Notes on Wilber's Trump and a Post-Truth World

JANUARY 2, 2020

Classic Wilber. Insightful, on the money, analysis – one of the best I have read. I think the integral stages (and AQAL) perspective is very useful. As often with Wilber, I’d love a bit more footnoting – and a bit more proof-editing.1 But these are quibbles as this was obviously hastily put together.

Table of contents


My Observations

De Gustibus non Est Disputandum is very Green

Connection with Skidelsky’s How Much is Enough. When we abdicate value hierarchy (indeed denigrate it as elitist or oppressive) we revert to De Guestibus non Est Disputandum (followed by “chacun a son gout”) and that is deeply problematic because we don’t know best and the majority is often mistaken.

This can be most dramatically seen in tech: what gets pushed to the top of the google rank or the facebook feed is not the best, the most beautiful, the more accurate, the most profound. Often, in fact, the opposite:

Technology had long moved into being the material-system correlate (in the Lower Right) of the cultural beliefs of the green stage (in the Lower Left). The green “Information Age” believed that all knowledge is equal, and it should be totally free and totally uncensored—it was common to say that the Net interprets censorship as a system failure and routes around it. But search engines did not prioritize knowledge in terms of truth, or goodness, or beauty, or inclusivity, or any depth, or any value system at all—not even a growth hierarchy of values or facts—just in terms of popularity and most use. Truth played no role in it.

Aside: the incoherence of De Gustibus non Est Disputandum can be shown up by asking: where do those preferences come from? They did not fall from the sky ex machina, or from some foundational freely given choice. They were formed somehow and somewhere – by our parents, our schoos, our culture. Economics displays this weakness in spades: endogenous preferences are much-under-studied (and deeply problematic for the whole edifice). cf Buddhist Economics

De Gustibus and Market-ism

There is a definite and interesting connection between the rise of market-ism (aka market fundamentalism i.e. markets are great for everything) and the green “everyone knows best” (and “who are you to tell me what to do”). In a weird way the hard left and hard right are joined: markets are in a (trivial) sense profoundly democratic (and the faults of simple one person one vote democracy and markets are actually quite similar).

The fallacy of market-ism for ideas is now clear (and even is for stock markets). The voting machine is not necessarily a weighing machine.

Trump is existence proof of the bankruptcy of post-modern ideology

As Wilber gleefully and accurately notes, Trump and post-truth was the existence proof of the bankruptcy of reductivist green, of nihilistic post-modernism:

… after just a few weeks of Trump’s being in office, the actual practical realities of a belief in “no truth” have started to become shockingly obvious to almost everybody, and around the world. Everything from “fake news” to “alternative facts” have made virtually every green in the world (along with everybody else) alarmingly aware of just how idiotic the “no truth” notion actually is—especially when its own truths are regularly and loudly being charged as “fake news.” Teaching that “no truth” idea in an ivory tower, divorced from any practical reality, to unsuspecting college students is one thing; seeing it in real action is quite another. And around the world, coming out of essentially every university in existence, there has arisen a thunderous silence. Nobody, but nobody, will say that “there is no truth, only social fabrications.” The “no truth” idea itself is not said, not spoken, not written, not posted, not published, not even whispered—except to argue that it’s a totally mistaken notion. It’s as if the past four decades of intense postmodern philosophizing have been thrown out the window: Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Lacan—all of them, gone! At least when it comes to that specific tenet. After hearing somebody like Trump constantly claiming that there is no truth and that all news agencies who disagree with him are fake news, no self-respecting scholar can even repeat those words. The notion itself has become a massive embarrassment. Instead—and no matter how much the majority of the rest of their beliefs still rest on the lynchpin of “no truth”—commentators from every direction have been going out of their way to maintain that “truth is what journalism is all about, it’s what we strive to report, it’s why we’re here!” Unanimously they are condemning the notion that there is no truth and are ridiculing the idea that there could even be “alternative facts.” The New York Times took out a million-dollar television ad that proudly concluded, “Truth is now more important than ever!” This central “no truth” aspect of the brokenness of green has been colossally ditched within a matter of weeks. It’s absolutely hysterical.

And therefore marks the end of green extremism

Trump’s visible, direct to the gut insult to the intelligence did what Taylor and Habermas could not:

This notion itself—that there is “no truth”—is the theoretical foundation on which all the other cherished green extremisms rely, including extreme egalitarianism, political correctness, absolutistic social equality, denial of free speech, and so on. The fact that it is definitely not true that there is no truth—astonishingly enough, that fact has indeed become fairly obvious, especially when its blatantly immediate ridiculousness has been made apparent by almost every word out of Trump’s mouth. What absolutely no philosopher, no matter how great, has been able to do over the past four decades—not Habermas, not Taylor, none of them—Donald Trump managed to do within a month. Lord, when evolution self-corrects, it really self-corrects!


Part One: An Overview

1 : Self-Correction at the Leading-Edge

Green Emerged in the 60s and was a Positive Force

Beginning in the 1960s, green first began to emerge as a major cultural force, and it soon bypassed orange (which was the previous leading-edge stage, known in various models as “rational,” “reason,” “formal operational,” “achievement,” “conscientious,” “accomplishment,” “merit,” “profit,” “self-esteem,” “self-authoring,” “excellence,” and “progress”—in short, “modern” in contrast to green’s “postmodern”) as the dominant leading-edge.

