Rich Carlson’s critique of Integral Theory (2): Neo-conservative thoughtforms

We continue the discussion/presentation of Rich Carlson’s essay on the ideological aspects of the contemporary integral movement, as represented by Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics and Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute. (which as we said, echoes on our own earlier analysis but greatly refines it).

As a reminder, here’s what I wrote:

“What is the crucial problem of society today? Does the destruction of the ecosphere, does the increasing inequality between and within nations, does the turbulence of the international order derive: 1) from the unrestrained neoliberal order which creates a world market without a global regulatory framework; 2) from a group of extremist postmodern academics on U.S. campuses. Incredibly, Don Beck and Ken Wilber choose the second option, and are echoing in their writing almost word for word the interpretations of American neoconservatives, down to their hatred of political correctness and their justifications of an ‘enligthened’ American empire. Don Beck justifies Putin, thinks of Bush as a ‘great leader’; while Ken Wilber hails Tony Blair as the ultimate representative of integral leadership, associating himself (and hailing) with the worst contemporary spiritual abusers: first Da Free John, now Andrew Cohen. Now, there is nothing wrong by itself in being a neoconservative (that is, until you go about invading other countries on false pretenses), but it becomes manipulative when you start cloaking that particular political vision under a false scientific cloak, feeling yourself a superior being in ‘consciousness’. Doesn’t sound much different from the scientific justifications of a Leninist vanguard party, and we all know where that led us. An interesting study done by the group of Chris Cowan and his partner, actually shows an interesting finding. The group of people who most strongly react against ‘green’ and its values, and are most likely to devise a concept like the Mean Green Meme, are not yellow second tiers thinkers, as is often implied by Wilber and Beck, but in fact people who identify with blue and orange values. This finding is entirely consistent with the neoconservative (blue-orange) ideology, and therefore, not surprising at all.”

Rich Carlson gives a much more detailed review of the neoconvervative aspects of integral theory:, which we reproduce in full:

After the contentious debate over Florida in the 2000 election that left George W. Bush the presidency, at a time when American electoral system was in crisis and its citizens were sharply divided along partisan lines into red and blue states, Don Beck made some very promising observations about the ability of president of George W. Bush to reconcile national differences. Beck coined the term transpartisan politics as a positive alternative for those who had an integrative vision that embraced a diversity of perspective to replace the bipartison gridlock of Washington. Beck stated:
“ transpartisanship transcends but includes them all. Everybody is invited to the table…” he then exclaimed “Actually, Bush’s natural style fits this transpartisan mode, which is why he is so confusing to so many.” (Beck 2001 para 10)

Here Beck seems to be confusing lack of competence with the edge of chaos! If anything what is not confusing about Bush’s presidential legacy is that it is one defined by a militant ideology that avoided compromise, excluded others with different viewpoints from the negotiating table, and expressed a disastrous wish to act unilaterally in the world.

The book Spiral Dynamics by Beck and co authored by Christopher Cowans begins by accepting uncritically the notion of meme as it is defined by biologist Richard Dawkins. Meme is usually described as a unit of cultural selection; much like a gene is a unit of biological selection. Ideas are selected, mutate, and are passed on through culture, much as genes are selected, mutate, and are passed on through genetic inheritance.

H Allen Orr, the Shirley Cox Kearns Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester, notes the problems with the use of the meme metaphor:

“unlike the selfish gene view, the selfish meme view hasn’t led anywhere. Where are the puzzling phenomena that have been explained by memes? Dawkins provides no examples and I suspect there aren’t any. The truth is that the meme idea, though a quarter-century old, has inspired next to no serious research and has failed to establish a place for itself in mainstream cognitive science, psychology, or sociology. Though laymen often have the impression that scientific ideas die in decisive experiments, far more often they die because they didn’t suggest many experiments. They failed, that is, to inspire a rich research program. Though I could obviously be proved wrong, and while I have no problem with the notion that some science of cultural change may be possible, I’m far less confident than Dawkins that memes will play an important role in any such enterprise. “(Orr 2004)

Adopting a metaphors that so far has played little or no role in any scientific enterprise begins the project of Beck and Cowan’s in Spiral Dynamics (2005) In their work memes represent differing value systems which are articulated at various developmental stages of individual and human histories. The ordering of memes are arranged along a spectrum of values systems constructed by Beck and Cowan after the pioneering work of Clare Graves. Their project is ambitious and seeks no less than reducing the complexity of all human value systems to a series of memes encoded in an ascending spiral of colors.

Those who manage to climb to the top of the spiral are considered “spiral masters”. Spiral masters are those individual who include yet transcend all previous stages of memetic development and therefore have a achieved a certain mastery of the world which enable them to serve in roles of leadership. For example, the authors “Spiral Dynamics” considered Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, who were in charge of the international coalition waging battle against Iraq in the first Gulf war as “spiral masters”. It seems such spiral mastery is achieved not only by including and transcending memes but, by the use of smart bombs and collateral damage as well!

The neo-conservatism of Spiral Dynamics or Integral Theory is not specifically an orientation that aligns with the views of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfield but rather express certain affinities in its way of thinking about the worlds populations on a grand scale and its couch assumptions about their value systems.

In a manner akin to neo-conservatism, Spiral Dynamics method of handling diversity precedes by categorizing broad spectrums of populations according to generalized stereotypes. Once categorized practitioners of Spiral Dynamics reasons about the value systems of folks based on assumptions of their developmental dispositions as compared to what the theory considers is an idealized world order.

Moreover, just as neo-conservatism deflects its critics into simplistic categories of black or white, with us or against us, Spiral Dynamics has simplified a method of deflecting any serious critiques of itself. Having designed its own taxonomy of memes, it resists critique by deflecting the arguments of those who interrogate it into the jargon of colors and value systems it has stereotyped. In doing this resistance is easily dismissed; tautologies abound. If “ideologies construct the imaginary relationship between a subject and his/her real conditions of existence” (Althusser 1965 p241), then Spiral Dynamics literally colors the imagination of the subjective view it constructs.

But grand political visions fall both on the left and right spectrum of politics, that is why it is interesting to watch Ken Wilber reasoning before the Iraq War. At first glance Wilber’s reasoning seems quite complex in comparing and contrasting the nature of those traits and dispositions in populations he codes as blue-orange, red-blue, green et al. Wilber’s integrative vision seems so intent on balancing the multi-dimensional memes of visual global harmony, that one can not help but be disappointed at his myopia when he ultimately chooses a leader who embodies his integral visions. His choice of Tony Blair as that leader might even signal a bit of integral naivety, because we now know, through such sources as the “Downing Street Memo” and numerous testimonies, books, and declassified documents that have come out since the Iraq War, that the war was initiated through the deception of Anglo-American leaders. The very same leaders whose values were heralded by the integral psychology of Ken Wilber and the Spiral Dynamics of Don Beck as integral or trans-political.

There are of course many folks who were fooled by the Bush and Blair administration in the run up to war, my purpose is not to condemn Wilber or Beck for the choices they made rather, I seek to inquire into the organizing ideas of Integral Theory which may sway beliefs in times of crisis.

What is troubling is that both Wilber and Beck seemed to express admiration for a range of suspects including George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and Colin Powell, who while popular at the time when praises were showered upon them, have now all proven to have systematically pursued courses of deception and aggression which inflicted severe trauma on millions of people.

For his part at the time of war in Iraq in the April of 2003, after the bombs had already started to fall on Iraq, Ken Wilber referenced the transcendent values of his “integral” meta-physical system to champion one of the war’s most ardent supporters. Interestingly, just as Beck references Bush’s transpartisan politics, Wilber declares a third way politics run by Blair who is a 2nd tiered thinker to boot.

He writes:

“That Blair has also been an authentic pioneer in “third way” politics (cf. A Theory of Everything), which is one of the first serious moves toward an integral politics that unites the best of liberal and conservative, is perhaps no surprise. Given the actual world situation as it is now, Blair’s general position seems to be the best that can pragmatically be offered, like a pan-Atlantic colossus at Rhodes, Blair has one foot in America and one foot in Europe, and heroically seems the only world leader attempting to keep that integration in existence. (Wilber 2003 para 31-32)

Tony Blair a colossus straddling both sides of the Atlantic? The colossus actually never straddled the harbor of Rhodes, it, just like Blair’s Atlantic diplomacy, were myths. Blair never caucused in good faith with his European allies who wanted a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Early on Blair knew that there was no turning back the Anglo-American desiring machine of war.

