The Trump Presidency is an evolutionary correction for a culture whose leading edge “is in a 50-car pileup.” This is the thesis of Ken Wilber’s excellent new eBook, Trump and a Post-Truth World, and the kickoff point of a wide ranging conversation I had with Ken last week. Here’s Ken’s argument:
Every now and then, evolution itself has to adjust course, in light of new information on how its path is unfolding, and it starts (apparently spontaneously but with this deeper morphic field actually operating) by making various moves that are, in effect, self-correcting evolutionary realignments. The leading-edge of cultural evolution is today—and has been for four or five decades—the green wave (“green” meaning the basic stage of human development known to various developmental models as pluralistic, postmodern, relativistic, individualistic, beginning self-actualization, human-bond, multicultural, etc.—and generically referred to as “postmodern”).
Beginning in the 1960s, green began to emerge as a major cultural force and soon bypassed orange (which was the previous leading-edge stage, known in various models as modern, rational, reason, formal operational, achievement, accomplishment, merit, profit, progress, conscientious) as the dominant leading-edge. It started with a series of by-and-large healthy and very appropriate (and evolutionarily positive) forms—the massive civil rights movement, the worldwide environmental movement, the rise of personal and professional feminism, anti-hate crime, a heightened sensitivity to any and all forms of social oppression of virtually any minority, and—centrally—the understanding of the crucial role of “context” in any knowledge claims and the desire to be as “inclusive” as possible.
But as the decades unfolded, green increasingly began veering into extreme, maladroit, dysfunctional, even clearly unhealthy, forms. It’s broad-minded pluralism slipped into a rampant and runaway relativism (collapsing into nihilism), and the notion that all truth is contextualized (or gains meaning from its cultural context) slid into the notion that there is no real universal truth at all, there are only shifting cultural interpretations (which eventually slid into a widespread narcissism).
These cultural forces have created an anti-green backlash which Donald Trump, our most unlikely candidate, rode all the way to the White House. In this podcast Ken and Jeff explore how the Trump phenomenon arose, and how an integral sensibility can help us respond to the unique challenge of Trump’s political and cultural movement.