Tag Archives: value systems

Is Democracy Destined to Fail, or is it Exiting its Adolescent Stages?

Recent scientific surveys conducted by Dr. Bjarni Jonsson reveal that almost 97% of people around the world believe that Democracy is a good way to govern. The same survey also revealed that almost 80% of people worldwide seem to have a deep mistrust in the system and its philosophy. This figure is likely at an all-time high and is not expected to moderate anytime soon.

What accounts for this discrepancy and does scientific research support the findings that Democracy is a failed experiment that needs to be replaced by a different system for governance. Would an alternative system need to be more authoritarian and restrictive, or would a deeper level of engagement and trust in Democracy help improve the virtues of governance. What if more of the world population and its leaders gain a better understanding of what needs to be done to guard the precious virtues of ‚Äúgovernment by the people?‚ÄĚ What would be the mechanisms that need to be put in place to guarantee that all voices be heard?

Dr. Jonsson argues that Democracy as a fully functioning system for governance has not emerged yet, and what we call democracies is a big misunderstanding. He will be arguing his case for the different types of governance and what it will take for us to gain a better understanding of governing systems designed from the Emerging values of Humanity, what we in Spiral Dynamics call the values of the Second Tier.

Dr. Jonsson will present his views on these issues at the highly anticipated Spiral Dynamics Summit on the Future scheduled to take place in Dallas in April. Please click here for more details, and for a preview of the event. You can find out more about Dr. Jonsson and his work with the Icelandic National Assembly and the crucial role it played in reuniting Iceland after the devastating effects of the financial crisis of 2008. You can also look up Dr. Jonsson‚Äôs talks about ‚ÄúCrowd Visioning‚ÄĚ on TEDx Stage.

“The primary focus of the Summit is to bring together the brightest global minds to help us better understand chaos and change in these times of uncertainty.”¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

                                                                                                                    Dr. Don E. Beck




This post is in response to a simple question posed on social media regarding the definition of the Healthy expression of the Red value system. Like many questions of this general nature that were posed before, debates and opinions went on for days with responses as varied as each commentator’s personal experience with Red, or what appeared to be Red in their world. In the end, this was a highly engaging debate that allowed many members of the online Beck-Graves group to engage in conversation for the very first time. The purpose of this post is to offer some nuanced analysis, reminders and some possible tools that practitioners might take to their field of work or personal lives.

One of the very first things I caution people about at trainings and presentations is not to diminish the effectiveness of the theory by superficially placing labels like colors and levels on people or systems. This is how we diminish the merits of the developmental model and bring an end to any in depth analysis to a given situation. Instead of asking for an absolute description of a particular color or level that solicits so many varying answers, the question should always be: How does that developmental level show up in your daily life, acknowledging the dynamic nature of the framework.

People‚Äôs vMEMEs don’t exist in a vacuum as permanent psychological states or stages. They are complex profiles that can range from Purple to Turquoise in a span of a single day. While one or more value systems are active in us at any given time, the rest lay dormant waiting to be activated in response to environmental stimuli. Yes, Life Conditions the one important factor that was greatly overlooked in the online debate remains the essential element that makes the model operational. This is the other half of the ECLET/SD framework that determines a person‚Äôs resilience to respond and adapt effectively. It guides the upshift, the downshift and diagonal movement of the psychological health of an individual or a system.

It is important to understand that Red today, healthy or unhealthy is not a permanent stage even in people where the Bio/Neuro Triad of the theory (the hardware of the brain) is limited to the Red vMEME. We live in complex Life Conditions that are constantly bombarding our brain to the point that if it can’t create new hardware, it develops mirror neurons that can mimic higher value systems; a fake it till you make it type of assimilation. Additionally, what might look like healthy red to a Second Tier observer, might be viewed as extremely unhealthy Red to Blue or Green, or even a healthy version of Orange. What is important is to know when healthy Red is needed, and more importantly, where to direct its energy when its not. When we take these factors and place them into the non-theoretical complexity mentioned above, analysis becomes far more effective.

I often use this graphic in my presentations to illustrate the dynamic nature of how the different developmental levels may stack in a psychologically mature person on any given day when in different Life Conditions.


It’s important to keep in mind that these are hypothetical value systems compositions that are intended to convey the complexity of the entire vMEMEstack that changes whenever challenges from Life Conditions change.

So, when do we see a particular expression like healthy Red dominate? Well, it all depends on the situation. In the Western world today, Red bravery alone is rarely needed in a permanent way in leadership due to the existence of higher complexity. Should that higher complexity become toxic and resistant to emergence, the system will choose a Red leader to detoxify the blockages in the memestack. Unfortunately, Red’s best capacities are in undoing higher systems, or dominating lower systems. It cannot rebuild after the system is detoxified. That job is for higher systems. Which higher systems and what are their contents? That depends on those ever changing and often complex Life Conditions.



