An Inclusive, Integral Political Practice

The context

Since posting “The Integral Case for President Obama” I’ve received a large number of responses—both as comments on the original post and via email—and they’re still coming in. It’s been encouraging, and best of all, people have been donating—to the point that we’re currently far ahead of all other small fundraisers, in first place on the Obama Grassroots Fundraising “Leaderboard.” But we’re still nowhere close to our $100,000 goal (and we’re as yet small potatoes compared to the real money in this campaign)—so this is just a beginning. Let’s keep building the momentum!

Many of the responses, I’d say a large majority, have been extremely positive and supportive; a handful have been strongly opposed; and an interesting number have been somewhere in between—supportive but with serious reservations, or opposed but still with an open mind and heart. Surprisingly, given the topic at hand, only two or three have been too uncivil to include among the published comments.

In this follow-up post, I’d like to respond, in a broad way, to those who have expressed disagreement or ambivalence—but I’d like to do so not primarily to convince you of the argument for my “case,” but rather to more fully respect and appreciate the full range of perspectives you’ve shared. I’d like to see if we can’t turn this dialogue into more than just a political debate, into something that furthers our community’s understanding and participation in the fractious public life of our time—in other words, into a moment of intersubjective practice.

To those who object to bringing political partisanship into the integral evolutionary community

It seems to be the nature of the beast that as soon we engage in politics from an integral perspective, we are required to hold considerable cognitive dissonance. How is it possible to proclaim, “I support Candidate X or Party Y or Policy Z,” when we’re so painfully aware of the limitations of X, Y, and Z in the face of our incredibly complex reality? Obama has made some serious mistakes and certainly hasn’t fulfilled our highest hopes. Our political institutions—not to mention the media and educational systems so necessary to an informed electorate—are under severe stress and struggling to keep up with a changing world. Many of our systems are showing signs of breaking down, contributing to an atmosphere of anxiety, gridlock, and rancor we’re all painfully aware of. No electoral outcome can by itself resolve these issues, nor fill us with the hope we felt 4 years ago. This leads some to wonder, why get mixed up in conventional politics at all? Is it really worth our time and energy? Why not simply focus on creating a more evolved (and truly hopeful) cultural movement that’s independent of all that?

We’re all serious about building a long-term, truly integral evolutionary movement, and precisely for this reason, we recognize the importance of holding a much wider space of discourse than could possibly fit into the box represented by any particular candidate or ideological stance. We want to make sure there is plenty of room all kinds of perspectives—libertarian, progressive, revolutionary, trans-partisan, and trans-political as well. And yet we also recognize the need for not just theory or perspective-taking—but action. What to do?

I share the concern that the community surrounding integral philosophy and spirituality not come to feel like a less fully-congruent and welcoming environment for those who resonate primarily with more “conservative” politics. I care that my activist stance might cause some people to feel less resonant and/or welcome in relation to my work, and I’m concerned that some might go so far as to extend that sense of alienation to the whole integral movement.

Yet I cannot relinquish activism based on these concerns; that would be a cop-out. But I will, for the most part, segregate my spiritual teachings from my partisan political communications. They’re of a different order, on a different subject, and the two should not be blurred. But this segregation cannot be absolute, because a key dimension of practice is activism. It’s important that those who appreciate my spiritual teachings see me getting my hands dirty as an activist.

In the messy real world it is not morally sufficient to simply see and accept the big picture. We are participants who have a moral obligation to engage. And if we take our action seriously, we must strive to be effective. Once we try to produce results, we engage the strife of time and space and get our hands dirty. There is no such thing as an impeccable spiritual warrior—someone who acts effectively in a way that’s purely holistic, who fights for the benefit of the “whole” without simultaneously engaging the “parts” . . . who avoids all partisanship. To hold both the whole and the parts—to be both trans-partisan and partisan at the same time—is no easy business, and I have no doubt that I am alienating some people in my own attempt.

