Monday, January 31, 2011

Rebooting the American Dream

So what's a more healthy, humane capitalistic system look like? How do we fix our current economic woes? Thom Hartmann explores this in his new book by the above name. You can read some sneak preview-excerpts at this link. (Also see our IPS discussion on it here.) Here is one excerpt from the Intro:

Chapter 1, “Bring My Job Home!” covers how economies work and why we need to heed Alexander Hamilton’s advice. It points out that simply moving money around or creating a service economy (“Do you want fries with that?”) doesn’t produce long-lasting wealth in a country; only manufacturing does. Political economist Adam Smith pointed out that it’s the application of human labor to raw materials—his example was turning a tree branch into an axe handle—that fuels a growing economy. We’ve gone from more than 20 percent of our economy being based on manufacturing before Reagan to around 11 percent now. This has left us in the precarious position of being unable to make a missile or an aircraft carrier that we may need if we have to defend Taiwan from China without parts from the communist dictatorship of China. These “free trade/flat earth” policies are stupid on national security grounds as much as anything else, but their major impact has been to dismantle the American middle class and consequently put our democracy itself at risk.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Socialist Super Bowl

I watched Bill Maher's show Friday night and his special comment was insightful about a recent topic here on economics. He was discussing the Super Bowl and how the NFL is socialist as opposed to the more capitalist model of major league baseball. I found his comments from the show at Huff Post, excerpt following:

"With the Super Bowl only a week away, Americans must realize what makes NFL football so great: socialism. That's right, for all the F-15 flyovers and flag waving, football is our most successful sport because the NFL takes money from the rich teams and gives it to the poor teams... just like President Obama wants to do with his secret army of ACORN volunteers. Green Bay, Wisconsin has a population of 100,000. Yet this sleepy little town on the banks of the Fuck-if-I-know River has just as much of a chance of making it to the Super Bowl as the New York Jets - who next year need to just shut the hell up and play.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ladder, climber, view & transitional structures

In the IPS discussion on capitalism the question came up as to what is included in more developed economic systems from prior systems. I explored this is a past IPS thread with the above title. Below are some excerpts from that thread:

What is transcended and included and what is transcended and replaced? I discussed this in the "capitalism" thread. According to Wilber, and with which I agree, worldviews are replaced, not included. (See footnote 7 in Intro to Vol. 7, for example). So to me an integral worldview would not include bit and pieces of different views in some kind of synthesis-integration-inclusion but replace them altogether into creative novelty. Hence my dissatisfaction with the promotion of integral or conscious capitalism. And things like the latter tend toward a more conservative worldview, just dressed up in new clothing-jingo.

Wilber differentiates basic and transitional structures, the former being included while the latter are transcended. So it is a question of what is defined as each kind of strucutre. Here's an excert from “Ladder, climber, view” by Ingersoll and Cook-Greuter:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Real and false reason

At the end of the integral global capitalism thread at IPS I explored how some historians interpreted Adam Smith and came up with an entirely different view than the corporate capitalists have of him. For example I said:

"And Chomsky, as always, is enlightening on the subject:

'He’s [Smith] a person who was from the Enlightenment. His driving motives were the assumption that people were guided by sympathy and feelings of solidarity and the need for control of their own work, much like other Enlightenment and early Romantic thinkers.

'This is true of classical liberalism in general. The founders of classical liberalism, people like Adam Smith and Wilhelm von Humboldt, who is one of the great exponents of classical liberalism, and who inspired John Stuart Mill — they were what we would call libertarian socialists.'

"Interestingly, Chomsky goes on to note that Dewey was part of this democratic socialist trend. Recall Dewey is also part of the American pragmatic tradition of which lineage the contemporary cogscipragos acknowledge and continue. Chomsky notes that the likes of Dewey were marginalized by the burgeoning corporate structures with their strangle-hold on education through government influence. Also note how the early pragmatists and contemporary cogscipragos are conspicuously absent from the capitalist forms of integral theory. Not surprisingly It seems there's a correlation between real and false reason, socialism and capitalism."

