More Political Scales, and Political Identity

Recently I’ve been reflecting on the extreme “right-left” divide in politics (here in the US, but also elsewhere) and the political scales that Ken suggested as a very useful tool and much better/subtler way to distinguish political viewpoints on a number of axes, rather than the very coarse and one-dimensional “right-left” single-axis ( )

Both, when I try to investigate my own knee-jerk political leanings (what happens in me before I remind myself of my interest in a more integral worldview) as well as when listening to people that in my opinion have a good sense of the pulse of the current socio-political landscape (Daniel Schmachtenberger, Bret Weinstein, anyone on the Rebel Wisdom podcasts, Lex Fridman, Ayishat Akanbi, and many more), I can’t escape the perception that political association has moved away from being defined by socio-economic policy preferences and become much more defined by identity- and tribe-association.
I wonder therefore, if some additional scales may be useful that take this into account (even more so than Ken’s major and minor scales already do)

When I listen to political discussions (or watch the memetic warfare online) it seems that it is rarely about policies. It really seems that each side simply hates the kind of persons they believe the “other side” consists of. Policies and issues seem to be primarily just used as weapons to achieve a goal that has much more to do with proving how good your side is and how stupid/evil/sheep-like/greedy/etc. the other side is. (“Look how stupid they are, they believe xyz”)

I notice that in myself as well. I have no problem understanding some of the policy points of “the other side”, even agreeing with some of them, or if not agreeing, I can see how someone could agree with them, at least to some extent (without being stupid or manipulated)
BUT, (primarily) when imagining the kind of people who spout the kinds of memes that “the other side” likes to post–and much less so when encountering people from the extreme other side of the political spectrum–it seems to me like they just are “jerks” They simply aren’t “nice” in the way I emotionally experience them (again, this applies much more to the imagined people, as well as the talking heads in the various media forums, than the real ones I encounter in person)
Clearly, I imagine, the same is true for “the other side”, that simply can’t stand the people they are imagining (and sometimes perceiving) on “our side”.

So why is this? What are the qualities we dislike on the other side? What are the qualities they dislike on our side?

Well, one possible scale I can envision would have an axis, loosely stretched out between these 2 poles:

(trying to find positive words on both ends here! :rofl: )

There are many examples and qualities for each side of the spectrum, I could name, but I am first wondering what others think. Do you get a sense that political association has become much more an issue of identity and protecting one’s own sense of being “the good guys”, having “the right attitude”, etc. over the (imagined) onslaught of others who are different (as if their very existence makes us doubt that our way of being is justified/correct)
Do you think a scale along the above lines can express this dichotomy? What other words could express it better?

(For anyone familiar with Ken’s scales, the “agency vs Communion” scale is probably somewhat adjacent to this one, but it has a different focus–I think it doesn’t fully express the opposites I am pointing towards here.)


Beautiful topic!

This is, in my mind, an incredibly important distinction that seems to have been completely lost.

Politics is the language and negotiation process that is used to develop Policy. Policy is then administered.

We can wrap “political discourse” terms such as “memetic warfare” but this is further conflates “discourse” with “warfare” and fuels the political divide. Thinking of a discussion (political discourse in this case) as physical battle is the methodology used by politicians and media to raise their level of perceived importance. This amplifies our sound-bite, click-bait (Amygdala Hijack) culture that we all owe ourselves a break from. This sound-bite, click-bait methodology is then further amplified by continued discussions about the discussions (the political discourse).
When I listen or read, I watch for:

  • Is there any actual information being shared?
  • How much context setting is used for prescript and postscript on the information?
  • How much is interpretation of the actual information?
  • How much is interpretation on how something was said?
  • How much is interpretation of others interpretations?

Some clues that we can all use are:

  • Reporters interviewing Reporters
  • Reporters interviewing Experts
  • Reporters interviewing the Actors (the people responsible for doing in the world)
  • Reporters commenting on chopped up sound bites

All of this could be classified as basic critical thinking.

Just as a side-note: I don’t remember when I first encountered this, but I thought I must be in some alternate universe. :rofl:
I understand if news channel A interviews a reporter from news channel B, especially if that second reporter either broke a story or was an actual actor in it (interviewing Bob Woodward about Watergate makes perfect sense), but when I see a headline stating something like “Joe Shmoe said xyz!” and it turns out Joe Shmoe is a reporter from the very news channel that the headline appears on…I have trouble keeping my head from exploding!