Despite all the downsides, I’m wading in. Here’s why: 

  1. This year’s presidential race is a single big issue, one that already has all our attention for a focused period of time, and one on which I believe most of us can agree. Many of us will be making donations to the Obama campaign anyway, even though we sorely wish we could authentically raise the level of discourse, not just throw more money into the machine.
  2. This particular presidential election is very close and its outcome is likely to be consequential. People around the world live and die because of the decisions that a President makes. If we get more active in supporting the Obama campaign it’s not inconceivable that we actually might make a critical difference. This gives our activism moral urgency; presidential election results definitely DO matter—a LOT—as we learned the hard way in 2000.
  3. An important dimension of integral and evolutionary practice is to engage civic life and bring more nuanced perspectives to them. Despite this, integral evolutionaries don’t yet have a history and tradition of coming together to exert influence. Where best to start? Even if it turns out that this is an early experiment—even if it turns out that we fall short of the “critical mass” necessary to exert political influence this time around—we will be helping activate a new social pattern—that of integral evolutionary political action in the United States. We and others will learn from this experiment, and better approaches will evolve.

To my more conservative or libertarian friends  

To those who have expressed the fear that the integral community could become too fully identified with a merely liberal or progressive agenda, I fully resonate! I believe it’s totally legitimate to be concerned that the community surrounding integral philosophy and spirituality could fail to include the extremely important truths expressed by conservative and libertarian voices.

There’s an enduring tension between communion and agency, between traditionally conservative and liberal politics. Both sides hold important truths that will never go away. Integral transcends and includes both. And the integral community needs to welcome those who emphasize either side of this enduring polarity.

I acknowledge: there are ways in which President Obama and the Democratic party (not only or even primarily during the past four years) have capitulated to some of the excesses of liberalism, failing to deeply care about the many legitimate objections to excessive government, to cumbersome and sometimes stifling regulations, to an overly complex and burdensome tax system, to the erosion of our civil liberties, to the dramatic escalation of our national debt, and much more.

As a small businessperson, I’ve paid taxes and was subject to invasive regulation and chafed and complained and developed deep respect for the truth of some conservative political principles. These themes have vital roles in a more integral discourse. They ought to be fully included in our discussions, as we work our way toward a more fully integral political expression—and even an integral “platform” of goals, objectives, and principles. I see this as a long-term project, but one that definitely has already begun and should continue.

I reiterate, there is room for an “Integral Romney” initiative. Even an “Integral Gary Johnson” project would be great to see. If someone takes up either of these, I will make sure www.IntegralObama.com is willing to exchange links with them. It goes without saying, I also fully welcome conservative ideas to be included in the policy white paper(s) that the Integral Obama initiative intends to share with the Obama team, should we get the chance. Indeed, it would hard to imagine a truly “integral” policy paper that didn’t include the best of both conservative and progressive (and some even more radical) approaches in a higher-order synthesis. That’s a prime goal of this initiative.

To my more radical revolutionary friends

(R)evolutionaries should consider evolution’s own strategy of activism. What is that? Evolution tries all strategies at once. There are many valid forms of activism and many time horizons for action—from the immediate near term of this election cycle to the “long now” of a forward-thinking evolutionary timescale. Certainly, an integral political practice must include both (and the full spectrum of) timescales, seizing upon the “urgency of now,” while also working diligently and patiently for the long-term good. And we may shift our focus back and forth, zooming in and out, depending on where we feel most called. The same holds for our activism within the “system” and outside of it.

To those who wish to focus on a longer-term approach, for example, the work of building a truly trans-partisan integral evolutionary political movement, or helping the “Occupy” movement burgeon into a powerful alternative to conventional political thinking and activism, I fully support your efforts! I don’t see the long-term orientation being at odds with smart, strategic action within the existing parties and system, however corrupted and broken they may be. I believe we can and must play the hand we’ve been dealt AND also work to reshuffle the deck altogether.

But as a caution: let’s not underestimate how much our higher-order thinking and our post-conventional subculture depends on a foundation of traditional civil law, order, and a functioning marketplace! Please consider if there’s some ungrounded arrogance in your willingness to cast aside participation in our existing institutions. Is inviting breakdown and chaos truly a wise move? Doesn’t it run the risk of allowing the most regressive and violent impulses in our society to break forth? I would argue that our integral responsibility is to hold a difficult balance between preserving what works in our existing structures, while also pushing the edges and opening spaces for the new and higher and better that’s yearning to emerge. Our world-out-of balance will probably create chaotic “windows of opportunity” for more fundamental systems redesign without us hastening the breakdown. In the dance of “creative destruction,” I would err on the side of a more constructive type of creativity.

