At the beginning of Chapter 17 in our book Spiral Dynamics we noted:
"George Bush's hundred hour war in the Persian Gulf and Caesar-like
triumphal parading through Washington, D. C. in l991 became his
twilight's last gleaming. He never recovered from the victory. In
his speech announcing Operation Desert Storm he had claimed: 'We
have before us the opportunity to forge, for ourselves and for future
generations, a New World Order."
The term "New World Order" itself not only became a fearful
symbol of global domination by an elite few, but it also stoked
paranoid fears of a new march of jack boots to the cadence of a
single ideology. President Bush later softened the sentiment before
the United Nations General Assembly with the words: "In short,
we seek a pax universalis built upon shared understanding."
The time has now come to renew the search for the global operating
principle and process.
This quest for the Next Global Mesh is based on such a pax universalis,
an initiative that seeks after a "shared understandings"
of how we, as a people, emerge through levels of complexity. While
"order" conveys the idea of closed systems and regimentation,
the term "mesh" suggests a new form of social integration
based on the weaving together of the rich textures of human differences
and bindings of constant change. The concept of "mesh"
carries with it the capacity to absorb the awesome complexities
that now confront global people as we enter the next decade, century,
The Age of Fragmentation
Never before has the planet earth carried such a rich tapestry
of human differences in the form of individuals and groups. The
end of the Cold War brought the thawing of the bi-polar ice sheet
that covered the entire planet as the deep ethnic cores began to
bubble and boil once again. Decades of deconstructionism and egalitarianism
in academic and popular cultural circles released the bent-up entities
and interests that had been subdued by European-Western hierarchies
of power and control. The microchip places an immense amount of
influence in the choice making of single individuals. DNA analyses
now make possible the specific identity of every person on the planet.
Mass customization efforts are able to target each person, and even
specify names on the inside of weekly magazines. It is as if the
entire psychological history of our species from Day One is being
replayed in real time and carried live on CNN. What an amazing time!
Likewise, we have been witnessing a significant amount of fragmentation
in the work place and around issues germane to productivity. Our
work force, in most environments, is much more diverse than before.
The shift toward a global view has, likewise, introduced more complexity,
not just in terms of different cultures, but also in the form of
a myriad of value systems that work side-by-side or, within a whole
constellation of teams and alliances. Yet, many of our approaches
to productivity still tend to be monolithic in design and applied
like a generic "cash wash" over people and work units
that are spreading apart as if they had been purloined into space
a Big Bang.
Six Blind Men and the Elepahnt
Most people know the story of the "Six Blind Men and the Elephant."
One discovered the tail, another the trunk, while the others felt
the leg, side, tusk, and ear. Each was totally convinced he had
discovered the "truth" based on the direct experience.
Of course, each observer was "right" about the elephant,
but only about a part; none was able to sense the whole. This can
also be said about the various political, economic, religious, educational,
child-rearing, and technological theories of our own day. This also
includes the various listings of worldviews or Weltanschauungen,
or the numerous psychological packages, leadership initiatives,
or managerial mandates that continue to be popular, or have been
discarded in societal dust bins. The various and often heated debates
heard at the United Nations, or in national assembles, senates,
and parliaments, will, likewise, reflect these different views of
"the elephant." Rather than continue to pit the vast array
of differences against one another in an adversarial manner, or
suffer the consequences when the conflicts surface in the form of
belligerence or warfare, might it not be useful to find a way to
construct a synthesis that can explain why each emerged, where it
is useful, and how it can contribute to the total Global Mesh?
| Which of these views
of the elephant-world best describe you?
World is. . .*
natural milieu where humans rely on instincts to stay alive
magical place alive with spirit beings and mystical signs
jungle where the strongest and most cunning survive
ordered existence under the control of the ultimate truth
market place full of possibilities and opportunities
human habitat in which we share life's experiences
chaotic organism forged by differences and change
elegantly balanced system of interlocking-forces
In Quest of the Whole Elephant
One of the stated goals of the 1999 State of the World FORUM is
to launch the search for the paradigm that can best handle the complexity
of conditions that confront human life on this planet. Conceptual
revelations take hold when the new paradigm explains more variables,
accounts for more contingencies, and solves more problems than the
one it will ultimately replace. But, how can any of us know when
we have detected such an operating system or conceptual framework?
