home  |  book  |  blogs  |   RSS  |  contact  |

Chapter 10:
Explaining the Culture War

print view

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. —Clare Graves

THE PREVIOUS five chapters have described the world that ordinary people created for themselves in the city before the advent of the welfare state.  It shows how they built institutions to deal with life in the city, and how they used enthusiastic Christianity as a way to transform their lives from country ways to city ways.  Opposed to their noble and largely successful struggles we have shown the elites, traditional and progressive, in a less flattering light, as power-obsessed and self-obsessed. 

It is these two elites that are opposed in the modern culture wars observed by James Davison Hunter in Culture Wars.  He describes the war as a conflict between two world views, an orthodox side that believes in “an external, definable, and transcendent authority” and a progressive side that believes in “resymboliz[ing] historic faiths according to the prevailing assumptions of contemporary life.” (Hunter 1991 p44) But this definition seems hardly sufficient.  The orthodox side in the culture wars also supports Burke’s gradualism and his defense of “prejudice” and “prescription” that is relativistic and this-worldly while the progressive side smuggles in an absolutist faith in equality, peace, and justice à outrance that is as absolutist as any Bible-believing Christianity.  The orthodox side claims to represent the “nation” and the progressive side claims to represent the “people.”  In other words, both sides resort to absolutism and to relativism in constructing their world views and in their attempts to marginalize and delegimitize the world view of the other side.  The conflict is not mere academic hair-splitting for each side claims, by virtue of its saving truth, the right to control and regulate the traffic on the road to the middle class. 

How can we make sense of all this?  How can we better understand the participants in the modern struggle, the struggle of the ordinary people to adapt to the new world of the industrial and post-industrial city, and the struggle of the elites to gain the right to represent them.  Is one side right, or does each side grasp merely a portion of the truth?  The great conflicts of the twentieth century have pointed up the urgency of this question.  Just who are we and what do we want?

A popular explanation was made by David Riesman at the middle of the twentieth century in The Lonely Crowd.  A law clerk to Louis Brandeis, and then a deputy assistant district attorney, he became a professor of social science at the University of Chicago and swam in New York Jewish intellectual circles.  It was pretty clear to him that the final end of western civilization was the upper middle class that was then emerging in the larger cities of the United States.  Composed of people who were “literate, educated, and provided with the necessities of life by an ever more efficient machine industry and agriculture,” it looked to its contemporaries rather than the elders for the source of direction for life; in particular it absorbed inspiration through the media.

Back in the old days, people were “tradition-directed.”  That was in the days of high population growth potential when birth rates and death rates were high.  People couldn’t conceive of anything other than the traditional ways of the ancestors.  Socialization centered on security behavioral conformity.  But with the industrial revolution and the “transitional growth” period, death rates went down—although birth rates remained high—and people started to become “inner-directed.”  The direction of a person was “implanted early in life by the elders and directed towards generalized... goals.”  Behavioral conformity would no longer suffice for social welfare, because it was impossible to foresee all the novel situations that a person might encounter.  Thus the problem of conformity was “solved by channeling choice through a rigid though highly individualized character.”  Each person would be programmed to respond to novel situations in the right way by an internal gyroscope “set by the parents and other authorities.”  This became the world of the bourgeoisie and the Protestant ethic.

Of course, by the 1950s, the world had grown much too complicated for simple gyroscopes set by parents.  And the world had entered an era of “incipient decline of population.”  In the modern urban centers like New York, people were becoming “other-directed,” accepting direction not primarily from the elders or from authority figures but from their contemporaries and from the media.  They were flexible, adaptable, progressive in politics and forward-looking; they had people skills, unlike the rigid, gyroscope-driven “inner-directed” people.

