Friday, December 08, 2006

Thy Wilber Done

I don’t know. As soon as I start getting didactic, I get bored. It seems that I can only keep blogging on a daily basis by spontaneously posting whatever pops out of my cabeza in the morning. If I start thinking or planning ahead of time, it sort of dries up -- if not the words, then the music. That’s the reason I may suddenly veer into what seems like a different direction.

Many people -- or at least a couple of you -- have asked me to comment on the work of Ken Wilber. This isn’t easy to do for a number of reasons. First, we’re talking about almost 30 years of books, articles and interviews. Plus, he’s a moving target, as his ideas are constantly evolving. (By the way, I just heard a rumor that he is sick again, so it would be nice if we could offer a get well prayer in his general direction.)

I must have discovered Wilber in the early 1980’s, when I read his first book, the Spectrum of Consciousness. I read every subsequent book through what is considered his magnum opus, Sex, Ecology and Spirituality, which was published in 1995. Since then I have had only more of a passing acquaintance with his work, which seems to have shifted into a more public phase.

I went over to his website and saw that he is at work on a new book on “integral politics,” The Many Faces of Terrorism. Although it is nonfiction, it sounds like Ayn Rand’s nonfiction, in the sense that it is basically a format to express his philosophy. The website has a couple of chapters, including one entitled "Integral Politics, Or, Out of the Prison of Partiality...." Let’s just read what he has to say and see how it squares with our views of things. I’ll pull out whatever passages intrigue me and seem worthy of comment.

Most of this chapter is in the form of a press conference in which one of the main characters, Charles, outlines the theory of “integral politics,” the central idea being that any political philosophy will have to address “all quadrants and all levels” in order to be truly effective. Those who follow Wilber’s work know that there are four quadrants and approximately 1,817 vertical levels and stages of human development.

The quadrants, if I remember correctly, are interior individual, interior collective, exterior individual, and exterior collective. I’m oversimplifying here, but “interior individual” has to do with realms of the mind, soul and spirit, while “interior collective” has to do with cultural beliefs. The “exterior collective” has to do with political and economic organization, while “exterior individual” has to do with our body, brain and neurology.

At the press conference, Charles first describes what he regards as the essential difference between Democrat and Republican, or Left and the Right: “Here’s an easy way to tell. If you ask the simple question -- Why do human beings suffer? -- you will get two major answers. The Right will say, You suffer because of yourself; the Left will say, You suffer because of someone else."

I think this is a fair characterization, as I have said the same thing myself on a number of occasions. However, the first thing that occurs to me is that the answer to the question depends upon where you were lucky or unlucky enough to have been born. In my case, since I was fortunate enough to be born in the United States in the second half of the 20th century, I am privileged to know that almost all of my problems have been self-inflicted (either for conscious or for unconscious reasons rooted in childhood; technically the latter ones aren’t my fault, but they would have become my fault if I had done nothing to address them, i.e., seek psychotherapy). Also, a certain unlucky roll of the genetic dice gave me diabetes, but this is easily compensated for by other genetic blessings, such as a relative absence of back hair. When it comes to the exterior individual, if it's not one thing, it's another.

Where I have been a “victim,” it was generally because I was a victim of bad information from people I unwisely trusted -- the overwhelming majority of which having come from the left -- especially in college. Yes, I was a victim of progressivism in college. There I learned such drivel as that men and women are basically identical, that religion has caused more death and violence in the world than secular philosophies, that capitalism is fundamentally unfair, that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic, and imperialist country, that all truth and morality are relative (except for that absolute statement), and that all cultures except ours are equally beautiful and that it is wrong to judge them (that’s only a partial list of the nonsense that an educated person must unlearn).

Much of our suffering is simply the result of the existential circumstances of being human. In the latter case, as Zorba said, “Life is trouble; only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.” In fact, I believe that radicals and “progressives” are often motivated by a profoundly immature belief that it would somehow be possible to eliminate these inevitable existential tensions -- as if anything straight was ever made from the crooked timber of mankind. Of course life is unfair. Of course life is full of risk. Of course you cannot fulfill all of your desires or get everything you want. For one thing, the human imagination is infinite and insatiable. You have only to read a few biographies of the rich, powerful and famous to know that even everything is not enough. In fact, having everything is often an occasion for despair, for one finally realizes that fulfillment does not lie in that direction.


