Frank Visser, CLIMBING THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: Reflections on Ken Wilber's “The Religion of Tomorrow”
INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Jim O'Connor has had an interest in theories of everything and the integral worldview since the mid 1990's. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Mandalic Approach to Development
Part 3: The Collective Mandala
My model is based upon an integration of Andy Smith's one-scale model of holarchy with the concept that holons are structured mandalically.
In two previous essays in this series I outlined a model of the individual psyche based upon an integration of Andy Smith's one-scale model of holarchy with the concept of the mandala. I argued that by doing so we can account for all of the Wilberian structures of consciousness while avoiding many of the problems inherent in his schema. In particular, what could loosely be termed the "non-hierarchical" nature of the centauric and pseudo-nirvanic stages can be accommodated and explained, a feat which cannot be achieved within Wilber's hierarchical model.
In this part of the series I would like to look at collective development, to see if a similar approach may offer us a new way of looking at this particular issue. I will suggest that the so-called "integral society" should also be modeled on the mandala, and that it should be seen as being similarly "non-hierarchical" and decentralised in nature. Utilising network theory I will argue that the integral society should be formed of individual centaurs engaging in meaningful communication with one another, and that this leads to it exhibiting a heterarchical structure.
I will begin laying the groundwork for this by reprising a theme I began in an essay I wrote prior to fully adopting a mandalic approach, which I called A New Model of Development. I believe that many of the points in that article still stand, in particular the one I made about the relationship between the information content of a communication and the amount of felt-meaning that it imparts to the receiver, an elaboration of which will form the starting point of the current paper.
2 The Relationship Between Meaning and Information
In my view, one of the most insightful pieces of work carried out on the nature of centauric cognition was by Silvano Arieti in his book Creativity: The Magic Synthesis. In this presentation Arieti argues that the mental life of the well-functioning, creative individual consists of an integration of the chaotic and magical identifications of the primary process with the more linear, logical structures of the secondary process. The resulting mode of cognition Arieti terms the "tertiary process".
The tertiary process conforms to the tenets of order and rationality, but with the primary process injecting more fluidity into proceedings than the secondary process could achieve on its own. The magical identifications of the primary process also lead to the frequent conjunction of seemingly disparate ideas and other elements, with these conjunctions being given structure by the secondary process. This leads to a mode of thought that is generative of new insights, metaphors and ways of seeing, resulting in it being highly creative in nature. Arieti also contends that a harmonious integration of the two modes leads to work that is aesthetically pleasing, and that great artists are those who are able to blend them more skillfully than the general population.
The primary process is rooted in the depths of the psyche and the body and when its identifications are involved in material, that material feels "deep", as though we have been touched by profound truths, insights or narratives, and we derive pleasure from contemplating them. We also find many associations between different elements of the work, with these being driven by primary-process identifications. However, in order to give the material structure, and to hold the various elements apart in awareness, the logic and order of the secondary process is required, and without this the primary process identifications tend toward chaos and paleologic, which degrades the meaning carried. But by the same token, material based only on the secondary process tends to be rigid and sterile, as well as rather boring, and in the extreme to possess the feel of having been generated mechanically. Yet when both modes are present something magical happens and the resulting work comes alive, becoming both deep and complex, and conveying a rich sense of felt-meaning to the reader, listener or viewer.
2.1 Tertiary Process as Differentiation / Integration
In order to situate Arieti's work in an integral framework, it may be helpful to look at it from the perspective of early Wilber or Washburn. Viewed in this way, mental-level development can be seen as a dual process of differentiation and integration, whereby the individual gradually learns to separate from one another, and then bring back together, objects once thought to be identical. At the archaic stage, cognition is completely adual and all inner and outer objects exist in a state of fusion. At this stage the individual, in the modern world usually an infant, is unable to differentiate even between self and other, or between any other objects in her world.
As hierarchal development progresses the individual learns to differentiate these objects and to separate them out in her thinking. This mental ordering constitutes, broadly speaking, the transition from the primary to the secondary process.
In strict Wilberian theory, hand-in-hand with this process of separation goes a corresponding process of integration, whereby at each micro-differentiation the objects are bought back to together in cognition. Thus in Wilber's view differentiation and integration occur smoothly over the developmental spectrum. Other transpersonal theorists, however, such as Washburn, disagree that each integration occurs concurrently with each differentiation, arguing that the early developmental process consists only of differentiation, and that the integration of previously separated objects occurs as a separate movement in psychological maturity. Writing in a time before the dispute arose, Arieti does not seem to take sides on this issue, but studies only the nature of the finished cognitive structure.
In the mandalic view of development that I am putting forward, which has Wilber's stages at the cardinal points and the tertiary process structure in the centre, I am basically arguing that cognitive structures are progressively more differentiated as we move around the mandala, and more integrated as we move towards the middle.
However, to avoid misunderstanding on this point, in the model I am presenting here, when in psychological health the individual is always situated in the centre of the mandala, even in infancy, and development consists not of ascending through a hierarchical series of stages, nor even of traversing a circuit around the mandala but instead of two other dual tasks: firstly, of releasing contraction throughout the body-mind; and secondly, of allowing the resulting structure to complexify and mature.
The integral, therefore, consists of a single structure that is both differentiated and integrated, and the second of the two tasks consists of allowing this differentiation to become more complex, and the integration to become deeper. In this regard I agree with Wilber that differentiation and integration can occur simultaneously, but where I differ is that I see the self doing this as being structured more organically, rather than hierarchically as Wilber views it. In my view Wilber has an incorrect conception of the structure of the psyche, but a valid point about the process by which it develops, whereas Washburn has a better conception of the nature of the finished structure than does Wilber, but is wrong about how that structure is attained.
In order to explain how all of this demonstrates a relationship between the information content of a communication and the amount of felt-meaning that it imparts to the receiver, it is necessary at this point to explain in a little more detail exactly how the primary process identifications are structured. I said earlier that cognition at primary process stages is chaotic and that objects that are actually separate from one another become confused and subject to false identifications. Since the early days of psychoanalysis these confused identifications have been observed to occur according to three basic rules:
As the individual moves into the secondary process these "confusions" become less frequent. Two objects need to share more predicates before "confusion by similarity" occurs, for example, and the other two "confusions" become similarly differentiated. The apotheosis of this process occurs at the culmination of psychological development, which I would argue is Wilber's aperspectival stage, at which point all objects are fully separated in awareness.
2.2 Tertiary Process as Aesthetic / Felt-Meaning
Once the primary and secondary processes become integrated (whenever this occurs), cognition changes once again. The differentiations achieved by the secondary process still persist in awareness, but the primary process identifications are allowed "back in", mainly at the levels of impulse and feeling, and a logic of metaphor takes over. That is, Object A is understood to be separate from Object B, but to the extent that they share common properties they can be allowed to resonate with one another in awareness, with this resonance being felt to be "deep", pleasurable and to add meaning and richness to the inner life of the individual.
When applied to formal works of art, this observation demonstrates that the artwork consists of a complex thinking-feeling structure (via the tertiary process) that is differentiated on one level (via the secondary process) but contains many deep, satisfying resonances between its constituent parts on another (via the primary process).
This interplay of primary and secondary processes manifests practically in such aspects of the artwork as:
An example of an artwork demonstrating all three of these that I would like to give, because it illustrates them so clearly, is the film Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. There are many repeating themes, repeating lines of dialog, mirrorings, conflations, role switches and so on in this work, occurring at different points and in different contexts, that have the effect of folding the narrative back on itself in the awareness of the viewer. At the end of the film you feel that you have had a deep emotional experience and taken in a richly integrated and unified "object", even as you are not sure what it all meant. It is an archetypal example of tertiary process cognition.
2.3 Summary of Information Theory
To open up the other strand in this argument, that of information, we need to outline very briefly one of the findings of the branch of mathematics known as information theory. While a summary of this field is beyond the scope of this short paper, we note that in this field it is held that complexity, or what we could also call information, is present in communications or objects that display a mixture of randomness and order.
It makes intuitive sense that communications that are purely random, for example jumbled strings of letters such as "IJYGJHIHBGTY", give us no useful information about the world because they contain no usable knowledge. Any specific string is hard to reproduce because there is no (compressible) algorithm that can do so, but strings of the same general pattern can be produced easily by any algorithm programmed to produce random sequences of letters.
Yet it is also true that communications that are completely ordered, for example a single letter repeated over and over again such as "AAAAAAAAAA", give us little information either, as there is insufficient variation to convey any significant knowledge. There is structure, too much structure, and nothing new or surprising in such strings, whereas there is in random strings.
The finding of information theory is that useful information is only present in significant quantities in some kind of middle-land between the two, where there is enough variation in the content to provide novelty but also enough order to provide structure. In the case of language, it is only at this point that meaningful words and phrases can come into being that are recognisable but which also tell us something interesting.
The summary of information theory, therefore is that maximum information is present in objects or communications that are a complex mixture of randomness and order. There have been various attempts to formalise this insight, none of which are key to the current article, but which may be interesting to explore in the light of our (imminent) conclusion.
2.4 Tertiary Process as Maximum Information / Meaning
Moving back to human psychology, it is possible to tie a broad interpretation of this theory of information in with our findings on the tertiary process.
As already noted, at primary process stages cognition is a confused mass of identifications. At the archaic stage, for example, and as we observed earlier, cognition is completely adual and any object can be confused with any other. In other words, we could loosely say that at these stages cognition is random - as evidenced by the rather chaotic nature of Paleolithic art.
And as also noted earlier, the higher structures, particularly the rational, are more differentiated and objects need to share more properties in common with one another before becoming subject to such confusions. In other words cognition is more ordered.
The tertiary process, being an integration of these two modes, could therefore be said to be an integration of randomness and order. Now, we just noted that according to information theory, maximum information is transmitted by communications that are also a mixture of randomness and order, so already this looks interesting. But what, exactly, is the connection?
We have also noted that the most aesthetically pleasing, meaningful artworks are those that most harmoniously and richly integrate primary and secondary processes, i.e. randomness and order, so could it be that the most meaningful works actually encode the most information? Is there a direct relationship between the integration of primary and secondary process that creates felt-meaning in the field of human cognition, as noted by Arieti, and the integration of randomness and order that creates information in information theory?
Another way of looking at the subject of meaning, therefore, is that we find things meaningful when they are conveying large amounts of information to us. This is a truth that mystics have known for thousands of years but that is becoming more popular in new-age thought, which now has the terminology of science available in which to express its insights. But whereas in the past this concept was somewhat nebulous, by integrating Arieti with information theory we have the opportunity to place it on a more precise mathematical footing.
2.5 Implications for Information Theory
There are as many implications for our understanding of information theory as there are for our understanding of human cognition here. By studying the work done on how identification works in the primary, secondary and tertiary processes, and on how they encode meaning, mathematicians could arrive at many valuable insights for understanding how information is encapsulated in abstract and concrete objects.
As just a single brief example of this, psychoanalysts in the Jungian and integral schools know that the mythic structure of consciousness is one populated by various archetypal forms that themselves encode information. They also know that the information from these forms can be unfolded in consciousness through engaging with them. It may be fruitful, therefore, for information theorists to look at their own models to see if anything corresponding to such archetypal patterns, in an abstract sense of course, is to be found in the mathematics. If there is then it would not only offer many valuable avenues for the development of information theory, but it would also suggest a deep relationship between human cognition and the mathematical nature of reality.
