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An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].



Toward a More Just Kosmos

Joe Corbett

Introduction: The return of the repressed
within Integral Theory

In this article I will give a critique of the social institutions of capitalism and the injustice it generates by using all four quadrants.

Let me begin by saying that I think the AQAL matrix is a philosopher's stone, a template for a theory of anything and everything. I would even go so far as to suggest it may become a template for advanced technologies in genetic engineering and even inter-dimensional quantum travel, which is to say, a blueprint for artificial intelligence and a flying saucer engine at the same time. The AQAL may also become recognized as a useful framework in nanotechnology for building living and nonliving systems, a matrix for programming a cosmic genetic code, as it is a diagram of the structure of a self-organizing fractal organism-universe. For me, the AQAL is a diagram of the quantum-archetypal (morphogenetic) portals of the implicate and explicate orders, a Hologram and its holomovement of four primary quantum-fields in dialectical complexification and evolutionary emergence, all in one self-evolving expansion of universal being and consciousness, a Great Kosmic Self. But that's another story.[1]

Having said this, the way the AQAL matrix has often been articulated (especially in Wilber phase-IV) with reference to “the big three” may conceal more than it is able to reveal. As anyone familiar with the model knows, there are four quadrants in the AQAL matrix, not three, so why the emphasis on the True, the Beautiful, and the Good without reference to the fourth, equally important, Platonic Ideal Form of Justice?[2] And this leads to further questions: is Justice a part of the shadow of Integral Theory, a kind of repressed aspect of its existence? And does this reflect the triumph of the personal over the political within the discourse of Integral Theory, an imbalance within its internal emphases? With few exceptions (Matustik), the lack of any hard-hitting social critique of the political and economic structures of capitalism and the inequalities and suffering it generates (a moral failure of epic magnitude), suggests that Justice is indeed a repressed aspect of Integral Theory, a silenced and invisible part that is directly linked, as I see it, to the kind of omission that continued reference to the big three (truth, beauty, and goodness absent any separate distinction of justice) helps to create within integral discourse.

Whenever the big three are invoked within integral theory it is usually with reference to the I, the We, and the It/Its, with the UR and the LR quadrants explicitly collapsed and reduced to “the world”. Not only is this is inconsistent with the irreducibility of the quadrants to one another, it is obvious that the empirical world of the senses and the physical sciences (It) are not reducible to the social world of political and economic systems (Its). They are distinct realms of the world, just as surely as nature and the body are distinct realms from society and the institutions of political-economy. These are realms that are not reducible to one another, so the notion of a “big three” by collapsing It and Its together is exclusionary on enactment, and what usually ends up getting excluded is any separate notion of justice, and specifically with reference to the class relations of society, which transcends and includes gender and race as analytical categories (LR).

Similarly, in some references to the big three, the social world of law and institutional (organizational and systemic) practices (Its) are collapsed not into nature and science (It), but into the cultural world of values and moral-communal practices (We). However, again, the moral-communal world of cultural values is related but not reducible to the social-systemic world of laws and institutions. While there are some laws that are direct expressions of morality, the vast majority of the laws of society are about securing and protecting the material advantages and privileges (social positions) of power and money, and have nothing whatsoever to do with morality, except for maybe the pre-conventional amoral and immoral 'morality' of egocentric self-interest. Law and social institutions are primarily concerned with the strategic-positions of political and economic agents, not only or even mainly with the moral-positions of communal agents. Therefore, it will not suffice to reduce justice and law (LR) to morality and culture (LL). To do so serves to conceal distinctions more than it does to reveal them. Thus fleshing out the big three into the big four of all the quadrant-fields seems to make more sense, and indeed this is more consistent with the irreducibility of the separate spheres of action.

It is peculiar and ironic that the effect of pervasive and continuing reference to the big three, excluding as it usually does any reference to justice and the social institutions and relations that generate injustice, has been to mute and conceal a sustained critical analysis of the same modern scientific, corporate, military, and political institutions that have been directly involved in the reduction of the human world to flatland. Instead, what we often get within integral discourse is a nod to the contributions modernity has made to the world, but little that directly confronts the class relations of power and money within society, the same class relations that have driven the successes of modernity, but that have now become the fetters to its further development and transcendence. This article is an attempt to correct this lack within Integral Theory.

