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INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber



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Edward Berge has been studying all things integral since 1998. He graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English Literature from Arizona State University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society. By profession he has been a massage therapist and is a retired professional liability insurance underwriter. By avocation he is dancer, researcher, writer, and art and literary lover and critic. He is an active participant in the Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality forum and blogs at Progressive Participatory Enaction.

The Fantastic Four Quad Rants

Edward Berge

The following is an edited version of my contribution to an Integral Stage video discussion by the above name between me, Bruce Alderman, Brent Cooper and Layman Pascal [1]. I highly recommend the entire video for their invaluable contributions.

I engaged in this discussion because I come from the working class. And I am really curious to see how our integral/metamodern metatheories can be translated down into effective policy to help the working class. I question whether us just providing those models to the working class will have any effect. So how then do we translate the principles that we promote in our metatheories into language that the working class understands and which will motivate them to voting and political behavior?

Education

One of the priorities of higher education is its availability. But right now, in the US at least, many people graduating from college can't find jobs. And their degree is pretty much useless in that sense. So they're having to take basic minimum wage jobs, or two or three of them, just to get by. We have to make a college degree meaningful again so that there's actually a place to work. Bruce can attest to this, getting his advanced degree and having a hell of a time getting a job. In the university system a job that pays you well enough, one on a tenure track, is almost impossible nowadays. Most teachers like Bruce are adjuncts. That fulfills, as Bruce said, part of his need to teach. But you also need to be rewarded in a way that provides for your basic needs and that's just not happening anymore. Part of the educational dilemma is having a job when you get done.

Also going back to education in the first place, public education's original goal was to provide it up to grade 12 for everyone, to make us better citizens. Part of my education growing up in grade school was civics class. We don't have that anymore. Civics class at least made us aware that there's other people in our society and how we fit into that. It taught us about the political system and representative government. It gave us an idea of how to participate in that. But these things are gone now from our public education system so that also needs a revamping.

Framing

Effecting societal change is a multi-pronged approach that requires something from all quadrants, all levels, all lines. That's part of our theme of a better integral metamodernism. How do we somehow coordinate all of these different angles of approach to solving our problems?

One of the reasons I chose the Human Torch as my Fantastic Four icon is because my preferred mode of affecting change is the political, and promoting the kinds of policies that lift up the working class. So framing has been one of my key roads to doing that. Using the Human Torch as my model I consider myself the Human Scorch because part of the framing process is to inflame our deepest emotions to motivate us to action.

I had posted something in our Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality Facebook group about inflaming ourselves with prayer. That was an injunction from my previous life in theurgy and Hermetic Qabalah. It was an injunction made famous by Aleister Crowley, that you need to invoke often and you need to inflame yourself with prayer. You need to get into the emotional feeling of what it is you're trying to accomplish. I related that to the modern cognitive linguistics of Lakoff and crew, who are saying pretty much the same thing from that perspective. That just providing abstract reasoning works for us eggheads but it doesn't motivate the masses. In fact it turns them off. They see us as an elite that are lost in this world of abstraction and social engineering. I think that's a large part of why Trump won in the first place, this revolt against the elite. So cognitive framing has to be simple and direct. It has got to reach us emotionally, to motivate us to do something. Part of that is doing it from a higher perspective, meaning love and compassion.

But the other part of it is engaging in the trench warfare of down and dirty name- calling. The right is excellent at this as was Trump. You can see how much and how many that motivated. Well this can be also engaged from the progressive side with the holistic goals in mind of helping people. We can love and be compassionate toward each other but at the same time, when you're dealing with a fascist upsurge as represented by the modern Republican Party then they need to be confronted with trench warfare. That's why I call myself the Human Scorch, because part of my framing is ridiculing them, name-calling them. Usually it's not just name-calling but also an accurate statement of how repugnant they are by what they're doing to our democracy.

The attack dog stance is from the point of view of compassionate care and love for those workers, however they identify politically. It's the Republican Party that I'm attacking, not the workers. In fact the kind of progressive policies that are promoted by Bernie, The Squad and the Progressive Caucus are designed to help all working-class people so that they can earn a living wage, have security in their job, get benefits, get medical care. The hope is that by providing those basic needs, and through education and training, then people can move up Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Then we can reasonably talk about getting them to pursue some of the things that we have the privilege of doing, like self-actualization. When I talk about trench warfare I'm talking about the Party itself, not the people who identify with it.

So for me effective framing engages both the positive and negative aspects. Both are necessary if we ever want to defeat these fascist forces. If we don't democracy is literally at stake.

Metaprogressive and Post-progressive Politics

I brought up Layman's essay on the subject [2] where he comes at it from those two sides. One was the integral and metamodern communities promoting a new vision and the other side of it was getting into the nitty-gritty of the politics, how and where do we intervene in the political system in order to enact our high ideals. As I said, my chosen path was the latter, getting involved in translating down the high ideals into where we are as a society right now in their own terms so that we can reach the masses, communicate with them, have some impact. To me right now the leading edge of that is the progressive movement in our US political system, Bernie Sanders being a prime example.

One way to get practical results is through the legislative process of enacting laws. That is why my blog [3] is focused on politics, public policy and promoting laws that set up the necessary prerequisite conditions for a more lofty integral or metamodern policy. Hence I focus on the current leading edge in such politics, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and its leading lights like Sanders and AOC. I promote those candidates, their issues and the underlying values that shape those issues, as they have the best chance at enaction.

In my political framing I do not mention integral or metamodern theory but rather focus on the progressive issues at hand in their own terms. This is to reach a much wider voting audience, for laws have to be passed and we have to elect people to pass them. For most voters focusing on abstract ideals or models are perceived as the sort of elite social engineering that turns them and their votes off, since their current economic conditions belie the highfalutin promises that have been broken by those engineers. I take my cues for such framing from George Lakoff and Thom Hartmann, both leading lights with large audiences and voter influence.

