Integral Politics: Its Essential Ingredients

Originally published at:

Ken Wilber offers a summary of his integral political model, exploring the “major and minor scales” that inform and influence our major political orientations while suggesting a revolutionary path toward a far more integrated approach to politics and governance.

I am curious what you guys thought of this free eBook. I personally found it absolutely exquisite — one of the finest distillations of political thought, behavior, and ideology that I have ever read, and an important reminder of how these polarities all need to be acknowledged and integrated, rather than drawn-and-quartered among the major political parties.

Has this eBook helped you better appreciate the multidimensional complexity of our current political realities? Has it helped you refine your own political views? If so, let us know below.

Also, if you have any questions for Ken Wilber for Saturday’s episode of The Ken Show, where we will be talking about this eBook in depth, let me know below!


Hi Corey,

I really enjoyed seeing this come out. I was excited to read it. I enjoyed several points shared in the acknowledgement of the values and strengths in the different points of view in the Right and Left and within their different subgroupings, as well as their limitations, how they came to be and the call for synthesizing them into an integral politics.

It was a long read though and one that had lots of repetitive content. It was also a bit hard to follow at points. I was hoping for a more concise overview (perhaps out of a fiction book format) and call to action that could be shared with others to help galvanize more of an embodiment of this call for integral politics.

And that said, what a gift to have so much wisdom shared by Ken here and over the years, integrating and articulating aspects of evolution that many have struggled to see and put into words, as well as all the work you are doing to bring Integral to Life with this community and website! Thank you! Thank you!

I’m struck by Father Thomas’s passing how much of a treasure he was for the integral community and world at large and so too Ken. I wonder how will the next generations will choose to carry their legacies on and to evolve with them forward.

My questions to the piece would be:

  1. What does Ken see as the next steps for the emerging 5-10% of the integral folks to engage and coalesce for or within a political party that would be deep and wide enough to encompass an integral political party? Would it be within the current Democratic Party? Start a new party? Develop the Independent party? Or?

  2. After the results of the Tuesday election, what is Ken’s suggestion for the 5-10% of integrally addressed individuals to create more collective cohesiveness to develop a we-space for moving into more integral politics?

  3. Who out there in Politics does Ken or you see as a potential Integral candidate or incumbent? Tulsi? Beto? No one? What might an integral candidate look like?

  4. What does an integral voter look like?

  5. What tech might support integral politics? (Ex: I recently heard of that is using blockchain tech for transparency, affordability, accessibility, and fairness in elections)

  6. How would an Integral politician deal with lobbyists, Citizens United, campaign finance reform, and district gerrymandering?

  7. Is the US the country most likely to have an integral political party and candidate first? If so, why? If not, why and who?

Looking forward to your responses!

Thank you,

P.S. I’m currently in Indonesia so I won’t be able to listen in on Saturday but I look forward to hearing the recording of you send me the link or share it on your Facebook feed.


@Eric_Grace Excellent questions! I second all of those. As a Hawaiian, I am obviously biased, but I think Tulsi has 2nd tier potential for sure. Also, I believe 2020 Democratic candidate Andrew Yang has 2nd tier potential also.

Another question for Ken: What are actual Integral policies? UBI? Universal Health Care? The more specific the better - as I think it would make it easier for people to coalesce around an Integral platform.

Also - how much should an Integral candidate denounce identity politics, political correctness, and other Mean Green Meme’s (if at all) and resist getting pulled too much to the right (when people do this, their audience tends to become filled with right wingers, and pulls the host in that direction). Should reeling in far leftists culture be an explicit part of an Integral platform?

Mahalo :smiley:

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Hi Hawaiian Ryan,

I heard an interview with James on his platform and UBI on Sam Harris’s podcast not that long ago. I wonder if UBI is an integral or green policy or depending on how it’s implemended. He’s definitely got some great points to consider and to widen and deepen the conversation. Do you think he’ll get much press?

I heard a great interview with Tulsi Gabbard on Joe Rogan and she really sounds like she’s near 2nd Tier in her policies and practices. Cory Booker on an On Being podcast with Krista Tippett was also surprising in where he was coming from in his approach with life and politics.



I hope you are well.

I remember when KW published his book Boomeritis, with masses of additional texts available at the old Shambhala website. I remember when KW began his work on terrorism, which morphed into a trilogy, which eventually surfaced in some isolated texts on integral politics at the KW website. Now, we see some of this old text re-released as Integral Politics: Its Essential Ingredients.

