INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Publication dates of essays (month/year) can be found under "Essays".
Don Beck is a Texan former university professor who has spent the past decade searching for innovative strategies in facilitating large scale systems change. This presentation was given October 2000 at the State of the World Forum, New York, and is published here with permission of the author. See also his essay "The Search for Cohesion in the Age of Fragmentation", posted on this website.
Debates over globalization are but the surface-level collisions of the deeper tectonic plate-like cultural fault lines that remain hidden from view. The failure to both understand and deal with these evolutionary core value systems result in needless clashes over worldviews, constant threats of "us" vs. "them" or class-based violence, and expensive, politicized solutions that are both inappropriate and ineffectual. The WTO debates and conflicts in Seattle exposed these fault-lines. But where are the integral, cohesive principles and processes that can bridge over the great, global divides? Who can untie the global knot? How can the positive elements within both capitalistic thinking and socialistic goals be meshed for the common good? Consider the Twelve Postulates, an integral initiative based on an understanding of the complex dynamics that forge and transform human cultures, communities, and countries.
Quo Vadis, Humanity?
In this post Cold War and postmodern age, we are asking serious questions regarding the preeminence of rigid ideologies, national boundaries, proprietary interests, technological utopias and naive, egalitarian demands in crafting the next global mesh. We hear all of these voices. We register all of the claims. We record all of the "truths." We see all of the demonstrations and displays of street theatre. But, we have a sense they all stream from the Tower of Babel. No wonder the realities are so diverse; the thoughts so confusing, the solutions so divisive. It is as if all six billion people have climbed on top of the Tower and are now shouting slogans at us. All seem to want a place in the sun, a position in the niche, and free tickets to Disney World.
If one were to do a content analysis of all the books and articles written on the global gaps, or arguments presented in academic or think tank settings, or even the political dialogue in national parliaments or international summits, we would see several clear and distinct patterns. Capitalism is great or greedy. Socialism is humane or harmful. Technology is a blessing or a curse. The rich are that way because they worked hard or simply won life's lottery. The poor are that way because they are undisciplined or oppressed by the rich. Economic redistribution will level the playing field or dumb down global intelligences. Which is it?
Most of the discussions center around competing economic models, open political access, mandated equality of opportunity and results, and a host of other external, top-down solutions. Arguments grow in emotional intensity around the size and distribution of budgets. Money becomes the magic elixir that will cure all ills. If we build attractive places for all to live the "losers" will be transformed into "winners" by simply changing street addresses. New rules and regulations will transform hearts and minds. Everybody will benefit from the rising tides of prosperity as the free market makes global waves. Everybody will benefit from the largess of big government, using taxes to fund social work schemes. And, of course, brilliant technological innovations will bring the Internet into each and every home, with or without electricity. Right.
But, why haven't these policies worked in the past? Look at Africa. Look at Haiti. Look at the Balkans. Look at Russia. Look at the Mississippi Delta. Look at Yorkshire's coal mining villages. Look at American Indian reservations. Look at the huddled masses everywhere yearning for a loaf of bread. Look at India's Calcutta kids. Look at border sweat shops and urban cesspools. Look at the number of "minority" teenagers in American prisons. In spite of all of the money spent, expectations raised, programs imposed, "good deeds" celebrated and "good works" performed, our problems persist. Why?
The central thesis of this document is that external approaches designed to improve the human condition are faulted unless they also include, as parallel and simultaneous tracks, the essential steps and stages in interior social development. In short, economic, political, and technological efforts must correlate with the levels of complexity of thinking within individuals and entire cultures. Unless the external efforts match, in their respective operating codes, the existing capacities within leadership cadres and the general population in specific countries, they will make things worse, not better. Like the deep sea diver who gets the bends by coming up too rapidly, or runs out of air if the ascent is delayed too long, entire societies are vulnerable to this too much: too little dynamic. This discussion will describe
- the eight stages of social development;
- the economic and political models appropriate to each stage; and
- twelve postulates to employ in the search for global cohesion in this age of societal fragmentation.
EIGHT STAGES OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: How Cultures Emerge
A social stage is more like an emerging wave than a rigid step. Each stage is simply a temporary, transitional plateau that forms in individual and collective minds. Some call them "paradigms" or "levels of psychological existence." In other writings I refer to them as valueMEMES or bio/psycho/social/spiritual DNA-type scripts that inculcate their codes throughout a culture, and even migrate around the planet on CNN and in 747s. These are fluid, living systems rather than rigid hierarchical steps. They form into spirals of complexity and exist within people, organizations, and entire societies. The terms "social stage," "cultural wave," "value system," and "vMEME code" are synonymous.
