viernes, 7 de marzo de 2008

Towards peaceful solutions for sociopolitical conflicts from a post-conventional and integral perspective

By Salvador Harguindey

"Wisdom is the capacity to follow two opposite ways at the same time." Lao Tse

Summary: An integral-postconventional approach, also called integral politics or second-tier politics, is here used to show how the limitations of conventional politics create difficulties in resolving the main problems of modern societies. As an alternative at a different level of understanding, we here offer a root, and in this sense, radical approach for developing a psychologically more open, more evolved and mature political praxis. The main aim of this perspective is to both reach out and bring together all the complex factors involved in conflicts that include social violence in order to relate confronting positions in healthy and peaceful ways. Second-tier politics also aims to develop a universal language, a psychological and political Esperanto that will eventually be able to facilitate the emergence of a new political vision. This vision will have to be deep and wide enough to encompass, negotiate and relate in a healthy manner different realities, stages of consciousness and cosmovisions at play, trying to be useful to find seminal solutions to conflicts involving nationalist movements and even civilizations.


Alienation, frustration and fear systematically lead to the disruption of healthy relationships among individuals and between groups. These negative factors increase the dynamics of all kinds of confrontations and lead to escalation of conflicts. They also induce a generalized loss of trust and confidence, while they activate a descending spiral towards violence and chaos. However, this is only one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is the prevalence of poor imagination, various degrees of blindness and lack of good will to look for and embrace more integral and alternative solutions. It is strictly necessary to understand that any true kind of solutions that aim to truly transcend the conflicts have to belong to both a different qualitative nature and at the same time to a level above the level of the conflict to be resolved. In this line, thinkers like Albert Einstein and John White, have concluded that no problem can be truly solved, at least in a healthy way, at the same level that it was created (Harguindey, 2000a).

Thus, to come across true and natural solutions, as well as better life conditions in the sociopolitical realm, human societies and human individuals have to grow by evolving through a series of psychological stages of increasing emotional competence, sophistication and compassion (Combs, 2000). Thus, a new orienting perspective and paradigm is most necessary in order to unite through the edge of the coin, partial and mutually antagonistic worldviews, each of them with its own mode of consciousness and its own set of moral values. And it will have to do its work even when each one of the worldviews violently tries to impose its will on the others, and so on the whole of external reality.

A simplified framework comprising three general structures of consciousness of any human being, along with their corresponding values and gravity centers, are summarized in Table 1. Such structures, at the same time representing different developmental stages, realities and worldviews, are: 1) The premodern or preconventional model, or stage II, 2) The modern or conventional model, or stage III, and 3) The integral or postconventional model, or stage IV. Each of them includes both the personal and subjective aspects and the social, external and objective reality. In order to reach the deepest possible and "radical" understanding of the nature of violent conflicts, for instance among indigenous people and nation-states, and even between civilizations, we have to first realize that one of their main underlying qualities is the breach in-between the different stages and evolutionary eras of human societies, mainly between the values of stage II and III (although clashes at the turning point between stage III and IV are also possible) (Harguindey, 1999).

Fundamentally, each one of the three stages and psychosocial dimensions will set the parameters for the different political agendas (Wilber, 1995; Jordan, 1997, 1998a, Harguindey, 1999). Each one of them defines its priorities, values and motivations, that predict the behavior of individual human beings and collectives (Beck and Cowan 1996). These stages also predetermine the subjective constitution and the different religious aspects of humans: the ancestral, animistic, ecocentric and/or egocentric (stage II), the modern or sociocentric (stage III) and the adualistic-panenthistic, unitive or integral (stage IV). So, from an evolutionary point of view, each of the three stages of human consciousness also corresponds to different spiritual stages of evolution, and in this way set the stage for the different ways of being and living in the world. These correspond to the so-called "v-memes", or consciousness structures that prefigure how external reality is bound to be constituted (Beck &Cowan, 1996). In the case of the different sociopolitical conflicts, these considerations justify the well known thought that says that, somehow, any war is, in one or another way, a religious - and perhaps spiritual, war.

The "conventional evolutionary stage" (III) is the usual level at which modern Western politics moves. In spite of its advantages and successes (democracy, individual human rights, etc.), at the cultural, spiritual, even at the intellectual level, it has still not proven to be sufficiently deep, wide and elevated, to handle the whole of the increasing amount of existing problems in the modern world. Thus, a new type of integral thinking, also known as late postconventional and/or metasystematic, with a new mode of interpreting and understanding reality, both internal or subjective and external or objective, is increasingly necessary. Nowadays, many of the disastrous and despairing conditions of the world urgently raise the need for the arrival of such a new, wholesome and holistic attitude, one that can envision far beyond the limits of any outer appearance and partial reality. At the same time, such a postconventional paradigm should encompass and defend the basic tenets and essential features of each of the other stages II and III. This is the point where the next ascending step in evolution to a postconventional and integral level, also known as second-tier politics or integral politics, comes into play.

By integral politics we understand that approach that respects all the different identities and the true content of all ideologies and realities, while it tries to integrate them within a synergistic worldview wherein the fundamental needs of all parties are met. Its approach to conflicts tries to stimulate synergistic solutions among the different, apparently incompatible attitudes, proposing a kind of creativity above the level of adversarialism in order to reach a unitive synthesis of traditional and modern groups and subcultures. This approach also allows the understanding that what in the surface appear as "political disagreements", a more in-depth analysis prove to be a conflict of values and morals as well as different interpretations of how external reality is and/or should be, arising from the diffferent degrees of growth and collective evolution (the core patterns of Beck and Cowan, 1996). For these reasons, some investigators with experience and interest in conflict resolution have reached the conclusion that political struggle often is, even from its very same root, a confrontation between different structures and/or stages of consciousness (Cowan and Beck; Jordan 1996, 1998a, Harguindey 1999, Combs 2000).

