Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Bryan O'DohertyBryan O'Doherty is an entrepreneur, writer/blogger, husband and father of three. He grew up in Portland Oregon (US) and graduated from Portland State University with degrees in Architecture and Japanese. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest. You can read more from him on his blog at

Reposted from the author's blog at:



The Political Paradigm of
an Integral Society

Bryan O'Doherty

From what I have seen there seems to be very little real fundamental understanding of either Economics or Politics in the Integral Movement.

Twelve years into the new millennium we bear witness to the ever more violent death throes of the current political and economic order. What will rise from the ashes will be the defining question of our time and will determine whether humanity will suffer through another century of war, death, destruction, and tyranny; or if the people will find it in themselves to transcend this emerging "New World Order," to overcome it and institute something else in it's place. Something that honors the inherent rights of all men and women to live their lives in peace and freedom, and to reach their fullest potential.

In the many years that I have read Ken Wilber's excellent insights into the human consciousness, into spiritual development, into culture, into the very human soul, I have been consistently blown away. In his work I found so many Truths that I had sought after for so long. One of my immediate interests upon reading Ken Wilber was to determine how an Integral worldview (Lower Left or LL) would translate externally via (LR) social organization. In other words, how would an Integral Society function politically?

From what I have seen there seems to be very little real fundamental understanding of either Economics or Politics in the Integral Movement. The issue is either handled in vague terms, defining basic criteria that an "Integral State" ought to have, as with Ken Wilber and Greg Wilpert for example, or in the case of H.B. Augustine, completely and dangerously misunderstanding the basic premises that underlie his proposals in both Politics and Economics. I sometimes wonder if those who come out of Green and into Turquoise do so with a tendency to favor the Left hand half of AQAL, as a reaction to Green's focus on the Right Hand half.

To me it seems that it is of absolutely critical importance for the Integral Movement to address this issue decisively. Failure to do so will leave the door open for all number of unhealthy consequences for humanity and our planet. As I've said before Politics is philosophy-in-action. And as we have seen demonstrated in the 20th century, philosophy-in-action can mean life or death for literally hundreds of millions of people. We witnessed the damage that can be done when Red and Blue/Amber use Orange and Green technology to wage war. As Ken Wilber has said, Red cannot commit genocide with bows and arrows, but it can with machine guns and artillery, with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Imagine if Red, Blue or even Orange and Green get a hold of Integral Biotechnology or Nanotechnology. The results will be horrifying.

In order to prevent such from happening the Integral Movement needs to focus some serious energy on this issue, and not just from a theory standpoint but actually translate it into their daily lives and lifestyles. My aim with this article is to propose what I see as the true organization of an Integral Society, and to show the rest of the Integral Movement the peaceful path toward achieving it.


As the center of gravity of our (LL) cultural worldview shifted from pre-conventional (egocentric), to conventional (sociocentric), to post-conventional (world-centric), we can see that there was a corresponding paradigm shift in the organization of society. From pre-conventional Autocracy/Dictatorship, to conventional Aristocracy/Monarchy, to post-conventional Democracy/ Constitutional Republic. As each progression transcended the one before it, political power was dispersed to a larger number of potential actors, from the single (dictator), to the few (aristocrats), to the many (representatives elected from the citizenry). We should therefore expect that these patterns will continue into the next paradigm shift for an integral (kosmoscentric) cultural worldview.

Ken Wilber notes that "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)."

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.

We can see that today an "Integral Enlightenment" is now underway that is the product of the evolution of consciousness from post-conventional/worldcentric to integral/kosmoscentric. We should therefore expect that the next stage in the evolution of politics will be a rejection of the current "Flatland" structure and reductive materialism of our post-conventional social democracies. Furthermore we should expect that political power will be dispersed even further, so much so in fact, that we need not even use the term "potential actors" because in an Integral Society all people will be actors wielding equal political power.


Imagine a world of a million tiny sovereign communities. These communities very in size, some may be smaller than a city block, others perhaps as large as a small US state. Some are contiguous, with all of their members in close proximity to one another. Others, probably even most, are widely dispersed, existing as networks of people connected only digitally through the internet. But all of these communities have one thing in common. Their members are such by choice, and thus the political power of every person on the planet is in one regard absolute. If ever one's worldview happens to collide with that of their community, they need only find another community that suits them better. They need not even physically move.