The entire revolution of the sixties was driven primarily by this stage [green] of development—in 1959, 3 percent of the population was at green; in 1979, close to 20 percent of the population was—and these events truly and irrevocably changed the world. The Beatles (otherwise sacrosanct in my view) summarized the whole move (and movement) with one of their songs: “All You Need Is Love.” (Total inclusion rules!)

[Ed: what is the source for these stats]

But it veered into an extreme, dysfunctional form

But as the decades unfolded, green increasingly began veering into extreme, maladroit, dysfunctional, even clearly unhealthy forms. Its broad-minded pluralism slipped into a rampant and runaway relativism (collapsing into nihilism), as the notion that all truth is contextualized (or gains meaning from its cultural context) slid into the notion that there is no real universal truth at all, only shifting cultural interpretations (which eventually slid into a widespread narcissism). Central notions (which began as important “true but partial” concepts, but collapsed into extreme and deeply self-contradictory views) included the ideas that all knowledge is, in part, a social construction; all knowledge is context-bound; there are no privileged perspectives; what passes for “truth” is a cultural fashion, and is almost always advanced by one oppressive force or another

### This has been bad for Green as a force for progress

Over two decades ago, in the book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, I summarized this postmodern disaster with the term “aperspectival madness,” because the belief that there is no truth—that no perspective has universal validity (the “aperspectival” part)—when pushed to extremes, as postmodernism was about to do, results in massive self-contradictions and ultimate incoherency (the “madness” part). And when aperspectival madness (“no truth”) infects the leading-edge of evolution, evolution’s capacity for self-direction and self-organization is bound to collapse.

Postmodernism led directly to nihilism and narcissim

And thus postmodernism as a widespread leading-edge viewpoint slid into its extreme forms (e.g., not just that all knowledge is context-bound, but that all knowledge is nothing but shifting contexts; or not just that all knowledge is co-created with the knower and various intrinsic, subsisting features of the known, but that all knowledge is nothing but a fabricated social construction driven only by power). When it becomes not just that all individuals have the right to choose their own values (as long as they don’t harm others), but that hence there is nothing universal in (or held in common by) any values at all, this leads straight to axiological nihilism: there are no believable, real values anywhere. And when all truth is a cultural fiction, then there simply is no truth at all—epistemic and ontic nihilism. And when there are no binding moral norms anywhere, there’s only normative nihilism. Nihilism upon nihilism upon nihilism—“there was no depth anywhere, only surface, surface, surface.” And finally, when there are no binding guidelines for individual behavior, the individual has only his or her own self-promoting wants and desires to answer to—in short, narcissism. And that is why the most influential postmodern elites ended up embracing, explicitly or implicitly, that tag team from postmodern hell: nihilism and narcissism—in short, aperspectival madness. The culture of post-truth.

Systemic nihilism and narcissim is a problem esp for a cultural leading edge

Nihilism and narcissism are not traits that any leading-edge can actually operate with. And thus, if it’s infected with them, it indeed simply ceases to functionally operate. Seeped in aperspectival madness, it stalls, and then begins a series of regressive moves, shifting back to a time and configuration when it was essentially operating adequately as a true leading-edge. This regression is one of the primary factors we see now operating worldwide, and the primary and central cause of all of this is a failure of the green leading-edge to be able to lead at all. Nihilism and narcissism bring evolution to a traffic-jam halt.

Down the Rabbit-Hole of Identity Politics

Yet liberals as well gleefully joined the ethnocentric stampede. Having implicitly denied any worldcentric or universal truths, liberals simply began an obsessive search for ethnocentric after more ethnocentric after yet more ethnocentric. One of the results of this slide, among many, was “identity politics,” where you actively and aggressively identify with (and define yourself solely as) just one race or class or sex or creed (or political orientation or religion or nationality, and so on)—exactly a slide from worldcentric to ethnocentric identity. And if you’re not a member of an obvious minority identity, then you have no real voice in how this country should culturally move forward (whereas real weight would be given to, say, a transgendered, bipolar, female Muslim, which is ethnocentric to the fourth power). There’s not a single thing wrong with any one of those minorities—and every reason they should be fairly and liberally embraced in a worldcentric stance. But if you listen to only decidedly ethnocentric-identified voices, then that evidences exactly the partiality and divisiveness you claim you’re trying to overcome. This is a slide exacerbated by the fact that it is openly and vocally embraced with hyper-pride. (It’s fine to be proud of one’s race or sex or creed, as long as it is alongside other such types and not instead of them or above them or superior to them, which all too often is exactly where identity politics ends up.) [emphasis added]

[Ed: he just nails it here IMO]

3: The Birth of a Post-Truth Culture

The Legitimation Crisis

Like this definition of a legitimation crisis. Plus, the analysis has a lot to it - cf my talk about inequality. People were angry in 2016 because in a sense they were being lied to.

The problem very quickly became what Integral Metatheory calls a “legitimation crisis,” which it defines as a mismatch between Lower-Left, or cultural, beliefs and the Lower-Right systems, or actual background realities, such as the techno-economic base. (“Left” and “Right” do not here refer to political parties but simply to their location on a typical 4-quadrant chart: the “Left-Hand” quadrants represent invisible interior realities—such as those of morals, values, consciousness, and beliefs—and the “Right-Hand” quadrants refer to visible exterior realities—such as concrete techno-economic systems and environments. And a “legitimation crisis” is a profound conflict and mismatch between these two dimensions in any society.)