It might help to consider just what this new global arrangement
must provide that the previous worldview models failed to accomplish.
Consider this possible check-list:
- Any new paradigm will need to be an open system rather than
a closed state since conditions constantly change.
- Any new paradigm must be consistent with current research into
the deepest functions within the human brain.
- Any new paradigm must subsume all previous paradigms as being
legitimate for different times and circumstances.
- Any new paradigm must be able to penetrate all areas of human
life - biology, psychology, spirituality etc.
- Any new paradigm must accommodate the full texture of human
cultural differences as they evolve over time.
- Any new paradigm must contain an effective mix of political
and economic models calibrated to stages of emergence.
- Any new paradigm should be able to anticipate different realities,
future visions and contain its own sunset clause.
- Any new paradigm must address multiple bottom-lines on issues
regarding standards of living and the quality of life.
- Any new paradigm should contain the DNA-like codes to reveal
its assumptions in a clear, understandable manner.
- Any new paradigm should be equally relevant to individuals,
organizational groupings, and to society-at-large.
This search for the cohesive elements that can hold so many fragmented
parts together in a new, 21st Century alignment, and create the
methodology and mechanisms for the continuation and enhancement
of all human life on the planet, will require three essential components:
- Spiral Dynamics, a bio-psycho-social-spiritual conceptual system
that describes how and when worldviews emerge, and how they form
themselves naturally into spirals of complexity. The Spiral is
not a cookie-cutter; it is a process.
- a Vital Signs Monitor capacity to track the critical indicators
of the action of the spiral in human affairs; and
- an aggressive and comprehensive All Quadrants/All Levels strategy
designed to address the asymmetrics and gaps in human development
by mobilizing and aligning our resources in a systemic manner
so none be left behind.
In short, we must discover the complex, evolutionary models that
can provide the meshworks for our contemporary state of fragmentation,
find a way to monitor and measure our progress, and then create
new and innovative ways to address the difficult problems that continue
to hinder our full emergence on the planet. No more prizes for forecasting
the rain; only prizes for building the ark.
Spiral Dynamics: The New Paradigm for
the Next Global Mesh
Spiral Dynamics is based on the seminal work of the late Professor
Clare W. Graves, Union College, New York. He described what he called
"Levels of Psychological Existence" as an emerging pattern
and priority of worldviews, value systems, and complex adaptive
intelligences that arise in response to Life Conditions. Thus, human
nature is not finite. We are not frozen into types or traits. Cultures
are not static entities, forever trapped in Flatland. As Graves
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
The human Spiral, then, consists of a coiled string of worldviews,
each the product of its times and conditions. Yet, when a new worldview
emerges, the older systems do not disappear. Rather, they remain
subsumed in the total flow and not only add texture to the more
complex ways of living, but remain "on call" in case the
problems that awakened them to service reappear. So, there are systems
within us, miniature worldviews each of which is calibrated for
different problems of existence. Each new worldview is born out
of chaos, in a nonlinear fashion, so there is no straight arrow
of time back into history. Each worldview is a platform with its
own unique paradigm and instructional codes for organizing society.
Like a DNA script, the unique adaptive themes at each level will
express themselves in terms of life-styles, economic, political,
religious, and educational systems, and views of sex, marriage,
working, the environment, and sports.
In our recent work we have fused the Graves Technology with the
fledging science of memetics, noting that each of the worldviews
is in fact a valuesMEME, a coding mechanism that inculcates every
aspect of society. Graves work identified eight distinct worldviews
or vMEMES, with the ninth on the horizon. Yet, all of the previously
awakened systems still exist. These deep level tectonic-like psychological
plates create surface level tensions as we ratchet through time.
Quick Summary Statement of Worldview (vMEME)
| THE LIVING STRATA IN OUR PSYCHO-CULTURAL
|| Color Code
|| Popular Name
|| Cultural manifestations and personal
| Level 8
|| collective individualism; cosmic
spirituality; earth changes
| Level 7
|| natural systems; self-principle;
multiple realities; knowledge
| Level 6
|| egalitarian; feelings; authentic;
sharing; caring; community
| Level 5
|| materialistic; consumerism; success;
image; status; growth
| Level 4
|| meaning; discipline; traditions;
morality; rules; lives for later
| Level 3
|| gratification; glitz; conquest; action;
impulsive; lives for now
| Level 2
|| rites; rituals; taboos; super- stitions;
tribes; folk ways & lore
| Level 1
|| food; water; procreation; warmth;
protection; stays alive
Here's the key idea. Different societies, cultures and subcultures,
as well as entire nations are at different levels of psycho-cultural
emergence, as displayed within these evolutionary levels of complexity.