All of this, however, is outside of the scope of the current essay. The summary of the preceding section that is relevant to our purpose is that our study of human cognition and information theory suggests that there is a close relationship between felt-meaning and information, and that objects that encode the most of the latter convey the most of the former to the individual contemplating them. We will also see later that the integral society, when modeled abstractly as a network, can be seen to be structured so as to allow the maximum flow of information throughout it, and that this corresponds to a society in which individuals are engaging in meaningful communication with one another.
3 The Integral Society as a Weighted Heterarchy
3.1 The Integral Society in the One-Scale Model
The model of collective development that I am presenting here is based upon an integration of Andy Smith's one-scale model of holarchy with the concept that holons are structured mandalically. I must confess at this point that I am not sure if Andy would like me associating his name with the model I am advocating as it diverges so significantly from his own, and my own approach is less scientifically rigorous than he would no doubt prefer. For this reason I will ask the reader to bear in mind that although the remainder of this essay is grounded, I believe, in Andy's work, he likely does not endorse it. And so with this caveat out of the way, I'll now look at how I see the structure of the integral society in my schema.
3.1.1 Mixed-Holarchical Structure
In the one-scale approach, the society in which an individual lives is modeled as a higher-order holon in which she is embedded. This is still a controversial idea (although once explained, it shouldn't be), and I will not go into the arguments for and against it here, as Andy has already done so very comprehensively in many other places.
The integral society in this model has what could be called a "mixed holarchical structure". Again, both Andy and myself have outlined what this means in several other books and papers, so I will not do so again in detail. Suffice it to say that a mixed holarchical structure is one that has no overall hierarchy, but which contains sub-holons that are structured hierarchically, which exhibit varying degrees of complexity and which exist in relative autonomy from one another. Andy terms holons that exhibit such an overall structure autonomous or individual. I will generally use the former term as it is the one I prefer. Holons that are structured purely hierarchically, Andy terms intermediate or social. Again, I will use the former.
The difference between intermediate and autonomous holons is represented schematically on the following two diagrams:
3.1.2 Individual Conditioned by Collective
In the one-scale model, the inner psychological structure experienced by the individual is conditioned to a large extent by the structure of the society in which she lives. So for example, the consciousness of an individual living in a culture that is situated around the magic structure will itself gravitate towards the magic. Likewise in a rational culture most individuals will attain rational consciousness themselves.
In Wilber's and Smith's models, this set of correlations forms a linear progression, with archaic cultures developing into magic, which then develop into mythic and then into rational (and further). In the mandala model, however, each of these types of culture occupies one of the cardinal points, and a certain structure of consciousness becomes established in an individual when that individual identifies with the external social structures that support it. The cultures thus co-created can all be placed on a mandala diagram as follows:
Note that the integral label in the centre of the mandala does not denote a specific stage of culture as it would in Wilber's or Smith's models, but instead denotes the healthy form of the societies at the cardinal points. Exactly what I mean by "health" in this context will become clearer later, but for now we can say that it denotes integration within the society and "centauricness" amongst the population, both of which can occur in any type of culture. For example, we can note that on the diagram above the Blue culture is close to the mythic structure, while the Red culture is close to the magic structure, yet the Red culture is closer to health than the Blue culture because it is closer to the integral at the centre of the mandala.
Thus, in the remainder of this essay when I refer to "the integral society", it should now be clear that I mean societies that are closer to the centre of the mandala, that exhibit greater integration and a greater level of psychological wholeness amongst their population, rather than cultures of a specific size or at a specific "stage" of development.
Another consequence of placing cultures on a mandala, is that there is no value judgment between cultures at different cardinal points around the circuit. So, for example, in this model rational cultures are not superior to magic cultures as they are in most other integral models. Rational cultures may exhibit more intellectual refinement and differentiation than magic cultures, but magic cultures exhibit greater energy and vitality, which is an equally valuable property to contribute.
3.2 Made Up of Centaurs
In the integral form of a society, therefore, the majority of individuals would attain the centauric form of whatever structure of consciousness that society supports. Exactly what this means for the make-up of that society is something I will discuss later, but will simply say for now that it will likely be radically different to the alienated and dissociated forms of culture that we see today.
I don't believe that the integral community, basing its views largely on the work of Wilber, realises just how different society would need to be in order for all the properties of the centaur to be realised on a wide scale. What is often (usually pejoratively) called the conspiracy community or, as it sometimes calls itself, the alternative research community, does realise the magnitude of the change required, particularly in the work of people like David Icke and Michael Tsarion, and this is one reason I believe there needs to be an integration of the integral and conspiracy fields. Wilber's work in this area is, in my opinion, currently inadequate, as although in theory he sees the integral society as a jump of great magnitude to Second Tier, he never really outlines any concrete ways in which this jump will be reflected in the structure and practices of a community, and often leaves the reader with the impression that in his view an integral society would not be very much different in make-up to our own. It is as though Wilber believes that at second tier consciousness makes a momentous leap but the structure of the society does not, a view incompatible with his quadrant model as a whole.
3.2.1 Anyone Can Be Centauric
Be that as it may, we can at least agree that the integral society would be one in which individuals attain the centaur. In Wilber's and Smith's models, this is a specific stage of development occurring after the culmination of the rational, and correlates with a society that is planetary in scope.
In the model I am presenting in this series, however, the centaur simply refers to an uncontracted, integrated psychology and can occur at any of Wilber's or Smith's stages. Looked at in this way, anyone, at any age, can be centauric, even infants and, in fact, infants tend to be naturally autonomous and integrated before society has the chance to reproduce its own limitations within them. (This view does not fall victim to the so-called "retro-romantic fallacy", however, because it recognises that the infantile state, although centauric, goes through a process of differentiation and complexification before it reaches adulthood, and is thus not an absolute and complete end in itself).
Individuals will naturally be more centauric, and therefore closer to the centre of the individual mandala, in societies that are themselves closer to that centre, and so I would argue that this is the social state we should be aiming for.
3.2.2 Centaurs Interacting Freely
One property of the integral society that we can infer from the fact that it is made up of centaurs is that, in the ideal case, it will involve no structures of social control.
My argument for this is based on the work of thinkers such as Wilhelm Reich and Erich Fromm, as well as modern day conspiracy researchers like the aforementioned Michael Tsarion.
All of these theorists have argued persuasively, even if they have not used exactly the same terminology, that being embedded within pathological social structures has a perverting effect on the psychology of the individual. Even before the advent of the one-scale model, with its insight that the individual is conditioned directly by the collective, Reich and Fromm outlined with in great detail how living within hierarchical social structures creates an internal hierarchy in the individual, which cripples her freedom of thought, individuality and psychological health, and which renders her subservient to the existing order. Such dysfunctional individuals then maintain and perpetuate that collective structure through a pathological feedback process. Fromm termed the type of character exhibited by such individuals the authoritarian.
Working from within a framework of existential psychology, and building upon the work of people like Reich and Fromm, Michael Tsarion has analysed in great detail the inner dynamics of this relationship, but the full range of his work is beyond the scope of this essay. However, the interested reader (or rather, listener) is directed towards his many online presentations and interviews in which he has outlined his position with great force and erudition.
Tsarion and Icke have also pointed out that those who maintain some semblance of psychological health within a hierarchical social order often find that order to be intolerable. Centaurs do not take kindly to being embedded within pathological structures or to being forced into surrendering their autonomy to outside agencies, and many philosophers and psychologists over the ages have felt this conflict keenly.
Reich also showed that the internal psycho-physical hierarchy created represses the energy and affect of the individual, closing her down and diminishing her quality and enjoyment of life. As the centauric stage, according to Wilber, is one that allows the free flow of such energies, we can infer that for this to exist in the individual, the social order would have to be non-hierarchical.
What I conclude from all of this debate, and from my own thinking, is that a community of centaurs would not tolerate living under a power-hierarchy of any sort, either overt or insidious, and would either refuse to co-operate with it, or would outright disassemble it. The only society they would accept would be one based largely around freedom of association, personal autonomy, self-regulation and the decentralisation of power.
3.2.3 Still Need Hierarchies for One-Scale Model
Ken Wilber agrees that pathological hierarchies get deconstructed at a certain stage of development (the Green vMeme) but that healthy ones are reintroduced in the form of "actualisation hierarchies" at second tier (the Teal and Turquoise vMemes). My problem with this is that Wilber has never outlined what an "actualisation hierarchy" looks like or how one would function, and so we are unable to decide whether or not we agree with him. I suspect he doesn't actually have a clear idea of what an "actualisation hierarchy" is, but instead has a vague notion that hierarchies similar to those that operate within healthy spiritual communities will get writ large across society. If this indeed is his thinking then despite his lack of clarity on the issue, I believe he may be right.
Moving back to one-scale thinking for the moment, for the principles of Smith's schema to hold in the model I am presenting here, we need hierarchies of some sort to persist, as this is the mechanism by which intermediate holons are constructed. There must therefore be some way of linking holons together into structures of increasing complexity that look hierarchical in order for my model to still hold firm to one-scale principles.
But if power-hierarchies create a pathological internal hierarchy in the individual, which is anathema to centauric awareness, and if such hierarchies are unacceptable to centaurs anyway, then what sort of hierarchies would they create that would avoid these pitfalls while still being hierarchical? If Wilber's actualisation hierarchies would accomplish this, then what do these look like? In short, what binds centaurs together if not power relations?
3.2.4 What Binds Centaurs Together
My belief that Wilber may be right if he sees the inner dynamics of a healthy spiritual community being writ large across society as a whole at the integral stage, is that relationships in these communities are not (leaving pathological situations aside for the moment) based on power, but on (in the ideal situation) love and respect, both between students and teachers as well as between peers.
When individuals motivated by love and respect bond together they create structures of increasing complexity that technically, in terms of the terminology of holarchy, are hierarchical, but which are not based on power. When depicted diagrammatically it is hard to see the difference, because it lies in the type of link between two holons and not in the apparent structure.
This then is how we create healthy hierarchies in the integral society. Individuals can be bound together through love and respect rather than power and create structures of increasing complexity the more individuals are involved in any particular arrangement. These structures can interact in a manner completely analogous to how holons interact at lower levels, thus the principles of the one-scale model are not violated.
Centaurs who wouldn't stand for power relationships would be happy, I contend, to be involved in such arrangements. Love and respect bind people together by a force akin to gravity, whereby they are kept in a mutual orbit with one another, rather than by one exerting power over the other. In a healthy society, just as in a healthy sangha, individuals would choose to stay in these relationships for as long as they desired and then to walk away from them if love and respect were no longer present. In a free and open society it would be easy for them to do this, as no power or coercion would be present on a wide scale.
I confess that the terminology here is not very satisfactory. Despite the fact that no power or coercion is involved in the integral society, which is what most people imagine when they hear the term "hierarchy", the complex groupings of individuals drawn together by love and respect are, as I said, technically still hierarchical according to holon-theory. For this reason, and fully recognising that it is unsatisfactory and not entirely technically correct, I suggest we refer to the structure of the integral society as heterarchical. This is purely to designate that individuals are congregating through relationships of love and respect rather than coercion.