Here in the United States, it is simply a banal empirical fact that most people’s problems are self-inflicted and not amenable to government intervention. But that is a painful realization, so it is quite understandable that a large percentage of the population is going to deflect responsibility outward. Indeed, the merest acquaintance with psychology will show that this is inevitable. In order to maintain self-esteem, people habitually externalize blame. It is one of the most ubiquitous defense mechanisms, which is why it is such a cruel and destructive thing to legitimize and elevate this defense mechanism to a political philosophy -- Churchill referred to it as the “philosophy of failure” and “gospel of envy." Nurturing primordial lies is not an act of compassion except in the case of very young children -- and perhaps very elderly progressives. Let them die in peace before riding off with old Boxer to Sugar Candy Mountain.

But I think there’s an even deeper divide between Left and Right than the question of “Why do people suffer?” That is, the more fundamental divide is over the question of whether or not human beings are basically good. Contemporary liberals -- which is to say leftists -- believe that people are basically good, from which follows all sorts of disastrous, unworkable, and self-defeating policies. You will note that the classical liberals (i.e., contemporary conservatives) who founded America were quite jaded -- not to mention sophisticated -- about human nature, which is why their whole system revolved around the decentralization of power, so that one sphere of power could check the others. Our founders knew that human beings were neutral at best, constantly tempted by bad and evil choices.

The conservative or classical liberal is not naive enough to believe that people are basically good. This is not to say that they are basically bad. Obviously, human beings are capable of great heights of goodness, but it goes without saying that they are also quite capable of the depths of savagery, barbarism and depravity. This is because classical liberals believe that human beings possess free will, while contemporary leftist liberals are much more likely to believe that people are like machines whose behavior is determined by external forces, and that they can be manipulated though various policies into doing what the leftist wants them to do. This follows from erroneous Marxist ideas about existence determining essence, rather than vice versa.

Thus, a variety of kooky ideas follows from this initial incorrect premise, such as the notion that “poverty causes crime.” It’s ironic that leftists, of all people, would believe such a thing, since they believe that the biggest criminals in the world are wealthy men such as George Bush and Dick Cheney.

Now naturally, there are many places on earth where human suffering is primarily a result of “someone else.” In my opinion, one of the definitions of the good society is that it is a place which allows you to realize that your problems are self-generated, and to actually do something about it. Here in the United States, once you come to that essential realization, your options are wide open.

Not so, say, in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinians are probably the most comprehensively depraved people on the planet, truly one of the worst cultures that mankind has ever produced. But there is little the individual can do about it, because the essence of their cultural pathology revolves around the delusional idea that the existence of Israel has something to do with their problems. In short, they do not just hate Israel because they are so backward and barbaric; rather, they are backward and barbaric because they are obsessed with hatred of Israel.

Thus, the Palestinians have created a sick culture in which it is strictly impossible to realize -- literally “unthinkable” -- that the source of their suffering is within. A Palestinian who comes to the realization that the Jews are not the source of their problems -- and is foolish enough to speak up about it -- will soon find himself dangling upside down in the town sqaure with his testicles missing and a couple of lumps obstructing his breathing. Mental health is not allowed in much of the Islamic world.

Wilber makes another critical point with which I agree entirely, that is, “when it comes to social change, the Republican recommends interior development (character education, family values, God values, industriousness, self-responsibility, work ethic); the Democrat recommends exterior development (material improvement, economic redistribution, universal health care, welfare statism).” Therefore, we can see how the contemporary leftist liberal -- because he too externalizes blame -- falls for Palestinian propaganda, crook, slime and stinker. Most recently, we have seen this disgusting view expressed in a hideous new book by America’s worst president and even worse ex-president, Jimmy Carter.

Wilber writes, “When you ask Republicans what could possibly cause the militants themselves to engage in such desperate acts, they will not hesitate to ascribe virtually all blame to the terrorists themselves: they are evil, they are subhuman, they lack any sort of values, they lack character, they lack the true God, they lack something or other, but in every case, it’s their fault, period. It’s an interior problem -- their interiors are fucked up real good.”

Yes. I wouldn’t put it exactly that way -- these are terrorists, not militants, and their acts are hardly “desperate.” Rather, they are mostly educated, middle class or wealthy, and operating out of a well-articulated theological philosophy. But they are evil -- on both an individual interior and collective interior level -- and it is their fault. You don’t see Christian Palestinians blowing up innocent women and children, and they’re just as “occupied” as the Muslims.

Wilber then points out that “the typical Democrat will go to the other extreme and blame the exteriors: yes, the terrorists are responsible for these acts, but it’s something horrible in their environment that made them do it. And in this case, that something horrible is a four-letter word: the West.” Bingo. In excusing the bogus victim, leftists blame the real victim. Or in the words of the Talmud, those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind.

