Book Reviews

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Why You Should Read MEMEnomics

 by Dana Anspach, About Money , OCTOBER 18, 2014

Click here to read entire article on About Money website. Overall MEMEnomics provides a view of economic development that I have never seen before. I found it interesting, insightful, and intriguing in many ways.  If I had my way, all economic and policy leaders would have to read it.

Seeking Alpha with Memenomics

By: Range Chiever, Seeking Alpha February 11, 2014

I just finished reading Said Dawlabani’s “Memenomics- The Next Generation Economic System”, and I am still buzzing. Or maybe that is my first cup of Death Wish coffee. In my investing lifetime there has been a handful of works that greatly advanced my investing intellect. Books and articles from Peter Lynch, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger come to mind. This book may top them all. You see, investing is all about seeing value where others don’t. If one sentence could articulate what seeking alpha is about, that would be it.

However, I would recommend this book to only a small subset of souls who happen to mix economics with their psychology. This is not exactly peanut butter and chocolate. To really understand the message it requires a basic understanding of the works of Clare Grave’s Spiral Dynamics or at least a decent understanding of the study of human development.

The book reframes the economic history of the United States as a process of developmental growth from the early 20th century up through the financial disaster of 2008 and then to today.

His assessment of the crash in 2008 through a cultural development lens is something that has been swirling in my head for half a decade. He integrated and articulated many key points into a beautiful story that resolved many conflicts I was struggling with. I’ve always scoffed at folks who said that the Government bailout was not the best course of action during the crisis. He has changed my mind.

So, how can an economics book about personal and cultural development possibly help your investing prowess? Well, once you understand that the US economy is evolving and developing along a path of greater development, it is easier to see the general direction of the economy and maybe more importantly, spot those companies which are poised to benefit from this development.

Said used two companies to illustrate highly evolved corporations of the future. They are Google and Whole Foods Market. Much to my delight, these were two companies that I added to my portfolio in early 2009.

It’s impossible to explain the context in the book required to understand the praise for these two companies. In his terms, it is the appreciation of People, Profit and Planet as opposed to almost all other companies where Money Only Matters. It’s like the friend who calls only when he needs something compared to the friend who calls because he genuinely likes you.

He does differentiate between the two as well. Google is a disrupter in the evolving technology field and Whole Foods while steeped in an age old industry is finding ways to differentiate itself. He outlines characteristics, from WF’s restriction on executive pay and team based culture to Google’s democratization of knowledge and their unique venture finance arm. There is so, so much more and if this interests you at all, you must read the book.

I have renewed vigor today in my search for alpha. It reminds me of the time I first read Peter Lynch’s One Up on Wall Street or the several hour binge session of Warren Buffet’s annual letters to shareholders. I am posting today looking for a few souls out there that might have a similar view or plowed into this untouched jungle with machete in hand.

Disclosure: I am long WFM, GOOG.

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Review of Memenomics; The Next Generation Economic System
By Jeff Salzman,  The Daily Evolver.  January 14, 2014

Dawlabani charts historical economic systems according to their position on the spiral of development. He has worked with Don Beck, co-author of Spiral Dynamics, for over ten years, and definitely stands on Beck’s shoulders with a virtuoso understanding of the Spiral Dynamics’ model of evolution, and a brilliant application of its explanatory power to the dismal science of economics. As I told Said early in our conversation, this is the book I’ve been waiting for, and I finished reading it with a much more sophisticated understanding of the karmas of the historical economic systems humanity has created, especially the ones that are online (and fighting with each other) right now.

Every developmental altitude has its own economic system, and the natural forces of human development inevitably create economies that mirror the values of every culture and time.

Starting with the dawning of humanity, the archaic stage (infrared altitude) exhibits a primitive, instinctual focus on day-to-day survival. That’s as complex as the economy gets at that stage. The second stage, tribal (magenta altitude) continues to emphasize survival but is more complex, with longer survival timelines (a season instead of a day), with differentiated functions among members of the tribe, the emergence of trade and bartering, and a communal, self-sacrificial allegiance to elders and tribal customs.

RED – “FEIFDOMS OF POWER”

It’s when we get to the next stage, the warrior stage of development (red altitude), that things become more relevant to our contemporary life. Naming it the “Fiefdoms of Power Cycle,” Dawlabani points out that the identifying attributes of the warrior stage — a big boss, economic exploitation and empire building — characterize the economy of United States in the first part of our history. This stage really kicked in at the end of the Civil War, and the late 1800‘s saw the rise of  John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt and the roster of robber barons who built huge enterprises through the force of their own will, unimpeded by governmental or labor power structures that might keep them in check.

