Today’s post will be the fifth and final article this week exploring how a human consciousness development model known as Spiral Dynamics can help us understand the increasingly insane world around us, as well as chart a path forward. To fully grasp the concepts in today’s piece, you should read the prior four articles. I know it’s a lot to ask, but I wouldn’t have dedicated my entire first week back from a break to this stuff if I didn’t think it was of the utmost importance.
We’ve all heard variations of the famous quote by Joseph de Maistre that: “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” I’ve spent the last decade or so rejecting this. After all, it’s hard for someone who has dedicated his life to flushing out the severe societal problems we face to accept that this is our destiny.
Fortunately, the framework of Spiral Dynamics has helped me see the truth in this observation, at least when it comes to America, where we have far more avenues for liberty than more autocratic nations. According to Ken Wilber in his recent e-book, Trump and a Post-Truth World: An Evolutionary Self-Correction, America’s descent into a parasitic, unhealthy, increasingly authoritarian society is a function of traffic jam in the evolution of consciousness that occurred due to the total failure of green level thinking to develop many of the initially positive realizations that sprung up in the 1960’s. As Wilber explains:
One of the paradoxical reasons that it is so important that our culture at large understand the general basics of a developmental view is that such an understanding would allow people to see the general limits of just how much they will be able to agree with each other in the first place. All “1st- tier” stages (crimson, magenta, red, amber, orange, and green), as we saw, think that their truth and values are the only genuinely real and important truth and values. That is not likely to ever change fundamentally (it hasn’t for the last hundred-thousand years that it’s been in existence). But the degree to which those beliefs are held, and the aggression that is invested in such a belief, can indeed be softened, opened, dosed with a bit of kindness and compassion—and the example for this must come from the leading-edge. That’s one of the things that a leading-edge does—while being the “highest” level of evolution at that point, it leads all levels—it provides a direction that can energize the population at large—and failing that, it simply fails to lead. But that is exactly one of the problems that the collapse of green ended up generating—all other values were not met with an open compassion but were aggressively “deconstructed” and decommissioned and tossed in the “basket of deplorables,” and anyone who continued to believe them was subjected to harsh, vocal, and unrelenting ridicule. The “culture wars” (which, by the way, are exactly the battle between amber, orange, and green—between traditional mythic religion, modern science and business, and postmodern multiculturalism) —but the culture wars, under green “leadership,” went nuclear. What green was teaching this culture, by example, were sophisticated ways to despise (and deconstruct) those who disagreed with you—they aren’t just wrong, they are the source of every major force of oppression, injustice, slavery, and worse. You do not want to embrace them with kindness and understanding, you literally want to deconstruct them (while you yourself ounder in aperspectival madness, cackling loudly with each new victory helping move others to an equal infestation by aperspectival insanity). What so desperately needs to be understood, from a developmental and evolutionary perspective, is that each major stage of development becomes a possible station in life for those who stop there, and there is nothing that can be done about that—except make sure that all the means of further development are made as widely available as possible (a core task of the leading-edge), and—just as importantly—making room in the society for individuals who are at each station of life (red, amber, orange, green, or integral), and douse the whole affair with outrageous amounts of loving kindness—and do so by example.
Green hasn’t been doing so by example, as everyone knows by now, and based on some of the recent insane outbursts of violence at Berkeley, for instance, I’m not particularly optimistic that green will get it’s act together and lead the way forward. As such, I gravitative towards Wilber’s second possible resolution to the problem, if we are to move forward.
The one other option, slightly different, is for evolution to leap-frog to an integral stage of unfolding as its new leading-edge, which would inherently perform all of the tasks now required of a regenerated green. This “leap- frogging” would not constitute skipping a stage (which is not possible), but it would mean building a higher stage on a diseased predecessor, which lands it with a handicap right from the start. The integral attitude, however, is designed to effectively spot and route around such roadblocks, and this we would expect to see.
