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Chapter 11:
A Likely Story

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Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses. —F.S.C. Northrop

KNOWLEDGE BEGINS with a problem, with the need to make sense of the world.  In political philosophy, the problem is to imagine a political community that is both practical and just, practical enough to survive, and just enough to avoid oppression and servitude.  In Plato’s time, the problem was to imagine a just and workable government for the city-states of Hellas that could avoid the horrors of the Peloponnesian wars and its attendant follies; his Republic and Laws were his attempts to imagine that different polity.  In our time, the great problem is the culture war between the two armies that James Davison Hunter has called the orthodox and the progressive.

The developers of Spiral Dynamics have shown how to solve this great problem of the modern world, the conflict between the bourgeois ethos of law and purpose and the new ethos of the creative community, the global voluntary community of “genuine democracy” and a world without oppression and exploitation.  The solution of Clare Graves and his students and the solution of Ken Wilber prophesy a new emerging consciousness beyond the green cosmos of communitarian caring and universalism: a new yellow consciousness of synthesis, and a natural history classification of human consciousness into the four common levels of red power, blue purpose, orange creativity, and green community.  Its value for this study is that, in illuminating the problems of what comes next after socialism, it illuminates precisely the issues here chosen for analysis: how best to serve the needs of the people struggling on the road to the middle class.  It explains the remarkable fact that religious adherence in the United States has steadily increased in the last two hundred years instead of declining after the Death of God experienced by the educated classes.  It explains the extraordinary failures of the visionary socialists, why their vision for a global community of humankind freed from oppression and superstition led straight to the gulag, to the laogai, and to the Nazi death camp.  And it points the way to a new Culture of Hope imagined by Frederick Turner beyond the death spiral of postmodernism, a world in which the commercial culture of the city is the foundation of the attempt to built a universal civilization of creativity, sharing and caring.  But above all it shows that enthusiastic Christianity, the move from the spoken word to the written word in education for literacy, a voluntary culture of mutual-aid, and an move from the law of force and feud to the reciprocal trust of the rule of law, when mixed together, are precisely the nutritious and energizing ingredients to sustain the travelers on the road to the middle class.  It allows us to assert with confidence when the progressive middle class wrinkles its collective brow over the threat of “theocracy” or the superstitions of fundamentalist Christians that they are wrong.  Enthusiastic Christianity may not be the recipe for a creative, compassionate life of experiment and inquiry, but it is the right recipe for the immigrant newly arrived in the city.

We cannot know reality, Kant taught us, and must be content with a world-view.  Knowledge about the world is thus a theory, the twentieth century learned, a simplification, an attempt to view the world in the simplest, most elegant way possible, attempting to concentrate only on the primary data, and ignoring second order effects.  Every theory tries to force the appearances of the world into a likely story, a theory that explains why we are the fortuitous culmination of world history while doing as little violence to the facts as possible.  Here then is a likely story of the world, moderately Eurocentric, and illuminated by the light of Gravesian developmental psychology.

Back in the dark ages about 1000 years ago, Europe was a continent of red power and oppression.  The nature of agricultural economy demanded it.  Land was the only thing that lasted, but it was vulnerable to attack.  Peasants needed armed might to protect them from pirates, slavers, and nomads from the Asian steppe.  A military class ruled, a warrior aristocracy, to give the landsmen the protection they needed.  But the cure was sometimes worse than the disease, for the landed barons exploited the power that their military might gave them, and wasted the surplus of the peasants on wars of dynastic succession and revenge.  The feudal system was a crystallization of the power relationships that obtained in this world.  It was a status hierarchy with loyalty given to the powerful in return for the offer of protection for the weak.

With the rise of cities and towns that focused on commerce and manufacturing rather than agriculture, a new force entered the feudal realm, the bourgeoisie.  These townspeople gradually developed extended relationships of trust and reciprocity marked by formal and informal contracts.  The increasing complexity of their business affairs required extensive record keeping and provoked them into breakthroughs like double-entry bookkeeping, and the occasions when disputes arose between them stimulated a tradition of adjudications that grew into a body of precedent that we call the common law.   These purposeful townspeople yearned for a political system that reflected the reality of their lives and that championed its foundations: literacy, law, and mutual trust.  The Venetians got it a thousand years ago, in an aristocratic republic led by their merchant traders.  In the sixteenth century the Dutch and the British got it from Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Erasmus.  Thus grew the blue bourgeois consciousness of rules and purpose, and the One Way.

