Sunday, September 16, 2012

The "Integral" Case for President Obama

Integral Life contributor Terry Patten recently published a plea for “integralists” to support Barack Obama’s reelection entitled "The Integral Case for President Obama."  I acknowledge that Mr. Patten’s call is a noble attempt to get his arms around the challenges of the current breakdown of the global order from as advanced a perspective as he could muster.  He deserves credit for being courageous enough to raise the matter of evolution of consciousness in the very real context of our actual political economy, and for being willing to expose his stand to analysis and criticism.

That said, I am happy to oblige.

It’s been a serious concern to me for some time now that people associated with Ken Wilber, the Integral Institute, and its various offshoots keep using the terms “integral movement” and “integral community” so casually, because  I have no idea what those words mean.

The lack of specificity about the common understanding of “integral” in these labels is a symptom of the general intellectual sloppiness that postmodernism and Boomeritis have injected into our public discourse.  It is unfortunate that Wilber and many associated with the Integral Institute both tolerate and often perpetuate this.

Let’s see if we can’t bring some clarity and specificity to the matter.

The Meaning of “Integral”

Wilber first began using the word “integral” in Up from Eden, where he referred to Jean Gebser’s application of it to the integral/aperspectival wave of consciousness that succeeded the mental/rational [Orange] wave.  Then, in Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality and The Marriage of Sense and Soul, he introduced “integral” to the AQAL model, referring primarily to the first levels of consciousness in the transpersonal bands.  In A Theory of Everything, Wilber presented the idea of First and Second Tier from Spiral Dynamics, with the First Tier comprising the prepersonal and personal waves, and the Second the transpersonal.  “Second-tier thinking . . . is instrumental is moving from relativism to holism, or from pluralism to integralism” [italics in original] (p. 12).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trimemetic Turbulence

The most recent US jobs report confirms the long-term lassitude in job formation that has characterized the now almost four-year economic downturn.  While the official unemployment rate drifted down a tenth of a point to 8.2%, new job creation was a trifling 120,000 for March.  (Economists generally assert that we would need to add jobs at a monthly rate of 300,000 to return employment to what it was at the beginning of the recession.)  More alarming, the labor force participation rate—the percentage of adults in the market of employment—continues its slow decline; it stands at 63.8%, down from 65.7% in January of 2009.

Additionally, the real unemployment rate, which accounts for people out of work plus those with part-time jobs who prefer to be in fulltime work, is 14.5%—down from its high point of 17.2% in October of 2009, but still a daunting number.

Also in recent news, the Eurozone is on alert again after Spain’s latest bond offering yielded disappointing results.  After the auction, the International Monetary Fund warned that Spain is facing “severe” challenges.  Italy’s labor unions are challenging the technician government of Mario Monti’s determination to open up that country’s restrictive employment laws.  And Greece’s technician prime minister called snap elections for May 6; polls show plunging support for the two main parties.  Nickolas Sarkozy came in second in the first round of voting and is in danger of losing the French presidency to Socialist François Hollande in the May run-off.

Walter Russell Mead, perspicacious as always, noted last week that

for what it’s worth, the world economy is beginning to look a little shaky again. The two problems: Europe has papered over its euro difficulties but hasn’t solved anything, and China is reaching the limits of its old development model without having found a way to shift to something new.
Although we have no evidence that Professor Mead has read “Three Blind Memes,” he accurately identifies the unprecedented dynamics at play in the Right Hand Quadrants of today’s global political economy.