Cultures, as well as countries, are formed by the emergence of value systems (social stages) in the response to life conditions. Such complex adaptive intelligences form the glue that bonds a group together, defines who they are as a people, and reflects the place on the planet they inhabit. These cultural waves, much like the Russian dolls (a doll embedded within a doll embedded within a doll) have formed, over time, into unique mixtures and blends of instructional and survival codes, myths of origin, artistic forms, life styles, and senses of community. While they are all legitimate expressions of the human experience, they are not "equal" in their capacities to deal with complex problems in society.
Yet, the detectable social stages within cultures are not Calvinistic scripts that lock us into choices against our will. Nor are they inevitable steps on a predetermined staircase, or magically appearing like crop circle structures in our collective psyche. And, cultures should not be seen as rigid types, having permanent traits. Instead, they are core adaptive intelligences that ebb and flow, progress and regress, with the capacity to lay on new levels of complexity (value systems) when conditions warrant. Much like an onion, they form layers on layers on layers. There is no final state, no ultimate destination, no utopian paradise. Each stage is but a prelude to the next, then the next, then the next.
Each emerging social stage or cultural wave contains a more expansive horizon, a more complex organizing principle, with newly calibrated priorities, mindsets, and specific bottom-lines. All of the previously acquired social stages remain in the composite value system to determine the unique texture of a given culture, country, or society. In Ken Wilber's language, each new social stage "transcends but includes" all of those which have come before. Societies with the capacity to change, swing between I:Me:Mine and We:Us:Our poles. Tilts in one direction create the need to self-correct, thus causing a shift toward the opposite pole. Me decades become us epochs as we constantly spiral up, or spiral down in response to life conditions. Some social stages stress diversity generators that reward individual initiatives and value human rights. Other social stages impose conformity regulators and reward cooperative, collective actions. Societies will zigzag between these two poles, thus embracing different models at each tilt.
Once a new social stage appears in a culture, it will spread its instructional codes and life priority messages throughout that culture's surface-level expressions: religion, economic and political arrangements, psychological and anthropological theories, and views of human nature, our future destiny, globalization, and even architectural patterns and sports preferences. We all live in flow states; there is always new wine, always old wine skins. We, indeed, find ourselves pursuing a never-ending quest.
|THE LIVING STRATA IN OUR PSYCHO-CULTURAL ARCHEOLOGY|
|Color Code||Popular Name||Thinking||Cultural manifestations and personal displays|
|8||Turquoise||WholeView||Holistic||collective individualism; cosmic spirituality; earth changes|
|7||yellow||FlexFlow||Ecological||natural systems; self-principle; multiple realities; knowledge|
|6||Green||HumanBond||Consensus||egalitarian; feelings; authentic; sharing; caring; community|
|5||Orange||StriveDrive||Strategic||materialistic; consumerism; success; image; status; growth|
|4||Blue||TruthForce||Authority||meaning; discipline; traditions; morality; rules; lives for later|
|3||Red||PowerGods||Egocentric||gratification; glitz; conquest; action; impulsive; lives for now|
|2||Purple||KinSpirits||Animistic||rites; rituals; taboos; super- stitions; tribes; folk ways & lore|
|1||Beige||SurvivalSense||Instinctive||food; water; procreation; warmth; protection; stays alive|
Here's the key idea. Different societies, cultures and subcultures, as well as entire nations are at different levels of psycho-cultural emergence, as displayed within these evolutionary levels of complexity. Yet, and here is a critical concept, the previously awakened levels do not disappear. Rather, they stay active within the value system stacks, thus impacting the nature of the more complex systems. So, many of the same issues we confront on the West Bank (red to blue) can be found in South Central Los Angeles. One can experience the animistic (purple) worldview on Bourbon Street as well as in Zaire. Matters brought before city council in Minneapolis (orange to green to yellow) are not unlike the debates in front of governing bodies in the Netherlands.