In such a world there is no "government" as we currently understand the term. But the world is not in chaos. Quite to the contrary, war is almost unheard of and when it occurs, is typically on a very small scale and is concluded in a matter of days. Crime, while still an occasional problem, is much more easily dealt with. Many things that are crimes in one community are often not crimes at all in others. Some communities are centered around a religion, others are centered on an industry or occupation, some are centered on art or music, others on lifestyle or values, some on a cause such as education, or environmental protection, or charity. A few are centered on a charismatic leader, and follow his or her will. Some communities function as a commune, where all wealth is communally shared, others function as an agora, where people trade freely in the marketplace and have strong notions of individual property and privacy. Some communities require dues of their members, others do not. The variety is astounding and endless, and because all of these communities coexist in the same overall Integral framework, they interact freely, trading, mingling, competing, cooperating, and learning from each other by their example. I call this vision "Panarchy."


A Panarchy is a highly decentralized network of sovereign territorial and extraterritorial communities.

In short, a Panarchy is a highly decentralized network of sovereign territorial and extraterritorial communities. The term was first coined in 1860 by the Belgian political economist Paul Emile de Puydt. It refers to a form of government (an "archy") that encompasses all others ("Pan"). In his essay entitled "Panarchy," de Puydt described a system whereby individuals and communities would be free to choose the form of government they wished to establish simply by consenting to be governed by the community of their choice (de Puydt, 1860).

The truth is that there is not the right kind of freedom, the fundamental freedom to choose to be free or not to be free, according to one's preference. Every human being becomes a self-appointed judge, and settles this question according to his particular tastes or needs. Since there abound as many opinions as individuals, tot homines, tot sensus, one can see what confusion is graced by the fine name of politics. The freedom of some denies the rights of others, and vice versa. Even the wisest and best of governments never functions with the full and free consent of all its subjects. There are parties, either victorious or defeated; there are majorities and minorities in perpetual struggle; and the more confused their notions are, the more passionately they hold to their ideals.
Some oppress in the name of right, the others revolt in the name of liberty, to become oppressors themselves, if their turn should come.

What Puydt was seeing and responding to was the natural friction that occurs in society when groups of people at different levels in the spiral of consciousness are forced to live within a state that enacts policies that conflict with the reality they witness (from their point of view on the spiral). What he discovered, but did not realize at the time, was a political system that was potentially compatible with Integral theory along all-quadrants, all-levels, all-lines, all-states, and all-types.

A Panarchy as I envision it, is a completely different concept from a democracy or any other form of government that has ever been tried. In fact, I have trouble even classifying it as a government, as it does not really meet the definition. It is an entirely new political paradigm that is fully capable of including/embracing all prior forms of governance. As we'll see, it is a truly holarchical approach. Under Panarchy, individuals decide based on their personal position among all-quadrants, all-levels, all-lines which type of community they wish to be a part of. There is a constant flux as communities grow and shrink, fade away and come into existence, and transform and transcend along the holarchical spiral of greater depth-less span.

Another important feature of Panarchy is that from the point of view of the witness at any level in the spiral, the Panarchy does not appear to be in conflict with the value systems of that witness. And this is indeed a critical aspect of any Integral politic. In other words, Red will see the Panarchy as upholding Red values, Amber will see the Panarchy as upholding Amber values, and so on. And of course to Turquoise and Teal the Panarchy is wholly Integral. And this is possible only because the concept of Panarchy itself is an Integral political concept. It intrinsically follows Ken Wilber's prime directive, as it allows Red to be egocentric, Amber to be mythic, Orange to be rational, Green to be pluralistic, and Teal to be holistic and integral, and by virtue of that it is itself holistic and integral.

It is structured to allow these different sub-politics to exist within its framework and encourages a peaceful means for those communities on a lower level of the spiral to learn passively from those on a higher level of the spiral—not through mandatory education programs forced on all members, but through example and the free flow of information, via current and future communications technology. Amber communities will learn by the example of their Orange neighbors, and Orange communities will learn by the example of their Green neighbors, and so on, giving them a clear path to transcend to the next level. And this is what makes the concept of Panarchy more than just a heap of first-tier state-lets, but is itself a whole that has much greater depth than its constituent communities combined.