Now that Shock and Awe has worn off into the routinization of horror, now that hundreds of thousands have perished, now that millions are refugees, Tony Blair’s policy is judged a colossal failure. The Faustian poodle rather than the Greek god Helios is the image of Blair which lives in the popular imagination of England today.

If we interrogate further Wilber’s colossal vision of an “integral” leader in which he invokes images of Greek mythology, should we be surprised, that in a theory which lobbies for “2nd tiered” control of ordering “1st tiered” populations, that Wilber chooses a Nietzschean image to portray “integral” leadership?

Wilber’s view of the anti-war movement is even more puzzling given that agape is associated almost universally with traditions of self-cultivation and transcendence. Wilber voiced no support for anti-war demonstrators who feared for the grave consequences of an illegal war of aggression that would inflict pain on an entire nation. Instead, conveniently ignoring the sanctions that were in place against Iraq at the time, he critiqued the protesters, in a manner not unlike Fox News political commentators, accusing them of not also protesting Saddam.

“I personally believe that any protest movement that does not equally protest both America’s invasion and Saddam’s murder of 400,000 people is a protest movement that does not truly represent peace or non-aggression or worldcentric values. “(Wilber 2003 para 30)

Wilber’s conception of integral political analysis seem as confusing as the reasons for going to war in the first place.

After claiming that the baby boomer generation of antiwar protesters, which he labels green, can do nothing but protest he states:

But as long as green can see itself protesting aggression, it is relatively content. The worst that can be said of these protesters is that they are essentially “Saddam enablers” (in exactly the same way that Neville Chamberlain was a Hitler enabler). The best that can be said is that these individuals serve the larger Spiral by sensitizing more people to the horrors of aggression. (Wilber 2003 para 30)

To suggest that Green protesters were like Neville Chamberlain in anyway is straight out of the Karl Rove play book for pre-war propaganda. Wilber’s claims that the best war protesters can do is sensitize people he relegates to the lower memes, is to ignore the actions they were trying to facilitate namely: to end the war!

Ironically, Wilber’s critique of the values of the “baby boom” generation he calls “boomeritis” (Wilber 2002) seems to have boomeranged on him. Having savagely critiqued the values of his own generation, suddenly in time of crisis, Ken Wilber salutes Tony Blair, as the man of the hour whom we should place our faith in. At a crucial moment in world history Wilber defers to Tony Blair. the very political leader who represents the votes and values of baby boomers, and who “has lived a quintessential Baby Boomer’s life” (Brooks 03 para 4)

The fact that Wilber’s Integral Institute claims to have consulted with both Democratic and Republican administrations, may be reason to pause and reflect on what role Integral Theory should play in future government policy, especially in times of crisis.

But there are other things Integral Theory should perhaps reflect upon namely, how they integrate Eastern meditative practices within a Western theoretical model. Wilber’s work like many other theorists who purport to integrate Eastern philosophical theories into their work, often do so by a form of intellectual imperialism. One could refer to recent subaltern theory which takes issue with the attempts of euro-centric scholarship to appropriate the voice of the subaltern through imposing interpretations which speak to their own concerns and in so doing silence the indigenous peoples right to speak for themselves.

To deny the voice of the “other” by forcing the socially constructed signifiers of a euro-centric language regime upon other cultural traditions is to do them violence. For example, Wilber submits all traditions, theories, practices, to the categorical constraints of his “transcendental signified” (4) the AQALS model; a self-referential metaphysical construction that fixes all meaning in itself.

Wilber’s method of colonializing cultural alterity is by its very nature hegemonic, and even predatory.

He does this with a number of Eastern thinkers and mystics. As an instance this practice, I will provide an example of how he treats the Indian revolutionary and founder of Integral Yoga, Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Aurobindo came to prominence as one of the first leaders of the Indian independence movement that sought to overthrow the colonialist empire of Great Britain on the subcontinent. His first writings which came to public scrutiny were those advocating resistance to the colonialist rule of the Raj. Apart from these political writings he also wrote several major treatises on culture and social and political history, including The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, War and Self Determination.

In his appropriation of Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber collapses the entirety of his work into a single quadrant (upper left) of his AQALS model, totally ignoring his cultural and socio-political texts or his life as a revolutionary leader of an independence struggle. Wilber’s exclusive emphasis of Sri Aurobindo the yogi, fails to contextualize him also as an important cultural figure in India who has written extensively on society and history. Wilber overlooks the genealogy of Sri Aurobindo’s works are rooted in the Indic Darshan discourses. Rarely, if ever does Wilber ever highlight Sri Aurobindo’s meditations on the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita which background his writing and provide important interpretive keys which contextualize his voice against the history of the subcontinent.

An integral theory which valorizes its own epistemology by denying other traditions, theories, practices their own voice, or by simply reducing them to mere coordinates on a quartenary grid segregates rather than integrates.

Any theory which asserts itself ideologically by cannibalizing other traditions and appropriating the voice of alterity as a function of its integral model while discarding the ten thousand nuances, subtleties, traces of culture which are essential to indigenous identity, fails at the level of integration itself. These theoretical practices are not integral but imperialist, such discourses do not achieve cultural hybridity but rather cultural hegemony. Such an integral theory is colonialist at its worst and patronizing at its best.

Source material:

Beck Don (2001) Bipartisan versus Tripartisan

Beck and Cowan (2005) Spiral Dynamics New York: Wiley-Blackwell

Wilber Ken (2003)

Wilber Ken:

Wilber, Ken (2002) Boomeritis, Boulder CO: Shamballa Press

15 Comments Rich Carlson’s critique of Integral Theory (2): Neo-conservative thoughtforms

  1. AvatarMrTeacup

    So we learn that Wilber and Beck have different political viewpoints that Carlson and yourself; in particular, they are far less antagonistic to capitalism that you would prefer. Surely this is obvious to everyone already?

    For all of Carlson’s wordiness, he avoids the real work of coming up with an original critique of integral theory. His argument is that integral theory is no different from any other totalitarian ideology, and he merely repeats the standard arguments. Carlson is surely aware that integral theory critiques those arguments by pointing out their performative contradictions, but Carlson wants us to be distracted from his failure to address that point by resorting to name-calling and guilt-by-association tactics.

    On another note, I think its irresponsible to claim that to have your perspective labeled “green” and therefore called inferior is somehow an ad hominem attack. In any debate, everyone thinks they are right and that they hold the “superior” position, and that is the subtext of all of these critiques — that Wilber/SD is wrong to put integral “neo-conservatism” above Green, and in fact, Green is the emancipatory framework that will solve the world’s problems. But the charge of green thinking is not merely synonymous with “You’re wrong, I’m right”, but also includes the assertion that an individual has failed to account for performative contradictions in his or her reasoning. The reason that people want to claim that the Green charge is an ad hominem attack is because removing the contradictions weakens their arguments, and instead of being intellectually responsible, they say that it hurts their feelings so they shouldn’t have to respond. No-one should be persuaded by these dodges.

  2. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    Dear Mr. Teacup:

    I don’t think the issue is that Wilber/Beck are less antagonistic to capitalism, but rather that their ideological system, though coated in a radical language of system-transcendence, is anything but, and I would argue that this connection is insufficiently known, though I can conclude that for you, this is sufficiently known and therefore not an issue. Point taken.

    I have not seen in Carlson’s text that integral theory is totalitarian, but rather that there are some totalitarian tendencies present and that these elements are dangerous.

    According to my own understanding of Rich Carlson, and my understanding of SD, there is nothing essentially ‘green’, to use your own language, in his approach, but, I would argue that the very mentality that seeks to disqualify others by giving them a color characteristic, is the problem in the first place. This is what allows your intervention not to deal with any arguments. So I would invite you to do that, but on the contrary, your intervention essentially acknowledges the main point, i.e. the ideological nature of integral theory a la Wilber.