So-called Third World societies are dealing, for the most part, with issues within the beige to purple to red to blue zones, thus higher rates of violence and poverty. Staying alive, finding safety, and dealing with feudal age conditions matter most. Second World societies are characterized by authoritarian (blue) one-party states, whether from the right or the left. Makes no difference. So-called First World nations and groupings have achieved high levels of affluence, with lower birth rates, and more expansive use of technology. While centered in the strategic, free-market driven, and individual liberty focused perspective all traits of the Stage 5 (orange) worldview new value systems (green, yellow, and turquoise) are emerging in the "postmodern" age. Yet, we have no language for anything beyond First World, believing that is the final state, the "end of history." Further, there is a serious question as to whether the billions of people who are now exiting Second and Third World life styles can anticipate the same level of affluence as they see on First World television screens. And, what will happen to the environment if every Chinese family had a two-car garage?
The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the GTO, and most multinational corporations reflect the blue-orange worldview codes of cultural discipline, financial accountability, and individual responsibility. Attacks are launched from three directions:
- Red zone activists, anarchists, and spoilers who love a good fight, and believe the Big Orange Money Machines are easy targets from which to exact tributes in various forms;
- Blue zone ideologies who defend the sacred against the secular and resent the intrusive technology and destruction of the holy orders and extol the purity of the faith, noble cause, and divine calling; and
- Green zone humanists and environmentalists who level charges of exploitation, greed, and selfishness, noting the eradication of indigenous cultures and the poisoning of the "pristine' environment by Big Mac golden arches.
The WTO demonstrations were so confounding to so many because they combined these red, blue and green critiques into single anti-orange crusades. Capitalism and materialism were the twin villains; spirituality, sharing, and social equality, along with sustainability, were the noble virtues. There appeared to be no middle ground; no zone of rapprochement; no win:win alternative. Herein lies the global knot: the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between and among the haves, the have nots, the have a little but want more, and the have a lot but are never content. There must be a better way.
STRATIFIED DEMOCRACY: Managing the Global Mesh
|POLITICAL SYSTEMS AND POWER DISTRIBUTION RATIOS|
UK & US
|stratified democracy||holonic democracy|
|Confederal unitary||Federal unitary||Integral|
|ECONOMIC SYSTEMS AND RESOURCE DISTRIBUTION FORMULAS|
|eat when hungry||mutual reciprocity & kinship||to victors belong the spoils||the just earn the rewards||each acts on own behalf to prosper||all should benefit equally||all formulas contribute to spiral health||resources focus on all life|
As you can see, the projected bulge of global thinking is in the purple/red zones, with a somewhat smaller peak in the orange enclaves. Many are locked in the blue authoritarian flatland and are just now waking up to orange, "good life" possibilities. At the same time, the postmodern mindset is attacking orange materialism, living more lightly on the land, and searching for meaning in Navaho sweat lodges or excursions into variations on the spiritual theme. In his new book entitled The Cultural Creatives (Three Rivers Press; ISBN: 0609808451; October 2001), Paul Ray describes Heartland-Blue, Modernity-Orange, and Cultural Creatives-Green. We add Integral-Yellow as the next developmental stage. There are different futures for different folks. The future of the Third World will be Second World "authority" before either First World autonomy or postmodern sensitivity become options. There are different futures for different folks along the evolutionary trajectory.
"Democracy," then, comes in many different variations, hues, and levels of complexity. Beware of imposing the form that fits a specific stage or zone on the Spiral onto other strata. This is an invitation to cultural disaster. There are good reasons why humans have created survival clans, ethnic tribes, feudal empires, ancient nations, corporate states, and value communities in our long bio-psycho-social-spiritual ascent. Robert D. Kaplan makes this point clearly in a lengthy essay "Was Democracy Just A Moment?" (The Atlantic Monthly, December 1997). He notes that authoritarian China (blue) is doing more for its citizens than democratic (orange) Russia, and that enlightened one-party-states and even dictatorial empires (red), can build a middle class more quickly than multiparty models (orange) in Africa.
The evolutionary spirals are dancing all over the planet, in a figurative sense. While some hear tribal drum beats, others are doing the tango, the waltz, the Texas two-step, the jitterbug, the Charleston, or even the line dance. In some dances each expresses self, oblivious to others. In others, we dance in concert, in a multitude of interlocking arrangements and movements. This is the global diversity. New political and economic models are beginning to appear, based on the assumptions and codes within integral commons and holistic meshworks. Welcome to the global dance.
