Trump and a Post-Truth World
An Evolutionary Self-Correction
[The following piece is presented in three parts: An Overview, The Territory, The Immediate Future. I have intentionally not included scholarly bibliographic references; if interested, they can always be Googled—and if you do so, keep in mind what is actually involved with that search process—which is something that will become clear as you read this…. kw]
On balance, the response to the recent election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States has been extreme, visceral, and loudly vocal, on both sides. The supporters of Trump have often been nasty and mean in their triumphal attitude, voicing “I told you so!” and “This finally serves you right!,” gloating over their unexpected but, they feel, totally righteous and justified win. The anti-Trump side has been, if possible, even more vocal, with people tearfully telling of how they threw up, screamed, spent endlessly sleepless nights, all but gave up on democracy and any sort of idealism at all (many of whom had promised to leave the country should Trump win), finding his election to be a victory of hatred, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and all-round bad taste—and then, usually, vowing to continue “the fight” and urging their fellow Americans to fight with them, never give up.
Both sides, in my opinion, are caught in too narrow a view. There is a bigger picture operating here, and I’d like to outline what that might possibly be. I’ve never heard this particular view I’m about to describe be expressed by anybody, but I believe it represents a larger, more integral view, and as such can be quite illuminating—and liberating. The pain and suffering that both sides feel is, I believe, the result of identifying with a much too narrow view, and a more expansive stance offers genuine release—while still allowing one to work on whatever side one wishes.
Every now and then, evolution itself has to adjust course, in light of new information on how its path is unfolding, and it starts (apparently spontaneously but with this deeper morphic field actually operating) by making various moves that are, in effect, self-correcting evolutionary realignments. The leading-edge of cultural evolution is today—and has been for four or five decades—the green wave (“green” meaning the basic stage of human development known to various developmental models as pluralistic, postmodern, relativistic, individualistic, beginning self-actualization, human-bond, multicultural, etc.—and generically referred to as “postmodern”). The primary purpose of the leading-edge of evolution is to be just that: a LEADING edge of evolutionary unfolding, what Maslow called a “growing tip”—it seeks out (that is, part of its selection context rewards the discovery of) areas that are the most appropriate, most complex, most inclusive, and most conscious forms that are possible at that particular time and point of evolution (in Integral terms, the form that best fits the ongoing unfolding of the AQAL matrix in all its elements).
Beginning in the 1960s, green began to emerge as a major cultural force and soon bypassed orange (which was the previous leading-edge stage, known in various models as modern, rational, reason, formal operational, achievement, accomplishment, merit, profit, progress, conscientious) as the dominant leading-edge. It started with a series of by-and-large healthy and very appropriate (and evolutionarily positive) forms—the massive civil rights movement, the worldwide environmental movement, the rise of personal and professional feminism, anti-hate crime, a heightened sensitivity to any and all forms of social oppression of virtually any minority, and—centrally—the understanding of the crucial role of “context” in any knowledge claims and the desire to be as “inclusive” as possible. The entire revolution of the sixties was driven primarily by this stage of development (in 1959, 3 percent of the population was at green; in 1979, close to 20 percent of the population was)—and these events truly changed the world irrevocably. The Beatles (otherwise sacrosanct in my view) summarized the whole move (and movement) with one of their songs: “All you need is love” (total inclusion rules!).
But as the decades unfolded, green increasingly began veering into extreme, maladroit, dysfunctional, even clearly unhealthy, forms. Its broad-minded pluralism slipped into a rampant and runaway relativism (collapsing into nihilism), and the notion that all truth is contextualized (or gains meaning from its cultural context) slid into the notion that there is no real universal truth at all, there are only shifting cultural interpretations (which eventually slid into a widespread narcissism). Central notions (which began as important “true but partial” concepts, but collapsed into extreme and deeply self-contradictory views) included the ideas that all knowledge is, in part, a cultural construction; all knowledge is context-bound; there are no privileged perspectives; what passes for “truth” is a cultural fashion, and is almost always advanced by one oppressive force or another (racism, sexism, eurocentrism, patriarchy, capitalism, consumerism, greed, environmental exploitation); the utter, absolutely unique, and absolutely equal value of each and every human being, often including animals (egalitarianism). If there was one line that summarized the gist of virtually all postmodern writers (Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Bourdieu, Lacan, de Man, Fish, etc.) is that “there is no truth.” Truth, rather, was a cultural construction, and what anybody actually called “truth” was simply what some culture somewhere had managed to convince its members was truth—but there is no actually existing, given, real thing called “truth” that is simply sitting around and awaiting discovery, any more than there is a single universally correct hem length which it is clothes designers’ job to discover.
So it ended up that for postmodernists, all knowledge is culturally bound; there is no universally valid perspective; therefore all knowledge is based on a mere interpretation announced from a privileged (therefore oppressive) perspective; knowledge is not given but is constructed (created, built, fabricated); there is nothing but history, and therefore what any culture takes as “true” today will dramatically shift tomorrow; there is no universal moral framework—what’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is true for me—and neither of those claims can be challenged on any grounds that do not amount to oppression; the same is true for value: no value is superior to another (another version of egalitarianism); and if any truth or value is claimed to be universal, or claimed to be true and valuable for all, the claim is actually nothing but disguised power, attempting to force all people everywhere to adopt the same truth and values of the promoter (with the ultimate aim of enslavement and oppression); it is therefore the job of every individual today to fight all of the authoritarian truths handed to them from yesterday and to be totally, radically autonomous (as well as not entertain any truths themselves that could or should be forced on anybody else, allowing everybody their own radical autonomy as well—in short, to not entertain anything called “truth” at all, which now was seen as always being a power-grab). You simply deconstruct every single truth and value you find (which, again, usually slid into nihilism and its tag-team member from postmodern hell, narcissism). In short, the aperspectival madness of “there is no truth” left nothing but nihilism and narcissism as motivating forces.
The catch-22 here was that postmodernism itself did not actually believe a single one of those ideas. That is, the postmodernists themselves violated their own tenets constantly in their own writing, and they did so consistently and often. Critics (from Jürgen Habermas to Karl Otto-Apel to Charles Taylor) would soon jump all over them for committing the so-called “performative contradiction,” which is a major self-contradiction because you yourself are doing what you say either cannot or should not be done. For postmodernists, all knowledge is non-universal, contextual, constructivist, interpretive—found only in a given culture, at a given historical time, in a particular geopolitical location. Unfortunately, for the postmodernists, every one of its summary statements given in the previous paragraph was aggressively maintained to be true for all people, in all places, at all times—no exceptions. Their entire theory itself is a very Big Picture about why all Big Pictures are wrong, a very extensive metanarrative about why all metanarratives are oppressive. They most definitely and strongly believe that it is universally true that there is no universal truth. They believe all knowledge is context bound except for that knowledge, which is always and everywhere trans-contextually true. They believe all knowledge is interpretive, except for theirs, which is solidly given and accurately describes conditions everywhere. They believe their view itself is utterly superior in a world where they also believe absolutely nothing is superior. Oops.
Beginning over two decades ago, with the book Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, I summarized this postmodern disaster with the term “aperspectival madness,” because the belief that there is no truth—that no perspective has universal validity (the “aperspectival” part)—when pushed to extremes, as postmodernism was about to do, resulted in massive self-contradictions and ultimate incoherency (the “madness” part). And when aperspectival madness infects the leading-edge of evolution, evolution’s capacity for self-direction and self-organization collapses.
It’s widely acknowledged that postmodernism as a philosophy is now dead; and books are everywhere starting to appear that are written about “What comes next?” (with no clear winner yet, but the trend is toward more evolutionary and more systemic—more integral—views). But in academia and the universities, it is a long, slow death, and most teachers still teach some version of postmodernism and its aperspectival madness even if they have many deep doubts themselves. (But it’s telling that virtually every major developmental model in existence contains, beyond the stage generally known as “pluralistic,” at least a stage or two variously called “integrated,” “systemic,” “integral,” or some such, all of which overcome the limitations of a collapsed pluralism through a higher-level wholeness and unity, thus returning to a genuine “order out of chaos.” Right now, only about 5 percent of the population is at any of these integral stages, but the evidence is that this is clearly where tomorrow’s evolution eventually will go—if it can survive the present transition.)
And thus postmodernism as a widespread leading-edge viewpoint slid into its extreme forms (e.g., not just that all knowledge is context-bound, but that all knowledge is nothing but shifting contexts; or not just that all knowledge is co-created with the knower and various intrinsic, subsisting features of the known, but that all knowledge is nothing but a fabricated social construction driven only by power). When not just that all individuals have the right to choose their own values (as long as they don’t harm others), but that hence there is nothing universal (or held-in-common) by any values at all, leads straight to axiological nihilism—there are no believable, real values anywhere. And when all truth is a cultural fiction, then there simply is no truth at all—epistemic and ontic nihilism. And when there are no binding moral norms anywhere, there’s only normative nihilism. Nihilism upon nihilism upon nihilism—“there was no depth anywhere, only surface, surface, surface.” And finally, when there are no binding guidelines for individual behavior, the individual has only his or her own self-promoting wants and desires to answer to—in short, narcissism. And that is why the most influential postmodern elites ended up embracing, explicitly or implicitly, that tag-team from postmodern hell: nihilism and narcissism—in short, aperspectival madness. The culture of post-truth.
There were many responses to this aperspectival madness—as a blanket, background, morphogenetic, leading-edge field, there were few areas in society that were not directly affected—and we will explore many of them in this overview. But the major driver behind all of them, the ultimate causative agent, was that the leading-edge of evolution itself had begun failing badly, obviously, and often. When the leading-edge has no idea where it’s going, then naturally it doesn’t know where to go at all. When no direction is true (because there is no truth), then no direction can be favored, and thus no direction is taken—the process just comes to a screeching halt, it jams, it collapses. Nihilism and narcissism are not traits that any leading-edge can actually operate with. And thus, if it’s infected with them, it indeed simply ceases to functionally operate. Seeped in aperspectival madness, it stalls, and then begins a series of regressive moves, shifting back to a time and configuration when it was essentially operating adequately as a true leading-edge. And this regression is one of the primary factors we see now operating worldwide. And the primary and central cause of all of this is a failure of the green leading-edge to be able to lead at all. Nihilism and narcissism brings evolution to a traffic-jam halt. This is a self-regulating and necessary move, as the evolutionary current itself steps back, reassess, and reconfigures, a move that often includes various degrees of temporary regression, or retracing its footsteps to find the point of beginning collapse and then reconfigure from there.