    And as you know, the problem with Wilber/Beck is not the assertion that there is such a thing as ‘green’ consciousness, but rather the focus on the (according to Chris Cowans research: not existing, and not at all supported by Graves’ original research), on the Mean Green Meme as the central ‘problem’ of our times. It is this insistence that has turned the integral movement into an active neoconservative force, and which, in Rich’s view, and in mine, are problematic.

    What is means is that, instead of a force for emancipation, it turns into a force that defends the status quo, and offers itself to the “Prince”, as adviser in the large scale manipulation of human mentalities. This makes it a very dangerous approach indeed.

  3. AvatarMrTeacup

    I don’t think the issue is that Wilber/Beck are less antagonistic to capitalism, but rather that their ideological system, though coated in a radical language of system-transcendence, is anything but…

    But Carlson’s view (and yours too, unless I’m wrong) is that any genuine system-transcendence must mean transcending capitalism, without any argument for why that is so. It’s just ideological assertions that the status quo is unacceptable and must be radically reformed, and then pointing out how Wilber fails to support that project.

    According to my own understanding of Rich Carlson, and my understanding of SD, there is nothing essentially ‘green’, to use your own language, in his approach, but, I would argue that the very mentality that seeks to disqualify others by giving them a color characteristic, is the problem in the first place. This is what allows your intervention not to deal with any arguments.

    I would ask you to re-read my comments. To repeat, the purpose of color-coding is not to disqualify arguments, but is used as a shorthand for pointing to the integral critique of that viewpoint, in this case, the performative contradictions of Green arguments. He is being disqualified because there is a fatal flaw in his argument that he has chosen not to address. It may be that he doesn’t think there is a flaw, and if so, that is where he could produce an interesting critique.

    Beyond that, it’s unfortunate that Carlson grounds his anti-capitalism in a rejection of Enlightenment-era meta-narratives of progress, since these two things are by no means synonymous. Carlson cites Zizek, a self-described Marxist, but without any awareness of the irony that Zizek’s recent book, In Defense of Lost Causes, is a sweeping rejection of Carlson’s argument. From the book: “The era of grand explanations is over; we should no longer aim at all-explaining systems and global emancipatory projects; the violent imposition of grand solutions should leave room for forms of specific resistance and intervention. … If the reader feels a minimum of sympathy with these lines, she should stop reading and cast aside this volume. This book is unashamedly committed to the ‘Messianic’ standpoint of the struggle for universal emancipation.”

    So Carlson fails to grasp that Zizek’s critique of Western Buddhism extends also to the postmodern forms of resistance that he seems to champion. One might also point out that one of the foremost achievements of peer-to-peer culture is the creation of software that enables greater levels of hegemony for global capitalism through the internet. Or that peer-to-peer file sharing really served as the research and development department for global capitalism as it constantly searches for new and more appealing modes of consumption. Do these not also serve the status quo?

  4. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    Dear Teacup,

    I think from your last remark that you are not really familiar with the writings of myself of rich.

    Actually, I must admit that I’m not familiar with the full scope of Rich’s writing and I haven’t really read any anti-capitalist rantings in it.

    My own approach, in the interest of disclosure, is that it is indeed unlikely that a system that is based on infinite growth in a finite environment, cannot possibly be perennial, and I believe myself that this is a very strong argument that has a long tradition behind it. This being said, in general, you will see that the P2P Foundation content is pluralist in nature, and contains writings that would include an acceptance of capitalism. In any case, you are mistaken to believe that the crux of the critique of Wilber is that he is pro-capitalist. There are many people and approaches that are pro-capitalist (the good capital, inclusive capitalism, BOP, blended value, fair trade, etc…) and that we appreciate and have covered here on our blog and our resources, and I myself proceed from the reality of capitalism, not from an all-out struggle against it. So this cannot be the basis of the critique of Wilber and Beck. Rather, his insistence on seeing postmodern academics as the root of all evil (the MGM), the totalising distortions of integral theory concerning other approaches, the inability to accept any critique, and the choice of very problematic people as indicative of ‘integral consciousness’ (Da Free John earlier on, now Andrew Cohen, the support for Bush/Blair) are amongst the things we object to.

    I actually think that the onus is on yourself. If you say that Rich’s writings, or mine, are ‘green’, then you would have to show why this is so (which might be difficult, since Wilber himself once wrote me an email that my approach was ‘integral’ — but that was perhaps in the olden days). So, to what degree is Rich’s text ‘green’?

    Notice that Rich’s text is very well documented in his assertions, he is not just arguing that Wilber has any color-code, but bringing solid evidence that it is in effect a neo-conservative and neo-liberal approach to reality. Do you dispute that evidence?

    Nowhere is there the argument, that you seem to focus on, that Wilber has to be judged because he is not anti-capitalist.

    Concerning your last paragraph, I think Rich should respond himself, as I’m fully with Zizek on that one. I think that in a epoch that is characterized by the danger of biospheric disruption, any reliance on microstruggles, one of the legacies of the postmodern critique, is indeed not tenable. Peer to peer theory is in effect an attempt to re-create a ‘grand narrative’ albeit one that hopefully takes into account many valid aspects of postmodern thought.

    Concerning the effects of peer to peer, please note that at least in my own writing that it is both system-confirming (though heralding a new phase of capitalism), it is at the same time system-transcending, which is what I see an integral interpretation, not a binary choice. By analogy you could look at the role of commerce and incipient capitalism within the feudal order. From the start of the first medieval renaissance (Xth to XIIIth centuries), cities and trading are an integral part of the feudal order, yet at the same time, it has transcending aspects that will eventually cause it (though 6-7 centuries later), to change the very system in which it was born. (we could argue about when exactly the merchant/trading practices became truly capitalist, but that doesn’t change the crux of the argument, that a process can be both immanent and transcendent to the system).

    So I agree with you that peer to peer is both essential to a transformation of capitalism, but would add that it is also system-transcending through its post-capitalist features (use value creation instead of exchange value creation, voluntary participation instead of wage labour, commons-oriented output instead of commodities, etc…).

  5. AvatarMrTeacup

    I haven’t read any anti-capitalist rantings, either, but his essay is titled Integral Ideology; ideology is of course a Marxist concept, and if there is any doubt that perhaps the term is used looser, non-technical way, Carlson refers us to Althusser himself in the footnotes. His essay contains large sections entitled “Neo-liberalism” and “Neo-conservatism”, approvingly references Zizek, and (unfortunately) Naomi Klein, and Marcuse for his definition of false consciousness, although it seems he is unaware that both Zizek and Althusser reject the classic Marxist concept of false consciousness that Carlson deploys here: that ideology masks a “true” consciousness. Here we have the basis for a performative contradiction, because we can’t evaluate false consciousness except from the standpoint of a neutral, non-ideological, “true” consciousness, an action that is for Carlson also an ordering or systematizing strategy. Rather than positing such a fictional view from nowhere, Zizek and Althusser instead assert that ideology is consciousness, and accept the inevitability of a grand narrative that orders worldviews, which is very close to the integral/SD perspective and opens up the possibility for a dialog between these two ideas.

    To be clear, I don’t object in the least to Carlson making anti-capitalist or even Marxist arguments, but neither do I believe that pointing out his postmodern Marxism is an ad hominem attack.

    he is not just arguing that Wilber has any color-code, but bringing solid evidence that it is in effect a neo-conservative and neo-liberal approach to reality. Do you dispute that evidence?

    And also apparently fundamentalist. As I pointed out in my first comment, pointing out Wilber’s neo-liberal sympathies is hardly the earth-shattering revelation that Carlson seems to think it is. Perhaps causal readers might not realize this, but then they wouldn’t find their way to his essay anyway.

    Carlson’s definition of neo-conservatism as “not so much a consequence of hegemonic desire as it is a consequence of its ordering (systemization) strategies” is absurd, and an obvious attempt to twist reality to fit his thesis. It’s no surprise that he includes no references to support his definition. Here again we find a performative contradiction: Carlson wants to show that a given problem is an outgrowth of ordering strategies per se, while implicitly employing them to support his argument. In addition, Wilber specifically and repeatedly critiques this thesis, so I would expect a response to that rather than a simple restatement of the original argument. Carlson approaches this indirectly by including a critique of Habermas in the footnotes, but really this argument also suffers from the same problem of pretending that Habermas’ viewpoint doesn’t include an argument against the very line of reasoning that the authors deploy. It’s hard not to conclude that this kind of genealogical analysis is not sheer intellectual laziness, since the author is only required to produce a history of the idea (based on categorical, systematic and ordering assumptions that others are not permitted to use), and then claim that the argument has already been refuted. Is this not also a logic that suggests that Habermas’ or Wilber’s thesis is an earlier, more primitive mode of reasoning in contrast to the author’s higher, more developed, more evolved viewpoint, itself an unconscious restatement of the evolutionary progress meta-narrative that is to be rejected?