Before getting to how humanity might implement the Panarchic model for a truly global integral society (how we get from here to there), I want to first look at the idea of "Integral Government" itself. I'll start by defining the four key characteristics that make an Integral Political Paradigm (IPP) and show how Panarchy exhibits those characteristics. Finally, I will explore the reasons why any form of "government" in the sense of "monopolistic state" as we understand the term cannot foster a healthy Integral society (cannot be a proper Integral manifestation of the LR quadrant).

Characteristics of an Integral Political Paradigm

The dimensions I outline below are intended to follow Wilber's general framework. Similar dimensions have been expressed in a number of ways by Ken Wilber, Gregory Wilpert and others. As both Wilber and Wilpert agree, any IPP will have to address these dimensions in an Integral way. They are:

  1. Internal/External
  2. Agentic/Communal
  3. Include/Embrace
  4. Translation/Transformation

I will go over all four briefly here, and I will illustrate how Panarchy will address each of these. But before I do, please take a look at the figure from Gregory Wilpert's article, Dimensions of Integral Politics, which represents the first two of the above dimensions. This figure is a good representation of 1st Tier political extremes: at the extreme agentic or individualist end you have both internal and external expressions of a stateless or anarchic society; "libertarianism" (anarcho-capitalism) on one end and "anarchism" (anarcho-socialism) on the other. At the extreme communal or collectivist end you have both internal and external expressions of state-controlled or authoritarian society; "fascism" (state capitalism) on one end and communism ("state socialism") on the other. These represent the political extremes of the "first-tier" post-conventional political paradigm, and it is the role of "second-tier" Integral politics to transcend and include these extremes, and everything in between, within a new political paradigm. In order to do this, the IPP must address the four key dimensions mentioned above in an Integral way, promoting, as Wilber would put it, "the greatest depth for the greatest span."


Wilber made the point that conservatives and liberals are defined by their answer to the question, "What causes human suffering?" If you ask a conservative why some people are poor, the answer will most likely be because the person does not have a good work ethic, or is not motivated to learn the right skills, lacks good moral values, or is lazy, etc. In other words, the cause is internal to the individual. On the other hand, if you pose the same question to a liberal, they will likely answer that the person was not given a proper education, was born into a condition of poverty, has been oppressed or marginalized by society, is the victim of racism, sexism, ageism, or homophobia. In other words, the cause is external to the individual.

Thus, according to Ken Wilber, "the liberal [exterior causation] 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 [interior causation] 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."

This is the Internal/External duality and any Integral approach to politics must transcend and include this duality, equally honoring (i.e, including) the exterior causes and interior causes of human suffering, but transcending them both with a non-dual approach. The Panarchy will accomplish this not by finding a "middle of the road" policy. Such is not a non-dual approach. It's only a compromise between two dualities that will satisfy neither. There is a Zen koan that is appropriate here, I think:

A monk asked Tozan, "How can we escape the cold and heat?" Tozan replied, "Why not go where there is no cold and heat?" "Is there such a place?" the monk asked. Tozan commented, "When cold, be thoroughly cold; when hot, be hot through and through.

Those communities with exterior focus will tend to (it is in their nature to) solve exterior problems, and those with interior focus will tend to solve interior problems (i.e., the Panarchy will be thoroughly exterior toward exterior problems and thoroughly interior toward interior problems by its very nature, and in that way honor all degrees along the Interior/Exterior dimension). This cannot be effectively achieved by implementing colossal programs and bureaucracies, but instead must be inherent in the very nature of the IPP's makeup, and this is certainly the case with Panarchy. It leaves it's externally-focused communities to simply be what they naturally are, while simultaneously leaving internally-focused communities to be what they naturally are, and thus allows each to reach its own potential without the interference and friction associated with the top-down control methodology typical of centralized governments.

An internally focused community, for example, may be centered around a place of worship. Here human misery is held at bay by love, and a sense of belonging obtained by a focus on living a good and moral life, on cultivating a good character, honoring family and community ties, and fostering individual spiritual growth. Alternatively, an entirely different internally focused community might be centered around a common industry, where human misery is alleviated by a sense of pride and material progress obtained through application of a strong work ethic, and the cultivation of applicable skills.

Meanwhile an externally focused community may be centered around a common cause, working to eradicate human misery by offering education to the ignorant, food to the hungry, charity to the poor, assistance to the infirm, or serving any of the multitude of other causes that can be imagined, from the protection of endangered species and habitats to the running of a library. Mixtures of External and Internal focus in communities would likely be common as well.