We can only truly cure a certain disease if, in the first place, we can diagnose its most intimate nature. Thus, to understand any disease it is paramount to get to its deepest root, where the seeds of its most true essence and origin will be hidden (etiological, root and/or radical diagnosis). Only from there, from this in-depth and descending mental and spiritual trip, sometimes a dantesque trip to Hades, we will be later able to help feeding and building a healthy trunk and healthy branches of a tree of life (Grof, 1992, 1995; Harguindey 2000a). As Chopra have said (Chopra 2000), we all do things the best we can from our own level of consciousness. Thus, true peace can only be reached through a negotiation based in the search of a healthy and creative interrelationship among different stages and levels of consciousness, in this case among the preconventional, ancestral and traditional values of worldview II and the conventional and modern values of modern civilization, or reality type III (See Table 1). The key question would be: How the different societies can help people to develop identities, both individual and collective, that continually grow more healthy and benevolent? To start with, the main effort of the more integral paradigm and worldview belonging to stage IV (Table 1), dwells in creating a sense of universal direction that can be valid, just and acceptable, for all beings and for all parts involved in a certain sociopolitical conflict.

Whichever the case and the kind and degree of violence involved, it will be necessary to deal with the most serious problems, no matter how overwhelming and frightening they appear. To achieve this, a spontaneous and sane self-imposed attitude well beyond any manipulative or hidden strategy is necessary no matter how much such problems may appear at first sight as impossible to solve.

In this line, Jordan (1995) has called attention to some essential points to be considered in the solution of multifactorial social, intercultural and political problems. First, we have to accept the limited capacity and lack of efficiency and creativity of the solutions proposed by the approaches and the level of present day, conventional politics. These approaches, either belonging to the preconventional or the conventional model (stages II and III), have lost most of their credibility because of the chaotic situations that a competition between them continously create, the lack of the necessary creativity they demonstrate and the disheartening ways to peace both of them have proposed to date. Hence, the each day more chaotic and unhealthy evolution that our modern societies, as well as many other less modern than ours, are taking nowadays. For these reasons, several investigators and specialists in the field of conflict resolution have developed different proposals and previously untrodden alternatives. The way is now paved towards more creative, mature and nonadversarial ways of thinking based upon the basic tenets of an integral and postconventional perspective, also known as "deep democracy" (stage IV, Figure 1).

Both the premodern and ethnocentric strategies (stage II), mainly engaged in the defense of the collective rights of the indigenous peoples of the world, and the modern and sociocentric (Stage III), mainly focused upon the rights of the individual and the concept of nation-states, show two fundamental problems that reduce, and even prevent, the possibilities of success. The first is the exaggerated belief that reform and changes in the external structures of society (laws, economic structures, etc.) is the best, or even the only, method to induce progress and improvement in our societies, change our realities, lead along better ways or provide with a better direction and higher meaning to our lives. Ideas, no matter how beautiful they appear to our eyes, can not be actualized in the material world without the necessary growth, ascent and transformation, both personal and collective, of the attitudes and perspectives of individuals and groups in what refers to their own consciousness and spirit. For instance, under this perspective, we can better understand the reasons for the total failure, both economic and spiritual, of the socialist-communist countries. That model proposed a human society with no hierarchy at all ("a flatland, bidimensional society") that, even worse, needed to be violently imposed on the whole of reality through social revolution. Such sad historical experiences, however, allowed humankind to learn that the structure of political agendas are, more than the main cause for suffering, secondary to deeper spiritual contexts of human consciousness. It also appears as evident, that many of the sociopolitical problems could be assuaged if most people, or at least a certain "mass effect" and turning-point part of society would show a firm compromise to universal values (second tier thinking). This level of consciousness is also known as cosmocentric, worldcentric, universal-integrative or integral-holistic (Beck and Cowan 1996; Wilber 2000a).

The second problem and serious limitation that the conventional and preconventional political strategies show is that even the more democratic political systems are badly infected by an "adversarial mentality". This is a competitive perspective that in the long term can hardly avoid to manifest itself as a modern social cancer and a form of pseudo- or neo-totalitarism. (Pannikar 1999). Previous experience has sufficiently demonstrated that such a mentality creates more problems that it can solve. Many conventional politicians, whose straight compromise and efforts should be directed to solve the main problems, disregard or are even strongly opposed to the consideration of global solutions in which all conflicting parties would win something and fullfil their needs and endeavors. Instead of this, they rather confront political opponents, either because of personal self-interest or in the interest of their political parties, the latter disguised as obsolete "political ideologies". This attitude is a most impoverished one, as well as partial, hyperdualistic and limited, usually ending up by fostering all kinds of personal and political egocentrisms and narcissims, the creation of all types of pseudologias phantasticas, finally giving rise to different psychological narratives empty of any deep meaning and thinking. Personal or group narratives are then automatically and superficially chosen following the needs of identity, easy convenience, unhealthy passions, various dependencies and attachments, finally signifying a total lack of higher stages of reason dominating the different political conflicts.

These factors are behind the growing disinterest of large areas of the population in the so called "political parties or party politics", which, paradoxically, at the end may mean a sign of hope of the present times. This tendency indicates that true and comprehensive solutions can be lying in waiting in the, so far unknown to the majority, new ideas (evolutionary and transformative, not revolutionary) and not in any of the old ideologies, which systematically exclude large areas of reality of their program. These concepts are bound to reduce, and even bury forever in the books of history the classic dualist political ideologies of the right and the left. Also, they allow an understanding of why so many conventional political debates are becoming with increasing frequency a constant, dull, and reiterative walk over well-trodden lands.

Such ways prove once and again to be largely useless, mainly because of their appalling lack of true creativity and originality. In short, a voluntary stagnation in the excluding values of either stage II or III, and even more in their confrontation, becomes something totally ineffective to solve the most serious and deep conflicts, either among individuals or between different societies, values and realities. To date, stages II and III have stayed each one rigidly closed within itself, no showing any interest at opening themselves to more healthy, creative and peaceful interrelations based upon non-violent ways of communication. So, stage II remains sunk in an undifferentiated primogenial and primitive chaos, and stage III, no matter how paradoxical it may sound, in its own narcissistic superficiality.

The unavoidable consequence of the confrontation between these stages of political consciousness is a tendency for the majority of people to rigidly stick to unchangeable points of view, defending one's limited and partial position and remaining blind to the rest of reality. These attitudes logically lead to all kinds of confrontations and violence. Generalized pain and suffering is the next consequence of maintaining such positions, while they lead the whole to hatred, haughtiness and arrogance. Finally, the descending spiral and the negativity auras or karmas induced by the dualistic mentalities are left with the only exit of trying to impose by all means, legal or otherwise, their will and predetermined ideology, which progressively turn out to become more rigid and radical, over the opposite side (bipolar hyperdualism).

