Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber

Bill MoyerBill Moyer has spent more than 40 years as a full-time theorist, writer, organizer, consultant, educator and participant in social movements focused on a wide-variety of issues on three continents. The originator of the MAP Model, Moyer has given training courses and workshops to over 20,000 people. This posting is taken from the Spiral Dynamics listserve, and touches on a issue noticed by many in Europe: Wilber has written extensively on the negative aspects of the green meme (which he has termend the Mean Green Meme), but he seldom if ever addresses the "Mean Orange Meme", the negavtive consequences of global capitalism.


"The Missing Links"
of Spiral Dynamics
and Ken Wilber

The Mean Orange Meme (MOM)
and the Healthy Green Meme (HGM)

Bill Moyer

My plea is that SD and Ken Wilber add the MOM and the HGM to their proper central places in our writings and dialogues.

Yes, Richard, the "environment" is "all the way down and all the way up", ala "turtles". The environment is in the lower right hand quadrant. It isn't mentioned much in the emails of the SD list serv, because the lower right hand quadrant, especially "social systems and institutions" is not much focused on. And the environment doesn't come into the discussion until Green; the environmental movement's efforts to challenge the destruction of the environment and resources by unhealthy modernity, ie, unhealthy Orange, is discussed below.

I think that the lower right hand quadrant is somewhat ignored in all of the emails on the SD listserve, because there is an extreme over-emphasis on the two left-hand quadrants --- individual consciousness and cultural values, beliefs, etc. and inter-subjectivity. The Green level, is almost entirely referred to solely as something that happens in the two left-hand (and sometimes top right hand) quadrants, such as group dynamics, community, values, egalitarianism, individualism etc. This, consequently, leads to a critical vacuum in the discussion, particularly of MOM and the HGM of social activism--both of which should be honored for their critical importance in the spiral in the discussions and writings of both Spiral Dynamics and Ken Wilber.

I have spent much of my personal and work life for the past 41 years, at the Green/yellow level of organizing positive, nonviolent, Gandhian/Kingian social movements at the HGM level, i.e., Healthy Green Meme, These social movements, e.g., for civil & human rights, peace, justice, anti-war, environmental, global justice (including anti-World Trade Organization), etc. to address what I think has been and still is presently the biggest problem/threat to humanity's existence, MOM, the Mean Orange Meme. This is the social organization of Powerholder institutions and systems of latter-day modernity, especially the giant corporations and governments (ie, government and economic sectors as opposed to the civil society sector) which have been the chief (but not only) contributor to so much of the planet's and people's devastation and wars.

But both the HGM (of social movement activism) and MOM (the destructiveness of modern economic & governmental institutions and systems) have been largely ignored by both Ken and SD. Typically, when an example is given regarding Green, it is unhealthy Green, ala MGM. And I have rarely seen references to MOM.

I believe that one of the key aspects of modern society, beginning with the founding of the U.S. and especially since 1960, has been the emergence of citizen-based social movements addressing the Mean Orange Meme, the overwhelmingly unhealthy aspects of Orange which has grown exponentially since the takeoff of U.S. Global power and technology, especially since WW II. The now worldwide MOM system includes these basic components:

  1. in the U.S.(and the industrialized west) an unsustainable political economy & culture of material growth of production, consumption, and waste, the throw-away society, pollution, destruction of the environmental life support systems, using up nonrenewable resources, global warming, etc. This is not only unsustainable itself, but today's modern Orange meme requires:
  2. The importation of massive amounts of cheap natural resources, agricultural products, labor and capital from 100 Third World nations. Since so much of their resources flow here, and at dirt cheap prices, it requires that 50% or more people in those countries be impoverished, especially indigenous 1st nation peoples who are on these lands, and the environment devastated.
  3. This, in turn, requires military dictatorships, or their equivalent, to put down the rebellions of the peoples in all the Third World nations as they try to defend themselves against the thefts of their lands, resources and environment and culture. This requires a massive military, plus paramilitary and death squads, etc.
  4. This, in turn, requires massive support of these dictators by the U.S. Government, including money, military material & training, and US. Intervention as needed to prop up dictators or to create new regional areas of control (ala Central Asia lately). Hence the U.S. Has bombed 23 nations since ww II and invaded 220 nations since the founding of the U.S.
  5. This in turn has required that 50% of the U.S. Federal government's budget be used for military purposes in one form or another.

In sum, the MOM system requires that the great majority of the people in the Third World be impoverished and in undemocratic countries. They are not the "Developing Nations" but the "Never-to-be-Developed" nations for 3 reasons: (1) So much of their resources come to the US/West & are used up in warfare they can't use them to develop themselves; (2) There is no "Fourth World" of 1,000 nations for them to steal the resources from needed to replicate the First World system; and (3) If the Third World developed ala the First World, it would require 5 1/2 planet earths' resources and environment, according to the Ecological Footprint Project of the Univ of Vancouver, Canada.

While I normally focus on the whole spiral, first & second tiers, unhealthy and healthy at each level, and the 4 quadrants, in my work with activists, in this brief email I am just commenting on the lack of MOM and HGM in the on-going SD listserve discussions. I mention this to minimize being written off as a "typical Greenie who hates Orange and prevents the development to second tier."

In my training/workshops of activists, I include the four quadrants (I, We & It & its) and every meme of spiral dynamics, including the healthy and unhealthy of each level. I train activists to include as part of their strategy to honor every level and quadrant, and to help each level go from unhealthy to healthy, move from one meme to the next, and to develop a personal and political perspective/strategy from the 2nd tier, or to do the best they can with it. And I especially focus on how damaging the MGM, mean Green meme, is to the effectiveness of social activism and help activists to address this critical problem.

As can be seen from the above discussion, I have been helped immensely by the work of Ken, Don, Chris, and Spiral Dynamics --- they have provided me with critical frameworks and insights that I and other activists have needed. My plea is that the authors and users of Spiral Dynamics and Ken Wilber's work add the Mean Orange Meme and the Healthy Green Meme to their proper central places in our writings and dialogues.

My new book, Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements, describes how healthy social movements at the HGM level work. The last chapter briefly mentions DD and Ken's all Quadrants/all levels, and the problems of MGM, all the subject for my future next book. You can buy the book from a bookstore or from me. Information is also on my website:

February 10, 2002 (a revision of a recent email I sent to the SD listserve)

Bill Moyer
[email protected]
415/387 3361

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