The movement from status to contract, with its formalization of power relationships into rules and its expansion of trust between businessmen and their customers, worked so well for the bourgeoisie that they thought that it would work just as well for the kings and princes that ruled over them.  Eventually, after a struggle, the kings came to agree with them, and grudgingly adapted their rule to the demands of the rising bourgeoisie, abandoning the polity of pure power leavened by immemorial custom.  Constitutions were written, parliaments formed, and laws passed.  The cosmos of rules and purpose seemed to be set to expand at a sensible evolutionary pace forever.

But human affairs seldom continue at a sensible evolutionary pace.  In the eighteenth century, combustible France broke the slow evolution from status to contract and precipitated the first modern revolution.  Not to be outdone, the British bourgeoisie precipitated a revolution of its own, the industrial revolution.  Investing cash from West Indian slave plantations into a revolution in textile technology and the exploitation of steam power, they rapidly developed a city-based economy that outstripped the rural agricultural economy in wealth production.  Most notably, it produced mass products for a mass market and reduced Bengali hand-loom cotton weavers to indigence. 

This revolution in wealth production had two significant effects.  It turned the sober and rule-bound blue bourgeoisie into orange world adventurers, who no longer looked upon work as a worthy vocation, but as an exciting game to be won.  The new capitalist adventurers represented a new birth of ego; they circled the world not in search of land to be conquered but markets to be won.  They also sucked millions of rural red people into the city where they were subjected to a wrenching change in their way of life.  These immigrants to the city experienced life as powerless proletari; their lives were grim and short, subject to the iron laws of the market.  Being numerous, they competed for jobs and living space; they drove wages down and rents up.  Initially, their lives were hardly less arduous than their former life on the land.

Many of the sons of the triumphant bourgeoisie followed their fathers into the business of global enterprise, continuing their adventures in the conquest of world markets.  But some were unimpressed.  They sought to differentiate themselves from the great blue middle class of their fathers, its rules and its conformity, its life of quiet desperation.  Tear down rules, they exclaimed.  They wanted to experience life to the full, even to the extremities of danger and of pathology.  Their religion was orange creativity and self-realization.  They were not so different from the orange capitalist adventurers of industry, but they sought an inner adventure, to conquer their inner world rather than the outer, material world.  They entered the art game, the literary game, or the academic game, and as they ruthlessly fought each other for the glittering prizes they were consoled by the happy thought their lives had nothing to do with the crass materialism of the corporate game of their fathers.

Other scions of the bourgeoisie sought to transcend their fathers not just by abolishing rules in an orange quest for adventure that veered close to a red pursuit of power, but in the extinction of the adventurous ego itself.  They sought a green world of universal community not in the cramped culture of village and clan but in the whole brotherhood of mankind.  They experienced the ultimate futility of all ego.  And they also began to see, as science began to lead them away from a naïve anthropocentrism, that man was not called to dominate the world as a god, but to live within its fragile envelope as but one participant in a great communal organic biosphere.

So it came to be, by the end of the nineteenth century, that the human quest had expanded to many levels.  There were purple tribes, living purely within a world of blood kin and extended family.  There were red peasants, living in villages, bent to the power of landlords, princes, and sons of heaven.  There were red proletarians, trying to make sense of life in the city under the tutelage of the blue bourgeoisie and the orange industrial adventurers.  There was the respectable blue middle class, making a modest competence in the city, earnestly living by rule and role, sober and purposeful.   There were the orange entrepreneurs, exploiting the new inventions both material and cultural to create a wealth of material abundance and cultural innovation that still barely trickled below the middle class.  And there were the orange/green creative communitarians, sons and daughters of the middle class, born to a competence, exploring the world of the self-conscious ego and dreaming of peace and justice, a nonviolent world without conflict and division.

There were those among the orange artistic creatives who did not shout: Down with rules!  They called for a transcending of the bourgeois rules, including them but searching through creative process for better ones and using the bourgeois rules as a jumping off point for more enlightenment and more universality.  But they were little heard.  There were those among the green communitarians who recognized the explosion of wealth creation in the nineteenth century as a boon, and that the swashbuckling capitalists did not represent a malevolent force bent on world domination but a benevolent force striving to shower the people of the world with mass products for mass consumption.  But they were little heard.  What overflowed Europe in the nineteenth century was a first a great Romantic movement that celebrated creativity, hated rules, living to differentiate itself from the fat and somnolent bourgeoisie, and then a great socialist movement that celebrated community, hated enterprise, and reviled the bourgeois edifice of law and property as a false front, a mask for naked power.  The two movements did not celebrate their new insights as transcendent truths that stood on the shoulders of earlier times.  They demanded that their new truths should replace the old truths and make the world anew.