It seems that in the desire to account for all quadrants, one can miss the more important point that one of them may offer a better explanation than the others. This doesn’t imply reductionism, just appropriateness. For example, if someone is experiencing hallucinations (i.e., a problem of the interior individual) but also has a brain tumor (a problem of the exterior individual), it isn’t going to do much good to provide psychotherapy to deal with the hallucinations. The problem is obviously primarily on the exterior individual level, so not every problem is amenable to a strict balancing of the quadrants, as if all are contributing equally. This is not a critique, as I’m sure Wilber realizes this.

On a more mundane level, I cannot even imagine teaching my son that the source of his problems is external to him. I would not just consider this bad philosophy, but child abuse that would hinder him for the rest of his life.

Well, this has already gone on a bit long. To be continued... Maybe...

Ah, no. Obviously they're fraternal twins. Savannah is a girl.


GeorgeD said...

I moseyed on over to see the Ken Wilber site. Ughhh. I hate commercial spirituality. It has the taint of oral Roberts, L. Ron, Jimmy S. etc. Big turnoff.

Gandalin said...

An excellent interpretation of what may be in Wilber's latest spiritual architectonics.

I am suprised that you think nothing "straight was ever made from the crooked timber of mankind."

As Crazy Jane told the Bishop, "nothing can be sole or whole that has not been rent."

Or as the Kotzker said, "there is nothing more whole than a broken heart."

Just a slightly different facet.

Gagdad Bob said...

I align myself with JC, who asked, "Why dost thou call me good? None is good but God alone."

LukeBlogWalker said...


Great writing today. "Rosebud" was a classic reference. Love it!

So are we perhaps able to accurately infer that liberalism / leftism is by definition (I don't know the appropriate psychological term exactly) -ego based at the very least, and meglomaniacal and psychotic at the very worst?

It starts with the assumption that problems are external, that issues are external, etc. etc. and never ceases to layer on more "solutions" ad-infinitum, rather than deal with the internal.

Thats gotta be messed up.

Was it Sartre or Arthur Shoepenhaur that said, "The world is my idea" -yeah no kidding, in this case.

This makes those who subscribe to this "model of life" (mostly) void of any true spirituality. They seek external examples of spirituality to examine and in a sense mimic.

Another layer.

Those which have introspection, perhaps are the ones who transform out of liberalism / leftism.

I think a term for this kind of self referntial thinking is functional autonomy. Which, someone once told me was a legal form of insanity in most of the fifty states.

Is it no wonder we have things like Columbine? We teach kids that they are their own reference system, that what they decide or feel is right, there are no absolute truths. -All "good" liberal antithetical dogma.

Then we have the audacity to be amazed that these emotionally immature boys actually believed it?

-Enjoying the site, and my morning coffee.


LukeBlogWalker said...


With regard to the didactic, I concur. For me, the good stuff is unstoppable inspiration. It can smoulder for a time, but once it starts to burn, it is more productive than some deliberate forcing of the concepts. They just are not ready.

Which I suspect ties to "intuition" in a way. If the ideas are churning in the subconscious, the conscious effort at forcing them out may not always work if they are not done churning around.

If, however, they are essentially complete, and seek an exit through your awareness, then they zing out with some degree of uncontrollability. In effect, one must learn to follow this "flow" (pardon the liberalesque term).

-Back to work.


LukeBlogWalker said...


Perhaps this verse has some relation here:

John 2:8

They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.


USS Ben said...

Exquisite post, Bob!

You are right about not forcing it.

A few days ago, I tried that and it was chaos.

It's like trying to redirect a tsunami, with a paper plate.

When I relaxed, and quit worrying about it...presto!

Actually, that could've been my lovely wife's pesto,
with an "r" rating, of course.

"R" as in river, not restricted.

Where the currents flow,

And the farmers hoe,

And the fishermen go,

To catch some soul.

The Comedian knows!

Anyway, that's my take on it, generally (or admirally) speaking.

walt said...

I rather ENJOY your musing, pondering, and mulling of subjects, and angles-on-truth. This "style" allows my thick head to absorb various connections about your subjects that are not otherwise obvious. When I want a "teaching" or complete explanation of something, I look at books. Your approach keeps things "fresh", and so it is "refreshing" to come here each day.

uss ben said...

Almost forgot.

Or I forgot and remembered.

Don't miss:
Scully's fresh catch of the day,
served piping hot on an all-purpose Navy tray, at

Get yer daily See Rations!

Supplies are limited!

Only one See Rat. per Cosmic Raccoon.