In this article I will give a critique of the social institutions of capitalism and the injustice it generates by using all four quadrants, and then I will suggest possible transition strategies as well as future social-system scenarios that can be facilitated by and generated out of an AQAL analysis. But first I will show how the key categories within the critical social theories of Karl Marx and Jurgen Habermas fit into the AQAL matrix of Ken Wilber, thus linking Integral Theory directly to the major critical social theories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Integral Critical Social Theory

All critical social theory begins with Marx (1977) and his theory of historical materialism, so how do the key categories within this theory fit into the AQAL? The first thing in historical materialism is the recognition of the development of the material forces of production as the engine of history. The material forces of production Marx has in mind are land and resources, but also technology and labor; thus, the upper-right quadrant represents for Marx the material earth and the body, but also science and technology (Fig. 1). Over space and time, these forces eventually come into conflict at some point in their development with the prevailing relations of production and governance (LR) that were organized to mobilize, utilize, and sustain a previous level of development in the forces of production. In the conflict that ensues between the forces and relations of production, the power holders and wealth possessors are confronted with armed, forcible removal from their position, and a new organization of society is more or less rapidly forged that better utilizes the potentials of the newly developed forces of production, namely, the increased population, the improved skills and education of labor, land and resources, new technologies, or some other force that was being under-utilized, over-utilized, or was simply absent in the previous organization of society. With each social revolution a new organization of power and wealth-sharing is instituted, with increasing social equity and decreasing oppression as history progresses from master/slave relations to its culmination in an egalitarian global humanity.

Figure 1 - Karl Marx / Integral Critical Social Theory

Crucially, what makes social revolution so difficult even to imagine in the minds of most people, according to Marxism, is the ability of power and money to hold the reigns of culture through organizational and financial control of religious, educational, and media institutions. The cultural ideology (LL) of each age, according to Marx (1947), is therefore the sum of the ideas of the ruling classes: the kings, politicians, and warriors; the clergy, the professional intellectuals in religion, media, advertising, and public relations; the wealthy, the corporations and their major investors, the managerial and executive classes. Thus, in our own age, a central current of ideology is advertised consumerism, as well as an egocentric sports and celebrity entertainment spectacle that serves as an opiate of the people, a narcissistic distraction (or illusion) for the heart in sprit-less times, the disillusioned sigh of an overworked, underpaid, and fossil-fuel addicted population. Of course, this core ideology is intensified, deepened, and entrenched by a nationalist patriotism with religious undertones, promoting ethnocentric divisions that fuel a military-industrial-prison complex that is virtually unchallengeable in terms of funding and justification for its continued existence beyond the level of actual security needs.

Finally, in the realm of the self, in his early humanistic writings Marx (1959) speaks of human nature as species-being: what distinguishes humans from animals is our ability to be a creative tool user, which includes our linguistic capacity and our ability to be artisans and poets (UL). Today this capacity is limited to narcissistic self-interest at best, apathetic consumer-citizenry and schizophrenic desire as normative, and psychopathic racism and aggression at worst, as corporate-media illusions, misinformation, fear and hatred are generated for profits, and to serve as distractions from the brutal, mean-spirited, and uncompromising class war being waged by the right-wing and global capitalist business-classes on workers.

In these times of the greatest transfer of wealth to the wealthy in history, the selves and minds of human beings are turned to individual survival strategies, and to the products on offer in markets, and to the marketing/buying skills necessary to sell/buy those products in order to earn enough money/capital to buy more of them, all in endless chains of commodified meanings no deeper or substantive than a flat screen television, and no matter how much debt (and deficit of meaning) it results in. Meanwhile, we head ever closer to global ecological catastrophe with no serious will to do anything about it either from political elites or the public they supposedly serve. Indeed, the problem of cultural ideology (the collective mind) controlled by the corporate-media (the collective brain) is a central one, and its role in degrading the public sphere into egocentric consumerism and ethnocentric nationalist patriotism, a perfect formation for the emergence of fascism, cannot be ignored or underestimated by anyone concerned about the developmental level of civilization in America and around the world, and even the survival of the species.

