Integral Manifesto Pt V(1) The Shape of Human Action/Tales of Chaos and the Norm

Books Discussed in this Section

James Rosenau (2003) Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Some observers,” Rosenau notes, “appear to share the recognition that the intellectual tools presently available to probe the pervasive uncertainty underlying our emergent epoch may not be sufficient to the task.”

Where earlier epochs were conceived more in terms of central tendencies and orderly patterns, the present epoch appears to derive its order from contrary trends and episodic patterns. Where the lives of individual and societes once tendend to move along linear and steady trjectories, now the movement seems nonlinear and eradic, with equilibria being momentarily and continuously punctuated by sudden acceleration or directional shifts.

Rosenau’s depiction of this challenge

Never mind that societies are increasingly less cohesive, and boundaries increasingly more porous; never mind that vast numbers of new actors are crowding the world stage; never mind that money moves instantaneously in cyberspace; never mind that the ripple effect of horrific, terrorist actions seem endless; and never mind that the feedback loops generated by societal breakdowns, proliferating actors , and boundary-spanning information are greatly intensifying the complexity of life at the outset of a new century– all such transformative dynamics may complicate the tasks of the analysis, but complexity theory tells us that they are not beyond comprehension, that they can be grasped.

drives his point that for understanding the nature of human action– that it will be necessary to incorporate new intellectual tools and undertake an approach within the framework of complexity theory. However Rosenay himself also cautions that the task of complexity theory is not prediction and control– we should recognize by now that those halycon days are bygone– but offers a heuristic framework which might “provide a basis for grasping and anticipating the general patterns within which specific events occur.”

Complexity theory might enable us to create figure-ground, internal-external, whole-part, and space-temporal references with respect to the various relations inherent in the dynamics of the system of human action, so we might anticipate variable trajectories on a metasystematic level. This is turn might allow us ample degree of freedom and choice in the realm of human affairs.

The story of human action, however, will never me merely a story of chaotic systems and their dynamic criticalities. It is also a consistent dynamic and purposeful effort toward the stable and normative, for the ability to live a coherent and meaningful life. This at first may seem at odds with the analytic approach of complexity theory– yet any adequate theory of human action must be able to bridge the chaotic attractors with our normative needs, keep the meaning-filled ends in sight of the dynamic means, while managing to  incorporate the operation of adaptive creativity and novelty born in chaos, that make such systems resilient to surprise and collapse (even at the expense of coherence an robustness), and simutaneously managing to incorporate the operations of interconnectedness and relatedness in normative systems that maintain their coherence and robustness (and by opposite measure, more vulnerable to surprise and the risk of collapse).

If we are to design such a framework of understanding and meaning, with multiple degrees of freedom– freedom of choice in the realm of human affairs, freedom among adaptive variables, freedom to connect and to unconnect interdependencies, freedom to tune in or to drop out, freedom to design one’s own individual identities, and freedom to adopt collective ones, freedom to participate in creative construction of stabilizing elements and, alternately, their creative destrucction– then we must be prepared not only to adopt novel paradigms of human action, but also be able to work through a cross-paradigmative approach– a challenge taken up in this series.

In such a paradigm, of human action– a paradigm that has the capacity to model the internal and external dynamics that account for the kinds of real world conditions and real life situations that we have been discussing– several crucial factors must be taken into account. At minimum, such a paradigm must be

  • Consistent with a natrualized evolution
  • Consistent with complexity theory
  • Adaptable to rapidly changing circumstances
  • Transfromable to completely new forms
  • Maintain coherence and robustness through change
  • Resilient to collapse inthe face of uncertainty and surprise
  • Incorporate multi-scalar operations
  • Provide for both globalizing and localizing dynamics
  • Guarantee the multiple freedoms mentioned above
  • Provide a way to interpret the past and anticipate future developments
  • Provide a useful conceptual tool for mitigating unfavorbale effects and facilitating favorable events in collective human action.
  • Provide a guide to re-envision normative judgments about collective human action

This is a challenging list. Still, most significantly for our purposes here, this paradigm of human action must act as a litmus test both for the originating inquiry of this series — What is the pivot point around which the local scales to the global? — as well as resonate with the fundamental hypothesis at the center of this series–The subject-to-subject encounter is the limiting quantum of Human Action. It may very well be the case that the second statement correctly answers the first question.

Integral Manifesto Pt IV(4) Open Sources, Sources of Openings/ The Many Worlds of Geosocial Space

Books Discussed in this Section

James Rosenau (2003) Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

The various voices in the previous sections have been developing the notion of multiscalar, multidimensional, as well as multi-directional globalizing forces at play. These forces are accountable for both large scale globalizing effects as well as the emergence of new microscales of openings along with a new generation of hybrid (local-global/ global-local) actors. We are beginning to realize that the global and the local are neither dichotomous terms nor opposite movements, but rather, are interrelated or entangled operations of a single epochal transformation. With forces at play that move simultaneously up, down and across the scales of human action, forces that amass greater interconnectivities and interdependencies while simultaneously shattering their old relationships and redistributing both their contexts and meanings, forces that simultaneously reinforce and challenge the power laws, continually shifting the tides of human agency in a constancy of flows– it is no wonder that the old templates of scalar anlayses no longer fit. One might argue that these old ways of looking at things, based in the hidden assumptions about order, hierarchy and optimization, actually undermine the conditions required for resilient action. This in turn might create a disconnect between the human-action systems and the ecological systems in with which they are entangled, mutually embedded and mutually enfolded. The various voices in the previous section have given us a strong sense of what is to follow; but none has achieved a more comprehensive description of the forces at play than James Rosenau. His insight and analyses are so critical to the understanding needed in the emerging epoch, that he is quoted at length in this section. A thorough understanding of what Rosenau calls “fragmegration” — the simultaneous process of fragmenting and integrating, provides the essential bridge to the further reaches of this manifesto.

Rosenau starts with a spatial oxymoron called “distant proximities” to account for a defining shift in geosocial space in the age of globalization and which highlights the inadequacies of previous terms. Rosenau says his distant proximities is the concept with which to organize the currents of world affairs.

Globalization is bringing peoples closer apart and places further together — John Rennie Short

His hope in this book is to introduce conceptual equipment beyond that of  globalization that can substantially clarify, enrich, and expand our grasp fo the course of events as the twenty-first century unfolds” …

[T]he best way to grasp world affairs today requires viewing them as endless series of distant proximities in which the forces pressing for greater globalization and those inducing greater locatlization interactively play themselves out. To do otherwise, to focus only on globalizing dynamics, ot only on localizing dynamics, is to risk overlooking what makes events unfold as they do.

One of the useful conceptual tools Rosenau gives us is the term “framegration” intended to “suggest the pervasive interaction between fragmenting and integrating dynamics that are unfolding at every scale of life.”

[T]he fragmegration label captures in a single word the large degree to which these rhythms consist of localizing, decentralizing, or fragmenting dynamics that are interactively and causally linked to globalizing, centralizing, and integrating dynamics.