The Romantic Movement, an orange consciousness of the creative ego, vowed to replace the blue consciousness of rules with pure creative genius.  The restraining bands of law would be burst by the creative genius beyond good and evil.  The socialist movement vowed to return the world community, savaged by the explosive waste and energy of laissez faire businessmen and the higgling of the market, to a society where once more, as of old before the rules and the property of bourgeois society had pitted friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor, the people would hold the power in gentle, local communities.  By the turn of the twentieth century, Leon Trotsky could know that in the new world the average human type would rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx.  And above that ridge, new peaks would rise.

Thus was forged the modern temper in which three styles stand out: Compassion, Irreverence, and Creativity. (Barzun 2000 p787)  All of them represent green and orange consciousness freed from the anchoring influence of blue.

When the modern temper was tried out in the twentieth century it immediately led to a bloodbath.  For the explosive force of the twentieth century was not to be the much-feared capitalists that Marx had warned about in 1850, and the trusts that American Progressives had heroically busted in 1900-10.  When the trusts were busted there was no rioting in the streets; there were no bullyboys sent by the Rockefellers and Morgans to intimidate the judges; there was no truculent defiance of due process.  When the law declared their combinations illegal, they submitted to the law—and took their winnings to the bank.  The great threat of the early twentieth century turned out to be the anti-bourgeois power, Germany, “the very embodiment of vitalism and technical brilliance” breaking the mold of bourgeois legality in a war of liberation from “the hypocrisy of bourgeois form and convenience.” (Ecksteins 1989 p.xv)  War in avant-garde circles in 1914 was not considered a life-destroying cycle of violence but “a liberation from bourgeois narrowness and pettiness” epitomized, of course, by the nation of shopkeepers, Britain.  Germany was drenched in the spirit of orange creativity, but rejected the dead hand of bourgeois culture, where enterprise and progress were restrained by law and property.  After the war, of course, the avant-garde declared the Great War to be the fault of arms merchants and stiff-necked Prussian generals.

After World War I the orange consciousness of creativity ranged stronger than ever as the pre-war antinomian movement of creativity moved into the mainstream, and the green consciousness of universal community triumphed in the former empire of Russia.  Both these movements advertised that the sickness that had brought on the war was the sickness of capitalism: rigid laws inspired by bourgeois capitalists that oppressed the poor, and rigid social conformity inspired by superstitious religion.  The legal and contractual framework of the nineteenth century was scorned as inhuman and oppressive.  Down with the blue bourgeois rules; that was the cry.  The rigid contract between government and people institutionalized as the gold standard was scorned and abandoned; the rights of property were everywhere curtailed; the global trading system was hobbled by punitive reparations, by new tariffs, and by interventionist economic policy.  In due course the trading system collapsed in a Great Depression, and that was blamed on capitalism too.

The Gravesian perspective makes a straightforward prediction about movements that attempt to ascend to a new consciousness not by transcending and including the older ways, but by replacing them.  When a movement cuts out a lower level of consciousness (in Freudian terms, represses it), the effect is the same as cutting a section out of a tree trunk.  All growth above the cut is killed, and growth must resume from below the cut.  When the Romantics shouted: Down with Rules, destroying the blue level of rules, they reverted to the level of red power.  When the Socialists destroyed the orange businessman, they reverted to a level of routine blue rules, the one-size-fits-all banality of the welfare state.  When they went further, in Marxian enthusiasm, and destroyed the bourgeois rule of law, they too reverted to the level of red power. 

Thus the twentieth century saw a remarkable regression from law and contract to a world of raw power.  In Germany, where Marxian socialism had obtained a significant presence, an unbalanced culture of community and power developed in the 1900s that celebrated both universal community and power, culminating in the excitement of 1914 and the eager resort to war reported by Modris Ecksteins in Rites of Spring.  After the debacle of 1918, in which the top-down orange revolution from the top had clearly failed, and after the 1920s in which a new German elite tried and failed to construct an orange creative culture from the left, the Germans regressed to red and followed a man who promised to return the most advanced country in Europe to the old pre-industrial values of blood and soil, race and lebensraum.  In a sense, the Germans had no choice.  After the failure of orange creative consciousness, both from the right-wing Wilhelmine Second Reich and the left-wing Weimar republic, and with a middle class reamed out of its bourgeois blue consciousness by a ruinous inflation, they had no choice but to return to the red world of power relationships, submitting to an all-powerful red leader of a homeland become once more a submissive tribe tied in blood through the purple world of kinship.  In this wrenching contradiction the greatest industrial nation in Europe based its politics and economy on pre-industrial notions of kinship and land acquisition and a naked display of power unmitigated by the restraints of law; it plunged from the wreck of 1918 to an even bigger disaster in 1945.  It was a melodrama of operatic scale with a dreadful moral: thou shalt not rush a people into the orange world of transcending-the-rules, a world in which the bloody wars of the untamed red ego are civilized into the creative games of the rule-bred orange ego, until they have learned how to live in a blue world of rules.

