INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Integral World Forum


Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".

The following fragment is taken from the Introduction to Volume 8 of the Collected Works of Ken Wilber (Shambhala, 1999-2000), which covers The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998) and One Taste (1999). It provides the necessary background to the essay "Dimensions of Integral Politics" by Greg Wilpert posted on this website, for it shows what Wilpert is summarizing and responding to. Wilber outlines some of the political implications of his integral model. It was posted here with permission of Ken Wilber (FV).

Some Thoughts on
Integral Politics

Ken Wilber

Politics. I have been working with Drexel Sprecher, Lawrence Chickering, Don Beck, Jim Garrison, Jack Crittenden, and several others toward an all-level, all-quadrant political theory (in addition to working with the writings of political theorists too numerous to list). We have been involved with advisors to Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Tony Blair, and George W. Bush, among others. There is a surprisingly strong desire, around the world, to find a "Third Way" that unites the best of liberal and conservative—President Clinton's Vital Center, George W. Bush's Compassionate Conservatism, Germany's Neue Mitte, Tony Blair's Third Way, and Thabo Mbeki's African Renaissance, to name a few—and many theorists are finding an all-level, all-quadrant framework to be the sturdiest foundation for such.

Here is what I consider to be my own particular theoretical orientation, developed largely on my own, which has then become a framework for discussions with these other theorists, who bring their own original ideas for a cross-fertilization. I will first indicate my own thoughts, and then the areas where these other theorists have helped me enormously.

In the last chapter of Up from Eden ("Republicans, Democrats, and Mystics"), I made the observation that, when it comes to the cause of human suffering, liberals tend to believe in objective causation, whereas conservatives tend to believe in subjective causation. That is, if an individual is suffering, the typical liberal tends to blame objective social institutions (if you are poor it is because you are oppressed by society), whereas the typical conservative tends to blame subjective factors (if you are poor it is because you are lazy). Thus, the liberal recommends objective social interventions: redistribute the wealth, change social institutions so that they produce fairer outcomes, evenly slice the economic pie, aim for equality among all. The typical conservative recommends that we instill family values, demand that individuals assume more responsibility for themselves, tighten up slack moral standards (often by embracing traditional religious values), encourage a work ethic, reward achievement, and so on.

In other words, the typical liberal believes mostly in Right-Hand causation, the typical conservative believes mostly in Left-Hand causation. (Don't let the terminology of the quadrants confuse you—the political Left believes in Right-Hand causation, the political Right believes in Left-Hand causation; had I been thinking of political theory when I arbitrarily arranged the quadrants, I would probably have aligned them to match).

The important point is that the first step toward a Third Way that integrates the best of liberal and conservative is to recognize that both the interior quadrants and the exterior quadrants are equally real and equally important. We consequently must address both interior factors (values, meaning, morals, the development of consciousness) and exterior factors (economic conditions, material wellbeing, technological advance, social safety net, environment)—in short, a true Third Way would emphasize both interior development and exterior development.

Let us therefore focus for a moment on the area of consciousness development. This is, after all, the hardest part for liberals to swallow, because the discussion of "stages" or "levels" of anything (including consciousness) is deeply antagonistic to most liberals, who believe that all such "judgments" are racist, sexist, marginalizing, and so on. The typical liberal, recall, does not believe in interior causation, or even in interiors, for that matter. The typical liberal epistemology (e.g., John Locke) imagines that the mind is a tabula rasa, a blank slate, that is filled with pictures of the external world. If something is wrong with the interior (if you are suffering), it is because something is first wrong with the exterior (the social institutions)—because your interior comes from the exterior.

But what if the interior has its own stages of growth and development, and is not simply piped in the from the external world? If a true Third Way depends upon including both interior development and exterior development, then it would behoove us to look carefully at these interior stages of consciousness unfolding. And here some surprises await the typical liberal.

This is where my work has been helpful to political theorists who are working on a Third Way (in both its liberal and conservative versions). In books such as Integral Psychology, I have correlated over one hundred developmental models of consciousness, East and West, ancient and modern, which helps to give us a very solid picture of the stages of development of the subjective realm—not as a rigid series of unalterable levels but as general guide to the possible waves of consciousness unfolding.

