Thursday, June 21, 2007

Integral Politics

In a recent Integral Naked dialogue, "Escaping Flatland, Part II", Wilber discusses the contours of Integral Politics as he sees it. He gives a good summary of the points he has made in the three chapters published so far of his The Many Faces of Terrorism manuscript. These chapters, unfortunately, lack focus. If this, after all those years, is Wilber's choice of genre for conveying his vision of integral politics, we're really lost.

Wilber's conclusion and implicit advice to presidential candidates of the Democratic Party: if Green attacks Orange, Blue wins. Decrypted into normal political language: if left-wing politicians alienate the rationalist, industrialist, secular sections of society by their anti-America rethoric, they will turn to the Republicans and cause them to win the elections. Or as Wilber says it in his usual caricaturistic way: You can't win the elections by saying "I hate my country, vote for me".

However, with all its claim to universality, it is still very much directed at the context of US politics, which has a two-party system of Liberals/Democrats and Republicans. It's high time to turn to other countries for a wider view. In the Netherlands, for example, the liberals are on the right-hand side of the political spectrum, and usually conservative. On the left-hand side we have, of course, the socialists (and even communists). And in the middle, we have the Christian party. Currently we have a Christian-Left government.

A few years back, we had a "purple" cabinet, which was a joining of both left (red) and right wing (blue) parties (our socialists and conervatives) -- integral politics in action! Its architect was a very small party called Democrats '66, which, led by the charismatic Hans van Mierlo, had starting arguing in favor of such a venture since the sixties). It lasted for 2 terms, until the Dutch population got tired of the rationality of the whole construction (yes, half-truths generate more passion!). When the death of Pim Fortuyn occurred, the Christian party took hold of the vacuum and presided over 4 terms.

So integral political analysis has to move from a US based 2-party to 3-party or multi-party analysis. It also seems to have no realistic idea of Left Wing politics. Does the US really have a Left? The democratic party would still count as conservative over here (and the Republicans as ultra-conservative). And as to the US situation, a bigger problem seems to me that, given the 50/50 nature of the division between Democrats and Republicans, as evidenced by the last election, any third party arriving on the scene wil only weaken the one closest to it, and so give victory to the opposition (e.g. a really Left wing party will weaken the Democrats, by stealing their votes). Same story on the Right wing of the spectrum (who remembers Ross Perot?).

And please, please, please, when can we finally read about these parts of integral theory WITHOUT having to wade through adolescent prose, giggling dialogues, and self-congratulatory praise ("we are decades ahead of everybody")? Can this be fleshed out in a serious way, that attracts the attention of those who really know about politics, both in theory and in practice? Without the AQAL jargon, endlessly discussed, summarized and explained, the color coding terminology, which doesn't make sense to and even offends outsiders, and the inside jokes?


Blogger Steve said...

Even though I live in the USA, I agree with you, Frank, that we need an "integral" political theory that encompasses more than just this country's political system. I also agree with you that this theory is best presented not in a relatively "adolescent" and unfocused fictional format but in a clear and systematically nonfictional one that does justice to its subject and its readers.

Perhaps we see the beginnings of the latter, within I-I at least, in Gregory Wilpert's work. But he or someone needs to capably expand this approach into something more comprehensive.

9:34 AM  
Blogger hollahballahwhat said...

"their own narcissism is so staggering that they excuse themselves from the horrifyingly damaging thing they say about everybody else. That's part of the gift of narcissism." --20:49

Oh yeah Ken, how would YOU know.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Alberto Jimenez "Revolware" said...

You are right Frank,

also is amazing how Wilber still mention Wilpert´s article of 2001. Is that all it can be referenced? Why doesn´t mention, for example, Wilperts´s position on Chavez government?

Salud from Spain

3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This "rare" disease makes me wonder...

Narcissism and The Borderline Experience

A look at the experience and consequences of borderline narcissism prefaced by an explanation of the roots of narcissism in both Greek Mythology and Psychoanalysis. I also include a description of the difference between Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.


Before getting into an explanation of the narcissism that is often a part of the Borderline Experience, a little background about the myth that is the origin of the term, narcissism.

"Narcissus is another example among several of a beautiful young man who spurned sex and died as a result. As such, his myth has much in common with those of Adonis and Hippolytus. In the Roman poet Ovid's retelling of the myth, Narcissus is the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. Tiresias, the seer, told his parents that the child "would live to an old age if it did not look at itself." Many nymphs and girls fell in love with him but he rejected them. One of these nymphs, Echo, was so distraught over this rejection that she withdrew into a lonely spot and faded until all that was left was a plaintive whisper. The goddess Nemesis heard the rejected girls prayers for vengeance and arranged for Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection. He stayed watching his reflection and let himself die. It is quite possible, however, that the connection between Echo and Narcissus was entirely Ovid's own invention, for there is no earlier witness to it.