They have different centers of gravity. The previously awakened
levels do not disappear. Rather, they stay active within the worldview
stacks, thus impacting the nature and form of the more complex systems.
Like the Russian dolls, there are systems within systems within
systems. So, many of the same issues we confront on the West Bank
(Red to Blue) can be found in South Central Los Angeles. One can
experience the animistic (Purple) worldview on Bourbon Street as
well as in Zaire. Matters brought before city council in Minneapolis
(Orange to Green to Yellow) are not unlike the debates in front
of governing bodies in the Netherlands. Countries and cultures are
mosaics of multiple vMEME codes.
Third World societies are dealing, for the most part, with issues
within the Level 1 through Level 3 zone, thus higher rates of violence
and poverty. Staying alive, finding safety, and dealing with feudal
age conditions matter most. Second World societies are characterized
by authoritarian (Blue) one-party states, whether from the right
or the left. Makes no difference. So called First World nations
and groupings have achieved high levels of affluence, with lower
birth rates, and more expansive use of technology. While centered
in the strategic, free-market driven, and individual liberty focused
perspective - all traits of the Level 5 (Orange) worldview - new
vMEMETICS (Green, Yellow, and Turquoise) are emerging in the "post-modern"
age. Yet, we have no language for anything beyond First World, believing
that is the final state, the "end of history." Further,
there is a serious question as to whether the billions of people
who are now exiting Second and Third World life styles can anticipate
the same level of affluence as they see on First World (Orange)
television screens. Now that expectations have been raised by visiting
"Paree," how do we expect to "keep them down on the
| Different worldviews or vMEMES fight
or engage in conflict but for different reasons.
motivation and "bottom line" justification for aggressive
keep a place in the survival niche, as in the movie The Quest
protect the myths, ancestral traditions, rights of kinship,
and sacred places.
dominate, gain the spoils, and earn the right to rape, pillage,
protect borders, homelands, hearth, preserve way of life, defend
advance economic spheres of influence, or access to raw materials
punish those who commit "crimes against humanity"
and protect the victims.
Vital Signs Monitors
of Critical Worldview Indicators
We exist, as humans, in a wash of bacteria, viruses, genes, and
memes. All four appear to be impacted by nonlinear events and possess
the capacity to literally re-engineer their respective codes to
adapt to changing conditions in the milieu. The Vital Signs Monitor
is designed to track the life forces that influence our human experiences.
Consider an operations-type room, with floor to ceiling video screens,
where the critical indicators are displayed and overlaid on top
of each other. Such a Monitor could register the pulse of aggregates
of people, both at macro and micro levels, to search for the deepest
trends, major vMEME conflicts in the making, serious sink-holes
in development projects, and the general health and well-being of
global people. This technology could provide global-focused decision-makers
with the necessary information to translate into knowledge, then
formulate actions necessary in shaping each Next Global Mesh.
Such a technology is being developed by John Petersen and his Arlington
Institute, located in Arlington, Virginia. The intent of the Vital
Signs Monitor, displayed within the Institute's Fusion Center, is
to track vMEMETIC flows and Stages of Change within the American
society, with a current focus on the Y2K issue.
The Arlington Institute is currently using national polling firms
to detect our "EKG"-like social pulses. See www.arlingtoninstitute.org
for more details. The Presidio in San Francisco could well become
a global center for this scanning technology as a West Coast counterpart
to the United Nations, a place dedicated to the exploration of these
global dynamics. Silicon Valley companies could generate the advanced
high technology that would enhance the entire process.
4Q/8L - Hitting on All Cylinders -
Holism in Practise
Ken Wilber has created a powerful, imaginative, and practical template
to overlay on any situation to
1. identify the specific needs and capacities of individuals and
2. calibrate the precise developmental or growth-related packages
that fit each unique situation.
The "All Levels" piece of his framework can be explained
in terms of the eight vMEME or worldview layers and levels of complexity.