I also remember the State of the World Forum, launching the global 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Chris Riedy wrote for his planetcentric blog, on Aug 5, 2009:
2020 Climate Leadership Campaign
"I’m currently in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, for the launch of the State of the World Forum’s 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign. The Belo Horizonte event is a working conference that marks the start of a 10-year campaign to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 80% (or more) by 2020. It will be followed by events in Washington in February 2010 and Rio de Janeiro in August 2010, with more to follow over the coming decade.
The State of the World Forum has gathered together an amazing bunch of people from around the world. There’s some 225 of us from 20 countries, with many Brazilian participants but also representatives from all around the world. The Campaign is unique for its application of Ken Wilber’s Integral theory as a framework for understanding the challenge of climate change response. This is essentially what I did my PhD on (which is why I was invited) and it’s wonderfully inspiring to see a much larger scale application starting to take shape. In keeping with Integral theory, the participants are an extraordinarily diverse bunch from many different disciplines — artists and engineers, policy scientists and experts in human development, entrepreneurs and activists.
The public launch last night in front of some 1,000 people included some spectacular youth song and dance routines and some wonderful speeches from movers and shakers in Brazilian politics (maybe a few too many speeches). Brazil seems to have an amazing potential to lead on climate change response and the decision to launch the campaign in Brazil emerged in recognition of that potential.
The first day of the working conference itself has been a mixed bag. I’ve met some great people that I’m looking forward to collaborating more with but on the whole I think it’s taken us too long to get down to the business of actually doing some planning for the campaign. There was a lot of talk today and it got quite repetitive — we could have set the context in the morning and then got down to business. Having said that, there’s a great energy here and there are some amazing minds collected here so I’m sure that when we get stuck into the conference processes tomorrow we’re going to achieve a lot.
Reducing emissions by 80% by 2020 may seem like an impossible goal, but it’s what the science is now saying we need to achieve to secure a safe climate. A couple of quotes from Lester Brown’s keynote today are worth sharing:

We need to decide what we need to do, then do it, then ask if it’s possible
Saving civilisation is not a spectator sport!"

I remember members of our local integral community saying in 2009 that the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign would be a significant challenge that would truly test the legitimacy of any integral politics. Well, you might wonder: what happened in this attempt to use integral theory in the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign?

On 10 September, 2018, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres made an important statement on Climate Change,

In October, the IPCC released its special report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, It declares, in emission pathways and system transitions consistent with 1.5°C global warming, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions need to decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.

Now I ask: Has integral theory had any influence in any forums on climate change in 2018?

At the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago in June 2018 and at the London School of Economics in April 2018, Jeremy Grantham described his projections to investors for climate change, population growth, and environmental toxicity (referring to current major losses of pollinators, insects, bees, frogs, and biodiversity; ongoing significant losses of soil fertility and food productivity, and much more grim data). See, Jeremy Grantham, The Race of Our Lives Revisited,

In going through Integral Politics: Its Essential Ingredients, I’m looking for certain items. I invite you to do a word search for yourself. What do you find, when you search these items: air, water, soil, food, atmosphere, biology, nature, animals, plants, minerals, body, environment, ecology, biodiversity, et al.?

I understand that each model foregrounds, highlights, or makes visible some features, and simultaneously backgrounds, downlights, or makes invisible other features. In other words, no model is fully adequate; each model simultaneously reveals and hides significant considerations.

Nevertheless, I’m very disturbed when a so-called integral politics does not trouble itself to mention the quality of our air, water, soil, food, atmosphere, biology, nature, animals, plants, minerals, body, environment, ecology, biodiversity, et al.!!!

No air, no left, no right! No water, no right, no left! And so on!

If you are interested, I attempt an integrative approach to global warming in Exploring Mount Thriveability: From Modern Capitalism to an Integrative Multi-Capitalism in a Generative Response to Global Warming, which is available at

Be Well,
Gerard Bruitzman

@Eric_Grace Hi Eric,

Just to clarify - the UBI podcast on Sam Harris was with Andrew Yang?