Because of the key characteristic of Panarchy; namely that individuals are generally free to join or leave their communities without necessarily physically moving at all, there is no longer the angst felt by the externally focused individual against a predominantly internally focused community, nor vise versa. Instead individuals would simply gravitate toward communities that reflected their internal or external values.


This could also be defined as individualist vs. collectivist. The distinction here can be made by asking the question, "From where do we get our rights?" If you ask an individualist, the answer will be that rights are inherent in the individual, whereas when you ask a collectivist the same question the answer will be that rights are creations of the collective. For Red, which tends toward agentic, might makes right, a very individualistic concept. For Amber (Blue), which tends toward communal, rights are bestowed by the king (or other amber authority figure who is head of the collective). For Orange, rights are inalienable, and natural aspects of individuality. For Green, rights are created and bestowed upon the citizenry by the collective will of the people through their governments. Any Integral approach to politics must likewise transcend and include this agentic/communal duality into a new non-dual paradigm.

Panarchy's non-dual approach to the agentic/communal duality is, again, an inherent part of its makeup. A Panarchy will contain within it a vast and diverse collection of communities, some agentic and others communal, and still others admixtures and combinations of the two. The Panarchy, however, does not take the middle road by saying that some rights are individual and some are collective. (This is not a non-dual approach, but a compromise that satisfies neither.) Instead an Integral Panarchy will recognize that rights are innate to the individual, but at the same time meaningless without a communal context. In other words, it takes an individual to have a right, but it takes a community to recognize that right. Therefore from an Integral perspective all rights are inherent in the individual, but meaningless outside of the context of community.

What this means in practice is that membership in the Panarchy should require the individual and community to guarantee at least a person's basic and fundamental right to life and self-determination in order to ensure that people do not become captives of their community (in other words people always have the right to leave their communities in search of another). Beyond that, rights would largely be determined by each community themselves, based on their own values. Meanwhile, the people, free to live in whatever type of community they desire, would naturally choose a community that represents their own agentic, communal, or non-dual values.


The third characteristic to consider, which Wilpert (2006) described in his article on Integral politics, is inclusion/embrace:

Every belief system exists in progressively deeper contexts. While some ideas or arguments take physical need as their only context, others emphasize emotional truths, traditional/ethnocentric truths, or, at the next level, universalistic truths. In other words, while fascistic ideologies rely on arguments that reference ethnocentric truths, liberal ideologies rely on arguments that reference rational/universal truths. This distinction of truths is hierarchical, going from physical to emotional to traditional to rational, each step transcending and embracing its predecessor, all the way to the soul and spirit. It is possible to have a politics that makes reference to this highest level of soul and spiritual truths/contexts. Integral Politics recognizes this nested hierarchy of increasingly deeper and wider contexts (Wilpert, 2006).

What Form a community's organization takes says a lot about how that community sees truth and thus how they will handle law and justice. In other words, in an Amber monarchy or theocracy, truth has been handed down by God and is interpreted by his appointed messengers (ethnocentric/traditional truth) for his chosen people (i.e., the royalty or priestly classes). People rely on the authority to interpret truth and administer justice unilaterally. In an Orange republic truth is observed objectively and defined by reason and science (rational/universal truth). Justice is found in the "Rule of Law." In a Green democracy truth is relative, and all relative truths are equal (pluralistic truth). Since all truth is equal, yet some appear marginalized, the law and the system of justice must be used to make up for and abolish inequalities.

An IPP recognizes that these approaches to truth are holarchically arranged, and are each accurate representations of truth through the eyes of the witness at each stage of consciousness unfolding. Panarchy will thus embrace each of these approaches as appropriate to the level at which different communities operate, while including them into a holarchically deeper framework. What this means from the standpoint of truth and justice is that an Integral Panarchy must operate under a system of Polycentric Common Law. Under this system different communities would operate under their own self-determined forms of justice based on the understanding of truth appropriate to their level in the spiral. An overarching layer of common law based on Integral principles, however, would be the basis of membership in the Panarchy. The operation of justice would primarily be the internal responsibility of each community. Only when community justice violates the terms of Panarchical membership, or there is a dispute between two sovereign members, would Panarchy itself become involved.

In practical terms, as a member of a community one would be subject to the laws of that community. However, all member communities themselves would be subject to a "Panarchic Charter" (or whatever one wants to call the set of Integral principles on which a Panarchy is based—KW refers to an "Integral Constitution"). Thus Integral Panarchic Law transcends and includes the Polycentric Law below it, which applies to the parts, and is confined to the community, while the "Charter" applies to communities as a whole.


