The Intellectual Dark Web social movement has caught the interest of many people associated with Integral thought and spirituality, but I find myself ambivalent about their growing influence. They were just called to my attention a few weeks ago, so I’ve barely had a chance to look into them, and from what I’ve seen, I’m not sure that I want to be part of the club.

I am neither on the far left (P.C., neo-Marxist thought police, etc.) nor a classical liberal (individualist, libertarian); I am an integralist with a vision of a higher, evolved center. I don’t feel completely at home in either the “cult of diversity” in the mainstream LGBT establishment nor the “cult of the iconoclast” worshiping at the altar of Milo Yiannopoulos. To the left: Diversity needs to be recognized and affirmed at different levels of successively more cohesive wholeness. To the right: It benefits not a man’s soul to win freedom of speech when you haven’t something genuinely good, true, and beautiful to offer those to whom you are speaking.

I do not get outraged when leftists on college campuses get mean and go overboard (they do, it’s not good, on rare occasions it’s terrible) because I see these as growing pains in an overall movement towards a more inclusive and just and non-marginalizing world. Remember, it’s not censorship when the government doesn’t do it; and, no student group ought to be compelled to pay for or listen to speakers they find repugnant.

There are bad apples in every barrel, and the Intellectual Dark Web seems to be dwelling on a few pieces of rotten fruit and missing the rest. Except when they’re not, and the left needs to be called out as they have been. But amid all the fuss, it seems to me that few people seem to be noticing that college campuses ought to be places not only for “embracing free speech” but for pushing forward evolution’s movement into new directions, including social justice causes, and if they get a little too excitable at times or if students get too zealous that just comes with the territory of late adolescence and early adulthood. There are more important things adults ought to be concerned with.

I do not believe that biology plays no role in male/female differences, nor do I believe it plays the only role. The truth lies in balancing aspects of gender differences deriving from 4 quadrants (subjective experience, biology, culture, and sociology). Is the Dark Web willing to advance to this sort of complex understanding, or are they simply interested in rejecting the insights of postmodernists for a classical view that is equally reductionist?

There’s more I could say on the topic, especially regarding the Dark Web’s associations with conspiracy theorists and racists, but some of what I would say has already been well put in this New York Times article on the subject. For example, Bret Weinstein said:

I get the appeal of the I.D.W. I share the belief that our institutional gatekeepers need to crack the gates open much more. I don’t, however, want to live in a culture where there are no gatekeepers at all. Given how influential this group is becoming, I can’t be alone in hoping the I.D.W. finds a way to eschew the cranks, grifters and bigots and sticks to the truth-seeking.

Read the full article.

Overall, I’m intrigued by the possibility for the I.D.W. to be a positive force for social change. The fact that it is attracting a grassroots movement of people excited by individual freedom, truth-seeking, and openness to ideas like Jordan Peterson’s evolutionary psychology and mythopoetic models is wonderful. The key to its future will be whether it merely reacts against, and swerves around, the troublesome aspects of progressiveness that it’s critiquing… or whether it serves as a temporary counter-balance to shift the cultural discussion into a higher place that synthesizes truth wherever it can be found, on the right or on the left.

What’s more, I’m not sure if the I.D.W. is ready for someone with my integrated take on spirituality, politics, and culture. Ha! The I.D.W. seems to think it’s got a monopoly on oppositional, edgy thought… but most of the thinkers associated with the movement haven’t even absorbed the wisdom of the century-old Integral tradition (from Aurobindo to deChardin to Gebser to Graves to Wilber to Cook-Greuter to O’Fallon to Salzman to McIntosh and Patten and many more…), so in a sense they’re actually several decades behind the curve intellectually from my perspective. There are some incredibly smart and dynamic thinkers listed on their website, so perhaps there is room for an integralist or two at the table as well? I might be able to recommend a few people.

If the Dark Web stays dark, in other words, it will be a mere hangout for renegades who lack pragmatism and evolutionary consequence. It needs to bring the darkness out of the shadows and into the light.

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