In the long-term, I believe we must create a truly integral evolutionary moment, including an integral political party—and I would support these efforts (in fact, an integral political party has already been founded in Switzerland). But in the immediate term, there is no real integral option—at least not in the US. When we look at our realistic options, I believe we have a better chance of integralizing the Democratic party than the Republican party, at least at this point. That’s why I’m supporting Obama in this election.  But if he wins, it serves a double purpose. It potentially breaks the fever of the doctrinaire right-wing regressive lurch that has seized the Republican party in the last few years, and brings both parties closer to a pragmatic center. That’s the hope.

That said, we must each integralize the contexts in which we already find ourselves—whether Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, or none of the above. Our ultimate goals can only be served if we become engaged, if we actively transform the level of dialogue from the grassroots up. And this, in my view, is a matter of practice. Whether we practice within established politics or outside of it, we can all be working to raise the level of the discourse.

To my liberal and progressive friends who support Obama only reluctantly

All I can say is that I’m with you to a point. Clearly Obama hasn’t been boldly progressive enough; he’s capitulated to the Republicans in congress; he’s negotiated himself into a corner before the negotiations even began. He hasn’t delivered on the transformative kind of presidency we had hoped for . . . at least he hasn’t yet. But I still believe the man has the potential for greatness within him. But not alone. Not without us. Not without our own greatness. So I urge you not to despair, but again, to engage more deeply, more energetically, more faithfully—not with blind faith in Obama the man, but in the sense of possibility he re-awakened in so many of us.

If you haven’t seen it already, the following video by Michelle Goldberg is well worth a few minutes of your time.

In closing….

I support the re-election of President Obama, and I’m inviting others to join me, for all the reasons I’ve outlined in my original piece and more. I’m committed to act and to exercise and practice a positive, integral evolutionary social action, not just as an individual but as a member of a movement and a community “being the change” we wish to see in a saner and more sacred world to come.

If we are to act to gain some concrete influence in the world, we must choose pathways by which to earn influence. At this time, I am suggesting we choose to act in relation the very flawed Democratic party and in relation to the very flawed Obama campaign and administration. To understand why, it’s essential that we see this move in the context of THIS election, given THESE circumstances that we’re facing, a matter of making the best choices we can in the moment, while affirming that we might well act differently given a different context.

But, hey gang: this is a significant opportunity! Through it, higher-order integral evolutionary consciousness can take another step forward to becoming a force in the world.

If you resonate, then please act:

  • Contribute as much as you can.
  • Tell others!
  • Tell others to tell still others—please help mobilize your integral evolutionary friends and community to spread the word and grow this effort!

If you don’t resonate, I invite you to embody another expression of integral evolutionary activism, and to stay in cooperative dialog with those of us engaging this initiative. If we all really walk our talk, we will both learn, and learn from each other, and learn together. In the process we’ll help a higher level of values and thinking make a real difference in the world.

Whatever, let’s walk our talk. Let’s attend this school of life. Let’s hold the big questions and evolve better answers to them. Let’s practice. And let’s learn to bring that into life in every way we can.

To our evolution,
Terry

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19 thoughts on “An Inclusive, Integral Political Practice

  1. The political line of development is technically a combination of various lines of development including the cognitive, moral, civic, economic and various other lines that may or may not be recognized. The lines have ongoing feedback loops with each other. One must also be cognizant of the healthy and pathological tendencies within the various lines and stages. For example (and yes, I am significantly generalizing and ‘dumbing down’), the political left is all too quick to reduce personal liberty for the sake of national power(generally in the legislative branch but sometimes in the Executive branch) and the political right is all too quick to focus on maximizing personal liberty without seeing the merits of non-pathological state, national and trans-national power. The political line at Integral level generally requires two things to happen: access to quality, accurate data (history, current events, who are the actors and what is their power/agendas) and then how to think about a political situation (what is real, what are the goals/agendas of the various groups, what is the mosaic, etc.). This is the wisdom aspect. Sadly, getting quality data is a highly time-consuming effort as disinformation campaigns are rife and mainstream news focuses more on viewership and readership numbers than on quality. One is relegated to reading lots of journals, specialty magazines and so forth to get the best ‘approximation’ of what is real. One must also have the skills to discern truth from propaganda – a skill most people are sadly lacking. Then the wisdom factor needs to be applied. This process takes quite a lot of time and cost.

