My response to Matthew Dallman’s post, “Response to Perez,” on integral and conservativism:
Ordinarily when another blogger or commenter is as disrespectful, slippery, and frustratingly obtuse as I have found you to be in our public and private (e-mailed) interactions, I just cut off the dialogue. But since I believe there are extenuating circumstances here–namely, that you also find me (to my surprise and displeasure) disrespectful towards you–I will continue for a while longer and continue, as I have all along, to treat you and your views with respect, even when we strongly disagree. In my experience, when two people both are convinced that the other has been rude and disrespectful, chances are good that there is fault on both sides.
In your “Response to Perez,” you twice denied ever linking your approach to integral as conservativism with a speed of decision making. This flat out isn’t true. On your own blog and Tuff Ghost’s blog, you write: “I find the ‘preferring of gradual development to abrupt change’ to be closest to what I’m referring to when I associated the integral worldview with conservatism.” When I paraphrase this exact statement of yours quite accurately, you throw at me charges that I have attributed “words/conclusions to [you] that [you] did not say” and that I have been “poor about this since we started jousting…” Later you say “Actual speed is not a factor, and it certainly is nothing I’ve even mentioned.” Yes, you did. It’s in the public record. And then you denied it, in the public record.
Are you starting to see why it is frustrating to joust with you, guy? It would be one thing if you simply forgot you said something and then later said “my bad” and we’d shrug it off because Lord knows we all make mistakes. But in my experience with you in repeated exchanges, your ongoing style seems to be to do or say one thing, deny it, and then get angry with the other person and accuse them of basically doing what you’re doing. Am I wrong? That’s my experience, and how I interpret it. Perhaps others have other experiences with you. I love to share ideas with someone as bright and gifted as you are, but I experience your way of debating as exasperating.
You also write: “I did not accuse you of hot air.” Yes, you did. Here are your exact words:
My comment is that I see where you might be going with this, but this is still pretty vague and generalized in an abstract way that verges on uselessness. “Memes” is almost a meaningless word through misuse; more particular “ideas”, “notions”, “behaviors”, etc. serve better, imo, because the choice of such alternative requires one to clarify the context one intends to examine, and then prescribe their “revolutionary” change upon. Else this is just hot air, and unearned.
And here’s how I would paraphrase what you wrote on the comment above: you say that I write in a “pretty vague and generalized in an abstract way that verges on uselessness,” used “meaningless” jargon, and unless I answer your charges then I am just puffing “hot air” and doing so in a way that is “unearned.” Is that a bad paraphrase? I don’t think so. Do you see how a reasonable person could conclude that your assertion that “I did not accuse you of hot air” rings hollow, at best? In any case, the words are all clear, and they’re all in the public domain. I’d say that whether or not you are right about me being full of hot air, yours was a pretty rude comment, especially considering that it was offered on my own weblog. Obviously you disagree and would surely deny being rude, because this morning you paint yourself as a innocent victim of my own disrespectful behavior towards you. Again, I find this sort of interaction to be exasperating. I’m tired of trying to refute your own denials of words available for all to see, so I’ll simply say that our readers can draw their own conclusions.
You also assert that I am painting you with a “rationalist” brush. You’ve stated that you think this is wrong, unhelpful, unfriendly, and undignified. You hold yourself as superior for having not “painted me with any term.” You say that you alone address my “ideas and concepts,” whereas I am guilty of insulting personal attacks. Look, we’ve had a private correspondence on the subject of psychographs and memes and so forth, and I intend to rehash none of that here. Let’s just say we’re miles apart. I notice in what you say (I’m paraphrasing here, these are my words, and I believe they are totally accurate) that you want to remove all non-rational content from debate (you call such non-rational aspects a psychograph), and stick to (to quote you exactly) “reasoning aired in the public sphere.” Every other type of public discourse aside from “reasoning” is, by implication, illegitimate in your eyes.
But privileging reasoning over other sorts of discourse is a feature of the rationalist/orange vMeme! When I point this out, I do so not to be mean or nasty or to say that you are “lower” in evolution than “moi,” but simply because it’s true. I could probably cite a dozen other examples off the top of my head where you privilege rationalist/orange or orange/blue concepts and values over non-rationalist ideas and values. But if I did, I’m sure you would deny each and every one, so what’s the use in trying? I’m out of patience. In my writing on Rising Up, the affinity between a person’s rhetoric and a value meme is often worth pointing out. I’m not claiming that your center of gravity is at blue or orange or any other color. I’ve never used those words, even as I’ve accurately described your discourse as rationalistic when it is. I don’t do that sort of psychological criticism (except on my really close friends, he he he). I’m saying that your ideas and discourse are, in specific limited instances, rationalistic. I have also stated more or less that I suspect your non-AQAL version of integral is a rationalist/integral hybrid of some sort, but that I withhold judgment for now. That’s a fair sort of thing to say, isn’t it? Why should I stop making these sorts of observations and judgments, as you demand, simply because you think they’re personal attacks of some sort?