3.3 Society as a Heterarchy
3.3.1 Hubs and Nodes
In his paper, "Small World, Big Cosmos", Smith describes how it is possible to map society as a network of nodes and paths, with the nodes representing human individuals and the paths the communications between them. This approach has obvious merits in terms of understanding the abstract structure of groups, and it should therefore be possible for us to adopt it in order to map the structure of an integral society.
Before we can do this, however, we need to very briefly describe the different types of network currently known to researchers in this field, and in his paper Smith outlines three: ordered, random and scale-free.
At the end of his paper Smith hints at the existence of a fourth type of network, which he doesn't name, and which is not currently very well understood, but which is hypothesised to come into existence as the flow of information through a scale-free network becomes too great for a system of hubs and nodes to mediate. When this occurs, previously less-connected nodes are given connections from the hubs in order to increase the traffic through them, thus easing overall congestion in the network. Smith speculates that this fourth type of network corresponds to the autonomous holon of the mental level in his one-scale model, although he doesn't go into detail about exactly what this means in terms of the setup of nodes and paths within it.
I would suggest that if the scale-free network corresponds to the society based around the unequal distribution of power and resources, that when this hierarchy breaks down in the fourth type, that this corresponds to a society based around heterarchy.
3.3.2 Hubs = Heavier Centaurs
But clearly a society based on pure heterarchy would be a rare thing, found in its absolute form in a culture situated only at the very centre of the mandala. In cultures not occupying this position, some form of unequal relations would persist.
For example, in human society small infants are clearly not as equipped as adults to have stewardship of resources or an equal say in the direction of world affairs. A small imbalance will therefore always necessarily exist as far as children are concerned and a pure heterarchy will be impossible.
And even considering only the adult realm, it will presumably always be the case that some individuals will be born with greater talent or aptitude than others and will naturally garner more influence in deciding the future direction of society. This would translate, in network terminology, into those individuals having more connections. There would therefore still be hubs and nodes in societies that are as near to health as can be attained in the human realm.
Those who would have more influence, such as respected social commentators or community elders, would be those who are considered "heavyweights" in their field - and I suggest that this term is very apt. When an individual develops psychologically or spiritually they literally become more differentiated and integrated than they were previously, and this adds psychological and spiritual "weight" to their being. We all immediately know when we are in the presence of such a person and feel an intuitive sense of respect for them.
So to once again use the "gravitational" analogy of individuals being held together by love and respect we could say that in a network of hubs and nodes, that the hubs have more connections by virtue of being "heavier" than the nodes.
In order to distinguish it from a traditional power-hierarchy, I suggest that we refer to a network of hubs and nodes in which some centaurs carry more weight than others as being a "weighted heterarchy", and that we view the links between heavier and lighter centaurs, in a society aspiring to heterarchy, as being ones of influence rather than power.
3.3.3 Maximum Information / Meaning Flow
In his network paper Smith takes it for granted, as do I, that the optimal social organisation is one that facilitates the maximum flow of information throughout the network. We can debate exactly what structure this implies, whether scale-free or the fourth type, but from our findings on the relationship between meaning and information there is one thing that we do know, namely that the social network that allows the maximum flow of information would necessarily also be one in which communication between members carries most felt-meaning.
This is a very important point as it allows us to model social meaning mathematically and thus put our endeavors to build a more meaningful society on a scientific footing. We can actually measure how much meaning a society is providing for its members by how much information is flowing through it and thus determine accurately how closely we are attaining our goal of building a society in which people live emotionally and intellectually rich lives.
In terms of formal communication, such as literature or entertainment, to say that communication carries meaning means that such output would have aesthetic value and be based on an integration of primary and secondary processes. In other words the communication would aspire to be artistic in a broad sense.
In less formal cases, such as in spontaneous conversation between individuals, it would mean that communication would come from a place of love and respect and be rooted in the depths of the psyche and the body. For, as Alexander Lowen has shown in many of his books, it is only when it comes from this place that it can also come from the heart.
3.3.4 Social Stability
Being based on a setup in which power is concentrated in a relatively small number of nodes, scale-free networks are inherently vulnerable to targeted attacks. This is because an attack that takes out the more connected nodes would have a disproportionately large disruptive effect on the network as a whole, leading to a large reduction in its ability to mediate information, and possibly even its collapse. When, in the hypothesised fourth type of network, connections are taken from the hubs and given to the nodes, this would have the effect of making the entire network less vulnerable to such attacks and therefore more stable.
In terms of human society, this transition to a fourth type of network would imply a process by which the heavier centaurs would be continually endeavouring to raise the lighter centaurs up to their level, thus allowing them to garner more connections for themselves. The resulting society would clearly be more stable than the previous forms as it would be less dependent upon a few key individuals. I will say more about this later.
3.3.5 Exact Structure Will Depend on Centaurs Available
The exact structure of the integral society thus created, however, would depend very much on the exact nature of the centaurs available, on their individuals proclivities and talents, and on their relative weights.
In a society where all centaurs are more or less of equal weight, for example, the network would have a flatter structure, and be more obviously heterarchical, as all individuals take an equal share of the responsibility of running society. When there is a mixture of heavy and light centaurs, however, or perhaps a smooth spread of centaurs across differing weights, the social structure will be more obviously weighted, as the more able individuals take a greater share of that task.
3.3.6 Two Types of Anarchy
In individual development, the centauric stage is one at which the concepts of freedom, agency and autonomy become key motivators of behaviour. We also noted earlier that centaurs are inherently averse to structures of social control and seek to deconstruct these wherever they encounter them.
We also know that the drives and motivations of individuals are the building blocks out of which any particular collective structure is constructed, and that the prevailing structure is built precisely in order to facilitate the fulfillment of the particular individual drives and motivations active in the population in that epoch.
We can therefore conclude that the integral society will be one that facilities the realisation of personal freedom and autonomy and in which any structures of social control no longer exist. Clearly this implies a society that is self-regulating or anarchistic. This may sound like a controversial statement, but hopefully it will become more reasonable once I explain exactly what it means.
I believe that integral theory points to the existence of two distinct types of anarchy, one based on true centauric self-regulation, and the other a shadow facsimile of it that is based on the aperspectival structure. In order to show why this is the case, it is necessary to first look at the similarities and differences between these two modes of cognition in a little more detail.
126.96.36.199 Aperspectival Cognition vs Vision-Logic
In the work of Ken Wilber, aperspectival cognition is held to be the first of two or three stages of vision-logic. It is a stage that, when attained in its healthy form, is humanistic and egalitarian in nature, but which, when it becomes unhealthy, has a tendency to drift into dissociated, fragmented and flatland forms. In fact Wilber dedicated much of his book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality to describing the effect of this mode of cognition on the pathological aspects of recent collective development.
In recent years, firstly by adapting the terminology of Spiral Dynamics, and later by developing his own, Wilber named this stage the "Green vMeme", or just "Green" for short. So pathological is it possible for this stage to become, and so problematic for the current and future state of the world, that Wilber has spent much of the last 20 years berating Green for its pitfalls and failures, often stimulating heated debate around the issues as he has done so.
Yet, Wilber holds aperspectival cognition to be "early vision-logic" for several reasons. Firstly, because they share certain characteristics, such as being decentralised, network-based and with a tendency towards systems-thinking. Secondly, because he claims that the evidence shows that aperspectival awareness is found just after the rational stage but before vision-logic proper. Wilber has also attempted to correlate the aperspectival with various stages in the developmental models of other researchers that he claims also point to this existence of this structure at this position in his hierarchy. And thirdly, Wilber has also constructed the more theoretical argument that this stage shows a differentiation of rational elements which, in the form of Green that we see today, were not properly integrated. He holds that the easiest way for us to correct this problem is to evolve collectively to the next higher stage (mid-to-late vision-logic), which has a far superior integrative capacity, and integrate those elements from there.
However, it is far from clear to me that aperspectival cognition really can be called "early vision-logic" and that further hierarchical development of aperspectival awareness leads to vision-logic proper. To my mind, although Wilber has aperspectival cognition in a reasonable place in his hierarchy, there is less justification than he believes for placing vision-logic where he does. Wilber is basically seeing a structure that has all the positive characteristics of psychological health, terming it "vision logic" and "centauric awareness" and then placing it at the top of his hierarchy, by simply observing that individuals tend to attain it later in life. The researchers on whom he builds his model, to the extent that they support Wilber, have basically done the same.
Yet is there any concrete evidence that further hierarchical development of aperspectival cognition leads to vision-logic? And if individuals have indeed been observed making this transition, could there not be another explanation for what is occurring? Also, if by vision-logic we mean a full, rounded understanding of this structure, in the form of Arieti's tertiary process, as I believe we should, rather than one biased towards the intellect then Wilber's argument about vision-logic being an integration of elements differentiated at the aperspectival stage breaks down. The tertiary process is clearly more complicated than Wilber's argument about cognition can accommodate, with some unusual (and non-hierarchical) things going on with sensation, impulse and emotion as well as with thought.
With these issues in mind, I would like to offer the alternative view that aperspectival cognition is not early vision-logic at all, but a stage that is a flatland facsimile of it that occurs at the culmination of hierarchical mental-level development (which is a pathological process in itself). The reason Wilber has been forced into dragging Green over the coals so often for its failures is because this structure is inherently pathological. There is no healthy form of it, even if some of the sentiments that issue forth from it are positive.
Wilber's hierarchical development is a process of increasing repression, as Washburn has shown, and this repression reaches its apotheosis with the advent of Green, as the footnoted quote by Charles Taylor demonstrates. The simple observation of individuals identified with this structure (many students, for example) discloses the fact that they live "all in their heads" and lack a deep integration with their body and emotions and can be quite cold (despite their best efforts not to be). There is no possible way that putting further layers of repression in place on top of this already repressed structure could lead to the centaur - one of the defining characteristics of the centaur is precisely its lack of repression!
Those individuals who do manage to make the transition from aperspectival to vision-logic, I would argue, do so via a process of regression, and not further hierarchical development. Even if we were to agree that vision-logic necessarily occurs after the aperspectival stage, and that previous transitions were hierarchical, those facts do not automatically prove that this transition must be hierarchical too, as Wilber seems to assume. Again, simple observation shows that individuals making this transition are recontacting and reintegrating their bodies, impulses and emotions, and that this can happen either through personal development work, or simply through the maturation of the individual as they age.
So to summarise the view that I will be basing the remaining of this paper on.
188.8.131.52 Type of Society Created by Each
Because it is a flatland version of vision-logic and occurs at the culmination of hierarchical development, the question naturally arises as to what type of society a population identified with the aperspectival structure would create. We might expect it to be a dissociative, flatland form of the anarchy created by true vision-logic centaurs, but what does this mean?
In order to address this question it is first necessary to point out that Wilber, correctly, I believe, has stated that when the psyche represses any contents, that there is a concomitant process of projection and that the repressed drive or quality is externalised onto other individuals in the environment. As I have claimed that the aperspectival structure is the most repressive possible, then clearly there must be an awful lot of projection going on in an aperspectival society.
I would claim that two of the drives that are most obviously projected in this structure are the centauric desire for personal autonomy and the centauric ability to self-regulate behaviour. When the first of these becomes externalised it results in the "freedom fighter" mentality - the individual who is constantly seeking to liberate others (often in today's world, minorities) from oppression but who is still in bondage to psychological repression herself.