On the contrary, the new adualistic pathway opens itself to the perspective of both sustaining and sheltering in our minds opposite worldviews. It aims to transform reality, progressively and synergistically, into one that may overcome the fragmentation and splintering of external and internal realities. It does this by jumping up to a higher conceptual stage of superior cohesion (a concept close to the Jungian idea of a "superior synthesis of opposites"). Is this a jump in evolution too, materialized through "evolutionary" (and not "revolutionary") means, able to integrate all parts of a puzzle into a whole in peaceful and ordered ways. In so doing, a new and brighter aspect of reality of a non-homogeneous and diversified kind is created. This new reality has to be compatible at once with each one of the different identities involved, both at the individual and collective levels (Panikkar, 1985).

Through the means proposed by the postconventional perspective, a new form of communication has to be achieved in order to overcome previous frustrations. Within the new frame, nothing should be allowed to be manipulated by personal selfishness or party interests. At the same time, we ought to be able to offer a supralaberintic vision competent enough to be able to integrate and embrace the more wide apart extremes and the maximal complexities of the different conceptual structures and stages at large (Figure 1). Such a postconventional paradigm first implies a dialogical dialectic among the different subjectivities, a dialogue not only free of any attempt of manipulation, but also of domination and attack. Under any circumstances, a dialectic dialogue has to remain qualitatively above any of the aggressive, monological and monolithic, modern day dialectics. In the new, more evolved and integral vein, the concept of dialogue gains his true meaning of "a word in between two". To start with, its attitude demands for everybody to listen, well beyond any negative feelings or passions, to the worries and needs of others, even the enemies, while trying by all means to see everything from the point of view of the other through empathy and role-swapping. The final goal is to reach a better understanding of the whole problem while trying to find solutions that take all the factors into account. At the same time, everybody has to make a continous big effort not to impose his opinion on the rest.

It is also necessary to understand in all depth that people and cultures live embedded in very different conceptual worlds, realities and stages, each one of them with contradictory values and separated gravity centers. This teaches that the first important thing is to openly talk about them, overcoming any fear of reaching out to its roots, to their prime directives. This makes it unavoidable to dig as much as possible within the darkness of the underlying roots and seeds, both constructive and destructive, of any conflict, however painful this may be.

In order to dig into these conformist patterns, a radical and integral approach that is able to encompass all the branches of the tree of consciousness, individual and collective, is badly needed. However, this can only be addressed from a type of mentality that has evolved enough to reach an elevated capacity of integrating complexity in order to prevent falling back once and all over again into reductionist chaos. In this vein, both the modern and individualistic type of present-day political consciousness of the system (stage III) and the ancestral and collectivist kind (stage II), both are limited to mono-logical (one single logic) models. These models always belong to a confrontation paradigm, one that seems to be fighting all the time to make enemies from friends and strangers from brothers. This is the point where the new conceptual attitude of stage IV, also known by some as "metapolitics", transpersonal and/or integral politics, or aperspectival and transmodern paradigm (Wilber 1995, Ray 1996, Jordan 1998a, Harguindey 1999, Panikkar, 1999), comes into action. A political attitude that, well beyond the previous ones, tries to make friends from enemies and brothers from strangers. It is apropos to recall here a pioneering quote of Abraham Maslow to advance the level of political consciousness of stage IV: "From the transpersonal perspective one can propose an integral political program in half an hour" (Maslow 1989).

The main hope of this new integral, universal and/or worldcentric vision of the world is to solve the polarization of opinions that blocks all ascending evolution and transformation. Its modelling way is summarized in the, so called, "Critical Way", initially proposed by Wilpert (Wilpert 2000). This outlook tries to create through a higher, detached, impartial and supra-conflictive perspective from which to observe all kinds of conflicts (Redfield 1999). The main mission of this perspective also is, as the Dalai Lama has exlained it, "to reach to the deepest roots to tear off from there the causes of suffering in order to overcome all destructive mental states" (Pániker 1982, 1987; Panikkar 1999, Dalai Lama 1999). This perspective, that unfortunately seems to only belong to great men of spirit and culture, and, unfortunately, not to the average spiritual and cultural bagage of professional politicians, coincides with the perspective summarized by anthropologist Angeles Arrien in that spirituality is the highest form of political consciousness (Angeles Arrien, 1993).

Stages of sociopolitical consciousness, personal and collective.

A big mistake which is easily committed is to consider that any of the different stages of evolution of individual and/or collective consciousness, political or otherwise (II, III and IV) can consider itself to have the right of being entitled to a vantage position over the rest. Besides, either of them represent levels that, to a certain point, are, or should be, open and flexible, having the potential of evolving towards an enrichment and sophistication of human consciousness, thus towards higher capacities of integration and to the resolution of the most complex problems.

The main requirement of the integral perspective in order to preserve any chances of succces in mediating in a particular conflict is to maintain itself above and/or outside the inner dynamics of the level of the conflict (Beck & Cowan 1996, Wilber 2000a, 2000b). Some of the pioneering investigators of th e integral approach (Schroeder at al., 1967; Kohlberg 1969, Habermas 1976, Kegan 1994, Wilber 1995, Rosenberg 1998, Jordan 1998) have studied in depth, and characterized, the three main evolutioary stages. Whereas none one of them should be seen as insulated from the others, since there exist several intermediate stages, we will now describe the most salient characteristics of each one of them.

1. Stage II (Figure 1) (preconventional, mythic-rational, premodern, collective ideology, internal or qualitative "democracy").

The main characteristic of this stage is a very poorly developed capacity of integration of complexity. At this primitive level, all the incoming information is interpreted along very simple and fixed rules. We are still unable to even consider creative interpretations beyond extremely narrow preconceived schemes. Everything is rigidly placed in one or another edge; things are either yes or not, white or black. There is a profound lack of any kind of flexibility, capacity of relationship with outer realities or the ability to conceive or accept gradual differences.

