Does Integral have anything unique to say about the morality of US involvement in the Russia/Ukraine war?


Short answer: no. Integral Philosophy offers no theory on how to judge actions or policies right or wrong. For issues of that sort, integralists must fall back on the best thinking of the orange-rational moral philosophies of the last 400 years. For example, Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative has been hugely influential down to the present day. His CI appears in two versions:

  1. Act only on that maxim that you can consistently will to be a universal law.
  2. Always treat persons as ends in themselves, never merely as a means to your own ends.

There is endless debate about these formulations, but something like both of them are part of a wide consensus on how actions are to be morally assessed. Version 2 seems to imply that proxy wars are immoral; they involve a nation A adopting as policy the use of citizens of country B to fight a war against an enemy of country A for country A’s own ends. On that basis, the US is fighting an immoral war against Russia. Its strategic aim is to weaken Russia to the point where it is no longer a serious competitor for world, or at least European, hegemony. In the words of former ambassador Charles Freeman, characterizing US policy, “We will fight to the last Ukrainian for Ukrainian independence.”


I can’t speak for the higher echelons of Integral, but here are some tings I see happening:

Amber: Slavic Countries West of Russia seem to be Unanimously more willing to involve themselves in definite actions to Support Ukraine. This is a kind of “Family Affair”, like the kids getting together to support the oldest son when he takes on the abusive father. They’ve all felt Russian brutality before, and know it first hand in a way the West doesn’t. Any action they take in their mind is moral, because they have experienced the alternative of not fighting back when Russian Tanks rolled into their countries in the 1960’s.

At Orange, we have a typical bureaucratic response of sanctions. Make sure you fill out the forms in triplicate and put the correct date stamp. This seems to be a universally accepted moral response worldwide, except to Putin - who says he sees it as a provocation and equivalent to war.

Green responses to Russia seem to be interestingly absent. There is a lot of Green support for Ukraine, but significantly not to Russia itself. Green seems to be sitting this one out regarding Russia itself. This Green response to Ukraine ranges from actual useful things like Polish people leaving useful items at train stations for incoming refugees, to teenagers placing orange and blue flags somewhere on their social media.

If we look at all these together, what would be a “moral” response of the USA if we had an Integral President?
I think we would have to first establish what morality loks like at the Integral level, which I think is already in print somewhere. Then establish what a moral Integral response would ideally be, then compare the ideal with the actual.

So the first question: What do you think would be a moral 2nd Tier response to the events going on between Ukraine and Russia?


Would it be considered 2nd tier to stand by and analyize two Red/Amber nation killing thousands?
Or perhaps it’s all in how you “stand with” as we judge and assess which puts us on the proverbial moral high altitude ?


Do you have an actual point or just trolling?
Do you have any skin in the game?
I do have some personal interests in the conflict - so if you are directing your comment at me negatively - just point it right back at yourself, buddy.


Look Mr Sensitive, I’m trying to figure out if I’m Pre or Trans on the fallacy scale regarding Ukraine. It has nothing to do with you personally since you’re a low level accolade around here… And yes It sucks that Russia is knocking on your old homes door. I know you have family still there.

What I wanted didn’t happen. I would have been flooding MTOWs and Stingers into Ukraine as soon as Russia massed on the border. They’re almost entirely defensive and oh so effective and we had 6 months prior to the invasion… I also would have fast tracked the Polish MIG transfer.
Now that’s likely me just being being Orange Performitive about keeping the Russians from swallowing Western Asia. But no, I don’t have any skin in the game other than liking the Danube Institute, Goulash and visiting the Ukrainian Rite church in Chicago .

But seriously, the Integral community rips to shreds Americans as if they are evil demons. Are we OK with Russia devouring Ukraine just as Integral was fine with Biden handing 17M Afgahnis to the Taliban?

Help me break out of the my don’t-get-it Pre/Trans Fallacy, or knuckle dragging Orange altitude.


Well, simy from Orange it doesn’t make logical sense to get into a Nuclear conflict. The 8 billion person question is: At what point would Russia use nukes?

At what point is the west ready to give up comfort and descend to WWIII?
Is the west ready to bomb innocent Russian civilians in order to try and force Putin to stop bombing innocent Ukranian civilians - probably won’t work anyway.

Is ukraine going to win anyway, and need trillions of dollars in western loans and infrastructure support? Next construction boon is Ukraine no matter what happens.

Then we can recycle questions from Iraq and Afghanistan - what is the end game? What is the exit strategy? Will we be there forever investing good money after bad? How much foreign aid will disappear into the Ukranian political elite coffers and organized crime? Are the Ukranian people now ready to finally go all in with the west or will they try to keep their feet on both sides like the Afghanis?

There are far too many unknowns to be certain how US joining the fight would turn out.


I haven’t seen where anyone thinks Putin is insane. Aggressive yes.
Are you saying MTOWs and Stingers would have Putin launch Nukes?
You tout the boys in the hood as having a reasonable understanding of how to respond to Russia.
Is Poland stupid enough to provide MIGs if they thought Putin would launch nukes on them?

You’ve contrived the Doomsday “no real action” scenario, which all analysts see as almost impossibly unlikely. But hey, that’s your approach.

I’m not sure you’ve given much more of an Integral response than I have.


Just curious Charles, are you saying this was a U.S. strategic aim prior to Putin’s Ukrainian invasion? If indeed that is factually so, then the statements about the U.S. fighting an immoral proxy war (in regard to the Version 2 CI) would hold more water. And say it was the aim all along, still, the U.S. was not militarily attacking Russia; Putin pulled the first violent punch. I know there is the argument that Putin felt defensive and threatened by Ukraine’s wanting to join NATO, but again it was Putin who first crossed the all-important line, and perhaps the moral questions and assessments afterwards become muddier.

I find myself somewhat aligned with @FermentedAgave around some of this. I too watched regular news reports (maybe not for 6 months, but at least for 3 months) about the impending invasion, and had a gut instinct that maybe something more should be happening than just airing US/NATO intelligence on Putin’s plans. I wonder if the U.S. didn’t gamble on the idea that making this intelligence public would deter Putin. That, along with the fatigue in the U.S. around “forever wars,” along with a bit of incredulity that Putin would actually invade, along with the fear of Putin nukes, seemed to have all come together to delay an earlier and maybe better response.

Of course, while I think I am better informed than the average person, I am certainly not deep enough in the geopolitical weeds to say with any certainty what should have happened or should happen now. But my instincts tell me one can’t kow-tow to bullies forever, and Putin is a bully, including towards his own people.


Hey @LaWanna

Just curious if you see your thinking at any particular altitude?


As usual, you are mixing up people’s arguments and just making things up.
NO - obviously providing arms to Ukraine would not cause Putin to launch Nukes - because simply the West HAS ALREADY, and Putin HAS NOT.

I asked the QUESTION. Do you understand what a question is? “At what point would Putin use Nukes?” For you to automatically go into the assumption that Putin would NEVER use Nukes, because Nukes are crazy - that argument is pretty silly and naive. There is a point at which Putin would use nukes - and the west had better be sure they know what that line is when they are engaging him.
I personally think Putin would use Nukes if the territory of Russia was threatened, and this could easily be escalated if Ukraine or NATO decide to knock out the staging areas where attacks are launched from.
The first Nuke used would not be intercontinental ballistic missiles - it would be what is called a tactical nuke that “just” knocks out everything in a grid square - 1 km by 1 km. I could easily see Putin crossing that line.

loool - you are all kinds of mixed up.
“No real action” is NOT a doomsday scenario. How do you figure that the conflict being restricted to Ukraine is somehow a Doomsday scenario?
How do you figure ALL ANALYSTS see the “no real action” scenario as unlikely, when this is exactly what they are doing across the board in all western nations - give Ukraine old equipment and impose economic sanctions, but essentially “no real action”. Obviously ALL ANALYSTS support the “no real action” scenario. If the didn’t we would see more REAL action by many countries.

@LaWanna I have no idea who this guy is, but he lays out the “No Real Action” scenario in very easy to understand language even for @FermentedAgave from a Realpolitique perspective:

Well, you have to understand that I place zero weight on your perspective regarding anything Integral, lol.



@FermentedAgave do you understand what “lol” means?
How can you tell someone who is laughing to lighten up?
Again, you seem to have some kind of inability to read what is on a page and prefer to make up stories in your own mind regardless of reality.


Hi Ray. Yes, I’ve listened to this guy (Beau, I think his name is) a few times, and another guy too who bills himself as a “liberal redneck.” Nice to get different perspectives.

I can follow Beau’s thinking here around the “no real action” scenario. And I will extend some trust that the US/NATO have taken action they consider most strategic, and those officials/strategists certainly know more about the situation than I do. I do notice in Beau’s remarks the use of the word “if” a lot: IF Ukraine has victory, IF Ukraine can stay strong, IF Ukraine can be a neutral country… So as I said earlier, much of this seems like a strategic gamble based on the best information and judgment available to them of course, and let’s hope it works. The drip drip drip of tens of thousands of lives already lost, thousands more severely wounded, millions of people displaced/refugee’d and others traumatized, Ukrainian cities and infrastructure destroyed–at times one has to wonder if maybe an earlier and more aggressive US/NATO action to call Putin on his nuke threat or bluff might have been wiser. That’s a big IF too, given the stakes. And hindsight does little for the present.