(Evolutionary biologists in general tend to deny any sort of directedness or telic drives to evolution, seeing all of it as a random series of events selected by a blind natural selection. But this is just a holdover from the reductionistic scientific materialism of the 19th century. It overlooks more current scientific concepts that, starting with Ilya Prigogine’s Nobel-Prize-winning discoveries, even insentient material systems have an inherent drive to self-organization. When physical systems get pushed “far from equilibrium,” they escape this chaos by leaping into a higher-level state of organized order—as when water that is chaotically rushing down the drain suddenly leaps into a perfect downward swirling whirlpool—referred to simply as “order out of chaos.” If nonliving matter inherently possesses this drive to self-organization and order out of chaos, living systems certainly do—and that definitely includes evolution—a drive that philosophers often call “Eros,” an inherent dynamic toward greater and greater wholeness, unity, complexity, and consciousness. But this “order out of chaos” is exactly what the green leading-edge began failing to do. If anything, it was producing “more chaos out of chaos.” It had no idea of what true order was to begin with—all such “metanarratives” were completely and aggressively deconstructed. Because nothing was true at all, there could be no true order, either, and hence no preferable direction forward. And so as the leading-edge of evolution collapsed in a performative contradiction, lost in aperspectival madness, evolution itself temporarily slammed shut, and began various moves—including a regressive stepping back and searching for a sturdier point where a true self-organizing process could be set in motion once again.)
What previous stages are available for this regression? To answer this question, we need a brief summary of the overall developmental spectrum to date (the following overview is the result of a meta-analysis of over 100 different developmental models, giving the most common features of all of them [see Wilber, Integral Psychology]; those familiar with Integral Theory can fast forward through this, or simply read this as a refresher; and those new to the concept can take it as a short introduction to one of the most profound and enduring discoveries of the twentieth century, accepted by experts everywhere who have fully studied the enormous amount of evidence):
Brief Developmental Overview
The earliest stages are together known as “egocentric” because they cannot yet take the role of other or clearly see the world through somebody else’s eyes, nor “walk a mile in my shoes.” The earliest human societies (and here we are talking the actual original indigenous populations, close to a half-million years ago, and not any indigenous population the way that it exists in today’s world, where it has continued to evolve), but the original societies were tribal (and tribally egocentric), with an ecological carrying capacity of around 40 people. Thinking is usually imbued with fantasy (or “preoperational cognition”), and is often called “magic” (as in voodoo, where if you make a doll representing a real person and stick a pin in the doll, the real person is “magically” hurt; if you perform a rain dance, nature is forced to rain); identity is indeed egocentric. When tribes ran into each other (which in many places originally was rare), it wasn’t clear how they should interact, since the major form of relationship that was clearly understood was blood or kinship relations, and the tribes weren’t related; often there was instead war, or the taking of the other tribe as slaves (about 15 percent of original tribes had slavery; and, as recent scholarship has rewritten highly romantic views, warfare was common).
As evolutionary unfolding continued, through various intermediate stages, a major milestone was the emergence of a more complex cognitive capacity, which developmental genius Jean Gebser called “mythic” (Piaget’s “concrete operational,” or what James Fowler called a concrete “mythic-literal,” which drove most forms of fundamentalist religion that almost everywhere arose at that time—a Christian version of mythic-literal, for example, believes every word of the Bible is literally and absolutely true, the word of God himself, so that Moses really did part the Red Sea, Christ really was born of a biological virgin, and so on). Here, it was understood that human beings simply did not possess magic or miraculous power in any real sense (the more often that humans actually tried magic, the more often they found that it failed), but magic was too appealing to be totally surrendered all at once. Rather, it was transferred to a whole host of supernatural beings—gods and goddesses and elemental spirits—and those beings could do magic. What’s more, they would do it on your behalf if you knew how to correctly approach them—and thus magic power shifted from the self to various mythic god figures (and hence the transformation from the “magic” epoch to the great “mythic” epoch, starting around 10,000 BCE).
This stage, with its more complex cognitive capacity, also was able, for the first time, to clearly and extensively “take the role of other,” and thus its primary identity could switch from the self or me-only to a group (or groups)—not just a self-contained tribe but a mega-tribe, an empire of dozens or even hundreds of tribes, a nation, a particular religion embracing millions, a political party, and so on—its identity expanded from egocentric to ethnocentric (based on race, color, sex, creed, etc.). This stage, anchored in being identified with one special group as opposed to all others, has a very strong “us versus them” mentality. Usually, its own group is seen as—and deeply believed to be—special, select, the chosen people, even divine, identified by God himself as the one and only truly sanctified group in the world—all the others are infidels, apostates, nonbelievers, even demonic, and are usually bound for hell or unending reincarnations. And especially historically, when this ethnocentric stage first emerged, it was not a sin to kill infidels—in fact, as a complete “other,” they have no soul, and thus killing them is not only okay, it is often recommended, since it will return them to their one true God that they have so ignorantly denied in this life. The general attitude of this stage, by any number of different names, is jihad—holy war. The correct approach to a nonbeliever is—in order of increasing severity—to convince them, convert them, torture them, or kill them—but letting them alone in their mistaken beliefs is ungodly and to be avoided at all costs. The expanded capacity of this stage (including the shift from egocentric to ethnocentric awareness, leading to the formation of very large super-tribes bound by a common belief, set of rules and laws, religion, and/or authority) lead to many tribes being bound together into multi-group groups, often resulting in various massive empires of one form or another—and the age of classic traditional civilizations and the founding of the Great (Mythic) Religions was upon us. Slavery, war, and torture reached their zenith; some 80-90 percent of cultures East and West during this ethnocentric mythic age had slavery, as one favored group or mega-group had its way with other human beings (and the Great Religions likewise promised salvation—but only if you believed their version of Spirit and adopted their path to “liberation”—they are, after all, the chosen people with the one and only true God).
(This “amber” stage began in transitional forms, such as “magic-mythic” or red-stage “warrior” cultures, around 10,000 BCE; and the rise of the great mythic-membership civilizations themselves started around 3-2,000 BCE and peaked around 1400 CE. In today’s world, the child is born at various very early magic or “archaic” and egocentric stages, which dominate ages 1-3, transitioning with magic-mythic around ages 4-8, and then ethnocentric mythic proper emerging roughly from ages 6-11—with several substages. Adults can remain “stuck” or “fixated” at any of those earlier stages or substages. Indeed, research by Robert Kegan, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, shows that 3 out of 5—or 60 percent—of Americans remain at ethnocentric or lower stages. If you think this ethnocentric stage—with its tendencies toward racism, sexism/patriarchy, misogyny, mega-tribal dominance, oppression, and fundamentalist religion—sounds a bit like hardcore far-Right Republicans, and that it starts to push into recognized Trump territory, you’d be right.)
As evolution continued, there eventually emerged the capacity to take a 3rd-person perspective (or the capacity to think in global, relatively objective and “universal” ways), and not just in 2nd-person modes. This was a stunning advance, and it began to appear in a culture-wide fashion with the Renaissance and came to a fruition with the Enlightenment (which, like all stages, had positive and negative aspects; this expansion of identity to a larger, more inclusive, less oppressive form was very positive). This “orange” stage marked the emergence of the period generally known as “modernity,” and among many other things, it meant the explosion on the scene of what would become known as the “modern sciences”—modern chemistry, modern physics, modern astronomy, modern biology, and so forth. All in all, those sciences would add around 3 decades to the average lifespan worldwide, generate a global free market economy, bolster the birth of the nation-state, end most infectious diseases that had regularly killed half the population everywhere, and plop a person on the moon. This evolutionary stage also meant that identity could expand from ethnocentric (“my-special-group” identity) to worldcentric (or “all-groups” or “all-humans” identity, which strove to treat all people—not just a special group but all people—fairly regardless of race, color, sex, or creed). This was a staggering shift in values—from ethnocentric group-centered to worldcentric all-humans centered—and for this reason, in a one-hundred year time period (roughly 1770-1870), slavery was outlawed in every single worldcentric modern-rational society on the face of the planet—the first time anywhere in human history that this had happened (and that turns out to be a key fact to remember).
(This stage is variously known as reason, rational, formal operational, achievement, accomplishment, merit, progress, conscientious, and marks the beginning of the worldcentric stages—all of which Integral Metatheory generically calls “orange.” Most Americans, even if their center of gravity remains at one of the earlier stages, reaches the capacity to at least think from this orange stage. This worldcentric rational possibility emerges today during adolescence, though, again, whether someone actually embraces this stage or not as a central identity varies considerably. Most, although not all, people reach at least a mythic-ethnocentric stage of central-identity development—about 60 percent, we saw—yet beyond that, things begin to diverge considerably.)
This rational-modern mode was the leading-edge of evolution until, as we noted at the beginning of this piece, the sixties, when the next-higher stage beyond the modern stage—namely, the “postmodern”—began to emerge on a significant scale. Indeed, the leading-edge of orange rational/business/scientific materialism was beginning to fail as an adequate leading-edge. It had reduced all knowledge to “it-knowledge,” or objectivistic-materialistic-industrialized methodology, and of the profound trinity of “the Good, the True, and the Beautiful,” it had thoroughly ditched the Good and the Beautiful (a catastrophe known as the “disenchantment of the world” and the “disqualified universe,” as it reduced almost everything to nothing but realities acknowledged by the science of sensorimotor physics). It had an inherent belief in worldcentric morality—or the idea that all people have intrinsic worth, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed, and that economically and socially everybody deservers an equal opportunity; worth in general can also be keyed to demonstrated merit—but it had been undercutting those beliefs consistently with its rabid tendency to positivism. And disastrously, it had created systems of social existence which, although they themselves embraced worldcentric morality, allowed ethnocentric and even egocentric stages to hijack them (and many scientific-capitalistic businesses began to do just that, with rampant greed and cut-throat competition through a “social Darwinism”).
But this postmodern stage—Integral Metatheory’s “green”—brought a 4th-person perspective into significant existence, which had the capacity to reflect on—and critically analyze—these 3rd-person “global” productions, and this is where green postmodernism (so named because it came after, and reflected on, the products of modernism) decided that this rational-modern mentality had, in too many ways, veered off course in destructive and counter-productive ways. And thus the civil rights movement, the worldwide environmental movement (which became larger than any political party anywhere on the planet), personal and professional feminism, the sustainability movement (in business and elsewhere)—all of what I have called “the many gifts of green.”
And yet, in the course of that, driven largely (if often unknowingly) by arcane arguments in academia, the originally healthy pluralistic postmodernism increasingly became an extreme, overblown, self-contradictory, utterly dysfunctional relativism, which soon collapsed almost entirely into nihilism and narcissism. It’s the nature of the leading-edge stage that its values, although they are only directly embraced by the stage itself, nonetheless tend to permeate or seep through the culture at large. (For example, when the leading-edge was orange rational worldcentric, whose worldcentric or “all-humans-treated-equally” values inherently included an anti-slavery stance, the Civil War was fought in America in order to end slavery, and over a million white boys died in the fight to end black enslavement—and yet not much more than 10 percent of the population was actually at the orange stage—but that value had seeped throughout the culture of the North, and many were willing to die for it—as many were in the French and American revolutions, which marked an orange democratic overthrow of amber monarchy/aristocracy.)