At this stage of evolution there is not even the possibility of understanding the existence of other stages, consciousness and patterns of growth, unless they are deemed as demoniacal. To the lack of security in oneself and scarce self-knowledge and self-acceptance, stage II usually reacts with an extraordinary degree of emotional aggressiveness. Beliefs are shielded against any change or improvement in cognition. This is mainly secondary to an insufficient capacity to even reach towards the highest potentials of human nature, neither reach towards the understanding of both internal and external worlds as a unique totality. This creates stereotyped patterns of reaction which are most resistant to any possible change, improvement or evolution. The classification of others, of any other out-group, is very sharp and rigid. This feature makes of any perspective that does not belong to the in-group as totally unacceptable (Curle 1995). From this level of interpretation - unlike stage III -, "everybody is guilty until is shown otherwise". The people embedded in this type of consciousness only are able to portrait emotional descriptions, sequences or inner narratives, but no deep explanations or rational justifications, (prerational phase of human evolution), a fact that is not even considered necessary. The simple call to use reason can be considered a sign of despise to the values of the group.

This mythic-rational cognitive approach (Habermas 1976) is mainly concerned with collective values, towards which the individual and all possible personal development and growth remain subdued. Any individual feeling comes from the roles, rules, life styles and interpretations afforded by one's milieu and local culture. Stagnation at this level fully prevent human beings of seeing his own worldview as "one more", as one of the many possible perpectives and ideas about the world and human life. To a large degree this is secondary to the lack of any "distance" among oneself and our own perspective and way of interpretation, as well of the necessary capacity of willful "decentering" of one's own position. Finally, this implies a new limitation: the inability for conscious self-analysis and, thus, a total inability of reaching to the position of an "external witness" to ourselves.

The reason for these limitations is that a capacity for empathy or role-change would need a post-edipic personal evolution, something that at the preconventional-traditional-ancestral level II is not accepted, or even tolerated. Here one belongs and "is", in a unitive and symbiotic manner, like mother and son, in both body and spirit, his very own perspective and nothing more. Like Wilber has said when referring to known fundamentalisms and integrisms, "nobody at a worldcentric level of moral consciousness would gladly throw an atomic bomb, but somebody at the egocentric and preconventional level would happily bomb and send to hell to anybody that would interfere in his ways" (Wilber 2000b).

Within the narrow range of level II of consciousness each human being is everything, this making it most difficult to distinguish what belongs to personal life and what is collective. It represents that state of totality of Rousseau's ideal man, whose consciousness lives fully embedded in a symbiotic relationship with Nature. Our preconventional-premodern-traditional man preaches the return to the godspell of Nature; he speaks with sophist language in terms of revolutionary upheaval. Sometimes, he even sees himself as a philanthropist and a redeemer of men. The nostalgia of a reborn Golden Age - that, incidentally, never existed - as his "foundational myth" creates a violent feeling against urban civilization, progress and modern materialism, blaming the "system" for its lack of goodness and purity.

It is fair to say that stage II of the soul is full of contradictions: it attracts like poetry without being poetic, is ingenuous but easily prone to violence; innocent in its planning but brutal in its deeds; sensitive and sentimental, but primitive. Finally, it behaves in a manner most faithful and familiar towards the ones like him, while haughtily feels self-sufficient in defending an eternal youthful state. Finally, he lives embedded in a closed and circular, repetitive time, chaotically disguised as a Peter Pan's-like form of hebephrenic psychosis (Panero, 1987). The soul of this kind of man represents the animist spirit of earth and, at the same time, the power of the dark side of instincts. His emotional development only conceives the survival of the in-group in a flat and egalitarian way.

It has been said that the impossibility of overcoming the Oedipal Complex of the stage II mental structure is what becomes the last psychological and narcissistic bullet of a Marxist totalitarian revolution (Larousse, 1979). Since the capacity of developing any degree of empathy has not yet been learned, this kind of man is totally unable to feel any guilt for his acts. For him, the original sin, and/or the "necessary fall in the ego", still does not exist. Adam and Eve are still in a prepersonal paradise. Finally, in a great analysis, Cansino Assens said of the human typology of stage II man that "he does not believe or compete with the gods because he sees himself complete like a god". His Raskolnikov-like strength and freedom does not recognize any moral duty or compromise that might restrain his defense of a narcissistically deified new Garden of Eden. In the literary world, this part of human nature, attractive but highly limited, was masterly described by Goethe in a short retro-romantic story entitled "Satyrs or the Devil of The Deified Forest" (Goethe, 1951).

As a side-effect of stage II, such a state of symbiosis with primal nature leads to the belief that the world should be organized in a fixed, closed on itself and rigidly predetermined way (Popper, 1982). Stage II constitutes a flatland perspective, egalitarian and bidimensional, where "our" rigid and "perfect" vision should be accepted without complaints or arguments by all rest ... or they will be eliminated. As Mircea Eliade said, his morality lives embedded in a cyclical time closed on itself. Its self-contemplation in the mirror of Nature unavoidably turns out to become both self-enslaving as slavering of any external milieu (Eliade, 1994).

The preconventional and traditional perspective type-II allows us to understand that, from its point of view only, the arrival of individualistic and rationalism of modernism has caused that indigenous peoples have revolted, violently at times, both against any morality outside itself and against any kind of emergent new life. It is true, however, that modern materialism and neoliberalism has endangered the very same survival of many ancestral cultures. The danger of this reaction is that, sometimes, it can not help to slide, descent and fall into any of the different totalitarian fundamentalisms, either of marxist-leninist ideology, or even disguised as of a religious nature, like premodern Islamic integrism nowadays.

Finally, the collective-Marxist conception of man finds a warm shelter in a psychological fortress made of the stagnation in such atheistic and orphan unconsciousness. This works as a primitive psycho-territorial field fiercely opposed to that other despotic and compassionless, neoliberal capitalist machine. At the end, the perspective of stage II, as worthwhile like any other to start with, finds it difficult, or even impossible, to avoid getting into catasthropic consequences for the growth and ascent of human nature and consciousness, as well as of society in general. The final defense mechanism of this view is to exclude the rest, all other out-groups from its world at all costs, even denying anybody else the right to exist. Terrorism is born.