Likewise, when the ability to self-regulate is externalised, it results in the individual attempting to regulate the behaviour of those around her, often through codes of conduct that it is believed all should adhere to. Such an individual may be quite poor at regulating her own behaviour, relying instead on her inherent repression to keep her wayward drives under control.
When these two drives become projected in a flatland anarchy, as I am calling it, they result in a pathological form of anarchy proper. Instead of each individual regulating her own behaviour, group norms would be unconsciously set up through such constructs as political correctness, and then everybody would watch each other to ensure compliance. Likewise, such a society would be filled with individuals fighting to end the outer oppression, while not being inwardly free themselves.
In a centauric anarchy individuals would inhabit warm, loving bodies, exhibit warm, loving emotions and warm, loving relations with one another. But because of the repressions just noted that are inherent in the aperspectival structure, individuals in that type of anarchy could not. They would be forced to relate to one another cognitively and rather coldly, although because the repression would be universal across society, with no awareness of what they were lacking.
Because there would appear to be no centralised control in an aperspectival anarchy, individuals living within it would believe themselves to be living in a free and enlightened society when they would not be. They would be living in the culmination of a social prison, with the building of it having reached the stage where the prisoners are imprisoned by one another rather than by an external force.
The aperspectival structure in the individual is rigidly hierarchical - in fact it is the culmination of hierarchical development. However, as Wilber has often pointed out, for some reason at this stage the hierarchy gets buried from awareness and the individual no longer acknowledges it to exist, believing instead in a form of extreme relativism that, paradoxically, can only be held in place by this inner hierarchy. Extrapolating this out to the collective sphere, we could say that in an aperspectival anarchy there will still be social stratification, but individuals in general will be unable to see it and will even go so far as to deny or rationalise it even when it is pointed out to them.
184.108.40.206 How We Get to Each
Exactly how we move from a rational society, based on hierarchy, to an aperspectival anarchy that looks relativistic but actually still has a hidden hierarchy, is not yet clear. It would seem reasonable to suggest, however, that it has something to do with the breakdown of the scale-free nature of society and the transition to the fourth type of network that Smith alluded to in his paper.
We would therefore have to be very careful in assuming that any breakdown of hierarchy and a move to a decentralised society must necessarily be a good thing. It could well be that if hierarchy starts to break down at some point, that we end up not with a true, healthy centauric anarchy, but with a pathological flatland facsimile of one.
Just as in individual development the only way to get from a hierarchical stage back to the centaur is through a deep regression, similarly the only way for an entire society to get from a hierarchical stage of organisation back to a centauric anarchy would be through a collective version of the same. The "retro-romantics", much maligned by Wilber, therefore have a very important insight to bring to the discussion. Society as a whole does need to recontact the body, impulses and emotions in order to bring about a healthy cultural shift, and not just as a prelude to further hierarchical development, as Wilber claims, but as the mechanism of change.
And many of the so-called "leading edge" thinkers naively advocating simple decentralisation without taking this fact into account - many technologists and transhumanists, for example - could in fact be helping to usher in a global prison camp with their theorising.
I will say a little more about the dangers of aperspectival anarchy in the final section, but until then will confine my discussion to the merits of a healthy centauric anarchy. I must confess at this point that I do not like the term "anarchy" very much at all, as it has connotations of a chaotic free-for-all that is not what is implied, and so from this point will generally use the terms "integral society" and "self-regulating society" instead.
4 The Integral Society as a Mandala
4.1 All Holons Can Be Represented as Mandalas
In "Development in the One-Scale Model" I presented a diagram showing how Smith's distinction between intermediate and autonomous holons can be used to represent all holons as mandalas. I will reproduce two diagrams from that paper below to illustrate this fact. The entity at each cardinal point of the diagram is an intermediate structure that interacts with other intermediate structures in order to create the autonomous structure at the centre.
4.2 Society as a Mandala
In the two previous parts of this series I argued that the human individual could also be represented as such a mandala, with the cardinal points of the mental level being body, energy, emotion and thought, and the integration of all of them being the centaur, or integral structure. I would like to now show that human society as a whole can also be represented mandalically and to integrate such a view with the previous network conception of society.
One such arrangement of the various spheres of human endeavour is shown on the diagram below. I confess that this does not break-down in a straightforward way and that some of these fields are actually spread across two or more spheres. However, to keep things simple I have placed them under the sphere with which they can be most closely associated.
For the sake of completeness, to give an example of a field that falls across more than one sphere we can take the case of healthcare. Good health, as all Qigong masters know, is as much energetic as it is physical, and optimum physical functioning can be achieved through a healthy flow of chi. Likewise there are emotional and mental components to disease, which a good healthcare system would take into account. However, to keep the diagram from getting too messy, I have confined healthcare to the physical sphere to reflect the fact that it primarily addresses the material body. Similar arguments could be made about other fields on the diagram.
The fields in the centre of the mandala are those that are made up of an integration of those at the cardinal points. For example, in the ideal case the education system would develop the body, energy and emotions of the individual, as well as the mind. Likewise, religion, in its true form, should do the same. Ken Wilber has written more about this than anyone with his writings on what he terms the integral approach. Wilber's work, however, obviously uses his Quadrant Model as a template rather than the mandala model I am putting forward here. Nevertheless the principle is the same, in that the fields at the centre should develop all facets of the individual in a balanced and harmonious way.
4.3 Uncontracting the Collective Holon
In the first two parts of this series I argued that the primary task of spiritual development in the individual is the releasing of contraction within the body, mind and soul (the level of spirit is already inherently uncontracted). In this part I would like to suggest that the primary task of collective development is a directly analogous one of releasing contraction within the social mandala also.
4.3.1 Society is in a Contracted State
To illustrate why this is necessary I will recap a point I made earlier.
In the one-scale model the individual derives their internal psychological makeup directly from the structure of the society in which they live. Generally in integral thought this observation refers only to the various worldviews. So, for example, an individual living within a tribal community will generally exhibit a magical worldview, while an individual living within a nation-state will exhibit a rational worldview (and again to avoid misunderstanding, in the mandala model, one of these is not superior to the other).
Earlier we took on board the work of theorists such as Reich and Fromm, and broadened our observation out slightly to say that individuals living within societies that are based on power hierarchies will themselves exhibit such hierarchies in their inner worlds. That is, they will exhibit repressive psychologies (authoritarian, sado-masochistic etc.) based upon an id-ego-superego tripartite stratification that constrains their thoughts, emotions, energy and body.
And to broaden the argument further still, and taking on board the findings of the mandala model, we could say that individuals living in a contracted society will exhibit contraction themselves. This contraction would be induced in them throughout their lives via the mediating influences of the family, media, education system and any other agency with which they come into contact. Indeed, the whole of society is involved, and it is continually attempting to reproduce its own structure within the individual.
Now, it appears through simple observation that many individuals in the world do exhibit such contraction. This is evidenced by the widespread existence of war, crime, emotional and sexual dysfunction, depression and neurosis, dissociation, alienation and so on. From the existence of so much contraction within individuals, it is logical to assume that there must be a corresponding contraction in the social holon that manifests in all of these collective pathologies.
4.3.2 Ideal State is Uncontracted
So for society to exist in its ideal state a process of "uncontraction", "decontraction" or "relaxation" would therefore be required. I realise that these are nebulous terms at the moment, but later I will give some examples of exactly what they mean. But in summary, to decontract a society and its governmental structures means to make them more open, benign and decentralised, until rigid structures are phased out altogether.
One problem we have at present is that the usual response to the various pathologies just noted is the opposite one of closing society down even further. For example, the response to rising crime levels, when and where they occur, is nearly always to introduce more police, more surveillance and more legislation to try and stamp the problem out of existence. The mandala model suggests that this will merely exacerbate the problem in the long-term by increasing the level of contraction in the collective holon, and therefore in the individual. The correct far-sighted solution in this case would in fact be to intelligently decontract society by gradually opening it up while simultaneously promoting meaningful communication at all levels.
4.3.3 Mixture of Discipline and Laissez Faire
If the analogies between the individual and the collective mandalas hold true then many of the principles I outlined in the first two parts of this series for decontracting the human individual would be expected to have corresponding principles for decontracting the collective mandala also. I will now look at two of these.
In part 2 of this series I argued that to pull contraction out of the individual self requires a process that contains elements of both relaxation and self-discipline. I noted that most spiritual practices and therapies require simultaneous effort and freedom, examples of which could be:
By analogy, I would suggest that a society that is in the process of uncontracting would also need to be run on a balance of freedom and discipline. Although it could be argued that this is how society is already run today, in reality neither are truly present. Hierarchical systems, imposing a uniformity of thought and behaviour across the entirety of society, stifle freedom and impose rigid norms on the whole of a culture. By creating inner hierarchies and contraction they also encourage a focus on the self, and the individual thus made self-centred by this mechanism is then encouraged through consumerism to be as lax and impulsive as possible (with these being pressed into service of that individual) thus rendering the discipline half of the equation similarly nullified.
During the process of uncontracting both of these functions would need to be strengthened in conjunction with one another, both in individual lives and in the operation of the various collective spheres. It is easier to see how this may operate in some fields rather than others. For example the financial sphere, being objective and material, can more easily be studied than the more ephemeral sphere of the arts. It's therefore easy to see how a combination of freedom and discipline may operate within our stewardship of money and other resources but less easy to see the same principle in operation in the arts or education. I will give a few examples of how it could work in these spheres shortly.
4.3.4 One Sphere Affects All
Another of the principles for releasing individual contraction that could be applied collectively is that it is possible to release the contraction in the total holon by addressing it in any one of its various spheres, or at any one of the mandala's cardinal points.
In the social holon this would mean that, for example, achieving a truly uncontracted economy would in itself ripple through the system and lead to the decontraction of the arts, the media, the intellectual traditions and the sexual practices of a society too.
An example of this would be that if an economic system could be achieved that were not based upon the concentration of capital, it would lead to a diversification of business ownership, including ownership of the media. This example shows that decontraction in one sphere (the economy) leads to the decontraction of another sphere (the media).
On the converse side, if media diversification could be achieved in the face of a contracted economic system, then collective discussion of the drawbacks of that system would be made more possible than they are at present. This would lead eventually to calls for something to be done about the system, which would lead to it being forced into a more equitable form. In this way the decontraction of the other sphere (the media) would have the effect of decontracting the first sphere (the economy).
Of course, in reality there would be a positive feedback loop formed throughout the system that is the collective mandala, with the decontraction of each sphere leading to more decontraction of the others. Once the entire mandala were involved, the process of full decontraction may proceed more quickly than may at first appear possible.
4.3.5 Uncontracted in All Spheres
The ideal social state is one in which all spheres are uncontracted, with this state being held in place by a type of autopoiesis. Exactly how this would function is not yet clear, but perhaps we could draw an analogy from individual development.
In the individual case, once an uncontracted form is achieved a powerful flow of vital and spiritual energies begins passing through the body-mind, preventing contraction from ever taking hold again. In the collective sphere we could perhaps expect an analogous process of self-maintenance to prevent society from closing down once it has begun to open up.
4.3.6 Secondary Mandala
In the second part of this series, I put forward what I called a "secondary mandala" of four qualities that could be used to measure the health or pathology of any particular sphere in the individual holon. These were:
I further argued that when all four are kept in balance, that the relaxation of contraction proceeds naturally, organically and harmoniously. To illustrate this I placed them on a diagram as follows:
I would argue that these four qualities are operative in the collective sphere also and, while it is beyond the scope of this article to give comprehensive examples of how this secondary mandala would function in every field, I will offer a few brief comments about several of them. Once I've done this, it should be straightforward to work out how they apply to the others.
