All posts by whatsyourtheory

Tribalism and My Tribe

There’s been a lot of talk lately about tribalism and how people across the United States and all over the world are breaking off into tribal groups, preparing for some kind of battle to come. Today we discuss what I think MY tribe is, and then “tribal” thinking with Integral Theorist Jeff Salzman of the

Thanks as always to Jeff Salzman for joining me for the Integral Chat. You can find much more of Jeff

Thanks for listening, thanks for letting me know what you think, and thanks for subscribing, either on your favorite podcast engine or our youtube channel

My Tribe:

My Tribe, the tribe I belong to, want to belong to, the tribe I want to be proud of me, and will fight to keep alive… is not the Democrats, not the Republicans, not the libertarians or the Greens… I belong to the Tribe of “Let’s do better next time.” 

My tribe is capable of great and horrible things. My tribe is wrong sometimes, but my tribe is brave. My tribe is not afraid… not of outsiders, not of the future. My tribe knows that it doesn’t know all the answers. But my tribe is willing to experiment, to learn, to change, and try for the best future we can imagine. 

My tribe are the ones who started this country as a place where all people are equal in the eyes of God, despite the fact that at the time all people were certainly not equal under the law. My tribe are the people who set that goal down in writing as the foundational document of a new nation, to be protected, and to be watered like a seed until it could grow into a mighty tree. My tribe are people like Thomas Jefferson, imperfect but trying to improve, to evolve and to lead by example – a man who owned slaves in a world where all of his peers owned slaves… but who helped set the stage for a time… as it turned out  less than 50 years after his death, when slaves would be freed and the practice stamped out. I’m talking about a practice as old as civilization itself, embedded into the new world at it’s inception hundreds of years before Jefferson was even born. It was sown into the fabric of society itself. 

But it changed. We did that. My tribe, of men, women who couldn’t vote, black men and women who broke their chains… through failure and death and war and blood, through moments of weakness and of strength… the facts were horrible… the dreams were beautiful… and regardless of where the tribes stood… it changed. My tribe, the tribe I belong to, want to always belong to, and want to be proud of me… my tribe – filled with men, women, rich, poor, free and enslaved… made that happen.

My tribe… not perfect, often wrong, capable of great and horrible things, but always trying to be better. 

My father was a member of my tribe. He was a life long republican. He was a civil servant. He was a honest man. And he was a war hero. I mean that literally. At 19 he left college to pilot a B-24 in WW2.  He received medals, members of his crew came to his funeral decades later to tell his children how much they loved and admired him, and how he had saved their lives in combat when, in the process of being shot down over occupied Belgium, he skillfully crash-landing their plane – the notoriously difficult to maneuver B-24 Liberator, still fully loaded with it’s payload of bombs, without blowing them all up. 

My father made sacrifices. Not the least of which, perhaps the most of which… my father killed for us… his tribe. His tribe was Jefferson’s experiment. His tribe was a people who governed themselves… no king, no dictator, no pope… only themselves. Sometimes wrong, sometimes right, always brave and willing to try. And to fight. Even among each other. My father flew 44 missions over Nazi Germany  in the fall and winter of 1944. If you know World War 2 history, you might know what that means. This was the hammer… this was the rage of the Free West against the insurgency of fascism and racism that didn’t want to come along to the future we were trying to build. That was trying to stop us from ever reaching it. This was the “this must never happen again fury” that led, one year later and half the earth away to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But in Germany, it was conventional, overwhelming force. And my father at age 19.

Like a lot of veterans, my father never talked about his time in the war. But I’ve seen the flight logs from his missions. There were cities. Mainz, Hamburg… there were civilians. Most likely many, many of them. Members of a tribe. Complicit in horrific actions… but civilians. My tribe, the tribe of my father, put them under the hammer. And we struck, and struck, and struck… until the other tribe, the fascists, and the complicit fascists, couldn’t get up again. 

That’s what my tribe is capable of. Right or Wrong, my tribe doesn’t like bullies, and when pushed hard enough, we will fight them until they can’t get up.  

My tribe are the ones who built and struggle to maintain a system designed to let us all live together. The system that often doesn’t work the way we want it to. The system that lets everyone participate, including the ones who want to bend the system to their favor, or see the system destroyed altogether. 

My tribe is the one that allowed Trump to happen, yet still works tirelessly to resist authoritarianism, government by fiat and the whim of one man…

My tribe are civil servants and professionals who do their best to serve. Teachers, Soldiers, Government workers, Cops, bankers, builders, marketers, inventors, social workers, atheletes and artists… My tribe is the one with the state AG’s who successfully sued the federal government to stop the religious litmus test travel ban 4 times. And who lost the fifth fight but are preparing the next lawsuit even now, with intelligence, compassion, skill, and justice on their side. 