As a final summary on the political consequences of an exclusive psychological conformity at the collective, preconventional and/or prepersonal level II, the following statement by Cowan and Beck seems most appropriate: "In most cases, terrorist behaviors are the result of frustrations, the need to overcome barriers, or retrieve something that has been lost. They appear when the human organism is in the throes of chaotic change and transformation and are symptoms of such instability. Terrorist acts increase as more people and groups feel like misfits or believe they are being left behind in their rapidly changing world". (Cowan and Beck 1996). In the classification and method of Spiral Dynamics, the characteristics of the reality proposed by stage II belong to colors purple, red and blue (Beck and Cowan 1996) (Figure 1).

1. Stage III (Figure 1) (conventional, rationalistic, modern, individual ideology, global or quantitative democracy).

This level of consciousness is characterized by the presence of a certain individual growth, which makes a moderate capacity of integration of complexity possible. From the moment that we jump over the key turning point separating stage II from III, but not before, the concept of "individual" of "person" is born and can start to grow. However, this jump is interpreted as descending, negative, selfish and egotistical for the mind structured along the values of stage II. On the contrary, it is seen as ascending, positive and self-assertive by stage III. The latter kind of man, now as an individualized human being, recognizes himself as different from any other human being. At least he is now able to accept any other person, no matter how different he or she can be. In our modern world, the center of gravity of society has changed from the collectivity to the individual (Figure 1). Stage III also inaugurates rationality, with its freedom and personal responsibility, as well as a rationalistic modernism inherited from The Enlightenment. In summary, the beginning of stage III also represents the birth of the "free" man and modern humanism (postedipic stage). Only after the onset of this level the concept of democracy becomes possible, this implying respect and consideration for the different and the equality of all men under the law. Now nobody is guilty until shown otherwise.

If the worldview of the previous stage II declares itself at times as "anti-individualistic" - (for instance, ETA terrorist organization in the Basque Country) -, the progressive maturation of consciousness towards a unique individuality and personality separated from the rest, provides human beings with the capacity to first recognize, and then admit and tolerate, the existence of perspectives and realities different from our own. At the same time, this provides humans with the possibility of opening to different interpretations of the same information. The jump of stage II to III further allows the onset of a progressive maturation, increasing flexibility of opinions and tolerance in the perception and interpretation of reality and diversity. At level III, however, the ego is still locked in itself, although in a conceptual frame less narrow and rigid than in the previous stage.

Thus, even at the level of development of the human personality of stage III, human consciousness still feels obliged to chose between "this or that" (dualism), not being as yet able to reach the point of considering the possibility and value of actualizing "this and that" (adualism). Adualism, unfortunately, will belong to the wider frame of the next stage IV (Wilber, 1995). Seeing and acting on everything just from one's ego (III) means that, in any complex and multifactorial conflict and process, it will turn out impossible to avoid the persistence of an insurmountable rupture and abyss, so preventing any possibility of reaching an integral cure and health, synergic synthesis or reconciliation of opposites (Jung, 1971, 1989). These limitations also hinder the linear thinker, which is the usual frame of mind of modernity even in the most prestigious political and scientific orthodox circles, as he is still unable to build general contexts cybernetically interrelated or to offer global and integrated proposals and solutions. These will only start to be made possible with the inauguration of the frame of mind characteristic of stage IV (Figure 1). The lesson to be learned from this modern man is that he is still in great need of a necessary ascending and transforming jump in evolution of consciousness. Only this change would allow the onset of the necessary creativity and capacity to integrate great and complex problems which are not sufficiently developed as yet.

Within the limitations of consciousness at stage III, other values, beliefs and structures are still destructively stigmatized. Human beings have not yet been able to jump from critical and reductionistic analysis to that creative insight that is born from a brand new way, more mature and evolved, of seeing and interpreting the world and oneself. The mind of the conventional thinker can not conceive an ideal resolution of a conflict in a way that all sides win and remain satisfied (a "win:win situation"). This is secondary to the fact that linear thinking can only conceive the existence of competitiveness, uncongenial goals and unsolvable confrontations. This approach and frame of thought, like in stage II, can only conceive that in the last term the domination of one part over the other is the only possible solution to a conflict. The usual talk is about winners and losers, vanquishers and the vanquished, never crossing their minds the possibility that all can come out as winners and nobody as a loser. Model III, that historically also inaugurated the concept of the national state, remains attached to that kind of mental frame as the only possible way of thinking, representing "the politically correct".

The collective and communal ego of stage II has now given way, for good and bad, to the separated ego of each man and woman. The modern human being has developed the feeling, and the illusion - which soon will turn out to be delusion and fallacy - of having a unique personality that represents the ultimate essence and the maximal possibilities of his/her nature. The rationalistic individual firmly believes that he is a person separated from the rest. He lives in the world, but he is not the world. Since he can not overcome this perspective, his ego eventually will slide down towards a selfish - ego-ist, ego-centric and ego-tistic - fierce and competitive individualism. The sad and final result will be an unstopable descent towards rampant narcissism, superficiality, and a conformist and relativistic nihilism that ends up in a flat and light postmodernism without any true values, depth, sense or meaning (Washburn 1999, Wilber 2000b).

On the other hand, the conventional personality allows human beings to do something for others (those are the good news) at least always that, in the very first place, any action taken is of benefit for "me" (the bad news). All values are refereed and subdued to "my" desires, "my" interests, "my needs" "my" relationships, "my" image, "my" fame, "my" power, "my" money, etc. The rest of mankind, even the closest ones, may become no more than mirrors of "my" narcissistic ego, used at will to maintain a most high and even ideal idea of "my"self.

The inevitable long-term alienation induced by this level may in certain occasions reach the most unhealthy point - close to a narcissistic psychopathy -, where any kind of pleasure and happiness depends upon an insatiable greed for accumulation of prestige, money, fame and/or power in order to appear to the eyes of society as a successful, important, respected, admired and grandiose person. Such a value system defines some of the bigger sins of modern occidental civilization, namely, a souless materialism at all costs, mainly born in the United States through the so-called American way of life, the cradle of modern narcissism. This serious deficiency was masterly depicted by Carl Jung as the disease of modern man in search of a soul (Jung 1971). A soul that, if modern man has lost, premodern man has not yet discovered (Wilber 1995, Jordan 1998c).

Finally, within the terminology of the Spiral Dynamics of Beck and Cowan, stage III belongs to colors orange and green; the latter, however, being in contact with both stage II and IV, depending on the occasion (Beck and Cowan 1996) (Figure 1).

