If there’s one thing that people on both ends of the political spectrum can agree on, it’s this: the system is rigged.
That is a central theme of Donald Trump’s campaign, as he claims “nobody knows the [rigged] system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” We also hear it from the left when Bernie Sanders exhorts us to “not settle for a rigged economy held in place by a corrupt campaign finance system.” Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson asserts that the electoral system itself is “a rigged game”. Green Party candidate Jill Stein promises to “fix our rigged system.” Even Hillary Clinton calls for a constitutional amendment to regulate the flow of money into politics, all while she is herself seen by a majority of voters as dishonest and avaricious.
So … is the system rigged? In this podcast I attempt to shed the light of integral thinking on that question.
I start by recalling that all political/economic systems in all times and places are rigged to benefit the people who control them. Tribal and clan elders dictate all aspects of life for their people. Warlords and monarchs rule vast territories through systems of domination and exploitation carried out by elite enforcers.
Rigged? Corrupt? Yes, especially to subsequent generations who seek to cure the cruelties of these dominator systems by creating a new system that requires the consent of the governed.
Modern democratic governments have virtually eliminated abject domination by developing a legal system of rights and laws, resulting in societies of unprecedented peace and prosperity. What a relief! But although “all boats have risen” we can see that advantages still accrue to the people in charge, now less in the form of custom and ethnic patronage and more in the form of money and influence.
In the US we find ourselves in a political system where our legislators spend half their time soliciting contributions from corporations and the wealthy. And an economic system where for two generations 90% of growth has flowed to the top 1% of the population. As we grasp the impact of this (and other injustices) we evolve into a postmodern worldview, where we begin to look upon our own modern system as being corrupt.
So now integral thinkers can recognize a metapattern emerging. We can see that over time humanity has created a series of systems, each designed to right the wrongs of the previous system. Essentially, the workings of any system is seen as corruption by people at the next stage of development. This bigger pattern — let’s call it the System — has been in place since the dawn of humanity and it continues to evolve systems that are ever more equitable and humane.
So, two systems: 1) the political/economic system in which we are embedded, and 2) the bigger System of cultural evolution. Both are rigged, but we can be grateful that the second is rigged to unrig the first, stage-by-stage.
Have a listen and let me know what you think!
About Jeff Salzman
Jeff Salzman worked with Ken Wilber for several years in building the Integral Institute. He is a co-founder of Boulder Integral, the first bricks-and-mortar venue dedicated to the development of integral consciousness. These days Jeff provides integrally-inspired commentary on politics and culture on Integral Life and The Daily Evolver.