THE TWELVE POSTULATES : AN INTEGRAL PERSPECTIVE ON GLOBALIZATION: The Prime Directive
A "postulate" is defined as "an essential presupposition, condition, or premise of a train of reasoning." Postulates must all hang together and be seen as both simultaneous and sequential in creating a critical mass shift. These shifts are part and parcel of The Prime Directive, a universal ratchet through layers of complexity that appear to impact human choice-making, as well as that of other life forms. Bacteria, viruses, genes and memes all appear to be shaped by nonlinear, adaptive intelligences as life as we know it continues to evolve on the planet.
Rather than existing as stand-alone, independent fragments, the postulates materialize "a train of reasoning" as they work in synergistic concert with each other. It makes no sense to argue as to which one is the most important. They are all interwoven into an evolving Global Meshworks. Note how horizons are broadening from families to clans, to tribes, to empires, to ancient nations, to corporate nation states, and now to global views. Yet, all of these viewing portals continue to exist on the planet earth. We are witnessing new versions of the historic continental drift as our economic, political, technological, and social worlds are, indeed, being pulled closer together.
Further, global problems will require global solutions which, of necessity, will require global thinking. The historic past:present: future time lines will need to be understood. Up stream and down stream viewing points must be maintained. Final state paralysis must be replaced by flow state perspectives. Simplistic car-wash solutions must be replaced by a rich understanding and respect for diversities in people, uniqueness in situations, and inevitable steps and stages in human emergence. Rigid rules, a product of fixed state ideologies, must be supplanted by fluctuating algorithms that engage a world full of variables, life cycles, wild cards and other complex dynamics that lie at the core of life itself. There are no guarantees; no eternal road maps; no inevitable destinations; no blue print etched in permanent ink. Yet, there are equations, formulas, fractals, consequences, flows, and processes. Each new solution will, over time, create new problems. Human motivations will change as our life conditions get better, or get worse. There are systems within us rather than types of us stratified decision-making stacks that constantly rearrange themselves in terms of priorities and senses of urgency. Different cultures and subcultures, then, are organic entities that lay on new levels of complexity as changes in life conditions warrant.
Finally, the real intent of these postulates, when taken as a group, is to shape both interior and exterior dynamics to expedite the natural principles that appear to drive societal transformation. Such dynamics rely heavily on self organizing principles and processes rather than mechanistic, artificial mandates or commandments. They are messy, chaotic, often violence-prone, and uncertain with false starts, regressions, quantum leaps, advances and retreats, within a whole wilderness of snarling beasts, wild cards, sink-holes, and life-sustaining oasis. Such a systemic and integral initiative is designed to dredge out channels, drain stagnant back waters, unblock tributaries, navigate white water rapids, and maintain the ongoing movement of ideas, energy, and the human spirit through time and space. In this sense we become co-creators with the The Prime Directive in crafting the human story.
But first, some personal questions for you to consider:
- Why do you see globalization issues the way that you do? Who are the "bad guys; the good girls?"
- What personal priorities shape your perceptual filters? Why do you have them? Have you changed?
- What will you personally gain or lose under different global scenarios?
- What mindsets, viewing-points, or value systems influence your own thinking?
- Which groups do you represent, causes do you support, and personal or professional commitments do you have which could alter your views?
- Are you open to new and different perspectives, fresh and expansive horizons?
THE TWELVE POSTULATES
- Reframe globalization issues around value system codes rather than behavioral stereotypes.
In place of the racial, ethnic, nationalistic, culture-bound, moralistic, economic, and oppressed/oppressor filters, consider viewing globalization matters through this integral/holistic (yellow & turquoise) frame. By understanding these deeper value system currents or complexity strata, it becomes possible to develop more realistic big picture views and craft practical, appropriate solutions to real problems.
Further, by recognizing the core cultural codes, as reflected in individuals and social groupings, one can quickly identify the generating, internal forces that will ultimately shape external behaviors and actions. For example, why is it the HIV infection rate so high in parts of Africa? If you identify the causative category as "African," or "black," or "poor" or "Third World," you will miss the point entirely. Not all Africans, blacks, poor, or Third Worlders exhibit the identical sexual behaviors associated with AIDS. When women are influenced by the purple/animistic/safety & security vMEME, it is in their interest to breed large families because their children will provide a work force (gather wood and water) and future security. When men are dominated by the red/exploitative/predatory value system, they will impregnate as many women as they can just to keep score. And, when they believe (purple) that having sex with a virgin will cure their AIDS infection, you can see why the plague spreads so rapidly. So, the pandemic is a purple and red problem; not a "black" problem. Blacks in the blue, orange, and green zones are less vulnerable to the destructive behaviors. "It's the vMEMES, stupid!"