    Finally, I find myself confused about why you would include without comment an argument that hurts your own thesis as much as Wilber’s.

  6. AvatarRichard Carlson

    First of all let me say that I appreciate Mr. Teacups response and a chance to defend my thesis.

    Regardless if one agrees or not with its contents, perspectives, opinions more important are the issues themselves -from my perspective- how ideologies or doxa penetrate a cause or lost cause, theory or integral theory. The path of history is littered with Utopian ideologies, rather than to repeat the waste basket of belief or the propaganda or lost causes, a theory which self-references by calling itself integral, a concept Gebser thought could “re”store Origin, and that some say is born out of the ashes of deconstructionist ruins, must reconstruct a historical narrative in someway that avoids the psychopathologies (which although on some level are ever-present in our species) we have inherited from the “Enlightenment” and the “Terror”.

    My essay contests the ease on how that can be done and finds superficial the assertions of of those with theory’s which claim to have left the trashcan of history behind and to have “transcended” the wasteland of Modernism and the nihilistic relativity of Post-Modernism . If integral theory (IT) evolves from the ruins or rather the exhaustion of the “mental memes” (which Derrida evidences) can it move on without the ideological baggage? If so what future does it really promise? My hope was to demonstrate some of the problems in leaving the past baggage behind in a move -IT calls progressive- toward L’Avenir.

    While one can argue the merits or demerits of theory all day, I tried to hone in on that esoteric place where the rubber meets the road! In crisis, while one can certainly disagree about whether Tony Blair had the best solution for Iraq? If Bush was the right choice in 2000? If its good to teach active imagination to those doing business in neo-cortical warefare? Or whether the Mother was patronizing in attempting to satisfy the spiritual needs of Indians with religious ceremony and guru puja, when her’s was a path that advocated no religion, and to only follow the guru in your heart?

    I admit thats all contestable by someone arguing from a certain socio-political orientation and comes from my point of view however, I think some psycho-history is in order here, a tracing of genealogies and certainly how to deconstruct certain ideological tendencies that have been articulated by recent critical thinking. I gave that my best shot, and I’ll stand by it, until something or somebody ‘xplains it better to me. At times my style may be pejorative but the stakes I believe are grave.

    It certainly would be better to dialog in real life than on a print electronic forum many as subtleties of argument and conversation do not come through, but we have what we have and I’m thankful for Michel for the opportunity.

    Mr Teacup:
    I haven’t read any anti-capitalist rantings, either, but his essay is titled Integral Ideology; ideology is of course a Marxist concept,

    Here is the etymology:
    “The term “ideology” was first coined by the philosopher Destutt de Tracy to refer to a “science of ideas” which he hoped would reveal people’s unconscious habits of mind. Today, it now tends to refer to those very habits of mind – beliefs, assumptions, expectations, etc. – which are superimposed on the world in order to give it structure and meaning and which then serve to direct our political or social activities.”

    Marx simply appropriated the term but he did not originate it.”

    His essay contains large sections entitled “Neo-liberalism” and “Neo-conservatism”, approvingly references Zizek, and (unfortunately) Naomi Klein, and Marcuse for his definition of false consciousness, although it seems he is unaware that both Zizek and Althusser reject the classic Marxist concept of false consciousness that Carlson deploys here: that ideology masks a “true” consciousness.

    Well I am not using the Marxist or Zizek’s or Althusser’s definition but rather Herbert Marcuse definition that supports his thesis in One Dimensional Man. In an age of the one dimensional men of the White House and Downing Street, and the well documented disaster capitalism of Chile, Bolivia, Russia, and Iraq by Klein. I still find his insights useful.

    Here we have the basis for a performative contradiction, because we can’t evaluate false consciousness except from the standpoint of a neutral, non-ideological, “true” consciousness, an action that is for Carlson also an ordering or systematizing strategy.

    Wait a minute did I say one can not make value judgments? I dont think I stated that anywhere!. There is nothing relativist in my argument. The critique can not avoid moralizing. Nor would I want it to. I oppose fringe Hindu Nationalism. I believe Disaster Capitalism is a Disaster and should not be facilitated by esoteric meditative or imagintive techniques. The Iraq War is a Disaster as is the reasoning wrong headed, at the time of the war that Tony Blair was a colossus or after the 2000 election that Bush was transpartison. If Beck and Wilber want to make these assertions well thats their right, but if they want to argue for them by referencing their developmental ordering system that can be traced back to a belief in the pseudo-science of Recapitulation, which has a problematic history of racists and colonialist intent,then I believe that should be contested.

    Teacup also entirely mischaracterizes my work. I am not stating that ordering systems are bad! One can not avoid them! I bring in Foucault to elucidate their history in discourse. However, one has to put these in a historical context. What Wilber and Spiral Dynamics are creating is not an “ultimate ordering system” rather it is just that” “another ordering system”.

    Rather than positing such a fictional view from nowhere, Zizek and Althusser instead assert that ideology is consciousness, and accept the inevitability of a grand narrative that orders worldviews, which is very close to the integral/SD perspective and opens up the possibility for a dialog between these two ideas.

    hmm. View from nowhere, where have I heard that before? I disagree that ideology is Consciousness and I would make a distinction here between ideology and doxa. And although yes doxa and ideology infiltrate consciousness. Some ideologies have proven destructive and it is these that I treat.

    Carlsons definition of neo-conservatism as “not so much a consequence of hegemonic desire as it is a consequence of its ordering (systemization) strategies” is absurd, and an obvious attempt to twist reality to fit his thesis. It’s no surprise that he includes no references to support his definition. Here again we find a performative contradiction: Carlson wants to show that a given problem is an outgrowth of ordering strategies per se, while implicitly employing them to support his argument.

    Another misreading, just as I never stated that the paper is not moralizing, I never say that neo-conservatism is not characterized by hegemonic desire. In fact, I claim that Wilber’s practices are hegemonic, in for example, co-opting Eastern Thinkers such as Sri Aurobindo. But no I dont think they want to literally take over the world, like Cheney and Bush.
    So no I am not using hegemonic is a literal sense, although it does apply to Wilber metaphorically.

    Because, yes the way he orders reality in colonizing cross cultural sources and organizing his model of individual and social development in part around the discredited pseudoscientifc idea of recapitulation, that in his version, seems to uncritically posit a Spiral Master, as the scientist in the control room, who can step outside of the experiment, the social system, a belief system and objectively order reality, does resemble many aspects of neo-conservative thinking.

    “regards Habermas”
    Is this not also a logic that suggests that Habermas’ or Wilber’s thesis is an earlier, more primitive mode of reasoning in contrast to the author’s higher, more developed, more evolved viewpoint, itself an unconscious restatement of the evolutionary progress meta-narrative that is to be rejected?

    Unlike Wilber I am not trying to argue by demeaning Wilber, Beck, or anyone else by stereotyping their arguments as attributable to a lowly less evolved meme. My argument is much more traditional, I just dont agree with them and I am contesting their conclusions and arguments
    I specifically reference Habermas because Wilber leans on him for justification of many of his pro-Enlightenment progressive views. I just wish to document the many voices of solidly argued philosophical opposition to Habermas.

    Beyond that, it’s unfortunate that Carlson grounds his anti-capitalism in a rejection of Enlightenment-era meta-narratives of progress, since these two things are by no means synonymous. Carlson cites Zizek, a self-described Marxist, but without any awareness of the irony that Zizek’s recent book, In Defense of Lost Causes, is a sweeping rejection of Carlson’s argument. From the book: “The era of grand explanations is over; we should no longer aim at all-explaining systems and global emancipatory projects; the violent imposition of grand solutions should leave room for forms of specific resistance and intervention. … If the reader feels a minimum of sympathy with these lines, she should stop reading and cast aside this volume. This book is unashamedly committed to the ‘Messianic’ standpoint of the struggle for universal emancipation.”