During these times of the greatest social inequality since the early days of industrialism and the Gilded Age, tax breaks are given to the rich, bailouts are given to the fat-cat Wall Street perpetrators of financial ruin, jobs are outsourced and homes are foreclosed on the middle-classes while at the same time cutbacks in the social-safety-net are proposed for those most vulnerable in society, even as military budgets remain untouched, unchallenged, and are even expanded. This is the logic of the day, a day ruled by an oligarchy of corporate-military-politicians and their neoliberal free market policies of unfettered global investment capital backed by imperialist military strength. These are the relations of production that Marx would be talking about today, and that Eisenhower talked about in his farewell speech. They are also the special moneyed interests that FDR spoke of as his opponents when he proposed the progressive New Deal legislation. They have been and remain today the undeclared enemies of freedom and democracy within a context of social equality, i.e. the American Dream.

The relations of political and economic domination become the enemies of a progressive humanity when they are unable or unwilling to give back some of what they have initially taken (or stolen) from the collectivity, namely, the blood, sweat, and tears of labor through exploitation, and the trust of citizens through corruption. Once a progressive force themselves in the early days of a mode of production, the relations of production become the chains holding back the progress of further development in the forces of production and the progress of human history towards an ever widening inclusiveness and egalitarianism. And as a blockage to that further social progress, they are potentially explosive structures within the collective psyche and body politic.

The structural development of capitalism into a military-police machine of corporate democracy with longstanding amoral and immoral tendencies- a 'me first' (red), 'we're the best' (blue), and 'just the facts ma'am' (orange) complex of moral development -must become the target of critical inquiry, and lead to a countervailing moral imperative for action against and/or reform of the current social relations of production that are currently based on a red-blue-orange foundation of development. The other option is to remain silent and watch as the conditions of development for a higher level of civilization are eroded by the corporate-media and the vested interests of power and money as they attempt to hold on to their privileges amid the encroaching development (and degradation) of the forces of production.

Nevertheless, this oppressive, exploitative, and degrading state of affairs is not always or even normally easy to see in everyday life. And this is not just because the corporate-media protect the hegemony of the status quo, but because domination is woven into the fabric of our everyday understandings, communications, and practices in the modern world, which is something the New Left and the linguistic turn in critical theory has addressed. Exactly how the inner and outer logic of this subtle and deep form of domination is achieved and perpetuated by the state and capital of modernity, and how it is played out in various contradictions and conflicts of the social order, is spelled out by the key terms in Habermas' theory of communicative action (1984, 1987).

Figure 2 - Jurgen Habermas / Integral Critical Social Theory

Turning to the Frankfurt School's use of Max Weber's theory of social rationalization rather than Marx's political-economy of historical materialism, Habermas locates social domination in four distinct kinds of rationality (Fig. 2). Within these rationalities are the basis of all human communication and social organization, and therefore within their distortions and breakdowns we can locate the imbalances and suffering in human society. First, there is aesthetic-expressive rationality (UL), which all speakers use to express and create an authentic self. If we have doubts about whether an individual is being honest and truthful about their subjective expressions we may challenge the validity of the speaker's claims. In this way a discourse of the phenomenology of everyday life is created whereby communicators may come to trust one another. When communicators are dishonest and lie or conceal their true intentions, as politicians and corporate actors often do, truthful communication is lost and the social fabric is distorted or even completely torn. As the lifeworld of individuals becomes colonized by dishonest communication, trust in the system is lost. Next, there is moral-communal rationality (LL), which speakers use to reach an inter-subjective consensus with others. If we disagree with the rightness or correctness of the worldview (value, belief) held by another we may challenge the validity of the speaker's claims. In this way a discourse of hermeneutic meaning is created whereby communicators may come to understand one another. When communicators disagree, as they often do especially across cultural and political divisions, they may chose to adjudicate ways to live with these differences in mutual respect, if not always in harmony. Otherwise they may go to war, as when one religion, ethnicity, or class believes its existence is threatened by another group; or alternatively, when one group sees an opportunity to improve its social position by taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of another group. And here is where we come to the third and fourth kinds of rationality, which together Habermas calls strategic-instrumental rationality.