Bring your own clams.

Portwhole seats available!

A hearty salute to Commodore Bob, for selfless service above and beyond the call of duty!

uss ben said...

Heh! If this pic doesn't brighten one's day, nothing will.

uss ben said...

I wonder why Wilber's entire site is flash?

No wonder I can't see it.

Anonymous said...

I gotta disagree with your claim that liberals see people as good. Rather, they say they see people as good, which is not quite the same thing.

I think it's quite otherwise: liberals basically see Reality and other human beings as oppressive, and want to change the world and their fellow man to end the oppression. The left sees others as evil and malicious and selfish, and think that justifies their own evil and malice and narcissism.

Conservatives on the other hand see Reality and other human beings as essentially good, made "in the image of God," but fallen and struggling. In the conservative vision, this weakness is an internal failing, and is not readily amenable to outside intervention.

These differences can all be understood as part of a response to the problem of evil, which afflicts secularists as well as the religious. An atheist must determine his response to the evil which undoubtedly exists in the world. Secularists often cycle between various possible responses such as: (1) denial - despite appearances, everyone is actually perfectly good; (2) evil exists only because of some institutional failing, and if we get the right law or policy in place it will disappear; (3) evil is widespread, but only among our enemies, and if we destroy our enemies all will be well; (4) evil is widespread and cannot be defeated, therefore the best we can do is appease the most evil; (5) evil is widespread and cannot be defeated, so one might as well be evil too and be among the winners in the cruel, dog-eat-dog game of life.

Those who see the world in ways (3), (4), and (5) may claim they see others as good, as a tactical deception. For if you've chosen the way of evil, why not lie to advantage?

Gagdad Bob said...


I entirely agree with you that leftists say they believe people are good, but that they don't actually believe it. In reality, I believe they have contempt for people, which they cover over with a veneer of condescending do-gooderism.

And I also agree with you that many conservatives (you cannot say all conservatives, because it is a diverse coalition) do indeed see people as essentially divine, but one cannot allow that to obscure the importance of our fallenness -- i.e., the distance from our divine prototype, which it is the purpose of life to bridge.

robinstarfish said...

jimmy carter speaks
philistine for palestine

NoMo said...

I am compelled to say something.

dicentra63 said...

Thus, a variety of kooky ideas follows from this initial incorrect premise, such as the notion that “poverty causes crime.”

The biggest problem with this assertion is that its definition of "crime" is so incredibly narrow. When people talk about crime rates, they limit "crime" to murder, assault, robbery, rape, and other violent types of crimes.

But what is the moral difference between a guy who breaks into your car to steal your stereo and the CEO who breaks into your retirement fund and takes that?

Obviously, there isn't one. The only correlation between socioeconomic status and crime is the kind of crime you're likely or able to commit. I know that Bill Gates won't be showing up on my doorstep with a sawed-off shotgun, but then, the thug down the street doesn't have the ability to break anti-trust laws, either, and bring competitors to their knees. (As a tech writer, I despair that MS Word is the standard instead of WordPerfect. Two words: Reveal Codes.)

“the typical Democrat will go to the other extreme and blame ... the West.”

Whence this pathological hatred of one's own flesh? Is it because the ignorant masses don't recognize that People Who Can Write A Mean Essay ought to be in charge of the whole schmear?

GLASR said...

When you roll out, similar to the day you were born, you know everything. The ensuing input forces out, blunts, obfuscates, negates, alters - pick a descriptor - all that you know. By mid day your unsure, unsteady. Dusk brings a retarding of the process itself and oh, on about 23:00hrs you're stupefied. Look into an infants eyes(not your own, too tough getting past that flesh and blood,overwhelming emotion, feel like your dying part), even a two year old, they know something we don't or have forgotten. That's the sense I've always gotten. It's how we're hooked up, no? The whole "sled" connectivity?

River Cocytus said...

nice, robinstarfish. An encapsulation if I ever heard one.

I think that the contemporary liberal wants to believe, at least at some point, that people are naturally good. (Return to the primitive?)

Whereas a conservative may want to believe that people are essentially good.

The fracturing of the first perspective into denial, narcissism, collectivism, etc is due to the fact that man is not naturally good.

The difficulty with the second perspective I think, is that while man is essentially good, he is also naturally evil.

You might come to that idea by noting the goodness in people that you might otherwise think are wholly despicable.

The Christian way of putting this is, like Bob echoed, 'man is fallen'.

If only God is good, then only his image in us is good. That is, I would say, our essence.