Throughout his book, Rosenau uses informal testimony– anecdotes and statements from participant-observers who document these kinds of events as they unfold today, such as the following two examples:

I use the local and the global as prisms for looking at the same thing… [I]t would be wrong to think that you either work at one or the other, that the two are not constantly interpenetrating each other. … [W]hat we usually call the global, far from being something which, in a systematic fashion, rolls over everything, creating similarity, in fact works through mobilizing particular identities, and so on …

[G]lobalization and localization unite all spatial scales. There is little, and maybe nothing that is global that does not have some sort of a local manifestation. And each local manifestation changes the global context. place centeredness is the amalgam of global change and local identity. Every place reveals itself at a variety of scales. Local perceptions are shaped by global influences, the combination of which process local actions. These in turn are fuelled by local aspirations, many of which are the product of global images and expectations. All these local activities accumulated to create chaotic but global outcomes.

Rosenau also describes the way new identities emerge and collate in geosocial space through the processes of fragmegration, and the way different individuals respond to them, by recombining and redefining their own distant and proximate worlds, and constructing as well as choosing (or refusing) new roles as participant actors within these newly subjectively-relativized regions.

[A]s distant developments become ever more proximate, the emergent epoch enables people to develop new, more flexible constructions of themselves. Their orientations, practices and lives are still shaped by macro structures, but the latter are now more numerous and flexible than in the past, freeing (even forcing) people to shoulder greater autonomy and to evolve new identities and shifting allegiances.

[T]he values, identities, capacities, strategies, and interests of individuals are posited as pervasive variables that, as they vary remain constant, can aggregate into substantial consequences for macro structures and the interaction sequences through which they are linked to their collectivities.

In short, fragmegrative circumstances constitutete “a condition that promotes personal autonomy from socially embedded expectations and opens up the world to exploration and personal experimentation: we can, to an increasing degree, choose who we are … .”

The pace at which and extent to which individuals and collectives are capable and willing to adapt, accommodate, and incorporate new roles through their efforts at recombining aspects of the distant and the proximate, the local and the global, determines what kinds of “world”they come to occupy, the “world” they see themselves in as actors or non-actors — determines whether a local, global, or private world arises as their geo-social spatial reality. This is not to suggest that only imaginaries are at work in creating new social spaces and new actor- roles and new world-scapes. Rosenau identifies eleven modern developments that are catalyzing changes that “increasingly generate multiple equilibria” :

  1. Microelectronic Technologies
    • The rise of network forms of organization– particularly "all channel networks" in which every node can communicate with every other node– is one of the single most important effects of the information revolution for all realms, political, economic, social and military. It means that power is migrating to small, nonstate actors who can organize into sprawling networks more readily than can traditionally hierarchical nation-state actors. It means that conflicts will increasingly be waged by "networks" rather than by "hierarchies". it means that whoever masters the nettwork form stand to gain major advantages in the new epoch. Some actors, such as various terrorists and criminals, may have little difficulty forming highly networked, largely non-hierarchical organizations; but for other actors, such as professional militaries that must continue to uphold hierarchies at their core, the challenge will be to discover how to combine hierarchical and networked designs to increase their agility and flexibility for field operations.
  2. The Skill Revolution
    • [In short, the primacy of the skill revolution has resulted in the global stage becoming more dense with actors.] In earlier epochs, it was occupied mainly by states and their inter-governmental organizations, but in the emergent epoch the cast of characters has multiplied time and time again.
  3. The Organizational Explosion
    • If hierarchically structured states still dominated the course of events and were thereby able to contain and control the vibrant spread of horizontal networks, it is doubtful whether a new epoch would be emerging. For better or for worse– and given the vitality of the drug trade and crime syndicates, sometimes it is for the worse– the ever-greater salience of organizational networks is serving to restructure the underpinnings of world affairs.
  4. The Bifurcation of Global Structures
    • In effect, the bifurcation of global structures nas become institutionalized and, as a result, contributes to the weakening of states… by creating spaces for the formation or consolidation of collectivites in the multi-centric world and, thus, for the activation of individuals who have not previously had an outlet for their global or local orientations. This
  5. The Mobility Upheaval
    • Statistics for every form of travel reveal sharp and continuous growth, and the trend shows no sign of  letting up. Not only is tourism among the world’s largest industries, but the data on business travel also portray a continuing and growing flow of people around the world. And then thee are the migratory flows that are driven largely by a search for employment and involve mostly people from the developing world moving into the industrial and financial centers of the developed world. All of these flows have been facilitated by transportation technologies, particularly the jet aircraft that have– through reduced travel time and lowered airfares– had a profound impact on diverse institutions throughout the world.
  6. The Weakening of States and Territoriality
    • [The] very epoch of the nation-state is near its end. … It may well be that the emergent postnational order proves not to be a system of homogenous units (as with the current system of nation states) but a system based on relations between heterogenous units (some social movements, come interest groups, some professional bodies, some nongovernmental organizations, some armed constabularies, some judicial bodies).
  7. The Decentralization of Governments
    • [The] longer-term and worldwide process whereby authority is undergoing relocation in response to the skill revolution, the organizational explosion, and the mobility upheaval has hastened the decline and decentralization of national governments. In some instances this trend has resulted in vacuums of authority filled by criminal organizations or by undertainties regarding where the rule-making power lies; but more often than not local, provincial, or private authorities move into the vacuum and sustain the processes of governance.
  8. Authority Crises
    • With people increasingly skillful, with states weakened, and with other types of organizations proliferating, governments everyhwere are undergoing authority crises in which traditional conceptions of legitimacy are being replaced by performance criteria of legitimacy, thus fostering bureaucratic disarray, executive-legislative stalemate, and decisional paralysis that, in turn, enhance the readiness of individuals to employ their newly acquired skills on behalf of their perceived self-interests.
  9. Subgroupism
    • Subgroupism arises out of the deep affiliations that people develop toward associations, organizations, and subcultures with which they have been historically, professionally, economically, socially, or politically liked and to which they attach high priority. Subgroupism values te in-group over the out-group.
  10. The Globalization of National Economies
    • In contrast to the tendencies toward decentralization and subgroupism, the dynamics at work in the realm of economics are powerful sources of centralizing tendencies. … [For the most part] economic globalization in the last few decades has resulted in financiers, entrepreneurs, workers, and consumers now being deeply enmeshed in transnational networks that have superceded the traditional political jurisdiction of national scope.
  11. The Proliferation of Independence Issues
    • Whereas the political agenda used to consist of issues that governments could cope with on their own or through interstate bargaining, conventional issues are now being joined by challenges that their very nature do not fall exclusively within the jurisdiction of states and intergovernmental institutions. Six current challenges are illustrative: environmental pollution, currency crisis, the drug trade, terrorism, AIDS, and the flow of refugees.