On CJ Smith’s comments that he thinks you’re right about integral being identical to conservativism, I disagree with you both strongly. I haven’t responded to him yet, but perhaps I will in the future. For now, let me just say that he says that he missed your re-definition of “conservatvism” as “sociological conservativism.” I didn’t miss that, though I didn’t explicitly mention it in my first post. I just don’t think it matters to the broader question or whether it’s a good thing to define the essential ethos of integral by a term such as “conservativism.” See my earlier arguments for why. (Note: In your Response to Tuff Ghost, you say that you advocate a “broader characterization of ‘conservative’ distinct from its political meaning,” but this is potentially misleading. Your original post made it clear that the political meaning of conservativism is included and transcended in the sociological meaning. So to say that you are advocating conservative that is “distinct from” its political meaning seems deceptive, almost as if you are sneaking in the political conservativism through the backdoor.)
On the cancer example, I agree that it’s an extreme example. That’s intentional. Crisis response doesn’t happen every day, but life regularly throws crises at us. You say you may have more to say later. Perhaps I will, too.
On “appropriateness” vs “gradual/rapid,” as I’ve noted earlier, you did introduce the slow/fast distinction in your reply to TuffGhost (when you cited the dictionary definition of conservativism and said you agreed with it, I’ve quoted your exact words above). Anyways, you assert that there is no difference between “appropriate” and a conservative approach, but I disagree. That’s only true if you redefine conservativism to always mean the right and proper choice in any circumstance. Then it’s true. Yeah, right.
I think the falling tree example is a good example where “informed restraint” works. But to make the example fail, all you have to do is propose that there is an immediate crisis that demands a pre-rational or trans-rational response. Perhaps there is a downed power line or something like that. Integral isn’t about always choosing the rational response; it’s about being able to draw freely upon pre-, rational, or trans- approaches flexibly in the moment. When you say integral is “informed restraint” for “reasonable people” (exact quotes), I suspect that you would disagree. I realize that the last time I said something like that you responded by saying that I was badly misinterpreting you and throwing out nearly “useless” jargon, so I don’t expect that you will agree with me now.
As for your claim that I’ve not “grasped even the black and white about what [you’re] saying,” you may be right or you may be wrong, but if you’re right, it’s not for my lack of trying. I have responded above to your complaints that I am insulting you or painting you as a rationalist. I have no intention to be unkind or to insult, nor to engage in demagoguery, or perform for an audience, your parade of charges notwithstanding. (Do you really believe that you have never made any claims about my motivations, even as you say–and then in the same breath deny that you are really saying–that perhaps I am challenging you merely to “cater to [my] audience”? I’m not even sure what that means, but it sounds sinister.) On Rising Up, my aim is to show integral thinking in action, as best I know it, imperfectly as that may be. Your view of integral is very different than mine. It’s non-AQAL, we agree (and therefore non-STEAM-compliant, he he he), and so it’s certainly of interest. I think it’s worthwhile to point out differences between our views of integral and try to learn from the dialogue.
You accuse me of “arrogance in discourse.” (Never mind that you had earlier claimed that only I am guilty of making personal attacks or character assessments, whereas you are pure of this sin.) I’m not sure that I want to deny that, because sometimes I intentionally affect an attitude that is dismissive or condemnatory when I choose not to offer, at that place and time, a fuller response, but wish to express my disapproval. I think this is very common on the blogosphere, and I think it’s a fair and effective rhetorical approach to blog-writing and blog-commenting. Apparently it’s not to your taste. Fine. You don’t have to like how I write my blog. But since you specifically assert that I have been disrespectful to one Jim Andrews, let me say here that I think my response to Andrews (about 800 words on Integral Naked, plus about 200 words on TimBomb’s blog) was exactly what the piece deserved. Other writers on Integral Naked expressed all the criticisms that I felt were necessary, and chiming in with “me too” seemed excessive. You had a more positive assessment of Andrews’s essay. Good for you. We disagree on that. But simply because I decided not to write an extended essay on Andrews’s piece doesn’t mean that I disrespect him or his work. The best conclusion to draw, in my opinion, is that I don’t think highly enough of the work to write about it extensively at this time. What’s wrong with that?
On whether or not your work denies trans-rational and intuition, all I’ve said is that in your writings that propose to define the ethos of integral as conservativism, even conservativism as specially defined by you in a sociological sense that includes and transcends political conservativism, you have privileged rationalistic values over pre- and trans-rational values. You have done so specifically and exactly by proposing to define the integral ethos in a way that emphasizes features of conservativism that are, by their nature, first-tier (rationalistic) values. It’s not wrong to assert that integral includes conservativism or that features of integral are similar to features of conservativism, but you’ve gone beyond that and stressed that conservativism is the defining ethos of integral. That’s a privileging of some first-tier values over others in a way that I think is inappropriate, your assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. I’ve engaged in discussion and offered examples to clarify my original opinion, and have reached the end of my willingness to dialogue on this topic with you. I’m sorry that you feel that my interpretations of you are “batty.” I disagree. Our readers can decide for themselves.
It’s extremely rare that I respond to a comment with a 2,000 word post, however in this case the distortions of my writing were simply too egregious to allow them to stand without answering each and every one. Please don’t conclude that this sort of post is par for the course around here. I prefer shorter, friendlier posts on Rising Up. I hope this sort of post won’t be necessary often in the future.