Our nature is something that is fleshly, that is, not evil, but really gullible and selfish. This nature quickly turns from neutral to evil, I think, as we grow past 'innocence'. (Thus we each 'fall' anew as Adam did.)

So I don't know if that makes us 'double fallen' or just F-f-fallen! but either way the flesh is not trustworthy because it is centered on the ways of this world, the primary one being selfishness.

Anyway, I don't consider selfishness 'pure evil' but rather something that is easily turned toward an evil pursuit... usually by someone else who is also selfish. (So selfishnesses feed on themselves?)

We do it to our selves primarily in the USA nowadays, but in other places and times external circumstances also played a huge role. But interestingly my view on this is the selfishness problem emanates from us, so no matter what contributes to the flesh falling it is still our responsibility to raise it as it is our own flesh.

So the Palis could have the worst culture in the world, but that in no way abrogates the responsibilities of individual Palis.

Sort of the reverse approach to the accredited liberal one, I guess.

As for, then, the goodness in man's nature; it is transient. Only his essence can be continually good, as only his essence is eternal.

Which might explain why progs slide from 'everyone is good' to 'everyone is good(but you and I know they're all Evil)' pretty quick-like.

If only they grasped the paradox that is man.

GLASR said...

Not too far from some topic here. J.R. Dunn, his usual nail finds hammer.

River Cocytus said...

glasr: I think it is the 'illusion' of knowledge. Remember that what you care to know, or rather what are 'known unknowns' relate to what you know that you can know.

When you're born, you don't know you can know anything! You just are. So the loss of knowledge as you age is rather an expansion of what you know that you don't know.

So while your 'known knowns' grow linearly, your 'known unknowns' grow geometrically. the 'unknown unknowns' are the 'nowal' I think it is called, the outside of what you know of reality-- and then of course there is the 'unknown knowns' -- which.. how do you define their growth? I guess one might say you would be surprised at the things you know that you didn't know you did. (Or COULD!)

Intuition is the first level of tapping into the 'unknown knowns'.

We miss you, and thanks, Rummy!

Alan said...

Dicentra said "Is it because the ignorant masses don't recognize that People Who Can Write A Mean Essay ought to be in charge of the whole schmear?"

Ummm, no. I think his point is that nobody should have power over anyone else except when someone willingly gives some authority over themselves to another person.

On Wilber, there are a few things that bother me about his recent writings (as far as I understand them).

Quadrants:Generally there is no hierarchy (vertical) implied in this part of his theory - all viewpoints, in general, are equally valid.

Levels: Self-identification of your level is heavily frought with ego problems (rating yourself way higher than you may be). As well, any Christian is automatically assumed to be red or blue level (and hence way behind those leftist green's).

The Escalator Theory of Religions: Religions are to serve to get people to a higher level - and each has a place to play in that. True enough but the question comes when you ask how this idea can be used in the real world. I, for one, don't want to be known as a Red level Egocentric/Power God type (and I'll beat up anyone who says I am :-) . I can see how an individual religion can serve as the overall escalator but can't for the life of me see how something like Christianity for kids, Judaism for teens, and Buddhism for adults could be a workable scenario?

It all seems to be yet another elitism masquerading as science and religion without a methodology/praxis/way....of course anyone who can understand this must be at the highest levels of evolution ;-)

Anyway, those are my poorly articulated thoughts.

LukeBlogWalker said...

Rockin' Robin Rocks on again!

Love that photo too!


LukeBlogWalker said...

On what is known or not known at birth...

A good friend of mine used to do an experiment using lab grown / freshly hatched out baby chicks.

He would mark 10 of them with dye to distinguish them from the other 10.

One group he dosed with testosterone (regardless of the sex of the chick) and the other with estrogen.

The testosterone group began to scratch the ground, tried to crow, and tried to hump the other chicks.

When the hormone dose was reversed, the behaviors reversed in each group.

Question: if it is nurture not nature, then where did lab hatchlings learn to crow or participate in other activities?

I suspect some form of genetic imprinting that is common to both sexes which can be triggered or enhanced by chemical changes.

So I guess I am trying to say, we may be confusing what we "know" with what we are made up of, and how it interacts -in some cases.

Just a thought.


Mars said...

I Invoke thee, Jody. Jody, come, come, come. Speak out! We are in continuing need of you here.

ximeze said...

that robinstarfish
so does shine again today
love her haiku

ximeze said...


It's really mean of you to want to infict boredom onto others.

LukeBlogWalker said...


Don't you mean "Its really annoying..." ? ;)

If you have not seen Chad Vader, (Darth's younger brother) surf over to Youtube and do a search for him.

