Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Vol. 6 No. 1 Mar 2010


Sara Nora Ross

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“Sweet Science:” A Proposal for Integral Macropolitics

Daniel Gustav Anderson

Abstract: This treatise proposes the practice of becoming-responsible as a basis for integral micropolitics, defined as taking active responsibility for the well-being of the totality of living beings without exception, for the sake of that well-being alone. After reviewing two extant integral models for political action and interaction, demonstrating some of the limitations inherent in them, some ways are outlined in which the characteristic features of becoming-responsible—including critical clarity, compassion, competence, and consciousness—can be expressed in the realm of public concern; first, theoretically, drawing on a model proposed by poet and artist William Blake, and second, also historically, reflecting on an experiment in radical democracy in Chile (1970-1973), such that both examples critique and advance the claims and methods of mainstream integral theory as well as the alternative approach elaborated in this essay.

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The Politics of Terrorism: Power, Legitimacy, and Violence

Richard A. Couto

Abstract: This paper examines and juxtaposes discourses about terrorism, violence, and political leadership. It presents generalizations about terrorism—a form of political violence by, for, and against the state—and politics and violence based on the theories of Max Weber and Hannah Arendt. The stark contrasts drawn from these theories include power as non-violent strength (Arendt) versus power as violence-dependent (Weber) and the struggle for legitimacy between different agents (states and individuals) as well as terrorism by, for, and against the state. This reframing of power leads to judging a lack of power where there is violence, and the presence of power where one observes non-violence. An examination of political and criminal violence leads to questions about deliberate and purposeful violence, indirect and structural violence that has political consequences, and their relationship to terrorism.

It expands the application of terrorism to include indirect structural violence by indicating its relationship to direct violence, not only in traditionally-viewed terrorist action but in the ignored terror of, for example, inner cities. Terrorism has many forms by many actors. To synthesize the results of these lines of reasoning leads to a conclusion with considerable implications for politics and for political leadership. The politics of terrorism suggest a central counter-terrorist approach: de-politicizing the violence of terrorists whenever possible and using the authority and power of the state to institutionalize it as criminal violence. This, in turn, also means politicizing other forms of violence, such as capital punishment, and their indirect and structural forms, such as the inner city.

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Adult Development Theory and Political Analysis: An Integral Account of Social and Political Change in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia

Elke Fein

Abstract: I propose a reading of social, political and discursive change in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia which is inspired by an integral, above all developmental perspective. In view of explaining Russia’s current political trajectory, I make several arguments. First, I claim that Russian politics are still to a large extent determined by the effects of a threefold crisis of sense-making. Neither the collapse of the Soviet empire, nor the question of how to define democratic government nor the lack of a resilient national identity have so far been resolved and re-appropriated in a transformative manner. Second, I try to show how this affects various aspects and dimensions of Russian politics. Third, I engage in a brief overview of a number of adult development models, asking to what extent and how the characteristics of consciousness development, particular stage characteristics, and the general logics and dynamics of successful and unsuccessful development these models describe can be helpful to the analysis of Russian politics. Also, I discuss their compatibility and parallels with discourse theory and analysis as an increasingly popular methodology in Russian Studies. Of the developmental models reviewed, the theory of political development by Stephen Chilton and the self-protective action logic in Susanne Cook-Greuter’s model of self and identity development are particularly relevant for my purpose. On these grounds, it is argued that since Vladimir Putin’s taking office as Russian president and later prime-minister, politics and (official) political discourse have increasingly come to follow self-protective action logics as conceived by Susanne Cook-Greuter. This diagnosis, which could either be understood as a regression or as a realignment of internal and external dimensions of political development, can be explained as a reaction to Russia’s crisis of identity followed by a loss of internal stability and international influence connected to the dislocations mentioned above.

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Toward the Development of More Robust Policy Models

Steven E. Wallis

Abstract: The current state of the world suggests we have some difficulty in developing effective policy. This paper demonstrates two methods for the objective analysis of logic models within policy documents. By comparing policy models, we will be better able to compare policies and so determine which policy is best.

Our ability to develop effective policy is reflected across the social sciences where our ability to create effective theoretical models is being called into question. The broad scope of this issue suggests a source as deep as our unconscious ways of thinking. Specifically, our reliance on modern and postmodern thinking has limited our ability to develop more effective policy, and more particularly, logic models.

The move in some quarters toward “integral” thinking may provide insights that support the creation of more useful policy models. However, some versions of that thinking seem to be unwittingly mired in modern and postmodern thinking. This paper identifies how integral thought may be clarified, allowing us to advance beyond postmodern thinking. Usefully, this “neo-integral” form of thinking supports the creation of more mature policy models by encompassing greater complexity and a careful understanding of interrelationships that may be identified within the logic models that are commonly found in policy analyses.

