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The center-of-gravity of Integral will be Yellow/Strategist 2010-Jan-11 at 00:18 PDT

Posted by Scott Arbeit in Blog.
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I have struggled a bit in the past few days with how to reconcile a number of points-of-view with the notion that the future is not entirely unpredictable.

I’ve been aware for some time that aspects of the future I’m seeing for the Integral movement will be a hard sell for those at particular levels of development.  Much of what I say in regards to Dr. Thomas Barnett will be difficult to hear for Green/Individualist***, who have the beautiful capacity to see clearly that there are multiple (in fact, an infinite number of) perspectives or contexts for any given event.  This, to me, is the single greatest contribution from post-modern philosophy; namely, that there is no pre-given world, and all views on that world are co-created by the person doing the viewing, but Green or Individualist generally cannot or does not prioritize those multiple contexts in terms of their viability, usefulness, or long-term effects.

For very different reasons, much of what I’ll say about the future will be rejected by those at early Magician, or early construct-aware.  From that perspective, the very notion that there are contexts is subsumed by questioning of the constructs in which the contexts themselves sit.  It’s been my experience with those who are firmly rooted in early construct-aware that it seems far more important to sit in unknowing about existence, and to be open to whatever emerges from that unknowing, than it is to choose a set of constructs (and contexts) and act as if they were true.  For me to take firm positions about what I think are the best choices to make for the health of the Integral movement, and the health of the world, violates the notion of allowing emergence to happen as it will, as I’m imposing a construct onto a reality that is, at it’s core, non-dual and without construction.  Even discussing levels of development, or centers-of-gravity within people or populations, becomes a challenging task, as the constructs in which one might consider something like a center-of-gravity are deconstructed as arbitrary.

To some extent, I understand both perspectives.  The contributions of healthy post-modernism remain crucial to our understanding of psychology, language, systems theory, social justice, and dozens of other areas, and those valid contributions remain as a part of Integral theory.  I also have felt the vast openness of early construct-aware.  I have some awareness of the way that questions feel more important than the answers, as answers only close doors or limit the possibilities that questions open.

There will be some in the first generation of Integral (which I define as those of us who have found Integral up to now, and for the next few years… mostly self-identified spiritual seekers, some of whom will create the cultural artifacts that attract the second generation) who, thanks to their unabated drive to grow, and the support of friends walking the same path in communities around the world, push into these construct-aware structure-stages.  Very little research exists on what these structure-stages look like, as very few people have yet achieved them.  I expect that we’ll see quite a bit of research in the coming decades on this level of development.  We’re just starting to see more than a trickle of people who might test at these levels, and who therefore might be able to give consistent reports of the worldviews disclosed from those perspectives.

For all I know, I’m starting to feel into it myself… and there are moments when I think I am.  I also acknowledge that it’s particularly dangerous and untrustworthy to rate one’s own development, so I hold this very, very lightly in the absence of more formal methods of evaluation.

And yet… I believe that the center-of-gravity of the Integral movement will be Yellow in terms of SDi, and Strategist in terms of LMF. I believe this because the center-of-gravity of the previous major philosophical movement, post-modernism, was Green/Individualist, and it seems unlikely to me that Integral will be able to shepherd a mass movement for the center-of-gravity of billions of people through two levels of development to get to Teal/Magician.  For Integral to succeed in moving the center-of-gravity of the Western World one structure-stage up from Green to Yellow, and Individualist to Strategist, would be an amazing achievement, and would unlock a global potential to solve the vast majority of the major problems facing the world today (while creating the life conditions for new problems to emerge, of course).

With that said, I think it’s important to acknowledge that I will target my writing and thinking, for the most part, at what I expect to be the center-of-gravity of Integral for the next 20-30 years: Yellow/Strategist.  I think it’s most important that the things I’m focusing on get out to that audience as much as possible, as that’s where they’ll do the most good.

To my friends who already have amazingly, blessedly grown past even this incredible structure-stage into newer, vaster perspectives: today I’m thinking that you won’t be my audience, and that’s OK.  Perhaps I’ll change my mind over time, but now I don’t think the world can wait to sit in unending questions and open-ended answers… I haven’t yet seen solutions that minimize suffering in the world coming from that perspective.  In fact, so far in my small sample I’ve seen quite a lot of suffering from those in early construct-aware.  There will come a day – a day beyond Strategist and Integral – when the world is stable enough to allow for the kind of open-ended inquiry at Magician on a widespread basis, but I don’t think that time has yet come, nor is it likely to in the next few decades.  My deepest appreciation to all those who embark on that path, and therefore dig the Kosmic grooves that others will follow.

Call me a pop artist, but I’m writing for where I think most interested people will be, not for the farthest reaches of development.  I’ll leave that job to those more interested and more qualified than I am.

*** If you’re not familiar with the terms from the Leadership Maturity Framework (LMF), you’ll find a comparison between Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi) and the LMF, created by the good people at Integral Development Associates, here.  You can find a brilliantly-written short explanation of the structure- and state-stages of the LMF, written by Terri O’Fallon, Ph.D, here.

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