My tribe doesn’t care what you look like, who you love, or where you came from. We used to… sure… where we were all white, we cared that you were brown, where we were brown we cared that you were white,  but things change. And when people are not afraid of change, they can come together. Tribes can grow larger. Today, my tribe is actually most of us, all people who are willing to learn and willing to change to get better.  

My tribe are the people who leave the water in the desert. My tribe are the ones who film the man as he pours it out on the ground. So that his actions will be seen. So that every tribe can take note, to see where they stand, and what they defend. To think about which tribe they really want to belong to. 

My tribe welcomes all newcomers who have the courage to admit mistakes, to change, because those are people who are trying to be better. My tribe admits mistakes and moves on, because we know that the world is always moving on and it won’t wait for us. That’s all my tribe wants. It’s what we value most of all. The impulse to do better next time. 





Deep Dive into Westworld Season 2, Ep:10 – The Passenger

What is “The Passenger?”

It is within her…

It is within all of them…

And it is within you. There in the back. Riding along in that rickety chariot you call a body.

This is our final Deep Dive for Westworld Season 2.

We had a blast! Thanks for listening and thanks for all the great comments here and on Youtube.

And don’t forget to subscribe to “What’s Your Theory?” youtube channel or wherever you hear the podcast because…

WE’LL BE BACK throughout the summer with much more. More interviews with smart people, Integral Chats with Jeff Salzman and more Deep Dives into movies and TV shows with Jeremy D. Johnson – including 2001:A Space Odyssey for the 50 the anniversary of the films release coming in July. 

We’ll see you again soon!

Deep Dives are not Recaps and they do contain Spoilers. We talk about the philosophy, mythology, and cultural impact of stories and events that strike a chord. Westworld is some of the smartest Sci-fi to come along in a while, and we’re doing Deep Dives for every episode of Season 2. New episodes every Tuesday! Don’t forget to subscribe (above!) and tell us what you think (below!)

“What’s Your Theory?” is a long form conversation podcast about Culture and the Evolution of Consciousness (it’s more fun than that probably sounds). All we want is a future more like Star Trek and less like Planet of the Apes (the 1969, melting the Statue of Liberty version). All we can do about that is talk through our evolution toward one or the other, in real time.

Find today’s Special Guest, Jeremy D. Johnson @
And on Twitter @jdj_writes

More Stephen T. Harper @
And on Twitter @S_T_Harper



Westworld 2.9 “Vanishing Point” Deep Dive

Jeremy D. Johnson is back for a Deep Dive into “Vanishing Point” the penultimate episode of Season 2.

This one was pretty grim, considering all the murders, madness, and suicides… no surprise that “Vanishing Point” is a “William” episode. As we’ve been discussing all season long, William is a Lucifer archetype, attempting to bring awakening to the hosts through chaos, death, destruction and an over active sense of ego that invariably creates such nightmare crises in anyone’s life. It’s just that much worse when it is the life of an Archon determined to bend the world (his world, the hosts world… any world) to his will.

William corrects a common misquoting of Plutarch : “When Alexander was told there were infinite worlds, he wept. For he had yet to become the lord of even one.”  Hmmm… There’s an Archon with control on his mind, and an Archon about to lose control OF his mind. When one walks this path, this kind of thing happens a lot.

Also in this episode… Did you hear Ford actually say the word “Timshel” this week? Just remember which of the millions of Westworld Podcasts dives deep enough to call that one out 6 episodes early (we detailed the concept of “Timshel” in Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” way back in Episode 3.) “This is a ladder to the stars.”








Kiksuya means Remember

“Kiksuya” is Lakota for “Remember.” Episode 8 was the best episode of Westworld Season 2 so far. Maybe the best of the series as well.

Jeremy D. Johnson returns for another Deep Dive. Today we talk Shamanism, the birth of mythologies from personal experience to group recognition, when Dante met Beatrice, the decent into the underworld, Integral Yoga, and much more as we Dive Deep into episode 2.8

These Deep Dives are not Recaps and they do contain Spoilers. We talk about the philosophy, mythology, and cultural impact of stories and events that strike a chord.

Westworld is some of the smartest Sci-fi to come along in a while, and we’re doing Deep Dives for every episode of Season 2. New episodes every Tuesday! Don’t forget to subscribe (above!) and tell us what you think (below!)