The final characteristic an IPP must have is an environment that promotes Translation and Transformation toward greater depth. Individuals and communities must be free to move back and forth, up and down the spiral on their own path toward greater depth. In this regard the Panarchy's only role should be to leave each community to exist on its own natural level, and to promote, through example, guidance and, when necessary, arbitration, the health of each meme along all quadrants. This aspect is so critical that Ken Wilber calls it "The Prime Directive." In Some Thoughts on Integral Politics he says, "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"... 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... 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)."

In Panarchy the various memes are able to coexist peacefully even though their value systems and world views are so different. This is because communities are not threatened by the prospect of an alien meme forcing its worldview on them. Each community and each individual in each community is free to develop at their own pace along the spiral.

Since individuals within these communities can simply change communal affiliation once their development along the Lower Left (LL) demands a corresponding shift along the Lower Right (LR), there is a constant and gradual societal shift toward greater depth without the friction caused by individuals at different LL stages having to support the same LR social policy.


In the section above we've seen how Panarchy has the characteristics required of an Integral Political Paradigm, but why couldn't other forms of Integral government be just as effective? Why not have a Global Government of the type proposed by H.B. Augustine for example? Wouldn't that also work as well or even better? In the next two sections of this article I'll go over in detail why such proposals are antithetical to an Integral Political Paradigm, and why government is in fact a pathological construct of the LR quadrant.


A critical question that must be asked when considering government is this: What is the State's fundamental relationship to the individual? Cooperative partner? Beneficent Guardian? Protector? Provider of Freedom? Father Figure? The Integral thinker must look past these 1st Tier platitudes, to see the actual relationship that exists, to define and explore its nature, and to reveal to others what it really is.

Government is defined by Merriam Webster as "the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit," which is about as flatland a definition as one can imagine. Such a definition, while accurate as far as the "its" are concerned, does not really tell us what the subjective nature of government is from the viewpoint of the left hand side of AQAL. In other words, what we want to know is, what is the moral nature of government vis-à-vis the governed? For that definition I will turn to Murray Rothbard, who in "Anatomy of the State," defines it as, "that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services rendered but by coercion." (Rothbard, 2009)

We must remember that government itself is really just an abstraction. There is no "government," instead there are people in whom society at large vests authority to carry out certain activities, which under normal circumstances would not be permissible for individuals. Collectively we label these special people "the government." Once a person has been labeled a member of this caste, suddenly we confer upon them an entirely different moral standard. An official of government is allowed to commit crimes that normal citizens would be (rightly) severely punished for. Murder, Destruction of Property, Theft, Kidnapping, Torture, Stalking, Voyeurism, Sexual and physical assault, counterfeiting, the list goes on and on. Government officials commit such crimes as an integral part of their daily duties. In order to mask their true nature we give these crimes other names such as "war," "collateral damage," "Confiscation," "Taxation," "Arrest," "Interrogation," "Investigation," "Pat Down," "Quantitative Easing," etc.. Were you or I to do these things it would rightly be considered a crime, but these crimes are committed daily the world over under the color of law, by the authority assumed by governments. In essence we assign to those in the government one moral standard, while the non-government person lives under a different moral standard.

Consider the following; if we can agree that it is wrong for one man to steal from another man, then we must also say that it is wrong for one group of men to steal from another group of men. It cannot be possible for a collective of individuals to gain a more lax moral standard than a single individual. Insinuating on the collective a baser moral standard than on the individual will result always in pathology of the collective. Even when intentions are good and we cloak the crimes of our uniformed officials with patriotic rhetoric, the result is the same: Social Pathology, which becomes ever more acute until it results in tyranny and eventual social collapse.

The State then is a Social Pathology, but what is the nature of its relationship to Man? To answer that one need only ask what happens when one tries to stop the government from committing a crime. Let us suppose that a person decides that he no longer wishes to pay tribute to the government. That he or she is tired of supporting, with the product of his labor, the crimes that his or her government undertakes. Will the government leave this person alone? Will the government say, "We understand you disagree with the manner in which we use of your money (the results of your productive effort), so don't worry about paying the taxes you owe us?" I think you know the answer. Failure to comply, and thus support an organization you know is immoral, means punishment. At first fines may be levied against you, failure to pay them will eventually result in arrest, resist arrest and you may just discover the government's final solution.