That thread began with a discussion I had with Micheal Commons and a few others in the Yahoo Adult Development forum. Therein I brought up Lakoff's work on the topic, so following are some excerpts from the IPS thread:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jeremy Rifkin

In the IPS discussions on integral capitalism Rifkin came up as an alternative integral postmetaphysical approach to economics and spirituality and consequently a new thread was started on him. A link was provided to his last book, The Empathic Civilization, as well as to an article and a video about the book. I replied:

Thanks for these links. I've heard of Rifkin but have yet to read him. I agree with most of what he's saying but he is stretching the definition of the term capitalism beyond its intended meaning. Recall its meaning from the beginning of the thread. Private ownership of the means of production with profit flowing to the top is antithetical to shared, open and distributed ownership of resources and information and P2P relationships, much like selfish concern and cosmocentric morality are so in a moral hierarchy. Rifkin is right to make the connection between the worldview and economic-communication systems, and that the internet correlates with an empathatic, biospheric view necessary for such shared resources and environmental consciousness. But again, capitalism was all about the exploitation of natural resources as if they were infinite with little to no regard for the environmental consequences. Rifkin laments this destruction and rightly analyzes the consciousness and systems that created it, capitalism, yet by keeping that name in his new view of P2P distribution is a functional misfit.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Slavoj Zizek

Following are excerpts of an IPS discussion on this slovenly savant:


There was an interesting phenomenon in german newspapers this week: The Leftist Party "Die LINKE" started the discussion about Communism once again, and, while there were violent outbreaks at the site of the speech, and while the uproar by the Bourgois Upper Class was deafening ("GULAG! STALINISM! INSANITY!"), the discussion managed to get some attention at Prime Time in the Political Talk Shows. It was interesting to note that the audience was very divided about the subject, each fraction applauding only their own ambassadors. Still, this is an unprecedented event, and quite Extraordinary.

Also I'm half way through Zizek's "Living in the end Times". Once more it's a tour de force across psychoanalysis, Ontology and Politics. He gives an updated version of 21st century marxism, countering the most common misunderstandings and false associations that are still linked with the notion "communism". E.g. he does not abandon the "Class Struggle" approach, but rather links it to Ontology, basically saying that Class Struggle precedes society and is something like a 'given'. As far as I understand, this is.

Last, I found Big Z's use of the terms "Young Hegeliana" and "Old Hegelians" interesting. If I were asked to apply this concept to the Integral World, I'd say that KW obviously belongs to the Hegelian Right (or Old Hegelians), in line with Fukuyama and the NeoCons/NeoLibs. IOW: Conservative, rich and well-dressed. Zizek et al's Neo-Communism would then mark the other extreme, belonging to the Leftist "Young Hegelians". And so on and so on.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More on integral capitalism

In the IPS discussion e linked to this video without comment. I replied:

Since you didn't frame the stats in that video I'll respond as if they prove capitalism is what raised the standard of living in the world. I'll even operate from the perspective that indeed it was the driving generator for this development. That in no way negates the inherent inequities of capitalism that are now the dominant drivers of its continued existence. Perhaps capitalism was a necessary good in the appropriate time and context. The question is, has that time and context passed and is it time to move into a more beneficial economic model to address the inequities? Marx argued for a developmental economic trajectory in this way, with socialism coming after capitalism. We see this already happening in western Europe with social democracies and more socially-based economies.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Black Swan

The last discussion at IPS led into this one on the movie Black Swan:


a little off genre but i went to see the black swan with one of my daughters over the holidays, and i'll be damned if i didn't walk out of there feeling dissociated and in a somewhat diffused state of consciousness. damn aronofsky! it took me about 15 minutes of concentrated breathing, a couple of clove ciggie's, and a matcha latte and nanaimo bar to feel grounded again...i asked my eldest if she'd had any feelings after watching it previously and she said she had similar feelings walking out....