…ok: back to the main story

I think the fall started when News moved away from journalism and into commentary.

The old Newspapers had opinions limited to the Editorial page. Yes, the Editor could lean a publication right or left by which stories it selected to publish but the stories themselves were factual and unbiased.
Now I see most stories are editorializing more within the story. They use more biased language, especially in the headline for “click bait”. This is a negative reinforcing loop where the more unbalanced and fanatical audience drives the publishers to publish increasingly “baity” articles. Those who are more easily manipulated by click bait titles are also more likely to click an advertisement and buy something. The ad conversion rate is much higher for fanatics than for people who are neutral.

Then with Television media, “The News” - most stations used to be locally based and limited to half an hour, so we pretty much just got news. Weather, sports, local, national. 10 minutes each. Then on to Prime Time programming.
But with 24 hour news networks, CNN’s first model was to just repeat the same news stories again and again and again. So we saw Rodney King get beaten at least 500 times when the story first broke.
FOX News took the model of AM Talk Radio and programmed more entertainment into their news. There was more commentary and editorializing within the news coverage. Eventually there came a time when they were challenged on the accuracy of their journalism, and so Sean Hannity and so on just said “We aren’t journalists, we are commentators”. In order to compete in ratings, CNN had to follow the News as Entertainment model FOX was using. But if you remember CNN back in the 1980’s, it was just the same news stories run the whole day basically in a loop and after an hour you flipped to other channels, or sat in the Airport and just listened to the same news stories 4 times during your layover.

Bottom line is that it’s market forces that are pushing media to evolve a certain way, and market forces are driven by people who purchase or consume the most. Then my opinion is that the people who consume the most of these kind of media are more psychologically unbalanced and more easily manipulated. So it’s a self-perpetuating spiral to the bottom.

I’m kind of hoping to get some feedback on the original question/topic:

Do you find that political affiliation seems to be much more connected to questions of identity these days (i.e.: who I believe myself to be as a person; which group of people I consider “my people”, etc.), rather than a preference for a specific socio-economic philosophy or set of policy solutions?

If so, is this new, or more so the case than it was in the past?

If so, what EXACTLY is it that we identify with, and what is it, that we so dislike about the people on the other side (imagined or real)?

Can we express this dichotomy as a set of political scales along which we could place ourselves (obviously not with any exactness, but still) that would show where we lie on these identifications.

For example: Ken’s scale of “Interiorism vs Exteriorism” is a very astute major scale that allows us to see where people lie in terms of looking for the solutions and problems in society.

But it is, if not just policy-based, based on a disagreement in socio-political philosophy.
I don’t think that, as a “bleeding heart liberal,” I get an adverse reaction to Ben Shapiro (for example) because I hate how he looks for solutions in the interior, rather than the exterior.

There is clearly something else going on. What is it that makes the hairs on the back of a dyed in the wool conservative stand up, when they are forced to listen to a “bleeding heart liberal”?
It seems to me, our very identity is threatened by the existence of people on the other side, and we defend, as if our life depended on it.
Personally I notice that reaction, even though I can listen to and even understand and look for agreement with others from all parts of the political spectrum–but the first reaction is nevertheless automatic–and I believe the vast majority of people never get past that first reaction, and yes: Of course, media, corporations, politicians, etc. all USE this first reaction for their own game-theoretic advantages…but that fact isn’t so much what interests me here. I am trying to find out what exactly it is that we are reacting to.

Who is “we” as used here?

All I can say is MY “we” do not dislike people on the other side, but the policies, messaging and tactics. Just like if I pass a crazy person ranting on the street yelling “F-you” at everyone passing by, I do not dislike them, but I’m not going to bother trying to see things their way, either. In a similar way, people who may have placed themselves in some political spectrum may have decided to project onto “us” some kind of simplistic identity.
I’m never “forced” to listen to either end of the spectrum. I can always change the channel or if face to face, I can usually disengage from them.
Neither side threatens “our” identity and “we” rarely see any need to defend ourselves.
I think putting myself on a political scale would be very limiting, especially if that scale only has one Axis from right to left.