AMBER- “PATRIOTIC PROSPERITY CYCLE”

This era came to an end with the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II, giving rise to an economy built on the values of the traditional stage of development (amber altitude), with a renewed focus on the common good (recapitulating the communal vibe of the tribal meme). Called the “Patriotic Prosperity Cycle”, this economic system seeks to reign in the excesses of red exploitation using government regulation, taxation, and powerful labor movements, all of which grew enormously over the subsequent decades. This is the era of the great social goals such as winning the war, building a national infrastructure of highways, airports and seaports, and supporting an educated middle class that exhibits good, bourgeois values such as thrift, hard work and the ability to delay gratification.

In the United States, the traditionalist economic stage thrived in the postwar era, until it eventually played itself out with the economic malaise of the mid 1970′s. This was when taxes rates had spiked to seventy to eighty percent of income, inflation was as high as twenty percent and labor unions were proving to be as ruthless as the big bosses had been in the previous stage.

ORANGE – “ONLY MONEY MATTERS”

Enter Ronald Reagan in 1980, and a new stage of economic development based on the values of modernity: freedom from government coercion, and a resurgence of autonomy. Tax rates we’re cut to under 30% and labor unions lost power. Dawlabani calls this the age of “Only Money Matters” and it kicked off a new trend of laissez-faire government, deregulation and free trade.

As he writes, “this newly empowered Enterprise MEME had found a partner in government that fully understood its right to make a profit over all other considerations. A business owner’s decision to relocate the factory to China became merely an accounting matter without a struggle with the moral obligation to provide local jobs, or a consideration of the patriotic duty to participate in the collective prosperity of America as a whole.”

This was the beginning of the end of traditional manufacturing in America, and during Reagan’s first term America permanently lost over 2.5 million manufacturing jobs, and wealth was redistributed away from the working-class to educated, white-collar workers and, of course, owners and shareholders. There was an upside as well, of course. As the economy grew, inflation was tamed and a new economy arose based on service, technology and knowledge.

This modern economic system has gone for the last thirty years, and is now in its own phase of disintegration. America has become less equal, and more stratified and economically immobile. Over ninety percent of the increase in wealth has gone to the top two percent of the population.

And of course the most dramatic mark of the end of this era is the real estate and financial meltdown that began in 2008. Dawlabani begins MEMEonomics with a vivid retelling of the crises, and the come-down of Alan Greenspan, the Ayn Rand protege who became a god of the modern economy as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and after the meltdown admitted to Congress that he wasn’t sure his theories really worked anymore.

GREEN – “DEMOCRATIZATION OF INFORMATION”

But the beat goes on, and now we are seeing the rise of a new economy based on the values of the green postmodern meme, which Dawlabani refers to as the “Democratization of Information” economy. This is largely driven by technological innovations (the internet, social media, etc.) that are replacing proprietary and secretive practices of past economic systems with open source and collaborative technologies. The “old media” in general has had to adapt or die because today everyone is a consumer and creator of information. Anybody can publish a book, or music or art, but almost nobody makes much money.

We’re still orange enough, however, so that those folks who do make money make gobs of it. But the inequality of rewards is not feeling right to more and more people. Culturally we are seeing the ascent of egalitarian and humanitarian values that are seeking a redistribution of wealth and opportunity. Obamacare is a prime example of the type of policies that arise out of this value structure, and if the theory is correct we will be seeing more such similar innovations.

I like Dawlabani’s thinking because it helps us understand that despite the endless political battles over economic ideology in real time, the larger forces at work are actually evolutionary, and if the evolutionary theories are correct, inevitable.

TEAL and TURQUOISE:  “NATURAL SYSTEMS and FUNCTIONAL FLOW”

Of course green “Democratization of Information” is not the end of the road. Next up is the momentous leap into integral territory, and the emergence of an economy based on the values of the teal stage of development, which Dawlabani describes as exhibiting “Natural Systems and Functional Flow.”  This economy “distributes the wealth and the abundance of innovation to anyone willing to participate.” It is both global and local at the same time, relying on vast infrastructure of informed global citizens.