If we place these phenomenon within our lexicon of human action, we find that six of them are primarily phenomena of geo-social space (bifurcation of global structures, mobility upheaval, weakening of states and territoriality, decentralization of governments, authority crises,  subgroupism)– all factors which tend toward decentralization and the opening of micro-spaces and emergence of new actors moving toward the shattering old connectivities and creating new localized roles; whereas the proliferation of independence issues is a factor of geo-social space where new localized actors emerge and move toward the creatin of  new globalized roles. Similarly, we can map the three factors, microelectronic technologies, the  skill revolution, and organizational explosion onto the technological domain of human action, and note that technologies facilitate movement in both directions– toward integration and globalization as well as fragmentaion and localization. Finally, the phenomenon of the globalization of national economies, is seen to be the defining movement in the economic domain of human action– a movement toward increasing aggregation, connectivity, consolidation, and globalization. These are important registers to remember about the particular dynamics in the three domains of human action– that the geo-social movement is toward opening and discontinuities, whereas the economic movement is toward consolidation and connectivities; while the technological domain remains a "neutral" — yet is a powerful multiplier that can as well  facilitator  or deter movements in either "direction."

The bulk of Rosenau’s book is dedicated to identifying and describing the world-scapes that emerge from these fragmegrative dynamics. Various Local Worlds are distinguished from several types of Global Worlds through the ways in which distances and proximities are conceptualized and placed into the context of one’s life. In Local Worlds, both local (in the contextualized sense) and localized (in the spatial sense) phenomena become "increasingly salient as sources or goals of the attitudes, behavior, or policies of individuals and collectives." In Rosenau’s scheme, differing conditions and varying dynamics in turn give rise to four types of Locals

The Insular Locals are distinguished by an exclusive concern with spatial proximities, with the geographically near-at-hand, with circumstances that can be directly encountered; the Resistant Locals and Exclusionary Locals contextualize proximity and allow for the spatially remote to be near-at-hand, but the Resistant Locals perceive the spatially remote as so threateningly close as to necessitate opposition, whereas the Exclusionary Locals are inclined to avoid the distant proximities they view as becoming too close.

[The fourth Local World] is occupied by persons who are neither isolated nor inclined to retreat in the face of globalizing dynamics. They are, rather, capable of absorbing external encroachments on their own terms without fearing their local world will loose its integrity. Indeed, by adapting the external inputs to local practices and norms without diminishing the distinctive feature of their world, the Affirmative Locals … can contribute to the integrative dimensions of fragmegration as much as they do to its divisive dimension.

In contrast to these Local Worlds, Rosenau describes four Global Worlds, three of which consist of persons “whose thoughts and actions are worldwide in scale and not confined to any territorially bounded space”

One of these is populated by Affirmative Globals, by elites, activists, and ordinary people who share positive inclinations toward the processes of globalization–especially toward those dynamics that foster and sustain a global marketplace– seeing them as moving humankind toward greater integration and prosperity.

In contrast, the Resistant Globals are no less worldwide in the scale of their orientations, but they, like their Local counterparts, regard one or more of the prevailing dynamics that sustain globalization as detrimental to the wel–being of peoples.

Similarly, the Specialized Globals are persons whose territorial orientations are not locally bounded but who are oriented toward only limited issues on the global agenda.

Roseanu alsod describes a fourth Global World, the Territorial Globals, "whose scale of thought and action is large but territorially bounded" and for whom foreign policy officials are the "quintessential examples."

Finally, to complete his inventory or world-scapes, Rosenau adds a brief exegesis of four Private Worlds,– the Alienated Cynics, Alienated Illegals, Circumstantial Passives and Turned-Out Passives– non of which include persons who authentically assume an actor-role in the realm of human action.

As a result of Rosenau’s inventory of the many worlds arising from the dynamics of fragmegration, we are left with the image of a densely overlapping and multi-dimensional, highly complex and multi-scalar, continually shifting field of world-sca;es, of which we are for the most part at a loss to grasp with familiar conceptual tools. How do we then design a future in response to both the positive phenomena we would like to facilitate, and the negative phenomena we would like to mitigate in this shifting field? How do we choose to meet future challenges? With what conceptual tools do we address such empirical complexity? With what normative judgments do we distinguish what are favorable or unfavorable phenomena, when faced with conditions we can neither prestate, much less predict, nor dynamics we can sufficiently model, nor the luxury of conventional wisdom, much less the traditional analytics of scale and the hidden assumptions about human action that have been outdated perhaps for decades now.

As Rosenau writes

The salience of such questions– and the uncertainty they generate– reflects the conviction that we are deeply immersed in an epochal transformation likely to foster a new worldview about the essential nature of human affairs … .

Integral Manifesto Pt IV(3) Open Sources, Sources of Openings/ Global Openings and the Space of Appearance

Books Discussed in this Section

Saskia Sassen (2007) Deciphering the Global, Routledge, NY

~ Anthony D’Andrea : Deciphering the Space and Scale of Global Nomadism – Subjectivity and Counterculture in the Global Age

~ Anne Bartlett : The City and the Self – The Emergence of New Political Subjects in London

The key to “deciphering the global” and its paradoxical character, one might argue, is in understanding how globalization dynamics differentially affect the three domains of human action. With respect to economies, globalization dynamics are conservative (increasingly resistent to change over time),  accumulative (enacting power laws that predominantly scale upwards both linearly and hierarchically). The perfect diagram of this kind of dynamics is the pyramid. With respect to technologies, globalization dynamics tend to be conservative, but distributive, enacting power laws that predominantly extend the breadth of their reach over time. The perfect diagram of this kind of dynamics is a river branching across wider and wider regions on its way to the sea. With respect to geo-social spaces, however, the dynamics are progressive (increasingly resistant to stasis over time) and discontinuous, enacting power laws that are nonlinear and dynamically critical. A diagram of this kind of dynamics would be a much more complex illustration, and might look like diagrams of autocatalytic sets.

At the critical edges of these nonlinear processes of geo-social space are novel openings and appearances– of “segments of self-marginalized subjects”: highly mobilized postmetropolitan individuals, individuals disaffected with mainstream society, global nomads, tourists of the new leisure class, new age pilgrom, migrant workers, countercultural expatriates, techno shamans, and numerous types of bohemians, and other variations of deterritorialized countercultures. D’Andrea points out that

… new forms of subjectivity and identity are being developed in a dialectic interplay with major global processes … In this sense, globalization refers to the sheer intensification of processes of  mobility, digitalization, multiculturalism, and reflexivity.

For D’Andrea, this process of cultural globalization and transformation also entails

… the dissolution and retooling of traditional and modern ways of life, along with the emergence of new forms of identity that are defined by their fluidic, deessentialized and reflexive nature.