The most likely course of action, however, is some mixture of both. That’s not a cop-out, it’s a precise prediction. Green simply cannot function, not even on its own level, if it continues in its extreme, mean-green-meme (vindictively seeing “deplorables” everywhere), hyper-sensitive, over-the- top politically correct, dysfunctional, and pathological form in which it now exists. Its inherent contradictions are increasingly being seen and felt, and ways to work around them are being explored (which incorporate the partial truths of green but not their extreme and pathological absolutisms).
That lessening of green’s pervasive hostility and vindictiveness toward all previous stages of development is what we identied as “step one” in the requisite self-healing of green. There is at least a decent likelihood that this will—and to some degree already has—begun to happen. On the other hand, “step two”—the realization that growth holarchies provide the actual basis of the value judgments that green is already making, and that these growth holarchies also are the only truly effective means to displace the dominator hierarchies that green correctly ranks on the bottom of the list of social desirables—is a bit less likely to occur at the green level itself, but will most likely depend upon the transformation to integral 2nd tier. My strong suspicion, therefore, is that green will perform a good deal of step one on its own, and that this will have a very positive effect on culture at large. (And conversely, to the extent that at least this first step is not taken, then the self-corrective drive of evolution will continue to push, and push, and push into existing affairs, driving more Trump-like “disasters” as evolution redoubles its efforts to force its way through these recalcitrant obstructions.)
But step two will likely be taken at this time only by integral communities themselves, and otherwise will await the growth of 10 percent of the population which would initiate a tipping point and propel the integral stage into being the next-higher leading-edge, with altogether stunning repercussions.
Contributing to this growth and increase in truly inclusive awareness, and under the drive to discover “what’s next” after postmodernism, various Integral theories and metatheories are increasingly gaining ground, and wherever they do, they automatically correct the green dysfunctions that they unearth. Little by little, in other words, an Integral awareness is helping to embody an evolutionary self-correction in its very actions.
It is this Integral view that I wish to recommend to any who are ready for such…In embracing all of yesterday, it opens us to all of tomorrow. And it will provide a leading-edge of evolution the likes of which humanity has literally never seen before.
This is indeed the next, authentic and genuine leading-edge, and it has already begun its inevitable emergence. It carries with it the inexorable drive to “transcend and include” literally all of the previous stages of development and the stations of life that they now inhabit—but minus the inherent rancor that each of them, on its own, feels for the others. Humankind has never had a leading-edge like this at any previous point in history. It is indeed “cataclysmic,” “a monumental leap in meaning,” and it is here for each of us to embrace and express should we so desire. And it is the one, sure, and certain balm—if authentically inhabited—for the isolating, regressive, repressive, mean-spirited, and fragmenting state in which the world now nds itself rapidly drowning.
This week’s series of posts aren’t meant to speak to everybody. These five pieces were written because the Spiral Dynamics model initiated me into a powerful framework that spoke to me on a very deep level and provided me with incredible understanding. As such, I felt the concept would resonate equally powerfully with a minority of you, and based on the response so far, this has definitely been the case.
As noted earlier, Wilber thinks 10% is a key tipping point. In other words, if we can get 10% of the population to center around a yellow second-tier level of thought, which consists of a momentous leap in consciousness, the entire world will change for the better. I agree. I’m not here trying to sell you a seminar on how to expand your consciousness; rather, I think these article can help spark some sort of revelation in the minds of many of you who are already at yellow, or at least at the cusp of such a transformation. Since consciousness can and does regress under conditions of stress and fear, it’s extremely important to be conscious of your consciousness so that you don’t fall back into lower states.
Unfortunately, I see many people regressing at the moment, and I see the media as an intentional force in trying to get people to lower their consciousness. A perfect way to tell if someone is operating at a low level of consciousness is if they’re constantly placing tens of millions of their fellow citizens into an outside group they subsequently demonize. It’s perfectly fine and healthy to harshly criticize the system itself and the many powerful individuals doing awful things within it, but once you start dehumanizing large swaths of the population as a matter of your worldview, you are most certainly on a very counterproductive path that will lead to merely a blackhole of nothingness for society.
