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Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].


The Unholy

Of Red, Orange, and Blue Levels of Development
in American Culture and Society

Joe Corbett

Will the true, and truly problematic, 'mean color-scheme meme', in America, please stand up?! And we're not talkin' here about the 'mean green meme'...

A classic problem in critical social theory is why a large chunk of the working class in democratic societies seem to consistently vote against their own economic interests, and give their loyalty and support to those who do the bidding of the power-elite and wealthy. The answer to this has been a combination of explanations, from the authoritarian personality who fears and strongly identifies with a strict and punishing authority, to the culture of pseudo-religion, militarism, and consumerism that simultaneously empowers, soothes, and provides escape from the pain and depression of a life of drudgery and meaningless work, when work can be found.

Under such circumstances it would be odd if a large percentage of the masses did not give their support to authorities who vow to uphold God and country, punish deviants, and sacralize family and marriage as the primary nuclear-unit of an endless-needs consumption ethic. In America these concerns are most clearly and strongly represented by Republicans, but no politician in America can be elected without these as foundational.

Hence, authoritarianism, narcissism, and infantilization are woven into the fabric of oppression in advanced industrialized democracies like America through a steady dose of cultural entertainment and sports heroes (idolatry) permanent militainment spectacles for quasi-religious patriotic redemption and deliverance of the disaffected and disempowered daily, hourly, and minute-by-minute advertising of personal inadequacies and their consumer-product solutions (commodification of the soul) 'energized' scapegoating (pathologized morality) of immigrants, Muslims, gays, liberals, etc. in conservative media, and this in a country where a large percentage of the population identify themselves as conservative. Will the true, and truly problematic, 'mean color-scheme meme', in America, please stand up?! And we're not talkin' here about the 'mean green meme', as Ken Wilber so often likes to claim is one of America's biggest problems.

The above is an outline of some of the contours of the basic configuration in American culture and society at the turn of the 21st century, and it also describes an alliance of red (authoritarianism) and blue (conservative values) with orange (material success and achievement-orientation) levels of development on a collective level. Although not in and of itself a 'bad' alliance, the proportionate imbalance of power and money within the orange level over blue and red levels to the point of overt manipulation and deception by the business classes and their highly paid pundits (with Obama and his advisers as exemplary among them) over the working classes, has distorted the overall development of the whole that has become contemporary America.

The consequence of the relentless pursuit of self-interest in search of profits by corporations, assisted by the politicians they have elected and the media, schools, and conservative think-tanks they fund and control, has been the systematic undermining of human communities and nature, not to mention the wholesale destruction of labor and foreign peoples. And this is where the alliance of red, orange, and blue has become truly unholy and immoral.

In an unbroken chain of cause and effect, from the continued decimation of the middle class in the advanced industrialized countries to enrich international investment portfolios and export the American style of production and consumption to billions of people, to the imperialist resource wars for fossil fuel energy that will make globalization of consumption possible (if only too briefly and too late for most), to the environmental apocalypse we are all rapidly heading for, there is little of sustainable value to be found in the modern alliance with conventional and preconventional social forces.

What is desperately needed in America at this juncture is an intervention into the clinical insanity of the neoliberal ideology of free-market-individualism, i.e. unregulated and tax-exempted corporate personhood, that continues its hegemony despite its failures in creating the greatest social inequality since the 1920s and the Gilded Age, a politically untouchable permanent warfare economy that continues to bankrupt the country and damage the international standing and security of America, and the continued reliance on a fossil fuel energy infrastructure that leads much of the population into denial that global warming climate change is upon us.

The Occupy movement is a much welcome counter-weight to the Tea Party and may be seen as a green alternative to the modern red-orange-blue alliance.

In this regard, the Occupy movement is a much welcome counter-weight to the Tea Party, and may be seen as a green alternative (a postmodern commitment to inclusion and diversity without any specific or overarching goals) to the modern red-orange-blue alliance. However one mistake the green Occupy movement must not make is an insistence on orange-green identity politics over the larger unifying issue of the material stakes at hand for the entire human race. While justice and representation for women and minorities are important, the far more urgent task is uniting all categories of people on the basis of class rather than race, gender, creed, or nation, for it is all too apparent that simply having a black man as president and a woman as secretary of state, not to mention any given republican who receives messages from god, for instance, are not the solutions we can hope for regarding much needed changes.

Class, as in 'We, the People', is a universal category that can help form an alliance of green and yellow leading the way, with orange in tow from behind shorn of its self-interest in profits before people and nature. The orange strategic rationality of power-elites serving their self-interests to the detriment of the majority and the long-term future of the planet must be openly and actively confronted and defeated by a declared war against its unholy and immoral transgressions against humanity and nature as a whole. Only by giving a spine to our spiritual hopes and dreams will those hopes and dreams have a chance of being materialized here and now on earth. May we all get through the much needed modern divorce in one piece, so that a future post-postmodern marriage may commence.

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