Please don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast delivery system and/or to the What’s Your Theory Youtube channel!  Thanks!




Talking Esoterica w/ Mitch Horowitz

Fear will hold you back from greatness. Collective fear of things we don’t yet understand holds us all back at once.

Today on the show, a conversation with Mitch Horowitz on why so many people seem so scared of all things new and certainly all things esoteric…even the nice stuff like the power of positive thinking.

Mitch Horowitz is an author, publisher, and lecturer who “treats esoteric ideas and movements with an even-handed intellectual studiousness that is too often lost in today’s raised voice discussions.” (Washington Post)

I’ve owned his first book, “Occult America,” for several years and it’s one of my favorite works of non-fiction to come around in a long while. In a world rather unevenly divided between a “mainstream” and “not-mainstream,” Mitch Horowitz has been a champion of occult and esoteric ideas, and their place in our history, bringing important but neglected ideas from the edges and the shadows, into the light of everyday conversation where they probably should have been all along.

Everything moves in cycles. Today, Mitch Horowitz and I have a conversation about some ideas who’s time may be coming around at last… or maybe again.

Find Mitch Horowitz at

The Miracle Club is coming out this Fall. Pre-Order here…






And join Mitch and the great Jeremy D. Johnson – Live online, June 13th!  Register for the salon HERE


Westworld Deep Dive Ep 6-7

Sorry about the delay for this one. You can blame Budapest (it’s all explained in the first minute of the show), but to make a long story short, we postponed diving deep into Episode 6 until this week. So we’re squeezing it in with our regular dive into Episode 7.

Which, frankly, is good because I, for one, wasn’t too wild about episode 6. But We both agree, episode 7 was back up the high standards of the show. All in all, still really digging Westworld Season 2, and still think these talks are fun and worthy.

Speaking of fun and worthy… Don’t forget to support “What’s Your Theory?” by subscribing (all free and simple) to the podcast and/or the youtube channel!  Thanks!

And finally… more guest interviews are coming! Keep an eye out for my talk with author, lecturer, and champion of esoterica… Mitch Horowitz! We just recorded our talk this morning and it’s really good one. Watch for it probably on Friday!





Jeff Salzman – Something Good is Emerging

Jeff Salzman is back for another Integral Chat!

This time, we close the loop on our series on the many awesome attributes we can’t evolve without from each of the major categories of thought currently fighting it out for dominance in this Cosmic Kiddie Pool we call Planet Earth.

Today we are discussing the next level – Emergent Integral. This is the one we hope will go a long way toward the lone stated goal of this podcast – avoiding the Planet of the Apes future and steering us a little more toward Star Trek.

Not to put too much pressure on Emergent Integral, but… for real, things have been looking pretty Apie of late.

Closing the loop really means that this will be part 4 of a three part series, but that doesn’t quite sound right. So, let’s not put a label on it. It’s enough to say that the fate of the entire human race is resting on the subject of today’s podcast.

Find more Jeff Salzman on his excellent website and podcast @

And as always, if you are enjoying the conversations you find here, the easiest way to help is to subscribe to the “What’s Your Theory?” Youtube channel or on your favorite podcast delivery system.

Westworld Deep Dive 2.5

In this episode, Jeremy D. Johnson and I dive deeper into the coming conflict between 2 styles of consciousness evolution – Dolores and the fanatical path of an old fashioned Warrior/Prophet, and the compassionate (maybe even post-modern?) hero’s journey of Maeve.

Plus… all of these memes come into play at some point along the way…










These Deep Dives are not Recaps and they do contain Spoilers. We talk about the philosophy, mythology, and cultural impact of stories and events that strike a chord. Westworld is some of the smartest Sci-fi to come along in a while, and we’re doing Deep Dives for every episode of Season 2.

New episodes every Tuesday! Don’t forget to subscribe (above!) and tell us what you think (below!)




Westworld Deep Dive Ep: 2.4

Jeremy Johnson returns for our discussion of Westworld Season 2, Episode 4 – “The Riddle of the Sphinx.” And things are getting really interesting…

Today we break down the tightly constructed, uncanny horror of hungry ghost James Delos and his sad, sad journey from life to captivity in a glass menagerie to the big fall into hell as the Wheel of Samsara takes a bad, bad turn.

Also today… Jeremy takes us on a brief trip through the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and busts out some killer Musashi references…

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast, this website, and/or the “What’s Your Theory?” channel on youtube. It’s free, but clicking those buttons really helps. Thanks!

And as always, let us know what you think!  Leave a comment or ask a question here or on youtube!







