The Spectrum of Political Thought

Ken Wilber Audio, Conversations, Perspectives, Politics Leave a Comment

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More than ever, the world is in need of a new political vision — one that fully honors the brilliant multi-perspectival mechanics of modern democracy, allowing various forms of political thought to inform and influence our decision making, while avoiding the paralysis of ideological gridlock that has become the new norm for American governance. Whether you are on the Right or the Left, whether you are a staunch individualist or a radical collectivist, whether you are seeking to transform society or to preserve it, all of these views have their rightful place in the political process.

Just one year away from the 2012 Presidential election, it seems that the overall volume of our political and ideological differences have just about reached a breaking point. Whether we are talking about the rise of the Tea Party, the emergence of #OccupyWallStreet as the world’s first truly global protest, the bickering and political sniping that we see in the Republican debates, or the disillusionment that many liberals feel about President Obama, it’s clear that there are some very different and very impassioned ideas about how to lead the U.S. into a new era of prosperity and social responsibility. All of these ideas are competing for the political spotlight, all are equally entrenched in their own partial truths, all are seeking to dominate or eliminate other points of view, and in the end, all are somehow responsible for the drawing and quartering of the American Dream.

More than ever, the world is in need of a new political vision—one that fully honors the brilliant multi-perspectival mechanics of modern democracy, allowing various forms of political thought to inform and influence our decision making, while avoiding the paralysis of ideological gridlock that has become the new norm for American governance. Whether you are on the Right or the Left, whether you are a staunch individualist or a radical collectivist, whether you are seeking to transform society or to preserve it, all of these views have their rightful place in the political process. However, none of these views are comprehensive enough to set the full agenda for U.S. or global discourse—rather, they all complement each other in some irreducible way, requiring a simple but sophisticated framework to help make sense of these various schools of political thought, so that we have a better sense of their relevance and application to specific problems and policies.

Even though the discussion of integral politics typically takes the US political landscape as its primary reference point, the content and context neutrality of the integral political framework (along with AQAL itself) allows for nearly universal application. In the age of increasingly globalized economic, environmental, and human rights concerns, the need for an equally globalized political framework is perhaps only surpassed in magnitude by the need for integral politicians.

The need to make at least some sense of the upcoming presidential elections in the US—along with Libya, Egypt, Russia, and France—is only avoidable by the most savvy media luddites. For the rest of us, this need quickly becomes a requirement, particularly after reflecting on Ken’s call for a requisite unity in knowledge and political theory. Regardless of your angle of approach to this topic, our striving for political sense-making is best served by the framework Ken outlines in this talk. He takes as his starting point a quadratic unpacking of the political typology advanced by Lawry Chickering and Drexel Sprecher. To that he adds three major political axes—internal/external, individual/collective, and progressive/conservative—along with a spectrum of 3 prominent cultural stages. The resultant framework equally accounts for why Buddha was a Republican (and, using the same equations, we can determine that Jesus Christ was a radical socialist), why some liberals and conservatives have more in common that you might suspect, and why the leading edge in most political circles has largely failed to garner the political will needed to dampen the dangerous influence of religious fundamentalism.

Written by Corey deVos

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”.

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