The Prime Directive & World Government
One of the key components of the integral vision is something called the prime directive. This represents the guiding principle and ultimately ‘the bottom line’−in the sense of what really matters.
The prime directive is often defined as the good of the whole. The traditional problem with “the good of the whole”, however, is that there is real difficulty in agreeing about what we mean by “good” and “whole”, not to mention definitions of “of” and “the”! This is where integral vision is most useful. Much political debate and ideology can be understood by looking closely at the integration of the quadrants (as described in “Integral Vision”)
A healthy integration of all four quadrants is required for good government. That requires that individuals and political parties see integration as being of greater value than their quadrant or hemispheric view.
In New Zealand we have the opportunity to see whether this integration can occur under the MMP system. The division is most clearly seen between the so-called left and right, the collective and the individual. Siimplistically, Labour represents the values of the collective, while National represents the values of the individual. There are also the north/south divisions in the parties, between those who favour the ‘inner’ or top quadrant (therefore emphasising the need to change consciousness through education), and those who favour the ‘outer’ or bottom quadrant (therefore emphasising the need to change behaviour through law and order).
In America, Wilber sees the division more between inner and outer with the liberals taking the view that humans (as consciousness) are basically ‘good’ and need to be given equal opportunity to develop, while the conservatives see human behaviour (form) as basically ‘bad’, needing to be disciplined under law for the common good. One irony here is that the liberals often end up passing the most laws!
Another integration problem occurs between the different levels. (Recall that “levels” refer to the vertical component of integration, and the “quadrants” refer to horizontal integration.) For example, when identity is primarily centred in the body, physical survival and development (and collectively, the survival of my family or tribe) are seen as the most important thing (the prime directive). I may rationalise my behaviour, i.e. change my beliefs, to support my actions.
When identity is primarily centred in the emotions, my feelings and those of my emotional ‘family’ are the most important thing. My behaviour is motivated by my feelings and I will often sacrifice my physical well being for those I am emotionally attached to. I seek emotional peace and I am often torn between my beliefs and my actions.
When identity is primarily centred in the mind, my prime directive is the accummulation of knowledge and the promulgation and defense of my beliefs. I may sacrifice my physical and emotional well being for the sake of my ideas, and may often suppress or deny my physical and emotional states in order to maintain my beliefs about myself.
When my identity is somewhat freed from my own ego concerns and ideologies, the prime directive actually begins to be about “the good of the whole”. At this stage −an identity with relative freedom from ego concerns− the integral vision is a possibility. The ‘whole’ is an all-level (which includes those ‘above’ as well as ‘below’), all-quadrant affair, and the ‘good’ is determined by consultation with all the parts of that whole.
The prime directive is therefore crucial in the area of leadership and politics. History, and in particular the last century, has shown a development around the globe from governance by hereditary right or military might to governance by democratically elected representatives. This has released us from the overt tyranny of the few, but because hierarchical (holarchical) development is a fact of conciousness and form (rather than a sociological construct of those “in charge”), the dominance often just takes other forms, such as economic. We may be all equal in essence, but the unfolding and demonstration of that essence occurs in both horizontally and vertically diverse ways.
One downside of democratic process is that it tends to dilute into popular ‘wisdom’. If the majority in society are egocentric then they are going to vote for the “chicken in every pot”-type of politician, or a movie star, or someone whose ideology is close to theirs. As a result, we often get politicians who are focused on pleasing different sections of the public rather than ensuring the good of the whole spectrum. (It often takes a major crisis to bring the Ghandis and Mandelas to the fore). Governance, as a result, has largely fallen into disrepute.
Going back to Einstein for a minute, imagine if scientific theories were put to the popular vote. For example, let’s look at E=mc2 . Business interests might want the nature of space/time to be less fluid, more marketable. Black holes could be outlawed because they scare people … and besides, they could also be considered racist. And let’s not be so absolute here about the speed of light, ok?
As a whole, we accept these theories, not because we all understand them, but because we trust that there are a community of peers who will verify them by doing the math. (Most of us, that is−Stephen Hawking, in the Time article mentioned, reports he gets three or four letters a week that claim the theory of relativity is wrong.)
In politics, however, maths are not required to discern truth. Everyone can have an opinion (and anyway aren’t all opinions relative?) If we accept the ideas of the Integral Vision, however, we see that there are developmental processes underway, and that all opinions are not created equal. We may want to ensure that all opinions are heard, yet we will not agree that all opinions should have equal value in fostering “the good of the whole”. Perhaps there are such a thing as formulas for good leadership.
What has happened to the art and science of governance? Our trust in politicians, particularly in the western democracies is low. We don’t trust them with their own expense accounts, let alone the books of the country, to say nothing of a vision.
A positive result of this distrust of ‘leaders’ has been a reclaiming of personal power and a grass roots revival as people take back their naïve projections onto the political system. However, at the same time that ‘quantity of power’ is being spread, there has never been a greater need for the concentration of ‘quality of power’. Multinational trade, the internet, the ecological crisis and globalisation in general have made the issue of international law−and an enlightened and efficient body to implement it−critical.
Some kind of efficient world government has been seen as necessary by global thinkers for decades.
“With all my heart I believe that the world’s present system of sovereign nations can lead only to barbarism, war and inhumanity. … There is no salvation for civilisation, or even the human race, other than the creation of a world government.” Albert Einstein
One of the key things that prevents a healthy move towards world government is the great and understandable fear in nations and individuals alike of the consequences of the willing surrender of some of their powers of self rule to a higher authority. The result of this fear, however, is that we may end up with a far-from-benign world governance, by default.
Hierarchy, remember, is a fact− not a construct: there are always smarter people with greater skills and capabilities, which allow them to amass resources and influence others. The critical question is: “What is the prime directive that motivates them?”
Only a prime directive that has its roots in an integral vision is going to promote health for the whole system. And this requires that we find, elect, and give a mandate to those who are capable of holding such a vision and who have demonstrated their ability to carry it out in an international context. They must be able to genuinely cooperate with each other and be willing to consult and collaborate with people at all levels and in all quadrants. The result might be a genuine brotherhood of nations, motivated by common cause, rather than a collective of nations, motivated principally by self interest and expediency.
The problems with the United Nations are well known. The need for intrinsic reform and the difficulties involved in that probably make the UN a transitional, rather than a final form. Hand in hand with the development of a new, more suitable form, the development of consciousness is also happening with a number of groups working on a global charter or bill of rights and responsibilities.
The consulting process is going to take time. My guess is that we are probably still a decade or two away from world government. We probably need all of that time to educate and upskill ourselves on issues of power and restore some trust in the governance process. After all, somehow we are going to have to take collective responsibility for electing a group of representatives whose work will be no less than the creative cooperation with the evolutionary process operating through the form and consciousness of the entire planet.