    As people in the Integral movement are exposed to being empowered, each of us needs to ask: what is genuine integral politics? I would suggest that Integral politics relates to more than focusing on any one party but rather on finding effective ways to educate ourselves as to what the healthy and pathological aspects are at different stages of the different lines of development related to politics (civil, moral, financial, economic, etc.). One also needs to become not only fact-literate on politics but also wise. For example, a Keynesian economist may take issue with the expression of Keynesian application applied under the President’s administration while still adhering to fundamental Keynesian approaches. This is an intelligent debate. More intelligent would be to ask under what specific circumstances do monetarist, keynesian and Austrian economic approaches work and fail – particularly as we shift into a global economy with more actors and less future foresight? An even more intelligent question is if there are new economic approaches that better function in ever-expanding economic systems where economics are subject to both unpredictable chaos and perception?

    I suggest that Integral politics requires that we approach the entire political spectrum as a series of organisms – each with its own challenges and ideologies. While the author sees the need for ‘short-term’ focus, I would suggest that we need to have specific short, medium and long-term goals. Without specific medium and long-term goals, one’s short-term focus inevitably becomes corrupted. The reverse is also true. In addition, I suggest that integral politics means that one must discern what approach is most effective for catalyzing non-pathological change in each political organism. This is a difficult process as most people tend to not accurately define and understand political organisms different than their own. It becomes an even greater challenge to determine what strategy would be successful in weakening a collection of ideologies (political organisms tend to have more than one ideology driving them). But, integral politics – I propose – requires this level of insight and activity.

  2. Enabling is Still Co-Dependent, Even At The Integral Stage

    “I think it is dangerous to confuse the idea of democracy with elections. Just because you have elections doesn’t mean you’re a democratic country.” –Arundhati Roy

    Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote for Obama, or that the Integral Community—whatever that is—or integral individuals and organizations shouldn’t work to make things better, try to inform, try to change, or make things more sane than they are…What I am asking is that WE TELL THE TRUTH. I don’t know if Obama is a bad man. I want to like him. He may be be powerless and under threat, but there’s only one political party and their common ground is fascism – rule by corporations over the government. Obama and Bush both serve(d) the same money masters for the same goals. Obama and Romney are no different. We must stop glorifying our abusers and speak the truth.

    You can read the rest of this, including links and sources, at my blog:
    http://garystamper.blogspot.com/2012/09/should-integral-community-support.html

  3. We live in a free country and everybody can do what they please. Same goes for those who identify with “integral evolutionaries.” If your actions in any way “brand” the entire Integral Movement, that would be a huge mistake. We MUST keep our political independence if we want to be effective in rebuilding this society. We will require Democrats AND Republicans; Liberals AND conservatives, and other factions. If we are seen to be partisan — and have only supported one side — that will create serious problems for us.

    I have been active in presidential campaigns since I met Harry S. Truman in l948, and have done many different sophisticated academic studies while on the UNT faculty, even before my Wilber and Graves days. My Ph D study at Oklahoma focused on the l860 campaign that elected Abraham Lincoln, and set the stage for the bloody civil war. I monitored the shifts into the end positions on the spectrum as the “middle” disappeared; high levels of ego involvement generated extreme polarization, so that any ‘peace” or “reconciliation” efforts were destroyed. I am picking up on the same weak signals and they alarm me.

    If the so-called “Integral” community — note “integral” wants to do something positive, I can provide an essential two-stop plan that could well save this country. We have already started phase one with help from the NFL and others and are getting prepared to launch the critical second phase after the results of the election..

    I do like Terry for sure and I make no claim for representing the “Integral Community.” Neither should anybody else — frankly, because we are “Integral.” I won’t say any more about this but I am more interested in using our collective intelligences at the must larger scale.
    Best to all…This campaign could get ugly.

    Don

    • Don, your perspective on “integral” remaining non-partisan is well-taken. How do we reach across the memes when integral appears—intentionally or not—to be taking a partisan position?

    • Don, good to see you here, and thanks so much for gracing this blog with your presence. I agree completely that it’s important to clearly say, again and again, that an “Integral Evolutionary” orientation transcends all partisan positions. We must not be branded as radical, progressive, left, centrist, conservative, or any other partisan descriptor.

      But I think you and Ken and others have made this point well, and modeled it, and the community has understood this and been guided by it for years now. What’s been less well understood is that this ground allows a lot of room for creative initiatives that are not always bound to characterize the movement as a whole. If we are to apply integral evolutionary consciousness, we ultimately must be able to transcend *and include* taking partisan stands for what serves civic health, and against what is likely to reduce it.

      We all would rather see partisanship eased, as well as an end of the two-party monopoly, but at this point that’s a philosophical position, and in most of our lives not a way to effectively bridge from the postmodern habit of “speaking truth to power” but being incapable of exercising real influence or power. It’s important, I think, for us all to realize that we are not rigidly bound to nonpartisanship. In the 30s in Germany, integral morality would not have dictated neutrality toward National Socialism. Jim Turner, author of “Voice of the People” one of the founding documents of transpartisan thought, contends that the best transpartisans are also partisans. We can work within the system as it is even as we aspire to help it grow beyond its limitations. As the integral movement develops, it needs to outgrow a tendency toward what can be the equally doctrinaire refusal to take a stand on important and consequential partisan political matters.

      I see this initiative as an early experiment in doing this. Not the only one. Not locked in a shrill battle with those who support a different candidate for reasons grounded in integral consciousness. Not intensifying polarization. But not unable to engage, unable to cohere agreement and action on behalf of higher perspectives.

      There’s no guarantee this experiment will work altogether. Some folks (including some voices on this site) are obviously mistaking what I’ve said and regarding this experiment as a claim that “all integral evolutionaries must support Obama” or “if you don’t support Obama you’re not truly integral or evolutionary”. But I explicitly made sure to say that this was NOT the spirit of this initiative. I invited an Integral Romney initiative. And I have respect for those who are voting for Jill Stein, and also those voting for Gary Johnson.

      I’m hoping this will enable some of us to join together to do something more complex and nuanced. I think there are more integral evolutionaries supporting Obama than any other candidate, that he is most likely to be elected, and that there are some higher-order policy proposals we can conceive and present that his administration might be influenced by. Thus, there’s an opportunity.

      Not everyone is fully following the whole argument I’ve made here. Some are reacting negatively. That was probably inevitable. But you’re right, there are those who will walk away from looking at this with the impression that the whole movement is blindly buying the level of rhetoric associated with candidate Obama and all the partial, questionable, or flat wrong choices of President Obama, and losing respect for the whole movement. That’s real damage, and regrettable, I admit. On the other hand, static ivory tower neutrality does a different kind of damage, equally and differently delegitimizing. So I hope you can see my intent here to advance the dialectic through which we mature and empower the integral and evolutionary communities and integral evolutionary practice and meta-perspectives.

    • Thank you so much for this perspective, Don. As with ethical codes, regardless of intent, even the “appearance of bias” is enough to destroy an organization’s credibility.

    • ” We live in a free country and everyone can do as they please ” That’s some kind of sick joke—Right !!! Who do you really work for ???

  4. I fully understand your point of avoiding a Republican President, which would be a bad thing for the USA and the world… but it seems to me that the closest thing to the Integral philosophy and principles is the Green Party:
    http://www.greenparty.org/values.php
    I am surprised you even mention about the possibility of integral Rommey but don´t even mention about Integral Stein
    http://www.gp.org/index.php
    which would be the natural thing.
    Of course another thing is the possibility, I know.
    But just talking about values the Green Party would be the natural ally, don´t you think?

  5. If one is going to have an “integral platform” someday, I hope it’s not just a set of points congruent with a philosophy top down. I think it’s more important to take a step back, and just tell the truth as it is, in its ordinary concreteness. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are doing that since their goal is to maximize electoral votes by whatever means possible. (A “gaffe” is when a politician inadvertently tells the truth.)

    I have been watching Moyers and Company on a regular basis. It is excellent place for source material.
    http://billmoyers.com/series/moyers-and-company/
    From the bottom up, organically issues emerge, the questions, the framing of the problem, and possibly suggestions of “solutions”, or points for the platform, points that would be relevant and engaging in the lives of the average citizen. In listening to many of the Integral philosophers in Beyond Awakeing, I felt they were too “meta” to be relevant to the day to day issues that a large majority of Americans are concerned about.