Although extreme, these examples of completely de-localized gdo-social identities, contribute to the catalyzing of new spaces of appearances emerging on the global stage– appearances that are antithetical to stasis and conservation, as they thrive on permanent displacement and constant movement– actualized by and through the complex dynamics of globalizing cultures, wherein identities are formed primarily through geographical triangulation, across exotic locations and temporary or semi-permanent homeland bases– a pattern that, according to D’Andrea

… confirms the claim about the dialectic of mobility and moorings as key components of globalization… Overall, it is the moorings that enable movements. And it is the dialectic of mobility/ moorings that produces social complexity.

Although these self-marginalized subjects are enacting a crucial component of the processes of globalization, it is by no means clear that they are interested actors within the realm of human action. For the most part, these identities emerging at the far edges of geo-social space, are catalysts for the creation of alternatie social actor-identities on the global stage. Prominent among these emerging actors are politicized refugees, immigrants, and expatriates, who have incorporated the global stage as strategic terrain to practice their formal and informal political goals. On London streets, for example, journalist Anne Bartlett describes how

… refugees and immigrants build their own fowms of political meaning and act to redefine themselves as political subjects capable of making change…

Bartlee goes on the describe how the global comes to be enfolded into the urban landscape, as these deterritorialized global actors redefine the parameters of what it means to be political in urban centers today.

Changes, borne of disjunctures and contradictions between old and new migration flows, between competing ideologies of nation, region and tribe, and parity between formal and informal ways of doing politics, open up the political landscape and allow new modes of being political to emerge. Deciphering the global means getting into these spaces of contestation– into the cracks that are appearing in the political landscape and wathcing as new forms, new actors, and practices start to make themselves known.

Bartlett describes in detail the ways in which dynamics on the micro-level give rise to emerging identities as new global actors. She sees the city as the appropriate scale where multiple scales and actors can operate through local practices that are articulated with  what she terms global flows. Thesenew identities, she argues, do not emerge in a vacuum, but through the points of encounter between individuals whose very identities have become, in a sense, the locus of conflict– the kinds of boundaries that are driving such change.

The key to understanding boundaries in this repsect is not to think of them as territorial encasements but as lines of difference that emerge or fade. … by focussing on entities in the making, it is possible to see how particular conjunctions or disjunctions act to produce, stabilize, and enact certain kinds of spaces and possibilities of being.

In these spaces new kinds of political selves can be generated by direct face-to-face contact with the other. But here I argue that extended sets of relations generated through the use of the Internet and other technologies constitute a different yet equally important moment of production. With the exponential increase in email Internet and satellite phone traffic, there is a multiplier effect of possibilities and means through which political actors can constitute themselves vis-a-vis others. And these new possibilities for identification, counter-identification, hostility, and alliance create new tensions that do not just reside in the virtual sphere; they collide on the street to produce new ways to do politics and new ways of political actors to think of themselves. Microspaces of gateways for action open up, created by flows and dynamics no longer contained within territorial bounds.

Integral Manifesto Pt IV(2) Open Sources, Sources of Openings/Local Actors, Global Actions

Books Discussed in this Section

Bruno Latour (1993) We Have Never Been Modern, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Ma.

Saskia Sassen (2007) Deciphering the Global, Routledge, NY

~ Evalyn Tennant: Locating the Transnational Activists

While global institutions have superseded the local and the national at macro scales, both the national and the global at the same time, paradoxically, have become more porous to local actors in ways never before imagined, and for the most part made possible by the same technologies and processes that drive globalization at the macro level. Likewise, just as we have accounted for institutional globalization by importing an architecture of global scale based on inclusive nested hierarchies (of the local, the regional, the national, the international, the transnational) we have furthermore conceptualized the individual local actor– the very subject-actor who emerges in the early Greek polis — as embedded deep beneath the many layers of this global anachronism like a single pea smothered under the princess’ mountain of mattresses. Curiously though, just like the fabled pea, it seems that individual local actors do succeed in disturbing the princess’ sleep, through emergent multiscalar dynamics that are sufficiently porous to allow, accommodate, and even facilitate the opening of the space of appearance in a global context.

Saskia Sassen identifies three major assumptions, of space, scale and organization, that need to be revised in order to understand “Today’s social movements through [a] more complex analytic grid:” 1) the assumption that conflates the local and the national and considers local actors and movement dynamics as mere micro-instantiations of the national; 2) the assumption that represents people as embedded within local territorial contexts, and assumes that people’s access to the national or the global is mediated through nested scalar hierarhcies running through nation-states; 3) the assumption in which people are presented not only as embedded in particular, located social contexts, but also stuck there — immobilized– as well.

Local actors can entre the global arena collectively through NGO’s and other locally based organizations, but also, local actors can focus at the local level to address global conditions affecting their local conditions. Individual actors, as well, can act at the global level to press for change in their local affairs. In any case, the way we map local and global social movements either in the context of “the local in a global setting,” or “the global in a local setting.” requires new set of analytic distinctions about the roles of local collectives as well as individual subject-actors.

Likewise Evalyn Tennant contests what is today the prevalent analytic distinction in the study of social movement and activism… in questioning “whether national or transnational– is it analytically more productive to distinguish social movements in terms of face-to-face translocal mediated forms of interaction?” Her thesis is that contemporary movements of local actors can be more productively understood as the “translocal collection of distributed forms of locally organized collective action.”

Latour takes this contestation down to its very roots to what we have hypothesizing as the quantum unit of human action, namely the subject-to-subject engagement, by accusing the “modern interpretation of hierarchy and scale” of mistaking length of connection (within actor-networks) for difference in level:

… if we wander around IBM, if we follow the chains of command of the Red Army, if we inquire in the corridors of the Ministry of Education, if we study the process of seeling and buying a bar of soap, we never leave the local level. We are always in interaction with four or five people; the building superintendent always has his territory well staked out; the directors’ conversations sound just like those of the employees; as for the salespeople, they go on and on giving change and filing out their invoices. Could the macro-actors be made up of micro-actors? Could IBM be made up of a series of local interactions? The Red Army of an aggregate of conversations in the mess hall? The Ministry of Education of a mountain of pieces of paper? The world market of a host of local exchanges and arrangements?

Integral Manifesto Pt IV(1) Open Sources, Sources of Openings/ The Globotomized Nation

Books Discussed in this Section

Saskia Sassen (2004) Local Actors in Global Politics retrieved from

Saskia Sassen (2007) Deciphering the Global.Routledge, NY

Technology has played an enormous role in the modern digital age. The digital revolution and the invention of the Internet, continue to have tremendous effect on the scales of human action. The digitization of information and distribution of information technologies has expanded and accelerated collaborative action; the digitization of financial data has expanded and accelerated the capitalization of a single global economy. With respect to these two domains (technology and economy) the impact of the digital revolution seems to be the same, namely toward greater interconnectivity, greater interdependence of local actors at the same time toward their greater dependency on global processesas local actors themselves become defined by and dissolved into the omni-present, omni-potent global system of enormous scale.