Riesman’s theory rather neatly told the “story-so-far” that urban intellectuals of the mid twentieth century wanted to hear.  It showed how they were the inevitable and culmination of history, and that sophisticated, literate people who read Partisan Review were the result of nature’s plan: the appropriate social response to an age of an “incipient decline of population.”  It started with the status quo of the agricultural age, showed how the Protestant ethic was appropriate to the transition from the conservatism of the agricultural age to the modern age, and also showed how the cramped and limited “inner-directed” mind was giving way to the “other-directed” person.  But his theory was sequential, rather than layered.  What happens to people who still experience life in the “tradition-directed” way?  Riesman doesn’t say.  And what about people satisfied by an “inner-directed” life?  Riesman doesn’t quite answer, but implies that they are in danger of being left behind and had better climb on the “other-directed” train before it leaves the station.  Most readers would get the point: inner-direction is obsolescent, and ought to be abandoned, especially in the era of incipient population decline.  High birth rates just do not fit in the modern world.

Twenty years later, Riesman’s theory was already out of joint.  The highest and best thing to be was no longer a disputatious New York intellectual but a free spirit participating in unstructured and creative community.  Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest taught a generation that the world was a contest between uptight, repressed authoritarians, who wanted to regiment everyone according to rigid rules about right and wrong, and the creative artists who celebrated personal expression, spontaneity, and creative intuition.  In The Greening of America, Charles A. Reich, a teacher at Yale, updated Riesman’s theory to provide a myth to reassure the creative Sixties generation that they were the final end, the eidos of history.  His Consciousness I saw the world as a jungle with every man for himself.  In the industrial revolution this began to be replaced by a Consciousness II seeing the world as a meritocracy, leading to the corporate state and gigantic hierarchies.  But now came Consciousness III in which the individual self was recognized as the only true reality.  It was a crime to be alienated from oneself, to be divided, trapped in Consciousness II and willing to defer meaning to the future.  The new individualism of Consciousness III would lead to a new world as community.

Other thinkers have avoided the temptations of a myth that focused on the author’s world and have developed analytical frameworks to explain the diversity of human consciousness and understanding about the world rather than explain it away.  Perhaps the best known are the child development theories of Jean Piaget, the needs hierarchy of Abraham Maslow, and the human life cycle of Erik Erikson.  Other contributions include the moral development theory of Lawrence Kohlberg and the ego development stages of Jane Loevinger.  All these theories propose that humans are born with a limited consciousness and then through childhood and on into adulthood extend and develop step-by-step their understanding of the world and themselves.  All of the investigators agree, approximately, that each step, or stage in this process forms a base, a stepping off place for development into the next stage.

The first developmental psychologist was not Jean Piaget, but an American, James Mark Baldwin, born in 1861.  Educated at Princeton and at several German universities, he held professorships at Toronto, Princeton, Johns Hopkins University, and the National University of Mexico.  He projected five hierarchical levels of consciousness, starting with the Pre-logical, in which:

Presentation and its reality [are] not distinguished.  [There is] only an incipient perception of persons as different from things.

In the next level, the Quasi-logical, the person learns to differentiate between the inner and outer worlds and becomes aware of feelings shared by others.  Further up, in the Logical level, the person learns to differentiate truth and falsity, dealing critically with ideas and realities.  But the logical life is not the highest, for beyond is the Extra-logical level in which the person learns to judge good and bad and experience “development of the ideal aspect of experience in practical reason.” Hyper-logical is the highest level:

The self reads itself into experience, interpreting the generality of cognition through the singularity of sentiment.  The immediacy of feeling is restored, and the personal and concrete enter back into the scientific and theoretical, so that experience attains an aesthetic unity and becomes complete in itself while the real undergoes an expansion beyond the logical or scientific.  There is a complete reconciliation of the dichotomies: actual/ideal, knowledge/value, objectivity/intimacy, and producer/spectator. (Broughton 1982)

Notice how Baldwin has established that in this level the storms of Romanticism and the rebellion of bohemianism are solved in the reconciliation of dichotomies, expanding understanding beyond the logical or scientific rather than negating them.