    Obama, while constrained by the system, would still at least provide a more sympathetic playing field than Romney.

    • As a side note, I’m not saying Integral theory does not have a role. What it does is provide a “context” for an evolutionary direction. While the Obama 2012 campaign slogan of “Forward” is not as inspiring as “Hope and Change”, “Forward” is actually more accurate in terms of what is at stake here. So Integral theory provides a framework for “discernment”.

      But I still would like to argue for a kind of “deep listening” as a first step rather than start with one’s preconceptions.

  6. Thank you for a nuanced and intelligent discussion that recognizes that both sides have valid points. We must listen respectfully to each other and be open minded enough to actually learn from one another.

  7. I have just come from watching the Democratic National Convention, and though I understand the arguments made here and on the previous page I still feel the same way Terri does. My own question then has been to ask why? Because its not simply holding the cognitive dissonance and then making a leap. Its more than that.

    As I watched it I honestly felt a deeper transparency than I have in a very long while form a President, Vice President and First Lady. And its difficult to understand the challenges and limitations that come with those positions. Ones that we will never truly know.

    But by the end of it all I also felt as if we were returning to something that began 50 years ago. As if JFK had rang an alarm bell that only a few early adopters rose to meet, that exploded in the 60s and 70s civil rights and environmental movements only then to be crushed by the powers that be for the next 30 years (more or less) until Bush 43 took it just too far and an Obama was finally made possible.

    And now we have a man in the white house exhibiting all the traits associated with the honor, nobility and selflessness of, yes, servant leadership, and with such stark contrast to the GOP that I personally think the party, as it stands is no more. They will not only lose the election but have to rethink who they are forever. All this bang in the middle of the 2012 transition point. I believe that in 50 to a hundred years this will be called an historic time. Really, its in the air.

    But the system is still broken, yes. Yet to mention it is at this stage in the game is simply to belabor a point. Politics remains the biggest movement in the country. So I agree with Terri that it’s important to get in the ring and put some skin in the game. And yes, its a tough choice. But the tough choices are always where its at. The ones where there is no perfect solution. On the contrary where the best solution still manages to piss off several million people. That’s just where we happen to be right now. But the sooner we get comfortable with those choices the better. Because, for action oriented Integralists, this is just the beginning.

    So let’s use our awareness and start to make more choice that are ‘not right’ with sophistication and understanding of the larger picture because those are the confines of the game that were working in and, none the less, remain invested in. Because thats still movement, and it doesn’t deny us other movement in other areas either. It just gets us in the ring.

    I’m in.

    • After writing my previous post I had to stop and think for a moment. Because as I wrote it I had not quite articulated what I was feeling when I watched the President, Vice President and First Lady speak. But now I know.

      These days we have pretty good bullshit detectors. Its just the texture of the times. But if you’re reading this than you probably have an extremely good one. And if you’re a coach or a teacher, which is also possible, than you’re actually gifted in it. You actually spend your time getting paid to guide people in the opposite direction. Towards their authentic self.

      Now I was born in the US and raised in the UK with a father who is French. So I have watched the leaders of three countries come and go, and I don’t think I have ever felt the authenticity that I did watching the three main figures of this administration.

      And what is authenticity? It is Integrity. But not the way that we use it. It is integrity in the classical sense. When the inside is the same as the outside. When what you see is what you get. When there is no difference.

      So just think of the Presidents of our recent past. Think of our Prime Ministers if you have to. And feel them for a moment. Feel their levels of authenticity. Feel their levels of duplicity.

      What do you get? How much integrity do they have? How much schism can you see in their faces, hear in their voices, see in the bodies and feel in their energy? How much is being hidden from the surface? How much are they keeping secret, deep down?

      Now compare that with the President, the Vice President and the First Lady.

      You will notice a difference. A big one.

      So yes, I’m pulling the “feeling” card. The non-rational one. But check in with yourself and see what you get.

      After all, if I can’t play it in a crowd like this, then where can I?

      Still in.