The cultural belief was that everybody is created equal, that all people have a perfect and equal right to full personal empowerment, that nobody is intrinsically superior to anybody else (beliefs that flourished with green). Yet the overwhelming reality was increasingly one of a stark and rapidly growing inequality—in terms of income and overall worth, property ownership, employment opportunity, healthcare access, and life satisfaction issues. The culture was constantly telling us one thing, and the realities of society were consistently failing to deliver it—the culture was lying. This was a deep and serious legitimation crisis: a culture that is consistently lying to its members simply cannot move forward for long. And if a culture has “no truth,” it has no idea when it’s lying—and thus it naturally lies as many times as it accidentally tells the truth; hence, faster than you can say “deconstruction,” it’s in the midst of a legitimation crisis.

Tech is Green and it gave us search engines that prioritised popularity over truth, goodness, beauty, depth. The apotheosis of “All Opinions are Valid”

Technology had long moved into being the material-system correlate (in the Lower Right) of the cultural beliefs of the green stage (in the Lower Left). The green “Information Age” believed that all knowledge is equal, and it should be totally free and totally uncensored—it was common to say that the Net interprets censorship as a system failure and routes around it. But search engines did not prioritize knowledge in terms of truth, or goodness, or beauty, or inclusivity, or any depth, or any value system at all—not even a growth hierarchy of values or facts—just in terms of popularity and most use. Truth played no role in it.

I commented on this myself in https://rufuspollock.com/2016/11/26/fake-news-post-truth-is-it-news-and-what-can-we-do/. As I said there, the market of ideas is patently mistaken, in fact there may even be a tendenby for bad ideas to drive out good (e.g. good ideas are more complex and therefore less satisfying than bad ones).

Part 2: The Territory

5 : The Reverberating Anti-Green Field

Trump won because he rode the common anti-green sentiments of multiple groups

Amber (large chunk), Orange and even some fed-up Greens …

And the one thing that was true of Donald Trump—more than any other single characteristic that defined him (more than his sexism, more than his racism, more than his xenophobia)—is that every word out of his mouth was anti-green.

We need to include (and ultimately transclude) Amber .. but the risk is Green doubles down on its despising

Trump’s anti-green impulse runs serious, far, and vast (though he consciously is aware of none of this). Whether his proposals are red or amber or orange, they are always also anti-green. And that is the one thing they all have in common, whether they are red, amber, or orange—they are all energized in part by this anti-green self-correcting drive of evolution in search of a functional and self-organizing way forward (and a way that allows each of these stages an actual participation in the overall national dialogue, and doesn’t aggressively deny and ridicule any of them as being merely “deplorable”). As we’ll explore in a moment, amber was activated because it needed to find a way to be integrated into a larger society in a way that had been denied it for a very long time. Any specifically amber moves themselves are not directly part of the overall self-correcting drive of evolution, but the activation of amber itself most definitely is—and its voice desperately needs to be heard. It needs to be “transcended,” most certainly, but it also—and this is the lesson here—needs to be “included,” if evolution is to return to its general functional and self-organizing drive of “transcend and include.”

[Ed: here, here again. This is a major point i’ve been making quietly is that the progressives need to reconnect with the Amber roots e.g. a defined “community” vs multiculturalism. Not just as a piece of political pragmatism but as a genuine way forward.]

And great follow up point (sadly, this hasn’t been happening afaict …)

Trump is so boisterously amber ethnocentric in so many ways, this will force the present green leading-edge into one of two major reactions: it will simply double down on its present hatred, revulsion, and open ridicule of amber (aimed at Trump and followers), or it will pause, realize that its own hatred and ridicule of amber has profoundly contributed to amber’s angry, virulent, hateful resentment of elites everywhere, and hence realize that it must in some ways attempt to understand, include, even compassionately embrace that large portion of the population whom green is in fact supposed to be leading, not despising. If it takes the former route, then the overarching anti-green atmosphere will simply energize amber to force its way into the mainstream, ethnocentric power drives and all, and an increasing series of disasters will inevitably follow. If it takes the latter route, it will be aligning itself with the self-corrective drive of evolution itself as it looks for a more inclusive and comprehensive base platform from which to again take up its leading-edge role of self-organization through self-transcendence, or transcending and truly including. (More about this later.)

### Trump has a point (or is showing us something worth looking at) even if he as a person is repellant …

Now, I’m not saying that what Trump is doing is right. What he is doing is basically ethnocentric, and has to be judged itself in exactly that light. But I am saying that the reason he is doing much of what he is doing is concomitantly driven by a background antigreen morphogenetic field, which has been created as the green leading-edge drowned in a swamp of aperspectival madness, and hence failed significantly to be a genuine leading-edge—it failed to provide any leading direction at all (but rather just a deconstruction of things already in place), because in losing all “truth,” it lost all compass points. All this eventually led to a necessary self-correcting drive of stepping back, refurbishing, and reorganizing in an attempt to create a truly self-organizing dynamic that will allow it to move forward once again. It’s as if you bit into an apple and hit a rusty nail and chipped your leading-edge incisor—the one thing you don’t do is keep biting.