Instrumental rationality (UR) is also referred to as theoretical rationality, and is concerned with the objective truth claims of speakers. This is the discourse of scientific and technical reasoning. Its concern is with what works and how it works. It is the use of reasoning as a tool for doing labor, for increasing productivity and efficiency, and for developing technologies and compiling information whose usefulness and purposes can be determined at some later time by some other means of reasoning. It is this kind of reasoning that has given us the powerfully effective tools of industrialization to improve our lives and master our world. However, it has also given us Auschwitz, and it has now become an 'iron cage' of rationality. Initially setting us free from ignorance, inefficiency, and the burdens of nature, it has now become an all-pervasive one-dimensional organizing principle of society that enslaves us through its power to deliver the goods and administer our lives. Every aspect of our lives is quantified for rationalized measurement and control, from the production process at work to our political opinions, and from what we watch on television to what we buy at the store. But instrumental rationality could not do all this if it were not for its alliance with strategic rationality, which is a very distinct kind of rationality that finds its greatest expression in and through the institutions of the modern state and capital (LR).

Habermas combines instrumental and strategic rationality to underscore the social institutional nature of modernity as a state-capital formation made possible by the scientific revolution. Modernity is essentially an alliance between the theoretical empiricists and the bourgeois mercantile classes of the Renaissance and early industrial periods against the clergy, guilds, and aristocracy of feudalism. Strategic rationality itself is nothing historically new, and neither are any of the other rationalities. They are all permanent and everlasting features of the human condition, hardwired potentialities of human biology. Nevertheless, separate from instrumental rationality, the primary concern of strategic rationality is securing resources for positional advantage within a system of actors pursuing a common and limited supply of resources. The goal is not objective truth, not how to get things to work, and not productivity or efficiency per se, but victory (or at least survival at the bear minimum) among a set of inter-objective agents. It is the rationality not of the scholar and scientist, but of the warrior, the politician, and the businessman. In alliance with instrumental rationality, strategic rationality has steered the development of modern civilization away from the autonomous development of the interiors of contemplative creativity and collective solidarity based on empathy and compassion, and in favor of the autonomous development of the exteriors of science, power, and money (objectivity, efficiency, and profitability).

Thus, the strategic-instrumental rationality of power and money steer the institutions of modernity away from developing the interiors of self and culture, creating a flatland of materialist exteriors by colonizing and appropriating the interiors, taking over culture through the corporate-media, and seizing individual creativity and the contemplative self for its own profit-making purposes in consumerism. The imbalances of social inequality and human suffering are direct effects of the imbalances in the historical development and alliances between the different forms of rationality, with strategic-instrumental rationality dominant over aesthetic-expressive and moral-communal rationalities. Restoring balance between these 'grammars of the forms of life', as Habermas calls them, is the real challenge of progressive social transformation. Giving each rationality its proper role and place in the totality of communicative action is the best solution we can hope for in the quest for human emancipation.

Roadmaps and Dialectics to an Integral Future

It is clear from an Integral Critical Social Theory perspective that any notion of a big three, in any combination, is inadequate for understanding the full set of relationships in human existence. It is crucial that we be able to see all the separate fields of the AQAL matrix and their dialectical relations to one another in particular forms and configurations at different times and places. Thus, for instance, if we look at the 1960s and want to know why it was such a turbulent period, we can see that all four quadrant-fields of body, mind, culture and society were engaged by a major transformation within its own domain, so that combined with each of the other quadrants they formed a revolutionary synergy of transformation that made a major imprint on history (Fig. 3). Thus, in the UR quadrant of the body there was the invention of the contraceptive pill (technology) that made the sexual revolution (body) possible. In the UL there were drugs, especially of the psychoactive kind, which led to mind-expansion and an explosion of creativity (self). In the LL there was rock-n-roll to boost the solidarity and counter-cultural ethos of a rebellious youth. And in the LR there were protests against the Vietnam War and demonstrations coming from the civil rights movements. Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, and (often left out of this old adage) protest over social injustice issues, all combined in the 1960s with enough synergy to transform the inner and the outer of the individual and the collective, which is to say, the entire Hologram matrix of the AQAL.