It was from this beginning that Piaget developed his hierarchical system for explaining child cognitive development.  Beginning with sensorimotor (birth to 2 years) in which the child is developing its sensorimotor functions, the ability to interact with the environment and learn to move, he added preoperational, (2 years to 7 years) learning language and the ability to analyze limited, static information, concrete operational, (7 years to 11 years) learning to analyze more complex situations, handle transformations, and formal operational, (11 years and above) beginning to develop the ability to imagine the possibilities in a situation.

In Maslow’s related system, consciousness is expressed as a response to a hierarchy of needs.  First, a person must first satisfy her physiological needs: for food, water, rest, and sex.  Then she will be ready to deal with her safety needs: for security, comfort, and freedom from fear.  With safety needs taken care of, she will be able to deal with her belongingness needs, then self-esteem, then self-actualization, then self-transcendence. 

Arnold Mitchell developed and popularized Maslow’s needs hierarchy in The Nine American Lifestyles and the Values and Lifestyles program (VALS) at Stanford Research Institute.  People were defined by their lifestyles, “need-driven,” “outer-directed,” or “inner-directed.”  Writing in 1980, Mitchell found that about 11 percent of the population was need-driven, 67 percent outer-directed, and 20 percent inner-directed.  Another two percent were “Integrated.”  After the death of Mitchell, the VALS program was continued at SRI and modified into VALS2.  For VALS2 the old VALS lifestyles were juggled around and grouped by “Resources.”  The high resource group possessed “the full range of psychological, physical, demographic, and material means and capacities that people have to draw upon.”  Lifestyles included Actualizers in the high resource group, Strugglers in the low-resource group, and Fulfilleds, Believers, Achievers, Strivers, Experiencers, Makers in the medium resource group.

Lawrence Kohlberg developed a stage theory of moral development that tracks with Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.  The first stage is the preconventional.  The child does the right thing to avoid punishment, but is unable to consider the interests of others.  The second stage is conventional, living up to what other people expect of people in a specific role of son, sister, or friend.  People have an understanding that other peoples’ expectations take primacy over individual interests.  The third stage is post-conventional, or principled.  People understand that most values and rules are relative to a particular group; they learn to follow self-chosen ethical principles.

Jane Loevinger developed an ego stage theory in Ego Development.  It begins at birth with the Presocial stage, where the person lacks an ego, but learns to differentiate himself from the world and realize that there is a stable world of objects.  In the Symbiotic stage the baby learns to differentiate itself from mother, and by learning language to further differentiate itself as a separate person.  In the Impulsive stage, differentiation proceeds still further, with the beginnings of moral judgment, where “good” primarily means “good-to-me” and “bad” means “bad-to-me.”  The Self-protective stage is the first step towards control of impulses where the child learns to anticipate short-term rewards and punishments and understand the concept of rules.  But the main rule is “don’t get caught.” 

In the Conformist stage, the child begins to identify its own welfare with the welfare of the group, the family, or the peer group.  For this stage to be successful, the child must develop a sense of trust.  The Conformist values niceness and cooperation with others but sees behavior in terms of externals instead of internals, doing the right thing rather than feeling the right thing.  Belonging makes the Conformist feel secure.

The Self-aware level is the transition from Conformist to Conscientious and, according to Loevinger, “probably the modal level for adults in our society.”  Whereas the Conformist lives in a simple world in which the same thing is right always and for everyone, the Self-aware person sees alternatives, but still in stereotypic “categories like age, sex, marital status, and race, rather than in terms of individual differences in traits and needs.” 

At the Conscientious stage, the internalization of rules is completed.  The Conscientious person evaluates and chooses rules for himself, yet feels himself his brother’s keeper.  He aspires to achievement, but in his own terms.  There is a deepening understanding of other peoples’ viewpoints.

The Individualistic level is the transition from Conscientious to Autonomous.  Here, a person begins to understand the conflict between the striving for achievement and relations with other people.  Moralism becomes replaced by an awareness of inner conflict, but only partly. 