But this “seepage” will happen whether the permeating value happens to be really good or really goofy—and a really goofy seepage is what late, dysfunctional, unhealthy green gave the world culture—namely, “there is no truth.” This post-truth attitude began seeping throughout the entire culture, and in many ways, it stuck—globally, seriously, and in a way that caught orange (and healthy green itself) completely off guard (and they still have, basically, no idea where it came from and no idea how to fix it, thanks to a decapitated leading-edge that itself was the actual source of the problem).
We’ll come back to our post-truth culture—and its multiple catastrophes—but right now, let me finish with the basic major milestones of human development to date, because although green is today’s major leading-edge stage (with around 20-25% of the population), there is nonetheless a yet-higher stage, which we briefly mentioned, that has begun to emerge in an as-yet small number of individuals. Beginning two or three decades ago, researchers began to notice the emergence of a stage that, in its actual contours, was very confusing. Each major stage to date had a common characteristic: each thought that its truth and values were the only real truth and values in existence—all the others were misguided, infantile, goofy, or just plain wrong. But this new stage had a radically new quality: it believed that all the previous stages had some sort of significance, that they all were important, and that they all must be included in any approach that hoped to be comprehensive, inclusive, and truly integrated. For this reason, it was usually called things like “integrated,” “systemic,” “integral,” and so on. But it marked a staggeringly new and radically different type of evolutionary stage altogether, unique in the entire history of humanity. Clare Graves, a pioneering developmentalist, called it “cataclysmic” and a “monumental leap of meaning.” As noted, around 5 percent of the population has reached this stage in our ongoing unfolding (and we’ll have more to say about it in a moment).
The Birth of a Post-Truth Culture
Back to the post-truth culture that a collapsed green had left us with. The promoters of Brexit openly admitted that they had pushed ideas that they fully knew were not “true”—but they did so “because there really are no facts,” and what really counts is “that we truly believe this” (as one of them tellingly noted, “I’ve read my Lacan—it’s whoever controls the narrative that counts”—Lacan being a leading postmodernist). In other words, narcissism is the deciding factor—what I want to be true is true in a post-truth culture. Trump doesn’t even try to hide this; he factually lies with gleeful abandon. Reporter Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, stated that “Trump lives and thrives in a fact-free environment. No president, including Richard Nixon, has been so ignorant of fact and disdains fact in the way this president-elect does.”
While Trump was campaigning, there were newspapers that actually kept count of the number of factual lies he had spoken day by day. “Yesterday, it was 17 lies. Today, it was 15 lies.” And yet polls consistently showed that people felt Trump was “more truthful” than Hillary Clinton (who, no matter how much of an atmosphere of “corruption” followed her, as many believed, she never set out explicitly and blatantly to lie, or certainly nowhere nearly as much as Trump). But people had already made the transition from “factual truth” to “what I say is truth,” and Trump said his “truth” with much more conviction and passion than Hillary could muster—and thus in a no-truth culture, Trump is the “more truthful.” In a culture of nihilism, in an atmosphere of aperspectival madness, where there is no real truth, truth becomes whatever I most fervently desire—narcissism is the key determinant in a sea of nihilism.
(Note that the Boomers—the children of the sixties—were often called “the Me generation” and a “culture of Narcissism.” And, compared to previous generations, this tended to be very true. But as Boomers themselves began taking over education in this country, and significantly shifting it so that it emphasized, first and foremost, a movement not of “teaching truth”—because there is no truth—but instead promoted “self-esteem.” And what they discovered—as a Time magazine cover story reported—is that promoting self-esteem, without anchoring it in actual accomplishments, simply ends up increasing narcissism. Indeed, the recent graduating class scored higher on amounts of narcissism than any class since testing began—some 2 to 3 times higher than their Boomer “Me” generation parents! A narcissistic emphasis on “special me” had already seeped into the culture at large. Among many other items, we would see the emergence of the “selfie culture,” which notoriously and easily altered, even photoshopped, individual truth, and whose social media began promoting “pleasing lies” and “reassuring falsehoods.”)
Meanwhile, the leading-edge green cultural elites—upper-level liberal government, virtually all university teachers (in the humanities), technology innovators, human services professions, most media, entertainment, and most highly liberal thought leaders—had continued to push into green pluralism/relativism—“what’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is true for me”—all largely with intentions of pure gold, but shot through with an inherently self-contradictory stance with its profound limitations (if all truth is just truth for me and truth for you, then there is no “truth for us”—or collective, universal, cohering truths—and hence, in this atmosphere of aperspectival madness, the stage was set for massively fragmented culture, which the siloed boxes and echo chambers of social media were beginning to almost exclusively promote and enhance).
Now green itself is a worldcentric stage. Although it gets theoretically confused about anything being “worldcentric” (or “universal”)—namely, it thinks that all such moves are oppressive and power-driven—we’ve seen that green postmodernism itself deeply believes that what it is saying is true for all people—it doesn’t apply to just one group or another (“ethnocentric”), it applies to all groups, all humans (“worldcentric”). But under its own confusion of aperspectival madness, where you cannot criticize any particular value (since all are egalitarian), this allows individuals to actively slide into, even regress to, ethnocentric stances. And thus the postmodern-created social media online began regressing into decidedly ethnocentric-leaning groups. The original intent of the Internet was for a global, free, unified humanity, unleashed from oppression, information ownership, power structures, and isolating trends in general. The Net was proclaimed a single grand “global brain,” open to and actively embracing all.
The problem is, if the brain was global (or a single infrastructure network), the minds using it were not. As Douglas Rushkoff has pointed out, the very nature of the digital environment itself tends toward either/or types of decisions (either 1 or 0, click here or click there, choose this or choose that). And the anonymity and personality-hiding nature of online exchange allowed regressive tendencies of aggression, narcissism, hatred, and innumerable passionate ethnocentric beliefs (sexist, racist, xenophobic, religious zealots, political bigots)—and with no “truth” available to challenge any such moves, they exploded. The entire online experience collapsed from one of unity, open-natured expanse, and worldwide integration, into one of siloed, boxed, separatist, mean-spirited ethnocentric drives. And these poured out of our smartphones 24/7 and into the culture at large.
A New and Alarming Legitimation Crisis
The problem very quickly became what Integral Metatheory calls a “legitimation crisis,” which it defines as a mismatch between Lower-Left (or cultural) beliefs and the Lower-Right systems (or actual background realities, such as the techno-economic base). The cultural belief was that everybody is created equal, that all people have a perfect and equal right to full personal empowerment, that nobody is intrinsically superior to others (beliefs that flourished with green). Yet the overwhelming reality was increasingly one of a stark and rapidly growing unequality—in terms of income and overall worth, property ownership, employment opportunity, healthcare access, life satisfaction issues. The culture was constantly telling us one thing, and the realities of society were consistently failing to deliver it—the culture was lying. This was a deep and serious legitimation crisis—a culture that is lying to its members simply cannot move forward for long. And if a culture has “no truth,” it has no idea when it’s lying—and thus it naturally lies as many times as it accidentally tells the truth, and hence faster than you can say “deconstruction,” it’s in the midst of a legitimation crisis.
When it came to unemployment and wealth inequality, leading-edge technology also was not helping. (Not to mention the fact that capital itself, as Piketty had pointed out, was inherently biased toward favoring the rich and excluding the poor.) But technology had long ago moved into being the correlate, in the Lower Right, of the green stage, in the Lower Left. The green “Information Age” believed that all knowledge is equal, should be totally free, and totally uncensored—it was common to say that the Net interpreted censorship as a system failure and routed around it. But search engines did not prioritize knowledge in terms of truth, or inclusivity, or any value, or any depth, or any indexing system at all, just in terms of popularity and most-used. Truth played no role in it. Facebook (which finally admitted that it posted many “false news” stories on its platform, which many claimed help Trump to win, and did so simply because its algorithms weren’t created to check for truth, just the user’s narcissistic desires)—and it is now faced, along with every other online news outlet, with the necessity to create algorithms that detect—and bracket—“false news” items, which is going to be much harder than is imagined given a background of “no truth” to work from.
In terms of searching, in a sea of aperspectival madness, not for truth or goodness or beauty—and especially for bypassing “truth” entirely and looking just for narcissistic popularity—Google has recently been slammed with exactly that charge—and those screaming “J’accuse!” are rightly and massively alarmed.
Carole Cadwalladr, in a recent Guardian article, pointed out that Google’s search algorithms reflect virtually nothing but the popularity of the most-responded to sites for the search enquiry. There is nothing that checks whether any of the recommendations are actually true (or good or beautiful or unifying or integrating or any other value, and express only the aperspectival madness of “no truth to be favored”). Cadwalladr was particularly alarmed when she typed in “Are Jews…” and before she could finish, Google’s search engines had provided the most likely responses, one of which was “Are Jews evil?” Curious, she hit that entry, and was taken to the authoritative Google page of the 10 most common and popular answers, 9 of 10 of which said, in effect, “Yes, definitely, Jews are evil.”
Genuinely surprised—and alarmed—she states, “Google is knowledge. It’s where you go to find things out. And evil Jews are just the start of it. There are also evil women. This is what I type: ‘a-r-e w-o-m-e-’. And Google offers me just two choices, the first of which is ‘Are women evil?’ I press return. Yes, they are. Every one of the 10 results ‘confirms’ that they are, including the top one, from a site which is boxed out and highlighted: ‘Every woman has some degree of prostitute in her. Every woman has a little evil in her…. Women don’t love men, they love what they can do for them.’”
With her disbelief—and alarm—growing, she continues, “Next I type: ‘a-r-e m-u-s-l-i-m-s’. And Google suggests I should ask: ‘Are Muslims bad?’ And here’s what I find out: yes, they are. That’s what the top result says and six of the others. Google offers me two new searches and I go for the first, ‘Islam is bad for society.’ In the next list of suggestions, I’m offered: ‘Islam must be destroyed.’”
Here’s her response:
Google is search. It’s the verb, to Google. It’s what we all do, all the time, whenever we want to know anything. We Google it. The site handles at least 63,000 searches a second, 5.5 billion a day. Its mission as a company, the one-line overview that has informed the company since its foundation and is still the banner headline on its corporate website today, is to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. It strives to give you the best, most relevant results.