Figure 3 -1960s synergy of techno-physical, personal,
cultural, and social transformation

The 1960s was a cultural Renaissance of sorts, and one among several revived enlightenments within the long march through (and out) of modernity. But without all of the variables operating together in the same combinations and at the same time, things would have been slightly different and probably less socially and culturally transformative. Currently we are in a protracted cultural and social regression from those and other progressive changes, and how things get played-out in the coming years toward either fascism on the one hand or in an even more progressive direction than the 60s on the other, could depend on an integral understanding of what social change variables are operating together, and in what dialectical relations to one another. This is what the AQAL matrix can give us. It is a map of the variables operating at any given time and place in history so we can understand holistically and transparently the changes and the needed directions in which we need to go individually and collectively. In this sense it can also serve as a template for different formulas for social transformation, a cookbook of recipes for social evolution. And so now I will attempt to map and formulate the quadrant-field dialectics of the AQAL matrix involving a present and future scenario of human civilization.

Any map must begin from where you are at the present moment in space and time. We are now at the beginning of the 21st century within a globalized world of late modernity: industrial intensive fossil fuels, multinational corporations, interdependent nation-states with high-tech militaries, and an impending global climate catastrophe that could cost many millions of lives through starvation and famine over the coming decades, not to mention the millions who will lose their lives in war directly related to climate change as well as diminishing and depleted resources. Ideally, before a worst case scenario arises, we must identify those configurations of quadrant-field variables that are leading us toward disaster, critically evaluate them, and actively destabilize their influence if possible at the local and global levels, while simultaneously offering sustainable alternatives.

At the current historical juncture around the world (Fig. 4), but especially in America, we see the forces of production grounded in an unsustainable addiction to oil and coal (UR) in order to fuel an intensive consumer culture (LL). Species survival (as we know us) may be at stake, and perhaps only something like genetic engineering or a massive and sudden population reduction can save us. Meanwhile, unemployment and underemployment (UR) around the world continues to rise even as corporate profits (LR) have never been better in a global race to the bottom for the short-term benefit of multinational investors. The instrumentality of the forces of production (the usefulness of labor, resources, technology) are simultaneously constrained/oppressed, threatened/exploited, and appropriated/manipulated by the masters of the relations of production for mostly their own strategic purposes, which is more power and money for themselves.

Figure 4 - Contemporary social crisis configuration

The social relations of a corporate-military-police-state oligarchy use strategic-instrumental means to accomplish their goals, which includes a permanent warfare state on everything from terrorism to drugs; and most importantly, control of communal ideology (the collective mind, LL) through institutional ownership of the media (the collective brain, LR) for efficient and profitable purposes. To serve these goals, the self has become an aestheticized shadow of narcissistic self-interest whose outward expression is the obsessive-compulsive consumer, which is an anti-dote to the depression of alienated and exploited labor. Such labor, in turn, has as its precondition a docile-worker and an apathetic-citizen, creating the necessity of anti-labor, pro-prison, and other anti-democratic forms of political-economy. Meanwhile, the visually visceral electronic media splits the introspective reading self into a confused, amnesic, schizophrenic self, while a psychotic self is created by juicing-up our minds on hyper-images of hyper-speed, hyper-violence, and hyper-hate and fear to increase ratings for advertisers, profits for the corporate-media, and salaries for the corporate-media professionals. In the big scheme of things, an iconic celebrity, sports, and consumer infatuated religious-nationalism of the most fascist (ethno- and egocentric) kind has been spun, woven, and unleashed by corporate-media as the model not of the past but of the future; a society of the spectacle in the worst sense of the term.

These, in brief, are some of the most important variables in the quadrant-fields of the present, the configurations and the dialectics of the contemporary AQAL matrix: the techno-physical foundation of fossil fuel energy addiction, the visually visceral electronic media, and alienated, exploited, disenfranchised labor (UR); the institutionally vested interests of strategic-instrumental rationality and power/money (LR); the ideologically manufactured consent and cultural entrenchment into ego- and ethnocentric solidarity (LL); and the degradation of the structure of the self as a rational autonomous ego into various pathological forms (UL). All of these fields must become, in their present forms, the target of critical inquiry and destabilization for reformation and transformation into healthier and more balanced variables with more sustainable dialectics. Inaction in this task could, in a short time, lead to the loss of the conditions for building on past achievements in social progress and enlightenment.

One thing of the first importance to notice about the contemporary crisis matrix is the central and dominant role played by the strategic relations and the instrumental forces of production. Strategic-instrumental rationality is used explicitly for the reduction of the world to flatland, which is a materialistic world of profits before people and the environment, virtually (and virtuously by its own criteria) absent of an inner world of depth, contemplation, humility, compassion, and cultural richness grounded in the soulfulness of community. It has become a pathological, calculating machine-logic that measures progress by GDP numbers (profits) and body counts rather than qualitative well-being and moral progress, and it is the logic not of academic nerds and social outcasts, but the very people who control the most important positions of power and influence in society. It is not the afterthought of reasoning in modernity, but its central organizing principle, its dominant and dominating cultural logic and institutional practice. All who aspire to the American Dream first and foremost must aspire to acquiring and mastering strategic-instrumental rationality in their daily life.

If there ever was a Frankenstein metaphor for a monster of human creation that turns against its creator, this is it. It is what Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer (1986) called the 'the dialectic of enlightenment', when the reasoning that initially set us free (modern orange rationality) comes back to enslave and even terrorize us. There is no escaping the grip of the logic of objectivity, efficiency, and profitability. There is no resisting its abundances, its hopes, and its promises to improve our social standing and position. So how can we defend ourselves against this beast? How can we break free of the chains (Marx) of power/money and the cage (Weber-Habermas) of strategic-instrumental rationality without discarding them altogether as historical agents of progress? How can we restore balance to social relations, and to the grammars of the forms of life more generally?

The first and most important thing to note toward achieving this goal is that the influence of strategic-instrumental rationality is not free-floating, but is attached primarily and most directly to the class positions of power and money, regardless of distinctions of race and gender. An African-American and a woman can lead us just as easily towards a fascist corporate democracy and a permanent warfare society as a white male can. This means addressing issues of social justice based on social class directly, critically, and actively. Justice should become part of the larger strategy of Integral Theory and practice if its true intention is to raise the level of collective being and consciousness to the next level. Indeed, class justice must become part of that practice if it is to be truly integral and not limited only to the three spheres of truth, beauty, and goodness.

Including justice as more distributive fairness and inclusion within the discourse of Integral Theory and its practice is something the postmodern (green) level of analysis has already provided. However, postmodernism is mostly about promoting the diversity of social relations generally, and is absent of any explicitly higher level of unity that a class analysis and critique of money and power gives us. Postmodern and post-structuralist analyses critique relations of domination, to be sure, but mostly from a multicultural perspective, and they provide no vision for a higher synthesis. In fact, they are premised on resisting any restoration of synthesis, much less a 'higher' synthesis, within the historical dialectic, as that would, by postmodern reckoning, be 'totalitarian'.

What an integral AQAL model gives us are the grounds for a new synthesis that is a higher unity of the human reality matrix: a vision for the future as well as a critique of the past and present. And insofar as it does this it can serve as a reflexive social generation machine, an analytical engineering tool for alternative human futures. If we consider that oil, coal, and gas serve as the energy foundation of every thought and action in modern society (Fig. 5), we can safely bet that this is a good place to begin proposing radical social alternatives. An eco-tech energy macro-foundation (UR) would create more equity between humans and nature, and possibly save our collective lives in the process, because it would be more difficult to exploit human labor itself using renewable energy sources, as they must be decentralized for them to work effectively. Empowering labor with decentralized energy technologies can be a first step towards restoring balance with nature, as well as reducing alienated and exploited labor based on a highly centralized and unequal organization of tyrannical capitalist institutions that are made possible by a fossil fuel energy foundation.

Figure 5 - Alternative sustainable future scenario

The institutions of a political-economy based on a decentralized eco-tech energy foundation would likewise need to be radically transformed from a centralized oligarchy of political, industrial, financial, and military elites to an eco-socialist set of social relations (LR), based on decentralized local communities linked to larger provincial, state, regional, national, and global institutions that keep the collective social and natural environmental interests, rather than only (or even primarily) private power/profit interests, at the center of their efforts. This in turn would provide the context for local and global cultures to be based not on a corporate-consumer model of greed and envy, but on a compassionate socialist-democratic model of humanistic solidarity and soulful community (LL) in harmony and balance with both nature and other human beings.

