I am exceptionally republishing an important contribution by Joe Corbett within the context of debates in integral theory, which purportedly dominated the period of postmodernity that was ushered in after 1968.

By contrast, ‘left integralist’, such as Joe Corbett and my own ‘p2p theoretical’ approach, claim the next phase is marked by the importance of collaborative commons.

Joe Corbett makes the argument very cogently:

“One often hears within integral circles of the developmental oscillation between individual and collectivist orientations, so that, for instance, whereas modernity is characterized by an individual achievement ethos, postmodernity is characterized by a collectivist ethos, and therefore post-postmoden integral being and consciousness will be characterized once again by a more integrated individualist ethos, presumably one in which each individual becomes an innovative entrepreneur leading the way in a brave new world of John Galtian self-sufficiency and superhuman individualism.

My contention is that this vision is patently false and is based on a misunderstanding of postmodernism (green) that will require a complete reorientation of the direction and goals of the integral leadership and its community.

As Jurgen Habermas and Zygmunt Bauman say, postmodernity is not so much a transcendence of modernity as it is a hyper-modernity in which the goals and values of modernity are extended to people and society where once they were limited and circumspect. Women and minorities are granted rights once denied to them, and the truths of authority (from the white male heterosexual and imperialism to science itself) are put under the spotlight and hollowed-out of their sacred essence.

In a word, under postmodernity the myth of the given is dethroned, and with it the enlightenment myth of progress through the application of science and reason to social problems is exposed as a gender, class, and racial fraud that the white European male has imposed as a narrative on the world for his own advancement and self-aggrandizement. What began as a critique of religious superstition and authority under modernity ends in a critique of scientific materialism and political-economic authority under hyper-modernity (postmodernity).

Thus, what characterizes postmodernity above all is a kind of relativism that lacks moral and epistemological authority beyond the individual in what Norman O. Brown has called the loss of the Father, where there is no center, and self-identity is the only anchor left for individual stability and existential grounding. The vacuum is filled with narcissistic consumerism and the pursuit of money as an infantile anal-fecal fixation, patriotic flag-waving and its variant in vicarious identification with sports teams, and the endless other quasi-individual tribal identifications (gender, race, new age religion, etc.) offered as postmodern forms of self-identity in a factionalized anarchy of cultural centerlessness.

These are the cultural conditions that then make possible the seamless economic and political transformation into neoliberalism, where the institutional and material conditions of a war of all against all can be implemented without resistance for the benefit of the few. This is the current post-enlightenment period of plutocracy we now find ourselves in, where the democratic and scientific foundations of modernity have all but melted into thin air.

Notice that the era of postmodernity is not characterized by a collectivist ethos, but rather by individual narcissism and quasi-individual tribalism. Postmodernity is the logical conclusion of a modern individual achievement orientation, not its transcendence. Therefore, what comes after postmodern-green isn’t the hyper-individualized ethos of innovative entrepreneurialism, which is precisely the neoliberal conditions for a war of all against all, but a collectivist ethos—not of mass obedience to a central authority, but networks of p2p individuals working on common projects for the collective good, otherwise known as (integral) socialism.

If there is one thing holding back the development of the integral vision into a reality, it’s not a mean green-meme bent on social division and deconstruction, but the continued belief and practice of integral leaders and the integral community that the next integral stage of development is characterized by superhuman individualism in the oscillation of the spiral away from “collectivist” green. On the contrary, once integral leaders and the integral community come out of the delusion of superhuman individualism, they will realize that the only solution to first tier problems isn’t self-interested narcissism and tribalism but a collectivist vision of networked individuals working toward common purpose and universal human interests.”

2 Comments Is the next phase networked individualism or cooperative commons?

  1. Nicolas Stampf

    Great article.

    So bitcoin is the epitome of postmodernism, as would be Uber or AirBnB?

    Given all the people I see trying to create new crypto currencies based on debt/lack of abundance, I tend to agree.

    Yet there are already glimpses of that next true p2p level already sprouting: ask the commons movements of course or just people doing their share in truly helping others (the part of the hummingbird as Pierre Rahbi would put it). Incredible Edible goes for me in that direction. If only we would add agroecology on top of it and we would have true abundance with a sort of universal revenue in the form of vegetables!

  2. John Manoochehri

    This type of writing and ‘thought’ is tremendously inspiring. Because it is so egregiously shit.

    It inspires me to come out and say that there is a great future for serious thought – scientific and entrepreneurial, both – and action – creative, social, and more – that is almost /anything/ but this.

    The pitiful straw-man dichotomies presented here, the dog-whistle name-checks of postmodernists, the utter lack of clarity or self-critique of alternative arguments, and their pseudo-intellectualism, [“(integral) socialism” – don’t forget the epic (parenthesis)] denoting deep thought – and the lack of an actual argument whereby the conclusion is drawn from the argument, rather than supplied ex machina after a few convenient negative ruminations: all these are the hallmarks of, well, shit ‘thought’, (ropey) academia, call it what you will (or won’t).

    I nearly commented / vomited on this author before, after the hideously glib ‘author map’ of the ‘collectivist’ post-postmodernity, but just couldn’t be roused to bother. But now, this is another chance.

    What’s making me annoyed here is /not/ that someone is writing bombastic bollocks on the internetz. Plus ca change. No, it’s that this is sufficiently misleading to deflect, and ultimately deflate, the enthusiasm for alternatives to the (decidedly not ‘post’-anything) capitalistic and economistic frameworks of thought, association, aspiration and action by which modern society is self-toxifying and self-asphyxiating.

    That’s appalling. This is snakeoil, this is false medicine, this is a toolset that DOES NOT WORK – and therefore is lethal.

    Don’t spend your hard-won liberated consciousness on this horseshit. Go and work out what comes after an accumulation-based society for yourself. You will find only the most rudimentary clues here – legitimate enthusiasm, sure, but soon after that, appallingly vain and stupid commentary.

    If you want a starting point, out of countless possible ones, that you will NOT find here: go and study and come up with better than ideas than e.g. Dunbar’s number, and the theory of optimal association; or system theory and why hierarchy is sometimes optimal or sometimes not; or MIOT-PIOT attempts to reform economics; or why parecon is impossible with computers, but maybe just maybe possible with it; or go and study actually how the blockchain works – it’s stunningly elegant in Satoshi’s own words – rather than the bullshit surrounding it. Do anything: just stop reading the appalling shit on this website. Thanks.

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