If the first step toward a truly integrated Third Way is to combine the interior and the exterior (the Left-Hand and the Right-Hand, the subjective and objective), the second step is to understand that there are stages of the subjective—stages, that is, of consciousness evolution. To help elucidate these stages, we can use any of the more reputable maps of interior development, such as those of Jane Loevinger, Robert Kegan, Clare Graves, William Torbert, Susanne Cook-Greuter, or Beck and Cowan's Spiral Dynamics. For this simplified overview, I will use just three broad stages: preconventional (or egocentric), conventional (or sociocentric), and postconventional (or worldcentric).

The traditional conservative ideology is rooted in a conventional, mythic-membership, sociocentric wave of development. Its values tend to be grounded in a mythic religious orientation (such as the Bible); it usually emphasizes family values and patriotism; it is strongly sociocentric (and therefore often ethnocentric); with roots as well in aristocratic and hierarchical social values and a tendency toward patriarchy and militarism. This type of mythic membership and civic virtue dominated cultural consciousness from approximately 1,000 BCE to the Enlightenment in the West, whereupon a fundamentally new average mode of consciousness—the rational-egoic—emerged on an influential scale, bringing with it a new mode of political ideology, namely, liberalism.

The liberal Enlightenment understood itself to be in large measure a reaction against the mythic-membership structure and its fundamentalism, in two aspects especially: the socially oppressive power of myths with their ethnocentric prejudices (e.g., all Christians are saved, all heathens go to hell), and the nonscientific nature of the knowledge claimed by myths (e.g., the universe was created in six days). Both the active oppression instituted by mythic/ethnocentric religion and its nonscientific character were responsible for untold suffering, and the Enlightenment had as one of its goals the alleviation of this suffering. Voltaire's battle cry—which set the tone of the French Enlightenment—was "Remember the cruelties!"—the suffering inflicted by the Church on millions of people in the name of a mythic God.

In place of an ethnocentric mythic-membership, based on a role identity in a hierarchy of other role identities, the Enlightenment sought an ego identity free from ethnocentric bias (the universal rights of man) and based on rational and scientific inquiry. Universal rights would fight slavery, democracy would fight monarchy, the autonomous ego would fight the herd mentality, and science would fight myth: this is how the Enlightenment understood itself (and in many cases, rightly so). In other words, at its best the liberal Enlightenment represented—and was a product of—the evolution of consciousness from conventional/sociocentric to postconventional/ worldcentric.

Now had liberalism been just that—the product of an evolutionary advance from ethnocentric to worldcentric—it would have won the day, pure and simple. But, in fact, liberalism arose in a climate that I have called flatland. Flatland—or scientific materialism—is the belief that only matter (or matter/energy) is real, and that only narrow science has any claim to truth.[1] (Narrow science, recall, is the science of any Right-Hand domain, whether that be atomistic science of the Upper Right, or systems science of the Lower Right.) Flatland, in other words, is the belief that only the Right-Hand quadrants are real.

And liberalism, arising directly in the midst of this scientific materialism, swallowed its ideology hook, line, and sinker. In other words, liberalism became the political champion of flatland. The only thing that is ultimately real is the Right-Hand, material, sensorimotor world; the mind itself is just a tabula rasa, a blank slate that is filled with representations of the Right-Hand world; if the subjective realm is ill, it is because objective social institutions are ill; the best way to free men and women is therefore to offer them material-economic freedom; thus scientific materialism and economic equality are the major routes of ending human suffering. The interior realms—the entire Left-Hand domains—are simply ignored or even denied. All interiors are equal, and that ends that discussion.[2] But this desire to alleviate human suffering is applied universally—all people are to be treated fairly, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed (the move from ethnocentric to worldcentric). Thus, liberal political theory was coming from a higher level of development, but a development that was caught in pathological flatland. Put bluntly, liberalism was a sick version of a higher level.