In regards to what qualifies a policy like UBI as Integral, my opinion is on how its implemented. IMO, a social welfare type policy wouldn’t be considered Integral unless it also reduced size of government/bureaucratic inefficiency and was generally more fiscally efficient. Some libertarians, such as the infamous Charles Murray, have called for UBI as a way of cutting out all existing welfare programs, especially the ones generating perverse incentives (i.e. incentive not to work, which has happened to me with medicaid) and also eliminating excessive government bureaucracy, such as administrative oversight for programs like food stamps. Perhaps i’m not as extreme as Murray, but IMO if welfare policies are enacted without simultaneously cutting down on government, its just Green. As many authors have pointed out, 2nd tier is consonant with leaner, more efficient, decentralization governance, so policies that reflect this trend would be considered more Integral, IMO.

As for Cory Booker? Wow, thats surprising…I’ll have to check out that podcast. I had labeled him a neoliberal corporatist sellout, but will take another look.

Hello Gerard, and thanks for sharing this. I checked out the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign website and it was great to see that taking an integral approach was listed there as important, and it sounds like that was due to you, so kudos. Makes me wonder what kind of efforts/undertakings were made by the CLC in the area of the UL quadrant during the past 8-9 years, and what effects you think any of those efforts might have had.

I didn’t realize Brazil was so progressive regarding green energy policies/practices, even given the sluggishness or lack of cooperation of its government. That’s impressive. Given the new far-right President-Elect, let’s hope things don’t deteriorate government-wise even further. The way the Brazilian government treats indigenous tribes in the Amazon is unconscionable, but fortunately there are private organizations monitoring, trying to compensate.

As to the “Integral Politics: It’s Essential Ingredients” piece, my reading of it is that it’s not intended to address specific national or global or planet problems, but rather as an aid in helping readers to identify/classify any political theory or movement according to specific types of Integral variables that theory or movement espouses and acts from. In that regard, I think it’s stellar. Best analysis of political liberalism I’ve ever read, far from John Locke for sure.

Of course, I do understand what you’re talking about–the earth is the world’s body; no earth, no culture, no politics, period. (On the other hand, it’s people/culture/left and right and in-between and within and beyond that have to do the climate/earth work, so…if we don’t get ourselves and culture in order…well, I think I can answer that-- humans disappear and the earth will do just fine.)

One of my favorite quotes when it all starts feeling very grievous, heavy: “The situation is hopeless, but not serious.” This moment of freedom :eagle:brought to you courtesy of Dick Price, co-founder of Esalen.

Thanks for sharing about the conference.

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Hello LaWanna

Thank you for responding to my post.

As you say, “the earth is the world’s body; no earth, no culture, no politics, period.” Well said!

Let me correct some of your impressions. I do not deserve any kudos for the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign. I was not directly involved.

Here is the letter that told us that the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign’s “integral approach to climate change” was not going to proceed in 2010.

State of the World Forum Indefinitely Postponed: Letter from Jim Garrison

Dear Friends,

I want to inform you that we have decided to postpone indefinitely the Washington conference Feb. 28 – Mar. 3. There is simply not a critical mass of receptivity at this time for the kind of “Climate Summit” we have designed, which has emphasized an integral approach to climate change and the need for an “urgency coalition” to come together to take immediate and decisive action to resolve the climate crisis

As disappointed as we are that the conference will not take place, the considered opinion of all our conference partners has been that this is simply not the right time to convene a major conference of this kind in the nation’s capitol. It would have virtually no impact on either the thinking or the agenda with which the U.S. Congress and the president are now engaged, such is the paralysis to which Washington has succumbed with regard to any action on global warming. In due course, this situation will no doubt change, probably induced by a sufficiently strong climate related catastrophe, but this is the stark reality we face at the moment. As a result, raising funds and registering sufficient numbers have been extremely challenging.

State of the World Forum will in time convene a Climate Summit in Washington but that time is not now. We need to put our energy elsewhere. While a single conference has been postponed, the over-all strategy of the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign will continue to unfold. We believe that the process in which we engaged, the dialogue that transpired, and the contacts and partnerships that we developed around the event, will prove to be tremendously valuable as we move forward.

For those in the United States, it seems time to work, as Governor Schwarzenegger urges, at the sub national level as he has done so effectively in California. The fact that Washington seems incapable of action is actually an opportunity for traction locally in specific cities, states and regions. This is where the 2020 Campaign in the U.S. will focus its energy – supporting local initiatives and strategies. There is very significant work being done which inexorably will turn the tide.

