen). It is only inevitable that First Tier societies have governments in the sense that it is inevitable that humanity suffer plagues prior to the invention of modern medicine. I do think there are non-pathological modes of First Tier social organization that do not involve a government. I’ve made that very argument before on integralworld.net and here. Government is no more inevitable than smallpox is.


      • donsalmon says:

        hi, couldn’t find your integral world essay – can you link to the exact page?


    • donsalmon says:

      Meanwhile, you might enjoy this fellow. He’s got some excellent comments on Wilber. https://longsworde.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/provocateur-in-chief/#more-7526


      • brodoland says:

        Try this one. The second figure in the essay illustrates what I’m talking about.

        Thanks for the link. Although I think this breathless Trump hysteria is pretty overblown. Where was everyone while Obama spent eight years bombing the shit out of the middle east, bailing out banks, racking up trillions in debt and setting up the totalitarian state apparatus that Trump is inheriting? Would Clinton be doing better things with the office of POTUS? And “better” according to whom? This is the whole problem with the state. People are fine as long as “my guy” is in office, and then when “my guy” loses, suddenly the same shit becomes tyranny. The sad reality is, we reap what we sow.


  4. Durwin Foster says:

    I appreciate your intellectual rigor, and learn lots every time I read your stuff. At the same time, your reliance on Spiral Dynamics, especially as it suggests an alternating between agentic and communal modes, is perhaps leaving you open to overgeneralization. There isn’t any evidence from other developmental systems that the culture moves back and forth from communal to agentic with the emergence of each new vmeme.


    • brodoland says:

      Thanks for the comment Durwin. I see Spiral Dynamics as a useful tool that gives us an accurate, if generalized, picture of how individuals and societies develop. It’s just a model though– one which allows us to understand things from a “30,000 foot view,” so yes I agree, one can easily overgeneralize and lose sight of the immense complexity which is our individual reality. I do think there is ample evidence that each vMeme tends toward agentic or communal (warm or cool), but that’s only a tendency, Like saying “Swedes tend to be blonde,” It is not always so. I think I am pretty clear on that view in my writing. For example one might say as a culture Americans tend toward the agentic, even at Green, “American Green” is more agentic than say “European Green.” And as I have said, there are both communal and agentic expressions of Green, even though on the whole — in general — Green tends toward communion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jason Gosnell says:

        Do you think European green and US green are roughly in the same place in terms of their evolution?

        In general, people tend to say Europe green is ahead of us…But I wonder if what they are expecting is a more we, collective green in the US? They compare our more agentic green to their more collective green and think…Well we’ve got much further to go…

        I only ask because it seems to me that we are seeing an alt right movement in response to the MGM all over Europe. It has some more we collective sensibilities…Le pen in France is actually like a socialist in some ways…But, overall it seems like an orange pushback on the MGM like we see in the US.


        Perhaps, we will see a higher, more holistic green eventually, maybe next left hemisphere cycle, that can put orange and blue voices at the table, but right now it seems to have maxed out its capabilities…It is still rather deconstructive vs constructive.

        Liked by 1 person

    • brodoland says:

      @Jason. I think that is what Durwin was getting at. It’s entertaining for us to try to color code, and makes for a useful shorthand, but the model only has utility to a certain extent. It has very little nuance to it. And that’s fine, because nuance is not its purpose. When talking in general terms Spiral Dynamics is very useful. But when discussing specifics, whether individuals or specific social groups, it becomes much more fuzzy. This is why people (myself included) can get into trouble by saying “such and such and so and so is RED, or GREEN,” or whatever, when we are only seeing and responding to a partial view. That view may be spot on, although partial. And often it is heavily flavored by agentic/communal bias.


      • Jason Gosnell says:

        Agree…The nuances are added by way of cultural differences, etc. But, good enough. For instance, Farage, Trump and Le Pen all seem to relate to each other, but cultural manifestation very different.

        As a wager, I suspect we are going to get a higher, healthier green next liberal cycle… 8 years away maybe. Doubt they will get into yellow though…I agree that it is likely to be in a conservative or right phase…

        We’ll see.


  5. Jason Gosnell says:

    Agree…Trump far from perfect! Of course. But, MGM…? Bat shit crazy.


  6. Jason Gosnell says:

    Agree…Trump far from perfect! Of course. But, MGM…? Bat shit crazy. Hopefully, Democratic elders will step up and help regulate the situation. Although, I am suspicious they are happy to use MGM for time being? Let’s hope they are healthier than that…


  7. Teri Murphy says:

    Wow. I just discovered this blog. I coordinate the Integral Emergence Meetup in DC. We’ve been doing election-related events, and I’ve been feeling something missing. THANK YOU for this. I’m going to read every word here and be back to you. — Teri

    Liked by 1 person

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