That is the great irony of liberalism. Theorists have long agreed that traditional liberalism is inherently self-contradictory, because it champions equality and freedom, and you can have one or the other of those, not both. I would put this contradiction as follows: Liberalism is itself the product of a whole series of interior stages of consciousness development—from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric—whereupon it turned around and denied the importance or even the existence of those interior levels of development! Liberalism, in championing only objective causation (i.e., flatland), denied the interior path that produced liberalism.[3] The liberal stance itself is the product of stages that it then denies—and there is the inherent contradiction of liberalism.

Liberalism thus refused to make any "judgments" about the interiors of individuals—no stance is better than another!—and instead focused merely on finding ways to fix the exterior, economic, social institutions, and thus it completely abandoned the interiors (values, meanings, interior development) to the conservatives. The conservatives, on the other hand, fully embraced interior development—but only up to the mythic-membership stage, which is nonetheless healthy as far as it goes: a healthy version of a lower level. (Mythic-membership, civic virtue, the blue meme, the conventional/conformist stage of development—these are all normal, healthy, natural, necessary stages of human development, and this sturdy social structure is still the main base of traditional conservative politics.)[4]

So here is the truly odd political choice that we are given today: a sick version of a higher level versus a healthy version of a lower level—liberalism versus conservatism.[5]

The point is that a truly integrated Third Way would embrace a healthy version of the higher level—namely, rooted in the postconventional/ worldcentric waves of development, it would equally encourage both interior development and exterior development—the growth and development of consciousness and subjective wellbeing, as well as the growth and development of economic and material wellbeing. It would be, in other words, "all-level, all-quadrant."

Moreover, from this spacious vantage point, the prime directive of a genuine Third Way would be, not to try to get everybody to a particular level of consciousness (integral, pluralistic, liberal, or whatever), but to insure the health of the entire spiral of development at all of its levels and waves. (The nature and importance of the prime directive is explored in the Introduction to Volume Seven of the Collected Works.) Thus the two steps toward a truly integral Third Way are: (1) uniting subjective and objective, and (2) seeing stages of the subjective and thus arriving at the prime directive.[6]

That is the general orientation that I have brought into the political discussions with the aforementioned theorists. From Chickering (Beyond Left and Right) and Sprecher I have adopted the important distinction between "order" and "free" wings within both conservatism and liberalism, referring to whether emphasis is placed on collective or individual ends. They also define Left as believing in objective causation and Right as believing in subjective causation.[7] This results in the widely used Chickering/Sprecher quadrants of order Right, free Right, order Left, free Left.[8] The order wings of both Left and Right wish to impose their beliefs on all, usually via government, whereas the free wings of both ideologies place the rights of individuals first. For example, those who wish the state to use its authority to reinforce conventional roles and values are order Right, while the politically correct movement and feminists who wish to use the state to enforce their version of equality are order Left. Free-market economic libertarians are generally free Right, civil libertarians are generally free Left.

Those political quadrants happen to align, in significant ways, with my four quadrants, because the upper quadrants are individual or "free," and the lower quadrants are collective or "order"; the interior quadrants are right/conservative, and the exterior quadrants are left/liberal.[9] This shows us which quadrant a particular theorist thinks is the most important (and therefore should be manipulated or addressed in attempting to achieve policy outcomes). The idea, of course, is that all four quadrants are unavoidably important in reality. Thus, an "all-level, all-quadrant" approach once again can serve as a theoretical basis for a truly integrated political orientation.

Jack Crittenden (Beyond Individualism) has been applying the notion of compound individuality developed in Up from Eden to political and educational theory, and has constantly added to my own understanding of these ideas. Don Beck's Spiral Dynamics (developed with Christopher Cowan) is a wonderful elucidation of Clare Graves's pioneering work, and has had numerous applications in the "real world," from politics to education to business, and I have benefited greatly from those many discussions as well. Beck probably has as good an understanding of the prime directive as anybody, and my own formulations have been enriched by his and Cowan's work. Jim Garrison, as president of the State of the World Forum, has had invaluable experience about how an integral vision will—and often will not—play out on the world stage. Michael Lerner's "Politics of Meaning," though often committed to order Left, is a powerful attempt to get liberals to look at the interior quadrants (meaning, value, spirituality), which they have classically avoided like the plague, an avoidance that has had dire consequences (e.g., the interiors have been left to the conservatives and their often reactionary, mythic-membership values, which are fine as a partial foundation of society, disastrous when left exclusively to their own devices). In all of this, we are looking for hints as to what a second-tier or integral Constitution might look like.[10]

This is a small sampling of some the political implications and applications of an "all-level, all-quadrant" approach, not merely as I have developed it, but as numerous theorists have done so, with their own original and highly significant ideas, which are now increasingly finding a mutual support.