The collapse of a timidly modernizing regime in Russia led to the extraordinary Bolshevist coup of 1917 in which revolutionaries inspired by Karl Marx gave themselves license to invent the future as a perfect green universal community, a prototype for a world community of socialism.  But the internal logic of the Bolshevist program and the ruthless drive for power untrammeled by any respect for rules and law resulted in a regime of raw power, unleavened even by the nostalgic echoes of pre-industrial culture evoked by Nazism.  Lenin and Stalin found that socialism could only by implemented by declaring war on the Russian people.  This socialism was a curious creation, a forced top-down industrialization that was suited only to the manufacture tanks and guns, that would be needed, it turned out, for a gigantic war with Nazi Germany that exhausted both Nazism and socialism. 

After 70 years, the heirs to Lenin and Stalin found that they lacked the will and the ruthlessness to maintain the terror that had consumed the lives of tens of millions of Russians.  The destiny of a ferocious Soviet power, it turned out with divinely poetic justice, did not extend beyond building tanks and guns with which to defend against the equally murderous tanks and guns of Hitler’s Germany.  They lost their nerve, and submitted to the world-triumphant empire of the United States of America.

While the influence of the green communitarian left on Russia and the collapse of orange vitalism in Germany led to disaster, in the Anglo-Saxon world it led to a less extreme outcome, a century long strategic retreat by the blue believers in law and property before a coalition of anti-capitalists: a green elite offended by the marginalization of its members by the new industrial economy, and a red rank-and-file of pre-bourgeois working class that was as yet unready to move from a tribal society of status to the contractual society of law and property.  Both members of this coalition believed that the bourgeois proposition could not deliver participation in the fruits of industrialism to the broad mass of people without a massive intervention by the best people and a vast increase in government power.  In England, this coalition was institutionalized politically in the Labour Party at the turn of the twentieth century by a joint partnership between the high-born Fabians and the labor unions in which the Fabians provided the brainpower and the unions the horsepower.  In the United States, it was institutionalized by converting the Democratic Party in the 1930s from a party that had flirted with the institutional corruption of big city machines like New York’s Tammany Hall into a national machine party in which elite Progressivism was married to the pre-bourgeois go-along-to-get-along ethos of Tammany Hall and the labor union.  It abandoned the high-minded good government Progressivism of the early twentieth century that had been led by a high-minded college president and frankly turned itself into a national Tammany Hall, winning support by presenting the head of the party as an American cacique, a font of patronage to those who gave their support and a terror to those that opposed him.  Conveniently, this system of boss rule was inaugurated by the aristocratic Franklin Roosevelt who was not obviously the head of a political machine.  But all subsequent Democratic Presidents except the ineffective Jimmy Carter have been skilled machine politicians, first Harry Truman, from the Prendergast machine of Kansas City, then John F. Kennedy, of the Boston Irish mafia, then “Landslide” Lyndon Johnson who had got to the U.S. Senate with the help of a mysterious Ballot Box 13, and finally Bill Clinton, who learned machining in the one-party state of Arkansas.

The reformers imagined that they would be creating a sparkling new society that would be free of the dead hand of bourgeois law and the marauding bands of the robber barons.  The new society would rise above the petty rules and moralizing of the lower middle class, and it would curb the rape of land and people that had been the project of the nineteenth century industrialists.  Instead they would build a society of creativity and compassion, a universal community that would transcend the petty jealousies of nation states and balance of power maneuvering between the big powers.  They would replace the wastage and the crudities of industrial capitalism with a planned economy, with the commanding heights of the economy properly thought out and laid out by disinterested experts using the best minds and knowledge available to build a modern, clean, and prosperous world free of the dirt, the misery, the waste, and the frank oppression of the laissez-faire economy.  No longer would ragged immigrants toil in the needle trades from dawn to dusk in the Lower East Side tenements of New York City; there would be legislation to prevent the exploitation of immigrant labor.  No longer would the aged be cast out into the street when they were too old to earn their daily bread; there would be pensions to give old people dignity and respect.  No longer would immigrant children grow up unlettered and prey to the sweatshop and the greedy manufacturer; they would be taught their letters and numbers at the common school.  No longer would people fear illness, with its devastating loss of wages and perhaps every scrap of savings spent to procure the expensive medicines recommended by the doctor.  No longer would the transit gang cheat and swindle their way to riches with rickety streetcars and elevated railways; nor would monopoly electric utilities gouge the poor and the small businessman.  Instead public utilities would produce the electricity to power the streetlights, and safe clean public transit would carry the working man to his employment.

