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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Howard Bloom Howard Bloom is Visiting Scholar--New York University founder: International Paleopsychology Project; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, Academy of Political Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, European Sociobiological Society; board member: Epic of Evolution Society; executive editor -- New Paradigm book series.

A response to "The Search for Cohesion in an Age of Fragmentation"

Response to Don Beck

Howard Bloom

db: Decades of deconstructionism and egalitarianism in academic and popular cultural circles released the bent-up entities and interests that had been subdued by European-Western hierarchies of power and control.

hb: well put, Don. There are other forces behind the new tribalisms as well. Understanding them is one challenge. Undoing them another. And both those challenges are on our plate--yours, mine, and those of the many others who share a sense of civic stewardship. .

db: The previously awakened levels do not disappear. Rather, they stay active within the worldview stacks, thus impacting the nature and form of the more complex systems. Like the Russian dolls, there are systems within systems within systems.

hb: more excellent points. Very much on target.

db:. So, many of the same issues we confront on the West Bank (Red to Blue) can be found in South Central Los Angeles.

hb: terrific insight.

db: Further, there is a serious question as to whether the billions of people who are now exiting Second and Third World life styles can anticipate the same level of affluence as they see on First World (Orange) television screens. Now that expectations have been raised by visiting "Paree," how do we expect to "keep them down on the farm?"

hb: Don, you've pinpointed an enormously important issue. Here's a radical answer. We don't keep them down on the farm, not by a long shot. We bring down the prices of the goods the First World has come to take for granted. This happened during the industrial revolution. Until then cotton clothing had been available only to those with wealth. It was a luxury handmade in India, then shipped out via an expensive exportation process. The industrial revolution mechanized the weaving of cotton and increased the efficiency of cotton-raising via plantations whose output (without the use of slaves) could feed the hunger of the cotton mills. By the end of the 19th century, streamlined agricultural techniques, steam-driven manufacturing plants, steam-driven ships, instant communications between buyers and suppliers via telegraph and telephone, and a worldwide Pax Britannica had made mass-produced cotton available at extremely low prices all over the world. So low were the prices that the citizens of India purchased British-made, mass-produced cotton goods instead of the more expensive hand-woven products made by their own countrymen and women, whose ancestors' skills had inspired the mass production of cotton fabrics to begin with.

The same sort of thing has already happened with transistor radios, which are ubiquitous, even in the third world. It is about to happen with cellular phones and computers. Food is also available in such abundance that the US and China are battling over control of Asian markets for corn, and the US and Argentina are duking it out over who will be able to most inexpensively sell numerous other agricultural commodities to the rest of the world. As David Brinkley says on those grating Archer Daniels Midland ads, feeding the world today is not a matter of supply, it's simply a matter of politics The next trick will be to increase the efficiency with which we build homes--which are still made expensive by our use of antique technologies.

As for the overcrowding of the world, it won't happen if the new postindustrial revolutions can spread their benefits fast enough. Reproductive rates have already been slashed in many countries which seemed certain to baby-make their way into oblivion just 20 years ago.

The big challenge is the one you've identified so well in your essay-- creating or evolving a flexible new structure which offers future generations peace, pluralism, and prosperity, and coming up with it before the new tribalisms turn this earth into even more of a killing field than it's so often been.

Many thanks for laying out the problem so clearly and for providing so many tools with which to move toward its solution.


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