An important and earlier variation of this tale originates in the region in Greek known as Boeotia (to the north and west of Athens). Narcissus lived in the city of Thespiae. A young man, Ameinias, was in love with Narcissus, but he rejected Ameinias' love. He grew tired of Ameinias' affections and sent him a present of a sword. Ameinias killed himself with the sword in front of Narcissus' door and as he died, he called curses upon Narcissus. One day Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a spring and, in desperation, killed himself.

Both of these stories give an origin to the narcissus flower, which grew where Narcissus died."

(Source of the above quote: Narcissus, by Morgan Upright

Narcissus was punished by Nemisis, who was the Greek Goddess of divine justice and vengeance, for his indifference which is a major and very notable characteristic of narcissism especially found in Narcissistic Personality.

Narcissim, in psychoanalytic terms is an "arrest or regression to the first stage of libidinal development in which the self is an object of erotic pleasure." (Webster's Dictionary: Third College Edition, page 901)

Sigmund Freud was the founder of classical psychoanalysis and as such laid the groundwork for what is now referred to as "Modern Ego Psychology" (Synopisis of Psychiatry - Page 181) Sigmund Freud's daughter, Anna Freud, presented a "systematic and comprehensive study of the defenses employed by the ego in her classic contribution, 'The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense'" . (Synopsis of Psychiatry - Page 181)

Anxiety, both real and neurotic arouse a response in us to alert us to potential and actual danger. "In real anxiety, the threat emanates from a known danger outside of the person; neurotic anxiety is precipitated by an unknown or repressed danger. Freud distinguished two kinds of anxiety-provoking situations. In the first, for which the phenomenon of birth is the prototype, anxiety occurs as a result of excessive instinctual stimulation that the organism is unable to bind or handle. In the second, more common situation, which occurs after the defensive system has matured, anxiety arises in anticipation of danger rather than as the result of it, although the affect may be experienced as if the danger has already occurred. In these situations, the anxiety may arise because the person has learned to recognize, at a preconscious or unconscious level, aspects of a situation that were once traumatic. Anxiety serves as a signal to mobilize protective measures that avert the danger and prevent a traumatic situation from taking place. The person may use avoidance mechanisms to escape from a real or imagined [perceived] danger from without, or the ego may use psychological defenses from within to guard against or reduce the quantity of instinctual excitation.". (Synopsis of Psychiatry - Page 185)

For many borderlines anxiety is something that is experienced in the extreme. If one has performance anxiety or anticipatory anxiety or has experienced being flooded with anxiety due to the mixed-messages of those one relied on a child (poor, or lack of bonding) than anxiety or merely the inkling threat of it can lead many borderlines to have an increased and much elaborate set of mal-adaptive or primitive defense mechanisms which must be called upon often.

Narcissistic Defenses include; denial; distortion; primitive idealization; projection; projective identification; and splitting.

All of the above narcissistic defenses are quite prevalent in the presentation of BPD. Borderlines also rely on many of what Freud termed, immature defenses, as well as neurotic defenses.

What is the Difference Between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder?

Firstly, the two can go hand in hand. That is to say that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be a differential diagnosis to Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or visa versa. The key factors that distinguish NPD from BPD are: (a) most people with NPD have considerably less anxiety than those with BPD; (b) The lives of those with NPD are also less chaotic, overall than are the lives of those diagnosed with BPD; and (c) suicide attempts are also more likely to be associated with those with BPD. ("Synopsis of Psychiatry", page 531)

Secondly, it is entirely possible for many with BPD to have narcissistic tendencies and not also have NPD. This I know based upon my own past experience with BPD and the accompanying narcissistic defenses which I had to unlearn in order to recover from BPD. I was never diagnosed with NPD, yet I did have my share of narcissistic tendencies to work through.

What is the connection between Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissism?

According Encarta, the definition of "personality disorder" includes, "overwhelming narcissism". Encarta, online learning zone, section: Mental Illness Therefore, among the other traits that are descriptors of what BPD is made up of the presentation of BPD also includes "overwhelming narcissism".

Borderlines exhibit narcissistic traits in an effort to protect themselves against further anxiety or pain. Both (actual) real pain that could be inflicted from the outside as well as past pain that can be re-inflicted on the borderline internally by events outside of him or her which trigger the things that the original and otherwise avoided pain or anxiety is associated with.

Borderline narcissism is an overcompensation for deep-seated feelings of perceived inadequacy and for feelings of being "less than" and "incompetent", as is grandiosity and arrogance which will be the subject of my next article here.