- Create vital signs monitors to track deeper currents and critical indicators.
In order to track these underlying currents that flow over all of the continents, it is essential that we develop the capacity to monitor the concentrations and shifts, and be able to make sense out of the more traditional social/economic/health/quality of life indicators that are now available. This use of GIS (geographic information survey) type information displays can be enhanced by overlaying the patterns over the vMEMETIC codes to find deeper meaning in the data. Further, it should be possible to identify the early signs of an emerging "hot spot" that may explode in social eruptions. Such a scan would have warned the world community of bloody encounters-in-the-making in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Indonesia. We have Dow Jones indicators of the economic health and well being of various countries. Where are the value scans that can inform us of major changes, or sound the alarm when danger is on the horizon?
For example, when the Balkans political leaders were brought to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio to iron out some kind of peaceful settlement to the lingering conflict in the former Yugoslavia, they were exposed to cyber maps showing the actual land forms, mountain ranges, and border lines. What if, in addition to these surface-level profiles, they were shown the vMEMETIC contours of the various population groups, or the stages of social development that were apparent? And, if the UN could have monitor these cultural codes in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, or even East Timor, wouldn't the responses have been significantly different? It is dangerous to be trapped in a paradigm.
- Focus on the future as more significant than the past in shaping the present.
The past can never be replayed or replayed. Time is not a straight arrow that flows on a unbroken line from the past to the future Rather, we go through a number of nonlinear jumps that totally alter the conditions, world views, and operating systems. In one sense author Thomas Wolfe had it right: "We can't go home again."
This, of course, means crafting a compelling vision of a realistic future state, and then aligning the various efforts and projects to accomplish those objectives. This often happens through the creative use of scenario building processes, a technology well developed by John Petersen at the Arlington Institute in Virginia. (See www.arlingtoninstitute.org).
Yet, how do we "let go" of the past without jettisoning or eroding the essential codes that are required in crafting new and more complex social systems? Both raw capitalism and materialist Marxism pore acid on the indigenous cultures, both designed to create the New Man or Homo economicus. The second will foist a high consumer culture on more traditional environments. The first has used the Cambodian "killing fields" to wipe out every vestige of the older orders. Both do quite serious damage to the cultural strata. Both promote "final state" paralysis. And, there remains a serious question as to how we move beyond the anger and guilt from past deeds that often keep a society from moving ahead. Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the "Sign the Sorry Book" campaign in Australia with regard to the mistreatment of the aborigines are options. There is a growing movement within African American subcultures in the United States to demand reparation payments for the inhumane institution of slavery and pervasive influence of centuries of segregation and discrimination. Yet there are far better ways to address the resulting asymmetrics that are the product of many different forces. A shift from blame and be blamed, or even live and let live, in the direction of thrive and help thrive, may hold the key. Ultimately, even subcultures must pass through stages of development.
- Search for the new intelligences that appear around chaos and within crucibles.
One of the basic assumptions within Spiral Dynamics is that complex, adaptive intelligences form in response to the stress and strain forged by life conditions. In contrast to IQ (Intelligent Quotient), EQ (Emotional Quotient), AQ (Adversity Quotient) SQ ( Spiritual Quotient) or other expressions of intelligence that have appeared, we are describing a VQ (Values Quotient) capacity. VQ codes emerge whenever the older thinking patterns can no longer handle the new complexity that they have helped create. In short, "cometh the time, cometh the value codes."
The intent, here, will be to construct scaffoldings of solutions, arrange them according to the stages of social development, and be willing to scan for new insights and codes that will naturally appear, like diamonds on the veldt. These, like George Bush's "Thousand Points of Light" and Clinton's "Faces of Hope," could be quickly disseminated through the Internet and other avenues for communicating practical solutions to common problems. Why continue to "invent the wheels" when well-designed vehicles are already up and running elsewhere.
- Identify the superordinate goals that transcend other priorities and agendas.
A superordinate goal is a goal or value that everybody wants and needs to realize, but no individual or group can achieve it in an unilateral fashion. These overarching umbrellas can take a number of forms. Some spring from a "woe is us" syndrome in that we are all in this horrible situation together. In other cases, a "common enemy" will appear on the scene, one that threatens the well-being of each and all. The best superordinate goal umbrella is a genuine and constructive outcome that everybody values, but one that requires the longer term integration of the conflicting groups.
