Reflections on Ken Wilber's The Religion of Tomorrow
(2017) - Parts
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
More essays by Ray Harris | Ray Harris' website: www.novelactivist.com
Ray Harris is a frequent contributor to this website. He has written articles on 9/11 and the Iraq war. In this open letter he responds to Wilber's "The War in Iraq
, posted at this website. Harris lives in Australia and can be contacted at: email@example.com
of the Iraq War
An Open Letter
It may not be 9/11 that has changed the world forever, but America's reaction in the wake of 9/11.
It was interesting to see you try to piece together bits of Wilber and try to provide some sort of integral answer to the War in Iraq. However, what bits and pieces you did cobble together was hardly enlightening, in fact some of it was plain wrong-headed.
To be fair to Ken though he has not had much time or inclination to respond fully and I rather suspect his mind is quite reasonably on other things (namely Kosmic Karma). But there it is on your website, however truncated and partial, with Ken's permission.
If we are to follow the logic of 'integral' then any analysis of this war must be at least AQAL. We must look at internal and external collective and individual causes at each level. This examination must consider all the relevant facts, including important historical and social detail.
I'm afraid that Spiral Dynamics just does not cut it as a fine enough analytical tool. For sure it makes some interesting contributions but we must remember that at its heart it is a line of development within the UL and LL quadrants (in other words, its an intersubjective line). Now Don has attempted to correct this by creating SDi, but still it suffers from being partial. Perhaps Don is addressing this but SDi still fails to explain the correlates of the Values memes in the other quadrants. Sure, he has explained some broad correlates but in my opinion these are very general and somewhat speculative. Overall the SD exercise becomes highly reductive it glosses over important detail and reduces complexity to SD 'soundbites'.
This is not Don's fault really. Clare Graves' work is what it is. The problem lies in trying to use it as a meta-system when it is clearly limited. You have to know when to use it and when not to. Unfortunately it has become the lingua franca for Ken's political analysis and basically it kinda sucks. It's too blunt an instrument.
That's the first mistake Ken makes. The second is to make some rather clichιd remarks. Ken says:
"My heart goes out to the families of the hundreds of thousands of people whom Saddam has murdered (is anybody speaking for them in all the protests?)"
Yes Ken, a great many are speaking for them. A significant number of the organisations behind the protests have thought about this issue and have put forward various proposals. It is just plain wrong to suggest or imply that people are ignoring this issue. It's simply that the immediacy of the war has placed that issue in the background.
He also says:
"GREEN says, no way, let's be loving."
This is just bad caricature. And here he fails to distinguish between the Mean Green Meme (MGM) and GREEN in general. It's true that some suggest we just be 'loving' but many are also looking at the issue in a much, much deeper way. We must not only distinguish between the MGM, but also between superficial and mature GREEN. It is GREEN who first develops notions of conflict resolution. Ken may not be up to date on this but a good portion of GREEN inspired conflict resolution and consensus politics has matured a great deal (it is critically aware of the endless meeting syndrome and differentiates between 'naοve' consensus and advanced consensus, conflict resolution now talks about conflict management). And least people think that GREEN is resolutely anti-war we should remember that there have been many GREEN organizations that have supported and argued for UN Peace Keeping missions. The armed intervention in East Timor was applauded by many of the groups that now reject this latest conflict. Many GREEN activists would argue that the critical factor is the 'motivation' for armed intervention.
Furthermore, it is important to note that BLUE can also develop a strong anti-violence stand. Many Christians and Muslims are members of the anti-war coalition and a good few of these oppose the war on solid BLUE moral principles.
So, what would a Second Tier answer to the current situation be?
Perhaps we might first suggest what it would not be. It would not be dishonest and inaccurate. It would clearly state its objectives and it's reasoning. So let's examine the stated reasons for this war and see if they pass the test.
- Saddam has links with al Qaeda. This is simply not true. It's unfortunate to see soldiers writing 'for 9/11' on the sides of bombs dropped on Baghdad. There is no link between 9/11 and Iraq. Saddam belongs to the socialist Ba'ath party. It is secular and nationalist. Osama bin Laden belongs to the Wahhabi, an ultra-purist Sunni sect. Osama bin Laden has named Saddam and the Ba'ath regime as infidels, as targets for jihad. The only link between Iraq and al Qaeda is a small band of rebels in the mountains of the North East. Saddam has tolerated them because they are largely engaged in a guerilla war with the Kurds and it suits him that his one of his enemies is fighting another of his enemies.
