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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Dr. Joseph Dillard is a psychotherapist with over forty year's clinical experience treating individual, couple, and family issues. Dr. Dillard also has extensive experience with pain management and meditation training. The creator of Integral Deep Listening (IDL), Dr. Dillard is the author of over ten books on IDL, dreaming, nightmares, and meditation. He lives in Berlin, Germany. See: integraldeeplistening.com and his YouTube channel.
Western Groupthink is Putin's Weapon
Why is it so difficult to understand that democratic pluralism and wokeness pale before a nuclear Götterdämmerung?
The Wall Street Journal is the epitome of Western main stream media. Along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, it can be counted on to parrot and reinforce the narratives fed to it by the CIA and the US deep state. These three served as major purveyors of the lies that justified the war on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of children and dismembered Libya, previously the wealthiest country on the African continent. We Westerners have consistently supported sanctions on Russia that are causing gas prices to skyrocket, shutting down German industry, and generating growing, biting inflation in Europe and the EU. For the Wall Street Journal to publish Hudson Institute Fellow Walter Russel Mead's article, “Wokeness is Putin's Weapon,” is at least curious, if not outright amazing.
In this essay I am going to show how Mead's argument not only applies to “wokeness,” which is his theme, but to Integralism and WILPs in general (Western, Integral, Liberal, Progressives). Western exceptionalism has become its own worst enemy.
Mead begins by giving the Western narrative its obligatory pound of flesh by evoking the delusional mythology that Kiev is giving Russia more than it bargained for on the battlefield. This despite the fact that Ukraine continues to lose between 500 and 1000 combatants a day, Russian artillery continues to pulverize Ukrainian battalions, and every day finds more Ukrainian territory lost to the Russian juggernaut.
Mead also claims that Russia has had the most success in the realms of economics and politics, citing the strength of the Ruble, the boomerang effect of Western sanctions, such as its embargo on Russian gas on Western economies. He writes,
Led by China and joined by India and Brazil, countries around the world are choosing trade with Russia over solidarity with the Group of Seven.
But, as I document in my essay, “Why We are Losing the War with Russia”, Russia is not only winning the economic war, it is winning the informational and military wars as well. Western exceptionalists continue to have a hard time accepting this reality, much less bringing themselves to any significant contemplation of its implications.
Mead states that in order to prevent “another major setback” such as those in Georgia, Crimea, the South China Sea and the Middle East, the West must “recalibrate” against the “revisionist powers” (China, Russia and Iran), and “rethink assumptions and conventional doctrines that have demonstrably failed.” Mead is daring to ask Westerners to rethink their “West good, Russia/China BAD!” song that they collectively sing from the same doctrinaire hymnal.
Amazingly, Mead has the audacity to pronounce the West both “decadent and vulnerable.” Is this heresy, betrayal, or both? Could it possibly be the first glimmers of genuine awakening, replacing the Western charade of values exceptionalism and wokeness? I am not holding my breath, but it is at least an interesting development, to find a counter-argument that challenges the prevailing Western groupthink in such a prestigious organ of Western propaganda as the Wall Street Journal.
Mead lists two Western vulnerabilities in particular, protectionism, “which reduces the economic attraction of the Western system for developing countries”, and self-righteous “values-based” entitlements “with its origins in the age of European imperialism.”
Mead is using code to call out the usurious lending practices of the IMF and the World Bank, designed to exploit the global south. These practices have long made the global south captive to chronic fleecing by Western corporations. Mead acknowledges that appeals to Western democratic, pluralistic, and human rights exceptionalism have served as the bludgeon in the West's propaganda war against not only Russia, but the entire global south.
Why else, people ask, are Britain and France permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, while there is only one permanent member from Asia, and none from Africa, the Islamic world or Latin America? What possible justification is there for including Italy and Canada in the exclusive G-7?
Regarding decadence, Mead points to the precipitous descent of the West into a bottomless pit of prerational, self-destructive wokeness.
The West's “new, post-Judeo-Christian values agenda divides the West,” as culture wars at home “don't promote unity overseas.”