Actually Black Swan is right on topic, being a horror story of transcendence which includes madness and dark shadow. Excellent film, deeply disturbing and most illuninating of that deep, dark passion that looms forever below the surface, and what happens when it's brought to the surface. The choreographer brings the black swan out of her and it is truly transformative on so many levels. And while beautiful it is also oh so ugly.* This genre calls into question religious (and spiritual) notions that transformation is all about sweetness and light, love and compassion. Well worth a second and third viewing.

* I want your ugly, I want your disease, I want your love. --Lady Gaga

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Horror, spirituality and the integral suburbs

Here are some slightly edited excerpts from an interesting discussion at the IPS forum:


I no longer read fantasy or horror, but I used to read and write quite a lot of both, and I still enjoy an occasional horror or fantasy film.  In my conversation with Shashank, we were discussing the respective approaches of Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft.  I was noting that Barker tends to see "order" behind the terror and horror, and redemptive or transformative potential in the encounter with darkness and evil, whereas Lovecraft attempts to present a vision of reality as ultimately alien, containing dimensions which are wholly other -- realms and beings that are wholly unassimilable, human contact with which can only result in madness or destruction.  In other words, absolute limit conditions.

In my reading, Lovecraft's Otherness is an Otherness that must remain Other for the human center to hold, and for our higher ideals to flourish (though those who encounter it now come to see those ideals largely as flimsy defenses in the face of a vast, menacing, terrifyingly alien realm).  If I had to place Lovecraft along the values line, I'd say he was a Modernist -- writing for a genteel Modern audience, many of whom were likely in hard flight from "animal nature."  This is revealed, I think, in his preference for pre-human, visceral images to represent the Other: slime, gelatinous substances, crustacean or invertebrate anatomy, etc.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Integral global capitalism

Sam Harris wrote an interesting piece 12/29/10 in the Huffington Post called "New Year's resolution for the rich." Therein he said:

""To make matters more difficult, Americans have made a religious fetish of something called 'self-reliance.' Most seem to think that while a person may not be responsible for the opportunities he gets in life, each is entirely responsible for what he makes of these opportunities. This is, without question, a false view of the human condition. Consider the biography of any 'self-made' American, from Benjamin Franklin on down, and you will find that his success was entirely dependent on background conditions that he did not make, and of which he was a mere beneficiary. There is not a person on earth who chose his genome, or the country of his birth, or the political and economic conditions that prevailed at moments crucial to his progress. Consequently, no one is responsible for his intelligence, range of talents, or ability to do productive work. If you have struggled to make the most of what Nature gave you, you must still admit that Nature also gave you the ability and inclination to struggle. How much credit do I deserve for not having Down syndrome or any other disorder that would make my current work impossible? None whatsoever. And yet devotees of self-reliance rail against those who would receive entitlements of various sorts--health care, education, etc.--while feeling unselfconsciously entitled to their relative good fortune. Yes, we must encourage people to work to the best of their abilities and discourage free riders wherever we can--but it seems only decent at this moment to admit how much luck is required to succeed at anything in this life. Those who have been especially lucky--the smart, well-connected, and rich--should count their blessings, and then share some of these blessings with the rest of society."

This, as well as the article in general, reminded me of a previous IPS discussion called "integral global capitalism," which itself was based on a prior IPS discussion while still residing at Gaia.

Here are a few excerpts of that discussion from my posts:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Synergist spirituality

In the last post I referenced this past Gaia IPS discussion started by Gregory Desilet (with link). I want to highlight a few posts from that thread here:


Beginning with a synergist cosmology/ ontology

1) Synergism is the natural interaction of two or more agents or forces whereby their combined effects produce wholes greater than the sum of their parts.

2) Wholes follow the principle of “quasi-transcendence,” never yielding one transcendental whole.

3) Parts never dissolve in favor of the whole.