At the Autonomous stage, a person achieves the ability to acknowledge and cope with the conflict between needs and duties.  “Whereas the Conscientious person tends to construe the world in terms of polar opposites, the Autonomous person... [sees] reality as complex and multifaceted.”  He is willing, for instance, to let his “children make their own mistakes.”

Finally, there is the Integrated stage.  At this stage, the person is able to reconcile inner conflicts yet still cherish individuality.  Loevinger notes the difficulty of studying this stage, both because it is rare, and because it is likely to exceed the ego stage of the researcher.  There is, of course, “no highest stage but only an opening to new possibilities.”

For Anglo-Americans all these developmental theories of consciousness and their associated world-views seem to issue from the ideas of the conscious and the unconscious mind brilliantly publicized by Sigmund Freud in the early twentieth century.  But Freud was merely a legatee of the intellectual tradition begun by Immanuel Kant, who first utilized the concept of a weltanschauung, or world-view, as a natural way of dealing with his seminal idea that humans cannot know things-in-themselves, but only appearances.  Humans do not experience reality; they only experience a view, or appearance, of reality.  It was in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit where the first modern stage theory of human consciousness emerged.  In Hegel’s formulation human consciousness consisted of four major stages: Consciousness, Self-Consciousness, Reason, and Spirit. 

But the problem with stage theories is that the step-by-step metaphor implies that, once an advance has been made from one step to the next, the world of the previous stage is left behind, treated as incomplete and insufficient.  It is a small step from regarding the previous stage as incomplete to judging it as shamefully primitive and simplistic, and from there to a dismissal of the old ways as not merely simplistic, but superstitious, and not merely superstitious, but a deliberate lie.  It was a great theme in the work of Eric Voegelin to examine this tendency and to demonstrate its folly.  For Voegelin the progress from stage to stage is a “leap in being” from “compactness” to “differentiation.”  The leap in being is not a jump that leaves the old ways behind, but a clarification that brings new concepts into focus.

In Integral Psychology, new age writer Ken Wilber correlates about 15 of these systems of human consciousness, including the Buddhist vijnanas, Hindu chakras, Plotinus, the Great Chain of Being, Sri Aurobindo, the Kabbalah, and theosophy.  He showed that there have always been hierarchical models of human consciousness, across time and across cultures, and that the twentieth century has been a particularly fruitful time for development of these theories.

But can these theories of human consciousness shed light upon the class and religious antagonisms of the present era?  For instance, could any of them explain how enthusiastic Protestantism should be flourishing in the present time despite the many prophecies of its demise, and could it explain why so many people should be ideologically mobilized against it?

One of the systems described by Wilber was developed by a contemporary of Maslow, Clare Graves, a professor at Union College, New York.  Teaching classes on Maslow and Skinner in the early 1950s, he found himself unable to answer his students’ need to know which was the “right” theory.  His response was to launch on a 30-year program to find a better understanding of human development that could transcend the conflicting theories then available.

Together with his students, Graves developed a “levels of existence” model of human consciousness that integrated bio-, psycho-, and socio- characteristics into a single stage theory. 

At each stage of human existence the adult man is off on his quest... At the first level he is on a quest for automatic physiological satisfaction.  At the second level he seeks a safe mode of living, and this is followed in turn, by a search for heroic status, for power and glory, by a search for ultimate peace; a search for material pleasure, a search for affectionate relations, a search for respect of self, and a search for peace in an incomprehensible world. (Beck 1996 p16)

Unlike the three stage systems of popular authors like Riesman and Reich that are fashioned to validate the consciousness of the author, Graves’s system rejected the assumption of a final state or consciousness to represent the culmination of human development.  Instead it experienced human nature adapting itself to meet new life conditions and challenges.  It was an open system with an unknown future. 