[Ed: again something i’ve been trying to say (very cautiously) to colleagues and friends for the last 4 years]

6: The Primary Cause—and Cure—of Oppression

We all have to “grow up”

Human beings are not born at a worldcentric level of morality, values, or drives—they are not born democratically enthused. They develop to those levels after five or six major stages of development, and by no means does everybody make it. As we’ve seen, some 60 percent of this culture (and some 70 percent of the world’s population) remains at amber ethnocentric (or lower). Every time somebody is making love they are making little Nazis and KKKers to be. The root of such oppressive forces are not caused by exteriors—these specific oppressive forces are not caused by economic factors, nor technological currents, nor political factions, nor geographical realities (although all of those can and do play a contributing role)—but in themselves they are caused by interior realities that have every bit as much existence as any of those exterior occasions.

[Ed: I personally love Wilber’s general “i don’t give a damn” e.g. making little Nazis comment. It wakes people up.]

The last part of that is really central to AET’s thesis about the [§primacy of being]:

The root of such oppressive forces are not caused by exteriors—these specific oppressive forces are not caused by economic factors, nor technological currents, nor political factions, nor geographical realities (although all of those can and do play a contributing role)—but in themselves they are caused by interior realities that have every bit as much existence as any of those exterior occasions.

It is not marxian class structure or the lack of a particular technology that leads to a lack of (true) freedom: it is in our being (and our lack of growing up). The fault dear Horatio, lies not in the starts but in ourselves.

Recognition of growing up is central to … growing up (beyond green)

My simple and central point, after all that digression, is just this: these interior paths can’t be intelligently addressed, navigated, and guided if they are simply denied altogether. Whether we’re tracing them as they move up to higher and higher levels, becoming more diversity-inclusive, more unified, more loving and caring, or whether they run downhill, becoming more domineering and absolutistic, as they will tend to do whenever societal stress explodes and cultural evolution tends to stall (which is exactly what broken green has given us)—but whether one (or even both) of those occur, they cannot be followed, adequately tracked, and adjusted and guided with any real intelligence or wisdom if we completely deny that they exist in the first place. But that is exactly the profoundly broken ground on which we now stand. Not only America but the world itself (economics to technology to every environmental issue) has been hung out to dry by a broken leading-edge that not only is ignorant of these incredibly important interior currents, but actively attacks and tries to deconstruct them wherever they show up.

Part 3: The Immediate Future

What to do about things …

7 : Where Do We Go from Here?

PRIVATE: cf - pretty useful for Petronella

With regard to the dysfunctional green leading-edge itself—the actual primary source of the problem (in addition to hundreds of secondary sources)—there are two major possible ways forward, each of which has some hope for alleviating the traffic jam at the leading-edge.

Option 1 - Green self-heals (possible though non-optimal)

The first is the more likely and the less effective, and that involves the healing of the broken and dysfunctional green leading-edge itself—a move of green, by green, on green, aimed at self-healing and self-correction. Amber and orange are each attempting to do more or less what they are supposed to be doing, operating within the (often grave) limitations of their own levels (although both are also suffering, not only from deficits at their own levels, but also from excessive intrusion by a broken green, and that categorically needs to be remedied as part of the green healing). But green, we have seen, has gone off the deep end. In its intense aperspectival madness, it has heightened and inflamed its own malady and inflicted that illness on every area of society that it possibly can. The primary symptom of this is a widespread negative judgment and condemnation of anything amber and orange (anything not green). Green shows no understanding of how and why each of those levels of being and awareness is a necessary stage in a human’s overall growth and development—that is, that a person arrives at green itself only because they have first developed through amber and then orange…and then green. No amber, no orange—no green. Do you see the suicidal insanity of green hating amber and orange?

Again, for green, these two large blocks (of amber and orange, which are usually mushed together, since green has no conception of individual stages of development) are the great source of the oppressive forces that are turning green people everywhere into “victims,” and it tries to crush these forces out of existence with everything from aggressive political correctness, to criminalizing every “micro-aggression” imaginable, to turning every square inch of the country into an ethnocentric-enhancing “safe space,” to confusing necessary differentiation with oppression. (Green feels that any “differences” that are recognized between any groups automatically become the source of discrimination and oppression, and thus no differences should be acknowledged in the first place—they are only “social constructions” anyway. And it’s true, some are; but some aren’t, and this move only imagines more victims everywhere. Green doesn’t blame the victim, but it too often creates them.)

Option 2 - embrace between the stages of development and a move to integral culture

The sane action in response to a Trump presidency is exactly an opening between, and a deliberately more friendly embrace between, each of the major stages of development found in all adults. This is a call for a genuine inclusion, not green’s version of “inclusion,” which is to aggressively exclude everything not green (all of which is seen as a deplorable). Green wants to be inclusive; it theoretically condemns all marginalization, and some of its advocates even call it “the integral culture.” But green in fact hates orange, and it hates amber, and it doubly hates 2nd-tier integral (because integral reintroduces healthy versions of all the things that green fought against, including healthy growth holarchies, which green considers the core of domination because it thoroughly confuses dominator hierarchies with growth hierarchies—a distinction discovered and healed by integral).

But right now we are considering the possibility that green can itself heal and reconfigure, and thus resume its role as a truly leading leading-edge of evolution (a healing that will almost certainly include many truly integral ideas, but without actually transforming to 2nd-tier integral itself—which is the second major option we will examine in a moment).