As for the structure of the self, serving as a micro-foundation at the other end of the human reality matrix (UL), a return to the rational autonomous ego of an introspective reading self may be too much to hope for given the nature of the new electronic media. But with fossil fuel addiction broken and the hyper-images and hegemonic representations of corporate-media tamed by decentralized eco-socialist institutions, values, and beliefs, we can expect the worst forms of obsessive-compulsive, depressed and apathetic, schizophrenic and psychotic pathologies of the self to be relatively rare, not normative as they are now, and certainly not helping to generate corporate profits toward the death of us all. Realistically, a contemplative creativity (genius) of voluntary self-sacrifice (altruism) could emerge from a self that is no longer alienated, exploited, oppressed, and media-manipulated, and that is culturally and socially supported by enlightened (democratic-socialist and spiritual, green and yellow) values, beliefs, and institutions.

So how can we actually get from here to there? How can we get the dialectics of the quadrant-fields within the AQAL matrix going such that they generate the desired changes and create emergent progressive social forms from the AQAL Hologram? Obviously this question goes beyond the scope of what this article can answer in the details. Nevertheless, Marx said it was the relations of production (the entrenched interests of power and money) which hold back the development of the forces of production and the progress of history toward ever more egalitarian (enlightened) forms of society, whereas Habermas says it is the historical imbalance of strategic-instrumental rationality over the other, inner grammars of the forms of life that has resulted in certain pathologies within the system. In either case, we must begin with the LR quadrant, with the social relations and institutions of society and the inequities (injustices) and pathologies they generate.

At the heart of the contemporary crisis in the social relations of production, there is corruption of democracy by big-money interests, who essentially buy political representation for themselves through the revolving door of government-corporate lobbying and campaign donations, and then sell and conceal this facade as 'democracy' through ownership of the media (Fig. 6). This is the key link that must be challenged, broken, and eventually replaced by an integrally informed understanding of how all the connections and dialectics that are operating in society create our contemporary human reality, which is currently approaching a critical crisis phase due to the domination of strategic-instrumental rationality and its relations of production (and social reproduction through the corporate-media) over the interiors of self and culture, colonizing and impoverishing the creative mind and alternative forms of ideological solidarity based on care and compassion.

Figure 6 - Integral social policy and progressive activist agenda

Political financing of campaigns and financial contributions to political parties must be strictly limited to eliminate corporate democracy in favor of a socialist democracy, tus promoting a moral-communal rationality of compassionate solidarity rather than a community based on greed and envy. Simultaneously, in addition to the need for massive public subsidies for public media outlets, including support for investigative journalism, the corporate media must be regulated to present public interest issues as a central part of their charter. As private instruments of the collective mind, the media is a very special industry that must be subject to extraordinary measures and precaution over how it operates, ensuring diversity of viewpoints and nurturance of the collective interest. The collective mind is simply too important to leave it to private corporate interests to shape and manipulate for their own purposes. No less can be expected if we are to have a truly fair and balanced system of private and public interests in the media.

In addition to these social policy issues, I can add two other priorities for progressive, revolutionary, and evolutionary social transformation that suggest themselves using a quadrant-field analysis. One is the legalization of marijuana as a creative-mind expander. As in the 1960s, psychoactive drugs have had a long history in human civilization, informing us of alternative realities, bringing us beyond the everyday material world of concerns, and allowing us to think outside the box of the propaganda of our cultural ideology. The chemical stimulus of a relatively harmless psychoactive drug like marijuana may be all that is needed to make the difference between public support for a military-industrial complex on the one hand and a public war on the warfare state on the other hand. The differences between an alcoholic-sports-brawl, a caffeine-driven-workday, a nicotine-subdued-competitive-insecurity-stress-attack, and a marijuana-inspired-contemplative-music-love-fest, are all too apparent. The point here is that we should not underestimate the power of different drugs to influence, support, and shape history in very different ways, with completely different forms of life and civilization at stake.

Finally, the corporate-media has had such a long, deep and pervasive effect on the collective mind that there needs to be a massive re-education of the public as to what collective interests as opposed to private interests are, and what history private interests (often in the name of collective national interests) have wreaked upon the earth in the form of blood, sweat, and tears. The massive propaganda effort within America during the Cold War against communism makes this an especially urgent task in order to de-program American culture from an instinctive rejection of anything remotely progressive in social policy.