- Saddam will supply weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to terrorists. He might (if he in fact has the weapons the US says he has - and there is considerable debate about just this issue). The Ba'ath regime has been a supporter of the Palestinian cause and Saddam has supported Hamas and other Palestinian groups. But this argument obscures the real issue the arms trade. How did al Qaeda get the weapons it already has in the first place? The truth is that there is a conventional, and a grey and black market in arms dealing. Any group that has the money can get weapons. An investigation into this market will reveal that governments often create a 'back door' in order to sell arms illegally. The United States is as guilty of this as France and other countries. The CIA regularly supplies arms to rebel groups that then find their way onto the black market. Terrorists don't need Saddam, all they need is money.
- Saddam is a monster who uses WMD on his own people. This is the moral argument. The problem with this argument is that it is both inconsistent and hypocritical. At the time of his most outrageous acts the West was his reluctant ally and provided him with WMD's and the technical capacity to manufacture his own. The main players were France, Germany, the US and Britain. The hypocrisy of this argument lies in the fact that it is put aside whenever it suits. The inconsistency lies in the fact that there are other regimes that treat their people very badly, Burma, the Chinese in Tibet, several African regimes, etc. It would be great if the US was sincere and consistent in its desire to overthrow morally bankrupt regimes, but it quite clearly isn't. In fact it is well known to have supported several nasty dictatorships in the past.
Second Tier is fearless and comprehensive in its analysis. It is aware of its biases and inclinations. It looks at all sides of the argument, both left and right. It is adept at seeing through spin and propaganda.
So what are the real reasons for this war?
Since his attack on Kuwait Saddam has been something of an uncontrollable and unpredictable force in the region he has turned rogue. As such he poses a threat to the strategic interests of the US in that region. These interests fall into two broad categories - Israel and oil. But before we examine these two issues we need to understand the new climate in the US. It is clear that the events of 9/11 have scarred the consciousness of America. But unfortunately the current administration is using it to push an agenda that had in fact been formulated well before 9/11. There is no secret in this agenda, as you will soon see. It has been devised by a group of Republicans called the neo-conservatives (Neocons). They include key members of the current administration, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, even Jeb Bush, the President's infamous brother and electoral benefactor. This group now has significant power and they are intent on exercising that power.
The stated aim of this group is to ensure American pre-eminence in the new century. To do this they advise ensuring that no other nation, or group of nations rise in power to rival the interests of America.
"Another document obtained by the Herald, written by Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby, called upon the United States to "discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role" ("Wilfull Blindness", George Monbiot, The Guardian , March 11, 2003)
The two main candidates as rivals are a successful European Union and an Asian sphere under the influence of a growing Chinese economy. As we shall see the war in Iraq is a preliminary chess move to thwart the growing economic might of Europe.
There is no need for me to detail the objectives of the 'Neocons'. They do a good job of that themselves. Here are some links.
The American Enterprise Institute
Bush's speech to AEI, 27/2/03
The Project for the New American Century
The Israeli lobby is a powerful and influential group in American politics. Traditionally Jews have been strong Democrat supporters but the Republicans have sought to shift this allegiance. Saddam is no threat to American soil but he is a threat to Israel. He is openly supportive of the Palestinian struggle and of Yassar Arafat. During the Gulf War Saddam was able to fire missiles into Israel, these would have been even more potent if they had had chemical, biological or nuclear agents on board. Strengthening Israel's hand in the Middle East is in America's interest; it is certainly in the Republican Party's interest.
But there is an even more bizarre and disturbing reason for America's position lurking in the corridors of power and that is the influence in the Republican party of the fundamentalist Christian Coalition under the direction of Pat Robertson. This unique brand of American fundamentalism believes sincerely that Christ will return when Jerusalem is restored and the Third Temple built on the Temple Mount (http://www.templemountfaithful.org/. and http://www.templemount.org/tempprep.html). There is however a small problem - the claim of the Palestinians to part of Jerusalem and the al- aqsa mosque which now sits atop the Mount. Whilst it seems bizarre we cannot discount the influence of Pat Robertson in the background. His father was Senator Willis Robertson, mentor to Bush's grandfather Senator Prescott Bush, and Robertson was an adviser to Ronald Regan, the President the Neocons most admire. There are elements in Bush's rhetoric which lean on the imagery of the religious right, an important constituency and an important element of the conservative narrative.
