Tag Archives: value systems

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

“The Perfect World”

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—peoples 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’s best self in a preconceived manner, to worship the gods becomingly, to intrigue the devils artfully—and 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—and 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?


God Help the World if Integralists are in Charge

This post is in response to a Ken Wilber interview by Raquel Torrant that took place in October 2016, and the reaction of the integral community after the election of Donald Trump.

The more I read about Wilber’s perspective on so called Second Tier, the more I realize that Integral Theory is mostly philosophical/Intellectual and out of touch with political, economic and social reality. Its elitist views are rarely applied to solve problems in a First Tier world. The only exception, of course is if we believe that individual advancement and shadow work are ways to save the world from impending cataclysms. To me those pursuits are representatives of a very narrow and unhealthy expression of both the Orange and Green systems of the First Tier. Because of their thin, elitist, and personal growth focused nature they can easily become closed systems that only embolden the very shadow they’re trying to come to terms with. Well, it seems that the shadow of most of the integral movement has broken and it’s manifesting in very unflattering ways. The universe couldn’t have picked a more befitting event than the election of Donald Trump to show how un-integral the movement is.

My assessment could be somewhat subjective and I must say that I was shocked by Trump’s election for a few days. While I have since regained my stratified Spiral view of the American electorate and refrained from engaging in polarizing conversations, I have not seen the same coming from the integral community, or my blindly liberal-progressive friends. If they were really centered in Second Tier values, we wouldn’t be experiencing the visceral anger and hate coming from so many online integral groups worldwide. What has helped me regain my perspective is the reminder of what was instilled in me over the last 15 years, that it’s always about Value Systems.

My primary gripe with Wilber’s followers is what they were taught about Second Tier values, and more specifically how vastly different they perceive the Yellow system than the original Spiral Dynamics theory does. Wilber has naively overlooked the important work that the Seventh Level of development has to do in aligning the healthy expressions of all the systems in First Tier. Yes, systemic Second Tier consciousness is not going to appear magically, nor would it appear by us passively waiting for more people to become Second Tier thinkers. We have to role up our sleeves now and fix the damage that the First Tier systems have done to our planet. This is half of the mandate of the Beck-Graves Yellow system that rarely appears in integral consciousness.

The work is not just environmental or psychological. It’s cultural, political, and economic. We have to design healthy habitats for tribal Purple in rural America, for egocentric Red gangs in inner cities, for nationalistic and patriotic Blue in white suburban America, and enterprising and scientific Orange and humanitarian and egalitarian Green in big cities and urban locales.

The problem with integral practitioners is that they have relegated this entire Gravesian conception to a “values line”, which again shows the closed system views of the elite and explains their post-election suffering and dysfunction. To solve problem in the age of Trump, followers of Integral Theory have to acquire a deep understanding of an essential part of the Gravesian model called Life Conditions. To put it in language integralists understand, we call it the functional quadrant.  It implies that you start in the trenches where dynamic change is taking place. You study the challenges facing people at every level of development mentioned above. Then you begin to design solutions commensurate with that particular level of development. This is what was meant by “transcend and include” that is at the heart of both frameworks. Sadly, it seems that the integral crusade has unconsciously moved into a psychology of “transcend and ignore.” That’s where the healing begins, not with the integral community suddenly realizing their shortcomings and begin to hastily consult the Gravesian model to get a quick intellectual fix that will be relegated again to a “line” on an elitist and out of touch model for development.





The Limits of the Social Network

This blog entry is an update to an article I submitted to the Huffington Post last year. It is in light of some new manifestations of social patterns than could signal the maturing of the era of social media/network. It could also be the beginning of a new phase that closes the gap between the old system and the new. A very important stage in our upward human journey.

For years I’ve been tracking complex social systems and their life cycles through Gravesian methodologies. The one that we’re in now has been the most fascinating. It is the most ubiquitous, the fastest moving and has proven to be exponentially more complex than all previous systems put together. I call this cycle the “Democratization of Information and Resources”, which started in the early 1990s. This, in my opinion represents the widest spread of the Green, 6th level value system of Egalitarianism in human history. We are witnessing that through the Social Network and the spread of information.

The Huffington Post piece was written at a time when I believed the system was exiting its introductory phase; transparency and chaos. Since the publishing of the article, there has been a few unfortunate manifestations of the system as it enters its maturity phase.  ows_144002532180502The most visible example is the inability of the “Black Lives Matter” movement (relying heavily on the Green/social network) to reach peaceful change, which empowered disgruntled ex-military men, who are trained to kill, to take matters into their own hands and attack police officers.

ice_Shootings_Dallas_Funeral.JPG_U8OQ7GP_t1140(RED doing the work naive Green couldn’t achieve on its own by attacking the symbol of the Blue system).

I’m still assessing whether other events such as the Brexit vote and the rise and fall of Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate are a part of the end of the “Introductory” phase of this cycle.


Maybe these are the needed calls for the losing side on both of these issues to adopt more inclusive (transcend and include) strategies that are the manifestation of a truly healthy Green value system. This is an essential stage of development before humanity can move into an entirely higher set of values denoted by my work and the words of Graves as the the values of the “magnificence of existence.” We do, indeed live in interesting times. We are indeed witnessing history.

To read the original Huffington Post article, Please CLICK HERE