Jews are evil. [Women are evil.] Muslims need to be eradicated. And Hitler? Do you want to know about Hitler? Let’s Google it. ‘Was Hitler bad?’ I type. And here’s Google’s top result: ‘10 Reasons Why Hitler Was One of the Good Guys’. I click on the link: ‘He never wanted to kill any Jews’; ‘he cared about conditions for Jews in the work camps’…. Eight out of the other 10 search results agree.
Google is most definitely not “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.” It is disorganizing the world’s information in an atmosphere of aperspectival madness, taking “diversity” to such an extreme that all views have an egalitarian and perfectly equal claim to validity. It is a leading-edge that is deeply discombobulated.
Genuinely concerned, Cadwalladr contacts Danny Sullivan, founding editor of SearchEngineLand.com. “He [Sullivan] has been recommended to me by several academics as one of the most knowledgeable experts on search. Am I just being naïve, I ask him? Should I have known this was out there? ‘No, you’re not being naïve,’ he says. ‘This is awful. Google is doing a horrible, horrible job of delivering answers here.’ He’s surprised, too. He types ‘are women’ into his own computer. ‘Good lord! That answer at the top. It’s a featured result. It’s called a ‘direct answer.’ This is supposed to be indisputable. It’s Google’s highest endorsement.’ That ‘every women has some degree of prostitute in her?’ ‘Yes. This is Google’s algorithm going terribly wrong.’”
And it’s going “terribly wrong” because today’s leading-edge has virtually no idea of what “genuinely right” could possibly mean. The Guardian highlights the overall piece by pointing out that it doesn’t just demonstrate this with Google, but also Facebook and, indeed, the general Internet culture itself: “The Internet echo chamber satiates our appetite for pleasant lies and reassuring falsehoods and has become the defining challenge of the 21st century.”
How could an item become the “defining issue” of our century without virtually every university in the world spewing out postmodern poststructuralist nostrums centering on the idea that “truth” itself is the single greatest oppressive force in the history of humankind? (Seriously.) Originated by the green leading-edge in academia, this aperspectival madness of “no truth” leapt out of the universities, and morphed into an enormous variety of different forms—from direct “no-truth” claims, to rabid egalitarianism, to excessive censoring of free speech and unhampered knowledge acquisition, to extreme political correctness (that forced the best comedians to refuse to perform at colleges any more, since the audiences “lacked all sense of humor”: you’re allowed to laugh at nothing in a “no value is better” world—even though that value itself is held to be better), to far-left political agendas that in effect “equalized poverty,” to egalitarian “no judgment” attitudes that refused to see any “higher” or “better” views at all (even though its own view was judged “higher” and “better” than any other), to modes of entertainment that everywhere eulogized egalitarian flatland, to a denial of all growth hierarchies by confusing them with dominator hierarchies (which effectively crushed all routes to actual growth in any systems anywhere), to the media’s sense of egalitarian “fairness” that ended up trying to give equal time to every possible, no matter how factually idiotic, alternative viewpoint (such as Holocaust deniers), to echo chambered social media where “pleasant lies” and “reassuring falsehoods” were the standard currency. It saturated the leading-edge of evolution itself, throwing it into a performative contradiction and a widespread, explicit or implicit, aperspectival madness which was soon driven by nihilism and narcissism and a whole post-truth culture, which even invaded the Internet and bent it profoundly, and that brokenness perfused the entire information grid of the overall culture itself—exactly the type of profound and extensive impact you expect a leading-edge (healthy or unhealthy) to have. It has indeed become the defining issue of our century, because not a single other issue can be directly and effectively addressed if there is no compass point of accessible truth to guide action in the first place.
No Truth and No Jobs: “Ressentiment”
The essentially green Information Age began, with its Artificial Intelligence, to mimic how human beings think, and as such, it began producing robots that could perform many of the types of work that human beings usually did. These started out as simple manual labor jobs—inventory storage, online orders, welding, assembly line work, and such—but has increasingly been moving into more and more complex jobs, including most financial investing, payroll accounting, news copy, middle management tasks, and—soon—truck-driving and all driving jobs, as well as medical diagnoses and nursing chores, even surgeries. One think tank estimated that 50 percent of present-day jobs would be taken by robots by the year 2050 (and one even estimated 47 percent of jobs by as soon as 2020). That’s a destruction of fully half of today’s jobs—and there’s no AI analyst alive that doesn’t think that’s just the beginning.
In the meantime, over the past three to four decades, the median income has remained the same, whereas the average income has significantly increased—which means, those individuals at the top of the pay scale (the so-called “1 percent”) are making a fortune, while most of the rest of the population stagnates or actually loses ground. This is another abject failure of the leading-edge to do what any leading-edge is supposed to do, which is to effectively lead, not stagnate, a culture.
(It looks like, as AI continues its inexorable advance, that within perhaps one hundred years, virtually all human work will be robotized. This is actually a terrific, near utopian result. After all, work has been taken as an inevitable curse on humans ever since day one. It has always been viewed as the necessary evil that all humans were egregiously condemned to suffer—and hence, in many cases, we find things like slavery, or the attempt to outsource the evil task. And now it looks like technology will finally end that evil once and for all. But the period of actually getting to that point, where virtually one-hundred percent of the population is free of work, will be a time of enormous pain for billions of people, as countless people lose their jobs with nothing to support them. This is why Silicon Valley—who is, whether it admits it or not, working as fast as it can to put as many people out of work as soon as possible—takes it as a matter of uncontested faith that something like a guaranteed basic income for everybody will soon be put in place, which is almost certainly a necessary program. We’ll return to this.)
In the meantime, the leading-edge of both green “no-truth” and techno-economic “no-job” had created a seething, quietly furious, and enormously large amount of what Nietzsche called “ressentiment”—which is French for “resentment.” Nietzsche meant it specifically for the type of nasty, angry, and mean-spirited attitude that tends to go with “egalitarian” beliefs (because in reality, there are almost always “greater” and “lesser” realities—not everything is or can be merely “equal,” and green resents this mightily, and often responds with a nasty and vindictive attitude, which Integral theorists call “the mean green meme”). But the notion of “ressentiment” applies in general to the resentment that began to increasingly stem from the severe legitimation crisis that began to soak the culture (which itself was, indeed, due primarily to a broken green). Everywhere you are told that you are fully equal and deserve immediate and complete empowerment, yet everywhere denied the means to actually achieve it. You suffocate, you react, and you get very, very mad.
Leading-edge green, in the meantime, had taken to pursuing what looked like oppression anywhere it could find it, and with regard to virtually any minority. This goal is undoubtedly noble and very worthwhile, but it was taken—by a zealous and now dysfunctional green—to absurd extremes, in a way that its opponents derisively called “political correctness.” This has become such a hot-point button that the political divide has now become between those who see themselves as social justice advocates—pursuing oppression anywhere, looking for “triggers,” “micro-aggression,” and creating “safe spaces”—versus those who see themselves as against an out-of-control political correctness, and standing behind the First Amendment of free speech and against what they see as hyper-sensitive liberal do-gooders who are destroying the very capacity for the free pursuit of ideas and open knowledge. (My stance is that both of them are partially true, as I’ll explain.)
But the extremes of political correctness really were extreme. There was a full-fledged sit-in at UCLA because a professor had actually corrected the spelling and grammar on a graduate-level exam—and the students angrily claimed it created an “atmosphere of fear.” Well, certainly when there is no truth, then forcing your version of spelling on somebody is an oppressive power-drive. In one feminist meeting, after the first speaker was given a round of applause, one woman reported that the applause gave her anxiety, and so the group voted to stop applauding for the rest of the conference. These are simply cases of a person’s hypersensitivity being taken to extremes, and instead of seeing the person as themselves perhaps suffering from an emotional problem, they are labeled “victim” and then it’s everybody else’s job to cater to their narcissistic whims. Again, nihilism and narcissism have no place in the leading-edge (if it is to be able to function at all). But it had gotten so bad on college campuses that many of the most gifted comedians of the time simply stopped doing campus shows entirely, including true geniuses like Chris Rock (probably the funniest person in America) and Jerry Seinfeld (the most successful TV comedian in history). They said that college campuses have “no sense of humor at all”—you can make fun of virtually nothing (given a hyper-sensitive egalitarianism), and so they were not even doing it anymore. When gifted comedians can no longer even comment on a situation, something has gone very, very wrong. Extreme political correctness was simply aperspectival madness gone emotionally berserk.
So we’ve seen just a few of the ways that the green leading-edge of cultural evolution itself had become derailed, had become significantly dysfunctional and unhealthy, had been blindsided by a performative contradiction resulting in an epidemic aperspectival madness. And under such circumstances, evolution finds it’s necessary to take certain self-correcting moves. These moves will not obviously appear as necessary correctives—they might indeed appear alarming. But the only thing more alarming would be for evolution to try and move forward on the basis of an already badly broken leading-edge. The disasters would simply increase. Green, as a leading-edge, had collapsed; and evolution itself had no choice but to take up a broadly “anti-green” atmosphere as it tried to self-correct the damage.
And the one thing that was true of Donald Trump—more than any other single characteristic that defined him (more than his sexism, more than his racism, more than his xenophobia)—is that every word out of his mouth was anti-green.
Stages of Development and Political Parties
Now this means that Trump’s anti-green rhetoric could have resonated with and activated, in general, one (or more) of the three main pre-green stages: it could have activated orange worldcentric (achievement, merit, progress, excellence, profit); it could have activated amber ethnocentric (racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, hyper-terrorist sensitive, homophobic, hyperbolic patriotic); or it could have activated red egocentric (preconventional, self-serving, self-promoting, narcissistic).
Now before we discuss which of those it actually did activate, let’s trace how the main political parties line up in terms of those major stages of human development. There are numerous different variables that go into whether one is conservative/traditional or liberal/progressive (and these span the entire AQAL matrix). But in the most simplistic terms (and focusing just on levels), the liberal party was born with the Western Enlightenment, when the “Left” was named simply because it sat on the left-hand seats in the French parliament. What it represented—and what made it a basically new political movement in history—was the newly emergent orange, rational, worldcentric, meritocratic, post-mythic, progressive level of development. This newly emergent Left movement was in favor of equal rights and justice for all people, the abolition of slavery, the end of epidemic religious beliefs (Voltaire’s battle cry of the Enlightenment: “Remember the cruelties!”—the intense cruelties inflicted by the church on millions of people, all in the name of a loving God—the Left generally supported the end of premodern mythic religion and its replacement by modern rational science), major support for individual rights and free speech, and a government that followed suit, with the end of monarchy itself and the beginning of democratic forms of governance. On the other side of the aisle, the old, traditional, “Right” political party that it was against believed, indeed, in the already existing traditional, conventional society and what had worked for it, including its form of governance and its strongly held traditional religious beliefs, as well as a social structure including monarchy, aristocratic upper classes, serfs, and slaves, all set in a patriarchal and deeply mythic-religious foundation.