In general, in a society uncontracting smoothly there would be individuals working simultaneously on all these aspects in every sphere. A model of the process they are engaged with would be useful to them in order to give context to their efforts, with one such model being presented here.
5 Proposed Social Programme - General
In the next two sections I will look at the process of social decontraction and suggest some actions, general and specific, that could be taken, if there were the will at the centre of government, to ease such a process through. These sections will be less theoretical than the previous ones, as I lobby very specifically for the actions I think are necessary.
In general the transition from a centralised society to a weighted-heterarchy society can be accomplished through the systematic application of certain key principles. For a society in the early stages of moving from a culture of procedures and legislation to one based on personal autonomy and self-regulation, and while central government is still a powerful organising force, this process could even be to a certain extent automated. It could then become more spontaneous and based on personal relationships the more open and fluid society becomes.
Eventually in a fully uncontracted society, relationships between individuals, even those holding positions of influence, would be based upon love and respect. When this dynamic begins to take over from the power-drive the giving and taking of responsibility could be done according to the personal trust between the individuals involved and not according to any algorithmic process. This is how a truly free society would function.
I will start by outlining the general underlying principles of the programme I am advocating, before moving onto to very specific actions that can be taken to relax the contraction at the heart of the social holon.
5.1 The Process of Decentralisation
5.1.1 Centralisation vs Decentralisation
In the transition from a hierarchical society to one based upon heterarchy, a key conflict will be around the issues of centralisation and decentralisation. I have clearly argued thus far that the integral society will be decentralised in nature and based upon self-organisation. This can be achieved through two complementary (and apparently contradictory) processes: one of centralising decentralisation and the other of decentralising centralisation. I will take these one at a time and explain exactly what they mean.
220.127.116.11 Centralising Decentralisation
What is meant by "centralising decentralisation" is that as long as centralised control exists, it should have built into it, through legislation and procedure, a tendency to push power outwards from itself. So a world government, for example, would be obliged to be continually seeking to devolve power to the nation state, while nation states would be similarly compelled to be seeking to devolve power to their component regions and so on. This would constitute a process of the gradual and continual dissolution of centralised control, which should be written into law. If it is necessary for some centralised bureaucracy to arise at a point in the future, it should seek to dissolve itself once its job has been accomplished.
This could therefore be called "centralising the tendency towards decentralisation", or simply "centralising decentralisation". In a healthy society there should be this inherent centripetal force constantly driving power outwards from the centre to the periphery.
18.104.22.168 Decentralising Centralisation
The concept of "decentralising centralisation" is a little more complex, but I would explain it as follows.
Centralisation is the mechanism whereby wayward social drives and impulses are currently held in check, and some measure of control maintained in the face of unintegrated collective forces.
The most obvious example of this is the criminal-justice system. Crime in most societies is controlled through the power of centralisation applied to intelligence-gathering, law enforcement and the legal and prison systems.
When I say that this function should be decentralised, what is meant is that wherever the necessity for such social control exists it should be implemented at the furthest point out as possible from the centre.
Because the individual is directly conditioned by the collective, a society that has many layers of hierarchy within its decision-making and implementation structures will create individuals with many layers of hierarchy (i.e. repression) within their own inner worlds. It is therefore desirable to have as few such layers as possible. It is better, therefore, in terms of the self-actualisation of the population, for power to be centralised within local government in one hundred smaller communities than in a single point at the centre of all of them, as centralisation adds more layers to the hierarchy.
Continuing this process to its ultimate conclusion, then, would mean that eventually centralisation should be pushed all the way into the individual. So what does this mean? Well I would suggest that as centralisation is a means of controlling rogue drives and impulses, it means that eventually individuals will learn to control these themselves, through self-discipline and self-regulation. When a locus of self control has been thus pushed into the individual, this is basically government decentralised completely, i.e. it has become self-governance. When this state has been achieved en mass, and we have 7 billion sovereign governments on the planet, centralised control would no longer be required. In this way it could be said that "centralisation has been decentralised".
Likewise, in a culture in which no centralised control exists, communities would become progressively more diverse and demonstrate a unique identity in opposition to the increasing uniformity lamented by so many today.
As this diversity also eventually gets pushed all the way into the individual, this means that people will be freer to express their own personal sense of identity and lifestyle within their wider social context.
Not only will communities develop an individual style and culture but individuals will too, within the broad parameters set by their environment. And if individuals find no community that suits their tastes in this regard, and did not wish to compromise, they would be free to live alone, either physically or psychologically.
Diversity of control also has the benefit of preventing pathological decisions made at a central point from affecting large regions. In a centralised society individuals can be forced into acquiescing with such dictats through being bound irrevocably into the social structure, even when they know or suspect them to be harmful. However, when such decisions can only be enforced on a small region then the potential harm is lessened. It would also be possible for other nearby autonomous regions, not bound in the same control system, to step in to oppose the legislation and overturn it. In this way a decentralised network possesses a type of "immune system" that will reject such unhealthy decisions before they have a chance to take over large areas. It is only centralisation that currently prevents this.
5.1.2 Pushing Power Outwards
However, although this end state would be more beneficial than centralisation, we would expect there to be resistance to the process. Drawing a parallel between the individual and the collective, this resistance is directly analogous to the resistances put up by an individual in therapy to defend herself from the discomfort, pain and anxiety involved in becoming self-actualising.
The current contracted and neurotic state of the average individual renders her deeply fearful of breaking free from having a government take care of her and of achieving existential freedom. This fear needs to be integrated as the process unfolds, and society continually reminded that according to the various schools of existential therapy, that when this is achieved that same fearful energy will transform into social vitality.
This resistance, however, is not to be underestimated. Erich Fromm called it "the fear of freedom" and described how it is the driving force in the creation of social hierarchies. Such hierarchies, Fromm argued, have the goal of binding this anxiety and putting it to work instead in the maintenance of the system itself. Therefore the process must be done slowly and firmly, giving communities the time to assimilate the new powers being given to them and to make any changes necessary for it to be used effectively before giving them more.
However, despite this resistance, or rather because of it, there must be a constant centripetal force built into government at all levels, from the global through to the local, that continually pushes power outwards from the centre to the periphery. This means that everything currently handled by central government would be handled, first by local communities, and eventually by individuals, including law enforcement, social-improvement and infrastructure programmes, civil law-suits and all of the other functions of the state.
5.1.3 Internalising Laws
For decentralisation to be pushed all the way into the individual, individuals will need to internalise the function of law enforcement within themselves as self-regulation. But for this process to be truly a liberalisation, it will require individuals to develop their own code of ethics and to live by it. Although this may sound like a recipe for chaos and disharmony with everyone adhering to different values and norms, in practice this will not happen. As individuals become more centauric and rooted in the depths of the psyche, body and spirit, the deep structure of, and inherent wisdom within, these will lead them to naturally largely agree on the universal fundamental ethical principles of life. For example, one such simple code is summed up in the five lay precepts of Buddhism:
Where matters of ethics become more nuanced and in need of more sophisticated systems of norms, individuals will naturally often disagree over them. In this case they will act according to their own consciences and defend their actions to others. Individuals will also be free to congregate into communities with others who share their philosophy and to live with them free from outside interference. There would be constant dialogue between the various communities about how the different ethical systems are benefiting, or otherwise, their members, and changes made accordingly.
In any vibrant group there will be casualties from time to time, although progressively fewer as long as the "big" ethical principles are adhered to in the obvious cases, and as long as pathology begins to disappear from society. Such casualties should of course be minimised through the careful prior consideration by individuals of their actions, but where they occur they can be given restitution and helped to heal by the community. It is also the case that in a decentralised community casualties will be fewer as pathological individuals will have a much smaller field of influence than they are able to command under a centralised system.
5.2 Process of Delegating Power
The process of delegating power, as I said, should, as society approaches the decentralised state, eventually become spontaneous and based on the personal respect and trust between the person giving and the person receiving it. However, in the early stages while centralised control still exists and there is less personal contact and friendship between individuals, the process may need to be automated and codified. I would suggest that the principles for doing this should be as follows.
5.2.1 Simultaneously Take and Give It
This basic process should be one whereby individuals are constantly vigilant towards who, if anyone, currently holds power and authority over them. This can be because of a problem on the part of the person above, such as a need to control, a problem on our part such as a need to make ourselves dependent on others, or simply the result of contingent circumstances. Individuals would then seek to take that power back, as peacefully as possible, and internalise it within themselves in a process of psychological integration and the regaining of personal autonomy.
Sometimes such power manifests in overt systems of social control that can be seen clearly and objectively, such as in obviously totalitarian regimes, but sometimes it is more subtle and insidious, such as in propaganda or the psychological programming carried out by the media, as the "Michael Tsarions" in the conspiracy field have exposed in great detail. In either case, whatever psychological dependency is being projected onto the levels above should be taken back into the self.
Likewise, we should be continually looking to see who we currently have power over - this may be because of a problem on our part, such as a need to control others, a problem on the part of the person below seeking to become dependent upon us or, again, simply through circumstances. In either case we seek to empower that person and remove both our control over them and their dependency upon us.
As both of these processes - the person above giving power and the person below taking it - work in conjunction with one another there should be a smooth dynamic of power redistribution across the whole of society. There would be continual dialogue amongst individuals about the current power situation as well as discussion about how to go about rebalancing it.
In terms of large scale geopolitics, this would mean that instead of abrogating to themselves more power and then signing it over to even more centralised supra-national bodies, as is currently happening, politicians would do the opposite and attempt to pull power thus given back into the nation state and then devolve it, truly devolve it, down into local communities. In conjunction with this, community leaders at the local level would simultaneously be taking that power and devolving it down into even smaller units, right down to the individual, as was discussed previously.
It may be necessary for there to be a period of consolidation whereby responsibility for a particular piece of legislation or a social programme taken from the level above is assimilated at the intermediate level before the attempt to devolve it still further is begun. Such eventualities should be written into the plans, monitored and amended as necessary.
5.2.2 Will Eventually be Based on Personal Relationships
As I said, in the very early stages it may be necessary to standardise this process and to take the human element out of it to a large extent. However, once individuals are becoming more centauric and trustworthy, and have a feel for the process, it can be based more on spontaneity and personal relationships. In this situation powers will be given when the person above trusts that the person below can administer them wisely. I realise that this may trouble those who would like everything to be codified and standardised for evermore, but such a desire is based on fear and a pathological mistrust of the power of individual relationships. Once this fear is overcome and the success of the method has become apparent, it will be more widely accepted that centauric individuals can be trusted to work from personal intuition in their handling of the process.
5.2.3 It Must Be Done Gradually
As the process of collective decontraction proceeds, individuals, because their degree of contraction is conditioned by the collective, would gradually begin to uncontract too. This could initially be a painful process as personal, familial and collective traumas come to the surface for resolution in large quantities. It may also be very frightening for society as many individuals go through periods of existential fear and terror on their way to realising the centaur.
As this progresses, transpersonal energies will also begin to flow downwards into greater numbers of people, leading to many more mystical and spiritual experiences among the population. There would be a steep learning curve as society figures out how best to navigate the various pitfalls of this.
