The Future of Integral Politics – Part I: Taking the Integral Paradigm to the masses

by editor

Integral Politics. Is it a reality? Is it being practiced in today’s world? The developed nations and intelligent politicians may answer with a YES and a NO. Considered honestly, Integral Politics, as Zakariyya Ishaq puts it, is for the most part “a name without a reality”. It is existent in the insular world of philosophers, thinkers and integral adherents, but not much in the practical world of politics. In this geo-political world, integral politics is the much-hyped about new way or “third way” of looking at things/political scenarios, but it is never the way in which things are looked at. In other words, integral politics is yet to be implemented in today’s society. Though some pockets of the world populace may say that they are practicing “integral politics”, nothing has emerged big as of now. But, why? Why is integral politics still a distant dream? Before that, why is it important in the first place? And, what is the future of integral paradigm and political theory?

Inspired from Zakariyya Ishaq’s article on “Establishing the Integral Paradigm and the Future of Integral Politics”, this post postulates the methods that are needed to make integral politics a reality. Ishaq states why it is necessary to pave way for an international integral political world only through the dissemination of the integral philosophy among the world population. The post also highlights on why caution is needed while handling an emerging topic like  integralism, especially integral politics. This is because, negative understanding of things may pulverize integral politics even before its take off. So, the best way out is to take the integral paradigm to the masses. Ishaq details on the ways to do this.

Integral Politics: Every other political ideology is actually a byproduct of changing worldviews.  As of now, everyone thinks of integral politics as the evolution from the current political scenario to something bigger, better and healthier. Integral politics, as Steve McIntosh calls it, will be a “substantial political evolution” with relatively more evolved values and higher ideals of morality. There have been several worldviews before, and ideologies supporting the same. In fact, democracy and pluralism took a lot of time to take shape and they had to be actually backed by a body of western philosophers and thinkers to become the norm of the society. The leap from one ideology to another is not new in history. We have seen it throughout our political landscape and McIntosh photographs it better in these lines:

“Each emerging world view’s new political vision serves as a showcase for its relatively more evolved values and higher ideals of morality. For example, we noted that emerging modernism rejected the oppressive structures of feudalism and absolute monarchy and championed the new ideals of freedom and equality embodied in the call for democracy. This movement for democracy was, in fact, one of the main themes of the “New Philosophy” that articulated the modernist vision and served to define the character of the Enlightenment. Then again in the 20th century, emerging postmodernism rejected the ethnocentric morality that condoned racism and the slaughter of innocents abroad and championed the political issues of civil rights, women’s rights, and peace in Vietnam. The political issues of the war in Vietnam, and the struggle for equality served to bring people together in a common cause. Thus many who adopted the postmodern worldview in the sixties and seventies did so because they had been politicized through their allegiance to these causes.” This concludes that changing worldviews are the reason behind changing political ideologies. And changing ideologies are, in turn, repercussions of what happened in the past or is happening in the current political/social scenario. It is as if the human consciousness evolves itself into higher and higher realms constantly, learning from its successes and failures. Currently, we are past postmodernism and are on the verge of integralism.

Integral philosophy is the novel paradigm that has emerged from the crucible of postmodern thinking. Many modern, postmodern and elitist thinkers have adored its ideals and values, predicting that integral philosophy will be the norm of the future. The integral paradigm is also said to have a potential impact on our culture and change our worldview to a tremendous extent. When such a change happens, what is called “Integral Politics” will emerge from the societal and political set up. Though many opine that integral politics is the need of this geo-political world, nothing as of now, is purely “integral” about the political ideologies practiced all over the world. Integral politics has been the subject of discussions in universities, integral seminars and political campaigns, but there has been no real time implementation of the political ideology to any major, global issue in the world. The primary reason behind this is, lack of awareness about the integral paradigm. This post will postulate the ways and means to make integral politics a reality (as suggested by Zakariyya Ishaq and other integral adherents).

The Future of Integral Politics

Taking the integral paradigm to the masses: The future of integral politics depends on how far the integral paradigm reaches out to the masses. Ishaq opines, “I will postulate the idea that it may be imperative that this philosophy becomes more universally known and understood in the world’s public square of ideas before Integral politics can have any possibility of even a reality.” He feels that just as democracy and pluralism were forced upon politicians by people, integralism should become a norm in popular culture before it is thrust upon governments world-over as the next level of politics.

For this to happen, integral philosophy should become commonplace stuff that is accepted by the public and is accessible anytime to every other layman. But this is not an easy joke as integralism is still an unknown concept in today’s world. To spread integral philosophy, you need to do an education campaign around the world and make people understand the values and ideals of the emerging worldview. But again, it is not that simple. Many ideologies emerge with a flash, cover a part of humanity and then vanish, never to return again to the world scene. If handled without care, integral worldview can also present itself as a “Jim Jones or Madison Ave stuff” and die down in a few years time.

In order to prevent it from happening, educating of masses on the integral paradigm should be done keeping the following in mind:

1. Integrity: “Integral philosophy should have integrity”. It should never be diluted or compromised for the sake of reaching out to the general public. Watered down versions will only weaken the intellectual message it carries.

2. No elitist approach: There should be no “elitist or abstruse” presentation of integral philosophy. Presenting it as a distant idea will only make it a media fad and ultimately reduce its impact on the general public. Ishaq says that we should make an attempt to “truly bring the Integral Paradigm to the consciousness of humanity on a widespread level as to have moral impact.” Proper education of interested people will accomplish what is intended.

3. Break out of the insular world: Integralism should be removed from its “insular world of philosophy, science, spirituality and scientific mysticism”. In order for it to have a positive impact on politics, it should be made a secular tool to unite and cultivate brotherhood among the masses.

4. Cut off the cult-thing: Integral cult should be avoided at all costs. In course of time, even the alluring integral paradigm will turn into a cult. Rigidity and cult mentality will set in, making the ideology a dogma that makes it difficult for us to operate through it. As Ishaq puts it, “It should not be spread obsessively or dogmatically or with any cultic variables but in an intelligent fashion amongst the general lot of humanity.”

Before we start off this business of spreading the word of integral paradigm, we need to understand the benefits behind the spreading of the integral philosophy. Why should it be spread? What is so special about integral politics or integral theory that it needs to reach out to even the layman? Why is it considered the future worldview?

Why Integral Paradigm? There are generally two aspects to an ideology. In other words, an ideology or a philosophy can influence people in two ways – explicitly and implicitly. Zakariyya Ishaq calls it the “outer protective core” and “essential inner core”. With regard to Integral Paradigm, the outer aspects are “Power, Elitism, Intellectualism and Speculation”, while the essential inner aspects are, “Unity, Love, Change, Knowledge”. The Integral Paradigm can be said to render benefits to four different segments of people’s lives – morally, spiritually, philosophically, and scientifically. However, the integral paradigm is not devoid of limitations. We will look into the limitations in the part II of the post.


1. Zakariyya Ishaq: “Establishing the Integral Paradigm and the Future of Integral Politics”

2. Steve McIntosh’s “Integral Politics and the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture”

3. Ray Harris: “Left, Right or Just Plain: Politics in the Integral Movement”

4. From Integral Life – “Integral Politics: Change You Breathe Into”

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