  8. Dear Terry,

    I appreciate the more balanced position in what you wrote – acknowledging the problems with Obama as well (a good counter to the hero worship I see) – and in the rest of the page. However, it is not only the one-sidedness of the Integral Obama campaign, trying to help elect one candidate and not another, it is the whole idea of using a movement to promote one “side” when its fundamental purpose is to transcend and include.

    Let me briefly list my issues:

    1. You are violating one of the basic tenets of integral by supporting one candidate over another. I see this as no different from supporting, say Christianity, because you believe in its values and want to walk your talk and stand up for them. I can’t imagine that others on the integral site would accept that as integral or be pleased that integral pathways were used to do it. Doing that suggests that Integral values Christianity over other religions regardless of any disclaimers you may put up.

    To say, well let you put up a support Islam page, too, is disingenuous. There aren’t enough people of the Muslim faith to do that, and even if a few wanted to try, they may not want to expose themselves to a religious debate, particularly in a place where they are likely to be reviled, a place that has already stated its preference for Christianity. They may not have the time and energy available to take up the cause but now, by remaining silent, they are promoting the one-sidedness. It puts them in the position of having to take up the cause for something they may not be entirely positive about. It creates a lot of very uncomfortable situations for them. It’s one thing to have more Christians than Muslims in Integral. It is not okay to have integral itself promote them. I don’t WANT to see multiple initiatives on the site. Each one to me is a violation of what we stand for.

    2. We should instead be encouraging more comprehensive politics – encouraging people to look for the truth and the falsity in both of the campaigns, publishing examples of spin on both sides so as to prevent deception, inviting experts from both sides to discuss significant issues in depth so we can make informed decisions, teaching people to learn the logical fallacies so they can spot lies and deceptions, instead of getting carried along on a wave of emotion. When we have done what we can to bring out the often very, very complex truths hiding behind the rhetoric, we can leave people to make their own choices.

    Political campaigns are not about facts and issues; they are about getting someone elected regardless of truth. Supporting one candidate means you automatically sweep in a mass of disparate beliefs largely reduced to sound bites. Most of this propaganda is rife with logical fallacies, is purposefully deceptive, and contains multiple lies. To pretend we can remain open while accepting those methods is deceiving ourselves.

    3. You are using the machinery of integral to further one political candidate and forcing everyone on the site to view it and using the cache of your leadership to heighten its status. The sop of encouraging a Romney initiative only gives others the opportunity to participate themselves in further tarnishing integral by promoting their own propaganda and lies. If you can use mailing lists and integral indicia to support your candidate, why can’t someone else use them to support the Ku Klux Klan or Green Peace or wind farms or whatever cause they want to support or prevent? Are we to become a mass of political controversies throwing sound bites at each other? Or worse, Green Central as group think since most Integral members are at a Green stage? Or are we to have panels to decide which candidates are appropriate or “good enough” to be allowed on our site? I don’t believe integral is the place for any of that. If we have political beliefs, there are other avenues in which to express them. Let’s keep integral looking at the whole, promoting well-rounded discussions of issues, and encouraging growth to stages beyond first tier.

    4. You are promoting one belief set. You have said your reason to do this is to stand up for your beliefs. Integral may recognize that we need to act in the world and may encourage us to follow our own truth, but it itself is not about publicizing beliefs; it’s not about the “what,” it’s about “how.” We investigate and work with a variety of beliefs, worldviews, stages, etc. We don’t promote an orange perspective over a blue one or a blue one over a red one; we seek to find the valuable attributes of each and to incorporate them into the whole. The only promoting we do is to promote whatever can help us reach second tier because it has a wider perspective and can see the value of ALL of the first tier perspectives. But picking a candidate means promoting a perspective, a very first tier activity. There are other arenas for doing that.

    It’s not being true to your own values, it’s about pushing your values onto others in an inappropriate place. Integral should be taking action to support truth and clear thinking and depth and integration of perspectives. Not to do that is the cop out. For one or a few or even the majority to engage based on their beliefs undermines this attitude and eventually destroys it.

    I believe this Initiative will corrupt integral and already has. A business or a family, for example, tolerates people of different political stripes or religions because they have something larger holding them together, a mutual purpose or affection. But if the leaders of the business suddenly start to promote one set of beliefs or a family pushes one religion, pretty soon they marginalize and alienate others who leave and then the family BECOMES that set of beliefs. Pluralism is gone.