Neo-integral thinking is related to more complex forms of systems thinking and both are found in recent conversations within the nascent field of metatheory. And, to some extent, a logic model within a policy operates as a kind of theoretical model because both may be used to inform understanding and decision-making. Therefore, it seems reasonable to apply neo-integral thinking and metatheoretical methodologies to conduct critical comparisons of logic models.

In the present paper, these methodologies are applied to critically compare two logic models. The structure of each model is analyzed to objectively determine its complexity and formal robustness. The complexity is determined by quantifying the concepts and connections within each model. The robustness of a model is a measure of its internal integrity, based on the ratio between the total number of aspects and the number of concatenated aspects. In this analysis, one policy model is found to have a robustness of 0.08, while another is found to have a robustness of 0.67. The more robust policy is expected to be much more effective in application. Implications for policy development and policy application are discussed.

This approach will enable the more conscious advancement of policy through the development of improved logic models and it opens the door for more effective impact of such policies in a political context. From an integral perspective, this paper implies that we should avoid engaging in loosely defined integral thinking that lead to pronouncements about what people “should” do. Instead, this paper shows how to apply a more precise and objective form of neo-integral thinking to empower individuals and organizations to accomplish their most noble goals.

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The U.S. Imperial Jugger-not: Saturation Points and Cultural Globalization

Meg Spohn Bertoni

Abstract: Globalization is not merely inevitable western cultural conquest. The assumption that the juggernaut of western hegemonic domination will continue until the world is consumed is a common one, but not an accurate one. That accuracy is compromised by a number of related misconceptions about the nature of globalization. Some of these have to do with an attachment to dichotomy in a world too complex for dualism. Some of them are related to assumptions about the nature of trade, of trends, of inevitability, and of statistical prediction that turn out not to be accurate—and by extension misconceptions about the unidirectionality of cultural exchange. Most are related to misconceptions about the nature of culture—particularly in oversimplifying, and making strange assumptions about, nonwestern cultures. Cultures change over time, with generations and historical forces—today’s cultural changes make up tomorrow’s cohesive culture. Cultures die not when they change to reflect the new attitudes and lifestyles of the peoples who live in them, but when they stagnate and become static, preserved only in museums, artifacts and books, and not in the everyday lives of the people themselves. Finally, phenomena do reach a saturation point, from biological populations to the motion of catamarans to absorption of cultural values, and these can be observed using methods of nonlinear dynamics. This project considers common misconceptions about globalization and culture, and uses concepts from nonlinear dynamics to expose the nature of the movement and saturation points of cultural globalization.

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A Multi-Party Imaginary Dialogue about Power and Cybernetics

Phillip Guddemi

Abstract: This paper is written as a multi-sided dialogue intended to present a number of ideas about power. Some of these ideas are my own, expressed in a kind of evolutionary idiom of adaptation though they were partly developed in reaction to Foucault (and are far more indebted to Foucault and cybernetics than to contemporary evolutionist thinking). There is a deep irony in that my way of thinking is primarily rooted in the cybernetic anthropology of Gregory Bateson; however, he was deeply skeptical of the concept of power. My personification of him in this dialogue, as “Bateson,” demonstrates this skepticism and brings into the discussion other relevant ideas of his. The third participant in the dialogue, Mary Midgley, is included because her consideration of Hobbes’ ideas leads us to consider yet another, probabilistic, way of thinking about power.

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The Power of Balance: Transforming Self, Society, and Scientific Inquiry

William R. Torbert

Abstract: The “power of balance” as conceived by Torbert represents an integral paradigm of principles, theory, and praxis. Deployed, the paradigm is one that can indeed inform and shape the development of self, society, and scientific inquiry. To explicate that fulsome vision, the book’s fifteen chapters develop the themes of three sections: Theory and Strategy, Heart and Practice, and Vision and Method. Here, we have excerpted from several chapters in Theory and Strategy, and from one chapter in Vision and Method.

This means, of course, that we present but a small fraction of this integral classic, leaving out all of the rich, in-depth illustrations, including the author’s learning practice as he first attempted to enact the principles.

Yet, we hope even this abbreviated form of The Power of Balance supports at least two goals: to offer deployable insights and practices for developing politics and the political; and to take root as part of a foundational canon for integral political thought, research, and praxis. How we readers deploy these principles in our own actions will determine the degree to which self, society, and scientific inquiry transform.