So it seemed, for a while.  But then, over the years, as the activists moved onto other enthusiasms and no longer provided the energy needed to realize and to maintain their visionary creations, their bold initiatives regressed to the mean.  And the mean was the government bureau staffed with placemen (and latterly place women) calculating how many years were left till retirement.  The common schools financed by taxation slowly retreated from the goal of educating illiterate immigrant children to Americanism, and became distracted by fashion and fad that focused more on the needs of the prosperous middle class.  Instead of providing basic literacy and numeracy, they veered off into delivering what they wanted for their own children, an education in creativity.  It was no longer the role of schools to teach facts to illiterates, but analytical skills to future creative artists and entrepreneurs.  And, depending for their funding not on parents but from taxes, the teachers and administrators slowly withdrew their attention from their supposed customers, parents and children, and redirected it towards their real customers, elected politicians.  The national pension programs that began as modest efforts to relieve the old age with a supplement turned into gigantic income transfer programs transfusing a dependent class of older people that politicians alternately bribed with new benefits and terrified with awful threats about what the other party might do to “cut” their entitlements.  Health care programs that began as efforts to provide basic health care to working people metastasized into gigantic bureaucracies that controlled every aspect of health care that was promised to be “free at the point of delivery.”  And no one dared to say that the supply of any service that was promised to be “free at the point of delivery” would have to be brutally rationed.  Even the municipal enterprises that began so promisingly slowly decayed into incompetence and lifelessness, their mistakes unpunished and their energy, if any, unrewarded.

The enthusiastic centralizers had made a profound mistake.  They forgot that government is the social agent of force and compulsion, and it is also the locus of the one-size-fits-all.  Government of any kind is remarkably resistant to change, for even the most arbitrary government finds itself ensnared by a multitude of special interests that resist with passion any attempt to reduce their pensions or subsidies.  It’s a good thing to entrust to the government tasks that require rigid consistency, resistance to change, and national uniformity.  A government like the United States of America and its subdivisions, deliberately designed by its founders to be limited, has even less ability to respond to changing circumstances and requirements.  So it’s a bad thing to assign responsibilities that require flexibility, responsiveness, and the need to treat different people in different ways to an institution designed to resist change.  From a purely practical point of view, as F.A. Hayek taught us, government just doesn’t have the bandwidth to be flexible and responsive.  It is designed to be deliberative, to consult all points of view, and only to move when consensus has been achieved.  When a government starts to act with dispatch it starts to foment heads of rebellion in those who find themselves damaged by its sudden action; when a government begins to treat people differently, it starts to set one group against another, and it finds itself forced to declare endless emergencies in order to short-circuit its natural inclination towards deliberation and delay.  All of this was comprehended by the classical liberals when they designed the minimal bourgeois state of the nineteenth century.  It became ugly reality in the monstrous leviathans constructed by centralizing enthusiasts in the twentieth century.

It is not surprising that in the years after World War II’s bloodbath of pure red consciousness, people returned to a blue bourgeois ethos in the conformist Fifties, when the unemployed kid who had rallied to Roosevelt in 1933 and gone off to war in 1942 returned to wive and thrive in the utilitarian Levittown suburbs that were built around the old industrial cities of the Northeast.  But as the working stiffs of the 1930s were driving their Fords and Chevies into the respectable middle class, a new wave of Romanticism was born.  Beginning in coteries and subcultures in the 1940s and 1950s, it exploded into world consciousness in the Sixties.  A new generation of bourgeois sons and daughters found that they wanted to transcend the world of the gray flannel suit, the culture of the dutiful middle class worker who played by the rules and didn’t rock the boat.  The form and the content of this new Romantic wave was the same as the earlier waves in the nineteenth century and the 1920s, but this time the middle class was much larger.  Like its earlier incarnations, it made the mistake of supposing that the orange creative life required its devotees to throw away the false consciousness of blue rules and traditional roles.  Genius would make its own rules.  Thus, the creative revolutionaries in the advertising industry imagined that they could completely dispense with the careful analysis and market research of their older colleagues that had sold consumer goods to the American people in the 1950s.  They did not seem to understand the irony of selling to the young millions of identical Ford Mustangs as badges of rebellion against conformity.