Option 1

We need interior growth: not just shouting at people saying “don’t be racist”

Let’s be very clear. From a worldcentric and integral stance, we do indeed want real diversity, we want genuine inclusiveness. But that will take more than someone pointing at all 100 people and simply saying, “We are all one! We all love each other! We make room for everybody! Everybody is welcome! America’s arms are wide open to everybody!” It takes more than just pointing at exteriors and emotionally pronouncing them all one. It takes the interior growth, evolution, and development of each and every person in that crowd of 100, from their own basest egocentric and narcissistic drives (with which we are all born), through their ethnocentric and exclusivist drives (a phase through which we all grow—and many remain), to their worldcentric and integral possibilities, which represent the deepest wishes and highest ideals (that have evolved to date) of good people everywhere. That interior growth (in consciousness and culture) is the actual path to our cherished goals of a real diversity and true inclusivity. Anything less than that yields nothing but nasty versions of less-than-diverse and less-than-inclusive voices, and if those voices are being blindly included in the round table, we will never reach our ideals. What is of concern here is not the ideals or the goals, but the complete lack of any real interior path to those goals—and not even the lack of a real path, but the aggressive attacks on any real paths as if they were nothing but “dominator hierarchies”!

What green can do: acknowledge interiors and lovingly, skillfully help people grow up (and acknowledge and accept growth hierarachies – otherwise what they growing up into?)

So again, it’s not that the core beliefs of the green activists are wrong. It’s that they are entirely ignorant of the interiors of those whom they are trying to evolve. Of course, they are ignorant of their own developmental interiors as well, which certainly doesn’t help. But my point is simply that, for green to re-assume anything like a truly leading leading-edge role, it simply must, at the very least, stop confusing growth hierarchies with dominator hierarchies. Even better, of course, would be to admit that interiors are actually real, then study the massive amount of research on these interior stages themselves, and thus truly become expert in devising ways to genuinely help people grow and evolve to ever more inclusive, more diversity-embracing, and more caring and loving levels of development. Nothing short of that interior development will do anything at all to actually stop ethnocentric oppression and divisiveness. And at the very least, stop actually attacking and viciously condemning people who are attempting to do this!

You can’t necessarily change but you can soften and that is what the leading edge should do … lead (by example)

One of the paradoxical reasons that it is so important that our culture at large understand the general basics of a developmental view is that such an understanding would allow people to see the general limits to how much they will be able to agree with each other in the first place. All 1st-tier stages (crimson, magenta, red, amber, orange, and green), as we saw, think that their truth and values are the only genuinely real and important truth and values in existence. That is not likely to ever change fundamentally (it hasn’t for the last hundred-thousand years that this trait has been in existence). But the degree to which those beliefs are held, and the aggression that is invested in such a belief, can indeed be softened, opened, dosed with a bit of kindness and compassion—and the example for this must come from the leading-edge. That’s one of the things that a leading-edge does: while being essentially the “highest” level of evolution at that point, it leads all levels—it provides a direction that can energize the population at large—and failing that, it fails to lead. That is exactly one of the problems that the collapse of green ended up generating—all other values were not met with an open compassion but were aggressively “deconstructed” and decommissioned and tossed in the “basket of deplorables,” and anyone who continued to believe them was subjected to harsh, vocal, and unrelenting ridicule. The “culture wars” (which, again, are exactly the battles between amber, orange, and green—between traditional mythic religion, modern science and business, and postmodern multiculturalism)—but the culture wars, under green “leadership,” went nuclear.

Sadly, what green was actually teaching this culture, by example, were sophisticated ways to despise (and deconstruct) those who disagree with you—they aren’t just wrong, they are the source of every major force of oppression, injustice, slavery, and worse. You do not want to embrace them with kindness and understanding, you literally want to deconstruct them (while you yourself flounder in aperspectival madness, cackling loudly with each new victory of helping move others to an equal infestation by aperspectival insanity). What so desperately needs to be understood, from a developmental and evolutionary perspective, is that each major stage of development becomes a possible station in life for those who stop there, and there is nothing that can be done about that—except to make sure that all the means of further development are made as widely available as possible (a core task of the leading-edge), and—just as importantly—make room in the society for individuals who are at each station of life (red, amber, orange, green, or integral), and douse the whole affair with outrageous amounts of loving kindness—and do this by example.

[This is a bit harsh on Green: the last culture wars (the enlightenment) were pretty tough too!]

The lessons that Green must learn

Stop despising amber and orange and understand and embrace them

I’ve heard many staunchly green individuals say that the primary lesson they got from this election was not how much they hated Trump and despised his followers (although that is an extremely common, probably majority, response), but that they had to reach out to this huge group of people who put Trump in office—that they had spent their adult lives basically looking down on them, making fun of them and ridiculing them, and what was required instead was to genuinely and truly understand them, to include them in the dialogue, to open themselves to seeing the world from their point of view, to make room for them in their world. And this indeed is exactly the type of genuine healing that embraces the self-correction that evolution is looking for. The leading-edge cannot lead if it despises those whom it is supposed to lead.

Stop the relativism about its own level – green is better ;-)

hence—even if it just wants to see more green “diversity” and “inclusiveness” get produced—then it categorically must get behind that genealogy or growth holarchy as a truly valid—and “true”—way to move forward in a pluralistic postmodern world.