NOTES


  1. Flatland is explained in The Marriage of Sense and Soul, and in more detail in SES and BH. I use the term in two senses: (1) Technically, it is the belief that only Right-Hand realities are irreducibly real; the reduction of all Left-Hand events to their Right-Hand correlates. (2) I also use the word "flatland" to mean any Left-Hand belief that either comes from, or believes only in, one particular level of consciousness. Thus, behaviorists are flatland in the first sense (they believe only in objectively observable behavior), and pluralistic relativists are flatland in the second (they acknowledge only the values of the green meme).

    Within flatland reductionism (in the first sense), there are two degrees: subtle reductionism, which reduces everything to the Lower-Right quadrant (dynamical process systems, chaos and complexity theories, traditional systems theory, social autopoiesis, the Web of Life, etc.), and gross reductionism, which goes even further and reduces those systems to atoms (reduces all phenomena to atomistic units in the Upper Right). Subtle reductionism is also known as exterior holism or flatland holism (in contrast to integral holism, which unites both interior holism and exterior holism). Both gross and subtle reductionism believe the entire world can be accounted for in third-person it-language (i.e., they are both monological, not dialogical or translogical). The "crime of the Enlightenment," incidentally, was subtle reductionism, not gross reductionism. The Enlightenment philosophes were the first great proponents of the System de la Nature and the "great interlocking order" (Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self; see also SES, chaps. 12 and 13).

  2. This "blank slate" view of the human mind—with its correlates in a psychology of behaviorism and associationism, and an epistemology of empiricism—was adopted by liberalism for many reasons, not least of which that promised the "unlimited perfectibility" of human beings through various types of objective social engineering. All innate differences, capacities, and structures were summarily rejected, and human beings, born in a state rather akin to a blob of silly putty, could thus be molded by exterior institutions and forces (behaviorism, associationism) into any desired state.

    David Hartley, in his Observations on Man (1749), had worked out a psychological theory (associationism) that viewed the mind as assembly of sensations; this fit well the empirical theories of epistemology (Locke, Berkeley, Hume); and the entire general package was made to order for the rising political theories of liberalism. James Mill and his son John Stuart Mill embraced these ideas for a simple reason: "In psychology," John wrote of his father, "his fundamental doctrine was the formation of all human character by circumstances [objective causation], through the universal principle of association, and the consequent unlimited possibility of improving the moral and intellectual condition of mankind…." This improvement could occur by behavioristic education, where the proper exteriors are imprinted on the interiors; or, especially in later versions, by more aggressive social engineering (which is why behaviorism—no matter how crude and incorrect in most respects—remained the state psychology of the Soviet Union, and it remains the implicit psychology of many forms of traditional liberalism).

    As John Passmore (A Hundred Years of Philosophy) points out: "In one of his earliest speeches, [John Stuart] Mill announced that he shared his father's belief in perfectibility; that same faith is no less strongly expressed in the last of Mill's writings. Innate differences he always rejected out of hand, never more passionately than in his The Subjection of Women (1869), in which he argued that even 'the least contestable differences' between the sexes are such that they may 'very well have been produced by circumstances [objective causation] without any differences of natural capacity [subjective causation]." Always there is the blank slate, into which a more perfect world will be poured from the outside, with no thought that there might be realities on the interior that need to be addressed as well. The "blank slate" meant radical social policy. "Associationism, in Mill's eyes, is not merely a psychological hypothesis, to be candidly examined as such: it is the essential presumption of a radical social policy."

    The same was true for empiricism: not just an epistemology, but a blueprint for social action, based almost entirely on objective causation (and an implicit denial of subjective causation), which was one of the main motives for adopting it. "Empiricism, similarly, is more than an epistemological analysis; not be an empiricist is to adhere to 'the Establishment'—to be committed to the 'sacred' doctrines and institutions." To believe in anything other than empiricism is, says Mill, "the great intellectual support of false doctrines and bad institutions." Empiricism is thus the doorway to molding human beings in an unlimited fashion (hence "perfectibility" as a social engineering agenda).