This emerging integral structure, which he estimates currently encompasses five to seven percent of global GDP, is coming on faster than any previous structure, as evolution is accelerative. Dawlabani writes “today, a group of women weavers in a remote village in Africa can find willing buyers for their garments anywhere in the world with nothing more than a satellite phone equipped with a good camera. This is how the knowledge economy can bring prosperity to a purple meme [magenta altitude] that would have taken decades, if not centuries, to reach under the old system.”

Dawlabani provides one of the best outlines for the emerging integral economy that I have run across. Fundamental to this arising of a more conscious economic system is the arising of more conscious human beings, particularly leaders who eschew value systems which are “limited to expressions of selfish interests in favor of one that sees the essential need for all life forms on the planet to continue to exist.”

“Here, business leaders look beyond the traditional model that looks at maximizing stockholder value and the accumulation of vast individual wealth as their primary objective to see the proper distribution of wealth as a basic quality of life issue.”

“Traditional market analysis for product viability is replaced by a deep conviction that if you create a product that raises the consciousness of the consumer, it will create its own new market.”

Dawlabani points to several real-life exemplars of this emerging integral economy, such as Google, Apple and Whole Foods. Of Google he writes, “the essence of second-tier Natural Design is reflected in Google’s marginal advantage on an internet-fueled massive scale that simultaneously manages all three value systems, blue [traditional], orange [modern] and green [post-modern], and a functional flow towards a superordinate goal, respecting each, embracing the healthy aspects of each and aligning each towards companies goals, project goals and Google’s overarching social goal of not being evil.”

MEMEnomics is a powerful book that places the often confused and confusing world of economics into a coherent context. It has given me not only a more complex and nuanced understanding of economic history, but a new comfort with and optimism for our economic future. I highly recommend it.

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GREEN – “DEMOCRATIZATION OF INFORMATION”

But the beat goes on, and now we are seeing the rise of a new economy based on the values of the green postmodern meme, which Dawlabani refers to as the “Democratization of Information” economy. This is largely driven by technological innovations (the internet, social media, etc.) that are replacing proprietary and secretive practices of past economic systems with open source and collaborative technologies. The “old media” in general has had to adapt or die because today everyone is a consumer and creator of information. Anybody can publish a book, or music or art, but almost nobody makes much money.

We’re still orange enough, however, so that those folks who do make money make gobs of it. But the inequality of rewards is not feeling right to more and more people. Culturally we are seeing the ascent of egalitarian and humanitarian values that are seeking a redistribution of wealth and opportunity. Obamacare is a prime example of the type of policies that arise out of this value structure, and if the theory is correct we will be seeing more such similar innovations.

I like Dawlabani’s thinking because it helps us understand that despite the endless political battles over economic ideology in real time, the larger forces at work are actually evolutionary, and if the evolutionary theories are correct, inevitable.

TEAL and TURQUOISE:  “NATURAL SYSTEMS and FUNCTIONAL FLOW”

Of course green “Democratization of Information” is not the end of the road. Next up is the momentous leap into integral territory, and the emergence of an economy based on the values of the teal stage of development, which Dawlabani describes as exhibiting “Natural Systems and Functional Flow.”  This economy “distributes the wealth and the abundance of innovation to anyone willing to participate.” It is both global and local at the same time, relying on vast infrastructure of informed global citizens.

– See more at: http://www.dailyevolver.com/#sthash.bIWTLhPD.dpuf

MEMEnomics The Next Generation Economic System

By: Wayne Hurlbert, Blog Business World

Reviewed October 12, 2013
Memenomics is based on the natural evolutionary concepts that define individuals, institutions, and cultures as value systems memes or vMEMES and offers economic solutions that are congruent with these memetic codes” writes entrepreneur and the leading expert in the value-systems approach to economics, Said Elias Dawlabani, in his brilliant and revolutionary book MEMEnomics: The Next Generation Economic System. The author describes the principles of memenomics as an alternative economic approach to the rigid and very artificial ideologies that dominate and stifle economic and leadership change to meet the challenges posed by modern capitalism. Dawlabani recognizes that the problems facing leaders today cannot be solved with the methods of the old paradigm. The author points out that existing economic and political ideologies are insufficient to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. He proposes utilizing the concept of value systems as a guide to the historical ebb and flow of values within capitalism. With this understanding in place, the author provides his blueprint for transforming the existing economic system. That fresh approach is in the form of memenomics, framed on the natural evolution of economic systems, to create the next phase of capitalism.
Dawlabani understands that economic systems theory and analysis has moved away from the necessary holistic and societal level of thought. The author presents the idea of value systems as memes, and their evolution and organic growth, to form the overarching basis of a culture. While other economic theories tend toward rigidity and an inability to forecast the future reliably, memenomic principles are designed to predict the evolution of human thought and activity, environmental changes of all types, and human value transition.