The Sixties came crashing down in the 1970s.  This was hardly surprising.  Rejecting the ethos of rules, the creative revolutionaries regressed to the red consciousness of addiction and pathology.  The creative life is not, after all, a matter of inspiration and intuition.  It is mostly a hard slog of earthly dedication relieved for a divine moment by heavenly inspiration.  Unfortunately the anti-bourgeois ethos of the Sixties generation had also seeped into the nation’s politics.  The hard slog of the American Dream, the climb from immigrant scrabbling to respectable middle-class competence was abandoned.  The poor would be whisked into the middle class by a War on Poverty.  The hard money of the 1950s would be replaced by a policy of inflation to avoid paying the real costs of the Vietnam War.  And when the inevitable corrective recession hit, it would be masked by a disastrous policy of wage and price controls.  But the idea of creativity as a desideratum endured and spread across the spectrum of educated Americans.  Republican cheerleader Peggy Noonan wrote that at the turn of the twenty-first century that we were all creatives now.  And social critic David Brooks noted the reconciliation of the commercial creatives and the artsy creatives in the rise of the Bobos, the bohemian bourgeoisie.  This meant that the creative spirits were beginning to acknowledge that creativity must operate on the shoulders of the rules.  The watchword was no longer Down With Rules, but Transcend The Rules.

The Sixties did not just mark an outburst of orange secular creativity.  As in the Romantic creative upwelling of the nineteenth century it also marked an outburst in spiritual creativity and a New Left that represented a new outburst of green consciousness, a desire to rise above ego—in the arts game or the writing game—and find a new sense of spiritual growth or universal community.  Yet again, its leaders and followers seemed to be determined to repeat the mistakes of the nineteenth century Romantics.  They were ashamed of their bourgeois roots and their parents’ rigid conformity.  They dreamed of a world of nonviolence, and caring and sharing.  They picked apart the heroic myth of the civilizing white man and exhumed the cultural genocide and imperialist violence that was buried beneath the tombstone of the White Man’s Burden.  Theirs would be a world in which all the cultures of the world would freely mix, enriching each other with their variety and diversity.

The strategic retreat of the blue bourgeois political parties in England and in the United States and their acquiescence in an anti-capitalist political economy led, in the 1970s, to a political economy of high tax rates, soft money and economic malaise.  The exhaustion of the anti-capitalists provided the strategic opportunity for a decisive counterattack in the US presidency of Ronald Reagan and the UK government of Margaret Thatcher.  Their policies were frankly and unapologetically bourgeois, centered around the blue consciousness of law and contract, the orange consciousness of creativity bound to the blue ethos of rules, a willingness to use force, and a residual purple consciousness of patriotism.  They rose to power on the ruins of the anti-capitalism of the 1970s, and earned reelection partly because their hard money and low tax-rate policies and their frank patriotism so clearly worked, and partly because the American and British peoples had become mostly embourgeoised during the middle of the twentieth century despite the advance of anticapitalist political parties and policies, and were not as instinctively hostile to a market-driven economy as the politics of the Democratic Party in the United States and the Labour Party in the United Kingdom assumed. 

The successes of Reagan/Thatcher years provoked the rise of modernizing movements in the parties of the left, spawning the Democratic Leadership Council in the United States and the Third Way movement in Europe that tried to move the center of gravity of the left-wing parties away from their reflexive anti-bourgeoisism.  Thus, in the United States, Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992 promising a “middle class tax cut,” and in the United Kingdom the modernizing Tony Blair promised not to raise income taxes.  In both cases, the left was clearly staking out a position in blue and orange territory.  But Clinton’s moderation was tactical.  Immediately after winning election, he rescinded his tax cut promise, and launched his wife upon a classic left-wing policy of comprehensive, mandatory national health insurance.  The Democrats lost control of Congress as soon as the voters had a chance to register their judgment of this breach of trust.  In 1996 Clinton had learned his lesson and ran as the friend of the middle-class “soccer mom.”  But Clinton’s anointed successor reverted to class war rhetoric in a failed campaign to “fight for the people against the powerful.”  Blair, on the other hand, began his ministry by freeing the Bank of England from control by the UK Treasury and holding the line on taxes.  Four years later, after a thumping reelection, his Chancellor of the Exchequer announced plans to cut capital gains tax rates to 10 percent.   The Third Way of the Democrats was therefore merely tactical, a ploy to win election; the Third Way of Tony Blair and New Labour seemed strategic, occupying and governing from blue and orange territory as well as the traditional red and green that the left has occupied for a century. 

