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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Books: Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY, 2003), and The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus (Kindle, 2020).
A Guided Tour of War Propaganda
The myths of Greater Russia or Greater Israel are perfect instruments to unify a divided country or population, especially in times of war.
In the past few years I have been fascinated by the clash of narratives surrounding the current world conflicts, first in Ukraine and now in Gaza as well. Where do I stand myself? Where do my sympathies lie? And where does Integral Theory fit? Or how would Integral Theory frame these conflicts and hence contribute to their solution, at least on paper? So I had my daily dose of reading from CNN to RT News to Al Jazeera, and listened to countless YouTube videos by more underground voices, from Scott Ritter and Judge Napolitano, to Norman Finkelstein and Jeffrey Sachs. I listened to both Douglas Murray and Noam Chomsky, staunch defenders or critics of the Western world and its foreign policies.
This lead me to the following two competing narratives, which I roughly label "pro-Western" and "anti-Western":
In his first essay of his Integral Geopolitics series Ray Harris argued that there is no such thing as "the West", nor anything like the "Global South". Instead, "The reality of globalisation is that cultures and societies choose to accept or reject values/trends/fashions/memes as they wish." But this overlooks the fact that Western/American economic and military world dominance (or hegemony) is challenged by countries ranging from Russia to Iran to India and China. These tensions are visible in the current wars, were the lines seem to have been clearly drawn: the West/America does not want to lose its grip on globalisation, but its competitors rally for a "multi-polar world order". So terminological nuances aside: we urgenly need concepts and theories that clarify and de-escalate these global instabilities.
Harris also raised the point that many countries and cultures have been oppressive, have known slavery, and so on, this is not exclusive to the "West". But this is besides the point. Again, looking at the past and current world situation, we see a pattern of American interventions, that almost without exception greatly backfire, leading to instability in the Middle East.
The Empire doesn't strike back here. The Empire gets beaten up. At this moment in time the United States have bombed targets in Iraq, Syria and Jemen, to combat terrorist groups and prevent them from striking at US bases. Could it be that the US has its logic backwards: these "terrorists" are the result of widespread animosity in the Middle East against American military presence, and the persistence of the Palestinian problem. If a solution to that problem is finally reached, this animosity will lose much of its fervor. The common denominator of these groups is that they ask the United States to leave the Middle East. Terrorism may be a self-created monster.
Israel has been accused by South Africa before the ICJ of committing genocide to the Palestinians in Gaza. Some doubt if this term is apt, as "only" 1% of the 2.000.000 inhabitants of Gaza have been killed (so far). Fair enough. And it is, again, 20x the number of people killed in the original Hamas attack of 10/7. But that is usually the case when Israel strikes back. Wasn't the desert law "an eye for an eye" installed precisely to prevent such excessive revenge? And if 80% of all homes and public buildings, including hospitals and universities, have been destroyed by high-tech Israeli (and US-funded) bombing, what does that effectively do to a population that has no future ahead? Does that guarantee a future of peace and cooperation, within a two-state solution, or has this last-straw option finally been abolished?
The common denominator of these groups is that they ask the United States to leave the Middle East. Terrorism may be a self-created monster.
Is this a case of sober political analysis, or of knee-jerk anti-Americanism, as Maersheimer and Chomsky are often accused of? Am I seeing a structural pattern or am I seeing things? So to say that the distinction between the West and the Rest is arbitrary, or that non-Western countries have their dark shadows as well, however historically interesting and edifying that may be, is quite irrelevant to understand the current world situation.
To those belonging to the Western camp are atheist and neoconservative author Douglas Murray, former muslima, atheist and now Christian Ayaan Hirshi Ali, but also secular Jewish authors (and atheists) biologist Jerry Coyne and neurologist Sam Harris. But in the non-Western camp we find Jewish authors such as historian Norman Finkelstein and economist Jeffrey Sachs, who each in their own eloquent ways point to the United States as a major—if not the major—causal factor behind the current world crisis. They find support in political scientist John Maersheimer and arch-America-critic Noam Chomsky, who see NATO expansion and the subsequent courtship of Ukraine as a red line that has been crossed by the West, provoking an answer from Russia, leading to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. This is a contentious issue that has been discussed on Integral World from many angles.