Dawlabani offers an open values systems approach that considers the entirety of the system of leadership. The historical analysis provide for an examination of previous approaches including the failure of trickle down economic theory. The author presents the importance of integrating human culture and values to meet the challenges of the modern capitalist system. The author divides the book into three major sections to provide a framework for study of the cultural values systems theory as follows:

* A whole systems view on the evolution of economies
* History of the value of a subsistence economy
* The platform for functional capitalism

For me, the power of the book is how Dawlabani combines a comprehensive examination and framework for his cultural values systems economics, with the prescriptive approach necessary for leaders to make the transition to the new economic paradigm. The author considers the societal culture and human values to form integral parts of the economic system. This inclusive approach to economic theory is lacking in the mainstream economic thought that has become conventional wisdom. The author demonstrates the historic and current failure of those isolated theories.

Dawlabani shows clearly how a cultural values systems theory is essential for navigating the current economic crisis, and to break the deadlock that has stifled the capitalist system. The author understands that economists must remove the rigidity of their theories, and consider societal and cultural evolution as an integral part to a holistic understanding of the economic system. With the road map offered by Dawlabani, the opportunity arises to establish a new form of leadership in both government and the private sector. The author also provides examples of where that transition is already taking place, and that existing economic theory is unable to cope with or describe the transformation.

I highly recommend the groundbreaking and very important book MEMEnomics: The Next Generation Economic System by Said Elias Dawlabani, to any business leaders, political leaders, public policy makers, economists, economics students, and anyone serious about establishing a more realistic economic system based on the ever evolving human culture, society, and environments. This book takes a whole systems approach to the challenges posed by the rapid changes taking place within government and the capitalist system.

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New Ideas for Economics

By: Graham Mummery, Sevenoaks, Kent England. December 2, 2013

 Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 there have been a number of calls to reform economics from what it became of late. Much of this has been concerned with a return to it being a humanity rather than a so called hard science. Interestingly, as has often been pointed out, this is closer to the spirit of some of the great economists like Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes both of whom more interested in human psychology rather than the complex mathematics of more recent economic thinking, though the latter especially was also a competent mathematician.


Spiral Dynamics may be less familiar to British readers unless they have read some of the thinking of Ken Wilber (see A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality). It is theory that categorizes various phases of psychological development developed by Don Beck (who also contributes a Foreword to this book) and Christopher Cowan Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change and applies them to developments in politics and culture giving the various layers the name of memes borrowing Richard Dawkins’ term, though using it in a different context. There is a succinct explanation of Spiral Dynamics in the book with an outline of the basic terminology and theories to help readers. It also points out that Spiral Dynamics has been applied in some countries to help with changes going on there, hence it does have an empirical basis beyond academia.

Ideas of how economic factors affect developments in society are nothing new. These were discussed by the great economist, Joseph Schumpeter. Nor is drawing on psychology. Keynes, for example, drew on some of Freud’s ideas which were cutting edge in their time. Spiral Dynamics therefore, would seem to be a tool which can be of use to economics, and perhaps how it might develop as it draws on holistic, developmental theories that move from basic needs to spiritual aspirations which have appeared since these figures. It’s this journey that Said Dawlabani takes us on in MEMEnomics.

It begins with explaining basic ideas of spiral dynamics, the various levels of development and how they relate to value systems. It also covers they transform and relate to each other. Then Dawlabani moves on to apply the levels to various types of economy and cultures, and the role of money, which can change according the meme. This includes economies that depend on barter as much as those that use gold as well as digital money. The book includes discussion of management structures and how they might differ when applied say to traders to those needed in corporate employees. It looks at how employee needs may change as societies and economies evolve. However it does not shirk from problems, pathologies and distortions that may appear with them.

Some of this is applied in the context of the philosophies and careers of figures like Alan Greenspan and Ayn Rand surveying both the strengths and limitations in their approaches. But this is stated in a measured way, avoiding rivalries between schools of economics such as the one between Keynesian and Monetarists, who are both seen as part of a particular meme, instead of one being right and the other wrong.

