Thursday, October 13, 2005

More on Integral Politics

After a bit of reading, I'm wondering if perhaps we need to redefine our politicians, and thereby revitalize our politics, rather than create a new political model.

Most of the integral politics articles promote ideas similar to Clinton and Blair's Third Way or Bush's Compassionate Conservatism (great marketing tool that was never intended to be implemented). These approaches attempt to find a middle ground between liberalism and conservatism, a position that incorporates the best of both sides.

Using Spiral Dynamics as the framework, these approaches attempt to bridge the gap between the Blue meme (Christian fundamentalism), the Orange meme (free-market capitalism), and the Green meme (postmodern liberalism). Of course, the reality is much more complex than these simple phrases, but it gives a hint of the complexity of the problem.

The existing approaches are an outside-in process, creating a model and asking politicians to adopt it. However, I think the real solution may be an inside-out process. My take is that we need to create politicians who are capable of disidentifying from their own particular value meme and who are capable of seeing through the lens of value memes other than their own. The prerequisite for this skill has generally been thought to be second-tier thinking (yellow meme or higher on the Spiral).

I suspect, though, that there are simple techniques that can dislodge people from their particular value meme even if they haven't reached second tier. Psychosynthesis offers tools to achieve this goal (disidentification exercises), and Genpo Roshi's Big Mind (subscription required) can help free individuals from their ego identification, which facilitates multiple-perspective capabilities.

Rather than building an integral politics, we may need to create integral politicians and let the politics grow out of their work. More to come on this topic.

After further reflection, I think we need both an outside-in and an inside-out approach to this problem. The outside-in aspect should be a loose framework, though, and not a rigid "party platform" as we traditionally think of it.

A truly integral politician must be able to define a just government in terms of collective values (interior-collective), social structures (exterior-collective), individual needs (exterior-individual), and unique visions (interior-individual).

S/he must be able to speak authentically about this vision of a just government to all three of the major value memes in our nation (Blue, Orange, and Green) in such way that each feels heard and validated.

This is the prospect of a truly integral politics.

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