    Are you kidding I ordered a copy of Zizek’s new book when it first came out. It seems much of Zizek’s irony is lost on Mr Teacup. Zizek is the stand up intellectual par excellence. Irony, and humor are part and parcel of his style.

    Teacup also seems to believe that just because I quoted Zizek on the “New Age” I should totally align myself with him. Does that mean I should believe that “Love is Evil” and our creation can be traced back to this contradiction, as his humorous cosmology asserts?
    In fact, I dont buy in to all of Zizek although I find his philosophical presence a bit of necessary comic relief from the puffed up self-important world of philosophy.

    For example in his Star Wars III that I quote from here, he asserts
    “No wonder Buddhism can function as the perfect ideological supplement to virtual capitalism: It allows us to participate in it with an inner distance, keeping our fingers crossed, and our hands clean, as it were.

    It is against such a temptation that we should remain faithful to the Christian legacy of separation, of elevating some principles above others.”
    Well how odd that a self-proclaimed Marxist atheist would suggest Christianity as a solution to the world problems dont you think? but that is how Zizek argues…..

    In Defense of Lost Causes the problems associated with totalitarian systems of the revolution be it Robespierre, Stalin, Mao, Khomeni, and attempts to rescue them from themselves. His study of Heidegger’s flirtation with the Nazis, is simply classic.

    I see Teacup has read at least the book’s cover jacket so I will add another blurb from it:
    “Zizek, claims that particularly in light of the forthcoming ecological crisis we should reinvent revolutionary terror and the dictatorship of the proletariat in the struggle for universal emancipation We need to courageously accept the return of the Cause-even if we court the risk of catastrophic disaster.”

    Well I dont agree with Zizek that we really need revolutionary terror again, although I am firmly behind the struggle for universal emancipation. However, I see no such promise for emancipation in Religion, the streamed capitalism of Neo-Liberalism or the work of Wilber or Beck.

  7. Avatarmrteacup

    It seems you have come full-circle to my original summary of your essay: you would prefer a more critical stance toward capitalism, but don’t provide an argument for that. I think the problem you have to deal with is what Zizek points out — the critique you present undercuts Wilber and Beck, but it also undercuts any emancipatory framework or principle you might put forward.

  8. AvatarMatthew Kalman

    Hi Michel and Rich,

    I’m surprised you’re still promoting the long ago discredited falsehoods contained in Natasha’s paper about MGM. Wilber – in reality – wrote in his book Boomeritis that Orange and Blue would be the major critics of Green, and that Yellow wasn’t.

    Natasha then proved that Wilber was indeed correct in what he had written. As Rich put it, her research found that: “the group of people who most strongly react against ‘green’ … [are] in fact people who identify with blue and orange values.” [ie Wilber’s long-stated view, which preceded Natasha’s research, and is from a book she claimed to have read, in that paper).

    Wilber found it pretty funny that Natasha had – amidst all the huffing and puffing – provided the evidence FOR his stated view.

    Ken told me “Way to go, Natasha!”.

    Unsurprisingly very few SD folks were able to reassess their view of the inherent and automatic correctness of her paper, on seeing the contradicting evidence. They are too caught up in this ludicrous ‘Wilber and Beck are neo-cons’ meme.

    Seeing that the Left-identified SD camp was unable to even contemplate contradictory evidence – even when it was right on their e-list – has made it difficult for me to take them seriously.

    Best wishes,

    Matthew Kalman

    PS Before I even realised that Natasha had supported KW’s written view, I had done a detailed page by page analysis of her paper – and the large number of non-sequiturs and falsehoods it contained. It’s on the (Cowan) SD list somewhere…

  9. AvatarRichard Carlson

    The paper argues against ideological tendencies in integral theory and explores their genealogies. It is not -and nowhere claims to be- about capitalism nor is it about emancipatory frameworks. The paper identifies neo-liberalist orientations in integral theory as one example of an ideology that may be couched within certain of its practices. It also identifies religious fundamentalism as problematic, but its scope is not to provide a general critique of either religion or capitalism; that claim is never made. The paper does not attempt to provide a general solvent for ideological dissolution, its aim is much more modest and is simply to unmask hidden agendas that may lie beneath the surfaces of integral theory.

    The paper is also certainly not about providing any keys to emancipation. At most I provide a comparison between Gebser’s vision of the integral mutation with what Wilber puts forth as integral theory to demonstrate the conceptual gap between them. This is done in context of
    comparing the original usage of the word Integral to its recent adaptation in Wilber’s
    regime of quadrants and levels. Since I am not suggesting any specific program of emancipation there is nothing there to undercut.


  10. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    It is funny Matthew that in your ideological zeal you end up saying and proving the opposite of what you meant to convey.

    You say that Wilber concurs with Natasha and Chris’s research that green is mostly being criticized by blue and orange (though you write it to make it seem the opposite, that his concurrence actually invalidates the same conclusion by SD research); but the fact is that it is wilber who is obsessed with MGM and started to move the core of his integral movement’s position.

    So, what is then the inescapable conclusion?

    So what exactly then has been invalidated?

    Sorry if I therefore cannot take your word for it. Better than character assasination, so typical for the political tendency you represent, would be to actually refer to real arguments and facts, in a more impassionate style.

    I’m already sorry myself for engaging in this tit for tat kind of exchange which does not budge either’s positions.


  11. AvatarMatthew Kalman

    Hi Michel,

    You still sound confused.

    Wilber predicted in Boomeritis – and elsewhere – that Blue and Orange would be found to be the biggest critics of Green (and not Yellow, or ‘Integral’ folks).

    Natasha later wrote a paper – referencing Boomeritis – which indeed successfully proved Wilber’s prediction correct.

    She failed to point out that she had proved Wilber’s own printed view correct.

    Because Wilber has occasionally criticsed unhealthy ‘Green’, she sought to prove he’s merely Blue or Orange, and not Second Tier – and thus can somehow be dismissed.

    Here’s one place where Wilber explains his view:

    “For the catastrophic effects of boomeritis on academia and the political
    process, see Jonathan Rauch, Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free
    Thought; Todd Gitlin, The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America Is
    Wracked by Culture Wars; Richard Bernstein, Dictatorship of Virtue:
    Multiculturalism and the Battle for America’s Future; Charles Kors and Harvey
    Silverglate, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s

    ****** “And remember, the fact that few of those books are integral or second-tier–they are often blue or orange–does not detract in the least from their true points********** ; but we at Integral Center are placing those
    important if limited criticisms into a distinctively second-tier approach, as
    indicated throughout this lecture series. Second-tier criticisms of the mean
    green meme can be found, for example, in J?rgen Habermas, Charles Taylor,
    John Searle, Don Beck, Bob Richards, Sean Hargens, Scott Warren, Petra
    Pieterse, Andre Marquis, Maureen Silos, Frank Visser, Bert Parlee, Karl Otto-
    Apel, Michael Zimmerman, Keith Thompson, Fred Kofman, Jenny Wade,
    Karin Swann, Mark Palmer, Luc Ferry, Alain Renaut, among increasingly
    numerous others.”

    I offered, on numerous occasions to Chris Cowan/Natasha to gather names of people who talk about ‘MGM’ – so that Natasha could actually include such people in her research.

    All her inferences about how very Blue and Orange Beck and Wilber are – along with others who dislike what they see as a ‘Green-centric’ approach – were based on not assessing a single person who actually uses the term MGM.

    ie In trying to prove that critics of MGM cannot be Yellow, she didn’t actually test the values of ANY of those critics.

    ‘It’s scientific research, Jim, but not as we know it…’

    I’m not sure if it’s a vindication, but Cowan’s SD list now appears pretty much dead, after Beck and co were forced to leave…

    I have found the 3000-word text of an e-mail I wrote to Cowan’s SD list dissecting Natasha’s very poor anti-MGM paper. I can paste it into a comment, if you’d like to read it. (Just to be clear, it’s not the Gravesian research Natasha did that was wrong. It seems good to me, and predicted what Wilber – or I – have said. It was just the ideology-laden conclusions and huge number of non-sequiturs she drew from it that were embarrasing.