(Comic Relief)


geckofeeder said...

Well, Dr. Godwin, I figure I owe you for my daily therapy about $122,000. Thanks for being a guiding light. Most often, lately, I am rendered speechlesss, and by the time I have read through the comments I have to go back and again read what you have said and, not being a writer, don't usually say, thank you so much for constant allignment adjustments.
Finally I am cured from my therapy which was in the seventies. Hallelujah.
Where's Will?

Smoov said...

The most evil people to ever walk the earth were not the Nazis. They are "deep ecologists". This branch of the Green neo-pagan religion is essentially worse than Satanism. The most extreme adherents espouse a doctrine which endorses the elimination of mankind from the planet entirely. One recent speech given by a professional biologist in Dallas included a professed desire to see the introduction of an airborne ebola-like pathogen which would "wipe out 99% of humanity". This "moderate" fell short of the typical call for complete extermination.

Many of these people seem quite serious. Would they pull the switch if it somehow became available? Who knows. Some of them probably would.

Deep environmentalists are not quite the same as atheists. They are more like Satanists--or... what? What possesses a human mind to pine for the ultimate annihilation of the pinnacle of Creation? To hope for a storm of Holocausts?

Much of this unadulterated, dead-eyed, reptillian evil filters into the general population. Children are routinely indoctrinated that our entire species is profoundly evil...alien.

The Left has certainly produced a prodigious plague of such nihilists--the Khmer Rouge always come to mind first for me.

Leftists sometimes seem to wonder that we are not being "fair", not treating their "viewpoint" with respect and equal time. Huh? Why on earth would I do such a thing? Would I give a Nazi "equal time"?

I think we should be fighthing the Left tooth and nail, FAR more than we do today. I don't want to "debate" leftists (except those who are genuinely good people who are leftists by accident--they are welcome). I want leftism to die out entirely. The sooner the better.

Progress on that front is pretty damned slow, I'm afraid.

Joan of Argghh! said...

The Jody that can be invoked is not Jody.

er... or something like that.

hoarhey said...


I hope no chickens were harmed during your incantation.

NoMo said...

Once again, I am compelled to say something.

LukeBlogWalker said...


You might be interested in reading something I mentioned a couple days ago. Well, that is if you have not already done so.

"The Black Book of Communism"

-Which the French Communists tried to ban in Europe. It quite plainly lays out the evidence that Communism is murderous. Moreso than anything to date.

That book makes the valid point that we often think of Adolf Hitler and his band of merry men, as the main evil deathmasters of the 20th Century. In fact is is Communism that holds this "honor."

I remember in High School looking in the Guiness Book of World Records for Mass Murder.

Before it got to serial killer types, it had...

China, Russia, (or was that Russia and then China? I don't recall for certain) and Nazi Germany a paltry third place, with hardly double digit millions to its credit.

Khmer Rouge. Yeah. I've worked with a few Cambodians who have told me stories about entire families that no longer exist.

Then there was my Cambodian coworker, Ty, who came across stoic or unable to speak English, until he knew you.

He looked like the quintessential southeast asian war fighter. A few lines of age on his face.

He would talk seriously about things out back after work. The younger set at work (all liberals) was not quite sure how to take this. Many were not even born during the Viet Nam War.

Catching their general lack of "education", a gleam would come into his eyes -well, for those of us who knew what to look for. He'd quickly hop onto a stereotype before departing for the weekend.

With all seriousness on his face, "Well guys, I have to go home and get the dog ready for dinner."

Those of us that knew him waited for such moments just to see the reactions on the new initiates to his presence!

If anyone took the bait, sometimes he would discuss recipes until we all broke out laughing.

Anyway, you said..

[The most extreme adherents espouse a doctrine which endorses the elimination of mankind from the planet entirely.]

I guess the obvious, that such goodness should start "at home" slipped their grasp? ;)

It would sure save the rest of us the trouble.

The ELF is a bunch of wackos too.

Rat Bastards


Joan of Argghh! said...

nomo, that's twice in one thread. Your compulsion is becoming obsessive.


GLASR said...

Went something like, what/all that distinguishes civilized man from the noble savage is evil, no? The roots of the intellectually deficient left, their insulated "leaders". We willingly turned over the reigns to them, to take a beating now, so we can regroup and deliver a more severe beating later? Move this from the election to the GWOT. Thankfully, we see movement in many politicians away from their original "get me elected" position . It's one thing to be the target of vertical disturbances like higher taxes, gasoline prices, more social engineering, restrictive infringing laws quite another to open a jihadistan battle(I'm talking the 4GW kind) front on American soil. If you've ever seen smoking black holes other than in film or on TV, well, I'll sanitize it for you, that resulting horizontal disturbance is rather ugly, be they in tera, metal or flesh. The outcome, the future, will be one of our own free will based on the roots of our thinking. Quite a contrast. Shrink the left for a better world.