    5. You are propagating spin and untruth. One can potentially discuss one issue and, with goodwill attempt to know truth, attempt to get at many perspectives, weed out fact from propaganda, acknowledge the source of different points of view, etc. and have room for multiple points of view, particularly if it is not identified with a political “side.” However, you cannot support a candidate without importing wholesale the talking points and propaganda from that candidate’s campaign. You are thus contributing to the “spin” that is propagated on the American public. I personally see “spin” as one of the most devastating issues we face. If we are to make wise choices we need to hold politicians accountable for presenting accurate information. We are so far from that it is laughable. By supporting a candidate and not a policy position, you are fostering this spin and contributing to foisting inaccurate, surface, and dangerous lies on the integral crowd.

    6. Politics is a vicious business. Emotions run high, facts are hard to find, vilification of the “other side” is par for the course. People and ideas are bought and sold for money and influence. Candidates are forced to take on unwanted bedfellows and to support outlandish policies to win campaigns. Do we really want to promote this kind of action on the integral site? Or do we want to pull out issues from the campaigns and attempt to see how we might further those that we see as valuable (mutually see as valuable) by developing talking points for each candidate. The argument that we don’t have enough money to influence them begs the question that there is any amount of money short of several million that will get us any kind of an effective hearing. I can just see us getting some minor functionary for $100k who says, “Oh, of course, the candidate agrees, will promote these policies, will do what he can, etc. etc.” and then goes and pops our money into the general campaign fund and forgets about integral entirely. Basically all this will do is give Obama more money to foist his particular set of propaganda on the American public.

    7. If you really want the integral ideas to get out there, pick an issue or two, hone some talking papers, find ways to make them appealing to various groups, and deliver them everywhere, unassociated with any candidate. Or start an integral party, not to win – yet – but to get a hearing, to demonstrate how all these apparently warring sides can join together to produce a better America.

    Put Integral Obama on your own website. Send out emails that are yours and not Integral’s. Encourage Integral people to get involved in promoting Integral ideas within their own political groups (or religious groups or social groups). But don’t put forth one political party, one religion, one social group on a site that is for all of us and ask us for support for it.

    • With all this babble about how Terry is going to make any meaningful change with a $30,000 + campaign donation I’m constantly reminded of the movie ” Bulworth ” on how politics is really played. What’s the difference between Transcend and Include, and Transcend and Pander ???

  9. Hey Terry

    Thanks for doing this! I’m not an american (I’m Danish), but I still appreciate this initiative, not just because american politics are so important to all of us, but also as something that inspires me in my own thinking about integral politics and activism.
    Since I started spiritual seeking and practice almost a decade ago I have largely bought into the fantasy that I could pursue my own enlightenment without too much engagement in the world and society. More and more, though, I start to realize, with good help from integral teachers and teachings, that I am part of the world and society in ways that I cannot escape without not only paying a high price but also without failing to live up to the responsibility and opportunity that we all have in shaping a better future. And the more I learn about and evolve into an integral-evolutionary understanding of the Kosmos that we all are, share and inhabit, the more I begin to see that it is my responsibility to be the change that I want to see in the world. With increased consciousness comes increased responsibility to act responsibly and holistically!
    I do agree that being integral also means to work with reality as it is, because that will always be the starting point, and the world will not become more integral unless we make it more integral. That, I think, is one of the key insights of integral-evolutionary theory. We are the unfolding Kosmos and at second tier-consiousness we are better able to realize the dynamics of this Kosmos and how we can work with these to bring more coherence, sustainabiliby and compassion into the world, our relationships and selves.
    Reading your words are encouraging, heartwarming and helpful for me at this time exactly because there are so few explicitly integral voices out there in the digital noosphere that can help building our collective understanding of what integral is and how it is embodied in day-to-day life, including politics.
    So thank you for being a leader in this endeavour, Terry!
    Best,
    Esben

  10. Thank you for taking a stand on this and getting involved in this dirty business. It’s not easy to make contravercial decissions, when being a spiritual leader.I had already dicided to do the same thing even though I’m not a leader at this time. May we all come to evolve from our egoic selves to our essential selves.Blessings

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