Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fitting consciousness to socio-economics

Given my latest posts on Rifkin's TIR I re-read some of my previous IPS posts on socio-economic development and the consciousness that accompanies those stages. They can be found here and following, and are re-printed below.

I don't deny the benefits of capitalism and in fact see them as necessary prerequisite for socialism and communism, as did Marx. If you've read any Marx, and most Americans have not, socialism is based on democracy, a much more humane one that comes from capitalism. And communism must also be based on democracy. Humanity has not yet seen the kind of communism Marx envisioned, and the ones calling themselves by that name were indeed not based on democracy but by powerful State elites. What we do have ample evidence for is the next stage after capitalism, social democracy, which has proven quite effective in many countries. And a Marxian communism can only grow from this.

Plus these stages of developmental economics are not rigid and so markedly distinct but go through a series of transition phases, and the trajectory is not usually linear with all sorts of ups, downs and sideways. Hence a more beneficent capitalism with triple bottom lines, for example, is a step up in that transition. But capital still in the hands of a moneyed class, with no ownership or managing input by the worker, is a holdover that prevents further progress. Granted some companies allow at least some degree of employee ownership and management but a crucial transition step into socialism is full ownership and management by employees. Co-ops take this last step and many do just fine in competitive capitalistic markets.

Now as I said many social democracies in western Europe are losing ground and returning to more conservative corporate ways of economics. But that is not evidence that socialism failed, only that corporate capitalism is such a strong regressive force pulling it down. Hopefully it a mere transition fluctuation and progress returns. If not there could very well be serious and possible fatal consequences for an inappropriate economic level does not meet today's societal needs. If fact capitalism has dissociated so much it has gone pathologic and indeed not only has the capacity but seemingly has an inherent suicidal drive to destroy the environment and the base of its profits, the labor force.

Wilber to his credit addressed Marx in Excerpt A, Part III. On page 1 of that discussion Wilber paraphrases Marx thus: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their reality but their economic-material realties that determine their consciousness." He of course qualifies it but agrees that the economic system is an incredibly strong factor is shaping the consciousness of most of society's individuals.

An important point W makes is that the techno-economic base, which often has rapid changes, usually precedes the corresponding interior societal shift in consciousness to  match that development, the latter be a more slow process. He notes that this disjunction between base and superstructure has some rather unpleasant consequences and this is in fact the case with capitalism not being a functional fit with the information techno-economic base.

W also notes that this change to the new superstructure takes a precocious few to incite revolution (not necessarily violent), for the old worldviews will not budge and in fact will use the new base to support it. This is rather obvious in the case of corporate capitalism. I-I indubitably considers itself part of this advance evolutionary guard so should find it incumbent upon themselves to lead the revolution. And as I said, moving into a more humane capitalism with triple bottom lines is a step in that transition but they have yet to take the step toward democratic ownership and management. In this regard they are not the vanguard but lagging far behind other more precocious leaders like social democratic societies. Plus they seem unconscious of the very real social-economic pull that good old American capitalistic individualism has on their own inner realities. Their superstructure is not keeping up with  the P2P informational base.

Another interesting point W makes in page 1 is that some societal revolutions are merely translative, i.e., they don't step to the next level. They are basically window dressing on the old superstructure. This has been a major complaint of what I-I is doing with conscious capitalism, not really taking the next step but rationalizing the aforementioned rugged individualism inherent to the orange meme.

Wilber makes clear that for Marx "history was therefore marked (at least in part) by a series of revolutions linked to progressive (or vertically transformative) changes in techno-economic capacity." Wilber though does not explore those actual stages Marx discussed, from capitalism to socialism to communism. Perhaps it is because W thinks that while the "general ideas were often sound, he got virtually every detail wrong." There are no doubt many economists, including Marxist economists, who think Marx got details wrong. But not the general progression of the stages named above. W's own notion correlates 2 of these stages through the interior-exterior lens labeled rational-industrial and pluralistic-informational. These should also correlate with capitalism and socialism. Wilber sees integral starting in green pluralistic but developing further within the emerging cusp on pluralistic-informational, since the informational is the latest revolution in the techno-economic base.

I'd agree insofar as this must be established before Marx's last phase of communism can be manifest, which is a long ways off into the hazy future. But what does seem clear is that socialism is indeed the next socio-economic level to manifest after capitalism, and that clinging to capitalism, even a kinder, gentler one, is still part of the disconnect of the old rational-industrial mode not yet willing to let go to into the more P2P modes of consciousness-production necessary to get to that next phase, communism. And I would suggest that it is at the level of communism where something resembling "integral" will begin. Which of course cannot be attained until after the full realization of socialism, which itself has a long, long way to go. Until then, current notions of integral seem more like the lofty window-dressing put on the superstructure worldview of capitalism in the legitimization crisis with the emerging socialist P2P mode.

In kennllingus, certain integral currents have yet to fully realize green through socialism and their turquoise is more like an illusion caused by wearing a certain tinted lens that makes orange appear a different shade. Hence we get this distorted notion that we can functionally fit a so-called integral superstructure into an old mode of production, capitalism. It not only doesn't fit but why it appears to do so is that the superstructure is really still rational-industrial with delusions of grandeur.

I might even argue that democracy, contrary to Wilber's contention, does not begin in rational-industrial capitalism but in pluralistic-informational socialism. When the capitalistic industrial revolution began there were no such things as health, safety, wage, and child labor laws. This mode was infamous for extreme exploitation. I suggest that it was only in those transition steps to socialism where we got the notions of democracy, that each person had rights to such social benefits listed above. The extension of wealth and life expectancy noted in e's linked video might have more to do with this transition as well, not pure capitalism. And we are still in this transition, with some steps forward and back, corporate capitalists fighting this advance every step on the way. For they do not want democracy but to remain the feudal lords that capitalism affords.

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