Does this post pass the "test" Dr. Godwin? Less layers, verbiage contortion, readily understandable(if there is such a thing), may not get a "Huh? Explain.", curiosity driven(I hope they're not insulting, eww, painful)response/reaction.If you're not extremely generous with credit, well, uh, um, your the guy supposed to be doing the blogging, no?

NoMo said...

joan - What can I say? I'm working to minimize.

GLASR said...

river c:

I'll have to say, I don't know. Always likened that sense to the far end of the result. Someone close to you dies, few weeks later you dream(?) about them. Put those two together with(and I'm not sure what they're called)you know you die and then come or are brought back, near death experience(?). Can I verbalize it? No. It's real though. Appreciate the other thinking explanation, was very careful to assume or attempt to assume the connectivity. I know more now, no movement in the pile(my knowing one) though.

River Cocytus said...

Nah, nothing insulting I think, Glasr, but just confused. I think I got the drift of your previous posts.

Joan of Argghh!! said...


Minimalists are more than they seem.

Van said...

Gagdad said…"But I think there’s an even deeper divide between Left and Right than the question of “Why do people suffer.... Contemporary liberals -- which is to say leftists -- believe that people are basically good, from which follows all sorts of disastrous, unworkable, and self-defeating policies. You will note that the classical liberals (i.e., contemporary conservatives) who founded America were quite jaded -- not to mention sophisticated -- about human nature...Our founders knew that human beings were neutral at best, constantly tempted by bad and evil choices. "

Thomas Sowell termed the divide in his Conflict of Visions as the opposition of the Constrained and Unconstrained visions. The Constrained view, which conservatives tend towards, is that people's essential character is for the most part fixed, and can't be meaningfully changed by doing 'things', while the Unconstrained view, which draws the left, thinks that humanity can be improved from without by the application of external 'things'.

"...Obviously, human beings are capable of great heights of goodness, but it goes without saying that they are also quite capable of the depths of savagery, barbarism and depravity. This is because classical liberals believe that human beings possess free will, while contemporary leftist liberals are much more likely to believe that people are like machines whose behavior is determined by external forces..."

And you know that that right there nails it for me, right there is the nutshell of contemporary leftie liberalism! The left believes that Free Will is a fraud and that we are all just the results of external forces that determine our characters, fortunes, happiness, etc.

River Cocytus said... "I think that the contemporary liberal wants to believe, at least at some point, that people are naturally good. (Return to the primitive?)"

I think that what lefties want to believe is that people are fixable, but only by their (lefties) efforts, which enables them to be feel as though they would be ‘fixed’, ennobled, made more admirable – at least in the eyes of others.

But what they really seek to believe is that everyone can just “L-i-v-e” free from effort and freeee from the necessity of THOUGHT – the kind of thought that requires respect for, and conformity to Truth and Reality – that kind of thought fills them with dread and anger (see Rousseau for starters).

The kind of thought that requires only running their little hamster cage minds through their familiar circular paths – that kind of thought, the kind of thought that allows them to assert what reality is (amazingly conformable to their whims, as it turns out), that kind of thought they’ll happily indulge in all day long.

As Luke Blogwalker pointed out the other day, the early flaming red lefties made a conscious and concerted effort to ridicule any thought of God, Truth or Religion in public, in an attempt to disarm their conservative critics. But they primarily targeted those thoughts, not because they they were True or False, but because they were standards that would hold up their thoughts to the necessity of adhering to the standards of Truth and Falsehood. It was a tactic they set up for dealing with all ideas deemed dangerous to their designs, and which they are still trying to squeeze additional mileage from to this day. Beware the snicker (Bill Maher anyone?) it can be deadlier than an IED – it makes them possible.

Van said...

GLASR said... “When you roll out, similar to the day you were born, you know everything. The ensuing input forces out, blunts, obfuscates, negates, alters - pick a descriptor - all that you know…”

I think you confuse a lack of corruption with a wealth of knowledge – while the former is desirable, without the later it is meaningless.

Van said...

I am compelled to say “As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
Only this and nothing more."

Joan! Do you forgive me for my editing blunder the other day? If not, I will be compelled to Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

(I’m not sure either, but it seemed to flow with NoMo’s tweak)

Van said...