For the next several hundred years, these two major political belief systems vied for control (Whigs and Tories, Democrats and Republicans, etc.). Then, starting in the sixties, as we have seen, a fundamentally different stage of development began to emerge, and this new stage created a significantly different type of political belief. It was the emergence of green, and this political view was aggressively devoted to ending all remaining oppression of any marginalized group; it was hugely invested in protecting the environment against any and all threats (as such, it often stood in conflict with the business-and-profit orientation of the previous orange modern/capitalist stage); it backed all forms of feminism (orange had supported and originally created feminism, but green took to it zealously, along with any other anti-oppression movements, from the Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter to LGBTQ rights); it was in favor of curtailing the free speech of individuals if it harmed any minority group. Both orange and green were worldcentric, but apart from that, their interests differed in many profound and significant ways.
The addition of a new and fundamental stage of human development threw each of the two major political parties into a significant degree of internal turmoil. The progressive Left—precisely because it was progressive, or tended to follow new evolutionary unfoldings—was now divided between its original, foundational values of the Enlightenment—individual rights and freedom; universal values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; the separation of church and state; emphasis on individual free speech and individual freedom in general—versus the novel values of newly emerging green, which included: overall, an emphasis on green’s “equality” above and over orange’s “freedom,” and thus an emphasis on group rights and a curtailing of individual rights if they in any way threatened to marginalize or even offend any minority group (a direct challenge to the First Amendment and a willingness to limit free speech if it seemed to hurt the feelings of any group); an emphasis on “earth equality!” and environmental protections (even if it might hurt the freedom of humans); actively promoting marginalized groups over similarly qualified others (sometimes including actual quotas, but at the least an affirmative action). These two sets of values were vaguely in the same world centric ballpark, but when it came to specifics, they were often night and day; and from that point onward, the Left (and the Democratic Party) was involved in an internal fight for which of these two major value sets (modern orange versus postmodern green) would actually determine policy. It is still a battle that is perfectly obvious to anybody who looks through this lens.
But the same thing, a notch down, was happening with the Right (and the Republicans). Their foundational base had always been amber; and thus they had more ethnocentric beliefs than progressives—rightly or wrongly, they were seen to be more racist, more sexist, more hyper-patriotic and nationalistic, more patriarchal, more militaristic, more xenophobic, more homophobic, and much more religiously fundamentalist or “mythic-literal”—and they themselves often openly championed such values. But with the shift upward of evolution itself, which had added a new level, the leading-edge of the Right also notched up a stage. As the Left had added a green branch to its orange foundation, the Right added an orange branch to its amber foundation. This new group on the Right was often called “Wall-Street Republicans” (reflecting its embrace of orange progress, achievement, and profit) and hence it aggressively embraced many values that once were embraced solely by the Enlightenment or “old” liberals (for their “newness” they were sometimes called “neoconservatives” or just “neocons”). This political movement was zealously in favor of big business and anything that would help it and its orange profits; fought for worldcentric individual rights against ethnocentric-favoring group “liberal” moves; disliked government enormously (because it was too often run by liberals pushing green egalitarian rights and massive social entitlements); and supported free speech against political correctness with a passion edging into libertarianism. The Republican Party, like the Democratic, split into two major camps, reflecting the overall path of evolution itself—in this case, the “base” or “old” Right (with a strong amber ethnocentric) and the “new Right” (with an orange business-profit-individual rights worldcentric).
When it came to employment, it definitely turned out that, whether it was orange or green Democrat, they weren’t as in favor of business as the Republican (orange or amber). (More granularly, reflecting their actual levels, the orange wing of both Democrat and Republican usually supported Wall Street, while the green wing of liberals opposed it, often with more socialistic anti-capitalist anti-orange agendas.) But traditionally, when it came to an actual division between business management and business laborers, the Democrats (favoring the worldcentric “masses”) had supported employees and unions against management. But with the ongoing failure of the leading-edge, the typical worker did not feel supported by the Democrats at all, and especially the lower-level employee went substantially for Trump. He actually pitched to that group, and did so in a very ethnocentric fashion—he would protect jobs at home, punish companies that went abroad, heavily tax products coming in from overseas companies, and “make America great again”—hyper-patriotic, ethnocentric, amber to the core. As has often been noted, some 70 percent of whites with only a high-school or lower education voted for Trump.
Cementing his appeal to ethnocentric, some 60 percent of white voters in general went for Trump, including an astonishing 53 percent of white women (a higher percentage of white women than any Republican nominee in recent memory—and not just “lower education”: 45 percent of all college-educated white women voted Trump). On the mythic-literal side of ethnocentric—or the “evangelicals”—over 80 percent of those voters chose Trump (and this especially shows how beliefs trumped facts, because there was precious little religious about Trump—but the whole point here is how these background stages of worldview development have a hidden but enormously powerful hand in all this). Another 80 percent of the voters who defined themselves as “angry” went Trump, and not just the lower education or lower income vote. In fact, the median income of a Trump voter was $71,000.
In short, of that 60 percent of the population that is ethnocentric (or lower), the vast majority of them seem to have gone for Trump, and in a stunning fashion. Many of them indicated that he was “unqualified” (60 percent), that he mistreated women (55 percent), even that he was unstable (45 percent). And yet a majority of all of those voted for him anyway—the power of belief-dominated drives.
The Reverberating Anti-Green Morphic Field
What virtually all of the above voters had in common was ressentiment—they resented the cultural elite, whether in government or universities or “on the coasts,” and they wanted, if “revenge” is the wrong word, it’s not far off. But there was, I am suggesting, another and very strong, hidden current in all of this, and that was the antagonistic reaction and turning-away evidenced by a leading-edge that had gone deeply sour and dysfunctional, and wasn’t even serving the 25 percent of the population that were themselves at green. The deeply self-contradictory nature of “there-is-no-truth” green had collapsed the very leading-edge of evolution itself, had jammed it, had derailed it, and in a bruised, confused, but inherently wisdom-driven series of moves, evolution was backing up, regrouping, and looking for ways to move forward. This included activating an amber-ethnocentric wave that had always been present and very powerful, but that had, for the most part, been denied direct control of society starting around a century or so ago (as orange and then green stepped in). When a Republican had been placed in power, which was relatively often, it was usually an orange-leaning Republican (with mandatory amber ethnocentric sub-beliefs, but talking worldcentric language).
But Trump, like no politician in anybody’s memory, directly hit the amber nerve. He literally and deliberately spoke in amber ethnocentric terms—thinly veiled (if veiled at all) racist, sexist, openly patriarchal, uber-nationalistic, jingoistic, and on and on in ways that literally had critics’ mouths dropped wide open. People simply could not believe the stuff coming out of Trump—especially since they could not see the complete traffic jam lying up ahead at the leading-edge, where direction had collapsed completely in a rampant case of aperspectival madness that had reverberated all the way down the entire spectrum of development. Again, it wasn’t just that Trump was ethnocentric, it was that his every move was deeply anti-green, and Trump’s own anti-green current caught the powerful anti-green wave radiating from the leading-edge itself.
Trump’s anti-green impulse runs serious, far, and vast (though he consciously is aware of none of this). Whether his proposals are red or amber or orange, they are always also anti-green. And that is the one thing they all have in common, whether they are red, amber, or orange—they are all energized in part by this anti-green self-correcting drive of evolution in search of a functional and self-organizing way forward (and a way that allows each of these stages an actual participation in the overall national dialogue, and doesn’t aggressively deny and ridicule any of them as being merely deplorable). As we’ll explore in a moment, amber was activated because it needed to find a way to be integrated into a larger society in a way that has been denied it for a very long time. Any specifically amber moves themselves are not directly part of the overall self-correcting drive of evolution, but the activation of amber itself most definitely is—and its voice desperately needs to be heard. It needs to be “transcended,” most certainly, but it also—the lesson here—needs to be “included,” if evolution is to return to its general functional and self-organizing drive of “transcend and include.” That is the secret, hidden, but very real drive that Trump unconsciously rode to a victory that, because its primary driver was completely unseen, was a total shock to both camps and to every major pollster anywhere.
Trump is so boisterously amber ethnocentric in so many ways, this will force the present green leading-edge into one of two major reactions: it will simply double down on its present hatred, revulsion, and open ridicule of amber (aimed at Trump and followers); or it will pause, realize that its own hatred and ridicule of amber has profoundly contributed to amber’s angry, virulent, hateful resentment of elites everywhere, and hence realize that it must in some ways attempt to understand, include, even compassionately embrace that large portion of the population who green is in fact supposed to be leading, not despising. If it takes the former route, then the overarching anti-green atmosphere will simply energize amber to force its way into the mainstream, ethnocentric power drives and all, with an increasing series of disasters inevitably following. If it takes the latter route, it will be aligning itself with the self-corrective drive of evolution itself as it looks for a more inclusive and comprehensive base platform from which to again take up its leading-edge role of self-organization through self-transcendence, or transcending and truly including. (More about this in a moment.)
In the meantime, Trump is being driven not only by his red egocentric/narcissism, not only his amber ethnocentrism (especially noticeable), and not only by his occasional orange worldcentrism, but always also by this overarching morphogenetic anti-green field. Trump intends to virtually eliminate a good number of environment regulations; his selection of Scott Pruit as head of the Environmental Protection Agency already has every environmental organization in the world completely alarmed (i.e., anti-green). He intends to increase military spending enormously (anti-green). He will severely limit immigration, with particular emphasis on Mexicans and Muslims (anti-green). He will lower taxes, including on the very wealthy (anti-green). He will roll back an estimated 60-70 percent of business regulations (anti-green). He will devastate foreign trade agreements, and cut into any international unification project around (anti-green).
Whatever else those are, they are a massive kick in the face of green.
Thus, although Trump’s main constituency is that 60 percent of America (rich or poor, educated or not) whose basic center of gravity is ethnocentric amber, even when he activates standard orange/business/achievement/profit currents, it’s usually through the dismantling of some rule or regulation that the green leading-edge has previously put in place. Trump is intentionally anti-political correctness. His “make America great again” is to be accomplished by basically undoing most of the items that a leading-edge green government has put into place, as it looked to “help” or “protect” individuals, but also primarily put in place to “deconstruct” divisive boundaries wherever they existed. Thus, undo trade agreements that attempted to draw in large portions of the world by making it easier to commercially cross American boundaries; undo immigration regulations that were trying to lower the boundaries to any immigrants (Hillary’s ideas on dramatically opening immigration were particularly galling to Trump); attempt to make it harder on terrorists by strengthening the borders that we do have. In every direction, it’s rolling back the loosening of borders that a leading-edge green had actively deconstructed. (Obama was criticized, even by his supporters, for tending to a lack a certain “firmness,” especially in his foreign policy, such as his desire to have NASA promote pro-Muslim efforts and his possibly too-lenient stance with Iran—in short, a bit of his own deep green tendencies showing their aperspectival madness, a lack of directiveness or “firmness.” All of these green moves were aggressively condemned by Trump.)
Now I’m not saying that what Trump is doing is right. What he is doing is basically ethnocentric, and has to be judged itself in exactly that light. But I am saying that the reason he is doing much of what he is doing is concomitantly driven by a background anti-green morphogenetic field, which has been created as the green leading-edge drowned in a swamp of aperspectival madness, and hence failed significantly to be a genuine leading-edge—it failed to provide any leading direction at all (but rather just a deconstruction of things already in place), since in losing all “truth” it lost all compass points—which eventually led to a necessary self-correcting drive of stepping-back, refurbishing, and reorganizing in an attempt to create a truly self-organizing dynamic which will allow it to move forward once again. It’s as if you bit into an apple and hit a rusty nail and chipped your leading-edge incisor—the one thing you don’t do is keep biting.
Thus, whether he was activating red egocentric, or amber ethnocentric, or orange worldcentric, he was always also anti-green. And the anti-green current (acting in a preconscious fashion in the dynamics of ongoing cultural evolution) would allow these stages to find their station energized by something Trump was doing. It’s an astonishing amalgamation—indeed, one that many analysts claim is unique in all of American politics. Never had an “anti” stance reached out and energized so many stages—because never before had the leading-edge so blatantly failed to lead. And the overall meta-drive in all of this is to find a way that all of these previous stages can actually be heard, and truly seen, and more effectively and compassionately integrated into the larger currents of a cultural evolution in a way that green (with its aggressively deconstructive aperspectival madness) has profoundly failed to do.
The Stages and Dimensions Activated by Trump’s Current Actions
Whether Trump was activating red, amber, or orange (with amber ethnocentric being central), there were many other currents that combined with that general anti-green dynamic to select how each wave that was activated by Trump was indeed activated (that is, factors not only from different levels but also from different quadrants, different lines, and different states are involved in this). Business factors almost always interacted with those currents that concerned orange economic factors in general, and the widespread sense that Trump was a businessman tended to make some business people feel attracted to him (and it certainly attracted unemployed workers who felt Trump would “bring back jobs”). Others, of course, tended to point out that Trump had failed in business many more times than he had succeeded. But either way, Trump is the first President in American history who has essentially no experience in politics and is not a lawyer, but comes almost solely from a business background. (So that the way he conducted business is likely the way he will conduct government, which doesn’t make too many people feel comfortable.)
It is the ethnocentric crowd that, in addition to being the primary level of attraction, has perhaps the most number of other variables working in favor of their activation: their race, their sex, technological currents, governmental drivers, economic factors, cultural resentment. Trump’s success has most often been attributed to a great while male underclass. While that is only one factor, and a big one, it is nevertheless only part of the overall picture. But it’s true that this class has been stereotyped in especially nasty ways by the elite—primarily by the green leading-edge. They are everything that Hillary Clinton meant when she tellingly called Trump’s supporters “a basket of deplorables.” This group is viewed as the single, great, rednecked, oafish, uneducated, gigantic instigator of oppression of all minorities. This large white lower class somehow has oppressed and disenfranchised African-Americans, women, gays and lesbians, “real” foreigners (like Mexicans, not like the Irish or Germans), and they are said to loathe and hate anybody not of their race, sex, blood, origins, or creed. We’ll address whether that is true or not in a moment, but it is true that this “underclass” (white, male, lower education, lower class, rural) group did indeed vote for Trump in a big way. The massive resentment that they had developed, the anger at being looked at by the leading elites as “deplorables” (which the elite most certainly did), was a festering sore spot which Trump’s every anti-green salvo tended to soothe mightily. They loved Trump for this, and even with many of them feeling he was “unqualified,” “misogynistic,” or even “unstable,” they voted for him en masse. Nothing, no matter how embarrassing (which Trump committed in outlandish ways almost daily, each seemingly worse than its predecessor, right up to the staggeringly adolescent—and criminal—“grab them by the pussy” videotape)—but none of it fundamentally mattered, because Trump was spouting a heart-felt, anti-green, “truthful” sentiment, and this crowd truly loved him for it. Decades of being treated as white trash—with all of its ressentiment—were being washed away with every idiocy, and they simply could not get enough.
And as for energizing the red egocentric crowd—well, that more or less speaks for itself. As Lovejoy drily commented, “There is no human stupidity that has not found its champion,” and narcissists everywhere found in Trump a resounding champion.
The Primary Cause—and Cure—of Oppression
So, let’s briefly touch on this issue of oppression, the complete ending of which is perhaps green’s strongest central goal. Although the ideal itself is totally commendable (and happens to be one I fully support), the problem comes when a flatland aperspectival madness attempts to understand the source, cause, and cure of oppression itself. And you can just guess, right from the start, that this is not going to have a happy ending.
Green will typically look at history, for example, and whenever it finds a society in which there is a widespread lack of green values, it assumes that these green values would normally and naturally be present were it not for the fact that they have been maliciously oppressed by the dominator hierarchies found in that society. All individuals would possess worldcentric green values of pluralism, radical egalitarianism, and total equality, except for the oppressive controlling powers that crushed those values wherever they appeared. Looking at history carefully, green found a lack of these values going all the way back to day one, and thus the assumption was made that a massively oppressive force (or group of them) was present from the start of humankind’s life on this planet, and these oppressive forces are still operating everywhere today, and thus green’s job of ending discrimination, marginalization, misogyny, homophobia, and endless varieties of enslavement is an ongoing, difficult, yet desperately urgent chore, and is mightily resisted by the powers that be at every turn.
The existence of strong and widespread oppressive forces cannot be doubted. The problem comes in the claim to know what their source and cause is. For green postmodernism, the cause of the lack of worldcentric green values in any culture is due to an aggressive and intensively active repressive and oppressive force (usually the male sex; or a particular race—white in most parts of the world, coupled with a rampant colonialism—and/or due to a particular creed—usually religious fundamentalism of one sort or another; or various prejudices—against gays, against women, against whatever minority that is oppressed).
In short, lack of green values (egalitarian, group freedom, gender equality, human care and sensitivity) is due to a presence of oppression. Lack of green = presence of oppression. This lack goes all the way back to day one, and thus various strong oppressive currents have been present from day one, and continue now in alarmingly widespread ways.
The major problem with that view taken by itself is that it completely overlooks the central role of growth, development, and evolution. We’ve already seen that human moral identity grows and develops from egocentric (red) to ethnocentric (amber) to worldcentric (orange then green) to integral (turquoise; and this is true individually as well as collectively/historically). Thus, the main reason that slavery was present, say, 2000 years ago, is not because there was an oppressive force preventing worldcentric freedom, but that a worldcentric notion of freedom had not even emerged yet anywhere on the planet. It wasn’t present and then oppressed, as green imagines, it simply had not yet emerged in the first place—there was nothing to oppress. This is why, as only one example, all of the world’s great religions, who otherwise teach love and compassion and treating all beings kindly, nonetheless—precisely because they were created during the great ethnocentric Mythic Age of traditional civilization—had no extensive and widespread conception of the fundamental worldcentric freedom of human beings—or the belief that all humans, regardless of race, sex, color, or creed, were born equal—and thus not one of them strenuously objected to the fact that a very large portion of their own population were slaves. Athens and Greek society, vaunted home of democracy, had 1 out of 3 of their people who were slaves—and no major complaint on a culture-wide scale. Nor was there a widespread culturally effective complaint from Christianity or Buddhism or Hinduism et al. It wasn’t until the emergence of the worldcentric Age of Reason that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” actually came into existence—emerged evolutionarily—and thus started to be believed by the average and typical member of that culture. The War between the States—fought in part because of that realization—was unthinkable a thousand years earlier, it just would have made no sense.
So slavery (first invented and practiced by black men on black men in Africa, and then found basically everywhere, among yellow men on yellow men, and red on red, and all the way back to the earliest tribes themselves, which, whenever they actually ran into each other, usually sparked warfare or slavery—as we saw, 15 percent of indigenous tribes practiced slavery, and they did so because worldcentric morality had not yet emerged on a wide scale)—hence this unfreedom is not primarily due to the presence of an oppressive force but to the absence of a higher development. Oppression is not in any way its primary cause, and if it is treated as if it were, then the “cures” that are enforced will never—never—actually work, because the real cause has gone undetected and thus continues to exist and operate under the surface (the real cause being not the presence of oppression but the lack of development).
So in this particular regard, it is not true that lack of green = presence of oppression; it is that lack of green = lack of development. People are not in any way born with green values; those values are rather the product of 5 or 6 major stages of human development, and prior to their actual emergence, they don’t exist anywhere that they could actually be oppressed in the first place.
This is true across the board—race, sex, creed, gender. Remember feminist Carol Gilligan’s stages of female moral development. She found that all women grow and evolve morally through four major stages: from a selfish stage (where the woman cares only for herself—our egocentric), to a care stage (where the woman extends care to her chosen group—our ethnocentric), to a universal care stage (where the woman cares for all groups, for all humans—our worldcentric), to integrated (where the woman integrates both masculine and feminine modes in herself—our integral). Only at the worldcentric stage of universal care would the woman begin to find something like oppression or marginalization truly objectionable; otherwise, it’s just the hand you’re dealt. There is no universal objection to oppression until that universal stage itself, and thus this objection is not something that is present from the beginning and subsequently squashed, but something that is not present from the start but must emerge as growth and development continues.
But if we think that green values should be found universally, and their lack unerringly indicates an oppressive force, then we will see nothing but victims everywhere (simply because green is one of the very highest stages of development yet to emerge, and all the previous stages by definition lack green, and if that lack always misguidedly means oppression, then all of those stages are mistakenly viewed as oppressed “victims”—and thus the numbers of oppressed victims absolutely explodes). And our cure for this will not be to instigate factors that will help with growth and development, but to punish and criminalize those at the lower stages of development who are acting in oppressive ways. But, as we saw earlier with dominator hierarchies and growth holarchies, only at egocentric selfish and ethnocentric care stages will I want to oppress and hold others down to begin with. But when worldcentric green sees such actions, it assumes that an oppressor somewhere is attempting to oppress free and equal worldcentric conditions—and this gets the entire dynamic backwards.