It is that overcompensation, along with denial of their actual feelings that leads borderlines to often be so narcissistically indifferent to those with whom they are otherwise closely in relationship to or with. That sudden pulling away, that sudden coldness and acting as if there is nothing between them and someone else is a function of borderline narcissism and is designed to further the mal-adaptive defensive coping skills of the borderline who is usually trying in any way possible to not be put in touch with his/her real feelings because the anxiety and fear of those feelings remain greater than the need for them. When you are as dissociated from your "real" self, as many borderlines are, there is no real need in the here and now of that chaotic dissociative existence to know how one really feels -- especially when the pain of ever- mounting unmet needs hurts enough all by itself, and must be avoided at all costs.

Borderlines, until they can mature beyond this personality disorder, emotionally, are left, essentially, with the narcissism of a young child. They are left with the misperceived-notion that they are the centre of the universe and that things and people that in their sight exist - while things and people that are beyond the scope of that sight do not exist. Emotionally, borderlines (until they do the work in therapy to correct the damage of their early lives and successfully re-parent themselves) for whatever reasons have not been able to develop beyond more primitive levels of functioning. (Again, I stress emotionally as most borderlines are extremely intelligent intellectually)

This inability to develop, emotionally, is the very essence of BPD and the behaviour of those who have BPD which is largely driven by the control and illusion of needing to protect oneself at all costs. It is this need to protect that can keep borderlines alienated from their need to learn. If you put the need to protect ahead of the need to learn, sadly, you will continue to feel an ever-increasing sense of needing to protect which will constantly deny you chances to learn what you need to learn in order to break free from the narcissistic protections attempts you make in the first place.

The borderline experience of narcissism is very much a knee-jerk and protective one. Borderline narcissism pays homage to the personification of a the deeply-seated false-self that the borderline frantically seeks to instantly satisfy and gratify, that is not only an inauthentic self but is more accurately the absence of a true-understanding of a real, authentic self in the here and now.

It is the void of self, unknown, that the borderline narcissistically projects out onto others. (Projection is one example of a narcissistic defense mechanism) Essentially then, the borderline's world is the absence of self projected onto others with the desperate hope that what "other" mirrors back or gives back will somehow eclipse that agonizingly-empty void of a lack of self on the part of the borderline. Thus, when the borderline acts as if they are the centre of the universe and absolutely everything is about them what they are really doing is giving that power to know themselves over to others, suffering the inherent consequences of unmet expectations in so doing and then frantically exploding in a last-ditch attempt to elicit from you what they so badly need to learn do give to themselves. Borderline narcissism is the cause of many unmet needs and many over-blown and unrealistic expectations of others. It is also born and re-played out of that central conflict of not having successfully bonded or attached to a parent of care-giver, which for many borderlines is the original abandonment wound. It is the wound that has driven your defenses. To recover you must undo those defenses one by one starting with breaking through the narcissistic belief or illusion (on an emotional level) that you are the centre of the universe or that you are somehow entitled because you need. We all have needs. Needs must be met from within first. To do anything else in the seeking of fulfilling one's own needs is to set oneself up for failure and a continued pattern of getting hurt and re-damaged over and over as unmet need after unmet needs piles on top of one another. Your "real" self is buried under all of those unmet needs. If you can't reverse the pile right now, how about working to not add to that stock-pile any more?

The borderline experience of narcissism is the modern-true-to-life version of Narcissus staring in the pool of water at his own beautiful reflection so lovingly to the exclusion of all the women who wanted to love him. Borderlines are staring into a pool of people who seem to know who they are and they are desperately trying to have that mirror of someone else's "self" reflect back a discernible and meaningful sense of (acceptable) self to them. Narcissus stared into a pool of water in Greek Mythology, borderlines, in absolute angst-filled reality are staring as much away from the void of the absence of self as they are staring at the proverbial mirror representative of that pool of water. The major difference is that borderlines long to feel anything but lost, despised and their own self-hatred. Borderlines are merely the lost images that are in transit from one reflection to another. They often feel as though they are in a world of ugliness and that the love that Narcissus spurned is not even something to which they can hope to aspire to truly understand. On another level though, the love that Narcissus spurned (others) is the love that borderlines spurn from themselves - the love of a known and understood, consistent sense of self.

Before a borderline can break through this narcissism he/she must be willing to face not only his/her fears and woundedness (pain) but also the very real fact that he/she cannot find and be his/her real/authentic self without learning to live with the vulnerability that it means to be who one actually is. Learning to be vulnerable and learning how to protect oneself through the mature defenses that include boundaries, limits, and self-assertion is the only way to undo the narcissistic tendencies that living outside of your authentic self creates.