This is not immediately what it seems. The US is not particularly interested in controlling Iraqi oil. Its focus is on a much bigger picture. It is interested in controlling oil in the entire region. But more importantly it is interested in controlling OPEC and ensuring the price of oil is pegged to the dollar. In 1999 Iraq began to sell its oil in euros. As the dollar fell against the euro Iraq profited. Both Venezuela (the current head of OPEC and the victim of a recent failed US backed coup) and Iran have discussed following suit. If OPEC uses the euro as the standard then the dollar will collapse further and thus weaken the US economy. The EU will then become the dominant economic power in the world and seriously challenge US economic hegemony. This is a major threat to the US, particularly in the Neocon worldview. This is exactly what they are afraid of. For a fuller account see http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~pdscott/iraq.html.
THE PRIME DIRECTIVE
The primary ethical imperative of integral politics is the health of the entire AQAL spectrum. Any action that is taken must consider the implications on each of the quadrants and each of the levels. This includes the health of the spectrum for all peoples not just the privileged few in the West.
An integral analysis might consider armed intervention, but only when the consequences of not taking action are clearly worse.
For example, the simplistic argument for the war in Iraq is that getting rid of Saddam will allow the creation of a democracy and the 'freeing' of the Iraqi people. But an integral analysis would show that this is an extremely unlikely consequence in Iraq's case. To begin with the majority of Iraqi's are Shia at 60%, the next largest group are the Kurds at 23%. The ruling elite is made up of a powerful Sunni minority of only 17% of the population. The Sunni are then divided up into clans, of which Saddam's, the Abu Nassir from Takrit, hold much of the power.
If free elections were held tomorrow it is clear that the results would represent the ethnic split in Iraq. The Shia would gain power and very likely align themselves with their brethren in Iran. This would be totally unacceptable to the Kurds and the Sunni. The Sunni would be particularly resistant to a power shift because they would stand to loose a good measure of their privilege. Any interim US imposed government however, would likely support a Sunni centered administration. It could not conceive of allowing either Shia or Kurds a dominant role. In any scenario there is a great chance of civil unrest and even the likelihood of a civil war, with both Iran and Turkey extremely nervous about the balance of power.
This situation is made worse by the likely consequences that flow from how the war is currently unfolding. The US administration expected the Iraqi army to collapse a lot sooner; they also expected the Iraqi people to welcome them as liberators. It has not turned out that way. Instead the Iraqis see the US as invaders and Saddam has turned to unconventional tactics (there should have been no surprise here Saddam is acting like the RED/purple warlord he is and the Americans are using blue/ORANGE 'rules' of war). The medium term consequence of this is that there is unlikely to be any definitive peace. The US may topple Saddam but elements of the Iraqi population will continue to resist.
To put this in blunt SD language: a RED/Blue regime will regress into a RED/Purple anarchic mess as the result of a poorly conceived Blue/ORANGE act of aggression.
So what is the answer?
Any developmental progress must be the result of an internal demand. It can never be imposed from without the seed must already exist within. Any intervention must be undertaken as the result of this internal tension and, more importantly, it must be undertaken for the sole purpose of freeing that tension. The Neocon notion of freeing the Iraqi people is only a hoped for by-product of a grander plan the US motives are simply not pure.
Furthermore, any integral intervention would very mindful of the critical importance of a post-intervention strategy. The Anglo-American alliance has entered this war without fully developing a post-war plan. As I write there is still debate about whether or not the UN should be involved and how much.
The US, in its unilateral action, has been downright nasty and dangerous. It is not only Iraq that has been affected. US belligerence has shaken the foundation of the UN and driven a wedge into the EU. It may not be 9/11 that has changed the world forever, but America's reaction in the wake of 9/11.
Both Ken and Don have commented in the past on the 'Second Tier' implications of Bush's 'Compassionate Conservatism' and Blair's 'Third Way'. However their recent actions tell a different story. The fact is these labels are just words indeed, they are very cynical words, mere spin (the Third Way is the concoction of the think-tank, Nexus (http://www.netnexus.org/), which is linked to the PR firm, Lawson Lucas Mendelsohn (LLM, http://www.llm.co.uk/home.htm) - the inspiration comes from the success of this strategy which was first used by the Australian Labor Party in the 80's).
Such words are cheap - it's the actions that count. So where are Bush and Blair now the harbingers of a new politics or the same old wolf in sheep's clothing?