At this stage, many of us are able to diagnose the problem, but that’s not going to be enough to truly change the world. I believe the determining factor as to whether we emerge from this dark period on the other side of a far more enlightened world, will be the way we respond to the situation. This is why second-tier thinking, or integral (yellow) consciousness is so important. It can be difficult to put this higher stage of consciousness into words, but here’s a snippet from Wilber’s book:
Beginning two or three decades ago, researchers began to notice the emergence of a stage that, in its actual contours, was very confusing. Each major stage to date had a common characteristic: each thought that its truth and values were the only real truth and values in existence—all the others were misguided, infantile, goofy, or just plain wrong. But this new stage had a radically new quality: it believed that all the previous stages had some sort of significance, that they all were important, and that they all must be included in any approach that hoped to be comprehensive, inclusive, and truly integrated. For this reason, it was usually called things like “integrated,” “systemic,” “integral,” and so on. But it marked a staggeringly new and radically different type of evolutionary stage altogether, unique in the entire history of humanity. Clare Graves, a pioneering developmentalist, called it “cataclysmic” and a “monumental leap of meaning.” As noted, around 5 percent of the population has reached this stage in our ongoing unfolding (and we’ll have more to say about it in a moment).
If you’re still confused, I’m going to try to describe it with a couple of real world examples. First, in the monetary realm. As I tweeted yesterday:
Consciousness example in monetary realm:
Low consciousness wants return to government run gold standard.
High consciousness creates Bitcoin
— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) February 9, 2017
If Bitcoin blew you away when you first discovered it, and continues to do so to this day, Spiral Dynamics can help explain why. Bitcoin was an expression in the physical world of the newly emergent leading-edge integral level consciousness. It drew lessons from history and attempted to take the best of orange and green worldviews and incorporate them into an entirely new form of money. We see the clear presence of free markets and individualism, as well as the intentional separation of the system from dominator hierarchies (bureaucratic government meddling), which had corrupted all money before it. Its greenness is evident in the fact that by design no individual or company controls the network. Global, decentralized, revolutionary technology. This is perhaps the perfect example of integral consciousness operating on our planet at this time from an economics standpoint, and why it has captured the imagination of so many, while at the same time being violently rejected by so many others (mainly those operating within the pathological green framework, with Paul Krugman being the perfect example).
We can also see integral consciousness at play in the different ways people choose to protest. A great example of very low level consciousness at play was the mindless violence at the University of California Berkeley a couple of weeks ago (for more on this, see the post: Lost in the Political Wilderness). Contrast that lunacy, to the way two cities decided to fight back against Wells Fargo. NPR reports:
Seattle’s City Council has voted to not renew its contract with Wells Fargo, in a move that cites the bank’s role as a lender to the Dakota Access Pipeline project as well as its creation of millions of bogus accounts. As a result, the city won’t renew its contract with the bank that expires next year.
The unanimous vote will pull the city’s more than $3 billion in annual cash flow from the banking giant, the council says. Seattle says the bidding process for its next banking partner will “incentivize ‘Social Responsibility.'”
Not long after Seattle’s vote, the City Council in Davis, Calif., took a similar action over the pipeline. It voted unanimously to find a new bank to handle its roughly $124 million in accounts by the end of 2017.
If you want to engage in politically potent protest that can truly scare the powerful, that’s how you do it. Not by macing young women wearing Bitcoin hats.
But what about Washington D.C. itself? That’s going to be much harder considering I believe politicians on both sides consist of some of the worst individuals society has to offer.
Bipartisan today means taking the worst of liberalism and conservatism and agreeing on it. When it comes to war, bailing out Wall Street, and striping the public of civil liberties we are overflowing with bipartisanship. We need to do the exact opposite, by taking the good parts of both, and integrating them.
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