Change the Rules – Tom Curren

Disclaimer: The idea we’re about to talk about is something good for all voters. It doesn’t matter where on the political spectrum you fall, it is a tool for American citizens to take back a hefty chunk of the power which currently resides in the hands of a few. I’m sure you’re totally right about whatever political views you hold, so don’t freak out… this really is a tool for everyone.

As you can probably tell by my trepidation, I don’t usually like to talk about politics on this show because I’m so very fragile and don’t wish for half the population to hate me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care a lot about it. As host of a culture and consciousness podcast trying to prevent Planet of the Apes from happening… of course I care about this stuff. It’s just that I think there are plenty of other podcasts already doing a fine job talking about it. However, when something clearly anti-ape presents itself, I feel like I should let you know…

Tom Curren - ChangetheRules.orgI have come across a non-partisan non-profit with a very good idea.Tom Curren is the founder and president of (not to be confused with ChangetheRef). Tom’s creation is a practical, strategic solution to help people fix what ails our political system from the ground up. 

What’s the problem you ask? Well essentially, as far as the political system is concerned, there is no problem.The system works great for politicians and the large donor class. And that IS the problem of the rest of us. Here’s a statistic for you. in 2016, congress had a re-election rate of 95%, but an approval rate of 17%. See… systems working great for the politicians, not so much for you.

Why is this? Because – sometimes with good intentions, and oftentimes with bad…the RULES that govern politics have been gradually morphing over years and decades into something that channels control to a small set of players, and leaves everybody else on the outside looking in.  

But let’s be honest… if the world isn’t ruled by reptilian overlords it is still, at a minimum, an intractable web of corruption and secret handshakes that all adds up to there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Right?  

Well, no, not really. A little bit, maybe, but I think if the last 2 years of politics has taught us anything, it might be, as Terrence Mckenna once said, and I’m paraphrasing here…

The truth that THEY know and we don’t… the TRUTH that keeps the global elite and the Bilderbergers and the Archons up late at night, the TRUTH that is too frightening for most of us to face… is that NO ONE is in charge. The human race is making this up as we go.

And that means it’s always a good time for people of conscience and good will, especially the ones with good ideas, to take hold of the steering wheel from time to time.  

Tom Curren is such a person with such and idea.  What does is actually pretty simple. Tom Curren, who’s day job is as a high level corporate consultant and strategist, has researched and identified three specific problems – RULES of our system – that could and should be changed to restore power to you and me

… and then he identified 8 strategies that are practical, essential, and are ACTUALLY working right now at the grass roots, city and state levels of the political process in the United States. After identifying the problems and the best strategies to correct them – he then went ahead and identified the best non-profit action groups currently working on each one of these strategies.

And finally, he created  with the mission to help fund them. Change the Rules takes donations from people like you and me – people who like the idea of a strategic, targeted attack on political business as usual, and want to restore power and control of our destiny as a nation… to the majority of people, not the insiders and high rollers only – and distributes 100% of these funds across all 8 of these organizations.

Essentially – Change the Rules has done the research, done the vetting, and created the strategy so that your donations will help change the system in the best possible way, without you needing to join 8 different groups (with all that entails.)

Here’s a little more encouragement and evidence that this is can really help from a recent article in the Washington Post…

By Bruno Kaufmann and Joe Mathews

STOCKHOLM — The new conventional wisdom seems to be that electoral democracy is in decline. But this ignores another widespread trend: direct democracy at the local and regional level is booming, even as disillusion with representative government at the national level grows.

Today, 113 of the world’s 117 democratic countries offer their citizens legally or constitutionally established rights to bring forward a citizens’ initiative, referendum or both. And since 1980, roughly 80 percent of countries worldwide have had at least one nationwide referendum or popular vote on a legislative or constitutional issue…

…Other major democracies — Germany, the United States and India — do not permit popular votes on substantive issues nationally but support robust direct democracy at the local and regional levels. The number of local votes on issues has so far defied all attempts to count them — they run into the tens of thousands.

This robust democratization, at least when it comes to direct legislation, provides a context that’s generally missing when doomsday prophets suggest that democracy is dying by pointing to authoritarian-leaning leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. President Donald Trump…

…Cities from Seoul to San Francisco are hungry for new and innovative tools that bring citizens into processes of deliberation that allow the people themselves to make decisions and feel invested in government actions. We’ve seen local governments embrace participatory budgeting, participatory planning, citizens’ juries and a host of experimental digital tools in service of that desired mix of greater public deliberation and more direct public action.