    On the one hand, as we will see, this was a noble effort to move from ethnocentric notions of innate but often discriminatory "differences" (e.g., heathens are born without a soul) to a worldcentric, postconventional morality free of prejudice and bias (this is a motive I share). The fact is, much of the "Establishment"—which in Mill's time meant the mythic-membership, ethnocentric doctrines of the Church—are in fact need of trimming, and empiricism can most definitely assist us in doing so (it challenges the empirical claims of narrow religion). On the other hand, however, by denying that the interiors themselves have realities, realms, stages, and states of their own—and by, in fact, reducing them to imprints of the sensorimotor world—liberal philosophy and psychology would deeply sabotage their own goals. They would, with their allegiance to merely sensory empiricism and the blank slate, be prime contributors to the worldview of scientific materialism, a flatland view of the universe that in fact acts to undermine and sometimes grossly derail genuine growth and development of the interior domains. If there is an "unlimited perfectibility" of human beings, it lies, not just in shuffling exteriors, but in understanding the spiral of interior development. As we will see throughout this section, the liberal "blank slate" nobly aimed for worldcentric moral consciousness—and then crippled the path to it.

  3. This is why the more "liberal" or "permissive" a society becomes, the less liberalism can flourish. When all stances are taken to be equal, and "no judgements" are made toward various stances—none are to be "marginalized"—then egocentric and ethnocentric are allowed to flourish, at which point the very existence of worldcentric liberalism becomes deeply threatened. Traditional liberalism works to undermine the foundations of traditional liberalism. See One Taste, Oct. 3 and 15, Dec. 10.

  4. Because the mythic-membership wave (the blue meme) is a normal and necessary wave of human development, a true Third Way, based on the prime directive, would realize the absolutely necessary (if limited) role of the blue meme in any society, and not simply try to dissolve it, which the liberal green meme does every single chance it gets. Green dissolves blue, which is one of the true political nightmares in this country and abroad.

  5. That idea is explained in several entries in One Taste (Oct. 3 and 15, Dec. 10).

  6. The prime directive also decisively sides with a growth-to-goodness model, not merely a recaptured- goodness model (See One Taste, Dec. 10 entry). The traditional liberal believes in a state of "original goodness," which corrupt social institutions repress and oppress. While there is some truth to that notion (as explained in the One Taste entry), psychological research has decisively sided with the growth-to-goodness model, which points out that development generally unfolds from preconventional to conventional to postconventional. Along with "blank slate" humans, mere empiricist epistemology, and behavioristic psychology, the liberal version of "original goodness" has not found support in extensive research, leaving traditional liberalism without a believable philosophy, psychology, or ethics. An "all-level, all-quadrant" approach attempts to ground the noble aims of liberalism in a sturdier foundation, combined with the best of the conservative tradition.

    As for "stages of the subjective," this actually means stages in all of the quadrants—subjective (intentional), objective (behavioral), intersubjective (cultural), and interobjective (social). The waves of development unfold in all four quadrants, and all four of those dimensions need to be taken into account. Moreover, there can be uneven development between the quadrants—highly developed technology (its) can be given to poorly developed, ethnocentric cultures (we), with nightmarish results (e.g., Kosovo)—and so on.

    Thus, I technically give the two steps toward a Third Way as: (I) uniting subjective and objective; (II) seeing stages of both and thus arriving at the prime directive.