As long as actors are envisioned as local units embedded within global phenomena such as the global economy and global industrial complex, then we will continue to see them as being operated on by these global dynamics.We might then further conceptualize local actors and their localities as embedded within the predominantly exclusive hierarchical relations that have been institutionalized through mobilization of resources on a global scale, by those centers of power who operate strategically on the global at the global level. As Sassen explains

The organizational side of the global economy materializes in a worldwide grid of strategic places, uppermost among which are major international business and financial centers. We can think of this global grid as constituting a new economic geography of centrality, one that cuts across national boundaries and increasingly across the old North-South divide. It has emerged as a transnational space for the formation of new claims by global capital but also by other types of actors. The most powerful of these new geographies of centrality at the inter-urban level bind the major institutional and financial business centers. The intensity of transactions among these cities, particularly through financial markets, transactions in services and investment, has increased sharply, and so have the orders of magnitude involved.

In order to account for this geometry of scale, we have imported the framework of the local, the regional, the national, the international and the transnational, into an architecture of global scale based on inclusive nested hierarchies. This simplistic architecture is challenged in several critical ways by the emergence of the global actors such as global corporations and multi-national organizations like the IMF. First, the notion of identity has become deterritorialized with the advent of the global manager whose allegiances fall along functional relations within a corporation or organization rather than with respect to either physical boundaries (such as the local or regional) or under the various political frameworks of the nation-state. Secondly, as power relations shift, the way we conceptualize power has undergone a dramatic shift from the notion that power accumulates up the hierarchy of scale through inclusively nested sets, from local representatives, to state, to nation, to international– to a new global reality wherein power relations are enacted if not more frequently, then surely with more import and causal effect, from global decision-making processes that are distributed down those same hierarchical scales. Decisions made at the global level, such as world financial agreements, world oil production, global technological innovation — have a greater and greater impact on the structure of everyday life than ever before. Although this has been true for most of the recent decades for what used to be the “minor state actors” on the global stage, the dynamics of globalization has also altered the power share relations among individual nation-states, such that the hegemony of “major actors” no longer insulates their citizens from the effects and counter-effects of global level operations. Sassen comments

This does not mean that the old hierarchies disappear but rather that novel scaling emerge alongside the old ones and that the former can trump the latter. Older hierarchies of scale constituted as part of the development of the nation-state continue to operate, but they do so in a far less exclusive field than they did in the recent past. This holds even when factoring in the hegemonic power of a few states, which meant and continues to mean that most national states were in practice not fully sovereign.

The most common reactions to thses processes of globalization, are the many current but not so modern and certainly not innovative, attempts to reinforce and re-concretize the old formulas of scalar hierarchies into a future Brave New Global World with a cretaintwist, in which the bodies of governance no longer rise from local common collectives– afterall, the assumption here is that they have already been supersededand displaced by globalization– but rather are institutionalized through power laws that scale along the same nested hierarchies, giving rise to supra-national global entities that are responsible for both ordering and ruling down the proverbial chain of command.

Fortunately, this is not the only trajectory of the current globalizing dynamics. With respect to the opening of geo-social spaces, something quite extraordinary and at first glance, paradoxical, is happening which “signals the need for new concepts and framings.” And while it remains the case that the role of the nation state is undergoing epochal transformation, this is also the case for the sub-national actor-collectives as well as the inter-national and supra-national — all of which for whom the global is not exclusively a power law, but more significantly, the global is the newly emerging shared space of appearance of multiple actors at multiple scales.

The time is indeed ripe for a major shift in how we conceptualize the emergent phenomena, in particular with respect to scalar relations and human action, since as Sassen notes “Existing theory is not enough to map today’s multiplication of practices and actors contributing to these rescalings.” On this point, it is worth quoting Sassen at length:

[The multiscalar character of various globalization processes] cannot easily be accommodated into older nested hierarchies of scale, which position everything that is supranational above the state in the scalar hierarchy and what is subnational beneath the state. In such hierarchies, the subnational needs to run through the national if it is to function globally. [Yet the] variety of multiscalar dynamics point to conditions that cannot be organized as a hierarchy, lst alone a nested hierarchy. This is a multiscalar system, operating across scales and not, as is so oftesaid, merely scaling upward because of communications capabilities. Alternative approaches that go beyond older scalar hierarchies, micro/macro analyses, and container categories such as nation-state are gaining traction. Here I would like to single out analyses that emphasize topological patterns rather than nested scalar hierarchies, actor networks rather than actors per se, and the disassembling of familiar, often nationalized arrangements and their reassembling into novel global and denationalized formations.

Studying the global, then, entails not only a focus on what is explicitly global in scale. It also calls for a focus on locally scaled practices and conditions articulated with global dynamics. 

Integral Manifesto Pt III(5) Integral Politics?/Evolution and Enfoldment: Towards a Naturalized Evolution

Development, as we know it, entails enfoldment. Ontogenesis entails enfoldment of structures along axes that are symmetric to species (radially, laterally, bi-radially, bi-laterally). The primary body structures are enfoldments of endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm tissues. Organs of the body, as well as organelles of the cells, are likewise enfolded structures. Developmental psychographs present pictures of the enfolded self– as self stages become subsumed, transcended and integrated into maturing forms. Even the very notion of a self, arising as a cognitive occasion in the theory of Cognitive Microgenesis, is an enfolded occasion. Furthermore, the self-system’s values and roles are present to the subject as a series  of innner and outer elements. Development entails enfoldment — but development also  entails change in an enduring individual along a trajectory from nascent potnetial to highest possible realized actual. This highest possible realized actual is a combination of borrowed constraints and unactualized new potentials in a dynamic dance of change from birth to the apex of an individual’s lifetime. Development then, is always already continuous within an enduring individual. No matter how far or how fast the changes occur, the individual herself does not get replaced by a new unit of being. Enduring identity is the hallmark of developmental change.

On the contrary, the hallmark of evolutionary change, is the emergence of completely novel forms. The history of evolution might be narrated as a continuum, but evolutionary forms emerge discretely– there are “identity” gaps, as it were. Recent attempts by integral theorists to posit a transcendently lurking identity “beneath, behind or beyond” evolution, a kind of semi-virtual being with a teleological imperative of its own — fail to address the sine qua non of “naturalized version” (i.e. an a- onto-theo-logical version) of evolution — that variability and novelty are more important than optimization and survival. An a- onto-theo-logical evolution tends toward increased diversity and creative emergence of novelty over deep time — periods of increasing diversity interspersed with extinction events. Time and again in throughout the historical record, evolution has shown that it does not proceed on the shoulders of prior forms in the way a developmental sequence does — the most evolutionary advanced species rarely become the founding families upon which new species advance after extinction cycles. We did not, for example, descend from the spetacular fishes of the Pre- Cambrian explosion, but from the lowly worms following the great Cambrian waves of extinction.