As an aside, I’m not sure I totally agree with Beau about countries not having morals, but simply having interests. Certainly they have interests, but I think his definition of “morality” (as right and wrong) isn’t nuanced enough. I tend to fall back on Wilber’s definition of (secular) morality: “the rules of how to play the game of we fairly.” This incorporates and integrates the studies by Kohlberg (on males) and Gilligan (on females) on morality, with rights and fairness being the general principles for moral decision-making according to Kohlberg, and responsibilities and care/relationships being the general principles according to Gilligan’s work.

With this definition, then one has to ask, are there some international agreements relevant to ‘how’ we disagree, so as to keep the ‘game’ fair? Are there some rules around war? Seemingly so, given that many have suggested Putin has committed and needs to be held accountable for “war crimes.” So all of this leads me to believe that at least some countries are considering morals at least some of the time in regards to foreign interactions.

I hope your friends/family/acquaintances, whatever the case may be, are safe in that part of the world.


Good effort, Ray. A few additions, if I may: amber morality, being ethnocentric, tends to justify wars of expansion or conquest (assuming good chances of success and other conditions), on the ground that the attacking country or empire has exclusive possession of moral truth, usually as revealed by a Supreme Being or Sacred Order. The Christian Crusades are a good example. Putin’s war in Ukraine may be another.

Orange morality, based on universal principles (just war theory, UN principles) rightly condemns the Russian invasion and endorses Ukraine’s right of self-defense. The argument would invoke some version of consequentialism and/or human rights theory. Kantian principles can be cited in criticism of the US’s proxy war, as I argued above.

Above Orange I don’t see any original contributions to ethical theory. Green is suspicious of theories in general and is, as you remark, apparently “sitting this one out.” At Second Tier, integral thinking requires us to take into consideration the perspectives of all the interested parties (which, as I’ve argued elsewhere, the US refused to do) but when rendering judgment (Was Putin’s invasion just? Are proxy wars immoral?) ST thinkers, as far as I can tell, must use the principles developed at the orange-rational level. If someone knows of an exception, I would be delighted to know about it.

If we had an Integral president, s/he would have entered into good faith negotiations with Russia, Ukraine, and NATO months ago about Russia’s legitimate security concerns regarding NATO expansion. Take the other’s point of view seriously would be the guiding injunction. We’ll never know whether that approach would have prevented the war, but it would have been worth a try.


Yes, I think the “Adult” way to go about this would have been to get to work on an agreement making Ukraine (and Belarus) strong neutral countries in the aftermath of 2014. I believe there was some of this, but I think the bigger effort was to push NOTO’s boundaries and the EU further East.

In looking at the motives of Putin and some large percentage of the Russian population, they want to return Russia to it’s former glory under the Soviet Union, which was done through force of arms and threats of invasion, which we know was carried out. I don’t think it’s possible to evaluate Russia’s motives without a very serious look at how ready Putin and some percentage of the population are to embrace threats and actual violence.

I’ve often tried to open discussions in here about Integral responses to real life Red and Amber actions, and I mostly get dead air.

@LaWanna I think if I read into “Beau’s” vocabulary, when he says countries don’t have morality, as a Liberal he would probably be understanding Green as moral and Orange as not moral. It’s very often that the United States as a country uses very brutal logic as a “morality”, then try to dress it up a bit to appear more Green. The best example is the invasion of Iraq, where the motive was oil and money, and the cover story was saving the world from WMD, but when the WMD story was blown, we stayed there and would have stayed there 20 years if Obama hadn’t come out of the blue.

I believe overall, the West dodged a bullet. I don’t think we had any idea the Russian army was so inept. Now I’m listening to Russian soldiers who never even trained to fire their weapons. It boggles my mind. Overall, I mostly agree with “Beau”, that the smartest thing at this point is to let Ukraine fight it out with Russia. In the period of a month, Russia has gone from a rising world power to more or less a third rate military power with Nukes.
Would more active involvement of the USA reduce suffering overall, or increase the scale of the conflict? It’s hard to say. I don’t think anyone knows at what point Putin would use nuclear weapons in a defense against a NATO “invasion”. I think it’s a mistake to assume Putin is bluffing with regards to Nuclear weapons, or to assume anyone who would seriously consider nuclear weapons as crazy. I mean, I read our own United States military manuals from the cold war period and there was some wild stuff in there. All through the 1950’s through the 1980’s - most people were not wondering if there would be a nuclear conflict, but when. It’s a bit of an assumption to assume someone like Putin from that period would never ever use nuclear weapons. This is a man who exposes journalists to radiation and poisons Presidents and has never been really punished for those acts.