No kidding. No one likes to have a foreign code of values forced on them, particularly when it challenges their definition of family. When wars of choice are waged in the name of peace, when foreign holdings are appropriated at will, when atrocities on the West Bank, such as the killing of US citizens by Israeli Stasi or the funding of ongoing civilian deaths in Yemen, such injustices have a way of adding up. Cumulatively, they lead to determined resistance, which is what the West is meeting in Russia, China, and throughout the global south. Who would have thunk it?? That resistance, epitomized by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, is met by outraged howls from Western privilege.
Mead writes that “the West's increasingly 'woke' values agenda is not as credible or popular as liberals hope,” noting that President Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia this week puts America's leftist hypocrisy on full displayreminding the world “of the limits on Western commitments to human rights.”
Clearly, there is no problem with “the leader of the free world” groveling before Mohammed bone Sawman to beg for more oil so that rage at the gas pump won't torpedo the Democratic party's re-election chances this November. Of course it's not just “leftist” hypocrisy, as Mead, libertarians, and conservatives like to imagine, to redirect attention from their own corruption. Western exceptionalism is not simply a wet dream of liberals. Anyone that thinks that a Republican win or the replacing of the present crop of Atlanticists in Europe is going to make any real difference has been sipping some strong kool-aid straight from Jim Jones' Guiana heavenly retreat.
Mead just can't get himself to acknowledge that we are facing pernicious collective WILP groupthink that has dumbed down the reasoning capacity of Westerners in general, whether liberal or conservative, intelligent or ignorant, Ivy League trained or from Dogpatch, USA. It's like mental kudzu, smothering any glimmerings of rationality in the West, or like a cognitive version of the covid-19 pandemic.
Mead and Westerners can only go so far in their recognition of this stark, in-your-face reality. “It's the woke liberals that are the problem. We libertarians, conservatives, Jews, and Integralists are too smart to fall for groupthink.” Theirs is a position of limited defensive retreat, a giving ground by sacrificing Western liberalism while digging in one's heels and refusing to recognize that the underlying premises of Western economics, politics, culture, and media have become not merely bankrupt, but profoundly self-destructive. Mead writes:
The moral and political confusion of the contemporary West is the secret weapon that the leaders of Russia and China believe will bring the American world order to its knees. Messrs. Putin and Xi might be wrong; one certainly hopes that they are. But their bet on Western decadence has been paying off handsomely for more than a decade. Western survival and global flourishing require more thought and deeper change than the Biden administration and its European allies can currently imagine.
Of course, none of this absolves Russia, China, or the global south of their responsibility to act in accordance with international law, and none of it invalidates their right to protect themselves against predatory exploitation.
What's the cure? Westerners need to get out more. That means they need to try seeing the world from the perspectives of the global south, the Chinese, and yes, the Russians. That means surrendering their religion of exceptionalism, while acting like economic and physical security don't matter to the vast majority of the world's population, because… “democracy,” and “values.”
Why is it so difficult to understand that democratic pluralism and wokeness pale before the priorities of a starving family, an environmental apocalypse, and a nuclear Götterdämmerung? Integrals ought to be leading the charge on this issue. They have to, if they want to maintain relevance instead of being relegated to a historical footnote. But instead of looking at how they have brought the current collapse upon themselves we hear mostly about democracy vs authoritarianism, a Russian desire to revive some past historical greatness, self-righteous virtue signaling, and in general, the blaming of the “other” rather than a simple taking of responsibility.
It's past time for integralistsand the West in generalto move beyond claims of 2nd Tier exceptionalism and cognitive multi-perspectivalism to an experiential multi-perspectivalism. That is, genuinely and sincerely looking at the world from the perspective of the “other,” whether they be Palestinians in Gaza, children in Yemen, bombed civilians in the Donbas, the Chinese, or even Russia or Putin himself. If we don't, we will continue to be sucker-punched by people who will not shed a tear as our dogmatic claims of exceptionalism drive us into isolationism and irrelevance.