Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
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].


The Rise of Integral Conservatism

in the Shadow of Strategic-Instrumental Rationality

Joe Corbett

Only the Machiavellian intrigue of medieval courtesans could be more exemplary of the strategic manipulations and grabs for power as capitalist elites in current times.

The random fluctuations (as well as the deliberate choices of sentient consciousness, the will to manifestation) of the quantum-archetypal fields of truth, beauty, goodness, and justice have created the multitude of emergent forms of wonderful existence which is this universe [A Blueprint for a Flying-Saucer Engine]. In his theory of communicative action, Jurgen Habermas spoke of 'the grammars of the forms of life', the human socio-cultural expressions of these emergent quantum-archetypal forms, which are the aesthetic-expressive (beauty), moral-communal (goodness), instrumental-technical (truth), and strategic-political (justice) forms of rationality that constitute human psychological, cultural, and social existence.

Strategic-instrumental rationality is singled out in Habermas as a special case of the alliance of rationalities within modernity that have created a dominant and colonizing form of social existence characterized by the imperatives of science, capital, and the modern military-police-state: objectivity, productivity, efficiency, and control. In the world of Ken Wilber, this is precisely the one-dimensional flatland that exiled the interiors of individual and collective consciousness, the reductionist scientific, economic, and political materialism of modernity [What is Critical Integral Theory?]. What this hegemony of secular modernity has left us is a hollowed-out interior world, a wasteland of psychological and cultural shallowness, and hence the annihilation of the only thing that is capable of giving human beings meaning, purpose and direction in life.

As an exemplar of the quotidian discursive-practices of an enlightened modernity freed from the chains of superstition, strategic-instrumental rationality has now become its opposite in the iron cage of scientific and technical materialism, disenchanting the exterior world of its magical-mysterious interiors, and enslaving us all to its imperatives of an efficient organization of society for the sole purpose of profitability. Whatever it takes to win and succeed at this game, including the destruction of nature and human communities, is the mantra of this new social darwinian regimen, and whoever does not chime to its chant will be tossed to the dustbin of history as any practicing lawyer, businessperson, or politician will attest. Reward for greed, ruthlessness, and fanaticism (preferably free market, religious, national) is the new world order of the day, the destruction of all for the benefit of the few. These are the conditions that make it ripe for modernity to be a breeding ground for well-adjusted and successful psychopaths, particularly of the Ayn Randian sort, and apparently with the stamp of approval from none other than Ken Wilber [Ken Wilber (Philosopher-King]) .

In the end, what strategic-instrumentalism has proffered on humanity is an endless narcissistic consumerism of free market trickle-downism and militaristic patriotism to make any president of the United States the proud corporate representative he is certain to be, bought and paid for with the approval of the supreme court of the land. Only the Machiavellian intrigue of medieval courtesans could be more exemplary of the strategic manipulations and grabs for power as capitalist elites in current times, all of whom are an outgrowth of the 'third way' consensus forged in the wake of the Reagan-Thatcher backlash to the liberal-left of the 1960s. The sentiments of these third way counter-revolutionaries are, in turn, eagerly and conveniently sought after as sympathetic ears and deep pockets for the seminar fees of the growing industry of integral consultants, at least those who have the official certificates and stamps of approval. Meanwhile, integral 'scholars' debate the merits of global warming deniers and the 'partial truths' that everyone has to offer, with no particular perspective of their own, except perhaps on how to include the more conservative perspectives in the bigger picture, which is our collective global destiny, so that corporate consulting fees may be easier to materialize.

That the integral leadership beginning with KW chooses to remain silent and even takes sides favorable to the right-wing austerity bastards (which includes the so-called center-left these days) on this most timely and urgent issue, I think speaks volumes not just about their intellectual bankruptcy but about their own aspirations to power and wealth, the same kind of petty bourgeois opportunism that gets minorities and women into positions of power without really changing anything, those very things that strategic-instrumental rationality can be employed to acquire and accumulate, at whatever the cost. Indeed, there are those including myself who have experienced first hand the interpersonal and institutional manipulations of KW and his inner circle of loyalists who will go to great lengths to avoid and otherwise exclude anyone who questions or challenges the 'party line' of integral ideology and its practices. Of course, the solution to this political corruption within the inner integral circle is to splinter off into a more progressive and open network of integral scholars and practitioners who don't deploy strategic-instrumental manipulations for their own personal systemic benefit within the integral echelon. I see IntegralWorld as one such attempt by an online splinter-group to do just that; and one last hope to believe in is that any aspirations to power, wealth, recognition or influence here on IntegralWorld will not corrupt the purity of our aspirations to truth, beauty, goodness, and justice.

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