Integral Manifesto Pt III(4) Integral Politics?/ Co-Creating Values and the Spheres of Appearance

Rather than looking at the cultural memes as discrete stages in either human development or cultural evolution, consider the diversity of human collectivities as constellations — constellations of geo-sociospace, technologies, and economies–  interacting together within a greater dynamic whole– the realm of human action. At the micro scale, in the level of its own internal processes, any particular constellation could be seen as emerging through adaptive dynamics between the three-fold domains constituting human action, those we have identified as geo-sociospatial, technological and economic. From the macro level view, these micro level processes are seen to give way to discrete spheres of appearances(the collectives commonly referred to as “red” or “blue”, “orange”etc…) that emerge through micro-macro-level adaptive interactions within the whole of human action.

For example, at the micro level 1) each constellation creates specific kind of spaces of appearances for subjects to emerge as subjects, who share a specific array of geo-social spatial orientations; and 2) each constellation creates specific kinds of enduring technologies; and 3) each constellation creates specific kinds of economic systems in inter-action and exchange. Each micro-scale constellation can be thought of having a unique “shape” with repsect to coordinates that specify the geo-sociospatial, technological and economic dimensions that give the constellation its unique “collective action shape.”

Constellations may be internally robust at the micro level, but need to be adaptively suited to emerge as a sphere of appearance at the macro level, much the same way as as individual subjects emerge qua subjectsat the level of the polis. A constellation might be internally adaptive with respect to its own members — a necessary bu tnot sufficient condition for its emergence to the macro level; since for a constellation to emerge at the macro level, its internal dynamics must also have some pre-adaptive capacities to adapt to the macro-level environment– selection pressures that operated among all spheres inter-acting at the macro level.

At the meta level, viewing the whole that is all of collective human action, the individual spheres of appearance give way to a meta-level system, which itself might be considered to have a certain dynamic shape that fluctuates in time, determined by the particular array of geo-sociospatial, technological and economic dimensions that have aggregated from each of the spheres of appearances whose dynamics are sufficiently adapted to contribute at this level. Viewed in this way, collectivities, constellations, spheres of appearance, as well as the sum total realm of human action, are seen as autopoietic, dynamically adapative systems whose enfolded components are actors in a collective field which is an enfoldment of geo-sociospace, technologies, and economies. In later posts I will show that these aspects of that collective “field” arise from certain types of collective action logics operating in a dynamic adaptive system.

Integral Manifesto Pt III(3): Integral Politics? / Subjects as Actors

Books Discussed in this Section

Steve McIntosh (2007) Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution,  Continuum Books

Saskia Sassen (2004) Local Actors in Global Politics retrieved from

Saskia Sassen (2007) Deciphering the Global.Routledge, NY

McIntosh proposes a World Federation based on nation-states relinquishing their sovereignty and reinvesting in a higher, supernational organization empowered by a master lawmaking authority of a democratically enacted global constitution. The Federal level would have the power and the authority to mandate the subordinate governments with respect to their internal operations, especially with respect to human rights issues. Presumably, the master lawmaking authority would be composed of integral-consciousness level executive officers responsible for managing and coordinating operations in a tricameral structure, based on the US Constitution, which maintains a “balance of power” between branches — which McIntosh envisions as legislative, judicial, and executive. His legislative includes an economic house, a world senate, and a people’s house. His judicial branch includes a world federal court, a world citizenship court, and a global eco-environmental court. His executive branch includes a people’s, an economics, and a nations council. McIntosh claims that his proposed structure is firmly based in what Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry have identified “as the essential dynamics of evolution that are embodied in what they call the Cosmogenetic Principle. Because it appeals to McIntosh as the very basis of his work, the excerpt is woth quoting at length:

The Cosmogenetic Principle states that the evolution of the universe will be characterized by differentiation, autopoiesis, and communion throughout time and space and at every level of reality. These three terms — differentiation, autopoiesis, and communion– refer to the governing themes and the basal intentionality of all existence, and thus are beyond any simple one-line univocal definition. … Some synonyms for differentiation are diversity, complexity, variation, disparity, multi-form, nature, heterogeneity, articulation. Different words that point to the second feature are autopoiesis, subjectivity, self-manifestation, sentience, self-organization, dynamic centers of experience, presence, identity, inner principle of being, voice, interiority. And for the third feature, communion, interrelatedness, interdependence, kinship, mutuality, internal relatedness, reciprocity, complementarity, interconnectivity, and affiliation all point to the same dynamic of cosmic evolution.

These three features are not “logical” or “axiomatic” in that they are not deductions within some larger theoretical framework. They come from a post hoc evaluation of cosmic evolution; these three will undoubtedly be deepend and altered in the next era as future experience expands our present understanding.

The sequence of events in the universe becomes a story precisely because these events are themselves shaped by these central ordering tendencies– complexity, autopoiesis, and communion. These are the cosmological orderings fo the creative display of energy everywhere and at any time throughout the history of the universe.

I think this is a beautiful passage articulating deep insight into the dynamic display of the manifest universe, and I commend McIntosh for having highlighted this as a central sensibility in his work. Unfortunately, McIntosh’s analytic and autocratic tendencies– his intolerant and dominant temperament– doesn’t seem capable of truly honoring the vision of Swimme and Berry, who emphasize that these essential features are not logical or axiomatic … they are no deductions within some larger theoretical framework. Rather they are shaped by complexity, autopoiesis, and communion, which is on-going. McIntosh, on the other hand, wants to prescribe or prestate the very structures of interrelatedness, control what voices appear and what voices don’t appear, supress individual subjectivity of the larger populations, constrain the kinds of identities that self-commune, repressreciprocity throughtop-down authority, and remove the self-transformative potential of the dynamics through programmable and manageable structures that have no internal or external feedback loops to account for the kinds of  perpetual deepening and alteration that Berry and Swimme affirm.

Here is an alterative view that takes Swimme and Berry to heart:

Create a dynamic way for global governance architecture to evolve by designing phases of natural emergent properties of fully democratic and fully autopoietic actions of all participants.

Here is a brief scenario of the kinds of actions/ architecture one might employ:

  1. Phase one designed as an introductory, exploratory and exploitative phase. Everyone on the planet would get a chance to participate in this global governance movement. People and organizations would basically self-organize to create caucus-like activity of various forms to organize subordinate level participatory bodies. Participants could choose to identify “merely” as individual global citizens, or as member-participants in any of conventional or newly emerging local-to-global coalitions that would emerge to exploit the new openings in the spaces of global appearance, new ways to articulate and voice individual as well as collective identity.
    • Nationhood
    • Ethnicity
    • Religion
    • Gender
    • Particular NGO or coalition of NGO’s
    • Economic Class
    • Trade Union
    • Any other type of representative coalition imaginable.
  2. Phase two consists of a second-order coalition of major alignments around significatn concerns or causes, out of which would emerge the 100 or so subordinate government bodies. This is the phase of increasing connectedness and increasing (augmenting) the political capital of phase one. Rules for participation in such bodies would be articulated and constituted by these “originary” bodies of the emerging global federation, similar to the rold of the thirteen original states of the USA. For example, participants might be able to re-align every 4-6 years or only in 8 year cycles. It would be important to understand that larger insitutions need longer lead times to change, so the temporal scale on which such actions occur, may very well be longer in scale than on more local or subordinate levels. However, there must be feedback loops which “structcurally couple” the two scales, such that these feedback loops be of very short duration and of appropriate scale to “reach” individuals within the insitutional domain who themselves should retain the capacity to engage rapidly changing concerns of their constituents. Phase two would be a prolonged period, in which the subordinate bodies would create and experiment with virtual reality and scenarios of the kinds of global decisions that would be made, with respect to real-life situations, if in fact these bodies had power and authority to do so, as opposed to alternative arrangements of authority. These virtual decisions would not only “prime” the system and develop scenario training, but also the global community would get a chance to imagine the effects that various alliances and levels of participation have on both global, regional and local levels, with the definition her of “loca” as one’s local identity in whatever one consider’s one’slocal affiliation, which might, paradoxically, be a globalized collective.
  3. Phase three might consist of re-examining the role(s) of the existing power structure and the extent to which these authorities would agree to relinquish certain domains over to an actual governance authority. This is the phase of conservation. The branches of the global authority would arise with respect to those domains that are relinquished one by one, or in groups that themselves collate into Spheres of Authority, as it became increasingly clear what emergent coalitions would supercede them. There might be provisoinal rules as t how these domains or branches would regulate themselves, i.e. they would have to prove that participation was open to all through democratic processes, and be able to prove self-evidently porous to individual participation to an acceptable degree. Or, a fully or quasi-independent “judiciary” body might be designed to perform audits and functionary inspection, as well as other bodies or architectures employed at even higher levels.
  4. Phase four would initiate after a significant majority of participation or dissolution of other power structures gave way to the global governance process and its newly emerged Spheres of Authority. This is the coming-to-agestage in which the process tendws twoard creating static structures that are no longer functionally emergent from dynamic and open participation. This is the phase that requires rejuvination from lower order dynamics, to off-set the prolonger previous periods of building increasingly conservation higher order structures. It may require the subversion, replacement, or overthrow of higher order structures that are no longer vulnerable to the internal or external feedback loops of participation of all subjects; or structures that have grown “closed” to such participation, or have grown impervious to their appearance. Guarantees for innovation, continual opening of spaces for newly emerging identities to commune in dynamic displays of new kinds of interconnectedness, would be requisite to create phases five, six, seven… These are the periods of release of previous interconnections, emergence of new identities through new patterns of collectivities, and re-configuration toward novel stages of exploration and exploitation.

The promise and possibilty of this kind of approach– an approach which facilitates the co-creative processes of actual people as both subjectw within and actors of socio-political spaces, and who are equally as well regarded and engaged as collective authors of our socio-spatial geographies– may seem idealistic or unrealistic to some readers. In reality, there is no need to overdetermine this process, since I have merely reframed as a future scenario the very processes that are re-shaping socio-political spaces today and which are precisely those that are resulting from people taking up their rightful roles — as they always do– a reult of the opening of the spaces of appearance– and co-authoring the epochal transformations that are cocurring around the globe today. For those aligned with the current structures and whose wolrdview is predicated on the scalar assumptions that the new must come up and through the pre-dominance of existing structures (such as the nation state) in a nested and hierarchical way– a worldview that would surely miss the new transformations– will experience these transformations as disruptive and disturbing, as the cycle of transformation dismantles old realities in the wake of the new. THe nation-state is cracking– along with the socio-spatial scales that are overdetermined by it, as Sassen tells us

The national as a container of social process and power is cracked. This cracked casing opens up a geography of politics and civics that links subnational spaces.

Increasingly, it becomes more problematic to fixate on the national as the primary unit of socio-spatial action, and the typical scalar assumptions from national to supranational to global that are built-up from it. This is not news to the global corporations and global financial organizations that have long ago deconstructed the nation-statefrom their lexicon of operational power, while simultaneously re-enforcing the notion of nation-stateand geopolitics as usual for its efficaciousness in power broking. With both positive and negative effects– many of which are enacted on global proportions– global strategic economic operations along with global capital, have carved a worldwide grid to accommodate millions of non-local actors who comfortably navigate and simultaneously create emerging socio-spatial geographies. Saskia Sassen describes two distinct types of “traffic” operating through this worldwide grid:

The organizational side of the global economy materializes in a worldwide grid of strategic places, uppermost among which are major international business and financial centers. We can think of this global grod as constituting a new economic geography of centrality, one that cuts across national boundaries and increasingly across the old North-South divide. It has emerged as a transnational space for the formation of new claims by global capital but also by other types of actors.

It is not only the transmigration of capital that takes place in this global grid but also that of people, both rich– i.e. the new transnational profession workforce– and poor- i.e. most migrant workers; and it is a space for the transmigration of cultural forms, for the re-territorialization of the “local” subcultures.

 Is this worldwide grid a relevant opening for human action? Is it, as Sassen asks, “also a space for new politics, one going beyond the politics of culture and identity while likely to remain embedded in it?”

One of the most radical forms assumed today by the linkage of people to territory is the loosening of identities from their traditional sources, such as the nation or the village. The unmooring in the process of identity formation engenders new notions of community of membership and of entitlement.

The forces of transformation of the local and the global are both to-down with respect to strategic operations of corporation and financial organizations, as well as bottom-up with respect to local actors and emerging socio-spatial geographies that operate at global levels. And like all other geographies that have come before them, they do not point to any fixed or absolute grid that somehow exists “out there in reality”, due to a type of “force major”, but are geographies of identity and mind, or in other words, they are co-created values arising in emerging socio-spatial geographies. As such they are complex human processesthat are at once impervious and porous to ever-changing degrees. Sassen creates the neologism “glocality” to describe the new framework of socio-spatial action, wherein the local is no longer nested exclusively within the global by an impenetrable rule of scalar relations, rather the appearance of the global in locality after locality — across scales — means that the global is becoming locally distributed. In other words, the space of the appearance of the global is becoming increasingly localized.

Simultaneous decentralized access can help local actors have a sense of participation in struggles that are not necessarily global, but are, rather, globally distributed in that they recur in locality after locality.

[Whereas] … much of the conceptualization of the local in the social sciences has assumed physical/ geographic proximity and thereby a sharply defined territorial boundedness, with the associated implication of closure, … [and] a strong tendency to conceive of the local as part of a hierarchy of nested scales …

To a very large extent these conceptualizations hold for most of the instantiations of the local today, more specifically, for most of the actual practices and formations likely to constitute the local in most of the world. But there are also conditions today that contribute to destabilize these practices and formations and hence invite a reconceptualization of the local that can accommodate a set of instances that diverge from dominant patterns. Key among these current conditions are globalization and/ or globality as consitutive not only of cross-border institutional spaces, but also of powerful imaginaries enabling aspirations to transboundary political practice even when the actos involved are basically localized.