    These two steps, in practice, have slightly different manifestations for liberals and conservatives, since each of those political philosophies needs to follow the two steps by supplementing their agenda with that which they presently lack. For most conservatives (who believe in subjective causation and in stages of the subjective, but only up to mythic-membership), stage I means being more willing to recognize the partial but genuine importance of objective causation in many circumstances and thus to act "more compassionately" toward the disadvantaged (hence, "compassionate conservatism"). Stage II—which has not yet been taken—involves moving from mythic-membership values to worldcentric values, not by abandoning the former but by enriching them (by supplements from the higher, post-blue stages). For most liberals (who believe in objective causation and in no stages of the interior), stage I means acknowledging subjective causation in the first place. Bill Clinton's synthesis of "opportunity and responsibility" (as applied to welfare reform and other issues) did just that; this was a fairly radical notion for a liberal, because the "responsibility" part acknowledged subjective causation (people, not institutions, are partly responsible for their own disadvantage). The joining of "responsibility" (provided by the person) and "opportunity" (provided by the government) was thus an attempt to unite subjective and objective, and this is Clinton's version of stage I (as pointed out to me by Drexel Sprecher). Stage II—which has not yet been taken—involves recognizing not just the subjective, but stages of the subjective (the irony, again, is that the traditional liberal stance itself already comes from the worldcentric stage, so this is not as daunting a challenge as it might seem; all that is required, in this case, is that liberals acknowledge a more accurate self-conception of their own stance and the developmental stages that produced it).

    At this moment in 1999, both parties have attempted some form of stage I of the Third Way; neither party has attempted (or yet conceived) stage II, although both are struggling toward it. Right now it is a horse race to see whether liberalism or conservatism can more readily recognize and address their traditional deficiencies and thus arrive at the fully formed Third Way. Will it be harder for traditional conservatives to move from mythic-membership to worldcentric, or harder for liberals to acknowledge stages of the subjective? The party that can better address its deficiencies will arrive at a political conception of the second stage of the Third Way, will therefore fully understand and implement the prime directive—which embraces the greatest depth for the greatest span—and will thus have the inside track in the political arena for the foreseeable future.


    The prime directive—namely, that the health of the entire spiral of development is the chief ethical imperative—can be derived directly from the Basic Moral Intuition, which is "preserve and promote the greatest depth for the greatest span" (see SES, index entries, Basic Moral Intuition). The prime directive does exactly that (see the Introduction to Volume Seven of the Collected Works).

    Within this prime directive, one of the most important endeavors is to help each level, meme, or wave exist in its healthy, not pathological, version. Our job is not to force the blue/conservative meme to become orange/green liberal, but to allow blue to be as healthy as it can be within its own limits and domain. Don Beck, using Spiral Dynamics, and fully cognizant of the prime directive, has now found that the most reliable way to define "health" at every level or meme is: a meme is healthy if it balances, as best it can, the realities in all four quadrants (cf. the section "medicine," latter in the narrative). A pathology in any of the quadrants (I, we, or it) will reverberate throughout all, crippling each. The prime directive, rooted in the Basic Moral Intuition, attempts to let each meme live its own life to its own full potential (curtailed only when its agenda threatens others).

    At the same time, governance implies, at some point, leadership, not followership, and true leadership is based, in part, on calling a people (and a nation and a world) to be the greatest that it can be—to develop, that is, to a greater depth or height or expansion of possibilities. And that means that leadership involves a call and an encouragement to all people not just to engage in exterior, economic, and technological development, but also to develop the interior domains to their highest potential—an encouragement to reach into the upper waves of interior development.

    ("The greatest depth for the greatest span" is facilitated to precisely the degree that greater depth is gently encouraged, or at least allowed, for all. The greater the depth or height—I often use those terms synonymously—then the greater the consciousness that can be shared and the richer the governance that can lead. A great leader is one who governs from those higher reaches, simply because the prime directive and all its implications can be better seen from that higher and wider perspective. Great leadership is thus also a call and an encouragement for all peoples, not only to be healthy at their present level, but to reach for a greater tomorrow—not just in exterior economic terms, but in interior development of freedom and moral and spiritual depth.)

    The Constitution of the United States is a moral-stage 5 document. At the time it was written, perhaps ten percent of the U.S. population was actually at moral stage 5. The brilliance of this document is that it found a way to institutionalize the worldcentric, postconventional stance (moral stage 5) and let it act as a governance system for people who were not, for the most part, at that higher level. The Constitution itself thus became a pacer of transformation, gently encouraging every activity within its reach to stand within a worldcentric, postconventional, non-ethnocentric moral atmosphere. The brilliance of this document and its framers is hard to overstate.