To lessen the effects of this "spiritual rollercoaster", the decontraction must be done gradually in order for the changes in the individual body-mind to be integrated as smoothly as possible. This process should not be rushed. Government, as long as it exists, either nationally or regionally, will need to be aware of this phenomenon and seek ways to manage it wisely. Eventually such a function could be taken over by the local community.
Simply removing centralised control immediately, as some libertarians would like to do, would be a recipe for individual and collective breakdown, and they are perhaps not prepared for the consequences of what they are advocating because they do not understand the scale of the psychological and transpersonal forces that would be unleashed by a sudden relaxation of our collective repression.
5.2.4 Managing the Pace
When carried out gradually, how long it would take to decontract an entire society would be contingent upon many factors. On the one hand there are forces slowing the process down, such as the resistance discussed earlier. On the other hand there may be factors that accelerate matters, for example the role of the synergistic interaction of the various social fields as they uncontract, and the effect of the spiritual energies that would begin to flow into the world once it became open to them. Society as a whole would need to stay flexible in its management of the whole process.
However, I believe that there are two possible ways of managing things in the early, centralised stages - one is by timescale and the other by metrics.
22.214.171.124 By Timescale
Firstly, decontracting according to timescale. This method would be based on the setting of deadlines for each stage of the decontraction and then managing the process to ensure that they are met. Intermediate deadlines could be set for the various objectives, such as phasing out a particular piece of legislation or delegating control of a particular social programme, and then formal plans developed in order to achieve them.
As full decentralisation cannot be attained until individuals, on the whole, are centauric, which, among other things, means being free from neurosis, then we should look to the psychoanalytic community as well as social scientists to estimate how long the whole thing would take.
For example, if we say, purely for the sake of argument, that in a decontracting society neurosis can be largely rooted out within five generations, or one hundred years, then we would set deadlines within this timescale for making certain economic or social changes that need to happen, such as the liberalisation of the economy, or the rolling back of the libel laws. Then, certain sub-goals could be set in each area in order to reach these deadlines. The whole process could be project-managed and continually monitored to assess progress.
As the main goal would be to phase out central government altogether, eventually management of the overall process would be largely passed to the various regions to continue. As they themselves became obsolete they would then delegate responsibility still further into local communities in a smooth process of decentralisation.
126.96.36.199 By Metrics
The other way the process could be managed is through the use of metrics. This would involve monitoring certain key indicators of the health of a society and then using these to determine how much decentralisation it could safely handle at a particular point in time. The status of a community could be watched and then power devolved to it when it became apparent that it was in a fit state to administer it wisely.
Examples of metrics that could be used to do this could be crime statistics, statistics for the number of law-suits being brought, or statistics for homelessness or poverty. These would be used to determine how much power a community could safely be trusted with at any point in time.
Obviously both of these methods - decontraction by timescale or by metrics - or a hybrid of both, would get highly complex and technical and require a great deal of planning and monitoring. Experts from the various spheres of society would probably need to develop individual plans for decentralising their various fields and then these would be brought together into one master plan, co-ordinated initially from the centre. However, all social planning processes are complex and in theory this would be no more so than those implemented currently, as long as the philosophy behind it was clear at a high level.
5.3 Promote Integration
So far I have described the mechanism of devolution as one by which communities become free from centralised organisation and take control of their own affairs and ways of doing things. Clearly there is the potential here for this process to be taken to the extreme and for them to become isolated from one another, turning it into one of dissociation and fragmentation.
If such fragmentation were to be detected, it would indicate that society was moving towards a flatland anarchy rather than a centauric one, with flatland forms being inherently dissociative. If this occurs an extra effort should be made to facilitate a collective regression and encourage more social integration. This integration should not be co-ordinated from the centre, which would simply prolong the state of affairs we are seeking to end, but from a decentralised dialogue between communities.
In keeping with the philosophy outlined earlier, this dialogue should be meaningful - ideally rooted in the tertiary process but at least grounded in the body and coming from the heart. Communities may wish to share information about how effectively their various methods of governance are working or about needs they have for outside support, or about anything else requiring discussion. The processes by which this dialogue takes place could also be discussed and will evolve as the decontraction proceeds.
This ongoing dialogue will also lead to friendships being formed and maintained between individuals in the various communities, whether leaders or "rank and file" members, which will further encourage a collective social integration to take place. Obviously Western society, being currently based on large groupings of people, has a head-start on this process, with friendships already existing between people in many different communities. However in other parts of the world where such links between communities are not as strong, encouraging this would be a priority.
5.4 Build a Decentralised Network
The decontraction would result in a rich, decentralised network coming into being to replace the contracted, hierarchical one of today. As I said earlier, exactly what structure this network would have would depend upon the nature of the nodes (i.e. individuals) available to populate it. However, it would necessarily be based not on a scale-free structure but on something more stable and able to mediate larger amounts of information. Exactly how this would look is not yet clear as even the fourth type of network alluded to by Smith in his network paper seems not yet to be understood. More work is clearly needed in this area to understand this fourth type as well as the difference in structure between a centauric and an aperspectival anarchy.
5.5 Facilitate Meaningful Communication
However, what we can say is that, in the integral view, the links that hold the network together would be ones of meaningful communication, so we should endeavour to build means of facilitating this. The internet may have a role to play, although maybe not as large a one as many in the "tech" community imagine. Meaningful communication is hard to sustain across electronic networks only, but it flourishes in face-to-face contexts. The internet is essentially an externalisation of the network of meaningful communication and as such tends towards cognitively-biased, dissociative and flatland forms (as well as appearing to bring out the worst in human nature!). It should be at most a tool and not a living environment as it has become for many today.
5.6 Working With the Secondary Mandala
Another tool available to help the decontraction proceed smoothly is the secondary mandala that I outlined earlier. Individuals constantly monitoring each field from the perspective of each aspect of openness, regulation / restraint, strength and purity would ensure that they are kept in constant balance. Detecting problems at an early stage would prevent small imbalances and pathologies from escalating into full-scale crises.
5.7 When Communities Go Wrong
As communities become more diversified and autonomous there is the potential that some of them may become pathological. Of course, it could be persuasively argued that the society we currently have is already pathological and that a decentralised society could at least be no worse. However, because many people have the idea that social problems can be handled better by a centralised government than by a decentralised network, something should be said on the subject.
Firstly, the notion that only centralisation has the organisational power to solve social problems stems largely from the common human foible of failing to comprehend how anything different to the status quo could possibly function successfully. Even in centralised development individuals are distrustful of any new way of doing things and fear that every new development or liberalisation will lead to immediate social collapse. Yet somehow society always finds a way to maintain cohesion and a successful level of functioning under the new system. So the fear of the new or the different needs to be jettisoned and the new proposals looked at objectively.
Secondly, because the process of decontraction that I am advocating is to be done slowly and gradually, it will become apparent if it is not working at a point where it can be reversed. If self-organisation does not take off as the network theorists envisage then there would still be enough central government in existence for it to take control once again. And contingency plans could be made for this eventuality.
5.7.1 Facilitate Movement / Walking Away
However, the antidote to pathological communities arising in a decentralising society is to facilitate the means for individuals to leave situations that are not working for them. Mobility would need to be increased and the means for re-settling people in other communities to be enhanced.
In the early stages, while centralised control still exists, government should monitor communities to ensure that individuals are free to leave them at any point and are not being coerced into remaining. Such coercion could be physical, psychological or on very subtle subconscious levels and society as a whole should watch for all of them. When such coercion is detected, there should first of all be dialogue between central government and the community leaders to decide what can be done to rectify the problem. If this fails then measures should become progressively more intrusive until people are removed physically if necessary.
In a fully decentralised and uncontracted society it will be harder for such situations to arise in the first place, because the autonomous structure of the network will tend to ensure the existence of a collective immune system that would suck pathology out of communities before it has a chance to take root. This is through analogy with other levels, on which autonomous holons always possess such an immune system. If some community, sangha or cult does become unhealthy and coercive then members of the surrounding communities may need to talk to one another to decide what should be done.
The threat that such interventions could turn into vigilantism would exist while there were still a degree of pathology in the human character structure, but while that were the case centralised government would still exist and it would have more control over the situation. As decentralisation proceeds, government would dialogue with the surrounding communities and allow them a greater degree of influence over matters. Its input would be largely advisory. As decentralisation is completed and individuals become more centauric, the threat of rogue elements acting impulsively would be reduced, simply because such action is anathema to the calm, wise character of community elders who are centered in integral, centauric awareness. There would be much dialogue with the wayward community, discussion between leaders and consultation with experts before any action was taken.
5.7.2 Who Protects the Vulnerable
Likewise, on the question of self-organisation, some readers may be wondering who, in a society without centralised control, will protect the vulnerable and infirm. Asking this question is to fail to understand that a society without central control does not mean a society without structure. In fact there will be more structure in an uncontracted society, and structure actually atrophies under centralisation. When individuals are more grounded in their bodies and hearts, and dissociation and apathy overcome, compassion for the vulnerable will naturally be present.
The elderly and infirm would then be integrated into the heart of the community where they can be cared for properly in a network of personal relationships, simply because uncontracted, centauric individuals wouldn't have it any other way.
5.8 Shadow Work
Many aspects of the collective growth process that would need to take place can be understood through analogy with the process of individual growth. One such aspect is shadow integration.
During this process, individuals dedicated to bringing the collective shadow to public attention will be needed. Many individuals are already doing this work, and in particular the conspiracy community has accomplished a great deal in elucidating the forces that really run society. This is a type of mass Jungian analysis on the collective consciousness. Their insights are still being resisted by the public at large but in an uncontracting society they would be more readily considered on their merits.
5.9 Blueprint for a Sangha
Much of the above, although discussed in terms of society as a whole, could form a blueprint for the modern sangha. The philosophy of decentralisation and of leaders empowering their disciples would mean that spiritual teachers should see their task as one of increasing the psychological and spiritual "weight" of their followers and of encouraging them to widen their own sphere of influence and network of connections. Their task is also allow their followers to become autonomous individuals, capable of directing their own future spiritual development, and not one of making them dependent upon themselves forever.
6 A Few Thoughts on Some Specifics
I'd like to now offer a few thoughts on concrete actions that can be taken during the decontraction to allow it to proceed more smoothly.
6.1.1 Economic Sphere
188.8.131.52 End Usury / Fractional Reserve Banking
Obviously a major factor holding back the decontraction of the social holon is over-centralisation in the economic sphere. If is commonly said that we are now in a situation where 50% of the world's wealth is owned by just 1% of the population. In order for decentralisation to occur, rectifying this is essential.
According to the conspiracy theorists and money reformists, the root cause of this contraction lies in the banking system. The nuts-and-bolts mechanics of this system are highly complex and understood only in their entirety by experts, but the fundamentals can be boiled down to simple principles and readily comprehended by the layman. Although many industry insiders (especially those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo) will no doubt say that the conspiracy theorist's understanding of the system is overly-simplistic, I have never seen a rebuttal of these basic points.
According to the monetary-reformists, the two principles that underpin the banking system are the practice of usury and the fractional reserve system.
