INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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Elliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over a hundred published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He's currently the director of the Transpersonal Psychology Program at Akamai University. He has also written a number of self-published books, including Numberama: Recreational Number Theory In The School System, Modern Religions: An Experiential Analysis And Exposé, and The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. Elliot enjoys playing the piano, tennis, and ballroom dancing, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.
An Integral Use of Violence Would Lead to More Violence
Response to Joe Corbett
But lets do it wisely and ethically, in ways that will not backlash on us with more violence than we could even imagine.
I can appreciate the extreme urgency and enormously high stakes for survival of our species that motivated Joe Corbett to write the following passage in his recent Integral World essay: An Integral Use of Violence for Social Transformation?:
The question is whether violence can ever be used in a way that is instructive and mobilizing of the people against power and money, and I think it can if it is used in an intelligent and precisely targeted way. For instance, if key leaders of the 1 percent, e.g. central players in the banking collapse, corrupt corporate politicians, unrepentant fossil energy executives, billionaire neocon-philanthropists, and racist/war-mongering media pundits and their owner-masters were assassinated (without innocent bystanders being harmed) the mass media would be virtually forced to put a spotlight on the criminal and anti-democratic histories of these individuals and the motives behind killing them.
I don't have ready-made facile alternatives to what Joe is considering here—namely assassinating the key leaders of the 1 percent who are responsible for much of the evils of the world and the very real likelihood of the premature ending of our species. But I at least want to express my strong feelings that this is not a workable (or ethical in my opinion) solution.
The assertively peaceful action-oriented philosophies of Gandhi and King that practiced what they preached—namely that violence breeds more violence—is very much what I believe would occur if the scenario that Joe is offering us for consideration were to actually happen. How long would it take for the right-wing militias and Tea Party and even worse then we can imagine to become totally out of control and start assassinating our progressive and liberal leaders in return for our own violent acts? I would guess perhaps 24 hours—and from there the totalitarian state of Orwell's 1984 would be with us that much sooner.
No I don't think an integral use of violence for social transformation is the way to go here. Would I heed Wilber's advice and kill Hitler if I saw him walking down the street? I most certainly would—but somehow there is a difference to me between killing Hitler and assassinating the 1 percent leaders that Joe is asking us to seriously consider for our policies of survival. But Joe paints the urgency of the picture quite well—I must admit—as he says:
Eliminating the more destructive and ecogenocidal forms of predatory global capitalism is a matter of self-preservation for the species and its current inhabitants.
I am in agreement with Joe about this, but not with his suggested methods of accomplishing this. I must put my faith in the “peaceful revolution” which was exemplified for me by the crux of the Occupy movement. In my opinion there has been some progress that has been made in regard to avoiding—at least temporarily—the worst of what Joe has described, just by looking at the results of our recent United States election. But of course the dangers are all too real, and it is going to take much more than electoral politics to avoid the multitude of looming disasters that are surrounding us—from continuous wars to economic recession to drastic cutting of human service programs for those in need to the destruction of the environment.
My own belief is that the best thing we can do is to combine the Occupy movement with any and every progressive element at our disposal—from the Green Party to Van Jones' Rebuilding the Dream movement to the Progressive Caucus in the Democratic Party.
I believe that the Occupy movement has had an enormous impact on the state of consciousness in this country, and had a significant effect in moving the Democratic party at least somewhat away from the right of center directions it was heading in not very long ago. Yes I also will say that I think Obama and company used this as a skillful way of winning the election, and without continued enormous and unrelenting pressures the kind of dangers that Joe describes would likely happen whichever political is running our country. But it is just this kind of enormous and unrelenting pressure that I am advocating for—however I will stop short of an integral use of violence for this social transformation, and I will go on record to state my opposition to assassinating the top leaders of the 1 percent. Yes lets get rid of them and change our whole capitalist system that has run amok and out of control.
But lets do it wisely and ethically, in ways that will not backlash on us with more violence than we could even imagine. Lets dramatically increase and combine all forms of civil and political progressive political actions—with the common theme that the crux of Occupy has envisioned for us—peaceful revolution.