There are plenty of candidates for healthy superordinate goals: the threat of HIV-type viruses, the dangers inherent in global warming or other forms of environmental poison; the fear of nuclear explosions triggered by demagogues or militant "true believers" who have no fear of death; the growing gaps between rich and poor that sow seeds of class envy, and other wild cards such as water depletion, population growth, and biomedical monster gone amuck. All problems, challenges, and threats cut across national boundaries, ethnic enclaves, and gated communities.
- Facilitate and honor the inevitable steps, stages and waves in human emergence.
This is the critical pathway that lies at the "DNA" core of The Prime Directive. The focus, here, should be on the process dynamic itself, not on any specific system, level, stage, or whorl that have been activated in forming the complex, adaptive intelligences. Each of the emerging value system waves not only addresses the unique problems in the milieu that gave it birth, but also adds texture and quality to the more complex vMEME codes in the future. (Note the colorful spiral on the wrap around to this document. See how each of the colors bleeds up into the more complex zones.)
By keeping each stage/wave healthy, positive, and congruent, the avenues are open for movement to occur, if and when it has been "awakened" by life conditions. Instead of imposing the one-size-fits-all economic or political package on the entire developmental spectrum, one should craft the unique form that fits the different circumstances. Entire societies (and subcultures) move along the value system trajectory and should be assisted in meeting their needs and challenges at each of the stages, with the economic and political structures and models that are both tailored and appropriate to those conditions. It is both futile and counter productive to attempt to skip stages, or leap into a more complex world view before its time.
Lawrence E. Harrison provides the clearest rationale for this process in his work on value systems and prosperity codes. (See Who Prospers? How Cultural Values Shape Economic and Political Success (1992) and Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress (2000), written with Samuel P. Huntington). Harrison has demonstrated, in both his books and in his developmental work in several different cultural settings, that "traditional explanations like imperialism, dependency and racism are no longer adequate" in explaining why some countries and ethnic groups are better off than others. He stresses the critical importance of "cultural values that powerfully shape political, economic and social performance." In Spiral Dynamics terms these are the 4th Level (blue) and 5th Level (orange) vMEME the blend of "good authority" with "practical enterprise."
- Mobilize all available resources (quadrants/levels) and focus them like laser beams.
Ken Wilber has pioneered the concept of "all levels, all quadrants" as an essential framework for accelerating the development of people and cultures. Fragmented, isolated, ad hoc, piecemeal, and single quadrant solutions will fail to make a significant difference. Both interior (within the hearts and minds of individuals and cultures) and exterior (the exterior arrangements, economic perks, political structures, and social rules and regulations) must be meshed, coordinated, and aligned to the relevant level (stages of social development) to get maximum impact. See Wilber's new book, A Theory of Everything, for a thorough analysis.
Further, the efforts of families, schools, religion, law enforcement, business, professional societies, and political entitiesshould be integrated, aligned, and synergized to get them all on the same page. Their resources and efforts should befocused like laser beams on the essential steps and stages of emergence. These I call MeshWORK solutions.
- Contain destructive conflicts while respecting the essential cycles of change.
Life is full of dynamic tension, disruptions, conflicts, discord, and even violence. The problems may be within a stage (i.e. Lord of the Flies conflicts and holy wars) or between emerging stages (i.e. Lexus and the Olive Tree, Jihad vs. McWorld, or human rights vs. authoritarian values). Symptoms can be seen in societal blockages, cul-de-sacs, sink holes, minority vs. majority bloodshed, battles over scarce resources, inept and corrupt leadership, terrorism, and perpetual wars for national liberation or economic domination. Major conflicts should be "depressed" much like raging forest fires, from all angles and as quickly as possible. Minor scrimmages should be prevented if possible or allowed to play themselves out if relatively harmless. As the core vMEME flows are understood and accommodated, there will be fewer such conflicts as the human energy passes more freely the development dams and locks in an ongoing, positive fashion.
- Promote power differentiation through appropriate, stratified stages and layers.
No single political arrangement fits every situation. Each stratum within the human/social archeology will possess different operating philosophies in terms of how power is distributed. These are natural life forms, indigenous to the unique circumstances within each layer and level. Each will have its own unique organizing code, and can only respond to the models and processes which resonate with those "DNA" scripts.