4) Interaction of the parts never balance in equal proportions in specific instances; one or the other may dominate but in the general system of interaction each plays an equally essential role.

5) Of the parts, neither can be entirely reduced to the other and neither can exist without the other, thereby comprising the synergistic “whole.”

6) Yet no part is whole in itself; each part is inherently ruptured and exposed to permeation by the other.

7) To complete the cosmology, neither being nor time nor space are wholes unto themselves. Each is fundamentally ruptured, being into beings or traces (split by differance or temporality), time into times (split by motion), space into spaces (warped by gravity), particle into wave (split by context), wave into particle (split by context). Nothing is unaffected by relation to the other of itself.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Postformal dialectics

Back in 2007 Integral Review experimented with a discussion forum for a short time. An author would host dialogue on their article for a designated time, about a month, and the discussions were stored. However due to programming problems, finding an adequate storage site and lack of commitment to the forum it went defunct only after a few discussions and they have all but disappeared from the internet. One such discussion was called “postformal dialectics” based on Gary Hampson's article “Integral reviews postmodernism” in issue 4, June 2007. Although that discussion is gone from their website I preserved several of its posts at Open Integral in 3 parts at these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Here are some excerpts from those links:

I said:

Let's go back to what Bonnitta Roy said:

“It is my feeling that dialectics in the above forms, is formal, not postformal, because it relies on the positing of opposite pairs, which it considers in some kind of tension. I believe that post-formal thinking sees dialectical pairs as self-defining, and therefore the tension is ‘resolved’ or ‘dissolved’ before the is any kind of movement toward synthesis. This opens up into entirely new ways of thinking/ perceiving more in terms of 'constellations' (hunting for the right words here) and what the Buddhists call co-dependent origination.'

What does "theurj" mean?

What does “theurj” mean? For years my internet pen name has been “theurj.” Occasionally someone will ask what that name means. Some will notice that it can be broken into two words, “the” and “urj,” the latter sounding like “urge.” So of course what is the urge? Many assume the urge is sex, indeed next to eating being a primary, urgent necessity. But there are of course many urges, and the prefix “the” does have specific denotations. For example it is part of the word “theology,” meaning the study of divinity, aka theism. It is also part of the word “theurgy,” where my name has more direct and specific relevance. Theurgy is defined as “a system of beneficent magic practiced by the Egyptian Platonists and others” (see and translates more directly as god working. Theurj is a diminutive of the magical motto I took upon entering the Golden Dawn back in the mid 90s, which was indeed a modern representative of said Egyptian (neo)Platonists. God working in this regard was specifically related to taking on “godforms” in ritual, i.e., letting various gods inhabit one during the period of the ritual, different gods(desses) depending on the ritual role one played.

Although I left the Order after 6 years on my road to the postmetaphysical, I still retain the internet name because I now connote to it a nondual understanding. It is that combination of divinity (the) with sexuality and body (urj) that together are both, yet neither. They cannot be separated into a dichotomy so hence there is no absolute distinction between god and the devil, spirituality and sexuality, mind and body. Yet there are indeed different, not identical. They are not one, not two, yet two and one. That is, they are nondual in an integral postmetaphysical way, at least as I perceive and interpret it. I'll say a lot more about nonduality in future posts.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Army's spiritual fitness test

This story is absolutely astounding, the type of thing out of a Huxley horror story, but real. The intro:

"An experimental, Army mental-health, fitness initiative designed by the same psychologist whose work heavily influenced the psychological aspects of the Bush administration's torture program is under fire by civil rights groups and hundreds of active-duty soldiers. They say it unconstitutionally requires enlistees to believe in God or a 'higher power' in order to be deemed 'spiritually fit' to serve in the Army."

I know some of you also appreciate Chris Hedges, quoted in the article. Regarding positive psychology he feels that "the practice has thrived in the corporate world where the refusal to consider negative outcomes resulted in the current economic crisis." He says: