On April 24th, the nationally syndicated National Public Radio program “To the Best of Our Knowledge” aired an hour-length feature on the problem of hyper-partisan political polarization. The feature included an eleven minute interview with me wherein I shared the Institute for Cultural Evolution‘s uniquely integral approach to our nation’s polarization problem. This integral approach involves getting at the cultural roots of polarization by expanding the scope of what people are able to value. You can listen to NPR’s recent interview at this link: http://www.ttbook.org/book/future-left-and-right
Dear Friends of Integral Consciousness,
This is to announce our second annual Boulder seminar on the integral (a.k.a. “evolutionary,” or “post-postmodern”) worldview. For three and half days—August 18-21, 2016—Jeff Salzman and I will be convening our yearly deep dive into the latest developments in integral spirituality and integral politics. Here is a link to the seminar’s webpage:
About the Seminar
The Integral Incubator Seminar will ‘incubate’ the further development of your integral consciousness. In this intimate small group setting we will explore integral spirituality, integral politics, and integral practice.
Attending this seminar will help you:
- Further develop your integral consciousness, and solidify your integral center of gravity
- Deepen your ability to have spiritual experiences and use those experiences to enliven your work in the world
- Participate in the leading edge of “post-postmodern” thinking
- Establish significant new connections and friendships
- Receive personalized feedback and guidance from integral leaders Jeff Salzman and Steve McIntosh
Our 2016 Integral Incubator seminar will be an intellectual and experiential adventure into new ideas and practices. In the context of integral spirituality, we will work to deepen each participant’s sensitivity to the experience of spirit. And in the context of integral politics, we will work to evolve each participant’s relationship to America’s democracy and explore opportunities for participants to act as integral change agents in the realm of politics.
What you can expect:
- A sophisticated exploration of integral spirituality and integral politics
- A critical assessment of integral philosophy and the integral movement
- Non-cognitive experiences such as movement, contemplation, and aesthetic experience
- Social time, outdoor activities, and a party at Jeff Salzman’s house
- A beautiful Rocky Mountain summer visit to Boulder, Colorado
What you cannot expect:
- New Age spirituality
- Intense or uncomfortable psychological processes
- Politically constrained discussion parameters
We expect the 2016 seminar to fill up quickly, so please register today at:
“The Integral Escalator was a profound experience of integration: The head and the heart, the theoretical and the practical, the political and the spiritual. The bonds created helped me to clarify my own gifts while appreciating the beautiful gifts of others. — Greg Thomas
Thank you for your possible interest in this seminar, and for your ongoing interest in my work.
In this 50 minute conversation, Jeff and I talk about my new paper, published on The Institute for Cultural Evolution website, titled Overcoming Polarization by Evolving Both Right and Left: How Polarity Theory Provides a Path to Political Progress.
The ideas we explore in the podcast include:
• Why we should we care about political polarization
• Why centrism doesn’t work
• How Spiral Dynamics and polarity theory shed light on the challenge
• How suppressing one side of a polarity empowers its shadow
• How the upside of one pole checks the downside of the other
• The practice: increasing the scope of what we are able to value
In the podcast I’m able to unpack the ideas in the paper in an entertaining and accessible way. Please check it out if you have a chance: https://www.dailyevolver.com/2016/03/steve-mcintosh-on-polarity-theory-and-a-path-forward-in-us-politics-plus-donald-trump
My new paper on the problem of hyper-partisan polarization was originally written in January 2016. But since then the Republican party has entered the throes of a historically significant meltdown which may actually solve the problem of polarization by severely crippling the right and handing political power to the left in the next election cycle. With the rise of Donald Trump, we have to ask: “who really knows anything anymore?” This paper has accordingly been revised to try to account for the current upheavals in American politics. However, regardless of how Trump fares in his bid for the presidency, the American right has now been permanently changed. And thus the question of what form the future of the right will take is more relevant than ever.
As I also argue in the paper, the future of the right is tied to the future evolution of the left. So this is a subject I try to unpack in the last segment of the paper. Thanks for having a look. And if you feel so moved, please leave on comment on the paper’s main page on the Institute for Cultural Evolution’s website: http://www.culturalevolution.org/political-campaigns/political-polarization
Hyper-partisan polarization is crippling our democracy, preventing meaningful action on a wide range of urgent issues. And now polarization even threatens the functionality of the Supreme Court. It can, however, be difficult to focus on a problem that has no apparent solution. Yet while hyper-partisanship is indeed a ‘wicked problem’ with many causes and no straightforward fix, the integral perspective illuminates a new strategy that can realistically overcome our nation’s political dysfunction.