Not every person has the capacity to recognize these vertical stages of development. Many will attempt to impose the codes from single operating levels onto the entire strata of emergence. Some require a Tribal Order that is safety-driven, while others will thrive in an Exploitative Empire that is power-driven. You can also see why an Authority Structures (order-driven) is appropriate in some settings, while the codes within a Strategic Enterprise (success-driven) is congruent elsewhere. When a strong middle class is constructed, and a modicum of affluence is shared, then the Social Network (people-driven) structures make a lot of sense. Today we are moving in the direction of the Systemic Flow (process-oriented) and Holonic Meshwork (synthesis-oriented) global models are relevant.
- Resolve major paradoxes by implementing creative win:win:win solutions.
Many political leaders and groupings are now searching for alternatives to the traditional bipolar models of decision-making whether expressed in the English Westminster formula, the American checks and balances procedures, or the historic Left vs. Right orientations from the French tradition. Even the win:win negotiation model carries with it the limited codes of the 5th Level (ORANGE) vMEME.
These new models are now forming in complex thinking cells in this country and elsewhere. They focus first on the ultimate "win," i.e. the integrity of the overall system, the well-being of all people, the long-term ethical principles, or the inherent wisdom within The Prime Directive. This is the universal touchstone that can be using in resolving deep conflicts. A vMEMETIC understanding, tracked by a Global Vital Signs Monitor, could enhance the quest for peace in the Middle East as well as in Africa. It should be part and parcel of the insights offered at Camp David, in Geneva, or at UN headquarters.
- Integrate the body, mind, soul and spirit in enriching the human experience.
Many of our dysfunctional actions and social breakdowns stem from our own personal fragmentation. While the Age of Enlightenment brought us many benefits of a material nature, we are now aware that such "progress" came with a price. We found ourselves separated from our spiritual sense, from the deeper values that resonate in our individual and cultural cores. Yet, it does no good to reject totally any of our senses of self. The key to health and well-being, within both a short term context and the longer flow, is to search for ways to mesh all of these attributes in an integral whole.
There are plenty of opportunities to access some of these intangible but powerful practices. They should be developed in our youth while they are open to the inner life and welcome experiences designed to expand conceptual horizons. And adults, who are growing weary of the fast-track, technology-rich and digitized world around them, often search for ways to express a spiritual sense, or bond themselves with a transcendent cause, or renew their souls by reconnecting with nature's wonder.
- Nourish and replenish the natural habitat so that all life forms may flourish.
Perhaps this postulate should come first because it may well be the one that should concern us the most. What is at stake here is preservation of life itself. We are now discovering the genetic codes that shapes our biological DNA scripts. This knowledge is both wonderful and frightening at the same time. The issue itself, and perhaps our permanent residency on the planet, will be determined by which of the vMEME codes controls the knowledge.
At one time we believed, for example, that the very best way to protect the elephant species is to focus specifically on the elephant the mating habits, the food requirements, and ways to keep individual elephants alive and reproducing. Today, the focus is on the environment the total milieu that will naturally support elephant life. The elephant sprang from that milieu and flourished for centuries within it. As long as it provides what elephants need to survive and flourish, they will.
No more prizes for forecasting the rain; only prizes for building the ark.
The late Professor Clare W. Graves, Union College, New York said it best:
At each stage of human existence the adult man is off on his quest of his holy grail, the way of life he seeks by which to live. At his first level he is on a quest for automatic physiological satisfaction. At the second level he seeks a safe mode of living, and this is followed in turn, by a search for heroic status, for power and glory, by a search for ultimate peace; a search for material pleasure, a search for affectionate relations, a search for respect of self, and a search for peace in an incomprehensible world. And, when he finds he will not find that peace, he will be off on his ninth level quest.
As he sets off on each quest, he belives he will find the answer to his existence. Yet, much to his surprise and much to his dismay, he finds at every stage that the solution to existence is not the solution he has come to find. Every stage he reaches leaves him disconcerted and perplexed. It is simply that as he solves one set of human problems he finds a new set in their place. The quest he finds is never ending.
Dr. Beck can be reached at 940.383.1209, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Box 797, Denton, Texas 76202, USA. His co-authored book Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership & Change is available from Blackwell Publishers. Spiral Dynamics seminars are planned for October 20-22 in London; November 3-5 in Boulder, Colorado, and December 8-10 in Washington DC.