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Lessons from a Pluralist Approach to a Wicked Policy Issue

Jake Chapman

Abstract: The most difficult policy issues are those where there are profound disagreements about what is wrong, what should be done, and how things work. This paper describes a pluralist approach, based on the soft systems methodology, to youth nuisance on deprived estates in Manchester, UK, where there were profound disagreements between the agencies involved. When there are disagreements about the nature of the problem, its causes, or about how the system of interest actually functioned, a pluralist approach is required, and this is provided by Checkland’s soft systems approach. When the disagreements involve conflicts of value, it is necessary to adopt an adaptive approach that fosters change in the values, beliefs or behaviour of those involved. In the spectrum of public sector agencies involved, five different perspectives of agencies were identified, their descriptions indicating the need for the pluralist approach taken. The project was an experiment in using systemic approaches in public policy and the paper describes the learning associated with impacting outcomes. Processes used in the project included a “soft systems” workshop, which is described along with some effects on both the project participants and overall outcomes. The overall aim is to share the experience of this project so that it may inform those working with systemic approaches and other pluralist methods on wicked problems in the public sector.

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Politics in a New Key: Breaking the Cycle of U.S. Politics with a Generational/Developmental Approach

Ken White

Abstract: Some common, mental models shape how people in the US perceive political changes over time. The one-dimensional pendulum swing model and the two-dimensional cyclical model are prevalent. When generational differences are mapped onto such political change cycles, they orient to cohorts or age groups. This leads to viewing generational cohorts as experiencing one- or two-dimensional cycles without deeper scrutiny. Cohort differences that surface in the Generations Salons that I and others conducted in California suggest a different, three-dimensional model may be more representative of the potential for societal change in the US. Using a musical metaphor, that model is explained in terms of different political “keys” and the value of distinguishing among them as time passes. It also underlies a speculation about a “politics in a new key,” which might prove more useful.

Summary-level reporting of the action research conducted with the Generations Salons supports the three-dimensional model. We expect new politics to emerge from the Millennial cohort coming of age now, yet it will not be without the support and wisdom of the cohorts that came of age before it. This must be the case if the burden of expectations we place on the Millennials will indeed pave the way for transformative change in US society. Intergenerational support of Millennials is essential. This initial research and application suggests the potential for the generational/ developmental approach as a wellspring for transformational—and practically successful—political work. It begs the question: What will you do to help?

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Integral Politics as Process

Tom Atlee

Abstract: Using the definition proposed here, integral politics can be a process of integrating diverse perspectives into wholesome guidance for a community or society. Characteristics that follow from this definition have ramifications for understanding what such political processes involve. Politics becomes integral as it transcends partisan battle and nurtures generative conversation toward the common good. Problems, conflicts and crises become opportunities for new (or renewed) social coherence. Conversational methodologies abound that can help citizen awareness temporarily expand during policy-making, thus helping raise society’s manifested developmental stage. Convening archetypal stakeholders or randomly selected citizens in conversations designed to engage the broader public enhances democratic legitimacy. With minimal issue- and candidate-advocacy, integral political leaders would develop society’s capacity to use integral conversational tools to improve its health, resilience, and collective intelligence. This both furthers and manifests evolution becoming conscious of itself.

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Introduction to Interviews that Apply Integral Lenses to Sustainability and Politics

Russ Volckmann


Design and Sustainability: An Interview with Michael Ben-Eli

Russ Volckmann


3D Democracy: An Interview with Jan Inglis

Russ Volckmann


Integral Politics: A Swiss Perspective

Elke Fein and Hans-Peter Studer

Abstract: This article tells the story of the Swiss NGO “Integrale Politik (ip)” founded by about 20 people in November 2007 with the aim of becoming a regular political party at a later stage ( We wish to make ip’s concepts and approaches known to a wider public. Inspired by integral thinkers such as Jean Gebser and Ken Wilber, ip develops its own ideas and interpretations of integral in view of the concrete challenges of Swiss and European politics.

Integral political culture is understood, for example, as including practices addressing all senses, turning political commitment into an experience of meaningful activity and an expression of joy, ease and celebrating life. One of the most important challenges currently faced by the group is to perpetuate and further develop this working culture as the organization grows. Its success in doing this seems to be one of the main reasons for ip’s attractiveness to the Swiss cultural creative sector in general and the growing integrally-minded community in particular to whom it gives an increasingly visible face and a clear-cut voice. At the same time, the Swiss political system offers particularly favourable preconditions and thus, a fruitful ground for new political ideas and experiments such as this integral political one.

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