For example, we are supporting the Pachamama Alliance around their Four Years.Go campaign that is seeking to mobilize concerted action within the next four years; Lester Brown and his work through his Plan Be 4.0; Bill Becker and his effort to impact executive policy through the Presidential Climate Action Project; the Climate Prosperity Alliance in their efforts to build growth economies by taking up the challenge of global warming; Osprey Lake and her Women’s Leadership Caucus that is mobilizing women around the country; Carol and Tom Brayford who are doing extraordinary work in St. Louis to generate a city wide effort to green the city; and David Gershon and his Cool Community campaigns all over the country mobilizing city wide efforts at CO2 reduction. All these efforts, and many more, are of critical importance in developing forward momentum.

More broadly, we must recognize that Washington is not alone in its inability take serious action with regard to global warming, especially in the aftermath of Copenhagen. The net result of COP 15 was the collapse of the Kyoto Accords and the attempt to get the nations of the world to agree on common goals, fair financing, and a realistic timeframe. The only agreement to emerge seems to have been a vague commitment to share information, with each nation now basically on its own and free to set its own goals, timeframes, and standards.

It should also be noted that civil society in Copenhagen was essentially as disorganized and incoherent as our governments. There was no over-arching set of common demands, little coordination between groups, and no sense of what to do collectively in the aftermath of the inevitable failure of the negotiations. The NGOs were in fact summarily excluded from the negotiations in the final week, with little drama and no public outcry. This indicates just how complicated and politicized climate discussions have become and how well organized the fossil fuel lobby and conservative elements are in national and international affairs in blocking any forward momentum.

An important learning from the postponement of the Washington conference is that the difficulty we had in crafting a single coherent marketing message and agreeing on the best possible audience, purpose and intended result is, in fact, a reflection of the complexity and the chaotic state of the climate change discussion in general.

We thus move into 2010 with the climate crisis intensifying but climate politics adrift and civil society as disorganized about what to do as our governments, and not only in the U.S. but worldwide, with precious few exceptions. There is enormous work to be done both at the level of strategy and at the level of engaging in concrete actions that actually make a difference.

What is essential moving forward is to discern where the energy is and where climate leadership is emerging. Looking internationally, the most dynamic leadership seems to be coming from Brazil where President Lula has just signed into law a bill passed by a strong majority of the Brazilian Congress to reduce CO2 emissions by just under 40% by 2020, which includes a commitment to reduce deforestation by 80% by 2020. It is always easy, of course, for politicians to make bold pronouncements and Brazil is no exception, but unlike most countries at least Brazil is making the bold pronouncements. Contrast this, for example, with the U.S. offer at Copenhagen to reduce CO2 by 4% and not even being able to get this passed by the Congress.

The Brazil 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign has been deeply involved in shaping climate leadership in Brazil. This was why State of the World Forum launched the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign in Belo Horizonte last August. Recognizing Brazil as a climate leader allows us to work in the United States and elsewhere with a solid referent and a locus of vision and action. It would be an extraordinary advance if we could mobilize countries around the world to join Brazil and commit to 40% reductions in CO2 by 2020. This is half way to our campaign goal of 80% by 2020, a very good start.

Of course many other nations besides Brazil are taking leadership. Costa Rica and Sweden have made dramatic commitments, and the EU is committed to making progress. China has become the world leader in clean technology and is on an aggressive march to develop renewable energy. Bolivian president Evo Morales is convening a post Copenhagen gathering in that country in April. All these efforts, and many others, are deserving of support. As possible, we should be convening 2020 Campaigns and events in countries developing dynamic progress and action.

One of our 2020 campaigners Susana Osiguera is working hard in Mexico as well, where COP 16 will take place this next December, probably on the same scale as Copenhagen. Susana is putting together a Mexican Climate Leadership Initiative. Goodnews Cadogan is also active in South Africa along similar lines. Johannesburg will be the site of COP 17 in 2011. We just learned that a number of groups have come together in Nigeria around the 2020 goals and want to collaborate. Peter Merry and Morel Fourman took the Meshworks to the next level of refinement in Copenhagen, building on what they pioneered in Belo Horizonte, and they are building the 2020 network in Europe. Richard Hames and Laurent Labormene are hard at work in Australia developing 2020 plans.