Taking the second of these first, the fractional reserve system is the means by which banks are able to lend out more money than they actually have stored with them by depositors. The theory goes that originally banks would only lend out what physical money - gold - they had in storage. Eventually, however, came the advent of more convenient paper certificates to represent the deposits, and these came to be generally accepted as currency. When this occurred the bankers realised that they could get away with creating extra certificates out of nothing and lending them too, allowing them to massively increase their profits. And as long as all the holders of certificates did not try to redeem them for the physical gold they represented, they could do so without consequence.
It is a strange, and not commonly known, fact of modern society that we have abrogated the right to create money to private corporations (i.e. private individuals) rather than keeping it in the public sphere where it could be done for the good of society. This is basically legalised forgery.
This first practice was combined with usury, the charging of interest on the money lent. In essence this means that when a bank lends out $10 it demands $11 in return. Now, the original $10 is created by the bank, but the extra $1 interest payment is not and so has to be repaid from the money already in circulation. This has two consequences. Firstly, it means that the banking system is inherently centralising and has the long-term effect of pulling all the money in existence in the direction of the financial system (while offering no positive service in return). Secondly, it means that after a certain point there is never enough money in circulation in order to repay the principal. The only way to keep the economy afloat, therefore, is for society to borrow still more money to pay off the original debt, which leads to a vicious cycle of enforced borrowing and debt-slavery. In this way the economy limps along from year to year struggling to pay off the previous debt and having the money sucked out of it into the financial sector at the expense of the rest of society.
The banking system therefore acts like a noose around the neck of a society, constantly strangling the free flow of capital through the social body. It could be argued and indeed some theorists do so, that this system of money creation is the main social problem to be tackled. It certainly looks to be the main source of contraction in the economic sphere, or at least the one that needs looking at as a first priority.
Many writers have discussed this problem in more detail than I have been able to here. David Icke has addressed it in several of his works and Charles Eisenstein has written a very lucid account of the problem in his book Sacred Economics.
Several alternative methods of money creation have been proposed and I don't have the economic expertise to suggest which is best or which correlates with a centauric anarchy. All of them can be analysed and tried in different communities once the process of liberalisation is underway. It is hard for any of them to be worse than the system we currently have and human diligence will soon detect and rectify any problems that arise.
184.108.40.206 Allow Creation of New Currencies
Once the economy has been stabilised in a new mode of functioning it could then be liberalised even further. Eventually there should be complete economic freedom, that is the freedom to engage in any economic activity desired, including the creation of new currencies. This freedom would be balanced by the widespread understanding of the harm caused by pernicious economic practices such as immoral money creation and usurious lending and individuals would voluntarily refrain from such things, as well as avoiding dealing with those who did not. Such restraint may not need to be enshrined in law, but enforced by individuals through wisdom and self-restraint.
220.127.116.11 Discipline in Spending and Use of Resources
To balance the increased flow of capital that would be available once the banking problem is solved, individuals and communities would also practice self-regulation and restraint in their use of resources. They do this already of course, mainly because funds are limited for most under the current system but in the future they will continue to do so as an act of diligent stewardship and to ensure that money is always available in sufficient quantities for important purposes when needed.
6.1.2 Social Sphere
18.104.22.168 End Censorship / Libel Laws
In the public media sphere the rolling back of all centralised legislation would mean the end of such things as the libel laws. Obviously this must be done slowly and carefully, with the degree of liberalisation perhaps being based on the number of lawsuits being brought in any particular region at any one time.
In the current state of society, an immediate abolition of libel laws would lead to a free-for-all, but as individuals become more self-regulating they will naturally ensure they do full and proper research into a situation before making allegations and will not do so frivolously. The accused will then have recourse to defend themselves should they wish to do so and demand full unmitigated apologies and restoration if allegations turn out to be incorrect. In such cases the conscience of the person making the allegation as well as the scrutiny of society will ensure that the situation is rectified.
22.214.171.124 Strengthen The Arts and Religion
During the process of decontraction but while central government still exists those valuable social spheres that have been allowed to atrophy under the current system should be strengthened by a gradual influx of new funding. This capital could initially be made available from taxation, if it were allowed to persist, but would eventually be a spontaneous flowing of money from society towards those functions it considers worthwhile. Individuals will have their own ideas about which fields should receive this new funding, and will thrash this out through dialogue, but no doubt the arts and religion, much undervalued at present, would be high on the list.
126.96.36.199 Widen the Scope of Education
As discussed earlier, the scope of education would also be widened to include the education of body, energy and the emotions of the individual as well as the mind. Reform of the education system is a topic too vast to be discussed here and many philosophies have been developed in the area. All of them could be tried and the effects scrutinised to see which are most effective. The mandala model, for example, offers a promising integral framework for the development of new educational systems.
6.1.3 How Will We Get Things Done?
One question that many readers are probably asking at this point is how, in a society based on self regulation and autonomy, individuals would manage to co-ordinate action to achieve large-scale goals. To answer this I refer once again to the fact that in a centauric anarchy individuals would still bind together into "hierarchical" structures, but that these bonds would be ones of love and respect rather than of power and control. It would therefore still be fully possible to create complex groupings of people gathered together to achieve a common purpose and, in fact, these groupings would have a richer structure than the rather simplistic "command and control" power hierarchies of today.
In a world without force or coercion, individuals would choose which projects or organisations to get involved with, and would then remain for as long as respect were present between them and those around them. They would allow themselves to be influenced by others, but any final decision about their actions would remain with themselves.
Such arrangements would necessitate the re-introduction of the personal into the collective sphere - that is, personal judgment, thought and intuition. Currently it is believed that too much of the personal leads to the pathology of one individual taking over large groups of people and creating havoc, and that it must therefore be stripped out and replaced by abstract procedures and protocols that protect against this. These would no doubt still exist in a centauric anarchy (try building an airport without them!) but I believe they would be augmented in the public sphere by a resurgence of the personal.
The fear that charismatic individuals can do harm is really a problem only with the "command and control" hierarchies of today, where an individual can assume a position of power and use it for nefarious purposes. In a decentralised network any such personal pathology will be absorbed by the network and its effect lessened. In extreme cases the network will facilitate the walking away of individuals thus affected by pathological leaders.
6.2 Developing World
While I have tried to keep most of the preceding points as "global" as possible, being a Westerner and having lived only in the West, I am naturally biased in towards seeing the problems of that particular society over others. While I believe that the mandala/network model also has something to say about the problems of the developing world, my thoughts on that will be as an outside observer.
6.2.1 Cease Exploitation
Once the contraction around the economy is relaxed and individuals become freer to choose their financial interactions the West will cease exploiting the resources and labour of developing countries, particularly through debt-slavery. These countries will then be free to use their own money in a manner of their own choosing, for the good of their own populations.
6.2.2 Build Communication
In general and, again, this is an outsider's observation, the need for decentralisation is not so prevalent in developing countries as it is in the West. But what they do need is more structure, particularly at the middle and higher levels of coordination.
To this end we should endeavour to build stronger networks of communication between the different communities in these countries. Ideally these would be based primarily on face-to-face contact, which will necessitate an improvement in transport links between the major cities and smaller communities. The internet, with the imperfections already noted, should also be made more effective as a tool for these societies to use to build contacts across their society.
As always, meaningful communication should be encouraged and facilitated, both between community leaders and between "rank and file" members. A rich network of communication needs to be constructed to facilitate the dialogue that will allow communities in the developing world to agree on their own needs and to discuss ways of meeting them.
6.2.3 Redistribute Resources
As part of the process of leveling global inequality, as well as of making restitution for past injustices, there would need to be a controlled redistribution of wealth from developed to developing world. This should be written into legislation while central government still exists. If there is still a need for it after this time it can continue to be done more spontaneously through social programmes.
If anyone is fearful that this may leave Western nations impoverished then it may do so, but this would be seen as a necessary price to pay for the rebalancing of global society and for making peace with the past. It will also be the case that once the contraction around the West's banking system is relaxed, that more money will be generally available in any case, meaning the funds to achieve this can be found with less deprivation.
7 The Society the Illuminati Want
I have so far avoided talking about the global conspiracy in relation to the mandala schema. I have done this because the model and the prescriptions that follow from it do not depend on the existence of any such conspiracy for their validity, relying instead only on the idea that there is a contraction in the heart of human society that needs to be released.
However, the evidence for the reality of an Illuminati cult controlling world affairs from behind the scenes is extensive and in my experience persuades the majority of people who look at it with an open mind. Vast numbers of people who are now doing so are coming to the conclusion that something is going on, even if different researchers disagree over the details.
I outlined my own view of the global conspiracy in an earlier paper and will not do so again here, with the interested reader being instead referred to that article for further information. Here I would instead like to say something about what the collective mandala model tells us about the end goal of that conspiracy and about the world that the Illuminati would like to create.
7.1 As Contracted as Possible
In the context of the mandala model being presented here, and from surveying the world the Illuminati have thus-far created, it is obvious that they would like human society to be as contracted as possible, as in this state it seems to be vastly more controllable. A large number of conspiracy theorists believe that this contraction starts with the inherently centralising nature of the financial system, as has already been noted. However, as researchers such as Icke have uncovered, the Illuminati also have agents working in the other spheres, too, including the media, the arts, the military, religion and education.
The Illuminati agenda in each of the social spheres seems to be to imbalance that field according to a counter-application of the principles of the secondary mandala. I'll summarise just some of the ways they have done this, picking a few examples from literally hundreds:
7.2 Flatland Anarchy, Controlled From the Shadows
Earlier I discussed the existence of two different types of anarchy, the centauric and the aperspectival. The centauric is a rich, warm society based on personal autonomy, the emotions, the body, the tertiary process and self-regulation. In contrast, aperspectival anarchy is based on the repression of the body and emotions, the fixation with approaching the world through cognition, and with the externalisation of self-regulation onto the need to regulate others, turning society into a prison camp.
I believe such a state of aperspectival anarchy is the end point of the global conspiracy. This needs saying because most conspiracy theorists assume that the end point is intended to be a global government. They believe this because only a centralised government seems to offer a way for the Illuminati to keep control of society to the extent that they would need to in order to realise their agenda. However, it could be that the Illuminati know that centralisation will break down at some stage, possibly through the phenomena of scale-free networks being overloaded, and that a decentralised society will result. This may not actually be a bad thing from their perspective, for if they can force society into a state of aperspectival anarchy they may actually be able to covertly and very effectively control this state-of-affairs from the shadows.
The aperspectival stage is based on a psychological, and therefore collective hierarchy, albeit at an end point of hierarchical development that no longer looks like a hierarchy. The hidden hierarchy in this stage has been pointed out many times by Ken Wilber and now we could say that its collective manifestation would be a society that looks decentralised and anarchistic but which actually has a hierarchy hidden in its shadow. In this situation the mechanisms of control will actually be more entrenched than they are today, but also more subtle and insidious, and completely and utterly hidden from conscious awareness.
It could be argued that this is the real meaning of the freemasonic motto "Ordo Ab Chao", or "Order Out of Chaos". Icke and others take it to mean that you create chaos and then impose your desired order to bring this chaos to an end. However, in the context being discussed here it could mean a situation that looks like never-ending chaos but has a covert order known only to the occult initiates in the shadows. The so-called new world order (the generally accepted term for the end-point of the conspiracy), I suspect, would be a situation of apparently decentralised chaos and fragmentation taken to ever higher and higher spiritual levels by an Illuminati completely hidden from public view.
