Part 1: Cultural Intelligence and the Roots of Polarization

Why is America so polarized? Today everyone wants to know. Explanations abound—money in politics, gerrymandering, cronyism in Washington, the two-party system, the electoral college, the primary system, or even the structure of Constitution. While these issues are each worthy of real concern, many are effects rather than causes. In this episode of Thinking Ahead, Carter interviews Steve McIntosh, author of Developmental Politics and co-founder of the Institute for Cultural Evolution, about the underlying cultural issues that are driving our hyper-partisan era. They discuss the historical roots of polarization; the rise of progressive politics in the 1960s and 1970s; and the ways in which progressivism’s new influence has upset the applecart and changed the political dynamics of the country. And they propose the emergence of a new “cultural intelligence” that can help reconcile America’s competing worldviews.  Can we integrate progressive concerns without abandoning or condemning other legitimate political views? How do we build a post-progressive coalition can transcend polarization and appeal to more of the country? Is there a way forward that doesn’t involve worsening civil strife and conflict? This episode is a deep dive into a new way of thinking about American politics.

Part 2: Toward a Post-Progressive Golden Age

In the second part of this two-part series with Steve McIntosh, author of Developmental Politics and co-founder of the Institute for Cultural Evolution, Carter and Steve discuss the conflicts between worldviews in American politics. Can we defend the strengths of one worldview without being shackled to its pathologies? How do we protect liberal values that are increasingly under attack? With the rise of climate concerns, the “me too” movement, and the recent racial justice upheavals, progressive politics has come of age and is exerting more influence on the American scene. Can we embrace these more evolved values without enabling their troubling excesses? The work of sorting out progress from pathology is the essence of cultural intelligence and is essential If we are to truly overcome political polarization. This episode of Thinking Ahead envisions a new politics, and posits that today’s seemingly insurmountable troubles might contain the seeds of a new Golden Age.

 More about Steve McIntosh

Steve McIntosh, J.D., is a leader in the integral philosophy movement and author of Developmental Politics: How America Can Grow Into a Better Version of Itself (Paragon House, 2020)He is president and cofounder of the Institute for Cultural Evolution, which focuses on the cultural roots of America’s political problems.

Steve is also coauthor, with John Mackey and Carter Phipps, of Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business (Portfolio, 2020) and author of The Presence of the Infinite (Quest, 2015), Evolution’s Purpose (Select Books, 2012), and Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution (Paragon House, 2007).

Before becoming a writer and social entrepreneur, Steve had a variety of other successful careers, including founding the consumer products company Now & Zen, and practicing law with one of America’s largest firms. His innovative political thinking has been featured on NPR, USA Today, The Daily Beast, Real Clear Politics, The Hill, The National Journal, and in a wide variety of other media. He is an honors graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, and the University of Southern California Business School. Steve grew up in Los Angeles and now lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and two sons.

Learn more about Steve’s work at or the Institute for Cultural Evolution


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