Those who are taking the non-Western position in these matters are often accused of having sympathies for authoritarian dictators or mass murderers, but that ends all reasonable debate. Instead they often are critical of US foreign policy over many decades and can understand why non-Western countries who have been at the receiving end of these policies see matters quite differently. Yet again, countries belonging to the loose Axis of Resistance are hardly places we as Westerners would care to live (Iran, Syria, North Korea). Nor are the Arabic countries (mostly sunnite) that have allied with the West such as Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States examplary havens of freedom and dignity. That can all be freely acknowledged, but it should not detract us from seeing clearly where the West goes wrong.
Where does Integral fit into this picture? Even though Wilber allegedly has always had Integral Politics at the top of his list, and he even wrote a (never published) trilogy on terrorism, The Many Faces of Terrorism, he hasn't written or spoken much of substance about world politics (but see  for his reflections on US domestic politics). He has commented briefly on the Iraq War and 9/11, and the late Spiral Dynamics co-founder Don Beck has mapped the stages of social development. Those inclined to Upper Left developmental models will favor the West because of its supposed higher status of development, both economically and intellectually (if not morally). Those who are more inclined to use the Four Quadrant model will point to the Lower Right or exterior-collective quadrant of Justice, as a prime and much neglected field of research, painting a much gloomier picture of the West. You can find essays on this area in particular in spades on Integral World.
How do we avoid overly simplistic frames such as "Putin is a danger to all of Europe" or "The instability of the world is all America's fault"? Mostly by getting to know opposing views, that seem to exclude eachother. By avoiding silo-thinking. And by analyzing why we instinctively opt for one or the other point of view. Putin acted out of stated "security concerns", but so does Netanyahu. Both are responsible for many thousands of deaths. Did they reach their desired goals, or just the opposite, by acting with overpowering military force, instead of directly speaking with their opponents? Did both foresee that their "special military operations" can easily escalate into wider or even worldwide conflicts? Do they have a clue about why their opponents resist their influence or control over their lives? The myths of Greater Russia or Greater Israel are perfect instruments to unify a divided country or population, especially in times of war. So does the myth of "defending the free world, at whatever cost". In the end citizens of all countries just want to live a decent life, without being bothered by wars or war propaganda. The lesson I learned is that governments rarely have this objective in mind, when they plunge into geopolitical adventures, for whatever "patriotic" reasons.
Two War Propaganda Cases
The Vladimir Putin Interview by Tucker Carlson
Check out this uncritical (but hence unfiltered) interview by ex-Fox News "journalist" Tucker Carlson of Vladimir Putin, which was aired on Twitter and Carlson's own network TCN on Feb 8, 2024. Putin justifies his war without mentioning he is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of casualties (Ukrainian soldiers and civilians and Russian soldiers), millions of refugees (both in Ukraine and Russia) and billions of material damage to Ukraine, an independent country that wanted to steer its own course:
Here's an AI summary (by Alex Volkov, @altryne):
The transcript you provided outlines an extensive interview between Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin. The dialogue covers numerous topics, including the war in Ukraine, NATO expansion, relations with the West, sanctions, energy politics, and more. Here's a comprehensive summary, highlighting key points and arguments:
Background of the Ukraine Conflict: Putin outlines a historical perspective, claiming a historical claim to parts of Ukraine dating back to medieval times. He argues that NATO's expansion and support for Ukraine's alignment with the West have threatened Russia's security.
Putin's Justification for the War: He repeatedly emphasizes that the conflict in Ukraine was provoked by NATO's expansion and the 2014 coup, which he perceives as a direct threat to Russia's security. Putin insists that Russia's actions are defensive, aiming to protect Russian-speaking populations and prevent NATO's encroachment.
Discussion on NATO and Western Relations: Putin criticizes NATO's eastward expansion, accusing the West of breaking promises made after the Soviet Union's collapse. He views the current conflict as part of a broader struggle against Western attempts to weaken Russia.
Sanctions and Economic Implications: Putin discusses the impact of sanctions on Russia and the global shift away from the US dollar, predicting long-term negative consequences for the US economy and its global influence.
Potential for Escalation: Throughout the interview, Putin and Carlson discuss the risk of the Ukraine conflict escalating into a wider war, including the potential use of nuclear weapons. Putin suggests that such an outcome would be catastrophic and indicates a preference for negotiation.
Putin's Views on Religion and Russian Identity: Putin reflects on the role of Orthodox Christianity in shaping Russian identity and values, contrasting it with what he perceives as the more materialistic and pragmatic orientation of the West.
AI and Future Threats: Putin speculates on future challenges, including AI and genetic engineering, emphasizing the need for global cooperation to manage these emerging threats responsibly.
