| (Click to enlarge) ||The
traditional Left-Right axis misses most of the true complexity of reality
and ingrains no-win political clashes. By contrast an 'Integral' map of
reality -- like this initial attempt -- aims to embrace as many partial
truths as possible -- enabling systemic solutions and policies to be designed.
The left-hand side shows individuals' intentions, meanings, culture and
worldviews (described using 'I' and 'We' language), the right-hand side
shows the visible behaviours in individuals, institutions and societies
(described using 'It' language). And running through all the four quadrants
-- the emergence of new levels of complexity. |
The Problem Welcome to the Integral
Politics portal -- entry point to resources and activities around the emerging
Integral approach to politics, which aims to challenge today's partial
and piecemeal approaches with those that are more comprehensive, holistic,
systematic and encompassing.
What needs integrating?
integrating Left and Right views
This approach is
being pioneered by individuals such as Ken
Wilber and Dr Don Beck.
Dr Beck field-tested the Integral approach when working with Nelson Mandela
on the hugely complex transition beyond apartheid in South Africa -- and,
more recently, gave a presentation to the World Bank on how to rebuild
For decades rising
complexity in the world along with increasing inequality, ecological and
economic chaos has left conventional politics reeling. Globalisation forces
us to consider the vast range of different levels of development and each
group of people bring a wide range of worldviews and needs to the world-table.
Our global political institutions cannot keep up and mass pressure groups
are having little impact. This complexity has never been seen before in
How can we create
a new politics that will cope with it? How can we create a path beyond
the fragmentation and alienation that can seem to define our modern world?
The emerging Integral
Politics approach has already caught the attention of advisors to Clinton,
Gore, Blair and the Bushes (Bill even gave one Wilber book on how to integrate
religion and science to Al who called it "one of my favorite new books"
in a later New Yorker article he wrote).
In the UK, leading
Blair advisor Geoff Mulgan urged all the Government's key future strategists
to study the Integral approach and try to put it into action in their new
practitioners also achieved the feat of bringing together in dialogue the
radical activists of the World Social Forum with their nemesis, the global
business leaders of the World Economic Forum.
Recognising the importance
of Wilberís Integral vision, Prof. Charles Taylor - possibly the
world's most respected living philosopher - said: "I have tremendously
appreciated Wilber's work. He has managed to integrate so many things,
and to keep his horizons open, where most of our culture keeps closing
them down. It is magnificent work."
The Integral vision
(the Integral Institute's
outline) tries to transcend the usual partial and partisan approaches
that exist across Left and Right. To achieve this, it balances both the
external world (of skills, policies, institutions, governments) with the
internal world (of personal values and meanings, transformations and shared
On the two four-quadrant
graphics, development in the external world is shown on the right side
of each graphic, and the corresponding development in the internal world
on the left. And when this inside and outside are also divided into both
the individual and the social realms then a comprehensive four quadrant
model is the result.
cross-cultural research Integral theorists have built a comprehensive map
of human capacities which outline the potential for people's worldviews
and values etc to develop from egocentric/selfish goals through to group/ethnocentric
care and sometimes on to worldcentric/global care and beyond. This has
also been described as a move from a self that is 'impulsive' to a self
that is 'conformist' to a self that is 'autonomous'. This evolution in
peopleís modes of thinking is ignored in most political analyses, which
usually favour one mode.
To give an example,
one school of Integral thinking, Spiral
Dynamics, found that 8 different thinking systems -- or levels - can
emerge consecutively, depending on the complexity of life conditions being
faced. A new project aims to map these invisible value systems - or value
memes - globally in a 'Global Memome Project' - to help people see right
through the current 'flatland' -- no levels - ideology to humanitiesí
complex shared interior values. Ongoing mapping may in future predict conflict
hotspots and other major developments.)
Integral models are
also known as 'All Levels, All Quadrants' models as they attempt to foster
healthy development in all quadrants and all levels -- without the privileging
of favoured approaches that plagues conventional politics and renders it
pretty hopeless at designing successful solutions to urgent problems. To
give an example, the Green movement (see
Integral Politics graphic) tends to privilege the communitarian/puralistic
level in the Lower Right (external, social world) quadrant.
nature: integrating Left and Right views
A further integration
of 'competing' outlooks is achieved with the understanding that political
approaches will all tend to choose either to blame society's problems
on external circumstances (eg oppressive social inequalities), as the Left
usually does, or internal factors (e.g. morals, character and self-responsibility
- or rather their lack) - the common conservative approach.
Clearly neither alone
has the whole answer.
Despite often reaching
a high level of global care, the Left is so focused on these external inequalities
that it does not even mention that interior growth is needed alongside
external improvements in any balanced political approach. The external
changes (reducing poverty, pollution, war etc.) are certainly important
- but unless more people are thinking from the -- currently rare -- level
of global care they won't even want to seek these important goals in the
first place. Whereas those who have reached a level of global concern will
be moved from within to deal with these problems, without the need
to impose ever more law and regulation.
In one of the oddest
twists of politics, liberal/left approaches today find it just not PC to
urge others to also reach higher levels of care, as that might entail judging
other less compassionate worldviews, when all views are said to be equal.
The Left thus ignores or even blocks the very human consciousness transformations
that are needed to enable people to reach the level of global tolerance
and care that might deliver many of the goals it seeks.
In this way, the
liberal/left approach can end up with a tractionless multiculturalism where
no interior is better than any other. Whilst it is vital to embrace global
diversity - we must also find the links that join the cultures,
the commonalities, and move from pluralism to Integralism.
avoid this contradiction, they still urge some development of the self
beyond impulsive egocentrism. Yet sometimes what they seek is so limited
that conservatives can often remain mired in the bigotries of ethnocentrism,
sexism and so on.
"So here is the truly
odd political choice that we are given today: a sick version of a higher
level versus a healthy version of a lower level - liberalism versus conservatism",
laments Ken Wilber in A Theory of Everything - An Integral Vision for
Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality, a highly recommended
introduction to the Integral approach.
leaders, ideas -- mapped onto all the quadrants and levels. |
are only initial rough suggestions, to illustrate the spread that comes
into view -- once we look beyond 'flatland' politics-as-usual. No particular
quadrant or level is privileged in Integral politics, the removal of blockages
to healthy development is sought throughout all quadrants and levels. Send
suggested improvements to Matthew
such Integral models which appear to suggest 'universal' hierarchies of
human development are today controversial, not Politically Correct (even
though such potentials are open to all of us).
For example, renowned
feminist researcher Carol Gilligan is commonly -- and wrongly -- cited
by critics to disprove that there is any shared pattern of moral development
across both sexes. In fact her influential research did uncover a hierarchical
shift from 'selfish' to 'care' to 'universal care' in both men's
and women's ways of thinking -- and has been included in Integral models like
Perhaps due to the
legacy of partriarchy and other elitisms, it is unfortunate that most people
today cannot distinguish healthy developmental hierarchies of increasing
human actualisation (little different from the natural development acorn
to sapling to oak) from oppressive hierarchies of domination (such as patriarchy).
Make yourself at
home in this site - and join us in helping the worldwide emergence of a
range of Integral political analyses and solutions.
size does not fit all: a Spiral Dynamics graphic produced
by Don Beck to roughly illustrate the spread of value systems across the
globe and the kind of political systems he suggests are likely to fit best
with each value system. The Spiral Dynamics model can predict how the idealistic
rush to impose Western liberal democracy in Afghanistan will likely backfire.
Since available leadership in Afghanistan is still within Red, the only
hope is 'nation-building by stealth' over a ten year period -- with the
slow introduction of forms of basic democracy and leadership development.