Yes, exactly. That is why Ken created the 4 major and 5 minor scales that I linked.–Not to DEFINE you (or anyone else) but to give a way to talk about political leanings in a way that is on the one hand more general than an issue-by-issue discussion, and on the other hand much less limiting than the one-dimensional right-left scale that is used almost anywhere in popular culture.

So: To answer your question: The “we” I am interested in, is probably mostly popular culture. The general direction of the discussions on Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, mainstream and alternative media. That is what I am interested in.
Just like with Integral Theory in general, no one is advocating that the maps should be seen as the territory–especially when dealing with individuals–but they ARE useful tools. I find Ken’s scales very useful. There are also at least 2 other multi-deminsional scale systems that I am aware of. (They are, I believe, expansions on the 2-axis political compass test)
But again, I find them focused on socio-political philosophy and policy. Watching the “hive-mind” on the platforms I have access to, I notice a phenomena that these are loosing importance over something that seems much more identity-based.


Do you find that political affiliation seems to be much more connected to questions of identity these days (i.e.: who I believe myself to be as a person; which group of people I consider “my people”, etc.), rather than a preference for a specific socio-economic philosophy or set of policy solutions?
For me it’s all about Policy.

If so, is this new, or more so the case than it was in the past?
Nothing new for me and I have changed political parties 4 times in my life.
If so, what EXACTLY is it that we identify with, and what is it, that we so dislike about the people on the other side (imagined or real)?
This question makes me chuckle. While I might dislike someone, their viewpoints or how they go about things, I am voting for whomever or whatever I think will provide the best policies for us.

Can we express this dichotomy as a set of political scales along which we could place ourselves (obviously not with any exactness, but still) that would show where we lie on these identifications.
I think you answer this with Ken’s Interiorism vs Exteriorism scale. As @raybennett also says, a single axis isn’t representative. I would add the complexity of a spiral or iterative scale. Without doing our own Interior work, we have no business worrying much about the Exterior since we are being highly influenced by our shadows (Egoic response).

Thanks for the personal reply, FermentedAgave.

Yes, I like Peterson too. (Doesn’t mean I agree with him on everything, but mostly I really like him.)

I keep hoping someone shares my interest in looking at the larger culture and commenting from that place, rather than just their own experience–it is clear to me that on this particular forum the personal experience of most members may not give a very good facsimile of the general culture.

Have fun cleaning your room! Just make sure you also look beyond order!

For those late to the game, I edited my post removing the “I like Jordan Peterson. I’m going to go clean my room now.” :wink: And no, I haven’t gotten my room cleaned yet… LOL

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I sense this in my own perceptions. I wrote this on my own blog … maybe it fits in this discussion?

"The world has become more and more polarized, creating deep cutting separation and disconnects. These disconnections now extend into immediate family members living in the same household. We occupy the same physical space but our social networks and ideological associations are truncated in the digital world of virtual reality. We are connected by algorithms and are bombarded with input to support our own biases. This reaffirms our personal views. We believe the entire world agrees with us, because that’s all we ever see.

The artificial intelligence (AI) of computer-generated connections are polluting our biological human connections that have served to manage human civilizations since the birth of time. The children born and raised in this AI world are part of digital communities that have put family members, living in the same household, in completely different worlds.

Children are developing and expanding at a pace that is breaking the familial ties of physical communities. The speed of change is so great that those raised on old connections of biological and human interactions are worried about the effects on their own children and grandchildren."

We are moving at very high rates of change and the ideals of intellectual reasoning and logic are being overwritten by emotional tribal allegiances. I worry about our animalistic human tendencies of fear and anger as we engage in protests and political movements that override our individual rational minds.

I think the answers are in the spiritual communities where we change ourselves from within. Unless we see a major make-over in human consciousness to becoming a more socially supportive and universally loving species our future is not bright.

More external maps excite the intellectual and analytical. The fact that you @Mbohu are seeing and inquiring about this within yourself is a very positive sign that I hope others too will more deeply explore. I call this the spiritual quest and this is what we all need more than ever.