Negotiations and Peace Prospects: Putin expresses openness to negotiations but blames the West and Ukraine for the lack of progress. He suggests that the West needs to reconsider its approach to resolve the conflict.
Throughout the interview, Putin presents himself as defending Russian interests and identity against Western aggression and encroachment. He portrays the conflict in Ukraine not as an invasion but as a necessary response to protect Russian-speaking populations and counter NATO's expansion. The interview reflects Putin's longstanding narratives about Western hostility towards Russia, the historical justification for Russia's actions in Ukraine, and his views on global politics and the future challenges facing humanity.
This "historical" narrative given by Putin has been debunked almost instantly by many historians. Enough to give the opinion of Timothy Snyder:
Putin's genocidal myth
The Benjamin Netanyahu Interview by Douglas Murray
Here is an interview by pro-Western Douglas Murray (author of The War on the West, 2022) of Benjamin Netanyahu on January 29, 2024, in which Netanyahu justifies his merciless killing of close to 30.000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, for which he has been accused of genocide in a case brought before the International Court of Justice by South Africa: "Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel)".
Here's an AI summary (by Tammy.ai):
0:37: Netanyahu describes the recent attacks on Israel as the worst violence against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, emphasizing the intent to annihilate every Jew.
0:52: The Hamas Charter calls for the murder of every Jew on Earth.
1:07: The difference between the recent attacks and the Holocaust is in capability, not intent.
4:36: The conflict between Israel and Iran is a major confrontation with international implications. Victory is crucial for both sides, with American support acknowledged.
5:37: International organizations have failed to address issues in Gaza
09:09: Netanyahu discusses the challenges of fighting a difficult war against Hamas and the double war crime they perpetrate.
09:09: Leaders express support but struggle with public opinion
09:29: Israel is fighting a difficult war to minimize civilian casualties and not give immunity to terrorists
09:37: Hamas perpetrates a double war crime by targeting civilians and hiding behind them
13:57: Netanyahu emphasizes Israel's need to act independently, despite criticism, in the face of ongoing conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah.
13:57: Netanyahu asserts Israel's determination to act alone in the conflict despite public opinion and international criticism.
14:40: He addresses the perception of a double standard in the global community's view of Israel's actions against Hamas and Hezbollah.
15:02: Netanyahu highlights the widespread understanding among American leaders that Israel is fighting a just war against Hamas and Hezbollah.
18:44: Netanyahu discusses the impact of a total victory over Hamas and the larger issue of Iran's quest for nuclear weapons.
19:00: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons and its potential consequences
19:24: Iran's actions without nuclear weapons and the potential danger of them having nuclear weapons
23:33: Discussion on the twin goals of defeating Hamas in Gaza and blocking Iran's aggression and ideology.
24:02: The need to act against Iran's aggression and ideology to prevent further regional push and nuclear weapon search.
24:17: The possibility of regime change in Iran to address the ongoing issues.
28:40: Netanyahu focuses on winning the war and achieving total victory.
29:16: He dismisses concerns about the potential failure of his political career.
Netanyahu's pseudo-history narrative has also been debunked many times over. Enough to give one example:
Benjamin Netanyahu, and the uses and abuses of history
As such, these are two prime examples of anti-Western and Western war propaganda, twisting history to suit its own, often territorial, ends, which are invariably aimed at by bloody, even genocidal means.
This leaves us with the following questions:
 Ray Harris, "Integral Geopolitics, Part One: The West isn't Western", www.integralworld.net
 Frank Visser, "Where Are The Good Guys Anyways in this World?, The Law of Reverse Effect in US Foreign Policy", www.integralworld.net
 Frank Visser, "Thoughts About the Ukraine Crisis, An Overview of Essays" and "Thoughts About the Gaza Crisis, An Overview of Essays", www.integralworld.net
 Ken Wilber, "Integral Politics: A Summary of Its Essential Ingredients", PDF, Integral Life. Excerpted from The Many Faces of Terrorism.
 Ken Wilber, "Wilbers Writings on the Current World Crisis" and "The War In Iraq: Email communication, March 23 2003", www.integralworld.net
 Don Beck, "Stages of Social Development: The Cultural Dynamics that Spark Violence, Spread Prosperity, and Shape Globalization", www.integralworld.net
 Boris Johnson, "Putin's interview with his fawning stooge Tucker Carlson was straight out of Hitler's playbook. I pray Americans see through this unholy charade", www.dailymail.co.uk, 9 February 2024
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