As noted above, this approach does not preclude integral, metamodern or postmetaphysical ideas and practices. I've written plenty on that too. [4] But that's for a different audience. For practical purposes, my blog is for a much wider audience who need to be persuaded via effecting framing to vote for the sort of representatives that will enact the sort of policies to set up the conditions for the lofty goals down the road. And to incite them to support those issues and get active in the political process. Hartmann's famous sign-off line goes something like this: Democracy requires we the people to get involved. Tag, you're it.

Picking a side: Bernie Sanders

Our prime example of progressivism has always been Bernie Sanders. He's been around a long time and knows the political ins and outs. During the primary he was leading the way because his framing addressed working class issues. He is a real progressive populist as opposed to the authoritarian kind of populism that Trump represented. There was a lot of crossover in both the Bernie and the Trump demographics because the issues were popular to both sides, that is, what is good for the working class and not the status quo. Bernie was excellent at that messaging and all throughout the beginning parts of the primary was leading considerably. But once again, in taking the side of the corporate democrats, Biden, Clinton and Obama conspired with all the other primary candidates to support Biden. That turned things around in South Carolina and then Super Tuesday. Their propaganda, supported by corporate media, won out because they know how to manipulate the populace. In supporting Bernie we're not just taking a side against Republican authoritarianism; we're taking a side against the Democratic Party neoliberalism.

Bernie's progressive populist messaging was effective but the corporate media machine were not giving him equal time and representation in the news. They were fluffing up Biden so media is another aspect of this problem. The progressive media we have is mostly on YouTube and in blogs. Corporate media is constantly promoting the status quo in terms of messaging. That's why I focus my framing and messaging using Bernie, AOC, The Squad and the Progressive Caucus as examples of where we make the best impact. In their case in the positive way for the public good because it has a considerable effect on we the people.

Green Social Liberalism

In Nordic Ideology Hanzi Freinacht talks about green social liberalism 1.0 and 2.0. We can define what politically works in terms of happiness and democracy. The Nordic countries are always in the top 10 in both the World Happiness Report and the Democracy Index. I think that's partly why he uses them as a base from which to launch 2.0. So we have a good model of what seems to work, with examples of the kind of economy and politics they have, the kind of social programs they implement. The closest thing we have to that in the US is the Bernie Sanders movement and the Progressive Caucus.

Michael Moore did a very good documentary,Where to Invade Next. He goes around to various countries and asked how do you do things. He takes one example from each country, for example, how do you do prisons, how do you do social benefits etc. After he gets all these examples from several different countries at the end of the documentary he asked each of them where they got these ideas. Invariably each one of those country's representatives said they got them from the US from the FDR period onward. We've had a green social liberalism in the past, not perfect but still along those lines.

That's why I ask: How do we get from here to there? How do we get to our noble vision of 2.0, a metamodern or integral society? I suggest that we first have to get the US back up to speed on green social liberalism 1.0, setting the prerequisite conditions to go beyond it. Bernie, The Squad and the Progressive Caucus have the requisite values and policies to reinstate and update it. That's why I support that movement as a way to get from here to there.

Grounding Abstract Reason

I want to bring inThomas Frank, who I mentioned in our Facebook discussion. He wrote a book a few years back called Listen Liberal that is specifically about the topic. The Democratic Party used to be the party of labor. Then somewhere around Bill Clinton it got into the promoting the upper classes, particularly Wall Street and its completely abstract financial instruments devoid of any relation to a concrete economy. The Party decided to shift from labor into Wall Street because they had the money to pay the campaign bills.

Frank described this as a prime example of why the US economy crashed. These abstractions upon abstractions in the mortgage-backed securities had nothing supporting them from the bottom like actual, solid mortgages. Because of that they were creations designed to fail so that Wall Street could short them out and make a fortune. And that's exactly what happened.

It was part of the shift in the Democratic Party into the elitism of the intellectual abstract. The first Clinton had all these great social engineering ideas but they didn't translate down into the economy. In fact they made things worse in terms of prison populations and the economy. He maintained the conservative notion of trickle down, that if you just feed the rich everything will filter down to us. We have seen how that has failed terribly. That's why Frank and many others promote a return to the concrete labor movement, supporting the working class once again by giving them Union negotiating power for better wages, benefits and safe working conditions. All of that has been decimated by the power elite intellectuals. We have to return to the concrete issues of goods and services, and the people who produce them and make them. This is also a message to our integral and metamodern movements, which tend to be overly intellectual with socially engineered, top-down solutions. As we've noted in this discussion, these movements tend to be divorced from concrete practical application. Which relates to our previous discussion about the cognitive science of real and false reason. Per Lakoff and company real reason is based on the concrete, how our abstractions have to be tied to the concrete examples of daily life or else they fly off and become so abstract that they are divorced from that reality. He calls that false reason. We've talked about false consciousness in this discussion, a similar idea. Without such grounding our ephemeral hopes and ideas are like rising smoke being blown away by the wind, leaving only a fleeting trace of what might have been.

Notes

[1] The Integral Stage, "The Fantastic Four Quad Rants", Youtube, 5 Sept 2021.

[2] Layman Pascal, "Metaprogressive vs Post-Progressive", laymanpascal.substack.com, June 15 2021.

[3] "Reich on provisions in Build Back Better", proactiveprogressivepopulism.blogspot.com, October 12, 2021.

[4] For example here: Edward Berge, "From Capitalism to the Collaborative Commons", Integral Review, January 2019, Vol. 15, No. 1.



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