Dawlabani’s brush strokes are admittedly broad. If I do have a criticism of this, it would be that some of it might have gone a little deeper in examining the various strands of economic thinking, including that outside the American/English cannon of economics. But this is a minor quibble, as what is on show is elegantly written and conveys complex ideas succinctly, and maybe this reservation will be addressed later.

All in all, there is much of interest for those interested in how economics might echange in the wake of the continuing economic crisis since 2008. In some ways this work has parallels with the ideas of Erik S Reinert (see How Rich Countries Got Rich and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor) and Tomas Sedlacek (see Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street), as it looks in depth at how economics might be based on human nature, and gives hints as to what economic measures might better suit individual countries, instead of following the narrow free market basis that dominated thinking in recent years. I look forward to reading more ideas coming from this source. The ones shown here couldn’t have a more eloquent advocate.

Graham Mummery is a contributor on economic matters for Integral Management Review. He studied Monetary Economics and worked for years in international and investment banking in London. Also a poet and translator, his work has appeared in literary magazines. Some of his own poems have been translated into German and Romanian. He is now retraining to become a psychotherapist at CCPE, London.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Memenomics is a brilliant book based on the economics of abundance, prosperity, and the cultivation of healthy ecosystems for sustainable business practices. It takes a big-picture view on economic integration that is guided by the conscious vision of a holistically interdependent planet.  Said E. Dawlabani does a brilliant job in placing current economic activity into an evolutionary model that helps reshape the thinking of visionary business leaders of the future. I highly recommend this book.

 

Deepak Chopra, M.D.

New York Times Bestselling Author

Chopra Center for Wellbeing

Leaders in the private and public sectors worldwide, will benefit greatly from reading and studying MEMEnomics.   I have followed the works of Dr. Clare Graves  (met him in 1981) and Dr. Don Beck since I was CEO of Southwest Airlines. Dr. Beck gave me valuable personal guidance in the growth of Southwest and in the financial transformation of Braniff International.  Now, Said Dawlabani has taken all of their research and proven results and moved to the next generation of economics.  This is powerful information and a flight plan to take your organization to the next level.  If you want to be on the leading edge of transformation here is your opportunity.

 

Howard Putnam

Former CEO Southwest Airlines and Braniff International

Author:  The Winds of Turbulence

Speaker Hall of Fame 

I was asked to share my thoughts on some of the most important books on the future of capitalism. Here is number 1: Memenomics: The Next-Generation Economic System–It is a rich and illuminating re-thinking of evolutionary economics by an outstanding American-Lebanese thinker. Said E. Dawlabani is a meta-economist and a key practitioner of the emerging science of value systems. This book is a must-read for those looking to understand systemic change.

— Jean Houston, Ph.D.

 In MEMEnomics, cultural creative Said E. Dawlabani provides a resource to help us safely navigate this dark passage to a healthier future. Dawlabani, a macroeconomics expert, exploits the frontier science of biomimicry to offer a pioneering value-system’s approach to modeling the conscious evolution of business.”

                                                             Bruce H. Lipton, PhD. Evolutionary Biologist

Said  Dawlabani has opened the door to this crucial topic with a groundbreaking conversation about the stages of development of people and societies, and the emerging economic systems needed to fit the life conditions we face. Read this book–and join the conversation about healthy change.” —

Cindy Wigglesworth, Author of SQ21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence; President, Deep Change, Inc.

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Library Journal

10/15/2013
In a bold and creative way, Dawlabani (founder, Memenomics Group) postulates the necessity of what he calls the next-generation economic system. Though colorful, historical, and filled with timely examples such as Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and the success of John Mackey’s Whole Foods business model, this primer lies outside the field of work occupied by both rigorous economic theorists and popular economists. The chapter “Defining the Sustainable Corporation from Stockholders to Stakeholders” is most captivating. Dawlabani’s brave, forward-looking framework of an “eight-stage spiral” of development can be taken as a data visualization schema meant to convey economic evolution and the importance of cooperation over competition, interconnectedness over alienation, and thriving over surviving. What makes Dawlabani’s book less competitive is its massive overreach, too few citations, and sweeping self-referential quality that readers may eschew. VERDICT Unlike Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference or Outliers: The Story of Success, which take a scientific concept and light it on fire for the pop market, Dawlabani’s title invents its own language and system but without laying a convincing groundwork at the conceptual level. The work is fanciful and not without significance or striking merit, and a more distilled version of ideas is sure to come from this ambitious author.

                        Patrick Nunez Rauber, Broward Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL

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