The relationship between Man and the government can thus be likened to the relationship between livestock and their keepers. Like the keeper of livestock, the government protects its herd, keeps them controlled within the borders of his "farm," assumes responsibility for their livestock's general welfare, and harvests its sustenance from them. The assumption is that the farmer owns the livestock, and is thus entitled to harvest its bounty, whether in Milk or in Meat. For more detail on this topic I highly recommend the work of Murray Rothbard and Stephen Molynuex (see references below).


The State then is a Social Pathology, but what is the nature of its relationship to Man?

I stated above that the state is a social pathology. In order to understand this one must first understand that the state and society are separate and distinct entities. Society is the sum total of peaceful human interaction. Society is the (LR) quadrant in its magnificent entirety. The state on the other hand in an ideological tool of control placed on society to forcefully mold it into a particular form. The concepts of state and society are often used synonymously, but this is merely a defense mechanism of the state's meme. Those who benefit from the state want society to think that these two concepts are interchangeable. In fact, the state is a memetic pathogen, which robs society of its full potential by forcing it to serve a particular ideology. It does not mater how evolved the ideology is, whether Red, or Amber, or Green, or Teal, the state and society have been and always will be at odds with one another, because while society is a healthy expression of the entire Spiral, the state is only a "mean" expression of a particular meme.

Thus the state lives off society like a parasite, consuming its resources to further it's own goals at the expense of the rest of the Spiral. Most of the resources consumed by the state provide little benefit to society, but a lot of benefit to those who control the state. Everything that the state does could be done better and in a more healthy (non-pathological) way by society. From defense, to justice, to education, to healthcare, when states assume these roles the results are predictably, more cost, less choice, less flexibility, less freedom and more human suffering, and this is a result again of the state's moral nature. Its only recourse, ever, is coercion.

The pathology of the State is such that it consumes ever greater segments of the Social web of life. More and more functions of society; human to human exchanges, become human to state exchanges. What occurs then is that man is left cut off from his own society, he becomes ever more alienated from his fellow man, and begins to regard others with ever more suspicion. Society then begins to break down entirely. This is what brought down the Soviet state. We can see this happening today in the US, in Europe and in other places around the world.

Even the Enlightenment, with its Constitutional Republics could not escape the pathology of the State. Pieces of Paper cannot keep the State in check. A "constitution," to the state, is analogous to handing a morphine addict a prescription for one tab of morphine per week and no more, and then giving him control of the country's morphine supply! We cannot expect to change the State's pathological nature, instead we should cure our societies of this 1st Tier anachronism, and institute a new Integral mode of social organization.


I am sure many who read this will dismiss it as too radical, and it is indeed a very radical change from the current paradigm.

I am sure many who read this will dismiss it as too radical, and it is indeed a very radical change from the current paradigm. But it is no more radical than the shift from conventional to post-conventional political paradigms. One need only look at the historical record to see how radical the monarchists thought the US founding fathers to be. How they predicted chaos and the unraveling of society. It did not come to pass, and within a century and a half, all of the world's great Republics had adopted the new paradigm.

In this article I have focused on Panarchy as a political paradigm, but panarchic organization could easily be applied to any non-political social (LR) system as well. Just as many formerly effective social organizations today are modeled on the democratic (Green) meme, we'll see that as the developmental center of gravity in "first world" societies shifts from Green to Teal and Turquoise the panarchic meme will become increasingly utilized as a means of organizing disperse and diverse networks of individuals to achieve their social goals. Even lower orders on the spiral will grasp the effectiveness of this new paradigm and adopt it. We can see this happening with the "Arab Spring," the Tea Party, and the Occupy Movement.

It is essential that the Integral community recognize this and position themselves on the forefront so that any emergent pathologies can be effectively addressed and the new paradigm can be guided in the right direction. I believe, however that this Transformation is inevitable in a sense, as Integrally conscious individuals seek each other out through Integral networks formed on Integral technologies, the old ways of social organization are proving to be increasingly ineffectual in comparison. We observe this beginning to happen all around us even today.