The Tragedy of the West: Our Obsession with Quantification

The recent rise of protectionism and nationalism in the Western World has presented progressive thought leaders with one of the greatest challenges in almost a century. We continue to struggle to make sense out of the current reversal in our journey towards human progress. And, sadly (or arrogantly), we continue to shape our views and our emotional well being¬† through the same lenses and by the same metrics that never saw this coming. What has been left out of the debate, and in my opinion, is the main¬† contributing factor to our continued anguish, is that we’ve forgotten how fragile our western construct of thought has been. Or, how vulnerable it is to a Black Swan event that can shake our faith in the very foundation of what we believe.
In the value systems framework, the current Western center of gravity for cultural values is associated directly with 4th and 5th levels of psycho-social development. This modern expression began after the Spanish Inquisition. The values of this era continue to shape Western culture today and are about the macro-memetics of the 4th level value system.¬† They’re about building the right institutions and excluding the wrong ones and other random un-quantifiable cultural expressions that fall into the dark side of this black-or-white dichotomy.¬† It is that dark side that in our subconscious that could no longer be repressed that is now coming to the surface.
With the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment came the macro-memetics of the 5th level system. This stage of psycho-social development  seeks to uncover the secrets of the universe through quantification, research and mathematical analysis. It excludes what is not rationally quantifiable and measurable, and everything that fell outside the processing capacities of the grey matter between our ears. This also became repressed in our subconscious giving us further confidence that the dark side of conscious actions mattered not.  This too is now coming to the surface.
Together these two levels of development gave us the wonders of Western Civilization. They gave us Measurement: Time, Space and Mathematics. They gave us the visual arts, music, and painting. They gave us business and bureaucracy, science, modern medicine  and technologies that have  become indispensable to our modern, efficient and  hectic lives.   But all this came at a cost. We seem to have forgotten what it is to be human outside the quantifiable world.
The perfect description of this world comes from one of my favorite writers in the piece below. Ironically it’s called the “Perfect World”. Kahlil Gibran supposedly wrote this after he was invited to recite some of his poetry at Harvard University, the most refined institution¬† that upholds the virtues of the 4th and 5th level systems.¬† After his recital he was humiliated and ridiculed for using a style called “free verse”, something that fell outside the quantifiable measure of Harvard at the time.
As you read this and consider the evolution of poetry over the last 100 years,¬† do what I did. Look within you to see if it’s not those same measures that have arrested our evolution and closed us off in our own safe world. A world that makes darkness out of the immeasurable, the un-quantifiable and the non-scientific. Maybe you’d add the spiritual and the metaphysical to all that defies measurement.
Gibran-Western Measure

‚ÄúThe Perfect World‚ÄĚ

God of lost souls, thou who are lost amongst the gods, hear me:
Gentle Destiny that watchest over us, mad, wandering spirits, hear me: I dwell in the midst of a perfect race, I the most imperfect.
I, a human chaos, a nebula of confused elements, I move amongst¬†finished worlds‚ÄĒpeoples of complete laws and pure order, whose¬†thoughts are assorted, whose dreams are arranged, and whose visions¬†are enrolled and registered.
Their virtues, O God, are measured, their sins are weighed, and even the countless things that pass in the dim twilight of neither sin nor virtue are recorded and catalogued.
Here days and night are divided into seasons of conduct and governed by rules of blameless accuracy.

To eat, to drink, to sleep, to cover one’s nudity, and then to be weary in due time.

To work, to play, to sing, to dance, and then to lie still when the clock strikes the hour.

To think thus, to feel thus much, and then to cease thinking and feeling when a certain star rises above yonder horizon.

To rob a neighbour with a smile, to bestow gifts with a graceful wave of the hand, to praise prudently, to blame cautiously, to destroy a sound with a word, to burn a body with a breath, and then to wash the hands when the day’s work is done.

To love according to an established order, to entertain one‚Äôs best¬†self in a preconceived manner, to worship the gods becomingly,¬†to intrigue the devils artfully‚ÄĒand then to forget all as though¬†memory were dead.

To fancy with a motive, to contemplate with consideration, to be¬†happy sweetly, to suffer nobly‚ÄĒand then to empty the cup so that¬†tomorrow may fill it again.

All these things, O God, are conceived with forethought, born with determination, nursed with exactness, governed by rules, directed by reason, and then slain and buried after a prescribed method. And even their silent graves that lie within the human soul are marked and numbered.

It is a perfect world, a world of consummate excellence, a world of supreme wonders, the ripest fruit in God’s garden, the master-thought of the universe.

But why should I be here, O God, I a green seed of unfulfilled passion, a mad tempest that seeketh neither east nor west, a bewildered fragment from a burnt planet?

Why am I here, O God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods?