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.

I am a green (but not the Boomeritis variant) classical liberal (not “progressive”) with a well-developing integral cognitive capacity.  I am a practitioner of accountability yoga, a method of identifying and withdrawing projections and seeking to live with authentic intimacy with the people in my life.  In the LL, I live in Sacramento, California, a town whose political consciousness is driven on the surface by Boomeritis beliefs, but that is floating on a longstanding amber/orange consciousness informed by the agricultural economy of the Central Valley.  The Boomeritis perspective derives from the unionized civil service base of the state government, dominated as it is by the Democratic Party, which in California leans farther left than in other states.

In the UR I am sixty-one years old, in reasonably good health physically and mentally; in the LR I live in the 26th largest metropolitan area in the U. S.  The political economy here has, as mentioned above, long been dominated by agriculture, although the city fathers keep looking for ways to transcend that base, including aspirations to make Sacramento a center for the “green economy,” whatever that means.  The major employer is the state government; we also have several second-tier universities and the usual network of community colleges and technical schools.

When I describe myself as a classical liberal, I am referring to the distinct Anglo-American tradition that was the product first of two hundred years of struggle in England between monarchy and popular government, culminating in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and then radically reinvented a hundred years later as “a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” in the American Revolution (1774-1789).  As Professor Walter Russell Mead explains it,
A liberal is someone who seeks ordered liberty through politics—namely, the reconciliation of humanity’s need for governance with its drive for freedom in such a way as to give us all the order we need (but no more) with as much liberty as possible. In this sense, liberty isn’t divided or divisible into freedoms of speech, religion, economic activity or personal conduct: Genuine liberals care about all of the above and seek a society in which individuals enjoy increasing liberty in each of these dimensions while continuing to cultivate the virtues and the institutions that give us the order without which there can be no freedom.
So we’ve begun our AQAL analysis with four of the five elements of the Model: quadrants, lines, levels, and types.  As for the state of consciousness, I am in gross body waking consciousness, although as I write I lapse from time to time into a daydreaming state in which thoughts, impressions, and connections free flow in service to composition.

The Case of Abraham Lincoln

So with the initial perspective established, we move now to the object of our study: Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.

First, some AQAL background.

The United States in 1860, the year he was elected, was the exemplar of a developing nation.  Its amber agricultural base was rapidly incorporating an orange industrial realm, starting in New England and spreading rapidly westward.  The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 gave impetus to this new world; the burgeoning wealth of the British Empire provided capital to fund American industrial infrastructure as a railroad-building explosion ensued.  Northern and western farmers were eager to apply new technologies to cultivation; mechanization of agriculture freed up labor for more sophisticated activities.

The resulting political economic transformations passed the agrarian South by in large part because, after the invention of the cotton gin in 1795, it had tied itself to slave labor-intensive cotton cultivation as the primary mode of wealth creation.  A significant portion of its economic and intellectual energy was diverted into finding creative ways to justify an outdated amber institution that the founding principles of the nation condemned.  

The Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution had established individual equal sovereignty as the universal principle upon which American governance was to be managed.  The political power of the slave-holding states forced an awkward compromise in which the commitment to universal principles was ignored in the case of the African slaves in order to create the political unity necessary to establish and maintain independence in the face of European hostility.

But the practical results of the application of the principles of liberty in the northern states, exponentially expanding per capita wealth and opportunity, increasingly exposed the national moral debasement that tolerating a slave economy within the political and spiritual borders of the U. S. revealed.

Over the course of the first six decades of the nineteenth century, the two sections of the country moved rapidly apart in terms of their economic imperatives, putting increasing strain on the unity that the slavery compromise had been designed to reinforce.  The north increasingly needed educated, skilled labor to man its machines, railroads, and ships; the south needed more slaves to feed its cotton gins.  In response to the outlawing of the international slave trade in 1807, plantation owners had begun to develop an internal slave market, augmenting the central role of slave labor in the southern economy.

The American victory in the aggressively expansionist Mexican War (1846-47) resulted in the cession of millions of acres to the U. S.  Half of this territory lay south of the Missouri Compromise line of 36°30′; the southern states saw these lands—including most of California—as territories into which to expand slavery.  They began fierce agitation to repeal that agreement to permit the legal expansion of slavery.

The Compromise of 1850 did just that, but four years later the Kansas-Nebraska Act potentially opened all territorial lands to slavery.  The resulting firestorm, further fueled by the Dred Scott decision in 1857, intensified the “irrepressible conflict.”  The two main parties, the Whigs and the Democrats, inheritors (more or less) of the divergence between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in the early days of the nation, began to disintegrate.  By 1856 the Whigs were supplanted by the newly-formed Republican Party, and by 1860 the Democrats were irretrievably split in two, its southern wing shortly to lead the secession of eleven slave states.

An integrally informed analysis sees that the ever-strengthening orange political economy of the north was dramatically pulling away from the static amber quasi-imperial south.  The founding principles of the country were being reified by the vibrancy and growth of the north, thus from their perspective making slavery more and more incompatible with the progress of the nation.  The amber south saw the north as a grasping, greedy, impersonal machine whose dynamics were undermining the American founding principles of individual sovereignty protected by the rights of each state to govern itself unmolested by the federal government.

Still uniting the nation was its amber conviction of white superiority; very few in north were willing to see blacks as political, much less social, equals.  Visionaries on both sides of the Ohio River recognized that the one would necessarily lead to the other, but the majority of voters were unwilling or unable to think that far ahead.

Abraham Lincoln came to office because of two historically unique factors.  First, the five-year old Republican Party, comprising many diverse political factions, had to settle on a presidential nominee acceptable to the majority.  Lincoln arrived at the GOP convention everyone’s favorite second choice.  Second, the split in the Democratic Party allowed a united north to elect Lincoln with less than 40% of the popular vote nationwide.

Lincoln brought unique skills and qualifications to the presidency.  As a lifelong Whig in Democratic Illinois, he had nonetheless been elected to the state legislature four times and to the U. S. Congress once, and had come five votes short in the legislature of defeating Stephen A. Douglas for reelection as United States Senator.  He grew up dirt poor on farms in Kentucky and Indiana, and was essentially a self-taught man.  As a young man he had several careers before settling on becoming a lawyer—a highly unusual choice in the sparsely populated Prairie State dominated by agriculture.

In many ways he was the embodiment of Benjamin Franklin’s advice in The Way to Wealth with its emphasis on hard work and delaying gratification.  He had an internal drive toward self-actualization; as such he was the quintessential exemplar of the orange rational/egoic structure.  He believed in the superiority of self direction and responsibility, and applied himself to it assiduously and unsparingly.  Yet he was no loner.  He particularly appreciated frontier society’s “pitch-in” ethic, where people lived their lives as they pleased for the most part and pitched in to help their neighbors when asked.  It led him to value the Founders’ vision of a minimalist but powerful national government which could “pitch in” to help develop the economic infrastructure that no one town or even state could manage on its own.

This is the reason he was drawn to the Whigs rather than the Democrats.  The Whigs tended to represent the burgeoning orange urban, scientific, industrial, and entrepreneurial emergence; the Democrats tended to represent the amber rural, nativist, communitarian status quo.  Lincoln looked to Henry Clay as his model; Democrats looked to Andrew Jackson.

His epic series of debates with Stephen A. Douglas in their 1858 campaign for Douglas’ U. S. Senate seat laid out the distinction between the two approaches quite unmistakably.  Lincoln’s orange moral line of development showed up in his insistence on two critical issues: first, that slavery was morally wrong; second, that the Constitution and its rule of law must be defended against utilitarian assaults.  These convictions required him to walk a narrow tightrope.  One the one hand, slavery was abhorrent to the nation’s founding principle that “all men are created equal”; on the other hand, abolition required constitutional amendment, since that document reserved the authority to permit or refuse slavery to the states.  Since the arithmetic showed that ¾ of the states would not agree to amend the Constitution to outlaw slavery, Lincoln was stuck with advocating a gradualist approach to ending slavery.

Douglas based his counterargument on the widespread amber moral prejudice of whites against blacks.  The Declaration was intended only for whites, he maintained; Lincoln’s position would inevitably lead to racial mixing and diluting the superior condition of the white man.  The south was not alone in its legal suppression of the human rights of its black residents; the north too had its share of Jim Crow laws designed to harass if not entirely exclude free blacks from peaceable pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness as they saw fit.  (Only ten years earlier, Illinoisans had voted to amend their constitution to outlaw black immigration.)

In spite of his defeat, Lincoln’s campaign catapulted him to national prominence, setting the stage for his nomination and election as president. 

Lincoln Through the Integral Lens

So, looking through the lens that I’ve identified as mine, I have hypothesized the following:
1.  In the LR, the United States in 1860 was a developing country, rapidly industrializing especially in the northeast.  European immigrants were steadily arriving to take advantage of all the new opportunities this expansion was creating.  Its politics were boisterous, with Whigs pushing for federal subsidies for infrastructure development financed by high tariffs to protect American manufactures from cheaper British imports.

The south remained untouched by these currents; its slave-based agrarian economy was growing because industrializing England was hungry for its cotton.  Its social structure was classical amber: a small stratum of wealthy landowners presiding over a mass population base of poor whites and black slaves.

Although the south was a drag on overall American development, the U. S. was nonetheless the only nation of its kind in the world.  Other than the republican governments of northern Europe (mostly still led by monarchs and aristocracies), the world was a vast array of amber empires large and small. 
2.  In the LL, the political economic divergence between the two sectors of the country was reflected in a concomitant cultural divergence.  Although whites in both sectors were embedded in amber assumptions of racial and ethnic superiority, the northern industrialization was impelling a rapid expansion of literacy, education, and self-improvement.  This was supported by a growing commitment to science and its application to both agriculture and manufacturing.  Horace Mann led the movement to provide taxpayer-funded primary grade public education as literacy rates expanded rapidly.  Newspaper circulation grew exponentially.  These are all indicators of a shift in internal consciousness toward orange individuation.
3. In the UR we find Abraham Lincoln, 51 years old, six feet, four inches tall, weighing roughly 180 pounds.  He was muscular and in decent general health.
4. In the UL we can only infer Lincoln’s center of gravity.  It is difficult to escape the conclusion that, in at least several lines of development, he had reached an integral perspective.  Cognitively he consistently evinced the capacity not only to take multiple perspectives, but to honor them as valid in themselves.  Morally his commitment both to founding principles and right action to align the nation more perfectly with them indicates at least a green altitude.  His remarkably nonjudgmental capacity for self criticism and course correction reflect at least a green if not teal level of individuation.  On the other hand, his personal relationship line of development appears to be less mature; his relationship with his wife was stormy, in part because he appears incapable of effectively communicating empathy to his family and friends.

5.  A quick word about types, which appear to be most applicable to the UL than anywhere else: Lincoln certainly had introvert tendencies, although as a politician he was in the company of all sorts of people all the time.  On the masculine/feminine continuum, his consistent inclination to action implies a masculine orientation.  On the conservative/liberal axis, he was a self-proclaimed conservative; even his promulgation of the radical Emancipation Proclamation derived from an eminently conservative leaning.
Lincoln’s signal achievement was, having determined to preserve the union against the slaveholders’ rebellion, to coax the loyal citizenry into doing it such a way that the outcome was a nation more in alignment with founding principles than it was before he took office.

His determination to preserve and perfect the union stemmed from his belief that the American experiment in self-government was a necessary step in the progress of humanity.  “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,” he once said. “This expresses my idea of democracy.”  In his famous speech at Peoria, the first of his many debates with Douglas, Lincoln succinctly stated his understanding of the uniqueness and importance of America as the vessel of humanity’s next transformation:
Our Republican robe is soiled and trailed in the dust.  Let us purify it.  Let us turn and wash it white in the spirit if not the blood of the Revolution.  Let us turn slavery from its claims of moral right, back upon its existing legal rights and its arguments of necessity.  Let us return it to the position our fathers gave it, and there let it rest in peace.  Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it the practices and policy which harmonize with it.  Let North and South, let all Americans, let all lovers of liberty everywhere, join in the great and good work.  If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union, but we shall have so saved it as to make and to keep it for ever worthy of the saving.
His strategy for suppressing secession and restoring the union was informed by his highly advanced assessment that the entire nation, and not just the south, was responsible for slavery and its morally debilitating effects.  His refusal to apply extraconstitutional means of permanently abolishing slavery was grounded in his profound understanding of the radical advance that was the American experiment in self-government.  The rule of law supported by a majority whose power was constitutionally restricted from  tyrannical application was the sine qua non of successful popular government.

When he took the oath of presidential office on March 4, 1861, seven slave states had seceded, and the other six were teetering on the edge.  From this day until he died a little over four years later, Lincoln had to balance an ever-changing swirl of attitudes, events, and capabilities in his single-minded drive to restore lawful government to the states in rebellion.

He was keenly aware of the power of the LL in his management of the war.  More than almost any other political figure in American history, he tuned into the collective consciousness in order to determine his strategic moves.  We see this in his leadership on emancipation.

Pressured from the left to unilaterally declare freedom for all the slaves, and pressured from the right to leave the institution alone, Lincoln had no choice but to move carefully.  He early on recognized that, as slavery was the cause of the war and the foundation of the Confederate political economy, it must be destroyed if the north was to win the war and reunite the country upon its founding principles.  But in that conviction he was far out in front of public opinion.  Given the fragility of the new Republican coalition, comprising as it did abolitionists like Charles Sumner and Owen Lovejoy on the one hand and traditionalists like Francis Blair and Edward Bates on the other, Lincoln determined that his tactics required keeping the team as united as possible.

He spent his first year seeking reunification by appealing to the loyal slave states to undertake compensated emancipation.  If Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware were to voluntarily end slavery in return for payment, Lincoln believed this would undermine the slaveholding aristocracy in the Confederate states by offering their Unionist citizens a way out of armed revolt.

But when none of those states took him up on his proposal, he shifted to approaching emancipation as a military measure.  His preliminary proclamation, issued in the aftermath of his Army of the Potomac’s repelling of Robert E. Lee’s first raid of the north at Antietam Creek, offered a carrot and a stick.  He gave the states in rebellion one hundred days to give up the struggle and seek a deal with the north.  Failing that, on January 1, 1863, all slaves in those territories would be declared free. 

Of course, the Confederates denounced his move and ignored his offer, and so despite setbacks in the November elections in large part because of his commitment to southern emancipation, Lincoln signed the formal proclamation. 

He thereby killed several birds with one stone.  He took a formal stand for freeing of the slaves, but his measure did not cover the slave states that remained loyal to the Union.  He signaled to the several million slaves remaining under Confederate control that if they could flee their plantations and make their way into federal lines, they would be free.  This would seriously disrupt the southern economy and its capacity to support the war.  He formally tied reunion to emancipation.  Finally, he prepared northern public opinion to support total freedom for the slaves by ratifying a constitutional amendment outlawing slavery once and for all.

Over the course of the next two years, Lincoln moved public opinion firmly in that direction.  His principle instrument was the enlisting of African Americans in the United States armed services.  This bold move remained controversial in many quarters throughout the war, and Copperheads and other peace Democrats would campaign against Lincoln with a promise to negotiate a return of the seceded states to the Union in return for preserving slavery.  Lincoln would have none of it.  To a group of visiting Wisconsin politicians in the summer of 1864, Lincoln exclaimed, “There have been men who have proposed to me to return to slavery the black warriors of Port Hudson and Olustee [battles in which black soldiers distinguished themselves] to their masters to conciliate the South.  I should be damned in time and eternity for so doing.  The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will.”

By this time Lincoln’s policy, fully ratified in the 1864 Republican platform, was reunion and emancipation.  It was upon this rock-solid commitment that he was enthusiastically re-elected that November.  Union soldiers in particular agreed; Lincoln won 78% of their votes.

Lincoln’s Second Tier Capacities

Although in the fullness of history (and of AQAL) we can get a solid picture of Lincoln’s task and how well he completed it, contemporaries were also aware that they were working with an extraordinary leader.  Ignatius Donnelly, a Republican congressman from Missouri addressing his colleagues on the floor of the House, captured Lincoln’s achievements in the run-up to his re-election in 1864:
He will stand out in future ages in the history of these crowded and confused times with wonderful distinctness.  He has carried a vast and discordant population safely and peacefully through the greatest of political revolutions with such consummate sagacity and skill that while he led he appeared to follow; while he innovated beyond all precedents he has been denounced as tardy; while he struck the shackles from the limbs of three million slaves has been hailed as a conservative!  If to adapt, persistently and continuously, just and righteous principles to all the perplexed windings and changes of human events, and to secure in the end the complete triumph of those principles, be statesmanship, then Abraham Lincoln is the first of statesmen.
As the President turned his attention to reconstruction of the nation once his armies had vanquished the Confederate resistance, he brought a particularly teal perspective to the challenge.  Long had Lincoln insisted that the entire nation bore equal responsibility for the institution of slavery, refusing to play an amber game of “blame the South.”  To his mind, greater forces than he could clearly see were at work in the evolution of the United States as a force for human liberty and popular government.

In the summer of 1864, Lincoln wrote to a Quaker leader, “The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and shall prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance.”  In a memo to himself written at the same time, he noted that “[t]he will of God prevails.  In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God.  Both may be, and one must be, wrong.  God cannot be for, and against the same thing at the same time.  In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party—and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.”

He would flesh these thoughts out publicly in what is probably the most second tier speech ever given by an American statesman in his Second Inaugural Address.  From his perspective, embracing with equanimity as he did all the perspectives of his fellow citizens, he nonetheless called the country forth to a deeper and more profound understanding of its founding and its bloody struggles to preserve “the last, best hope of mankind.”
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
Lincoln was here calling upon his fellow countrymen to relinquish their personal and sectional perspectives, and open themselves to an integral point of view by which to see the country as a single, indivisible entity.  Both North and South, “by whom the offense [of slavery] came,” were suffering through a war more “fundamental and astounding” than either expected. Suggesting that God’s perspective might be so radically broader than their own, he invited his brother citizens to steel themselves to the completion of this higher task that the true and righteous judgments of the Lord may be requiring of them. 

Given that each citizen’s perspective is inevitably limited, and recognizing that most would not or could not stretch themselves to take on an integral view, what should the country do with Lincoln’s startling directive?
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Notice that, while he fully recognized the partiality of people’s perspectives (“as God gives us to see the right”), he nonetheless urged Americans to “strive on the finish the work we are in,” the completion of which “may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

And so we see Lincoln, five weeks before his murder, reaching a level of spiritual maturity that few political leaders have ever attained.  He guided the nation through a significant battle of the five hundred years' war between amber and orange by transcending the limitations of the first tier.  He saw the world historic nature of the American experiment with popular government based on its founding principles and determined to preserve it at all costs.  His vision transcended and included those of his countrymen while inviting them all, north and south, black and white, native and immigrant, to identify enthusiastically with the evolutionary possibilities that the country's very success promised all humanity.


We will end our AQAL analysis here.  We set out to offer an example of an integrally informed look at a political situation, so that when we take on the work of an authentic integral politics (someday), we will have become adept in the cognitive line at a minimum at taking an integral perspective of the patterns and impacts of political activity.

An actual integral politics will flow from participants whose center of gravity has evolved into the second tier.  When politicians—which emphatically includes a critical mass of the citizenry—embrace, like Lincoln did, the fact that the perspectives of their fellow citizens are valid for them and thus worthy of respect but not necessarily agreement, we will step tentatively into power arrangements that integrate all the entire first tier into the work of the second. 

Lincoln’s presidency gives us a good look at the challenges, for although he conducted himself from what at times appears to be a teal altitude, he was unable to inspire a working plurality of the country to join him there.  When he succumbed to John Wilkes Booth’s bullet, the potential for a reconstruction policy that might have integrated the entire nation into an orange perspective died with him.  That would take the nation another hundred years and the emergence of green to achieve.

Thus for us Americans today, who span the spectrum from amber to green, the initiation of an integral politics requires us to concentrate on inviting each other first, to healthy individuation, and immediately afterwards, into healthy green.  When a critical mass of us reach that stage, the momentous leap into the second tier will become a reality, and actual integral work of all kinds will start revealing its contours and delivering its promise.

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