More bloggers are chiming in on the “is integral conservative?” question: ebuddha and William. My views are here with a follow-up note here. While I acknowledge that there are important parallels between the integral ethos and conservativism as it might be defined in some sort of non-political sense, I disagree with those writers who would elevate or privilege conservative principles over the values and attributes of liberalism or any other value system.
Ebuddha’s claim that integral is more Apollonian than Dionysian–and his subsequent suggestion that this is like suggesting that the integral ethos is conservative–is interesting. I am certain there is truth to this in practice, just as I think it’s true that the integral philosophy has so far had a greater appeal to men than to women. However, I’m not willing to accept his generalization that “Ken Wilber’s Integralism is an archetypal manifestation of Apollo,” as I think that’s a reading of a major thrust, but not the entirety of Wilber’s work. When Wilber’s spiritual writings on nondual mysticism are given their due, and his emphasis on the vitality of including Descending as well as Ascending currents is weighed in, it seems clear to me that Wilber’s philosophy (yes) includes and transcends both Apollo and Dionysus.
Update: On a comment at Tuff Ghost’s blog, I clarify my resistance to calling the integral ethos conservative. Here’s an edited version of my response to Matthew Dallman:
The claim is that integral is conservative in the sense that is the “preferring of gradual development to abrupt change.” Personally, I agree with the idea of gradual change, and this is well suited to my temperament. However, I don’t see a preference for one pace of societal change over another as intrinsic to integral thinking.
What I do see is the ethical impulse to “protect and defend the health of the spiral as a whole,” which is something very much like an impulse of restraint that you’ve described, but not exactly. Call it stewardship if you like. Integral stewardship is a demand to STOP pathological memes from inflicting suffering on others, and a need to DEFEND the spiral as a whole. These drives may lead someone to advocate sudden, rapid, even revolutionary change if necessary. They see the need to do “whatever it takes,” and they respond with the appropriate degree of flow. Such responses are, in my view, fully integral. They do not seek to impose upon the grand forces of reality (I call it Spirit) a time-frame and demand that change happen according to a set calendar that is always prudent and minimizes disruption to the status quo. Integral is able to ride the turbulent waves of Spirit, bracing even for the occasional tsunami, and respond flexibly in the moment.
Therefore, I’m more comfortable with saying not that integral prefers SLOW over FAST change, but with saying that integral prefers APPROPRIATE change. I’m not comfortable with saying that integral always rejects or is incompatible with radicalism; I think integral strives to integrate the radicalist’s impulses into an ethical framework that minimizes harm and maximizes progress. Of course, you (Matthew) and I disagree on what integral is all about, so let me add in conclusion that these comments reflect my understanding of integral as it is described by Ken Wilber’s AQAL model and as it is embraced by STEAM. Your mileage may vary, if you’re talking about something else that may be called integral.