"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stumped by Trump? Ken Wilber says evolution calls us to reach out and regroup

"The one thing that was true of Donald Trump—more than any other single characteristic that defined him (more than his sexism, more than his racism, more than his xenophobia)—is that every word out of his mouth was anti-green."

Ken Wilber in Trump and a Post-Truth World

The postmodern "green" level of value development hits a wall of re-energized ethnocentrism. Its best move is to regroup and integrate levels it has marginalized so that evolution can move forward.

"No Truth, No Jobs" (and no respect)
[ED: This article uses the shorthand color names for developmental levels identified in Spiral Dynamics and other developmental schema. "Green" is the postmodern level of pluralism, relativism, and universalism.]

In the paper "Trump and a Post-Truth World," Wilber says green has forfeited its rightful leadership of the culture and must step back to recapture it. He cites two prime causes of Trump's widespread support. First, the over-reach in applying the partial truth that ALL truth is relative,* and second, the loss of jobs in the information economy.   But both of these, he says, are exacerbated by the judgments made against those with different values.

"What green was teaching this culture, by example, were sophisticated ways to despise (and deconstruct) those who disagreed with you—they aren’t just wrong, they are the source of every major force of oppression, injustice, slavery, and worse." 

Wilber quotes African-American Jeremy Flood (cofounder of At the Margins), in “The Revolution Must Be Felt.”  "If our own class-ism prevents us from caring about the emotional needs of those we derided as deplorable, we are not really progressives," Flood says. We are not ‘stronger together’ when half of us are ‘deplorable.’”

The cure, Wilber says, is "to reach out and compassionately include those with other values in the ongoing national dialogue and ongoing cultural normative development."  And this, he concludes, will probably mean  renewed respect for free speech and some compromise in small business regulation to create jobs.  

Personally, I'm thinking to set up a table in my neighborhood just outside DC with a sign that says, "Welcome Deplorables. I hear you. Let's talk."

My imaginary sign: "Welcome Deplorables."

Read the full 90 page paper by Ken Wilber for an analysis of the twin fallacies that hold green back: Trump and a Post-Truth World.


* The relative aspects of truth are an essential contribution of postmodernism. But Wilber says they have been stretched too far in three respects.

  • "It’s true that all knowledge is context-bound (but some contexts are universal, and thus some knowledge is, too);
  • and it’s true that all knowledge is constructed (but it is co-constructed with subsisting intrinsic factors in the actual world, and thus is not just a “fabrication”);
  • and it’s true that no perspective is privileged (which actually means that the more perspectives that you include, the more adequate and more accurate your map becomes). "
His contextualizing of these ideas is one of the things I love best about Integral theory. They make it safe again to be excited about Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.