What is clear is that the 2020 Climate Leadership Campaign is gaining traction in many ways and in many areas of the world. We are in this for the long haul – at least for the next ten years through 2020. Postponing the Washington event was a necessary tactical retreat in an area of the world where climate politics are especially fraught and counterproductive right now. The U.S. is simply no longer the center of gravity for the world and we must adjust accordingly. We must continue to expand where the situation is the most conducive and where climate leadership emerges, especially at the sub national level where so much dynamism is taking place, including in the U.S.

I will be in touch shortly with further updates and areas for collaboration.

Warm Regards,

Jim Garrison
State of the World Forum

Jim Garrison is now busy at Ubiquity University.

Finally, I ask anyone reading this: do you know of any application of integral politics that has had some degree of significant ongoing impact in any constituency? I know about various initiatives in Switzerland, Ukraine, Iceland, and, may be some other places, but I’m not sure any of these have been sustained beyond a few years. Probably, the most well-known integrally-related intervention, using Spiral Dynamics, was Don Beck’s work in South Africa in the transition from apartheid to democracy, and in helping to create the strategy that united the nation in winning the Rugby World Cup in 1995, which is featured on screen in the film Invictus. See Don Beck and South Africa post at Keith E Rice’s Integrated Sociopsychology.

Este texto é antigo, mas como não foi explorado posto novamente por aqui [o presidente eleito, como previsto foi ele mesmo, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, o candidato de direita que promete acabar com a corrupção, trazer segurança ao país (sua agenda âmbar) e direcionar a economia para o liberalismo (sua agenda laranja), algo que nunca tivemos no Brasil]:

"Em novembro de 2018 elegeremos novo presidente no Brasil, e seguindo o fenômeno mundial de inclinação política para à direita estamos prestes a eleger um presidente ultraconservador, homofóbico, machista, etc. e etc…

Capitão reformado da reserva militar, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, cumpre seu sétimo mandato na Câmara de Deputados em Brasília e está em segundo lugar nas pesquisas atrás de Lula da Silva que está preso por corrupção e provavelmente não poderá disputar as eleições.

Poderia parecer um absurdo completo tudo isso, não fosse os reais escândalos de corrupção envolvendo o ex presidente Lula da Silva, o último governo de Dilma Rousseff ter sofrido impeachment por improbidade administrativa e a consequente derrocada da esquerda no Brasil.

Mas não é só isso, como bem explicado por Ken Wilber em seu texto “Trump Em Um Mundo Pós-Verdade - Uma autocorreção evolucionária”, uma necessária autocorreção deve se realizar no âmbito político, levando-se em conta a completa falta de direcionamento de uma esquerda arrogante e exacerbadamente relativista.

Bolsonaro não seria o candidato dos sonhos pra nenhum integralista, porém ele representa aquela faixa da população que estava não só adormecida, mas de fato reprimida pela esquerda progressista. A população “âmbar” tem em Messias Bolsonaro sua voz reconhecida e mais, a abertura política para um liberalismo econômico!

Obviamente que a esquerda está enfurecida, quase todos os meus amigos progressistas esbravejam contra o novo candidato de direita ultraconservador, homofóbico, machista, etc. e etc., porém ele de fato representa uma ruptura importante com a ideologia socialista implantada na economia e com os ideais progressistas postos goela abaixo, que, em verdade, massacram nosso povo econômica e moralmente.

O futuro, de certo, pertencerá a todos aqueles que entendendo tudo isso tomarem uma nova postura moral e econômica ao reconhecer as várias matizes e modelos além do progressismo e do socialismo."

Hi Hawaiian Ryan,

Yes, that was the one, with Andrew Yang. And yes, I agree, it would need to consider AQAL to be integral in its application.

Check out Cory’s talk with Krista Tippett. It’s a good one on the podcast On Being.

A little late in this thread Ive had a book published in the UK exactly on the ingredients of a politics inspired by a next stage of human consciousness: The Britain Potential ( and available via Barnes and Noble in the US). The book shows a political philosophy capable of integral which draws from the work of Carol Gould. I show how support for families, communities, organisations to move towards a far greater humanity is a hallmark of thenext consciousness` politics. Also local assemblies sanctioning focus locally. Plus a civil society centred Britain and over 50 examples of initiatives across the country all in the direction of teal. Leadership is THE key ingredient and we are seeing it happen at grass roots.
Can be bring this thread up to 2020?
V best
Jim Cowan