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In this premiere episode of the brand new “Ken Show” Q&A series, Ken Wilber responds to questions about immigration, the dangerous excesses of the political right, and the regressive tendencies we are seeing in the postmodern left. Ken and Corey then offer a fascinating exploration of feminism and the need for both men and women to better harmonize the public sphere of politics, career, and religion with the private sphere of family, hearth, and home.
- Question #1: Immigration and the Dangers of Political Tribalism
- Question #2: The State of Green: Progressive or Regressive?
From Corey deVos:
We are all watching with broken hearts as the latest stories around the Trump administration’s separation of immigration families and internment of children of all ages, as well as the accusations that these children may be abused and given psychotropic drugs in order to keep them sedate, and the failure to reunite many of these children with their families even after the parents have been deported. This feels like a genuine evil that seems to be creeping across the world, particularly the West, and a great many find themselves at a loss when it comes to responding to these nightmares.
Here in integral land, we are often and rightly critical of the worst excesses of the green altitude, and, by extension, those who identify with the political left. You wrote an entire book about this, Boomeritis — which I often say has since metastasized into an even more nasty “millennialitis” over the last decade or so.
However, it seems increasingly clear that, in today’s world, the excesses of the political right — mostly coming from red and amber altitude — have become particularly dangerous in the age of Trump, and likely pose a far greater threat to global civilization than anything we are currently seeing from the left.
For example, placing developmentally-vulnerable kids in “tender age centers” — a type of internment camp for young immigrant children and infants — is far more corrosive to our social values, our global standing, and our national identity than any “safe space” on the left could ever hope to be. I am not a fan of slippery slope arguments, but this one hell of a greasy hill, and concentration camps are clearly a lot worse than safe spaces.
Add Trump’s continued adulation of some of the world’s worst pre-modern autocrats and his petulant alienation of our modern and postmodern allies, seen most recently at the G7 conferences, and it seems clear that we are dealing with one of the most regressive political forces since World War II, which is already beginning to undermine the geopolitical structures and alliances that have stabilized and supported the West over the last 70 years.
So here’s my hypothesis. It seems obvious that the excesses of the political right present a more brute-force threat to the world in the short term. However, it may be that the excesses of the political left are equally corrosive, but in a more insidious and long-term fashion, since they diminish our ability to adequately contain and resist the regressive forces that are now coming from the right, all throughout the Western world:
- By dissolving the amber structures that are supposed to “put a cap” on our collective red impulses,
- By creating postmodern social media platforms that actually reinforce anti-intellectualism, narcissism, and tribalism,
- By perpetuating a strain of cultural relativism that makes it impossible to say “these values are superior to those values” (even while enforcing the superiority of their own values)
- By plunging our culture into a Warholian nightmare where everyone’s “15 minutes” are stretched to infinity and become the basis of a new set of 21st-century immortality projects.
This gets especially difficult when a plurality of people who are signaling green virtues and slogans are not themselves coming from the green altitude cognitively, but are rather enacting and enforcing green platitudes from an often red or amber altitude (as we will get to in the next question).
So I suppose my questions are:
- Is it possible that some people’s “green allergy” are causing them to overlook or minimize the dangers coming from the political right? Should integral thinkers be paying at least as much attention to the excesses of the right as we do to those coming from the political left?
- What sort of heuristic “guard rails” can integral enforce in order to help down-regulate the political left and support the healthiest possible expression of the green altitude? How can we support the continued unfolding of green, without saying “just be more Integral”?
- What are the appropriate integral responses in all four quadrants to the justified outrage that the Trump administration is creating? How should we hold this in our hearts and minds in the UL? how should we relate and engage with each other differently in the LL? What actions should we be taking in the UR? How should we organize differently and exert integral power in the LR?
About Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.
About Corey deVos
Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.
Its so great to hear Ken speak about current issues.
The political right presents a threat to the world in the short term! What about global warming?
I received my masters in transpersonal psychology years ago and understand Ken’s theory. For over a decade I’ve been working in low-income area public schools. I imagined it would be interesting to revisit academic thinking regarding human development and politics since it can be a driver of culture and policy. Republican policies are sick. People, in general, are unaware and uncaring of the severe lack of resources and failure to invest in the human capital of what they often claim to be our number one priority, the education of our children. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I have seen many kids with severe behavior issues make great progress at the schools I have worked with. Yet, people continue to support right-wing and centrist politicians that posture right along with evil choices such as under-resourcing schools and the essential needs of poor kids. Many low-income area schools are not doing okay. We continue to live in a society that chooses to send kids to alternative school and jail, essentially because they are too greedy, stupid and ignorant to understand the opportunity cost of ignoring and shutting out others.
Ken’s posturing, not only in this video, but also in the segment with Terry Patten, supposedly about activism, where Ken droned on and on about anything but activism, isn’t just another disappointment, it’s another clear display of his own ignorance, greed and stupidity. We live in a world full of “public intellectuals” with so little integrity that they are willing to go along and get along with the most absurd speculative talk about how to set the world right. But, we know everything we need to know. Anyone making excuses for evil, republican policy and rebranding old news as enlightenment now is part of the problem. We can understand evolution, in part, based on information from the past. We can understand a spiritual path, in part, based on lessons from the past. But, you don’t understand a damn thing if you can’t cop to what is happening right now with a commitment to shaping the future.
It’s a shame, because the world needs theories that legitimize humanistic perspectives and real world problem solving approaches. What we are getting here, instead, is someone that doesn’t seem to have a problem acting like a philosopher king, when in truth, he doesn’t appreciate the impact he is having in the most fundamental, glaring way that he is showing up – as an old white man. No amount of perspective changes this simple and obvious void in his awareness. No amount of raging against “social justice warrior” mentality make a difference.
If you haven’t figured out why evolution needs a democratic response to the power of the tea party, grounded in the voices that have not been heard – you’re not enlightened, you’re stupid. Civility and going along to get along at all costs isn’t healthy for humanity. Equating the policies of both parties is a pathetic justification for spending the rest of your life in a bubble. Meditation – the ability to release one’s self from the attachments of life – is an essential tool and we must all have that ability to live in a sort of bubble. But, if you believe that enlightenment consists of staying in that bubble for the rest of your life, you aren’t clued in – you are pathetic.
Enough feigning the idea that you shouldn’t call out republican BS because democratic BS is worse in the long run. The answer is obvious and people need to hear it here and now. Anyone who does not push the need for investment in human capital is leading people down a very dark path. If you don’t understand that people need to be compelled to do this and why we need to push for these policies, you are too broken to lead others.
I’ve said enough. Although I enjoy learning from anyone’s perspective, I’m not so attached to this website and this community that I’m unwilling to say my peace. This is a dark path that Ken and Scott are taking. Do not fail to challenge their nonsense.