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From Carl Sagan’s 1995 book “The Demon-Haunted World”

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or my grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantative content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”

From Steven James Bartlett’s book Normality Does not Equal Mental Health: The Need to Look Elsewhere for Standards of Good Psychological Health

What we like to think, what we prefer to believe, can he false, misleading, and at times harmful precisely because we resist putting our ideological preferences into question. It is now common practice to refer to “belief systems,” and this is appropriate since beliefs are built on beliefs, layer upon layer, in interdependent, integrated ways that form systems that possess a dynamic of their own-resistant to change, chameleonlike so as to accommodate to varying environments of fact and fashion, and structured so as to protect and defend those systems, much as the human immune system is organized to withstand and fight back when challenged by a pathogen. The fortitude and obduracy of systems of belief are their strength but also their downfall. Conservative thinking-adherence to and defense of conventions that are dominant at any particular time-therefore automatically brings with it a limited field of vision and a self-chosen myopia. If any blame can he laid for periods of slowed, nonexistent, or retrograde intellectual and scientific development, for periods of uncreative, sluggish, and at times imperceptible growth, that blame can be placed both on the natural human unwillingness to call into question beliefs that apparently have served well enough in the past and on the deeply entrenched disinclination to step outside of the preferred category set. Individuals who are willing to do these things tend to be few, and they should expect to meet correspondingly deeply rooted resistance, which of course indeed they have throughout the past.

From Dennis Kingsley’s book, The Struggle for Your Mind: Conscious Evolution and the Battle to Control How We Think

With all the goodwill and intentions within our hearts, why is it we cannot collectively rise above this malaise? And why does it seem that the majority is being ruled by a minority of mad people? Are we all the inmates on some lunatic-asylum planet? Don’t the universal laws of creation and sustenance support life-engendering traits rather than suffering? With these questions alone it would seem that there is something amiss within the general psyche of humanity. It could well be that for far too long the majority of humans have been under the yoke of the powerful few—from priestly elites of Egypt and Babylonia; from the Romans and the cyclic domination of empires and from the various religious institutions that have herded the many. In the end, we may know nothing other than servitude. Centuries of social slavery could, after all, have hard wired us to become passive and meek to authority. We have only to refer to the infamous Stanley Milgram experiments to realize that we would do almost anything if a person in a white coat told us to. In other words, we have been quite thoroughly socially conditioned to accept and submit to various displays of power. The question today is how these forces of control seek to pacify and distract the human conscious spirit. It is the hypothesis of this book that ongoing elements within human societies have been interfering with the natural growth and expression of human consciousness, which, at our present stage, may affect the potential for the next phase of neurogenetic evolution.

I could add more quotes but the point I’m making is that we are in the midst of a crisis, a crisis caused by ignorance and stupidly thanks to social media and the news media.
Our inept educational system and our disgraceful politicians -on both sides of the aisle- are also culpable as they don’t give a rat’s ass about the future of humanity. As a result, American citizens have lost the cognitive ability to cultivate a healthy democracy. They have become psychologically sick with conspiracy theories, lies, and misinformation and I fear the worst. Unless we find a way out of this collective madness, no amount of talk of all things Integral is going to save us. Just as PSA were made to prevent littering in the 60’s so too we need PSA’s to inform citizens that we can’t go on divided as we are.
They need to know that as long as they take sides, the ongoing madness will never end.
They need to know that any adherence to a political ideology does not and can never have answers to the many problems we face at home and abroad. It’s infuriating to me that those who know better like Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, Andrew Bacevitch, and Riane Eisler among others, are not being heard with the attention they deserve. And as much as I find Integral Theory thought provoking, it’s all too easy to talk about it ad-nauseum as an end in itself all the while the world goes to hell. Someting needs to be done NOW. And while it’s nice to watch the love life of Ken Wilber in film, I hope another can be made about his theories and the urgency we need to adopt them before our collective madness turns into an all out war.


Here is a very concise and comprehensive update from one of the top conservative historians.
Dr Hansen casts very clearly in tribal, democratic Republic, modern, postmodern, and what’s trying to be created post postmodern terms.

When Dr Hansen begins to call out the Republicans in the same manner he does to the Democrats then I’ll listen to him. Until then, he’s just an old school Republican. You would think this guy would be outraged as hell at his own party as they aided and abetted a sociopath as our president. Trump has radicalized not only his followers but many in the Republican Party and I fear the worst. Unlike Dr Andrew Bacevich, Dr. Hanson conveniently says nothing about the utter incompetence and stupidity of the Trump administration. Dr. Hanson is no different than Jordan Peterson. Both have a perception of reality that leaves a lot to be desired

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With all due respect your rant would appear to be an attempt to squelch / bully the rational conservative end of the spectrum, which I think Mbohu wanted to “include and understand”. You don’t have to agree, but Hansen does a very clear, concise, and comprehensive layout of “More Political Scales, and Political Identity” from the conservative end of the spectrum.

