"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.


Ananda001 said...

Thanks for this analysis, I loved the piece. I don't have my notes with me at the moment and/but I thought one of the major thrusts of the article is that Green's have created/live in a worldview where all truth is relative...and there is nothing more true than any other thing, which is categorically not true.

In my mind, I have an image of a unique organism coming into existence, emerging, growing, developing seemingly well and then for seemingly no reason it wilts and ceases to exist...and then the organism emerges again creating/embracing/accepting a better informed Holon and begins to thrive.

The Greens took two steps forward...and have simply taken one step back the article seems to say. This/our level of consciousness can grow, adapt and thrive again and include more of the good/true/beautiful.

Nan Henderson said...

Yeah, I had given up on an objective Truth. Happy to hear Ken inviting me to reconsider that.

I'm open and willing, but I haven't quite yet understood his argument. I'll keep working on it. I've been working on being inclusive of previous stages for many years. That one I get, but have found it quite a challenge to practice. The idea that there are no oppressors or victims, only evolutionary stages was extremely helpful to me.

Teri Murphy said...

Thanks for stopping by, Nan. The way that I currently grasp it is that there ARE oppressors and victims in certain planes or states of reality. But viewed from other planes, those distinctions dissolve. If I choose to take action on the "lower" plane, I will be more effective if I can simultaneously hold the "higher" in mind. Tall order! --Teri

guido said...

Another major problem with relativism is that although infinite interpretations of a text or the world are possible, they do not all have equal utility. Some interpretations lead to death and collapse and it is actually a very bounded problem which assumptions lead to a stable societal structure. It may not be theoretically obvious that a post modern communist utopia leads to mass poverty, starvation and violence but it seems to be the case that the underlying assumptions about the world are not true enough to allow for stable functioning over a long time period. That's one of the reasons why radical relativism is only partly true - there are infinite interpretations of any phenomenon, but an interpretation is a theory and a theory is a toll, and different tools have different levels of utility.

guido said...

The communist case was just one example, but an obvious one because many people in academia still think that "true" communism hasn't been tried because it never ushered in he promised utopia, not realising that the truth of a set of ideas isn't always measured by internal logical consistency but is also somewhat Darwinian and the truth plays out in action. Fundamentally it's because logical consistency is a weak measure of truth because the system still relies on axiomatic assumptions which may or may not be justified in making - these axiomatic assumptions play out in the sphere of life, and can unexpectedly lead to disastrous consequences because we are (necessarily) ignorant of the full range of implications of any axiomatic assumption. Science has been incredibly successful at describing the world but there are places where it is edging up against its own limitations -
In consciousness research for instance and in quantum mechanics - that is because it excludes the subjective as an axiomatic assumption of its preconditions for truth which has been immensely beneficial but may turn out to be limiting 1000 years after its inception say.

Teri Murphy said...

Thanks Guido. To your point, right now I'm enjoying the sitcom "The Good Place" in which a moral philosopher always has the right answer, but that never helps the situation.

Flux Poetica said...

Does Ken or any other spiral thinker/writers talk about the psycho-biology of these holons? Now we have good recent research on brain differences, showing at least 30% heritability (based on fraternal vs identical twins). I think just as interesting and enlightening is, as some older research shows, that environmental factors not only influence our political (root color) orientation, but do so in a way that changes the structure and function of our nervous system.

If you have any links to articles on this I'd be v. grateful!