    PS I love the way you reduce me to merely representing “a political tendency”. Maybe we can just re-educate or eliminate these reactionary tendencies out of existence…. 😉

  12. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    Dear Matthew,

    I don’t think confusion is the right word. Let me repeat, Chris Cowan and Natasha have produced research that shows that green is mostly criticized by blue and orange. You manage to say at the same time to say that it is a bunch of falsehoods, yet to say again that her research is correct, and that Wilber confirms it in Boomeritis (you assume that everybody has read it, but I would doubt that Chris and Natasha in fact did so, I find it a thoroughly horrible book myself and did not get further than a few dozen pages).

    You manage to say that Wilber ‘occasionally’ criticizes ‘unhealthy green’, while at the same time discussing of book of several hundred pages dedicated to it!! It is in fact the core of his political views, and indeed you confirm it again by referencing the campaign against political correctness which is at the core of both Wilber and neoconservative writing about the left.

    I’m am not reducing you to a political tendency, I know that there is much more to any human being, but what I’m saying is that your tendency to attack people on a personal level (Natasha’s ‘bunch of falsehoods’) is a hallmark of the neoconservative style of political communication.

    I have no desire at all to stamp it out mind you, though I prefer more civil communication myself. There are more than enough Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter’s around.

    I propose to give you the last word in this exchange?


  13. AvatarMatthew Kalman

    Hi Michel,

    What I have sought to say is that Natasha did some good Gravesian values research, which confirmed Ken Wilber’s view about who the most common critics of ‘Green’ would be. She then drew a lot of bizarre unwarranted conclusions against Wilber and Beck based on this, came up with *her own* version of what Wilber/Beck said ‘Mean Green’ was, which bore little relation to their writings.

    My initial analysis if Natasha’s paper is appeared on the SD list. It’s quite long.

    Here it is:

    Critique of The Mean Green hypothesis: fact or fiction? by Natasha Message List
    Reply | Forward | Delete Message #10808 of 15266
    The Mean Green hypothesis: fact or fiction?

    I am delighted to see Natasha’s MGM discussion, the use of empirical
    data, and very impressed to hear about forthcoming research to re-
    check means on Gravesian data, and undertake validation etc.

    Please everybody read it (hotlink in Chris’s recent mail about a new

    These are the kind of words I’ve long wanted to hear – even if I’m no
    statistical whiz. I’m embarrassed I wasted my time (and others’)
    getting hot under the collar about whatever when I could’ve been
    looking at serious Gravesian research. May be a lesson for me

    But, hey, of course I’ve found stuff to disagree with. So I’ll
    outline some of my criticisms (they are a slipshod rush-job compared
    to Natasha’s 12-page report I’m afraid – I just don’t have the time
    to delve through books and articles to get the info I probably need).

    Before I get to my criticisms – I’ve not dwelt on my support much,
    sorry – of N’s article, a bit of background, to refresh ourselves on
    what Ken and Don have said (nothing from Boomeritis, sorry, no time
    to scan it). Just some snippets – hope they’re useful.

    The MGM hypothesis (I recollect no empirical, peer-reviewed support
    for it, other than the Kohlberg studies Wilber mentions) is a notion
    propounded by people who think they can reach as far as Yellow or
    beyond, at least conceptually, but hopefully in a deep, emotional
    sense too.
    It is a notion, a strategy, intending to help nodal Green folk (or
    suchlike) who are stuck in `unhealthy’ versions of Green. It is
    coming out of compassion for Green, for the Spiral (or so it claims)
    and a desire to help them out of closed Gamma trap type of conditions.

    Don talks of Red victims and Green `rescuers’ being linked, and a Red-
    Green hybrid devoid of healthy Blue and Orange. Closed Blue can also
    somehow turn Green unhealthy.
    Don says the idea first arose in a conversation with Graves in the
    early 80s about South AFrica; Don says Graves warned him to expect FS
    Green attacks. He reports that Graves himself was thrown out of one
    meeting for refusing a command to be sensitive – “my dear friend bore
    the scars of the MGM” he says, about Graves.
    “A strategy to unblock the spiral” Beck calls it. He says it has been
    quite successful. He and Ken say they have both heard from lots of
    people who were helped to escape traps they were in as a result of
    the “MGM mirror”.
    I guess I am one such person – and I know many others who have been

    “One can only `see’ MGM in the rear view mirror – from a post-Green
    position” (ie through personal growth and transformation – which
    sadly lead to all the accusations of arrogance and elitism).
    Beck says “we have stopped using MGM since it has served its purpose
    and it truly did”.
    It aims to “protect legitimate and healthy Green (with its many
    gifts)” [Beck] – and Wilber is himself always going on about these
    gifts: civil rights, feminism, eco-protection, anti-discrimination,
    gay rights etc. Wilber prefaces discussions of MGM with an outline of
    HGM (Health Green Meme).
    Wilber’s favoured Prez candidate last time round was Gore and he
    talks of Bush’s embarrassing “‘axis of evil’ crap”. Beck is a
    Democrat by the way (many of the folk on this list and the Integral
    Politics one repeatedly assert he is a Republican). People who
    dislike MGM always seem to get these facts wrong too.

    For Wilber, right now “the Mean Orange Meme gets the prize for the
    nastiest of the nasty memes”, due to its “power and reach” he talks
    about Mean Blue Meme too.
    As many of us will remember Don felt that he was unable to
    even “simply lay out a description of Graves’ original thinking, or
    Spiral Dynamics concepts, without being subjected to personal
    attacks”. Even when he simply talked about leading research
    instruments he knows better than anyone else, he would be accused of
    telling lies. A Graves quote contrasting first and second tier was
    criticised as somehow manufactured.

    NATASHA TODOROVIC: The Mean Green Hypothesis: fact or fiction?

    Right, on to what N wrote.

    To sum up a major flaw at the outset, there seems to be a premise to
    the whole article that the Yellow MGM label proponents (like Beck, or
    Wilber) are anti-Green, and coming from Orange or Blue/Orange.
    Though, Don, Ken et al have never said they are anti-Green at all.
    They have said that their Integral/Yellow MGM strategy is not anti-
    Green. NT’s research actually finds that Yellow is not anti-Green at
    all – exactly as Ken and Don have always predicted.

    It is vital to note too that NT’s research does not use as its
    subjects people who have used the MGM label or people to whom the
    label might be attached.

    The whole paper is a series of inferences from research on people who
    are not necessarily related to MGM at all. And it makes a quite
    bizarre claim, as we shall see, that MGM users are those who are most
    critical of Green. This is the reverse of what Wilber actually says.
    So NT ends up proving exactly the point Wilber makes (most critics of
    Green are Blue and Orange etc) and thinks that this disproves him.

    PAGE 1
    This page starts off pretty objective, scientific, balanced, neutral.
    “If [MGM hypothesis] were true, we would applaud those brave warriors
    who fight on our behalf against Green’s tyranny”.
    This is not language I remember ever seeing from Ken or Don and seems
    needlessly manichaean and dichotomising. No reference is given to
    such language from actual MGM proponents.

    A Graves quote follows soon underneath – an odd choice, as it seems
    to describe Blue almost as well as Green. Why not stick to the SD
    descriptions – they seemed pretty clear?

    PAGE 2

    The bottom para shows up the flaw at the heart of this research
    NT looks for clues as to who might resonate with MGM in those who
    have a high rejection of Green.
    ie the anti-MGM folk are whoever dislikes Green.
    Most critics of Green will not come from Yellow, Ken has made clear.
    And the same criticism of Green (or of anything) can be made for
    completely different reasons.
    Yellow may support a criticism of Green that is akin to one made by
    Blue but will do it for different reasons.
    It is a qualitatively different criticism when it comes from Yellow.
    Like a selfish Hell’s Angel or an altruistic Gandhi both choosing to
    disobey the law – it’s done for completely different reasons and to
    pretend it’s the same is plain silly.

    It is utterly unevidenced to lump together all criticisms of Green as
    being MGM.

    And, as we saw earlier, Yellow MGM proponents do not reject Green at

    Funnily enough, NT’s research goes on to prove that Yellow doesn’t
    reject Green – exactly as Wilber and Beck predicted.