Hansen does call out both President Trump and Republicans in other talks.

Progressives control the House, Senate and White House so why be afraid?? All that is needed is passing the legislation to create the progress they desire.

I did not say in any way that Dr. Hansen should be squelched. On the contrary, I’d like him to speak his mind and call out the Democrats as well for their incompetence but of what good would it be if he’s not addressing the chaos within his own party? How can someone like him -who has a PhD- minimize or ignore the fact that the Republican party have lost the script as to what it means to be a true Conservative? What? The storming of the Capital was not enough for him to be outraged? Really? Dr. Hansen even wrote a book titled “The case for Trump”. Dr. Hansen has the right to call himself a Dr. but he’s not a psychologist -much less an Integral one. Since Dr. Hansen cannot see Trump for who he is at a deeper psychological level, Dr. Hansen has become an apologist for Trump. As Dr. Bandy Lee said regarding Trump

He does not really care about his followers. He has manipulated and used their psychology to fulfill his own needs for adulation, to be seen as this powerful omnipotent figure who is godlike. But at the same time, he carries contempt for them for being duped by himself. And this is actually a common dynamic that I see in violent individuals ,usually leaders of gangs or criminal conspirators, who often treat their followers and their partners terribly, just for sacrificing for that leader, for being such sycophants. That’s really tragic for his followers, because their loyalty is true. They are ready to sacrifice their safety, their health, and their lives for their leader.

In Jean Lipman Blumen’s book The Allure of Toxic Leaders she said

Tolerate, in fact, may be far too weak a word to describe the complex relationship between toxic leaders and their followers. These intriguing leaders first charm but then manipulate, mistreat, undermine, and ultimately leave their followers worse off than they found them. Yet many of these followers hang on. I do not speak merely of the leader’s immediate entourage—the leader’s close-in staff and advisors. I am speaking also of the larger mass of supporters (employees, constituents, volunteers) who only glimpse their toxic leader through a glass darkly—perchance through a window of the executive suite or on the television screen.

Even Ann Coulter, who loved Trump wrote a book about him, titled "In Trump we Trust" But realized, much too late, that Trump was not the man she thought he was. In a speech to young conservatives she said that "The reason I’m very happy that Trump lost – and lost narrowly – is that a second term of Trump would have killed us,”
When she says killed, she means the Republican party. It’s safe to say she also means that Trump is a toxic individual that should never have been president.

So, as I said before, when Dr. Hansen musters some courage and humility by sincerely acknowledging the fallacies of his own party -as he does quite well with Democrats- then I’ll listen to him. Until then, I have no interest on what he has to say because it’s one sided… all that education, and for what!!? His assessment of Trump is as deluded as Trump himself.

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Did you listen to Hansen’s talk that was just posted?
Regardless, Hansen’s talk seems very on-topic for Mbohus original thread.

Perhaps you could start another thread on Trumps internal states assessment and failure for “all those people” that “don’t get it”.
And we can try, if you might allow, looking at perhaps a broad spectrum of More Political Scales, and Political Identity.
Would you be ok with this?

When I wrote my comments, I was not interested so much on what Mbohus said. I was focusing on the fact that whatever he says -or anyone else for that matter- is talking about issues that are not penetrating at the core of our problems. The core being the following:

As long as we refuse to address the hold the ruling class has on the rest of humanity, all talk about politics -or what have you- is a waste of time and a distraction.
Aside from the above, I take serious issue with Dr. Hansen because, as an educator, he should know better but all he’s doing is taking sides and this is exactly what the ruling class want: delay, division, distraction, and acrimony -whether Dr. Hansen is aware of it or not.

And yes, you are right. I should start another thread on Trump but I’m suprised that some integralist on this site would need to know what is so obvious about Trump’s state of mind.

So you’re not OK with others having a broad spectrum conversation on political scales and identities. Got it.

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Great discussion by Glenn Loury on Identity. From my perspective Loury discusses very much from the conservative end of political spectrum.