    The U.S. Constitution was the culmination of first-tier governance philosophy (see the Introduction to Volume Seven of the Collected Works for a discussion of first-tier and second-tier awareness). Even though its framers were often using second-tier thinking, the realities that they were addressing were still almost entirely first-tier, particularly the formation and relation of the corporate states that evolved out of feudal empires.

    But now global systems and integral meshworks are evolving out of corporate states and value communities (to slightly modify Beck and Cowan's felicitous phrasing). What the world thus now awaits is the first genuinely second-tier form of governance and political philosophy—a truly second-tier Constitution. No doubt it will be "all-level, all-quadrant," or deeply integral in its structures and patterns. A genuine Third Way, in fact, is the clearing ground and one of the foundations for this integral Constitution. The question remains: exactly how will this be conceived, understood, and embraced? What precise details, what actual specifics, where and how and when? This is the great and exhilarating call of global politics at the millenium. We are awaiting the new founding Fathers and Mothers who will call us to our more encompassing future, an integral Constitution that will act as a gentle pacer of transformation for the entire spiral of human development, honoring each and every wave as it unfolds, yet kindly inviting each and all to even greater depth. (See note 35).

  7. Chickering and Sprecher assert that the influence of these (often unconscious) beliefs about subjective and objective causation is so strong that both political parties are organized around shared beliefs rather than around shared ends. Thus, both parties have order and free wings, from which arise characteristic internal tensions, in addition to the familiar conflicts between parties.

  8. Drexel Sprecher is the originator of two specialized integral disciplines: generative leadership (emphasizing subjective development) and decentralized and integrated governance (emphasizing objective development). He has also designed an influential approach to political leadership training that includes exercises with injunctions, experiences, and verification to teach integral distinctions. Although the two steps toward the Third Way, as they are stated in note 17, are my own ("uniting subjective and objective; seeing stages of both and thus arriving at the prime directive"), Drexel has independently arrived at an essentially similar conception (and considerably spurred my own articulation). Sprecher sees the "two steps" toward the Third Way as being primarily economic and horizontal, then cultural and vertical. The first is the horizontal integration of the Left and Right axis of the Chickering/Sprecher matrix, the second the vertical integration of its order and freedom axis. That is one of many useful ways to conceive the two requisite steps to a Third Way; which actual details end up being the most important remains to be seen, as this dialogue among many mutually concerned parties continues to unfold.

  9. Thus, if an individual is order Left, e.g., socialist (order means lower or collective quadrants, and Left means a belief in objective causation or Right-Hand quadrants), then they put most of their emphasis on factors in the Lower Right (the objective social system), and they wish governance to operate mostly by intervening in that quadrant (e.g., welfare statism). If a person is order Right, e.g., fundamentalist (order = lower or collective, and Right = a belief in subjective causation or Left-Hand quadrants), then they put most of their emphasis on the Lower Left (cultural beliefs and worldviews), and insist that everybody should share their beliefs and values, by government intervention if possible (e.g., school prayer). If a person is free Right, e.g., economic libertarian (free = upper or individual, and Right = a belief in subjective causation or Left-Hand realities), they put most of their emphasis on the Upper-Left quadrant: individuals must assume responsibility for their own success, and government should stay out of interfering with the Right-Hand (e.g., economic) quadrants altogether (except to protect those rights and freedoms). If a person is free Left, e.g., civil libertarian, they put most of their emphasis on the freedom of individual behavior (Upper Right), and government should intervene only to protect those freedoms. There are many variations on those themes, and we must also take the levels themselves into account, but those are some simple examples.

  10. An integral or "second-tier" Constitution is a governing philosophy stemming from what Clare Graves called the second-tier of psychological development. (Many different theorists speak of several tiers—first, second, third, fourth, and so on. The simple Gravesian two-tier conception works just fine for the point I am making.) Using the terms of Spiral Dynamics, the United States constitution was the culmination and brilliant high point of first-tier governance (stemming from orange-to-green principles), and it established the governance systems for corporate states (and to some degree value communities). Now, in the postnational and postgreen world, we await the governance system that will allow second-tier global and holistic meshworks to flourish. We await the founding Fathers and Mothers of a second-tier or integral Constitution.

© 1999 Ken Wilber


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