On the Front Line of the Culture War — Give Me Some Real Examples, Not Just Theories!

Ken Wilber Cognitive, Ethical, Perspectives, Politics, The Ken Show, Values, Video, What is a more hopeful future for civilization?, Worldviews 14 Comments

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fter a series of episodes that focused on a more comprehensive theory of politics, and several others exploring the rampant polarization and extremism of today’s political culture, we thought it was a good time to drill down a bit more and offer some more concrete policy proposals.

Watch as Ken and Corey offer their views on some of the most controversial policy debates of our time, each of which has become a battle line in our constantly escalating culture wars.

Most of these questions were generated by the Integral Life Community. Come say hi, and let us know what you think of this episode!

Issue #1: Abortion

As Alan Dershowitz said, “everyone is right when it comes to abortion”. Our job, of course, is to figure out who is more right, and what to do about it. When do rights start, and is there something between “pro-life” and “pro-choice” stances?

Issue #2: The Death Penalty and Assisted Suicide

How much power over life and death should the state be allowed? How much should the individual be allowed? Watch as Ken and Corey offer an integral consideration of the death penalty and assisted suicide.

Issue #3: Universal Health Care and the Profit Motive

Should some things such as healthcare or prisons be exempt from the profit motive, due to perverse incentives? Should universal health care be afforded to all American citizens?

Issue #4: Vaccinations

We are currently in the midst of a dangerous resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, largely due to states that allow “personal exemptions” for vaccinating their children, as well as an epidemic of misinformation about vaccines on the internet. Should people be forced to be vaccinated, even if some believe it can cause autism?


Issue #5: Drone Warfare

One of the most controversial military issues of our day, here Ken and Corey discuss the positives and negatives of using robotic drones instead of live soldiers in the battlefield. How do we reconcile the inevitability of the militarization of this technology with the moral considerations around how the technology is actually used?


Issue #6: The Draft

For decades Americans have enjoyed a 100% voluntary military force, even though the laws around military conscription are still on the books and can be re-enacted at any point. Here Ken and Corey discuss the merits of mandatory enlistment, and how some sort of mandatory service might help Americans overcome their collective cynicism, apathy, and polarization.


Issue #7: Mandatory Voting

Some nations like Australia are famous for making voting mandatory for all citizens. Considering how poor the voter turnout tends to be in the U.S., should America do something similar, or find other ways to incentivize civic participation?

Image: The Fifth Sacred Civic by Android Jones [+view gallery]

Music by Stuart Davis

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Learn more about the major and minor scales of the integral political model in Ken’s eBook, Integral Politics: Its Essential Ingredients, available to download for free.

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Ken Wilber

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”.

Corey deVos

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.

Notable Replies

  1. Hi everyone, we want to hear your own views about these incredibly complex and controversial issues. Let us know what you think of the discussion here!

  2. @corey-devos, is there a reason climate change wasn’t included in that list? It seems to me that all the other issues in the list should be secondary; after all, if Earth is uninhabitable, none of those issues really matter. If there is any current world-wide problem in need of Integral solutions, it’s climate change. And climate change is absolutely subject to the “culture wars” given the same Amber groups that are anti-abortion are also likely to be climate deniers. It’s the same cognitive dissonance that’s being triggered, psychologically speaking.

  3. Dear Ken and Corey,

    I would love to see a deeper dive into the vaccine issue with an analysis that utilizes the quadrants? Corey offered his summary position which mirrors the conventional meme found in popular media and introduced us to the very dangerous yet popular position of herd immunity as reasoning for everyone being vaccinated. A deeper dive would require a more weighted understanding of the risks and benefits as well as an actual appreciation for the individual as an inviolable holon with respect to the injection of anything into our bodies. Thanks.

  4. Living here in Seattle and being in a “working-class” demographic it seems to me that the “Front Line of the Culture Wars” is more than a perspective it’s realtime tension and sometimes life threatening danger. One of the things that I’ve been noticing in the Integral community is a lot of great ideas but not a lot of examples coming from people in my situation. I don’t have the luxury of working in Academia or a NGO in which I’m surrounded by higher level thinkers I’m dealing with lots of Red and Amber with Orange and Green mixed in every day.

    For years I’ve been shifting my language with people depending on the level they’re at(which is easy for me to see very quickly) and I was relatively comfortable doing that. Today the tension is so high and people are on the verge of snapping it seems like. I admit that my tolerance is being challenged by all different levels when I perceive that they are expressing views that are contributing to this dangerous potential for violence. I’m sure most have seen on the news what’s going on here in the North Western US. There’s a “Mean-green” colliding with “Red-driven Amber & Orange” and it’s scary.

    I’ve found myself regressing to a Mean-green when I encounter Red & Amber Trumpeters. My tolerance for the Trump phenomenon is at an all-time low right now. I think that’s because I have personal history of life threatening violence being thrust upon me and my fight/flight mechanism can be stimulated when I’m seeing things being expressed by people that are dangerous to others or myself.

    I guess what I’m saying here is that I wish there were more examples in the Integral community from people that are on “the actual front lines” and not just the comfortable bubble of philosophical circles or Academia. There must be others out there like myself. Everyday I will deal with everyone from Construction workers to Restaurant workers to general laborers,etc. This is where the “Rubber meets the road” and it’s putting my Integral understanding to a real difficult test. Any suggestions would be truly appreciated!

  5. I’m with you on this one. There is a need for Academia. Whilst we all have our own journey, without Academia clearing some of the path for us, we would all be taking much longer to make our progress. So Academia has real value for me when I, who profess to understand the Integral Path, make use of that knowledge in my day to day life.
    I am a family solicitor/mediator who works in deprived areas with deprived families in the North of England. I meet and deal with the whole 1st Tier of the spectrum. I work with the abused mother who has no self-identity, who is simply the object of abuse of the person who has fathered some of her children, with the parents who believe that “spare the rod and spoil the child” administered on their egoic basis is the safest way to raise a child. I deal with parents at odds with each other, believing that physical, emotional and verbal attacks are the way to show the other parent that their way of parenting is the one true way. (So many parents at green in respect of their understanding of parenting and at red when they try to resolve their differences with each other.)
    So where does Integral help here? I remember that red will laugh at and run right over green where green tries to help red with green tools. I remember that blue will see red behaviour as criminal. An easy example: the power of the state to take a child away from its family is a simple exercise of red. The justification may be blue or above, but the exercise of the power is simply red. So, if a child is at risk of harm, I have no issue with the state behaving at a red level here and removing the child whatever the child or family may think.
    More nuanced is where there are two parents at blue, but with different beliefs. Here the child is not suffering from either style of parenting but is suffering from the conflict between the two parents. Here my work will be first to see whether there is any common understanding at blue which the parents can access - let’s explore the parents’ stage of parenting. These discussions, where successful, can lead to long term solutions as the area within which the parents need to accept change is a comfortable place for them. Sometimes it can be helpful to bring a little orange into the mix (let’s forget what is right and wrong and look at what might work for you…) but for this to be a long term solution - that is, for it to last beyond the parent’s first conversation outside my office - there needs to be a change in the stage that the parents are parenting at. For this to stick outside of the support of my office is not so regular. However we do what we can…

Continue the discussion at community.integrallife.com

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