Stop the a-perspectival madness and Start having a point of view (including on technology) and valuing growth hierarchies

At green, the whole “aperspectival madness” disease has to be rethought and rejected in its many forms. As we saw in our little academic sidebar, it’s true that all knowledge is context-bound (but some contexts are universal, and thus some knowledge is too); and it’s true that all knowledge is constructed (but it is co-constructed with subsisting intrinsic factors in the actual world, and thus is not just a “fabrication”); and it’s true that no perspective is privileged (which actually means that the more perspectives that you include, the more adequate and more accurate your map becomes).

… The utterly free flow of, and access to, all information is a noble ideal. But it’s just that—a value, an ideal. In addition to a free flow of data, indexing capacities that are “envalued”—that deal with items like degree of depth, expanse of perspectives (and thus “amount” of truth), developmental holarchies, and other envalued judgments (such as the Good, the True, the Beautiful)—need to be made as available as supposedly “value free” systems. We saw that Google primarily searches information based on its popularity, so the information it retrieves basically reflects the prejudices of the most number of people. Even offering the option to search for “least popular” in addition to the default “most popular” would be a start. But the ways that the online world actually embeds and transmits very extensive—and very limited—value systems need to be increasingly addressed.

[Ed: love this point on tech]

Technologically, the Information Age (the Lower-Right-quadrant social correlate of the Lower-Left-quadrant green wave of cultural development) all too soon became infected with aperspectival madness itself, and, as we saw, it stopped having algorithms that select for the Good, or the True, or the Beautiful, and instead simply feeds back one’s own narcissistic tendencies.

cf How Much is Enough – same issue that in the abdication of value we revert simply to “more”, and, thus, indirectly to a tyranny of the majority at the basest levels both internally and collectively.

Concrete Policy Proposals: Basic Income and Wise Metrics

+ubi +wisemetrics

Not completely convinced by the UBI point (the numbers are generally tough atm). The wise metrics is very nicely put (the 4 quadrants is a good framing).

As for orange economics, although the analyses of this would take a book or two to be complete (as it would for any of these factors), we might start with the economic notion of a guaranteed annual income. As we noted, technologically the world is moving toward a truly utopian but real work-free situation, where everybody would, one way or another, be guaranteed to receive all the (material) basics of a life well lived. And the sooner that happens, the better. Yet this will actually take considerable reworking of both economic theories and economic practices. This is so, in part, because a fundamental problem of most present-day economic theories is that they still essentially reflect the scientific materialism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when they were first created. In short, they track only exterior, material money and wealth, not also interior consciousness and culture. The problem with money is that it can buy almost any artifacts in the Right-Hand quadrants (which are all material or physical items), but it can buy virtually nothing on the interior or Left-Hand quadrants (consciousness, love, care, compassion, intelligence, values, meaning, purpose, vision, motivation, spirituality, emotional goods, mental ideas). Thus, when the gross national product is calculated—which is often taken as an indicator of the overall success of individuals’ lives—not a single one of those really important items is taken into account at all, not even remotely. There is now a growing and vocal discontent that points out that present economic indexes don’t include things like caregiving or parenting or family/relational realities, or any sort of life values at all (which is really just the beginning of an integral inventory of what they don’t include). When we decide that society will provide essentially all the items required for a full life—and we have theories and models and statistics that begin to track all those elements—exactly what elements will those be? A broken green is the last wave you want trying to answer that.

Reduce business regulation: another example where Integral defies classic Left vs Right

I cite this less because of the specific content but as illustration of the way that Integral transcends or (transcludes) the classic political dichotomy (and btw I agree):

In any event, a small technical item that orange business could use right now is the easing of the massive number of regulations that a hyper-sensitive green has put into place. Small businesses in particular are failing in record numbers, as green’s attempts to prevent employee “victims” has virtually paralyzed much of a healthy business operating capacity. This is just a general example of what we’re talking about overall here, which is the difference between a healthy green care and a hyper-sensitive green obsession, which, in attempting to remove all suffering from all life conditions, effectively removes the conditions themselves and, as an unintended consequence, ends up increasing suffering, sometimes enormously (to green’s colossal confusion).

Free Speech was Transcended and Trashed by Extreme Political Correctness and Hyper-Sensitivity

The necessity of giving more awareness to the downsides of a hyper-sensitivity run amok certainly applies to extreme political correctness. The orange drive of free speech versus the green drive of equality has come out with too much “transcend” and not enough “include”—individual free speech and wide-open knowledge acquisition has been sunk in favor of group rights and an overall equality that doesn’t transcend and include freedom but transcends and trashes it, transcends and denies it, transcends and even criminalizes it. The cure for this—well, this is so obvious I’ll just give one example: this problem will have been adequately addressed when the great comedians of our time are again willing to play college campuses. The same goes for micro-aggression, triggers, and safe spaces—they should be allowed to exist only if they can directly face a freed comedy.

Heal with Amber through Understanding, Compassion and Kindness (but that does not mean tolerating unacceptable actions)

As for the effect of green’s aperspectival madness on amber ethnocentric stages, this is the level that truly requires a conscious intention on the part of green, if green wishes at all to heal its nastiness (what Integral theorists, we saw, call “the mean green meme”) and become fit, once again, to actually be the leading-edge. This requires not agreeing with amber, not acting on amber, not accepting all of amber’s actions, but genuinely reaching out in human understanding, compassion, and kindness (while still holding any amber ethnocentric actions that violate worldcentric well-being accountable with sanctions of one variety or another). And this does involve a genuine softening of the widespread view that amber is intrinsically “deplorable.”