In the years just before his death in 1986, Graves embarked on a nation-wide series of business seminars with collaborators Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, and brought the theory to the practical world of business organization and development, “astonish[ing] the business people in his audiences... ‘nailing’ the problems they were just then realizing lay ahead.”  His audience understood that Graves’s system established that individuals in a company can “respond positively only to those managerial principles” that are pitched in terms that make sense to them at their current level of existence. (Beck 1996 p29)  It is no use appealing to workers in a factory with promises that a new initiative will provide great opportunities for those who seize the day if they are union members who believe that you succeed in life by “going along to get along.”

In Spiral Dynamics Don Beck and Christopher Cowan developed and popularized Graves’s ideas.  Their system divided human consciousness into eight levels or “waves,” and used a particularly vivid form of communicating them, using a color for each level.

The lowest level is instinctive beige.  It is the level of being at which human behavior and consciousness is scarcely differentiated from the higher apes.  Behavior and consciousness are instinctual, based on biological urges and drives.  Humans are socialized as members of a band, and are concentrated on staying alive.  They create sand or cave paintings to show their prey and how to hunt them.  They transmit their skills by ritual and by practice.

Eventually, the instinctive humans at instinctive beige level break through into tribal purple.  At this level, people have become self-conscious enough to want to understand the way the world works.  They explain it with spirits that dwell in every tree and pond and living thing.  They are socialized in tribes, and are focused on safety and security.  Here, humans barely have an ego, in the sense of experiencing themselves as separate from the group.  They think of “we.”

With impulsive red, the characteristic modern Ego first emerges, where individuals first articulate a sense of individuality separate from the group.  The idea of “what’s in it for me” emerges.  In the red level, people develop the idea that the strong and tough prevail while the weak must serve and obey.  It is the spirit of the first great riverine empires where the ego of the ruler merged with God, and everything that moved was ruthlessly subjugated.  People are socialized into empires; the focus is on conquest and mastery.  It is easy to see that slavery is a natural institution for a red society.

There are, of course, many people in this world who cannot see beyond the red desire for power and domination.  In fact, however, a majority of the people in the world has seen beyond this.  They have advanced to the purposive blue level.  This is the world of divine purpose, of single Truth, of conformist obedience to authority, the emergence of reason.  Socialization is authoritarian, and the focus is on acquiring rewards in the afterlife by hard work and discipline in the here and now.

What happens to people who have become thoroughly socialized into the blue realm of purpose and discipline?  They begin to develop their ego again, now that it has been safely civilized by authority and the rules and roles of blue.  They emerge into creative orange, where people play the game to win.  This is an ego realm, like red, only now the ego does not operate by power alone, but by contract, by trading, by “adding value,” and through creativity.  Socialization is enterprise related.  The British Empire metamorphoses into the British Commonwealth.

Some people found, beginning in the nineteenth century, that this entrepreneurial world of life-as-a-game lacked something.  What about community, they said?  What about caring?  What about the universal brotherhood of man rather than the cramped community of tribal affiliation?  So was born the communitarian green level.  Here the focus is on community and harmony, everyone working together to achieve consensus, respecting and encouraging diversity.  Here the socialization is towards community, and the focus is equality and caring.

The green level completes the First Tier of human development in the Spiral Dynamics universe.  Graves called these first six levels the Subsistence Levels.  But then comes a momentous leap that starts on the Second Tier, the “Being” levels.  And the first level is integral yellow.  It turns out that there are people in the world who have discovered that treating life as a game is trite, but that replacing the bracing challenge of entrepreneurism with touchy-feely caring and equality is less than a complete solution either.  These people start to develop a systems perspective.  They start trying to imagine ways in which the virtues of competition and cooperation could be combined.  They want to integrate the different levels of being into a smoothly functioning system, not because they want to rule the world, or because they want to be world champions, but because they perceive that if everyone gets to participate at their highest potential, everyone benefits, from the individual, to the group, to the community, to the clients and customers.  A crucial aspect of yellow is that, for the first time, the human is conscious of the validity of the other levels of being.  He understands why some people exhibit blue beliefs, and others orange. Thus yellow preserves the compassion of green while transcending and extending it.  Yellow is compassionate towards others not just because he “cares” but because he understands.

The highest level that Spiral Dynamics has explored is holistic turquoise.  It extends yellow from a purely systems/integrative concept to a holistic understanding where “universal forces permeate all forms of life, energy, and existence, ordering their movement, changes and patterns.”  After turquoise comes coral, which, the authors say, is unclear to them. (Beck 1996 p47)

Beck and Cowan recognize that their system is merely a metaphor.  Consciousness cannot really be divided up into convenient levels; it is continuous and indivisible.  Their system is just a convenient classification system, an aid to understanding similar to the concept of the triune brain, composed of the reptilian brain stem that is enclosed inside the mammalian mid-brain that is wrapped inside the human neo-cortex.  Closer examination blurs these boundaries.  The human brain is a complex arrangement of organs and circuits, interconnections and activities that defies crude simplification. 

The Spiral Dynamics model self-consciously asserts that people do not experience life entirely in one level.  In advancing from one level to another, a person transcends the old level, but still includes it as part of their consciousness.  Thus the advanced green communitarian still retains their beige instincts, their purple magical feelings, their red impulses, their blue purposefulness, and their orange competitiveness.  But she experiences the world as a caring green communitarian, and easily persuades herself that green caring and sharing is the only true reality, lacking tolerance for the less evolved that live lower down the food chain.  It is common for greens to look with scorn on the orange experience of life as a game, and to regard rigid blue believers as completely benighted.  The reciprocal relationship is even worse.  Red impulsives just do not understand the blue emphasis on discipline and rules that seems to them a sucker’s game, and orange entrepreneurs regard green communitarians as soft in the head.  Each step up the hierarchy is like experiencing a new dimension.  The person higher up regards the person lower down as a fool for not being able to see the world as he does, and the person lower down thinks the person higher up is hallucinating and imagining things that just don’t exist.

This lack of understanding is true only at the First Tier, the six levels from beige to purple to red, to blue, to orange, to green.  The “momentous leap” to the Second Tier is the ability to understand that people experience the world differently: that red impulsives experience the world as a power struggle, and orange entrepreneurs experience it as a game to be won, and that none of the levels on the First Tier understands any of the others.

We are now ready to analyze the phenomenon of enthusiastic Protestantism and also the phenomenon of the critics who rail at it, and to answer the question posed above that wondered Protestantism should flourish two hundred years after German philologists exposed the human origin of Holy Scripture, and why modern secularists should be mobilized so fiercely against it.

Enthusiastic Protestantism is a movement of people in transition from the red impulsive level of consciousness to the purposeful blue stage.  When people join a Protestant sect, they are groping for a new consciousness that will help them deal with life in a more successful way than the impulsive red level.

This crisis of consciousness occurs for most people as they attempt to master life in the city.  When people live as peasants, as 90 percent of humans did until recently, life is routine, almost instinctive.  Indeed, a mindless conservatism in the peasant is almost essential.  Crops must be planted in season, and reaped in season; hay must be stored for winter feeding—or else the peasant starves.  Moreover the harvest needs protection.  In the tenth century, Viking raiders chose October, the time just after the harvest but before winter, to raid the coasts of northwest Europe and grab grain, women, and slaves.  The farmers need a warrior class to discourage these raiders.  In such an environment, society relies on a warrior aristocracy for its safety, a class barely less predatory than the piratical raiders.  Aggressive people get on top, and weaker people go along to get along.  Land is the ultimate source of wealth.  He who controls land has life; he who controls lots of land has power.  Power is everything.  But life in the city is different. 

In the city it is not land that counts, but money.  Here the necessary conservatism of the country is replaced by the hyperactive middleman who buys low and sells high, who is ceaselessly pursuing the latest market trends.  In the city no man can say, like Fafner the dragon, sitting on his hoard of stolen gold: “Ich lieg’ und besitz.’”  In the city, a fortune must be actively managed or it will wither away.  In the city, land does not give life and power; instead skills and aptitude, energy and purpose, trust and reciprocity enliven and empower.

Arriving in the city, the peasant from the countryside must find a meaning that corresponds to the life of the city.  The old country ways no longer serve, and the newly arrived city dweller must learn how to thrive in the city. 

A crucial part of the journey from red consciousness to blue consciousness is the break from red exploitation to blue self-emancipation, from subordination to self-government, from status to contract.  In red empires, in red feudal relationships, the exploitation relationship is eternal and immutable.  In red empires, the powerful have the right to exploit for every reason imaginable: because they have the power, because they own the land, because they are better fed, because they are better organized, because they have held power since time immemorial, because the Vikings or the Mongols might turn up next October.  For the subordinate member of such a relationship to emerge into freedom requires first of all a belief that such freedom exists, and then that it is possible to attain it.  This is a factor understood by the leaders of all political organizations.

In Spiral Dynamics, Beck and Cowan present the transition from obedience to the liege lord to obedience to the Law, from red idolatry to blue’s abiding truth.  “In both Judeo-Christian and Islamic history, the Purple and Red tribes requires a vengeful, wrathful God to bring them out of chaos toward authoritarian order.”  Yet this wrathful God offers himself in sacrifice in atonement for the sins of the world; the rigid rules of discipline and purpose are softened by the gentle rain of compassion and forgiveness.  Even the warrior aristocracy developed a taste for rules.  Magna Carta was an effort by the King John’s barons to replace the red relationship based on naked power with a blue legal relationship based on immutable principles.

Beck and Cowen also illuminate the bifurcation of western society in the nineteenth century, how the well-born sons of the middle class abandoned the rules and roles of Protestantism and broke away into the intuitive world-view of Romanticism and the global community of socialism.  The sons of blue craftsmen no longer wanted to live as good disciplined blue soldiers, but wanted to ascend to the creative world of inspiration and creativity.  The sons of orange businessmen wanted to build a world that transcended the petty haggling of the market and its chaotic creativity.  They wanted the world to be organized sensibly and cooperatively in rational socialist argument.  The best and the brightest wanted to move on from the dull routine of traditional rules and roles.  They possessed the discipline and purpose of the middle class from their parents and they wanted to journey on to orange creativity or green community.  But while these sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie were venturing forward in their tens of thousands, a massive immigration was occurring as millions of red peasants flooded into the great industrial cities.  These people needed to take the next step, to the blue consciousness of purpose and discipline.  They obtained them, as we have seen, from a multitude of social structures, most notably enthusiastic Christianity, but also education, mutual aid, living under law.  For those not yet ready for the momentous step there was red socialization in protective semi-red urban tribes of the nineteenth century: the labor union, the political machine, and the criminal gang.

The illumination of Spiral Dynamics shows clearly how Protestantism is admirably fitted to help people negotiate the transition from red consciousness to blue.  As we have seen, the transition occurs when mankind tries to deal with life beyond the face-to-face life of the agricultural village, and was symbolized by the great world religions that began to appear about 500BC and substitute rules and reciprocity for power and subordination.  But that is not the end of the story.  Once men and women have assimilated to the city, they yearn to grow beyond the simple rules and roles of blue consciousness. 

It is time to rehearse all this in the light of the theory of consciousness espoused by Spiral Dynamics and construct a likely story of the world so far.

print view


Click for Chapter 11: A Likely Story


Buy the ebook: Road to the Middle Class: only $0.99.


Your comments are welcome. Please e-mail to Christopher Chantrill at mailto:chrischantrill@gmail.com, and take the RMC test here.


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008

Socialism equals Animism

Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values

Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.

Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit

Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy

presented by Christopher Chantrill

Data Sources  •   •  Contact