The "All Quadrants" component consists of: IT - Individual
Brain & Organism. I -Individual Self & Consciousness ITS
- Collective Social System and Environment and WE Collective Culture
and WorldView. Efforts which select a single Q, or operate on a
mismatched L, could make things worse. Large scale efforts, such
as cultural upliftment, must be All Q and All L.
vMEMES lie beneath 1st through 4th
world (developed and developing) cultures so if the deeper codes
are set right, progress will be made on the surface economic, social,
and political problems. Syndicated columnist and foreign correspondent
Georgie Anne Geyer has a good grasp of this reality. She clearly
spots the lack of the Blue vMEME in Russia: "After 1,000 years
of absolute faiths, Russian has none." No wonder the West's
attempts to force free-market economic models (Orange) into Russia,
came back as Red mafia crime. A new collective orthodoxy must emerge
first, one that creates a renewed sense of "good authority."
Geyer lauds the wisdom of Tunisian leaders to reject the advice
from USAID and pro-democracy (Green) lobbies that "insist that
full democracy is a 'must' from the very beginning of a nations'
life." They understand the need to ratchet through steps &
stages of L by mobilizing all resources in Q, but around "authoritarian
democracy" or "enlightened autocracy" models.
Singapore was wise to establish a Blue authority climate to contain
the hot ethnic (Purple & Red) cores. But, now, the country,
while keeping a healthy Blue platform in place, will need to stress
individual autonomy and achievement (Orange). Australia is trapped
in an Orange vs. Green cross-fire, making it difficult to deal with
the Aborigines or define a new sense of nationhood once the monarchy
Southeastern Europe continues to suffer from unresolved issues
in the Purple, Red, and Blue zones, making Orange difficult to emerge.
People simply cannot be until they are. And, all we can really do
with an entire society is help it become what is next for it to
become, so it can take yet another step toward a fuller and more
comprehensive versions of "democracy." Think of this as
a "stratified democracy" process.
Third Way Politics
Traditional Republican thought in the US is classic Blue (rule
of law) and Orange (free- market economy). The Democrat Party joins
Purple-Red "victims" with Green "rescuers,"
setting up the bipolar, two party political impasse. A legitimate
"third way" policy would place the Spiral right in the
middle of the left-right wing political spectrum. One could then
cobble elements from both wings and apply them at different levels
within the developing Spiral. This is neither a centralist or compromise
position, but an entirely new direction in national politics. Both
Bill Clinton's "vital center" champions and George W.
Bush's "compassionate conservatives" lean in that direction
but without an All Quadrants/All Levels perspective, they will not
get there. The political thinkers who grasp this concept will dominate
for decades to come. The focus shifts from horizontal position(s)
on the Spiral - they are called "whorls" - to the "DNA"
codes on the spine of the Spiral. Herein lies the essence of this
Global Mesh strategy, one that deals with the the producer of worldviews,
the dynamics that shape governance models, and the generator of
complex, adaptive intelligences. I was asked during the South Africa's
search for a new constitution whether that emerging society should
be a unitary state, a federal structure, or a confederation. I said
"yes." That country is the global microcosm.
Decision - Making Structures
The design and implementation of successful All Quadrants/All Levels
initiatives requires a new generation of decision-making formulas
and processes. While each of the vMEMES has evolved its own form
of problem resolution, the Yellow-Integral and Turquoise-Holistic
worldviews contain the intelligences to macromanage the whole human
Spiral. Ichak Adizes, in his corporate lifecycle framework, has
devised what he calls CAPI - the coalescing of Authority, Power,
and Influence so that all sit at the same table in sorting out complex
issues. See http://www.adizes.com.
In addition, the original Value Engineering discipline, created
by Larry Miles at General Electric in the post WW II period, has
now expanded into a Value Management format. Objectives are agreed
upon, functions are identified, then prioritized, resulting in specific
action plans. This model with various adaptations has been used
successfully throughout the South African transformation, at both
national and "coal-face" levels. Blue mandates, Orange
win:win negotiations, and even Green consensus-driven models simply
lack the complexity to handle such thorny problems in this Age of
Fragmentation. A new pax universalis will require the best from
within all of us.
Cometh the Time; Cometh the Thinking
Don Edward Beck, l999