C) Stage IV (Figure 1) (postconventional, suprarational, transmodern, transpersonal and supraindividual ideology, integral politics, metapolitics, deep democracy, or quantitative-qualitative democracy).

The kind of consciousness prevailing in the more evolved stage IV is characterized by having achieved a high capacity of integration of complexity. The jumping up to this level of consciousness makes it now possible to study in depth how different perspectives may relate to each other in healthy and synergistic ways. The expanded consciosuness characteristic of stage IV opens the possibility of integrating all confronted dualisms into a kind of supra-rationalistic reason able to shelter the whole life and human process into an wide and integrated frame (Wilber 1995). This adualistic and supraconflictive consciousness is born from an elevated and altruistic degree of human development that fosters solidarity and cooperation over competition and confrontation.

In its more mature forms, the frame of mind provided by an expanded and deeper state of consciousness, from personal to sociopolitical, can even be able to encompass and overcome all paradoxes, contradictions and incompatibilities between the previous dual perspectives (stages II and III), excluding, perhaps, a regression into a deep psychosis (Washburn 1999). The new attitude resulting from the jump from stage III to IV is used to develop highly creative, sometimes previously unthinkable proposals, in order to materialize and actualize the results from the new insights. So, even the hatred created by the confrontation between previous stages can be now substituted by emphaty, role-swapping and compassion. In this higher state of evolution of the human psyche one can feel love and compassion for the enemy, and even for the torturer (Frank 1979; Chopra 2000).

Growing from a trip down to the deepest areas of the human mind in search of a direct contact with the source and the root of the tree of conflict, the postconventional perspective enables us to spontaneously come across unexpected hunches and insightful solutions that can satisfy all parts. From this new position, any degree of identification with narcissistic illusions or delusions in not possible anymore, since the own ego is transcended, or at least relegated to a shadowy second place. Therefore, all ego-centric, ego-tistic, and ego-ist tendencies are overcome. The separated ego is diluted once again, but not anymore at a prepersonal and undifferentiated level but at a transpersonal and highly evolved one. Likewise, the integral-postconventional attitude allows life to acquire a new and transcendental - or at least self-transcending and/or ego-transcending - meaning (Frankl, 1979).

The mental structure of stage IV addresses a political compromise from a level that Panikkar has called "a metapolitical spirit". This concept aims at a complete degree of authenticity and the defense of values truly altruistic, at the same time that rejects all egocentric motivations (Maslow´s metamotivations) (Maslow 1989). Now the different worldviews and values of previous stages II and III can be compared, defined and embraced from a unitive and synthetic mind type-IV. The Stage IV perspective does not bestow to any other stage, not even its own, a certain state of privilege, since it realizes that the core needs of each one of them is a highly complicated and intermingled, mixture of conscious and unconscious processes. The conclusion is reached that all human beings have the very same right for their basic needs to be fulfilled, and that their perspectives should be equally considered, always acting from an attitude of sincere humility and receptivity. At the end, one of the main goals is to achieve that the human being can transcend himself, so leaving negative passions, prejudices and fears behind in order to avoid all kinds of violent forms of communication (Rosenberg 1995).

We know that in order to free ourselves from suffering we have to aim at eliminating its roots and causes (Dalai Lama 1999). This kind of holistic thought teaches that the first origin of suffering rests in human ignorance, in strong desires, in wrath and hatred. It is within these helpless situations where anger becomes the most horrible and frantic of all the negative emotions, breeder of all kind of uncontrolled wickedness and at the same time the worst enemy of man. This descending pathway announces the need of a radical approach that gets us closer and closer to the origin as the only true way to root out the main cause of conflict. This will soon become the only true way to overcome them.

The new creative and educational level of stage IV values tries to eradicate the causes of pathology to help men to disarm themselves, and it does it through a natural and healing pathway. This attitude is what may turn a crisis into an opportunity of learning and overcoming. In these cases, any remaining narrowness of mind is the most important underlying reasons for the lingering, stagnation and progressive worsening of the most complex problems.

Finally, investigators and mediators in the integral way of solving conflicts will have to learn to live with elevated degrees of anxiety and frustration as well as learning to swim in the lonely midst of paradox. Most of all, they will have to avoid the mistake of systematically blaming others for what can be his or her own problems and limitations (Maslow 1989, Harguindey 1999). Finally, within the terminology of the Spiral Dynamics of Cowan and Beck, stage IV or second-tier politics, belong to colors yellow, turquoise and coral (Beck & Cowan 1996) (Figure 1).

Basic concepts and ways of Integral Politics.

All institutional concepts and actions (objective, external and quantitative aspects of life, laws, etc) have to be completed with a less visible, however essential, dimension. This implies learning to relate, both synergistically and healthily, in between different individuals and groups (subjective, internal and qualitative aspects of life). The first issue to pay attention to is how the different groups experience reality. This concept includes the identities, values and search for meaning, all constituting either individual and/or collective consciousness. Only in this way we can aim to reach the core center and nucleus of the problems in order to transcend all vicious and mortal circles and change them into virtuous and living ones.

One of the main aims of the integral model is to foster that qualitative jump needed to ascend from the present model of establishing more or less rigid forms and concrete programs for the functioning of society (stage III) to flexible and always open evolving processes. The final target is to come across an all-encompassing identity that can be compatible with any other ones less universal and more partial. In order to do this, the pathways that integral politics try to pave are:

1. The concepts and proposals advanced by integral politics should be felt as having the potential of a universal application for the most varied social and cultural contexts.
2. Its values should be felt as real challenges at a personal level. One has to deeply believe that its materialization could significantly improve both personal and social lives.
3. Its proposals should be able to be applied in daily interactions and in concrete and immediate ways.
4. Its paradigmatic perspective has to introduce the potential of being potentially transformative, both in improving individual and social life. In its day to day interactions it has to be able to foster positive and peace-making situations in the functioning of society.

The practice of Integral Politics. Characteristics.

The perspective of Integral Politics is characterized by certain qualities that have been previously summarized by Jordan and Wilber (Jordan 1997, 1998a, 1998b; Wilber 2000a).

