Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Integral Theory Conference panel discussion on activism

I just listened to the ITC presentation on social and political activism. I reported on it at IPS as a running commentary as I was listening. So some of my concerns early on are addressed later on.

The first 30 minutes are mostly the panelists telling us about integral theory and how it might be applied to these domains but not one of those speakers has yet told us how they are being active in a particular area or issue, or are engaged in the political process. It seems the only activism is preaching about and selling integral theory. But I've yet to hear of any of them doing something about it (aka activism). Disconcerting so far.

 At around 33:00 the moderator comes back and says that part of the problem is that integral has so negatively reacted to green that perhaps it has missed its requisite preliminary practices like activism. Hence one needs to go back and take them up, since green is the leading edge of societal evolution and what we need to embrace if integral is ever to get a foothold. Again though, so far what may be needed but has the moderator actually engaged something specific in this regard?

At 37:00 the moderator then asks the panelists, how are they actually engaging in activism? But immediately she has to qualify it with how then might integral theory go about such and engagement rather than what engagements are they actually doing. The chair of JFKU's integral psychology program then discusses how she brings integral theory into all such discussions, not how she's getting involved in social change. She even says in so doing "then change will naturally happen" (40:00). Wow. The theory by itself is not going to cause social change to "naturally happen."

I do appreciate earlier on (around 33:00) the moderator saying how integral theory neglects how structural power is generated and maintained. And how it might unconsciously accept certain of those power structures within it theoretical base. I'm hoping that she or the other panelists discuss how this is so, like how we've done in this two-part thread, and the referenced predecessor thread. And discussing and supporting the alternative power and economic structures in the references. We're doing that (en)activism work here.

I appreciated someone saying around 44:35 that given the current system, and even knowing integral theory, they have no idea what to do about all the injustice. At least that's a start to acknowledging that IT isn't the answer. And a reprieve from all the narcissistic self-involvement surrounding the theory. She goes on to enumerate the problems with the US government and is exasperated that its too corrupt to change within itself.

And yet it is government that is needed for these big changes, and there are some progressive change agents within it. And if we could but elect more of them we would see those changes. That is part of the solution, getting politically involved in particular issues that have public support and run contrary to the regressive majority. Which when the regressives are forced to concede they are exposed for who and what they are and people will remember that come election time. That is, if enough of us get involved to make sure they remember, and persuade people to vote for a candidate of the people and not the corrupt system. That is but one way we can activate and change the corruption. And a way I've yet to hear anyone in the panel talk about, let alone engage in.

At around 54:00 I appreciated the panelist saying he doesn't find a need to raise everyone's consciousness before addressing or engaging. And that the integral community is not as integral as it thinks, and that needs further critical evaluation. Amen brother, one of our jobs here. However he goes on to say we cannot effect change within institutional systems, like government, but we must sanction the system from without. Then he acknowledges we can't do that in the US, since our governmental institutions are infected by the power structures. Basically he's tied himself in a knot where nothing can be done. I don't buy that.

Yeah, around 1:03:00 the speaker had a real life political example of supporting and losing on a local referendum, and what it taught he: to continue to engage the process, to keep trying, to make progress. Another positive example is around 1:06:00, the speaker's engagement with Canadian forest conservation. She has seen this activism years later as affecting the global market for forest products. And how some of those folks are now involved in Greenpeace and it is making a difference.

At 1:28:00 an audience member said the major obstruction to integral activism is the notion of the mean green meme. And that the activism happening in the world is not green, but something above yellow that yellow interprets as green. As I've stated above, I'd say that what is interpreting activism as green is really orange exit masquerading as yellow, something the original SD folks have said, and something with which Cook-Greuter apparently agrees.

The last audience comment at the end of the audio, starting around 1:45:00, finally addressed the topic of this thread. That integral needs to address what is already emerging on the ground, the decentralized, distributed nature of emerging systems, and how this is antithetical to the governing global capitalist system. He did though see this as 'green' and I'd say it's green exit and yellow enter per above, the distributed capitalism of Rifkin.

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