In his essay entitled, "Panarchy: Governance in the Network Age," Paul B. Hartzog describes the process by which old systems of government are being bypassed and overcome by new systems of networked global "governance." Hartzog points out that "[t]he key distinction between the old system and the new lies in the fact that governance in the old system was achieved through states, whereas in the new system it is not only achieved outside of hierarchies through horizontal networks, but is in fact often achieved in spite of hierarchies." [italics his] (Hartzog, 2007). What Hartzog perceives is the effectiveness of new IPP to affecting social change, which rely not on lobbying the state through a democratic process, but on completely bypassing the state system, forming a disperse self-organizing global network of committed actors, capable of instantly spreading information amongst their members. Such networks are far more flexible, dynamic, and responsive than the state system, and will ultimately make the state system obsolete. These networks will form "meshworks," (integrated networks of networks) as the current state systems begin to crumble under their own weight. With their economies failing, counter economies, similar to those envisioned by Samuel Edward Konkin III, will begin to emerge, utilizing new forms of trade, and bypassing the 1st Tier state economies entirely. Eventually new economic frameworks emerge, they may come to resemble the sort of "Economics 3.0" envisioned by Michelle Holliday. As she puts it, "[w]ith a view of the economy as a living system, economic leaders will likely be less fix-it men-and-women and more gardeners or farmers, actively cultivating the fertile conditions for life's processes to flow naturally." (Holliday 2010)

As these pre-panarchic networks become larger and more influential "meshworks," and their new economies bypass and supplant the state economies, people will also look to these new integral economies to find more effective alternatives to failing state systems such as healthcare, education, insurance, arbitration and protection. It is conceivable that at some point the failing States will lash out at the emerging panarchy and attempt to suppress it with the only real tool at its disposal; aggression. But the disperse and networked nature of the Panarchy will make it impossible for the State to effectively suppress. Eventually, First Tier systems of government will have no choice but to incorporate themselves into the new Panarchic paradigm.

Critical in the development of the Panarchy is the continued emergence of Integral technologies. Computer networks like the internet give us only a first glimpse of what to expect from emerging Integral technologies. In his book, The Singularity is Near, Ray Kurzweil describes in detail three technological revolutions; Genetics, Nano-technology, and Strong Artificial Intelligence. These technologies are poised to completely transform the way individuals communicate and interact allowing, among other things, individual minds to communicate with other minds regardless of physical distance (Kurzweil, 2005). Such a world would simply have no place for old systems of government based on territorial sovereignty and control.

The Integral Community needs to be leading this change, both through the creation of their own social networks and expanding them into integral meshworks, and by participating in counter-economics, in order to weaken the pathological 1st Tier post-conventional political paradigm. The Integral Community is in the best position to serve as arbiters (those who resolve disputes within the panarchy) in the emerging Panarchy, as their worldview has the greatest depth, they should quickly become the most reputable and respected in the field, and thus be the most influential in the development of a truly global panarchic meshwork.

In the end I believe the emergence of an Integral Political Paradigm is an inevitable aspect of the Kosmos' continued quest for greater depth. Translate—Transform, the question is not "will Panarchy emerge," the question is "when will Panarchy emerge?"


Augustine, H.B., "Integral Politics; A Brief Outline of and Introduction to the Integral Era"

Augustine, H.B., "Integral Politics; An Introduction to Integral Government"

Bell, Tom W. (1992). "The Jurisprudence of Polycentric Law" available online at:

Hartzog, Paul (2007). "Panarchy: Governance in the Network Age" available online at:

Holiday, Michelle (2010) "V. The Terrain: The Integral Economy"

Konkin, Samuel Edward III (2008). "An Agorist Primer"

Kurzweil, Ray (2005). The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Viking.

Molyneux, Stephen. "The Story of Your Enslavement"

Puydt, Paul Emile de (1860) "Panarchy" Brussels: Revue Trimestrielle (Translation by John Zube,

Rothbard, Murray (2009). "Anatomy of the State" Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig von Mises Institute

Wikipedia: Panarchy (Retrieved July/September 2008).

Wilber, Ken (2000). A brief history of everything (2nd ed.). Boston: Shambhala.

Wilber, Ken (2001). A theory of everything: An integral vision for business, politics, science, and spirituality. Boston: Shambhala.

Wilber, Ken (2007) talk on Integral Politics:

Wilber, Ken. "Some Thoughts on Integral Politics"

Wilpert, Gregory (2006) "Integral politics: A spiritual third way" AQAL Journal Summer 2006 Vol. 1, No. 2

Wilpert, Gregory. "Dimensions of Integral Politics"

Comment Form is loading comments...