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Spiral Dynamics Integral and the Role of Value Systems in Economics

PART I: Brief History of the Science of Values System; Graves and Beck

Emerging from the original work of Dr. Clare W. Graves’ bio-psycho-social systems perspective, and developed by Dr Don Beck, Spiral Dynamics integral is a way to think about complex things, both in organizations and individual lives. The framework offers a fresh, powerful, and comprehensive approach to problem solving, change, and transformation. Spiral Dynamics explores the core intelligences and deep values that flow beneath what we believe and do. The result is a dynamic model of emergent thinking systems that explain, how values arise and spread, why people make decisions in different ways, and what to do with those differences to create a win-win-win outcome.

Spiral Dynamics answers questions like:
  • IF it is time for change, then change FROM what TO what?
  • WHY do people respond to different motivators?
  • WHY and HOW do values arise and spread?
  • WHAT is the nature of change?
  • HOW should who lead whom to do what, and when?

Spiral Dynamics integral is a bio-psycho-social map of living human systems that focuses on natural designs and offers whole new integral solutions that are ecological, systemic, and life-affirming. In effect the theory describes and makes sense of the enormous complexity of human existence, and then shows how to craft elegant, systemic problem-solutions that meet people and address situations where they are.
Spiral Dynamics integral is applied to individual projects to large scale change in countries and cultures. To business, health care, education, Politics and social change.

This powerful conceptual system has been field-tested in some of the most complex environments on the planet, from inner-city Chicago to racially plagued South Africa. And from large scale projects in the Netherlands to reforming the educational system in Mexico.

“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: religious, economic and political arrangements, psychological and anthropological theories, including views of human nature, our future destiny, globalization, and even of architectural patterns and sports preferences. We all live in flow states; we find ourselves pursuing a never-ending quest”

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-Dr. Don Beck

“Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change.”

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-Dr. Clare W. Graves.

PART II. The Color Codes of the Spiral

interactive-spiral

BEIGE Instinctive/Survivalistic MEME – starting 100,000 years ago

Basic theme: Do what you must just to stay alive

  • Uses instincts and habits just to survive
  • Distinct self is barely awakened or sustained
  • Food, water, warmth, sex, and safety have priority

PURPLE Magical/Animistic MEME – starting 50,000 years ago

Basic theme: Keep the spirits happy and tribe’s nest warm and safe

  • Obeys the desires of the spirit being and mystical signs
  • Shows allegiance to chief, elders, ancestors, and the clan
  • Individual subsumed in group

RED Impulsive/Egocentric MEME – starting 10,000 years ago

Basic theme: Be what you are and do what you want, regardless

  • The world is a jungle full of threats and predators
  • Breaks free from any domination or constraint to please self as self desires
  • Stands tall, expects attention, demands respect, and calls the shots
  • Enjoys self to the fullest right now without guilt or remorse
  • Conquers, out-foxes, and dominates other aggressive characters
  • Preserves sacred objects, places, events, and memories
  • Observes rites of passage, seasonal cycles, and tribal customs
  • Forms into survival bands to perpetuate life
  • Lives “off the land” much as other animals

BLUE Purposeful/Authoritarian MEME – starting 5,000 years ago

Basic theme: Life has meaning, direction, and purpose with predetermined outcomes

  • One sacrifices self to the transcendent Cause, Truth, or righteous Pathway
  • The Order enforces a code of conduct based on eternal, absolute principles
  • Righteous living produces stability now and guarantees future reward
  • Impulsivity is controlled through guilt; everybody has their moral place
  • Laws, regulations, and discipline build character and moral fiber

ORANGE Achievist/Strategic MEME – starting 300 years ago

Basic theme: Act in your own self-interest by playing the game to win

  • Change and advancement are inherent within the scheme of things
  • Progresses by learning nature’s secrets and seeking out best solutions
  • Manipulates Earth’s resources to create and spread the abundant good life
  • Optimistic, risk-taking, and self-reliant people deserve success
  • Societies prosper through strategy, technology, and competitiveness

GREEN Communitarian/Egalitarian MEME – starting 150 years ago

Basic theme: Seek peace within the inner self and explore, with others, the caring dimensions of community

  • The human spirit must be freed from greed, dogma, and divisiveness
  • Feelings, sensitivity, and caring supersede cold rationality
  • Spreads the Earth’s resources and opportunities equally among all
  • Reaches decisions through reconciliation and consensus processes
  • Refreshes spirituality, brings harmony, and enriches human development