You make some good points Ray. I wonder what you make of the comments coming out from various sources that Ukraine is not Putin’s end-game? While NATO’s desires for expansion can be questioned, so can Putin’s desires for same, and if he acts further on those desires while continuing to threaten use of nuclear weapons against whoever opposes him or gets in the way, what then?

Re: your comment to Charles about “integral responses to real life Red and Amber actions,” I’ll just parrot some Wilber again. I remember him talking about the World Trade Center event, or maybe it was 911, in which he basically said cultures at Red (and perhaps even Amber, given that stage too is pre-orange/rational) do not play by or respond to orange/rational values like negotiations, fairness, universal principles, or human rights, etc. He said basically you have to play their war-game, in the way they play it, except with bigger, more powerful weapons. I don’t know if he would say this about Putin-Ukraine; his comments were in the context of the Mid-East conflicts.


I’ll jump in with a simple example of, just an example, a drug addict being completely convinced that taking your wallet, purse, and car even if requiring your death is an absolute imperative. Do you really want to rely on “Going Meta”, “Going Transcendental” in that real time moment.

I have to agree with Ray that it does seem this Integral community is eerily silent as we watch 47M Ukrainians teeter on Integral devolution. Not so dissimilar was rationalization as we watched 17M Afgahnis collapse from maybe Amber w bits of Orange down into Red with specks of Amber. All those Green Gender Equity scholars are in a very tough predicament right now.

We see lots of very esoteric threads started or YTs posted with 10’s or maybe 100’s of engagements. I’m not a big proponent of the “Like” button, but do put some credence in viability through scale. If it ain’t getting picked up, it’s not getting picked up.

On Ukraine and Russia, there is much depth of metasystemic information available, but you won’t hear mention of Violet or Orange or Teal. It’s a world of real living people that are concerned about their families safety, their ability to provide a little better life for their kids, taking care of their elderly.


Oh yeah, Putin wants to restore the glory of Soviet Russia for sure all the way to Prague and Ljubljana at the very least. When you have greatness (or brutishness imagined as greatness) it’s really hard to live down the memory of what once was.

It’s interesting that you quote Ken as saying that about playing with cultures at Red. It’s also interesting that the Ukraine invasion might make that easier to put to voice.

It’s interesting that I described my encounters in real life with a similar man (though he just wanted to fight the world and I wasn’t having it). My last two encounters with him was strangely friendly and we even shook hands and wished each other a good day. He seems to be doing as well as he can. Very bizarre to get into an almost fist fight with someone and at the same look into his eyes and really see him.

We have yet to see if Ukrainians and Afghanis are similar. By and large, the masses of the Afghani population wants the Taliban. Again, you cannot rescue a population who does not want to be rescued. Honestly, they do not want civilization as the west knows it. Just like our red states don’t want Liberalism.

One interesting thing about people like me who reject an ethnocentric definition of community is that this is true with everyone. even when certain parties try to beat the war drums. Even Iraqis, Syrians, The Taliban, and all the other countries people want to exert military power against.


I think the question is what is the Integral response? Of course you have to address the aggression, but what then? War can be a part of the response but as the answer it fails. Going in with Western liberal values fails too. I opened this distinction on in Information warfare group, but I think we need to look at the difference between control systems and developmental drivers here too. We, as a world seem to overly focus on control systems, but I am not sure…

Putin and some large percentage of the Russian population, they want to return Russia to it’s former glory under the Soviet Union

I want to pull in this idea from @LaWanna

Besides our exceptionalism, we are experiencing our ordinariness, our commonness with other parts of the world

It seems like this is the space we are learning to hold as a world. But there seems to be such intense resistance happening here. We see this in the US too with MAGA .

If we have been employing control systems in the form of spreading democracy and liberal values (in the US we do this in public education, media) is there a way to instead employ DD that would be more effective?

This also goes back to my question on horizontal development. Maybe there is a universal intelligence reflected in this resistance because pulling the whole world up through orange capitalism would be a disaster. On the surface resistance to orange is not what is happening in Russia, but I still do not understand the deep fear of “the woke” (which is happening in Russia) I still see the reworking of Amber as a positive. I see a need to rework Orange so when the whole world gets pulled up it wont be a disaster. Of course these young people this energy is getting pulled through are not at higher stages of development because that’s just how it works. Everyone, from Russia to the US to Integral is so freaked out about it. To me it just looks like development that needs some healthy drivers, not spinning everyone into freaked out controlling reactive states.

I’m rambling here a bit


@Michelle I haven’t followed your Control System vs Development Driver distinction. Maybe it would help if you shared an example or two of “Development Drivers” that we see today?