    I seems strange to me that these findings are used to prove that Ken
    and Don are wrong, as they support what they have always said. I
    guess they disprove a sort of extreme straw man version of MGM use.

    Blue, Orange and Blue/Orange are those who most criticise Green.

    NT says (near bottom of page 2) that MGM proponents say Yellow “will
    reject Green” as it has recently been through it. I think this is
    stronger that anything I have read.

    We really need a reference for statements like this. Sure Orange may
    be a bit more sensitive to Blue, Yellow a bit more sensitised to
    Green etc etc. But `Yellow rejects Green’ – is not a key element of
    MGM. I’d love to eat my words. Show me a quote from Ken or Don.

    PAGE 3
    “Yellow accepts Green more than any other system” – this fits with
    what Ken and Don say and only disproves a rather distorted version of
    MGM definition, which NT has shown us little evidence for, though
    lots of unreferenced assertion.

    At the foot of the page there’s something about Yellow and Green
    being closer than MGM might imply. They’re right next to eachother
    already – how can they get closer than that?

    NT writes: “Neither in theory or in fact is there any reason for
    Yellow to strongly dislike Green to the degree outlined in the MGM

    PAGE 4

    But no-one ever said MGM was about disliking Green, quite the reverse.

    To say that MGM is about disliking Green suggests you paid no
    attention to anything Ken and Don have said on MGM. Or that you want
    to interpret what they have said as false.

    You jump to a conclusion:
    “Thus, according to these data, criticisms of the Green system are
    unlikely to come from `Second Tier’ or Yellow thinking”

    But wait, exactly how many MGM proponents were in your test? None!!!!

    How many people have even heard of MGM? – 0.00000005 per cent of the
    world’s population.
    Of course Don Beck, Wilber, or the handful of other MGM proponents
    never turned up in your survey. You found instead some folk who
    probably hate liberal Green types – so what!?

    This is exactly as should be expected.

    It proves absolutely nothing against MGM.

    If you want to study MGM I will help you gather enough names of MGM
    theory proponents (including me) and direct your towards MGM
    sufferers (bad label – it’s late, can’t think of a good one).

    Then you can study what’s really going on. To get the answers by
    looking at everything except the main folks we’re talking about seems
    very circuitous.

    Orange rejects Green, NT says, “despite the MGM proponents’ claim
    that the objection comes from Yellow and `second tier’ thinking”.

    It is absurd to say that Beck says that all criticism of Green is MGM
    criticism of Green. This is such a confused conflation.

    A fundamentalist bigot who criticises Green and a fat-cat capitalist
    who criticises Green are not MGM proponents. It’s nonsense to
    conflate the thinking behind the criticisms together, even in the
    instances when the criticisms are similar.

    Yellow false positives. Don has always warned about this. About
    aspirational answers on tests, particularly from pushy Orange that
    wants to be at the top of the pile.
    We all know that the SD Values Test is very easy indeed to see
    through. You say yourself that business uses all the systems language
    these days.
    It’s great that you’re updating the instrument and doing data

    Not sure that this has anything to do with MGM though – though if a
    lot of folk are marking themselves down as Yellow, but are really the
    anti-Green Blues and Oranges (to use the crudest, generalised nodal
    labels, that miss the complexity in many ways etc) then that
    certainly would confuse what Ken and Don were trying to do.

    There are all kinds of nut-jobs around who hate Green, encouraging
    them isn’t necessarily a good idea – if it were happening.

    PAGE 5

    “Although the date contradicts MGM”

    I’m afraid this is completely unproven. Ask anyone objective…..
    You proved that lots of first tier memes hate Green. No prizes for
    that, I’m afraid.

    You have a Profile no. 1 – someone who dislikes Green. This proves
    nothing about Beck’s strategy.

    Top of second column: you conflate antipathy towards Green and Red
    with MGM strategists. But Yellow MGM proponents feels sympathy, not

    The language further down about Red and Green being “attack oriented”
    is not something I remember.

    Reference please.

    They “prey” on Blue and Orange.

    I feel like I’m reading and English tabloid newspaper. Has Beck said

    You do a lot to try to prove that there is no correlation between
    Green and Red.

    Have you ever actually seen nice self-sacrificing Green eco-radicals
    during street disorder? Have you ever been there when the looting and
    smashing and burning and street battles start? Have you seen who
    gets involved and who does what? I suspect the answer is no…. I can
    certainly tell you that Blue and Orange are not greatly in evidence
    at this point! Green and Red are in evidence. Your 600 `Profiles’ (of
    who?) somehow prove otherwise? They prove nothing of the sort.

    How do you explain Kohlberg’s findings of egoistic level 2s alongside
    idealistic/egalitarian level 6s chanting the same Level 6 slogans at
    60s demos?

    How do you explain the Level 6s who regress to become `temporary 2s’?

    This is empirical research – very influential and much-discussed over
    recent decades.

    Wilber refers to it as proof for his MGM/Boomeritis hypothesis.

    Your research does not refute this evidence. It doesn’t even mention

    Please focus on the evidence – refute the evidence, not your own
    incorrect straw-man version.

    I know so many Green radicals, postmodernists etc who idolise rebels,
    terrorist groups, street uprisings, Panthers, armed struggle,
    stealing back `what’s ours’ etc etc. Is this not the MGM Ken refers
    to? Chris is tied in with Indymedia now. Surely he must have noticed
    this by now? You’ll see it in their open streaming news all the time.
    Anti-Orange, anti-Blue, pro-Green and sometimes pro-Red.

    PAGE 6

    You say you’ve looked at 3,000 cases to disprove a Red/Green link-up
    in `attacks’ on other memes.

    Cases of what? You haven’t looked at protests like those Kohlberg
    looked at, or any external lifecondition that is likely prompt MGM
    regressions. You just had folk fill in nice questionnaires.

    Red doesn’t even fill in questionnaires.

    Did any of your data include communal Green radicals or
    postmodernists or Indymedia folk? Anyone who might be more likely
    than average to be MGM orientated?

    You give no suggestion that it was.

    PAGE 7

    You say that Green doesn’t accept Red. What about the black gangsta,
    the rebel, the Hells Angel. Do Greens reject all these? Don’t you
    remember the counterculture’s embrace of the Hells Angels as heroes,
    even of drug dealers. Green liberals love anti-police black
    street/rap culture (or at least they do in the UK), from a safe

    You try to prove that Green doesn’t “prey” (your term) on Blue and

    Yet, so many Greens I know loathe Blue and Orange. They are anti-
    business, anti-tradition, anti-Church. You’ve presumably read the
    Indymedia, Pacifica etc sites that Chris recommends.

    Surely you must be able to see this. If you data shows the reverse –
    it’s your data that’s no good.

    I spent 20 years around these groups. Living and breathing with them
    I know what they’re saying. I’ve published Chomsky and Agee and
    Stockwell and other key left critics. I’ve said it all myself at one
    time or another.

    PAGE 8

    “So, how can the Green system be predatory and prone to attack Blue
    and Orange”.

    Go to any radical or eco bookshop or site and you’ll see. I can’t
    believe you can really believe what you’re saying here. You seem
    dissociated from reality.

    Again trying to disprove MGM you say that “Blue and Orange must be
    described as being `meaner’ than Green”.

    Yes, this is exactly what Wilber says.

    I don’t understand how you can criticise him – when you don’t seem to
    have read him. You keep agreeing with what he says, presuming he says
    the reverse.

    Near end of page 8 you say that Green is less inclined to attack than
    MGM proponents might imply. Where do they imply anything about this?

    PAGE 10

    “Capricious stereotyping tool”, “Inquisitors wield MGM as a coercive
    tool” – we seem to have left any semblance of scientific
    investigation far behind with this loaded language.

    “cheap name-calling”; demands that critics must “recant”.

    Where? When?

    References please.

    You complain about “weaponising”, “prejudice”, “hatreds”….

    Like “Second Tier elitist”, “Yellow elitist”, “neo-
    conservative”, “Republican” haven’t been used as weapons by
    Chris/Avyorth/Rob/Halima et al….?! And to far more destructive
    effect. Beck was just trying to teach about SD, after all.

    Beck doesn’t call any individual a virus, as you suggest – it’s types
    in people not types of people.

    PAGE 11

    Ad hominem attacks.