As I argue in this new paper, Overcoming Polarization by Evolving Right and Left, we can effectively grow out of extreme polarization by sharpening our focus on the foundational values that form the bedrock of loyalty-identity underlying our national political landscape. Building on the analysis of my acclaimed 2014 paper, Depolarizing the American Mind, this new paper describes a strategy to develop both the right and the left independently and according to their own distinct goals and values, as a prerequisite to greater cooperation overall.
In furtherance of this strategy of developing each side independently, the paper describes a new kind of deliberative polar alliance that can better integrate the competing camps (opposing poles) that exist within both the right and the left. It then shows how the American right can evolve by forming such a deliberative alliance between its conservative and libertarian poles. This is followed by a similar analysis of the American left, where an opportunity now exists to evolve this side of the spectrum by forming a more functional alliance between the liberal and progressive poles of the left. Eventually, as both the right and the left evolve culturally, the inherent virtue of each side’s bedrock values will become more apparent, leading to greater sympathy and trust. It is thus through this kind of cultural evolution that we can effectively overcome our current political stagnation.
Figure 5 from the paper
Over at the Institute for Cultural Evolution we’re pleased to announce a new feature of our website: a Worldview Questionnaire featuring 17 questions designed to help you learn more about your own worldview, as well as about the worldviews of others. The questionnaire identifies four major worldview-groups, defined as as “traditional,” “modern,” “postmodern,” and “integrative.” Your answers will indicate which of these four major cultural worldviews describes you best, as well as the worldview to which you are most opposed. Please give this new 7 minute questionnaire a try.
This worldview test is primarily the brainchild of integral researcher Annick de Witt. In her research, De Witt used both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative methods, including large-scale surveys with representative samples of citizens in the Netherlands and the USA. Her aim in developed the test was to create an empirical, social science approach to mapping worldviews.
ICE Caveat: Accurately assessing human worldviews is a complex undertaking. In our opinion, none of the various test instruments currently used by social scientists or organizational development specialists can adequately assess a person’s actual worldview with objectivity. Nevertheless, we like De Witt’s questionnaire and want to support her work in this area. And at the very least, answering her 17 questions provides an opportunity to reflect on the distinct worldview frames that make up the political spectrum in most of the Western world.
Last Sunday I had a wonderful conversation with my close friend and integral colleague Terry Patten. Terry’s podcast, Beyond Awakening: the Future of Spiritual Practice, is an important addition to both the integral movement and to progressive spirituality in general, so it was great to be with him again in that setting.
During our dialogue, entitled “The Love of God and Non-Dual Samadhi: How Evolutionary Spirituality Integrates Our Highest Spiritual Experiences,” I started by summarizing some of the key concepts and distinctions from my latest book, The Presence of the Infinite. This summary provided a foundation for our mutual exploration of the interdependent, existential polarity found within both the world body of spiritual teachings, and within spiritual experience itself.
As we wrestled with this exciting new idea, we could see that as each side of this polarity evolves, it grows into a fullness that embraces both poles. Just as each side of the yin yang symbol contains the seed of its opposite, the two sides of spiritual experience can serve to both challenge and support each other.
Coming as it did toward the end of my book tour for The Presence of the Infinite, I was able to provide a crisp and concise overview of the book. And being in dialogue with Terry really helped bring out the emerging energy inherent in evolutionary spirituality. To listen to this and other Beyond Awakening dialogues please follow this link: http://www.beyondawakeningseries.com/archive
I’ve just completed my book tour for The Presence of the Infinite. It was a real pleasure to share my latest thinking with folks from all over the country. Although I still have speaking dates in Seattle in late January (at Elliot Bay bookstore and with the folks at Pacific Integral), my talks in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Austin, and here in Colorado, went well and were all thoroughly enjoyable. So now that my book on evolutionary spirituality has been “seeded in the culture,” I’m ready to turn to the political side of my work. And synchronistically, the integral political think tank I co-founded in 2013 has just received a generous grant from Democracy Fund. Here is the official press release for the grant:
Grant recognizes innovative approach to decreasing hyperpartisanship
December 3, 2015: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Boulder, Colorado—Overcoming America’s hyper-partisan political paralysis is a big challenge, and may be the most troublesome problem facing America today. In response to this challenge, The Institute for Cultural Evolution (“ICE”), an independent think tank founded in 2013, is advancing a bold vision of a “Future Left” and “Future Right”—emerging cohorts within both progressive and conservative camps who are developing a vision of their political destiny that is less hyper-partisan. ICE is pleased to announce that it has received a grant in support of these efforts from the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation established by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that the American people come first in our democracy.
America’s legislative gridlock has been called a “wicked problem” because it has many causes and no obvious solution. While some point the finger at government, the work of ICE stresses the foundational role of the electorate. According to ICE co-founder and president Steve McIntosh, “Political polarization is ultimately not a political issue—it’s a cultural one. It’s not just happening in the halls of Congress; it’s happening in the hearts and minds of the American people—in their beliefs and values. We can’t solve this problem solely through political or institutional reform. We need to help both conservatives and progressives better integrate the wisdom of their opponents while retaining their core values.”
Betsy Wright Hawkings, Democracy Fund’s Program Director for Governance, attended ICE’s first “Future of the Right Conclave” in June, said, “These convenings address political hyper-partisanship with the goal of creating conversations and solutions that expand the field to address and respond to opportunities for new partnerships and collaborations.”
Although ICE has received financial support from its board of directors, including Whole Foods Markets co-founder John Mackey, the Democracy Fund grant is the think tank’s first contribution from a prominent institutional philanthropy. ICE Senior Fellow Rich Tafel, “The Institute for Cultural Evolution has shown it has a unique ability to bring together leading thinkers seeking to resolve the hyper-partisan challenge of our time. With these funds from Democracy Fund, we have the ability to broaden our reach and lay the groundwork for lasting solutions.”
Beginning in early 2016, ICE will be officially launching its “Project for the Future of the Right,” which will be led by Tafel. Then later in the year they plan to follow this with their inaugural “Conclave on the Future of the Left.”
To read ICE’s acclaimed paper, “Depolarizing the American Mind,” to take its two-minute “polarization test,” or to learn more about opportunities to get involved, log on to: www.culturalevolution.org.
The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that the American political system is responsive to the priorities of the American public. For more information about the Democracy Fund, please visit www.democracyfund.org.
I’m excited to share the new video of the presentation for my latest book, The Presence of the Infinite. This video includes my 57 minute book talk followed by wonderfully sophisticated questions from the Boulder audience.
Recorded at the Integral Center in Boulder, Colorado on October 22, 2015, this “book talk” has now been presented in multiple cities across the U.S. In the video I describe the emergence of evolutionary spirituality and how it can expand our grasp of spiritual experience—especially the spiritual experience of the beautiful, the true, and the good. I then go on to discuss “the spiritual teachings of evolution” and how these teachings can enhance our spiritual practices and deepen our experience of ultimate reality. During the audience discussion in the second half of the video, I address questions on truth, providence, the nature of consciousness, the potential pathologies of the evolutionary perspective, and others.
In addition to the 1.5 hour video as a whole, we also have short excerpts from some of the more juicy parts, including a discussion of an emerging “evolutionary method” for evolving consciousness. Also excerpted are questions and answers on the nature of truth, as well as the integration of nonduality and the love of God.
Please have a look at the video if you have a chance. I think it’s the best one yet.
The my new book, The Presence of the Infinite, is now available on Amazon. In connection with the book’s publication I’ll be traveling on a short book tour. I hope to see you at one of these live talks.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in my work.
Remaining Book Presentation Tour Dates for The Presence of the Infinite
New York City Talk, 7PM, Monday, November 9, Simple Studios 134 West 29th St. 2nd Floor (Btw 6th and 7th Ave) New York, NY
Austin Texas Talk, 8PM, Wednesday November 11, Book People Bookstore 8PM, 603 N. Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78703, 512-472-5050
Seattle Washington, January 22 and 23, 2016
1/22/16 Elliott Bay Bookstore, Book talk, 7PM Friday night, 1521 Tenth Avenue Seattle, WA 98122
1/23/16 Scottish Rite Freemasons, Main Book Presentation, Saturday morning 10AM, 1207 N 152nd St., Shoreline, WA 98133