Put differently, oppressive actions and drives are inherent in the lower stages of development. (As we saw, dominator hierarchies are inherent at the lower stages of growth hierarchies, and they vanish at the higher stages of growth hierarchies. It’s not that higher stages are incapable of malevolent or oppressive actions; they are not. But they are not inherently oppressive, oppressive as part of their intrinsic structure; when such behavior occurs in higher stages, it is due to idiosyncratic shadow issues, and has to be dealt with on a case by case basis; its frequency, in any event, is vastly less than at egocentric/ethnocentric. In short, the primary cure for dominator hierarchies is to move to the higher stages of growth hierarchies.) A lower, pre-worldcentric stage of development will step all over worldcentric values if it can, not because it is trying to specifically oppress those values, but because it does not yet possess those values itself and has no understanding of their value, goodness, or desirability. The cure for this is to move development forward, not to criminalize earlier stages (which is like calling age 5 a disease and outlawing it).
It is certainly the case that a society can choose to pass laws against any behavior that has the effect of oppressing other beings—and there is every reason to do so. But when it comes to the cause of that behavior, in addition to factors that come from every quadrant (including LR economic factors, LR technological factors, and UR brain physiology)—which flatland exterior approaches usually acknowledge—it is mandatory that interior dimensions also be fully taken into account (including LL ethical development and UL moral development—or the various levels and stages of actual growth). To simply see intentional “oppressors” and their “victims” everywhere is to totally mis-diagnose (and thus mis-treat) the illness.
Hence, as for that “basket of deplorables,” to the extent that they are genuinely at amber, ethnocentric, premodern stages of development, they are uncomfortable with worldcentric values (orange and green), not because they fully see them and loathe them, but because they do not (and cannot) see them in the first place. As Kegan puts it, such values are “over their heads.” This truly is not meant in a judgmental fashion, but simply as an explanatory and descriptive narrative; because the cure here involves, not hating them and “deploring” them and criminalizing them (unless their behavior in itself warrants such), but to reach out and compassionately include them in the ongoing national dialogue and ongoing cultural normative development—which is precisely what the green leading-edge (including its Hilary champions) have actively refused to do for at least four or five decades now.
And here’s its performative contradiction. Green officially will perceive nobody as fundamentally “lower” or “needing to actually grow,” because to suggest that any group truly needs to increase its developmental depth—implying that some levels are “better” or “higher” than others—is to be guilty, in a world of aperspectival madness and extreme political correctness, of being “racist” or “sexist” or some horrible crime against humanity. No stance is recognized as superior to any other, and there certainly is no such thing as a “higher” or “better” stance—although, when you think about it, just how are you going to get to truly “higher” and “more inclusive” stances such as green claims to idolize if you don’t develop them?—green itself is the product of five or six major developmental stages, but it allows this development for nobody, and even to suggest such is totally anathema—a colossal and massive failure, due to aperspectival madness, of the leading-edge.
And yet, as we are starting to see, although green will not allow the existence of any “higher” or “better” views, it still deeply feels that its own views are definitely “higher” and “better”—and to the extent that its views are in fact representing, for example, worldcentric over ethnocentric views, they are indeed higher and better (precisely because they are more inclusive and less domineering and oppressive)! But this is exactly what green cannot officially admit or acknowledge—hence its being caught in a performative contradiction and collapsing as a conscious and functional leading-edge.
And more to the point, when this developmental increase in capacity for inclusiveness, care, and compassion is not officially acknowledged, then it seeps out in disguised and often disgusted ways (because you keep intuiting the existence of these factual realities, even if your worldview tries to deny them, so they force their way into awareness, twisted as they might be). Green gets so infuriated at its own self-contradictory stance (even to think that your egalitarian view is a better way to view things is to contradict egalitarianism right at the start!—your view that there are no better views is itself the belief in a better view), and so you end up blurting out your conclusion in malevolent, even vicious ways (“they’re all deplorables!”). We’ll come back to this central issue—and its cure—in Part III.
So when it comes to oppressive and domineering forces, the problem that green slams into is that it officially looks at all individuals in an egalitarian fashion—which means, it simply looks at their exteriors, at their behavior, and wants each and every person to be free of judgment, ranking, oppression, domination, coercion, or control by any others. Now unfortunately what it does not do is take into account the interior realities of each of those individuals, and see which of those individuals are actually in favor of that goal of equality. Because as it turns out, the majority of individuals are not in favor of that worldcentric goal. Individuals at crimson archaic and red magic and amber mythic—in short, egocentric and ethnocentric—do not want everybody to be treated equally, to be treated the same. Rather, they want their special group to have special privileges—because they deserve it, they are the “chosen people!”—and if they are in power at all, they will see to it that their group gets the bulk of the available goods. They will often do so by instigating all manner of coercive and domineering controls—either racist, or sexist, or privileged-group favoring, or minority-group devaluing, or allocating the means of production to the favored few, or reserving the bulk of the production capacity to the favored group. And all of those coercive exterior moves are largely driven by an interior level of development that is at ethnocentric or lower. (Somebody at worldcentric or higher, on the other hand, will be inherently against any and all such unfair coercive actions, and historically these were the individuals who led or joined various liberation movements that have resulted in a present-day world where equal rights are unfathomably beyond what any previous epochs of human evolution managed to achieve, or even conceive.)
But green (as well as orange in this case, or wherever interior realities are ignored or denied and exteriors alone are deemed to be “really real”) looks at the oppressive actions of the above individuals, and simply attempts to outlaw, criminalize, or behaviorally interrupt those actions. It has no understanding of the actual source and cause of those ethnocentric actions in the first place, no real understanding of the cause of the oppression to begin with. And thus, even though culture’s center of gravity has moved upward over the millennia from magic egocentric and mythic ethnocentric waves into genuine worldcentric orange and green capacities, everybody is still born at square one and must begin their growth and development from there—and they can stop at any of those 6-to-8 stages! And thus cultures everywhere continue to possess individuals at, for example, deeply ethnocentric stages of development—and those individuals possess deeply oppressive, coercive, and domineering impulses. And thus, among innumerable other items, some 300 years since slavery was outlawed, over 50 million people each year are trafficked.
Human beings are not born at a worldcentric level of morality, values, or drives—they are not born democratically enthused. They develop to those levels after five or six major stages of development, and by no means everybody makes it. As we’ve seen, some 60 percent of this culture (and some 70 percent of the world’s population) remains at amber ethnocentric (or lower). Every time somebody is making love they are making little Nazis and KKKers to be. The root of such oppressive forces are not caused by exteriors; they are caused by interiors that hijack exteriors to express and manifest their deeply ethnocentric interior worldviews, and unless and until those interiors are fully understood and addressed—through, among many other things, a “deliberately developmental education”—then that green ideal of a truly free and equal society will come nowhere near being realized.
At the same time, green’s fundamental background belief—its profound aperspectival madness, a demand that all values be seen as “equal” and a categorical refusal to “judge” or “rank” any value system as “better” or “higher”—doesn’t allow it to even recognize the grand developmental scale of increasing inclusiveness and increasing care, and decreasing oppression and decreasing domination—a reality that would actually allow it to help guide a culture into truly worldcentric and integral levels of reality, where a genuinely free and equal society could actually come into existence. Green has this correct (and very high) goal, but it doesn’t have a single path that actually works, or truly addresses the real barriers to its fervently desired ideals. And as it increasingly turned its aperspectival madness on more and more areas—deconstructing more and more aspects of reality—it eventually turned its own deconstructive view on its own existence, dissolved any reason to believe anything it had to say, and thoroughly collapsed as a functioning leading-edge of evolution.
Welcome to a post-truth world.
And hence the question: Where do we go from here?
Where Do We Go From Here?
So the crucial issue at this time is: what do we do next? How can evolution, which has taken a deliberate pause in its ongoing dynamics in order to refurbish its foundations much more adequately and accurately, move forward from what appears on the surface to be such a complete meltdown (most visibly, but by no means solely, represented by Trump’s election)?
There are steps that need to be taken at every major level of development (indeed, with every major element in the AQAL matrix). But we are here examining the major driver of this meltdown, which is the deconstructive collapse of the green leading-edge in a self-corrective readjustment attempting to find a sturdier base for an ongoing self-organization through self-transcendence.
With regard to the dysfunctional green leading-edge itself—the actual primary source of the problem (in addition to thousands of secondary sources)—there are two major possible ways forward, each of which has some hope for alleviating the traffic-jam at the leading-edge. The first is the more likely and the less effective, and that involves the healing of the broken and dysfunctional green leading-edge itself—a move by green, on green, aimed at self-healing and self-correction. Amber and orange are each doing more or less what they are supposed to be doing, operating within the (often grave) limitations of their own level (although both are also suffering from excessive intrusion by a broken green, and that categorically needs to be remedied as part of the green healing). But green, we have seen, has gone off the deep end. In its intense aperspectival madness, it has heightened and inflamed its own madness and inflicted that illness on every area of society that it possibly can. The primary symptom of this is a widespread negative judgment and condemnation of anything amber and orange (anything not green). Green shows no understanding of how and why each of those levels of being and awareness is a necessary stage in a human’s overall growth and development—a person arrives at green itself only because they have first developed through amber and then orange… and then green. No amber, no orange—no green. You see the suicidal insanity of green hating amber and orange?
But for green, these two large blocks (which are usually mushed together, since green has no conception of individual stages of development) are the great source of the oppressive forces that are turning green people everywhere into “victims,” and for which everything from an aggressive political correctness, to criminalizing every “micro-aggression” imaginable, to turning every square inch of the country into an ethnocentric-enhancing “safe space,” to confusing necessary differentiation with oppression and hence trying to crush it out of existence (i.e., green feels that any “differences” that are recognized between any groups automatically become the source of discrimination and oppression, and thus no differences should be acknowledged in the first place, they are only “social constructions” anyway—and it’s true, some are; but some aren’t, and this move only imagines more victims everywhere. Green doesn’t blame the victim, but it too often creates them).
The sane action in response to a Trump presidency is exactly an opening between, and a deliberately more friendly embrace between, each of the major stages of development found in all adults. This is a call for a genuine “inclusion,” not green’s version of “inclusion,” which is to aggressively exclude everything not green (which is seen as a deplorable). Green wants to be inclusive; it theoretically condemns all marginalization; some of its advocates even call it “the integral culture.” But green in fact hates orange, and it hates amber, and it doubly hates 2nd tier integral (because integral reintroduces healthy versions of all the things that green fought against, including a healthy growth or actualization holarchy which green considers the core of domination, because it thoroughly confuses dominator hierarchies with growth hierarchies—a discovery made and corrected by integral).
But right now we are considering the possibility that green can itself heal and reconfigure, and thus resume its role as a truly leading leading-edge of evolution (a healing that will almost certainly include many truly integral ideas, but without actually transforming directly to 2nd-tier integral itself—which is the second option we will examine in a moment).