1. Need of a cenatauric or vision-logic level of reasoning: The main characteristic of this type of reasoning is that is detached of any exclusive identification with any unique system of interpretation. While anybody can have a favorite perspective, it is necessary to accept that all of them have their own intrinsic values, as well as limitations.
2. Dissolution of hate and enmities: The postconventional/integral perspective see actions as the result of very complex processes and contexts, where a multitude of factors of different natures - psychological, social, economic, historical, cultural, intellectual, political and spiritual - are at play. Everything is interpreted as being embedded in complex chains of systems where quite often it becomes difficult to pinpoint unique or single forms of guilt. Conflicts are interpreted as problems that have to be dealt with and solved more than fights that have to be fought.
3. Ability to handle successfully tensions among universal values and those centered in-group interests: This presupposes the need of an extraordinarily sensible capacity to discriminate among plain and open motivations and hidden agendas in the political world.
4. Discrimination between actions in the name of social or personal self-interest. It is strictly necessary to do whatever is needed to leave at one side all kinds of manipulative agendas, either of individuals, groups or political parties. Only this kind of attitude will be able to control any effect based upon hypocritical and mischievous agendas.

5) Opening to self-transformation. This allows and stimulates an evenly and critical evaluation of both in-groups and external groups (Critical Way, of Critical-Constructive Pathway) (Wilpert 2000).

6) The integral-postconventional vision criticizes the limitations of all type of monolithic politics. A post-conventional attitude proposes: a) The creation and discovery of supraordinate goals. These have to apply to the entire society; b) The development of political frames of reference of a higher, supra-conflictive, level; c) The search for universal and symbolic references that all the confronted parts can identify with. These have to be placed at a dimension above the level that initially originated the dynamics of the conflict (supracultural and/or supralaberintic perspective).

Nature of an integral peace process.

From an evolutionary point of view, every human being is always going to act in all the different aspects of life according to the stage of consciousness he belongs to (II, II, or IV, see Figure 1). Taking this into account, we realize that words, thoughts and actions can be predicted to a high degree. It has been said that each level and structure of consciousness is to politics what genes are to biology (memes). They are highly predictive and determined. Thus, the external behavior of individual or collectivities can only change after a jump of faith is taken to cross the bridge between different stages. Once this change has taken place as a process of growth, the motivations, values system, and the very same essence and nature of the individual and suffer a deep and positive evolution and transformation.

When the opinion of a person of himself, of his own true nature and of the nature of human life in general change, the very same nature of the conflict he is immersed in acquires a more positive and even a completely different dimension. Now he can aim to break through a turning point that will facilitate the improvement of the existence of all. Within this process of transformation, however, we can be exposed to the need of overcoming one or more intermediate stages of deep chaos and crisis (interparadigmatic stages) (Grof and Grof 1995; Harguindey 2000a). In spite of this, at the end of the dark period a light may shine raising the hope that violent conflicts can finally find a healthy, peaceful and integral solution, even out of the blue. Finally, fostering easy environments that allow the release of all tensions, so allowing the integral growth of all the different consciousness simultaneously. This should be followed by a creative new interrelationship among the different models and conceptions of life leading to the final overcoming of a certain conflict (the so called "islands of peace").

Interparadigmatic stages:

Dangerous interparadigmatic stages occur when great degrees of tension accumulate at the turning point in between two stages (II and III, and III and IV, or viceversa). At these crossing points of crisis, violence and chaos tend to become manifest. Now the main challenge is to find the necessary links that can smoothly relate different realities in order to facilitate that each one of them have the opportunity to peacefully flow on and upwards from itself. The final aim is to arrive to an integrated vital whole without traumatic breaches of continuity. If we are met with success, we can expect that the splintering of the entire world can be substituted by a creative tension among the different partial concepts of reality. At the same time, each one of them should be allowed to maintain its own pathway of creation of sense and meaning-making. This means that nobody is asked to modify his own identity or existential sense, but only to make an effort to exert his highest possible degree of individual freedom to make possible the overcoming of his own limitations as well as the negativity aspects of his in-group cultural setting.

The main road towards an Integral Politics setting can be summarized in four "s": Synergy-Syntony-Syncretism and Synthesis. With this in mind a genuine dialogue (dialogical dialectics, or "two dialogues in one" is made possible. Following this pathway we eventually will have to come across a time of peace and progress for all. Along this way it can also be expected to find new and previously unthought solutions ("Fourth Way" or "Critical Way") (Wilpert 2000).

A true and genuine dialogical dialogue also means, and demands, to listen with empathy to the worries and needs of everybody, no matter how unhealthy and insane they may sound to us. In this kind of dialogue all perspectives, no matter how far apart they are, or they feel themselves they are, should have room enough to find themselves at ease. In doing so, any perspective is given the opportunity to grow from themselves, apart from being transformed by the same creative process (Harguindey 2000a).

On the contrary, lack of the necessary creativity to propose original solutions lead to different and even opposite concepts "democracy" to people reasoning through different structures and stages of evolution (internal or qualitative, in-group democracy in stage II; external, global or quantitative democracy in stage III; and deep democracy in stage IV) (Figure 1). This induces an extra problem of semantic communication among different stages, thus adding new difficulties to any attempt of mutual communication.

It can be concluded that only from a postconventional position or mental and spiritual frame of maximal integration of complexity, new negotiation strategies and alternatives in search of universal solutions for complex and multifactorial geopolitical problems can offer a possibility of success. Postconventional politics should be able to include in any negotiation all the emotional aspects involved in the monolithic and competing perspectives of stages II and III. This should also be addressed from the integral vision afforded by "vision-logic" or worldcentric vision (Wilber 1995; Wilber 2000a). This mental attitude tries to actualize the highest possible integration of the structural patterns of the consciousness of all human beings. This will further help to foster the more mature and healthy characteristics and potential aspects of the personality, either individual or collective. The level IV of wisdom and evolution one can sustain, beyond any paradox and contradictory perspective, even two opposite points of view at the same time, without any internal disassociation. This is what Lao Tse meant by following "two opposite ways at the same time". In other words, sheer adualism.

From narcissism to self-esteem as potential creativity in the world of politics. Evolution aspects of good and evil, Conclusions.