Such a view (“they’re deplorable”) might be admissible if amber’s decisions were an actively free choice, but for the most part they aren’t: one does not choose one’s stage of development or its characteristics; these simply come with the territory of that stage itself, and they will persist—whether you like them or not—until that stage passes. The most we do in a “judgmental” fashion is use developmentally discriminating wisdom to make all means of growth as available as possible, while still sanctioning any overt behavior—racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic—coming directly from such ethnocentric stages.

Trump Fake News Killed the Post-Modernism Star

Teaching that “no truth” idea in an ivory tower, divorced from any practical reality, to unsuspecting college students is one thing; seeing it in real action is quite another. And around the world, coming out of essentially every university in existence, there has arisen a thunderous silence. Nobody, but nobody, will say that “there is no truth, only social fabrications.” The “no truth” idea itself is not said, not spoken, not written, not posted, not published, not even whispered—except to argue that it’s a totally mistaken notion. It’s as if the past four decades of intense postmodern philosophizing have been thrown out the window: Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Lacan—all of them, gone! At least when it comes to that specific tenet. After hearing somebody like Trump constantly claiming that there is no truth and that all news agencies who disagree with him are fake news, no self-respecting scholar can even repeat those words. The notion itself has become a massive embarrassment.

The Revolution Must Be Felt: the Progressives

Big +1. This is similar to [Packer’s point][packer], the liberal “left” sold their base down the river not only economically but more importantly culturally.

[packer: https://rufuspollock.com/2016/11/13/brilliant-piece-by-packer-on-hillary-clinton-and-the-populist-revolt/

In an online article by African American Jeremy Flood (cofounder of At the Margins), entitled “The Revolution Must Be Felt,” after emphasizing that Trump’s election was the victory of a strong ethnocentric current, Flood very perceptively confesses, “But in the very same vein, we [liberals] must acknowledge the way in which we refer to Trump’s base, the way we emphasize his support from the ‘non-college educated,’ the way we approach the premise of rural white America generally, relies on that very same prejudicial inference. Our hatred for these people is at its very essence classism [his bold; it is, in other words, an ethnocentric hatred of ethnocentrism]. This cannot be stressed enough. Contempt for white ruralites is built into the fabric of the modern liberal lexicon. We set them up as a vessel of every oppressive construct university liberalism has aimed to dismantle [i.e., as we saw earlier, the single great cause of all forms of oppression]—from fundamentalist religion, to sine qua non nationalism, to a general distrust in science, we’ve sculpted these people into a caricature of barbarian ignorance. And then, when we come knocking for votes, we expect them not to have noticed. In taking these peoples’ votes for granted while unabashedly airing our hostility, we pushed them ever closer to the precipice, and then watched in shock as they jumped.” Angry indeed.

Flood continues, “And if our own classism prevents us from caring about the emotional needs of those we deride as deplorable, we are not really progressives.” He explains:

Do you disagree with the substance of this narrative? Are you aching to insert how [their] views are misleading, the byproduct of sexism, unfair media attention, and double standards? Me too. It doesn’t matter. That was the narrative that we sold to millions of people. And they told us what they thought of it. We lost Michigan. We lost Pennsylvania. We lost Ohio. The razed waste of Unionland. How did we get here?

How indeed? Says Flood, “Pundits can argue forever about whether economic or racial anxiety triggered the detonation. But here is the bottom line: the Left failed [his bold]. We failed not because we didn’t have the facts on our side, not because our policies weren’t better for the working class, not because the redneck sods of the Trumpian horde were too racist to see reason. The left failed because the story they were selling wasn’t strong enough to overcome these not at all new resentments [his italics].”

Ressentiment, most definitely. Flood notes that “Solidarity is a story. It’s composed of our actions and our authenticity. It’s about collective [worldcentric] identity and collective struggle. We are not ‘stronger together’ when half of us are ‘deplorable.’ ” Amen, brother. Our constant point: we simply cannot move forward as a nation when half of the people hate the other half. “We embraced an academic, impersonal style of politics [postmodern poststructuralist], and through our tone and narrative, the Democratic party came to embody exactly the kind of elitist hierarchy it was built to overcome.”

Here’s Packer’s point:

In 2004, the political scientist Samuel Huntington published his final book, “Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity.” He used the term “cosmopolitan élites” to describe Americans who are at home in the fluid world of transnational corporations, dual citizenship, blended identities, and multicultural education. Such people dominate our universities, tech companies, publishers, nonprofits, entertainment studios, and news media. They congregate in cities and on the coasts. Lately, they have become particularly obsessed with the food they eat. The locavore movement, whatever its benefits to health and agriculture, is an inward-looking form of activism. When you visit a farm-to-table restaurant and order the wild-nettle sformato for thirty dollars, the line between social consciousness and self-gratification disappears. Buying synthetic-nitrate-free lunch meat at Whole Foods is also a way to isolate yourself from contamination by the packaged food sold at Kmart and from the overweight, downwardly mobile people who shop there. The people who buy food at Kmart know it.

It is absolutism that one must always watch for

I have come to think that it is non-absolutism, non-dogmatism that is the mark of any “well” approach and that that must be baked into whatever we are up to next. It is the willingness to hold views firmly but without attachment, the willingness to always entertain the possibility one is wrong (and even to hold that view non-attachedly). I term this open-mindedness and long with principles non-violence I think this is one of the fundamental principles of a wisdom and a wise society.