When Bill Clinton led the New Democrats to victory, and even more, when Tony Blair led New Labour to victory, they had taken the first step to correct the fatal error of the socialist movement, its belief that the society of universal community could only be created by smashing the blue bourgeois society of rule and role complemented by the orange adventurers of business.  This threatened to lay siege to the bourgeois coalition in the Republican Party in the United States and the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom.  The only thing preventing total collapse was the Democratic and Labour party rank-and-file who remained Old Believers, reluctantly following their modernizing leaders along the Third Way merely for the sake of political power.  Although both movements were limited by the reluctance of the party faithful, they set up a challenge to the bourgeois parties.  What role was left for them if the economic policy of the left abandoned its anti-capitalist dogmas and accepted the civilizing cornucopia of the market economy?  The response of George W. Bush, Republican candidate at the end of Clinton’s two terms as president, was to move towards the green, repackaging the conservative message of the Republican Party as compassionate conservatism.  Republicans had been frightened by the success that Clinton had achieved attracting the votes of “soccer moms” and determined to show the American people that the conservatism of the Republican party was not rigid and ideological, but sensitive to the needs of middle-class mothers.

The orange creatives and green communitarians in the Democratic Party were insulted by the election of George W. Bush.  The administration of Bill Clinton had seemed to confirm their vision of a creative, progressive society moving away from rigid rules and towards an orange, creative, individualistic society that could obsolete the conformity of blue rules and roles.  Yet here was a man they reviled as a dull scion of a rich family who bested Vice-President Gore in the lawyering over the Florida election recount.

Then came the shock of 9/11.  Republicans reacted as blues, framing the attack in terms of good and evil.  Democrats were blindsided.  Their green communitarian consciousness that assured them that “violence never solves anything,” told them to ask “why do they hate us” and to wonder what the United States might have done to provoke such a bold attack upon its citadels of economic and military might.  But the vast majority of Americans were reds and blues.  They believed in the power and the goodness of the United States, and they were not disappointed when President Bush responded as a good tribal or nation state leader should, by vowing to defeat the forces that had attacked the American heartland.  Republicans responded to 9/11 by girding for war; Democrats responded by girding for diplomacy.

President Bush understood that the United States was at war, but he understood that as president of all Americans he needed to make a show of negotiation before commencing a war against the Axis of Evil.  So he dispatched his secretary of state to attempt a solution through the United Nations Security Council before invading Iraq to take out one of the major sponsors of global terrorism, Saddam Hussein.

So the political pendulum had begun to swing back to the right.  And it had begun to swing because of the inability of the left to engage the people on the question of immigration.  Socialism is a green consciousness that is warped back to red power consciousness by its inability to tolerate blue rules and orange adventurers.  But is also has an intolerance for the comfort of tribe and clan, except when whipping tribesmen and clansmen into a class or race war.  In Spiral Dynamics, blood relation is considered the purple level.  It is the level of emotional belonging, of clan, of party, of nation, of patriotism.  The left, of course, desires to abolish such reactionary and primitive relations, because they propose to replace the purple comforts of family and neighbor with the incandescent green of global and universal community and to replace the blue bonds of bourgeois marriage with free love.  And maybe they will, some day.  Or more likely not.  The rejection of purple consciousness by the greens causes another warping back, to beige instinctiveness.  This is why the left celebrates instinctive sexual coupling without regard to the purple emotional bonds of family, or the blue rules of the One Way.  But most humans are deeply disturbed by an abandonment of the emotional traditions of family and clan.  And they are completely disoriented by the demand to treat immigrants the same as their neighbors and family.  It just does not make sense to them to treat people that behave differently as though they were the same.  The shock of 9/11 therefore triggered an immediate return to patriotism, the safety of belonging to the nation state.  All the ground captured by the elite multiculturalists in the previous decade in assuring Americans that everyone was the same, and that other cultures were as good as ours, or even better, was lost.  Muslims were different; they did intend us harm, and the American people knew it.  The purple consciousness of belonging was real and meaningful, and could not be abandoned for the promise of a global green community that was clearly not ready for prime time.  All across the western world, in the early years of the twenty-first century, the left showed that it could not deal with marauding red power fiends: not in the inner cities of Europe and the United States, where underclass red impulsives both indigenous and immigrant were allowed to run riot; and not in the explosion of terror where well-born young Muslims turned themselves into missiles against the infidel and oppressive west.