YELLOW Integrative MEME – starting 50 years ago

Basic theme: Live fully and responsibly as what you are and learn to become

  • Life is a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies, systems, and forms
  • The magnificence of existence is valued over material possessions
  • Flexibility, spontaneity, and functionality have the highest priority
  • Differences can be integrated into interdependent, natural flows
  • Understands that chaos and change are natural

TURQUOISE Holistic MEME – starting 30 years ago

Basic theme: Experience the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit

  • The world is a single, dynamic organism with its own collective mind
  • Self is both distinct and a blended part of a larger, compassionate whole
  • Everything connects to everything else in ecological alignments
  • Energy and information permeate the Earth’s total environment
  • Holistic, intuitive thinking and cooperative actions are to be expected

PART III. Role of Value Systems in Economics

(will be subject of next blog)

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The Memetic Meaning of Dubai’s Collapse

For over 1 ½ years I’ve been warning about the imminent collapse of Dubai’s real estate market and inevitably the bursting of the bubble of its Dubai World Sovereign Wealth Fund; the richest of its kind in the world. Close to ½ Trillion USD worth of real estate projects have been canceled since last fall’s Cityscape exhibit in Dubai. The world has never seen anything as blatantly speculative as this Exhibit in its claims to have the demands to build whole new cities. One’s better judgment is clouded by the impression that in the Middle East, oil money doesn’t follow the same metrics as hard-earned money of yester years…. And who are we, the Western World on steroid to give the Sheikh prudent advice on HOW to bring Western modernity (ORDER – ENTERPRISE value system)) that’s hundreds of years in the making to a primarily tribal place of existence (Heavy TRIBAL-FEUDAL vMEME).

Well, the place is collapsing and the Sheikh’s government is scrambling to find and prosecute the people responsible. Apparently, Western businessmen cannot leave the Emirate permanently if they owe money (Dubai’s own interpretation on Islamic Banking). So Dubai’s airport garage fills up every day with hi end automobiles whose owners show their parking receipt and round trip ticket to the policeman at the gate, and leave with millions in debt never to return.

Here’s where Economics Meets Memetics; below is an analysis I made to the Spiral Dynamics Integral community in a heated debate about Dubai’s transformation in July 2008. There’s some reference to the color-coded value systems that are the hallmark of the Spiral Dynamics theory. Wherer appropriate, the descriptive theme of each value system is summed in one word. For a detailed description of the emerging science of value systems, please refer to earlier posts pertaining to the Spiral Dynamics theory and its use and applications

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July 2008

[SD-Integral] RE: Dubai transformation

Here’s my abbreviated Memetic perspective on Dubai:

Dubai is a rare experiment indeed in that it will force all the Spiral wizards to rethink the traditional evolutionary path of a culture. After all, the very idea of taking a nomadic (BEIGE-PURPLE) culture, put it in a time machine, and have it looking ORANGE in one decade is a mad scientist’s dream come true.

Traditional movement up the spiral took hundreds if not thousands of years, and only along the true and tried road did it pick up complexity. Absent BLUE, western ORANGE has downshifted to RED in Dubai. It is this downshift to RED that’s making it OK to condone slavery-like practices and destroy the environment and be clever enough (ORANGE cover/paint) to call it all by different names.

The lip service that developers and the Dubai government are paying to Green Building practices is a tiny drop of GREEN (EGALITARIAN vMEME)in a sea of RED (FEUDAL vMEME) that only waves a banner to those looking at the surface. The LEED certifications and sustainable design of individual buildings will have no effect on the environment unless “sustainable practices” are imbedded in a sustainable urban design scheme (YELLOW: SYSTEMIC vMEME)) that integrates cutting edge urban western design concepts such as the “New Urbanism”, “Design with Nature”, “Neighborhood Continuity” and many other concepts working in an “Integral Design” fashion to assure sustainability.  Massive solar farms in a massive desert called the “Empty Quarter” will be good example of the “Design with Nature” concept.

As far as the foreign labor issue, the question is not whether Dubai is providing better wages for laborers, it’s clear that it is. The real question is as people from a higher level of complexity who are building this city-state, do we have any responsibility to pass on the essential elements of healthy BLUE (ORDER vMEME)and ORANGE (ENTERPRISE vMEME) that has symbolized western human struggles and triumphs for the last 1,000 years, or continue our exploitation and let them deal with the collapse when the other shoe drops (The rest of the Middle East is watching and waiting, to say “I told you so”)

Many Westerners who do business with Dubai are not privy to any of the social ills that must be addressed because they do business in an ORANGE bubble. Even the article about sustainability by Ghanem Nuseibeh barely touches on the “cultural” aspects of what ails Dubai. It is very clear to me that Dubai’s RED/Orange considers any BLUE a nuisance, and will continue to do so as long as financial opportunities remain insatiable. The collapse of the Dubai real estate market is inevitable, and this will be the wake-up call that ORANGE needs. When the Sheikh orders a builder to “add another 15 stories” to a structure under construction, who do the owners sue when the supports cave in on the inhabitants of the building? With all the expatriates buying over-inflated real estate, who will they sue when the market collapses? Which institutions, in what court system, and which historic legal precedent will be used for them to make their cases? Can they obtain legal judgments against developers, banks, regulators, the sheikh?  Would their legal visa status be rescinded if developments go bankrupt, and if so what happens to their ownership rights?

