Ken Wilber is an American author, thinker, and cultural philosopher.
In the shadow of the 8 November 2016 US election, Wilber has offered a 90 page analysis of the Trump victory and the attitude he believes all citizens need to adopt in order for the world community to move in a positive direction.
Wilber’s piece, “Trump And A Post-Truth World: An Evolutionary Self-Correction” should be read in its entirety and can be viewed as a free e-book here: https://integrallife.com/trump-post-truth-world/
In order to grasp Wilber’s thesis, it is important to have a little background. Wilber argues that people, cultures, and particular periods in history are characterized by different worldviews or paradigms. In an attempt to avoid judgments and labels, Wilber assigns a colour to each of these paradigms. Wilber identifes at least nine distinct worldviews. But for the purposes of his essay on “Trump And A Post-Truth World,” it is necessary to have some familiarity with only four:
1. Red – egocentric: the warrior king focuses on the heroic individual who rises above the tribe emerging as a heroic noble figure able to navigate the dangerous jungle of life using his or her magical powers. This worldview is preconventional, selfserving, selfpromoting, and narcissistic.
2. Amber – ethnocentric (“myspecialgroup”): a traditional worldview that places faith in God, or at least in Absolute Truth. This worldview carries a strong sense of “right” and “wrong” and sets clear parameters for morality. It emphasizes law and order and rigid hierarchy and is strongly nationalistic.
3. Orange – worldcentric Modernism: view with a strong emphasis on reason, secularism, materialism, self-reliance, and achievement. Strives “to treat all people—not just a special group but all people—fairly regardless of race, color, sex, or creed.”
4. Green – Post-Modernism: is pluralistic, relativistic, individualistic, and multi-cultural, aims for self-actualization, stresses the human-bond. For greens, all truth gains its meaning only from its context. “Truth” is only a shifting cultural interpretation. All truth is relative. There is no such thing as universal truth, except that there is no such thing as universal truth. Greens value equality above all else, even more than freedom and are willing to limit free speech if it seems likely to be hurtful to anyone. Greens are determinedly politically correct.
Like individual personality typing (Myers Briggs, the Enneagram, etc.), these categories are only broad sweeping generalizations. No person or group can be completely described by any one colour. The important point Wilber makes is that we all have a worldview. We all bring a point of view with its preconceptions and prejudices to bear in any interaction with any other person or group of people.
For Wilber, what happened in the US Presidential election is that the Red, Amber, and Orange worldviews united in opposition to the Green which has been the major cultural force in the western world for the past 50 years. Red, Amber, and Orange are all anti-green.
But Green for its part, despite all its protestations of enlightened inclusivity and open-mindedness, despises and ridicules Red, Amber and Orange. Green has assumed that its perspective is so self-evidently and obviously true that any right-minded person of goodwill, will reject Red, Amber, and Orange and take on the Green worldview if only they would be willing to see its obvious superiority.
Wilber has a three point plan for moving forward in this awkward discourse:
1. Every worldview must recognize that every other worldview has something to offer. Green must give up its arrogant rejection of everything for which Red, Amber, and Orange stand and be willing to find the positive aspects of these worldviews.
2. Having recognized the positive dimensions of other worldviews, we must then try to transcend every worldview without abandoning the good qualities of that worldview.
3. Finally Wilber suggests we must make
room in the society for individuals who are at each station of life (red, amber, orange, green, or integral), and douse the whole affair with outrageous amounts of loving kindness – and do so by example. 66, 67
To be truly inclusive, means being willing to find value and worth in people whose perspectives we may find difficult to understand and hard to respect. Wilber’s plan requires the willingness to
reach out and compassionately include them in the ongoing national dialogue and ongoing cultural normative development.
For Wilber the responsibility lies with those who espouse the more inclusive and tolerant worldview to lead the way in showing compassion and loving kindness. We can no longer afford to dismiss one another as contemptible or unworthy of inclusion in the civic conversation. No conversation is helped by the kind of “harsh, vocal, and unrelenting ridicule” of which Greens have been guilty. It is time to reach across barriers and attempt to embrace, even those whose view of the world may be difficult to fathom. The person with whom we disagree is not our enemy, but merely a person who, for good reason, views the world through a different lens.
There is a coarseness and violence that has afflicted much of the response to events in the US in the past few months that is not conducive to a positive hopeful conversation. We need to step back, take a deep breath and reconnect with that gentle compassionate core that is our true nature. Only from this place of loving kindness and genuine respect will we be able to engage in a creative hopeful conversation that may restore some civility and peace to the human community.
Wilber’s critique of the dominant Green perspective bears pondering. It is important to be conscious of the degree to which this way of approaching the world may be shaping the current crisis of conversation in our culture. It is important to acknowledge our worldview honestly and humbly.
Here is a portion of Wilber’s summary of the Green problem (but again Wilber’s entire argument should be read here: https://integrallife.com/trump-post-truth-world/):
Its broadminded pluralism slipped into a rampant and runaway relativism (collapsing into nihilism), and the notion
that all truth is contextualized (or gains meaning from its cultural context) slid into the notion that there is no real universal truth at all, there are only shifting cultural interpretations (which eventually slid into a widespread narcissism). Central notions (which began as important “true but partial” concepts, but collapsed into extreme and
deeply selfcontradictory views) included the ideas that all knowledge is, in part, a cultural construction; all knowledge is context-bound; there are no privileged perspectives; what passes for “truth” is a cultural fashion, and is almost always advanced by one oppressive force or another (racism, sexism, eurocentrism, patriarchy, capitalism, consumerism, greed, environmental exploitation); the utter, absolutely unique, and absolutely equal value of each and every human being, often including animals (egalitarianism). If there was one line that summarized the gist of virtually all postmodern writers (Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Bourdieu, Lacan, de Man, Fish, etc.) is that “there is no truth.” Truth, rather, was a cultural construction, and what anybody actually called “truth” was simply what some culture somewhere had managed to convince its members was truth—but there is no actually existing, given, real thing called “truth” that is simply sitting around and awaiting discovery, any more than there is a single universally correct hem length which it is clothes designers’ job to discover…..
The catch22 here was that postmodernism itself did not actually believe a single one of those ideas. That is, the postmodernists themselves violated their own tenets constantly in their own writing, and they did so consistently and often…. For postmodernists, all knowledge is nonuniversal, contextual, constructivist, interpretive— found only in a given culture, at a given historical time, in a particular geopolitical location. Unfortunately, for the postmodernists, every one of its summary statements given in the previous paragraph was aggressively maintained to be true for all people, in all places, at all times—no exceptions. Their entire theory itself is a very Big Picture about why all Big Pictures are wrong, a very extensive metanarrative about why all metanarratives are oppressive. They most definitely and strongly believe that it is universally true that there is no universal truth. They believe all knowledge is context bound except for that knowledge, which is always and everywhere transcontextually true. They believe all knowledge is interpretive, except for theirs, which is solidly given and accurately describes conditions everywhere. They believe their view itself is utterly superior in a world where they also believe absolutely nothing is superior.