And when originally worldcentric notions regress to ethnocentric displays, they take on the flavor of all amber-stage productions: an absolutistic, fundamentalist, “one-true-way” attitude, and we buy into it with a religious fervor that takes no prisoners. We have seen this happen with science itself, as it slid into amber scientific materialism and reductionistic scientism; with feminism, where for many, it slid into an absolutistic religion, the slightest disagreement with which was viewed as deeply, demonically sexist; we saw it with Marxism, as it slid into a de facto zealot religion for millions—while religion may or may not be the opiate of the masses, Marxism became the opiate of the intellectuals—and we’ve seen it with many political ideologies: even those coming from orange or green, when latched on to with an unquestioning fervor and absolutistic enthusiasm, slid into their lowest ethnocentric and even egocentric displays, with disaster a short step away.

+principle.openmindedness

In summary: green must give up making other stages wrong and adopt growth hierarchies. Former is easy(er), Latter is hard (and unlikely)

For green to move forward and begin actions that would lead to its genuine self-healing, the two steps that I summarized above (drop its reactive hatred and hostility to all previous value levels, and do so by adopting growth holarchies that inherently combat dominator hierarchies) are both mandatory, in my opinion. My sense is that the first step will be much easier and that, indeed, the first step has already begun in many cases. But the second step is a huge one for green, and we will probably have to simply move on to the next major possibility for humanity’s moving forward, if this second step is to be widely implemented.

Option 2

Relative to other sections, I think this part is rather weak and cursory – it is by far the shortest. There’s not much of substance here and it suffers heavily from Wilber’s tendency to repetition, verbosity and un-proofed prose (ill-disciplined might be the best description e.g. “staggeringly” can definitely be overused, we don’t need 10 words for enlightenment where one would do etc).

I would really like to see one place in Wilber’s writing where an integral culture is practically described as it looks concretely “on the ground”. What would work look like? What would research look like? What would spirituality look like? How would integral speak and act in relation to other stages? What would be integral’s shadows etc etc?

10 : Another Way Forward: Truly Integral

One of the central items in an Integral approach is the inclusion of the reality of the developmental aspects of human beings. That’s only one component of Integral Metatheory, but it’s an important component that, as I have often stated, is almost always overlooked or ignored—with disastrous consequences.

What are core elements of integral?

  • Growth hierarchies (vs dominator hierarchies), specifically …
  • The (color) stages of development and their evolutionary nature
  • 2nd tier: no longer being the “only truth” but seeing all the stages and including them (and seeing that we have to journey through them so none of them is “wrong”)
  • 4 Ups: Showing up, Growing up, Waking up, Cleaning up
  • Not simply an idea but a way of being …

4 Ups

This provides a means for us to Show Up (in all of our dimensions or quadrants of being); Grow Up (through all our levels of development and lines of development); Wake Up (to all of our states of consciousness, including those called Enlightenment, Awakening, Metamorphosis, Moksha, Satori, the Great Liberation); and Clean Up (our shadow elements driving epidemic emotional dys-eases). In embracing all of yesterday, it opens us to all of tomorrow.

Transcend and Include – and not just an “idea”

It is grounded in the newly emergent, most inclusive, most unified, and most embracing stages of development and evolution yet to emerge (which “transcend and include” every single previous stage, thus ensuring real comprehensiveness)—and is not merely based on an idea (as is, say, pragmatism), but is grounded in the actual territory of a level of development of being and awareness itself …

Deliberately Development Culture

And if we are going to come anywhere close to ending the disasters of a merely 1st-tier culture—a society defined by its culture wars of amber against orange against green, a society of ethnocentric enthusiasms claiming ultimate value, a culture wracked by indecision anchored in post-truth confusion, a society where fully half of its members hate the other half—then we are going to have to move from a culture of no-truth to a DDC: a deliberately developmental culture.

Wilber Gets Poetic about Awakening

A nice piece of hopeful semi-poetry. It also shows that Wilber definitely gets the nowhere to get to, nothing to fix, and yet, like Buddha, we come back into the world to share transformation.

And the only ones who should be allowed to work politically for a greater tomorrow—and who should indeed thus work—are those who truly understand that it is not necessary to do so, who see the utter fullness of the Great Perfection in each and every moment of existence, and who nonetheless work to trim-tab (or adjust through leadership) the manifestation of more and more and more of the Good and the True and the Beautiful—right here and right now in this gloriously manifest universe, moment to moment to ever-present moment—knowing full well that this entire world is nothing but the dream of an infinite Spirit, yet each and every one of us directly being, in reality, this very Spirit itself, dreaming the world of our own amazement.

And we can try endlessly and tirelessly to fix this dream…or we can simply wake up.

Or—the true and ultimate secret—we can discover the integral embrace that actually does both, thus totally freeing us (by ending the dream) and completely fulfilling us (by fixing it), miraculously performed fully and together in one and the same instant, now to now to endlessly now…


  1. The general quality of the evidence and examples could be better and this results in errors (one has the sense these are pop cultural snippets that Wilber has picked out). For example, Wilber cites example of Jerry Seinfeld refusing to play college campuses. But a big of digging reveals this is not what he said (he said he heard that other comedians were not playing campuses). See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTadkn45Y0I ↩︎