The experience of borderline narcissism is one of defense mechanisms run amuck in an illogically-overwhelming yet unceasingly-painful illusion of what can feel like an unconquerable loss of self. Many borderlines do not ever realize the extent to which they present narcissistic traits. Of the many distancing behaviours of borderlines narcissism is perhaps the most distancing, right up there with grandiosity and arrogance.

Hand in hand with borderline narcissism often goes borderline grandiosity and an unrelenting arrogance. In my next article I will talk about the role of grandiosity and arrogance in BPD and why they must be set aside in order to heal.


5:10 PM  
Blogger Sensei said...

1. Wilber is and will always be a genius, but he really lacks clues´bout politics. For example, in his world, there is no corruption, lobbyism, black-market. That green, with good reasons, criticized red/blue/orange
for 50 years and nobody gave a damn
and the point was that green was to dumb to realize that their sensible souls where sh..ed upon. It needs yellow, decision, no doubt, but the enemy is clear(oh, am I not integral? Well, if you can whine about that your blue, haha)
2. What about every other interpretation of left and right?
In germany, it´s hard to just say, yeah, right is more like blue, and orange is liberal, for most political germans, there´s a thin line between right/cons/NAZI!
I understand that afganistan needs law&order, not individuality, but getting beyond the lobbyism and corruption which make it impossible to attain anything would never be possible with blue and orange. orange by the way, is allied with consvatives, also in the US: the economy!Orange wants a free market, which means that the freedom of the other Qadrants(I/you/it)must be restrained, you must have a certain structure everywhere to participate in that freedom, and this is crucial, it means the orange we know will never give up a conservative view on the individual. Orange loves countries with no democracy.
Shit, it´s pretty long, but I could go nuts about the subject, guess I gotta start an I-Politics blog

8:08 AM  
Blogger ZAK said...

I really can’t easily get through Wilber’s attempt at novel writing to get to the essence of his Integral Politics theory.

I wonder why he does this, it’s not particularly entertaining
I guess Wilber thinks he is a Michael Crichton or something

As for Integral Politics, I noticed a lot of the sites that were just a while back on line are now offline.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Frank, I can agree with most of what you write, but would ask you to clarify what you mean with “the color coding terminology, which doesn't make sense to and even offends outsiders” – first of all, why doesn’t it make sense to you? (Wilber didn’t invent the color code system, it comes from Spiral Dynamics and is probably pretty clear to people who got certified in Spiral Dynamics, e.g. see the website) – secondly: can you give a specific example of “outsiders” being offended by it?

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I believe your analysis misses a major point of the US political landscape. And making statements about the KW would say something, versus the way you would say something makes me wonder out loud.

The Democratic Party in the US has moved towards the center, it now occupies the space left by the tradional "Rockefeller Republicans", the pre-Reagan dominent 20th century Republican center. "Liberalism" is now a fringe element of the Democratic Party. The POWER of the Republican Party has switched with the power of the Reagan era disciples, to the "Neo-Cons". The previous place of both parties during the 20th century was "philosophical" statesmen, all interested in 'good' government. While they has differing views of what 'good' was, they all supported effective government.

With the 'election' of GW Bush to the office of President, a new way of governing took effect. The powerbrokers and architects(Wolfowitz, Cheney, Crista's, etc) do NOT believe government can be good. They see it as an impediment to liberty. They have crippled the federal government's abilities in dozens of areas and given free reign to the capitalist experiment. Please read Cristal's "New American Century".
To use a Kenism, you are using a Green filter at looking at American politics. American politics is currently in a battle between Green/Orange (liberal/moderate/conservative philosophies) vs pathological blue (idealouges).

Mark Essex

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Ben Steigmann said...

I find Wilber's philosophy to be intriguing - however, politically, I could not disagree with him more.

It's a kind of glorified internationalism which promotes the chaotic melding of cultures and nations under the premise that "peace" will occur, when in reality, only strife will ensue.

The average person cannot exercise any real degree of power in these international arrangements. instead, the multinationals that are represented in the meetings setting up these organizations get regulations put in their favor, to the detriment

On more thing - Wilber's rhetoric veers close to that of Maurice Strong, who always touts "Global Solutions to Global Problems". The truth behind these solutions shows that these people are fare more psychopathic than they are benevolent. See George Hunt's presentation for proof of this:

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Damon Sprock said...


I wish to share the following link concerning my scientific research of the Origin of Universe and how God consciousness has a quantum, frequency connection to human consciousness via our subconscious mind hologram.

Dr. Damon Sprock

2:02 PM  

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