7.3 Every Child Raised in Monarch
In order to achieve a society in which individuals are embedded within the aperspectival stage, it would be necessary to traumatise them from birth in order to shut them off from the subconscious and the body and to entrap them in the rational mind. Obviously the normal terrors of a modern upbringing are enough to traumatise most into an emotionally-repressive flatland existence, but in order to take their control to ever higher levels, the Illuminati would no doubt want to make this traumatisation even more extreme.
The most traumatic upbringing possible is one of Monarch Mind Control, and I believe that to this end the Illuminati would want to create a society in which every single child is raised according to that protocol. A full discussion of Monarch is beyond the scope of this article, and technical treatments of it are rare in the public sphere. The best so far written is the book The Illuminati Formula Used to Create an Undetectable Total Mind Controlled Slave by Cisco Wheeler and Fritz Springmeier.
In brief, Monarch Mind Control, or to use the more general terminology of "Trauma-Based Mind Control" (TBMC) is a subset of Satanic Ritual Abuse and a means of traumatising a child through the systematic application of physical, sexual, emotional and spiritual torture until her mind dissociates completely and creates a Multiple Personality System. The personalities (or "alters") within this system are then "programmed" through the further use of torture, hypnosis and magickal techniques, both to give the personality the characteristics desired by the programmer and to put certain programming scripts in place. The trauma is so extreme that no memory of it is ever retained by the conscious mind, and victims of TBMC hardly ever know it unless the alter system begins to break down in later life, which rarely happens.
One of the effects of this process is that the individual can be programmed to go into these alternate personalities when given certain "triggers" (much as in a post-hypnotic suggestion). A trigger could be a word, a visual cue or even the coming-around of a certain calendar date and time. When the individual switches into an alter she then acts according to its personality and programming script, whether this directs her to carry out a specific task, attend a ritual or something else. When the programming has run its course she will then switch back to the main personality without any memory of what happened during the intermediate time. In this way individuals can be mind-controlled their whole lives without any knowledge of their actions being retained in conscious awareness.
Parents who were subjected to TBMC themselves are programmed to go into these alters at various times in the raising of their own children and to deliver them up for programming of their own. In this way multiple generations of entire families can be subjected to TBMC and none of them will ever consciously know it. This is an astonishing fact and especially so given that Springmeier estimates that 2 million Americans have been subjected to Monarch Mind Control since the second world war, and that there will be comparable numbers in other countries.
From observing how they have worked thus far, it is logical to assume that the Illuminati would like this for as many members of society as possible, ideally everyone. Given how Monarch programming works in theory it would be entirely possible for an entire society to be subjected to it and to be delivering their own children up to it for generation after generation without ever knowing it. This would create a society with the maximum shadow possible.
On the conscious level individuals would be living in the aperspectival structure and in a flatland anarchy, believing themselves to be free and believing that the fragmentation and alienation they see around them to be the price of that freedom. Yet outside of their awareness would exist a mass of the most horrific type of trauma that would be compounded generation after generation, without anyone ever consciously knowing it was there.
We know from the accounts of victims that deprogramming an individual from TBMC is a formidable task and that the pain involved is immense. If this situation were therefore to become entrenched collectively over many generations, it would need some very powerful spiritual forces to overcome, which is why it must be overturned before it reaches such a point.
The amount of ground that I have attempted to cover in this article is immense. I have therefore only managed to scratch the surface of the implications of a mandala/network view for our understanding of the structure of the integral society. A full, book-length treatment of the topic would be necessary to do it justice, which, unfortunately, is beyond my capabilities as a writer.
The essay has necessarily been kept at a high level, and most of the nitty-gritty details on how the various spheres would function in a centauric anarchy would need to be worked out by individuals in those spheres.
However, I believe I have outlined a plausible theory behind why decentralisation is a viable mode of social organisation, and why it would lead to a healthier society and human character structure than we see today.
Others may, of course, disagree and, as always, this essay is intended only to stimulate debate about the issues involved and about the relative merits of the various holarchic models. Such debate has dwindled in recent years as interest in it in integral circles appears to have waned. I believe it desperately needs to be re-ignited and hope that the integral community will do so before the global situation becomes any more grave.
 O'Connor, J. (2015; 2017)
 O'Connor, J. (2006)
 Arieti, S. (1980)
 Wilber, K. (1985). Note: Wilber's views outlined here are not contradicted by his later work.
 Washburn, M. (1995)
 Washburn, M. (1995)
 In states of psychological pathology the individual is situated off-centre, so to speak and tends towards identification with one of the mandala's cardinal points.
 Arieti, S. (1980)
 Wilber, K. (2000)
 It is interesting to note that the stage at which all objects are fully differentiated in awareness (the aperspectival or Green vMeme) is also the stage at which "uniqueness" becomes important to the individual. It is as though every object has become fully separated from all associations and memberships and is seen as a solitary entity in its own right.
The same thing happens collectively in a society that becomes identified with the aperspectival stage. In such a society individuals are seen as unique and are not judged or discriminated against based on any group that they do or do not belong to.
 Lynch, D. (2001)
 Technically the term information refers to something that it slightly different, but is close enough for our purposes.
 Norretranders, T. (1999)
 C.f. Charles Bennett's notion of logical depth.
 Wilber, K. (1996)
 C.f. Smith, A (2002)
 O'Connor, J. (2001); Smith, A. (2000)
 Icke, D. (2016)
 O'Connor, J. (2015, 2017).
 Reich, W. (1970)
 Fromm, E. (2001)
 Reich, W. (1970)
 C.f. The Posthuman World and Architects of Control. Many of these talks are available on http://www.youtube.com.
 Wilber, K. (1993)
 Smith, A. (2003)
 I will qualify this later on when I point out the difference between centauric and aperspectival anarchy.
 Lowen, A. (1971); (1994)
 According to Wilber it does not matter how many discrete stages you slice his continuous spectrum of consciousness into, and for our purposes here it does not matter whether there are two or three stages of vision-logic.
 Technically Wilber directs his critiques at a pathological form of Green that he calls the "Mean Green vMeme", but anyone who has read a his work soon realises that many of his criticisms are directed at (and legitimately apply to) Green in general.
 Wilber, K. (2017)
 From Wilber, quoting Charles Taylor:
"The resultant 'framework less agent' [pluralism, or the aperspectival worldview] says Taylor, 'is a monster,' motivated by 'deep incoherence and self-illusion which this denial involves.' This hierarchical denial of hierarchy involves an ethics of suppression, [emphasis in original] according to Taylor, because 'layers of suppression' are required to so thoroughly conceal from oneself the sources of one's own judgments." Wilber, K. (2000). p36.
 I've nothing against students and was once one myself.
 O'Connor, J. (2001)
 There are many other things that could be said about the effect of contraction in an individual or collective mandala. One observation that mystics have made down the millenia is that contraction in an individual creates a false self, commonly referred to as the ego that the contracted individual both believes is their real self, and which they project outwards to the world.
I would suggest that contraction in a social holon creates a similar facade, albeit collectively. This facade would be held in place by all of the institutions of that society, including politics and the media, and present a vision of that society which may be quite different from the lives of the people actually living in it.
Utilising the principles of the one-scale model we can detect a causal relationship here. The contraction and false-self of the social holon get passed down via the media, education system and family, into the individual, creating contraction and a facade in the developing child. Most then become trapped in this false persona for the entirety of their lives.
This is clearly a vast subject, on which whole books have been written, and which is beyond the scope of this paper. The only point I would make is that this integration of the one-scale model and the concept of the mandala has the potential to provide a containing framework for understanding such problems as well as for developing solutions to them.
 Adi Da Samraj made the following observation in one of his talks:
"And, one of the places you tend not to see [animals periodically enter into a natural contemplative state] very much, or you see them do it less, are circumstances of confinement, such as zoos as they have been traditionally, or perhaps circuses that are not run properly, or where the animals are not treated properly. [When] animals lose their freedom of motion and their relatedness in the natural order of their own pattern, they become less contemplative and more disturbed. If you put a lion in a circus train car with the bars on it and all the rest, it will just walk back and forth, back and forth, and never stop, it seems - they lie down every now and then, of course, but they are disturbed by it, they become neurotic. They exhibit more of what human beings can identify as their own state of egoity. Why do you think human beings are disturbed? Why is human egoity what it is? If you observe how it appears in evidence in non-humans, it suggests that human beings are the way they are because they are confined. And not just confined by walls and bars, some people are, and they get very disturbed there, walk back and forth, get catatonic, or whatever their reaction, but they certainly get disturbed when they can't move freely and associate freely and engage in the patterns that they are habituated to. It's torment - to be isolated from other human beings is a kind of torture, unless you embrace it as a discipline and deal with the reaction, [which is] what solitaries have to do. So human egoity is a characteristic, observed otherwise in non-humans when non-humans are confined, and yet human beings exhibit this even when they are not in any circumstances that you might call confinement... You can be on vacation on Waikiki beach and look like you're having a swell time with your drink with the umbrella in it, laughing, and it's paradise. And yet if you really observe people under those circumstances they're still exhibiting forms of disturbance. And what happens when they leave the beach? What happens after they leave Waikiki? What happens after they leave Hawaii or whatever? If you see them in their life-span they are disturbed, they are always acting as if confined even when not apparently confined. So what's confining? It's the self-contraction. It's not the mere fact of the organism, it's the self-contraction of the organism that is the critical nature of egoity operative in human beings and which I am addressing."
Samraj, Adi Da. (2004). 00:27
I am arguing that the human disturbance observed by Adi Da is indeed caused by the self-contraction, but that this self-contraction is itself largely caused by the corresponding contraction in human society (the immediately higher-order holon).
 Sharaf, M. (1994)
 This point follows from the principles of the one-scale model, in which holons of all stages, including families and lone individuals, are allowed to exist in relative autonomy within the overall structure.
 Of course, these should be handled locally for as long, only, as they exist at all.
 Lowen, A. (1994)
 I will touch briefly on the topic of pathological communities later on.
 Not the faux-devolution that sometimes manifests in the modern political sphere.
 This is an educated guess.
 In the one-scale model it can be observed that one property of autonomous holons is that they posses some sort of immune system.
 Treanor, J. (13th October 2015)
 Icke, D. (1994); (1995)
 Eisenstein, C. (2011)
 One thing we would need to be cautious about is that the alternative system we put in place is not the underpinning of an aperspectival rather than a centauric anarchy.
 O'Connor, J. (2012)
 Obviously as the "conspiracy" paper is now five years old I would make changes to it if writing it at the current time. Aside from minor ones, such as, given its current direction, no longer endorsing the InfoWars website, the main change I would make is to introduce the concept of aperspectival anarchy as the end-point of the conspiracy. This will be discussed below.
 This alleged insider document was said to have been found inside a second-hand photocopier.
 Many conspiracy theorists would also no doubt point to the existence of writings and statements by known Illuminati assets talking about a coming world government. However, from the fact that these statements have ever made it into the public arena at all, it is possible that they are deliberate disinformation. The real agenda is rarely made public.
 For someone who has read extensively in the areas of Ritual Abuse, Trauma-Based Mind Control and Project Monarch, this is a reasonable statement. Being raised in such an environment exceeds in trauma even an upbringing in a war-zone.
 Springmeier, F., Wheeler, C. (1996)
 Some individuals have come forward after deprogramming and claimed to have even been programmers in the cult without knowing it. For example, search online for the story of a lady who went by the pseudonym of "Svali".
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