    Let’s try to recollect who is best-known on a number of lists for ad
    hominem attacks.


    And what v-meme seems most active in Avyorth?

    Green, left, anti-Bush, anti-Blair….

    Avyorth is a living breathing example of MGM much of the time –
    despite his occasional lapses into actually being an interesting and
    thoughtful human being.

    Ironically Chris supported Avyorth’s meanest of mean attacks, for
    rather low political reasons.

    PAGE 12

    “Few have thought to doubt” MGM – really?
    “Few ever dared to question” – eh?
    Critics of MGM were “strategically silenced”.

    Were you on any Integral or SD lists ever?

    It has been the most contentious and widely debated, and questioned,
    concept imaginable!

    Writing a diatribe as `Conclusion’ is not good science.

    Can you please show me anyone who was ever silenced by Beck?
    (Avyorth, Rob, Halima, Sam etc certainly were never `silenced’ –
    quite the reverse).

    I can show you people who were silenced by Avyorth – who were
    literally too scared too post. They were mostly always women, I
    noticed. Pig-headed masochists like me don’t mind another torrent of
    abusive invective from Avyorth, others do. They’re written out of
    your version of history.

    You warn against missing the complexity and using simplistic labels –
    Wilber has stressed that indvidual development is “infinitely”
    complex, even his UL quadrant has dozens of different spiralling and
    looping lines of development. I’ve always found it strange that he
    gets accused of simplistic typology when this is the reverse of his

    I should say that I have personally experienced a relativist anti-
    hierarchy eco-Buddhist anarchist who almost destroyed the Integral
    forum I set up in London through MGM grand-standing.

    People around the world have had experiences of MGM.
    Somehow `scientific’ articles saying that can’t have happened just
    don’t convince.

    You can’t argue with people’s own experience. Ken’s experience, mine,
    Don’s, whoever’s.

    In footnote 24 you say Ken uses Orange terms to describe MGM and uses
    Green descriptors for Yellow.

    Where, where, where? What is this aversion to including clear

    Sorry I couldn’t spent more time on this and do a far better job with


  14. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    OK, I promised I won’t react, so I will abstain, but this debate is peripheral to the main body of concerns of the P2P Foundation, and I propose to close it.

    I’m including a last statement sent to me by Natasha Todorovic of

    Here it is:

    “1. Wilber never communicated with me directly – if he said “Way to go, Natasha!”, I never heard it and don’t know what he would referring to.

    2. Matthew and I disagree on the undercurrent related to this point, if he is right, he believes it discredits my entire argument; if Wilber did write this somewhere, it doesn’t change the central debate. Frankly, I didn’t see if/where Wilber stated that DQ/ER most strongly criticize Green so he’d need to provide a properly sourced quote, if so, it doesn’t negate the rest of the evidence which goes to the the heart of an argument. If Wilber did write this, so what, even a stopped clock is right twice a day ;-). And I’d like some evidence to support any such claim.

    3. Given that people from II have run screaming out of there, applying to us for jobs, and reporting on the “Conservative backers” supporting Wilber/II, the non-neo-con argument doesn’t hold weight.

    On the neo-con argument: given the distinct patterns which match neo-con rhetoric, it is easy to make that connect, particularly with his rightist backers. It seems Matthew is unable or unwilling to listen to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O’Reilley, Anne Coulter, etc. otherwise he would notice that many lines in Boomeritis could have come from their mouths. The only difference is Wilber replaced “Liberal” with “mean green” and almost points it out in Boomeritis: “But liberal – green-meme liberals” (Wilber, 210)). Many spiritually oriented people don’t pay attention to politics as they feel it sullies their consciousness, therefore they would have difficulty making the connect that many of you have made. He leaves lots of wiggle room, of course, but the core of the case is pretty clear.

    Matthew is working on a single peripheral point as if that discredits the central arguments in the debate. The fundamental premise of Boomeritis was that Red/Green somehow combine to make a toxic sludge preventing people from moving to “second tier;” Thus, in Boomeritis: “That mixture of pluralism and narcissism is boomeritis, the final roadblock to a world at peace” (Wilber, 38) and “boomeritis is one of the primary roadblocks to an integral embrace” (Wilber, 38). They made the simplistic complex equivalence that pluralism = Green/FS and narcissism = Red/CP. Both ideas are flawed. At that time, Wilber and Beck were attempting to justify their attacks on Green by claiming they were doing so from a second tier perspective (as if that exists) for the purpose of uplifting those sorry souls and assisting them to get to second tier. For example, they saw “some 50 million people [Paul Ray’s Cultural Creatives] … are at green, poised for that momentous leap [as seen by Graves] into the hyperspace of integral awareness.” (Wilber, 156) More to the point, in keeping with Beck’s degrees in Bible, it makes sense they would believe: “And if this is so [the spiral of development/Spiral Dynamics], we have found the roadmap to God.” (Wilber, 264 & 273)

    Additionally, Beck has often claimed that when a person moves into a new system they most viciously criticized the system that they’ve moved out of. Wilber repeated this. They framed their argument as coming out of a “higher” perspective to justify their attacks on those they perceived to be attacking them. For example, “Green sees all yellow as being red, as being mean and arrogant, and it reacts violently to that.” (Wilber, 144) Wilber identified the 415 area code as the source of most of the threats against his life (reported to us by Beck), and this being the San Francisco area plus his belief that the Berkley protesters were Green, their conclusion followed that they must be Yellow or beyond.

    Finally, throughout Boomeritis, Wilber demonstrated that he couldn’t tell the difference between Orange and Green and Yellow. These are more serious arguments than whether Wilber feels I proved one of his minor points or not. The central tenets of his arguments for Boomeritis are not based in sound Gravesian or Spiral Dynamics analysis because they can’t seem to recognize the systems in operation or to comprehend that there are many expressions of these systems, and that those expressions can appear for multiple reasons.. “

  15. AvatarBeck

    I have not been able to contain my laughter when I read Natasha’s attempt to discredit the concept of MGM by using what is known as “Form A: The Psychological Map” research instrument. I wrote most of the test myself and it was used by several of my graduate students at the University of North Texas. The test uses (1) a power matching feature by pitting each of the six primary systems (BO through GT) against each other and (2) a series of 10 stimulus questions with six answers, and a 12 point distribution process. The test was written in the late l970s years before what we called MGM began to express itself fully. It was NOT designed to pick up any of the characteristics of MGM any more than an HIV-AIDS test will detect a broken heart. I understand she received her degree from a distance education program in Scotland.

    Basically, the intent of MGM was to unlock the very strong anti-DQ and anti-ER elements in this country and in Europe. Since she is from Serbia, she may not be aware of what we experienced during the l960s and l970s. She has attempted on several occasions to break into our private websites without permission so she was clearly looking for something. Would not be wise for her to deny it since we have the evidence.

    In the years I worked with her boyfriend, Cowan, I never sensed he understood GT-Yellow, much less Second Tier. (He now writes that he no longer advocates same which is a direct rejection of the Gravesian model.) I had a conversation with Clare about this the Thanksgiving before his death in February of l986. Cowan told me that Natasha used to try to “channel” Graves from the other side so maybe she has information I don’t have. And Cowan has the nerve to claim on his website that I am a New Ager. I just heard the entire SDi constellation of more than 5,000 people give a large horse laugh.

    All of this is about their attempt to undermine me, to claim that they, alone, understand Graves, and should be the only ones allowed to present it. I am happy for them to thrive and make a lot of money, but they will go to any length to deny the same to me and my large Constellation. Their absolutism and certitude,bordering on closed mindedness is truly disappointing to me and others. Let the record speak for itself.

    The MGM strategy was extremely successful and many are now beginning to see the Yellow and Turquoise light. I’m sure Cowan still calls men in the Promise Keeper’s movement as “banana brains,” that capitalism “sucks,” and that America should be spelled with a K not a C since it is “a fascist state.” He has a very bad memory, but I have all of this on tape.

    Life makes many interesting and challenging turns, and we all have a lot more to do than engage in this needless tic-for-tac but I have been silent on these matters for too long.
    I will not follow up on any of this but is time you knew about what is happening.

    Don (They even charge that I have been supporting terrorism because of the work we are doing in Palestine. Go to and read for yourself.)

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