“Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 7

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.

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Bateson’s “Stage theory… Is colonial BS” critique hits target

Genesis 

I began writing weekly in this space over three years ago because I needed to try to make sense of how it came to be that DJT was elected POTUS. I confess, that particular *development* caught me a bit off-guard. So, I wanted to find out if I could reverse-engineer the path that had led us there. I felt a profound need to make this journey.
 
[used with permission, Gaia Orion Art]:
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Coming most recently from the local church context, as I had, I was keenly aware of the cultural divide in America. The level of emotion regarding the difficult issues in the church (authority, sexuality, justice, etc.) rendered that context of little help in my inquiry. So, I went looking for a context that might at least be somewhat rational about interrogating our predicament and its context and not just emotionally caught up in the fray. 
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It had been about fifteen years since I’d left any conversational connection with communities of discourse regarding Ken Wilber’s *Integral*, Clare Graves’ *ECLET* [G], or Don Beck and Chris Cowan’s *Spiral Dynamics* [SD]. Now, TheFacebook made it fairly easy to connect with some Integral/G/SD-related communities, and so I did that.
 
To my shock (and disbelief), in the *Integral* communities that I explored, I found many (not most, but many) people advocating for DJT. This was also the case, albeit, to a far lesser degree, in the G/SD communities. That was certainly flummoxing enough.
 
Then, I began noticing *Integral* messaging around issues of ‘race in America.’ I noticed prominent *Integral* voices expressing an alarming ‘both sides are right’ message around the issues of White supremacist ideology and its artifacts. I wrote a piece expressing my dismay at this discovery—Polemic: kw integral error? Recall, this was after DJT‘s 2017 remarks regarding Charlottesville: “Good people, on both sides.”
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So, this naturally joined with my ongoing work of looking into the race discourse and exploring the intellectual roots of racism in America. When, in my investigation, I began looking into Franz Boas and his fight with stadial theory and eugenics, some things started to make a bit more sense.
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Then, Nora Bateson dropped a provocation bomb on the matter, and I began more fully to sense the scope of the difficulty that is surfaced when one interrogates “stadial theory” and its progeny on an epistemological basis. What I found very interesting was that Bateson is bringing her critique primarily from an ecology context and standpoint.
 
That means both issues, ecology and racial justice, are a function of the one root problem, i.e., modernist, progressive, stadial theory. In sum, it reveals more evidence of human arrogance and hubris in believing that we are, or could be, fully in control of our reality. 
 
It’s important to notice the text in this one hundred year old graphic. It reads:
 
Eugenics is the self direction of human evolution.”
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Source of “eugenics tree” is Laughlin (1923) The Second International Exhibition of Eugenics Held September 22 to October 22, 1921, (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins Company). page 15, figure 3.

*Integral* “leveling up” … um, what?

“We need to build toward a tipping-point and get a critical mass of people into ‘second tier’!”
 
Some form of this is almost an anthem in most any online *Integral* community conversation. 
 
Trouble is, every time the community engages in discussion about any kind of raising, dragging, hauling, or “leveling” people “up” the spiral, well, that’s eugenics. The idea that the *Integral* model itself may be likened to a “conveyor belt of human consciousness” is, also, eugenics. The whole notion of “leveling up” certainly requires a great deal of confidence in the veracity and applicability of the model. And, so, it’s plain that some even want to use this map to which they’re clutching so fiercely in the “self direction of human evolution.”

tl;dr

And with the help of folks like Charles Darwin, Gregory Bateson, the Cladists, et al. we can see that our maps aren’t really all that precise or even that accurate, anyway. None-the-less, based on what you know as an Integralist or Spiral Wizard, you’re saying that you want to define, design and manipulate our “upward” evolutionary path? 

No, thank you! Hard pass. Even if it weren’t eugenics, still, “no!” 

Instead, I wonder if we might be able to help our sisters and brothers to realize their humanness more fully? Perhaps in doing that, we can more fully saturate our own humanness. If we do the holistic work of making humanness universal for all humans, our relationships with the earth and all life may well take on a radically new shape. Mary’s Magnificat expresses the leveling-up that humanness demands, imho. 

One reason it matters:

[link: NPR story above]

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Next week: “Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 8. Come and see. 

[this post approx. 825 words (about a 3 min. read)]

Your thoughts? 

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

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2 thoughts on ““Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 7

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