Thursday, May 06, 2010

Michel Bauwens: What are Integral Politics? (Integral Review issue on Politics)

Michael Bauwens offers a great summary of the recent issue of Integral Review, which focused in integral politics.

What are integral politics?

photo of Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens
3rd May 2010

The Integral Review is an offshoot of the integrative movement, mostly from the Wilber version, but they have become largely autonomous and are open to many voices, unlike mainstream neoconservative Wilberism.

Their last issue is of a very high quality and deals specifically with the theme of Integral Politics

In her introductory editorial, chief editor Sara Ross writes:

“Our stated aim for this special issue was to make a “politically significant contribution to public knowledge and discourse, to illuminate a comprehensive range of considerations that need to be integrated into effective approaches to today’s—and the future’s—political behaviors and complex political issues, policies, and systems.”

What can adding integral to politics possibly mean though?

Here is an example from an interview of Jan Inglis, conducted by Russ Volckman:

“Jan Inglis focuses primarily on local communities and the use of an intervention designed, tested and implemented in the US and in Sweden by Sara Nora Ross and others. She describes how this process (TIP: The Integral Process for Working on Complex Issues) works (see here for a workshop overview or here for articles). Fundamentally, hers is a think globally, act locally strategy.

Inglis’ work has been primarily with individuals and communities, particularly from her small community base in British Columbia, Canada. She is focused on how change occurs and how individuals evolve into healthier ways of being. Thus, her attention has been on individual and cultural change. Her interests have led her into peace movements over the years, as well as engagement in local community politics. She has engaged in bringing many different fields of study and action to inform one another and find ways of creating an integrative approach to social change. She founded the Integrative Learning Institute and its curriculum for social change agents, the Cultural Coaches Training Program.”

(Jan’s interview is here)

The interview material leads Russ to conclude there are two ways of looking integrally at politics:

“To address the world of integral politics we can look through at least two lenses, which can be expanded through a metatheoretical approach into many more lenses.

The first is integral as it represents a “theory of everything,” that is, it can produce models and maps in which we can integrate widely diverse ways of knowing and researching political dynamics and systems on the individual and collective levels, include “meta-collectives” which move our attention from community and nation to the global perspective of politics. It can include lenses related to governance, agency and communion and many others. The point is that to gain an integral perspective involves the application of transdisciplinary approaches through the use of multiple lenses.

A second is to understand politics from a stage of development perspective. Here we would consider what politics might look like in a social stage where the focus in on family and tribes, as well as other stages of phases of human and cultural development in which politics is played out through institutions to enforce rules and correct behavior, to one that seeks to integrate diversity through transcending and including all those individuals and cultures at various stages of development. In these interviews we can glimpse both these perspectives, albeit they have not been made explicit. I trust that these interviews are in service of our development and learning in this process.”

Read the rest of his excellent summary/review of the issue.

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