In brief, this brave experiment is reluctantly allowing BLUE in through the back door, and only when this RED/Orange, through necessity, has to downshift to deal with its own damage control would BLUE truly surface. If its introduced swiftly and prudently it won’t take the rest of the Middle East down with it and we can all point at it and say it’s in a slightly better place than it was before the start of this experiment.  And we’ll all be glad for it as the rest of the Middle East learns what not to do in its movement away from tribal PURPLE/RED.

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The Most Comprehensive Summary of the Economic Crisis

This past weekend I gave a presentation that offered a (Memetic) value-systems analysis approach to the financial crisis to an integrally-informed crowd of about 60 at Boulder Integral in Boulder, CO. This was part of Dr. Don E. Beck’s Spiral Dynamics in Action training series. (Until we have a full description of the color-coded value systems of Spiral Dynamics on this blog, please click here for a quick description  (hover your mouse over Interactive Spiral).

After my presentation many audience members came to me expressing their shock and disbelief about the ominous threat that the shadowy global banking system of financial derivatives presents to the very survival of Western culture.

Many requested additional information  and I promised to have that available through this blog. Although my presentation was a result of comprehensive research I’ve done since the beginning of the crisis, I was able to find an article on the web that puts the crisis in proper chronology and identifies the major players in it. Since the publishing of that article in late January the derivatives market has grown from $600 Trillion  to $685 Trillion today. Click here to read the article.

Since this blog is about where Economics meets Memetics, most articles on the web, TV and in print fail to take into consideration the cultural impact that cheap and unregulated money (the removal of  BLUE (ORDER value system vMEME) in the Money/Commerce Spiral) (or lack of oversight in a free markets system) had on accelerating the demise of UNHEALTHY ORANGE (ENTERPRISE vMEME); or best described as Wall Street on Steroids. The events that broke the weakest BLUE link were the attacks of 9/11 that turned this into “the perfect storm”. I compare Bush’s economic team’s reaction to 9/11 to when a truck hits your house, and you turn around and give the keys to the liquor cabinet to the kids (completely unrelated cause and effect). This is precisely what happened when the Fed dramatically lowered interest rates and the rallying call every where turned to: spend, spend, spend or the terrorists win. We had no complex capacities at the monetary or fiscal policy levels to interpret terrorism.   Sophisticated and highly complex economic policies are often made for the long-term and are never designed to turn on a dime.  Bush’s team saw everything as it relates to an unplanned war (short-term, reactive and lacking in insight) and all other policies emanating from his administration followed suit. (A dangerous downshift from a heavy, long-term REGULATOR/ORDER  BLUE value system to a reactive and systemic fighter FEUDAL RED value system).

The unregulated derivatives market wouldn’t have grown to the size that it is without the flood of cheap and unregulated capital that enabled both, diabolical ORANGE at the highest levels to package these financial weapons of mass destruction, as Warren Buffet calls them and sell them as securities (insured by AIG and rated AAA by S&P (corrupt REGULATOR/ORDER BLUE vMEME)). At the retail level, cheap capital allowed for a  PONZI ECONOMY with a RED consumer (spend NOW with NO GUILT) who just borrowed and spend without ever being held accountable by a lender. That same lender made more money from that consumer by finding him a new and bigger credit card, a new and bigger mortgage and sold all of it to an UNHEALTHY ENTERPRISE ORANGE value system of Wall Street again, and they in turn put it into a derivative and sold it back to a wider institutional market all over the world.

Because of the depth and breadth of the damage done to the entire Western financial system by a few but very destructive, highly sophisticated and rarely understood financial engineers (Wall Street UNHEALTHY ENTERPRISE ORANGE value system), we will witness the damage they caused over a prolonged period of time. The Great Depression was a catalyst that propelled most of the US labor force into the industrial age, this atrophy of financial engineering will also act as a new catalyst as it ushers in a new and complete shift in paradigm and value systems.  Unlike the Great Depression however  the horizon for new discoveries  and a shift away from the function of MONEY  will take much much longer to crystallize

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