Natural law teaches that each human being can never offer or demonstrate more of what he essentially is and have inside. This is rigidly predetermined by the level of consciousness at which he moves and acts. "Nobody can see above himself. A higher talent is completely invisible for the person without it", Schopenhauer said. One "is" in his way because he can not be in any other one. Under this perspective, everything in the universe functions from its very own necessity, as Spinoza put it. He acts and lives in the best manner that his personal development and stage of evolution allows him. All the rest of reality appears to him as strange, incomprehensible, alienated and even insane. For these reasons, any person or group that sees him/itself in a situation of great frustration, despising and hating others, and even himself, will only be able to project and offer what he feels, and what he feels is what he is.

The opposite passion of hatred and despise is healthy self-esteem. True self-esteem is not compatible with egocentrism and narcissism, since these negative passions only breed haughtiness, arrogance and self-deceit. Narcissim itself, as false self-love, is arrogant to no exception; self-esteem is spiritual. Narcissistic self-love is "love of one´s own ego"; true self-love is "love for the true self". The former is superficial, the latter is soul-deep (Mario Kamenetzky). From this it follows that true self-esteem is not compatible with hatred of anybody or envying anybody else (Sun Tzu 1991; Panikkar 1999). We are only able to hate others when, consciously or unconsciously, we hate and despise ourselves, or we fall prey to jealousy or envy. In other words, we hate, are arrogant, egocentric or narcissistic, when, for one or another reason, we insulate from the rest of humankind and from life, this is, when we are not able to be ourselves, our true selves, or develop the best potentials hidden in our own and truest nature.

Finally, in any situation of open confrontation and violence, it is necessary to recognize that human beings, any human being, is equal to any other at least in one thing: each one of them has the right to struggle for his own happiness, to do whatever he can to overcome suffering, as well as to fight any destructive mental state. Any big and real conflict, from interpersonal to collective, represents a coherence and identity crisis to be overcome, a test of life. Such "over-coming" implies that any true and real soluticon should come at least from one level above the level of the conflict, peace always resting over that level. Overcoming also means that the best and more peaceful solution will foster the implementation of any natural, basic and essential identities, and will never try to suppress them (Rousseau).

The integral attempt is always in need of the creation of "safe spaces of interrelationship"; in other words, of a positive psychological environment where all confronted parts may find themselves at rest. Psychological and spiritual spaces where we all can feel safe and free, and where everybody may feel there is enough distance and perspective to think, speak and act without anybody being dominatad by negative passions, self-destructive emotions, psychological regressions or a situation of psychic instability that make us afraid of losing all kinds of external safety and internal security, from physical to psychological to spiritual.

Finally, the perspective of the Integral Way makes unnecessary the existence of political enemies, real, mythic or archetypal. It advocates for the dilution of all confrontation, whose very existence turns out to be something superfluous and absurd, mainly after the overcoming of a certain turning point in ascending evolution. The Integral Way recognizes that all cultural symbols need, and has the right to, respect and recognition. It will always make an effort to avoid by all means fostering ideal images of any in-group leading to an absolute static, unchangeable and excluding, individual or collective, prepersonal and collective and/or personal and individual narcissism.

This integral attitude also allows transforming the more critical and icy points of a conflict into patterns of overcoming through previously unnoticed insights of creativity. It will help us to conceive the worst crisis and chaos as opportunities to overcome them, also a Taoist concept. It can even imbue us with virgin feelings and ideas about how to use our own stress and suffering as a new impulse and springboard to jump to higher and more evolved, widened, integral and integrated frames of reference where from to peacefully observe everything (Harguindey 2000). Although some problems may appear as extremely complex, even impossible to solve for the rationalistic-conventional mentality, the postconventional paradigm opens the way to create a real possibility of reaching towards a new candor and simplicity as well as a symbolic unity in its more elevated point; a superior synthesis of opposites (Jung 1971).

Integral thought concludes that the best way to solve a conflict is when the different parts can achieve a degree of mutual understanding, something that for the linear and conventional, dualist thinker, this may sound impossible, even ingenuously stupid, or an idealistic flight at the most (Wilber 1986, Wilber 1995, Harguindey 1999). The integral proposal keeps always open to a process of growth and collective individuation, and, at the same time, to an individualized collectivism. It proposes that everybody should be recognized as, either actual or potentially, creators of meaning and value, as well as makers of the best of their own stories and possible identities. The community/ies, without losing their roots and essences, are at the same time transformed into a universal one, where they find solace, and where all human beings, each one in his own right, is eligible to belong to it.

To sum it all up, a word on the nature of good and evil in the world of politics. Evil is here considered the result of external actions that follow a low and undifferentiated core and level of consciousness, as well as a blockade that prevents an smooth ascent towards higher stages of consciousness. Thus, goodness is defined as the result coming from an elevated stage of consciousness, mind and soul (Chopra 2000). Similarly, evil is what hinders the change from partiality to totality and wholeness, and of what is deficient to what is full and complete. "Nobody sins with the whole soul", said Martin Buber in this regard. It can be concluded that good and evil can also be approached from the perspective of evolution, ascending and/or descending, a feature that has been emphasized in recent studies on the intimate nature, causes, dynamics, characteristics of the problem of the existence of evil. This can be applied either to the world of politics or to the individual human life in general (Peck 1983, Harguindey 2000a).


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Salvador Harguindey es Doctor en Medicina por la Universidad del País Vasco (E.H.U.) y especialista en Oncología Médica por el Instituto Roswell Park de Búfalo (Nueva York). Autor de más de 120 publicaciones científicas en investigación de cáncer, es asimismo miembro de la Sociedad Europea de Oncología Médica y de las Asociaciones Norteamericana (ATP) y Españolas (SEPT y ATRE) de Psicología Transpersonal. Ha publicado elensayo sobre política integral y transpersonal: "Una Nueva Visión de la Vida y de la Política: caminado hacia Edén", aparte de varias novelas. Entre sus principales intereses se incluyen el papel de los saltos evolutivos de la conciencia en la resolución de conflictos interétnicos y otros métodos de intercomunicación no-violenta, aparte del estudio de la conformación de los aspectos intuitivos y numinosos de la creatividad científica, así como la investigación de las vías finales comunes en el desarrollo y tratamiento de las enfermedades malignas.

© 2002, Salvador Harguindey