 What is therefore needed from a conceptualized Integral Politics, are just these kinds of “powerful imaginaries” that “enable aspirations to transboundary political practice”– we need conceptual designs that do not merely rationally accommodate the steamy emergence of transformation through convenient categories of scale, since as Sassen and her students demonstrate, “diverse types of research and theorization … show that confining characteristics and locations of that epochal transformation to the self-evident scale of the global and to self-evident supranational institutions is profoundly inadequate.” Rather we need an Integral Politics that is less concerned with shaping the future into known categories and frameworks, and more capable of a kind of midwifery through what Sassen calls for as “an expansion of the analytic terrain and interpretive tools for studying the global”:

… the significant dislocations we are living through signal the need for new concepts and framings. … It is a pattern that breaks with the typical approach in the literature, which has been to start with the self-evident scale of the global, … That approach has made important contributions, but is ultimately a partial view of the larger transformation.

In sharp contrast to the prevailing scholarship, the starting point… is a thick, complex, messy environment where the global needs to be detected, decoded, discovered, and then constructed as an object of study. This type of approach asks what it is we are trying to name with the term globalization. Each recognizes that we are living through a transformation that, though partial, is epochal.

Integral Manifesto Pt III(2): Integral Politics? / Integral Reality Framework: A Topology of Worldspaces

Books Discussed in this Section

Steve McIntosh (2007) Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution,  Continuum Books.

Neil Brenner (2001)  The limits to scale?  Methodological reflections on scalar structuration, Progress in Human Geography 25, 4 pp. 591-614 / retrieved from

What McIntosh is most proud of in his book, is his three-fold contribution to theory: 1) the contours of the integral reality framework, 2) the importance of the spiral of development, and 3) the evolutionary imperative of global governance.  Taking the best of his ideas together, amounts to an interesting hypothesis of worldspaces and their scalar relations– in other words, a topology of worldspaces. Although he has contributed some variations on original integral ideas, his work remains close to the foundational framework of “mainstream” integral, and so I propose to evaluate some of his tenets and the presmises of “mainstream” integral theory — as the fundamental “topology” of mainstream integral theory. In turn, this topology might be considered a geography of worldspaces derived from two fundamental assumptions about scalar relations: 1) that units are related exclusively in a transcend and include manner with lesser parts giving rise to greater wholes and systems comprised of nested sets or holons; and 2) that these holons (scalar units) scale along an evolutionary trajectory according to a pre-ordinate teleology. The IHDP paper on scalar relatins and human development identifies the relations in this sort of typology as a “constitutively inclusive nested hierarchy.” Indeed, the very concept of  holon  signifies exactly this: a unit in  a constitutively inclusive nested hierarchy. One can easily impose a teleological imperative onto a typology such as this, but doing so offers no proof that our assumptions about the categories, units, and relationships of scale are driven by that teleological imperative. Given some logical analysis, it is easy to see that without the prior assumption of scale, the conclusion is not derivable; but with the prior assumptions, the conclusion seems inevitable. In other words, once we step into the integral reality framework, there is no real debate about the “actual” consequences we “see” from evolution– the premises fall neatly into their conclusions.

However, when we are dealing with a topology of worldspaces, we are dealing with functioning socio-spatial processes that themselves are constructs of the individuals who themselves are responsible for the continual maintenance of as well as transformation of the internal relations of their scalar framework. Integral topology, as McIntosh conceives it, depends solely on an external absolutist framework (transcend and include hierarchies), and therefore relationships internal to that framework are considered to be static, pregiven or fixed. This may or may not be a satisfactory framework for describing “reality”, but with respect to living systems and human action in particular, involving subjects and agents who simltaneously act out, act through, and act on the relations of their inconnections, integral topology as it currently stands lacks the capacity to capture all the richness and depth of sociospatial process which scale internally and qualitatively as well. Re-quoting from Brenner’s IHDP working paper:

Processes of scalar structuration do not produce a single nested scalar hierarchy, an absolute pyramid of neatly interlocking scales, but are better understood as a mosaic of unevenly superimposed and densely interlayered scalar geometries. For, as Allan, Massey and Cochrane indicate, ‘… different kinds of social process have very different geographies and they do not all fit neatly into the same set of nested hierarchies.

A critique as severe as this might suggest that integral geography should be abandoned altogether. However, we can improve on the basic cartography that iSD lays out through a more sensitive and sensible approach. FOrst this requires us to be sensitive to the idea that the new geography is a dynamic sociospatial process, and we must view participants as true actors inside this sociospatial procss that simultaneously constitutes the “units” of the map as well as its morphogenetic field– a field that is always in the process of shaping and mapping. Secondly, our analysis of sociospatial space must include those very values we espouse that must be internal to the syste. This is problematic for McIntosh who espouses the values of non-ethnocentricity, democracy, and natural evolution, but whose analytic method systematically builds up a governance system based on exclusion, autocracy, and programmable approaches to the spiral of development. If our analysis is to be valid according to our values (rather than merely according to onto-theo-logics in service to our rational(ego)-centric cravings), we will derive a governance which enacts those very values we espouse, namely, a governance that is inclusive and open, participatory and representational, and based on a truly non-judgmental interpretation of the course of evolution. Thirdly, an integral geography of sociospatial dynamics, must finally come to terms with the difference between evolutoin based on the Darwinian model, and evolution confused with developmental models (as is the case with spiral dynamic’s base- the work of Clare Graves). Developmental models are predicated on an enduring individual as an entity of being that does not get replaced through successive stages of development. As cultures develop, as the human species develops sociospatially– there is no single enduring entity that pertains over time.  Furthermore, it is a stretch of the imgination to consider that social, technological and cultural development within human groups proceeds through the same dynamics as speciation in the Darwinian sense — since even if one day the reproductive patterns of humans are constrained by sociospatial distance, it is far from clear that “developmentally fixed” discrete structures would result. Even if we presume to conflate the terms — individual development on the one hand, and evolutionary speciation on the other– the dynamics are not the same. In fact, one might argue that the dynamics proceed in opposite directions — toward preservation of form through change in the case of development; and toward emergence of novel forms across system dynamics, in the case of evolution.

One might consider the vMemes of Spiral Dynamics not as structural stages of development nor as evolutionary forms, but as unique constellations– subsystems as it were, within the totality of human action , arising as particular variants of geo-social space, technological innovation, and economic systems.

These subordinate systems are not to be considered part of an evolutionary or developmental trjectory that enfolds prior forms into more recent forms, or that enfolds parts within a greater whole. Rather, they should be considered as co-creative partners, enacting human action — participatory agents in hte larger, ecological whole or holistic generative process of human action, whose essential dynamic is exactly this: to enfold (geo)social, cultural and technological relationships into robust (with respect to coherence and endurance) and resilience (with respect to novelty and change) units in response to internal and external adaptive processes of transformation. These three aspects of an integral sociospatial geography– subjects-as-actors, co-creating values, evolution and enfoldment– are considered in the next sections.