This post was written after reading Boomeritis. In this book, Wilber expounds on many issues in academia that detract from furthering intellectual pursuits. He sees this issues collectively as an unhealthy manifestation of the green meme. This unhealthy manifestation is termed “Boomeritis.” My analysis of the book concludes that Wilber is just a neo-conservative that is sick of women and brown people complaining about things that happened before they were born.
In the book, Wilber concludes that liberal boomers artificially exalt pre-colonial cultures. The reason this is done, according to Wilber, is to find non-violent or socialist utopias in the past. In the book, he details issues human sacrifice done by both these cultures. The descriptions are unnecessarily brutal to combat the reader’s idealist views of this culture. The result is a very superficial understanding and explanation of why understanding and finding the positive aspects of pre-colonial culture is so important for some people.
I think it is important that he does not reference any Black or Hispanic authors in this section. He is only evaluating the possible motives of White anthropologist. The larger thesis in this section of the book is that all fields of study are a covert attempt to make children liberal. The boomers failed to enact an actual political revolution. Therefore they settled for brainwashing our young people into being left-wing.
While his conclusion on the motives of some white anthropologists may be true, he is not seeing the larger picture of why people have studied and exalted ancient and pre-colonial cultures. He also does not put these views within a historical context.
Before that Civil Rights movement, history as taught the inhabitants of Africa and America were simply savages that existed at a level of consciousness barely above animals. The colonist came in and civilized the savages and gave them Christianity. The colonist did use force in this effort, and many natives died. However, the result was the integration of black and brown people our new capitalist system.
Starting in the 1920’s with people like Zora Neale Hurston the truth about pre-colonial Africa was revealed. It turns out that people in pre-colonial Africa and America had a high level of civilization. As more research poured in people of all races became fascinated. Black and Brown people were able to take pride in the ancestors and stop thinking that they are indebted to oppressors. Many white people, such as Sigmund Freud, studied societies untouched by Western influence to determine how people would act without social conditioning. These studies and the ideas unearthed by the research became a huge boon for intellectual thought.
My main problem with this part of the book was he did not warn the audience not to regress into the racist view of all Non-European societies were only brutal and savage (pre-conventional). The audience is given the information on the brutal human sacrifices without knowledge of the true depth of these indigenous religions. The audience needs a full picture of what was happening in the pre-colonial societies.
At the risk of speculating, I will assume his motivation is that he does not want his ancestors seen as people that solely raped, pillaged, and plundered the pre-colonial societies. It is true that a cross-cultural exchanged happened through the colonial wars and all people involved benefited. It is also true cross-cultural exchange can take place through commerce and non-violent communication. It is also true that Non-European cultures spread ideology through war, but what is now of paramount concern is healing the wounds of colonialism in all people.
To bring this discussion back to the integral method, the preconventional, conventional, and postconventional view need to be defined. This is my proposal:
Preconventional: Precolonial societies in America and Africa were savage and brutal. The colonist came used force to advance the societies to what they are today.
Conventional: Precolonial societies were utopias. The colonist came in destroyed everything and ruined the lives of black and brown people.
Postconventional: Precolonial societies had positive and negative elements. The colonist did use unnecessary force and did irreparable harm to the people that lived at that time and to the descendants. However, the cross-cultural exchange has benefited both sides. Our goal now is to heal past wounds to the best of our ability and move toward a more inclusive society.
Wilber needs to understand that many people are trying to heal emotional wounds and rebuild their egos from the damage done by white supremacy. If that means he has to sit and feel uncomfortable while minorities expose their feelings, then that is what needs to happen.
I will say Wilber has expanded my awareness on how a white person can feel in a conversation about race. One line in the book that stuck with me was him saying “ It is like only a native American can understand a native American. It needs to be acknowledged that some suffering is universal and can be understood by everyone.” I will agree with that and keep that in mind in when I am discussing race.