Regarding Wilber, I tend to agree with GeorgeD, the guy doesn’t do anything for me. I’m sure the news will crush him. I can’t say I’ve read enough to offer any substantial criticism of his thought, but such seeming reliance on color coding, and quadrants and other classification gimmicks – it just smacks of listicism to me, the tendency to attempt to substitute lists of steps to perform or adhere to, for clear thought and action. I may be completely wrong about him – but I just can’t get past his front door.

Van said...

Whew, almost caught up (pant, pant, pant). Did you know that 4 days of One Cosmos posts & comments at barely viewable font size, double columned, fills up 46 pages front & back?

Pound for pound the best and most effective exercise workout available.

niconoclast said...

Diabetes is genetically determined? Surely emotion and stress play a part -in raising the blood sugar levels...?

Do liberals hate mankind? "Sartyr said: "Hell is other people"...

WH said...

A response to Alan's reservations about Wilber.

Most importantly: being a Christian does not relegate you to the egocentric powergod stage of development, or the authoritarian, mythic order stage. All the major world religions manifest along the whole vertical axis of development. So that, using the annoying color scheme, there can be Blue Christians, Green Christians, and all the way up to Violet or whatever the current highest color in KW's scheme might be. The same is true for Judaism, Buddhism (if you want to see a "Red" Buddhist, check out the Indians who worship statues as manifestations of actual gods -- this is the powergod stage), and other religions.

As far as the quadrants lacking verticality -- if you could look at the quadrant model from the side instead of from the top, you would see something that resembles a spiral, with smaller and more limited/limiting stages at the bottom and wider more inclusive stages at the top.

On praxis -- Wilber is a practicing Buddhist and has been for many years. He has always advocated some form of meditation as the praxis aspect of his model, whether that is Buddhist meditation (like Zen), Christian prayer, Sufism, and so on. His contention is that all of the world's religions have at their core a technology of transcendence that can lead us to higher, purer states of consciousness -- we simply need to adopt one and stick with it.

Further, he has developed what they call Integral Life Practice (or the ILP Kit) which presents a variety of practices for body, mind, spirit, and shadow work. The synergistic approach seems to accelerate development. This is nothing more than a repackaging and expansion of Leonard & Murphy's Integral Transformative Practice.

As for the elitism issue -- there is a certain element of this as of late in the KW and Integral Institute world. While many of us who study integral theory find it disturbing, it seems to be a part of the marketing ploy. Too bad, it turns off a lot of people.


Aeryck said...

I did a bit of thinking on this whole issue a while back, and especially the idea of which political viewpoint sees humans as good vs. evil. What I ended up with is a developmental model. It's too much to reproduce here in comments, but I'll give a link for anyone interested. It's very much influenced by Ken Wilber's work too, so it's sort of on point for this post.


Aeryck said...

Oops. The URL was cut off. Here is a smaller one:


MikeZ said...

About what liberals and conservatives believe about Man: I agree with most of you who say that liberals believe people are good, but they just don't act that way. They seem to believe that people can only be made good (or better) through the untiring efforts of Leading Liberals, who want to pass ever more restrictive laws ("don't smoke anywhere in the Pacific Ocean") to force everyone into compliance with their notion of "the Good".

Conservatives (I thnk) realize that people are flawed, but that they can make themselves better by adhering to a moral code, which is presented but not necessarily imposed.

(That's essentially what "anonymous said".)

And Luke points up a problem with "We teach kids that they are their own reference system, that what they decide or feel is right, there are no absolute truths." = moral relativism.

Can someone come up with the Moral Law by himself? (Assuming there is but one.) That is, if he isn't Socrates or Jesus?

Maybe that's why Man is a tribal animal ("social animal", as Aristotle put it) - so he can learn from others.

On the other hand, if all you learn from are Ivy League professors, what's the point?

Luke also raises a grand old problem (with the gender-imposed chicks). Maybe it's related to the "nature v. nurture" problem. But: with so much of behavior being dependent on brain chemistry (and brain structure - remember the famous case of Phineas Gage?). We treat disorders today that would have appeared "spiritual" (I leave it to Bob to say whether that's really the case) with lithium, with Zoloft, &c, &c. Some years down the track, we may be able to treat atheism with a drug - or Christianity. In Soviet Russia, as I remember, they treated nonconformity with drugs - and other forms of more or less unpleasant behavior modification.

As an aside, I heartily congratulate Dr Bob on his decision to cut back to 5 days/week. That will mean that I only get behind about 10 days/week, rather than 15.