This re-education must occur simultaneously with the other proposed changes of mind stimulation and expansion with marijuana, campaign and political-party finance reform away from big-money, and public/private media subsidies and diversification to meet the public interest. If these proposed changes are not simultaneous, the synergy of the dialectics between the four quadrant-fields may not be enough to generate the systemic transformations in the whole that are needed to rise to another level of development, toward a higher synthesis of orange-green-yellow that transcends and includes the advances of modern and postmodern contributions. If there is one thing the 60s and other periods of great social transformation tell us, and what the phase-transitions of emergence in chaos theory suggest as well, is that without simultaneous and sustained changes in all quadrants, throughout the entire system, transformation may not be complete, may be absent altogether, or may be fatally distorted and imbalanced.

Concluding Remarks

The configuration of the current crisis in America, and around much of the world, is an alliance between red-blue and orange levels of development that are clashing with and resisting (just saying no) to the progressive social reforms of green.[3] The strategic-instrumental rationality (orange) of the corporate-military-politicians ground the legitimacy of their power and money largely in egocentric (red) forms of the self and ethnocentric (blue) forms of culture. Through the influence of big money/power, political corruption and corporate-media censorship are like cancers, growing ever larger and blocking more vital and progressive forces of social enlightenment by slanting and redirecting history towards more self-destructive forms. Indeed, what is so problematic and troubling about the triple alliance of red-blue and orange levels within modernity is that it has become imbalanced and pathological for the sustainability of the global system as a whole. And we do not have much time to turn the tables on this triple complex in order to avoid catastrophe, if indeed it can be avoided.

Therefore, it seems to me that there is a moral imperative here--with literally millions of human lives and the balance of the global eco-system at stake--to confront, to break, and to replace the current corporate-military-political alliance with institutional alliances that are undeniably the next step in the human development of civilization: orange-green-yellow democratic socialism, oriented toward more equitable, egalitarian, and balanced (just) relations between humans, and between humans and nature, from the local-communal to the global-systemic level. A call for active intervention toward this end is needed. A higher unity of human beings is achievable if we can identify and actively target the obstacles to the full development of historical forces. In this action we can consciously attempt to balance the different forms of life, and do so with a calculus of variables that are transparently identifiable in their relations to one another using an integral critical perspective. In so far as the AQAL matrix, itself the representational form of an ever-present, cosmic-quantum Hologram, can help us do this, it can be the blueprint of that flying saucer engine, that portal to our collective soul and spirit, which is our destiny.


[1] For a discussion of how the AQAL matrix may be directly related to physics, chemistry, biology, and chaos theory, as well as to the traditional arts of astrology, the I-Ching, and the Tarot, see my unpublished manuscript: “The Quantum Hologram and its Dialectical Holomovements”.

[2] I do not mean to suggest here Plato's notion of justice as a caste system with a philosopher-king at the top. Some would suggest that something like Plato's hierarchical society based on the different levels of development would indeed constitute a just society. However, what I have in mind here is John Rawls (2001) notion of justice as fairness, a kind of rationalized compassion of social equity and balance derived from a meditative empathetic understanding of the conditions of poverty and the social position of the disadvantaged, including empathetic meditations on such things as climate change and species extinction, leading to affective notions, practices, and social orders of human social equity that are balanced with nature as well.

[3] Of course, the other clash going on, especially internationally between modern and traditional forces, is modern red-blue and orange versus traditional purple-red and blue. And although this is a very important struggle, far less attention and effort within Integral Theory has gone into the progressive side of the developmental and evolutionary struggle that orange-green and yellow must wage against red-blue and orange, i.e. against the ego- and ethnocentric machinations of the corporate-military-state complex, which simultaneously tries to destroy and exploit purple-red and blue for its own purposes.


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Habermas, Jurgen (1987) The Theory of Communicative Action: Lifeworld and system, a critique of functionalist reason (T. McCarthy, Trans. Vol. 2) Boston: Beacon Press.

Horkheimer, Max and Theodore W. Adorno (1986) Dialectic of Enlightenment. London: Verso.

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Rawls, John (2001) Justice as Fairness, Harvard University Press.

Wilber, Ken (2000) A Theory of Everything, Shambhala.

Wilber, Ken (1998) The Marriage of Sense and Soul, New York: Random House.

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