Among their many inventions in their rise to greatness, the Germans invented the idea of the Pure Theory of Law.  Hans Kelsen and others advanced the idea that the law was whatever the legislature said it was.  Whoever has the power sets the rules.  It was a necessary philosophical foundation for the governments that actually ruled in the twentieth century and wanted to be freed from the entangling myths of natural and divine law—the idea that law really could be thought to mean something transcendent beyond the fact of political power—that might limit their ability to do good.  But after World War II in the Nuremberg trials, this theory was noisily struck down.  The Nazi war criminals were not permitted the defense that their actions were all in accordance with law, that all they ever did was follow orders.  Killing six million Jews in gas chambers, it was decided, was wrong, whatever the law said, and whoever ordered it.  The heavens themselves cried out against such crimes.  It was a momentous turning point in world history.  It marked a concession to the main truth of blue consciousness.  Power did not exhaust all truth.  The mystery of justice was not after all exhausted by the idea of the General Will, advanced first by Rousseau two hundred years before.  The General Will led to general genocide.  There had to be something better, something higher than raw red power.

After a century of bloodshed the fantasies of the Romantic and socialist movements stand fully exposed in the light of Gravesian psychology.  They thought they could build a world without rules.  They were right; they could.  But it would not be a world of orange creativity, or of genuine democracy free from oppression and inequality expressing a green universal human compassion.  It would be a world of naked red power.  That is the silent witness of the millions of the sacred dead in their mass graves upon the twentieth century.  You can shout: Down with Rules!  And you can abolish the rules.  But you will not build a creative community of caring and sharing upon the ruin of the rules.  You will only dig mass graves. 

And it is not just the millions of innocents that the Romantics and the socialists had destroyed.  They also destroyed themselves.  In the case of the Romantic Movement, the rejection of the rules and the elevation of creativity to cult status placed impossible pressures upon the creative artist.  For the denial of the rules marginalized the value of craftsmanship, devalued the years of apprenticeship and preparation, developing a myth that the work of genius should spring spontaneously from the forehead of Zeus, and not in an agony of parturition.  And it insisted that art is necessarily an act of rebellion against an uncaring world, which is sophomoric rubbish.  In the case of the socialist movement, the absence of the harmony of law has reduced it to an invariant rhythm track beating out an obsession with power, from Marx to Lenin to Foucault, and at the end of the twentieth century to Hardt and Negri and their Empire.  Indeed, the central theme of socialism is that law and property, the beloved twins of the bourgeoisie, are nothing but masks for power behind which the bourgeoisie unfairly and cruelly imposes its class interests upon a prostrate world.  The socialist never rests from piling up powers and reinforcements with which to ambush the businessman and the property owner.  The socialist does not trust rules, written or unwritten.  In so doing he gives up the vision of the society without oppression in which people voluntarily follow the agreed-upon rules without compulsion.  The only thing left is power.

The conventional report of the last two hundred years narrates a gradual and natural secularization from a community of religious faith to a godless world of egalitarianism and individualism, as though the entire period has not been wasted by vibrant and militant faiths that have swept the world like raging epidemics.  This curious situation has arisen because the Romantics and socialists who have done the scholarship and written the history of the modern era have not experienced their militant and world conquering religion as religion, but merely as “the way things are.”  Religion for them is something people do in churches, not in midtown Manhattan restaurants, at meetings of political activists, and in the ivied academy.

But if we dare to challenge this solemn orthodoxy and attempt a narrative that experiences the modern era as drenched in religious enthusiasm from top to bottom, starting with the first Romantic religious cult of the avant-garde in the early nineteenth century, and followed by the world-conquering religious armies of socialism and the bloody pagan hordes of fascism, not to mention the flagellant Bolshevists, then we can also give ourselves permission to see that the period since World War II has been also a period of remarkable religious ferment right across the spectrum of consciousness, from red impulsives to blue purposives to orange creatives and green communitarians.  And sneaking in the back door of the mansion out of which he/she had been sent by the secularizers is the reborn God.  For “humans seek explanations about how to gain the greatest rewards and avoid the greatest costs, and it is natural that most of them will come to accept general compensators based on supernatural assumptions.” (Stark 1985 p424) We could, after Robert William Fogel, call this great spiritual awakening the Fourth Great Awakening.

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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


©2007 Christopher Chantrill