The well-known pollster Frank Luntz said, “This [Trump win] is a wake-up call for everyone at every level of government. Governors, Senators, mayors—all of them need to have a retreat where they can work together to bring about peace in the populace. Importantly, this isn’t about government officials reconciling with one another—which in itself is needed. Rather, it is about their facilitating their constituencies to reconcile with one another. It’s about bringing people together, bridging our divides, and binding our wounds. That’s what real leadership is about.”
Indeed, in addition to defining an effective education, a primary area of what a leading-edge does is to provide, indeed, actual leadership. Especially in a world of aperspectival madness (where there is no truth and thus no actual basis for any genuine leadership at all), it can be leadership alone (countering the prevailing go-nowhere currents) that provides an actual way forward—real leadership stares into the face of a no-truth, no-direction, no-values world, and says, “It is simply not true that there is no truth; there is most definitely truth, and it lies in this direction”—and it is so radiantly genuine and attractive as it provides a believable path into an uncertain future, that it galvanizes vast numbers to follow it forward.
And at this point in evolution and development, that leadership, in order to be truly effective and based on a genuine reality, must take into account the “true but partial” truths of postmodernism itself (as it also must do with traditionalism and modernism)—but it must do so in their moderate, effective, originally non-extreme and non-contradictory forms, which originally included genuinely effective means of increasing perspectives and decreasing marginalization. Indeed, and to expand this point across the board, green can truly heal only by deeply befriending the now widely fragmented value systems (especially the three primary ones—amber, orange, and green itself but in a now healthy form—because these all are at present angrily involved in culture wars gone totally nuclear). Only with such a fundamentally compassionate outreach that sincerely embraces each of those, with a genuine goodwill in place of deep loathing, can green truly heal and thus can the leading-edge once again genuinely begin to function as a real guidance system for effective self-organization.
Much more on that as we proceed. But let me at this point provide a very brief sidebar on a quick sketch of how the three central theoretical tenets of postmodernism—namely, contextualism, constructivism, and aperspectivism, each one of which started as an important “true but partial” concept and was then taken to extremes and directly contributed to the performative contradiction that landed us with aperspectival madness and its tag-team of nihilism and narcissism—a quick overview of how each of those can be relocated in their more moderate, effective, non-contradictory, and “true but partial” forms—and those can, and indeed should, be fully embraced, as a central part of the present dysfunctional green’s healing and its return to a more healthy and functional stance. The point is that as a part of the overall requirement of green to compassionately embrace each of the major stages of human development (amber, orange, and green), it must start with its own green values—but values that simply must be cleansed of their extreme, self-contradictory, viciously deconstructive forms. And it will have to do that before it can effectively move on to embracing the amber and orange systems previously so utterly despised by an unhealthy green. So after a quick academic tour of this issue, we’ll move directly into stating what this means in plain English. First, very briefly:
--contextualism: all truth is indeed context-dependent (but some contexts are themselves universal, and thus universal truth does in fact exist; the very fact that all truth is contextual is itself a universal context! Stop treating all cross-cultural realities as oppressive and start looking for the many common patterns that connect, thus also pointing to ways out of an otherwise increasingly fragmented and broken world).
--constructivism: all truth is not merely given, it is indeed co-constructed (but a co-construction that includes what Wilfrid Sellars—the most successful critic of the “myth of the given,” the myth that the world of facts simply exists on its own and by itself, awaiting discovery by all and sundry—nonetheless acknowledges the “intrinsic features” of the world, which provide universalizing grounding and are the “co” part of the “co-construction” of knowledge. In short, the “social construction of reality” does not mean “there is no real truth,” but it does mean the nature and contexts of the knower are an intrinsic part of the knowing process; and further—and most importantly—it opens us to the incredibly sophisticated state of the world when each different genealogical level of development will “co-construct” a different world—something that demands the inclusion of all developmental worldviews in any comprehensive knowledge quest. And the general take-away here is, try and make your co-created world—and thus your leadership—stem from the highest level of development that you can, because each higher level contains, not “no truth” but “more truth,” since each higher stage “transcends and includes” its predecessors).
--aperspectivism: there are no ahistorical, pregiven, privileged perspectives anywhere, which is the true part of “aperspectivism” (and the “partial” part is that, each new level of development has been shown to increase the number of perspectives that awareness can take—from a 1st-person perspective of red, to a 2nd-person perspective of amber, to a 3rd-person perspective of orange, to a 4th-person perspective of green, to a 5th-person perspective of early integral, to a 6th-person perspective of late integral, and higher. Each of these stages “transcends and includes” its predecessor, which is the generic drive or Eros of evolution itself, the drive to self-organization through self-transcendence. Thus, paraphrasing Hegel, no perspective is privileged because each new emergent stage of evolution produces greater and greater perspective capacity; hence, each stage is adequate, each higher stage is more adequate: each stage is true, but each higher stage is “more true,” or contains more perspectives that themselves disclose more truths. This again is why the virtues of a genealogical or evolutionary/developmental view so powerfully offer answers to the aperspectival madness of a chaotic green postmodernism. Thus the “true but partial” truths of postmodernism cannot be denied and hence, like every previous stage, they must be “included”—even as we also dramatically “transcend” them in yet higher integral development of ever-greater and more-inclusive perspectives).
Dominator Hierarchies and Growth Hierarchies
Okay, back to the real world. One of the simplest points here is that for green to move from its extreme, dysfunctional, unhealthy and pathological condition to a state of healthy, vibrant, true leading-edge capacities, it is absolutely central that green heal its catastrophic confusion between dominator hierarchies and actualization hierarchies. Actualization (or growth) hierarchies are not exclusive and domineering, they are inclusive and integrating. With each of the levels of a dominator hierarchy, the higher the level, the more it can oppress and dominate (as with the caste system, or criminal organizations like the Mafia). With growth hierarchies (or “holarchies”), it’s exactly the opposite. In a growth holarchy, the whole of each level becomes an included part of the whole of the next higher level—just as, in evolution, a whole quark becomes part of an atom, a whole atom becomes part of a molecule, a whole molecule becomes part of a cell, a whole cell becomes part of an organism, and so on. Each level is a whole/part, what Koestler called a “holon.” The ever-increasing inclusiveness—genuine inclusiveness—of holons and holarchies demonstrates a direction that is grounded in nature and that has been operative from the first moment of the Big Bang forward, a direction of self-organization through self-transcendence that is the primary drive of evolution itself.
Another way to say “transcend and include” is “differentiate and integrate.” Each stage of development differentiates the previous stage, and then integrates those newly emergents parts into a higher-level order. Thus, a single-cell zygote first splits into 2 cells, then 4, then 8, then 16, then 32, etc. differentiated cells, and after those are introduced, they are integrated into inclusive systems—a nervous system, a muscular system, a digestive system, and so on, all of which are integrated in the overall organism. Each stage of this growth process goes beyond (or transcends) the previous stage but also includes or enfolds it, and it does so by differentiating and integrating it.
Green’s accomplishment was, by introducing a 4th-person perspective that could reflect on—and hence criticize—the 3rd-person systems of orange, it began to differentiate those orange monolithic, static, nonpermeable systems, producing, not a single given world system, but a rich multicultural display of an almost limitless variety of differentiated systems. That was the “true” part. The “partial” part was that, while it could differentiate these systems, it could not yet integrate them (and their newly created parts). It saw nothing but a riot of cultural differentiation, and since no holarchy or truly increasing inclusivity or integration could be seen, it simply imagined that all of them were absolutely equal—hence, its “egalitarianism,” which really represented its incapacity to find the deeper (or higher) patterns that connect, the integrating holarchies that tied together the various world systems and indeed allowed and facilitated their interactions in the first place. (We saw that, of course, green really didn’t believe this idea, since it definitely felt that its view of this situation was much better than any view that did not see it this way—its view was superior in a world where nothing was supposed to be superior—so much for “egalitarianism.” But it couldn’t officially acknowledge that its own view was higher than, for example, orange modern, because it officially denied all hierarchies—not just dominator hierarchies, but growth hierarchies as well; hence its performative contradiction of directly expressing a hierarchical view while simultaneously denying all hierarchical views). But it would only be with the “monumental leap” to integral 2nd tier that actualization holarchies became a standard and recognized part of the “intrinsic features” of the real world.
But even green—healthy green—can drop its confusion of these actualization holarchies with all the truly nasty dominator hierarchies. It is precisely by unnecessarily denying holarchical depth that green has no concept of direction—no perspective is more inclusive than another, and so no truth is available at all. And with that, the leading-edge collapsed entirely, viciously crashed by a performative contradiction that landed it in aperspectival madness, which then oversaw a world becoming more and more slightly mad. But introducing growth holarchies—in literally all areas where real growth and development is occurring (which is most of them)—would allow green to take up, once again, some actual conception of what direction means: not only a horizontal increase in aptitudes for all, but a vertical increase in altitude for all.
And there is a truly simple reason that the introduction of growth holarchies is so crucial for any effective path forward. Green is rightly concerned with dominator hierarchies. But research makes it unbelievably clear that the only people who engage in dominator hierarchies are those who are at the very lowest levels of growth hierarchies. Only someone at Gilligan’s selfish (egocentric) or special-group care (ethnocentric) will even want to dominate and oppress in the first place. And correlatively, those who criticize and reject dominator hierarchies (and historically fought for their destruction) are those at the truly higher levels of growth hierarchies (orange, green, and integral). At Gilligan’s universal care (or worldcentric), you care for ALL people, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed (even more so at integral). Thus, when green rejects all hierarchies (dominator and growth), it manages to accurately spot the problem but also, in the very same step, to completely destroy the cure.
This is a cultural disaster of the first magnitude—blame for which lies squarely on broken green’s doorstep.
Thus we have one of the greatest, most widespread, most damaging disasters handed us by aperspectival madness. When green in general—social warriors, marginalization liberators, feminists of most varieties, overall liberalism, NGOs everywhere—stormed into any area and began an aggressive “down will all hierarchy!,” many cases of cultural oppression were, at least to begin with, upended and deconstructed—along with every truly effective means to rebuild the oppressed area. By killing all growth holarchies, it killed all growth. (It removed the morphogenetic background of increasing interior growth and development, and was left with nothing but a vacuous assertion of “specialness” for all the marginalized groups). But simply asserting, over and over, that “I am special, I am special,” does precisely nothing to end the real source of the oppression force—another catastrophic failure of the leading-edge.
And it was by no means, in any way, that it was just the marginalized groups that needed to have the means of truly transformative growth processes made available to them, it was the entire oppressive force drivers that especially needed to be exposed to effective means to open themselves to continued growth from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to integral (via any of literally hundreds of growth techniques, exercises, and practices demonstrated to accelerate interior growth and evolution). Instead of approaching the actual source of the oppressive drive—the interior (or Left-Hand) dimensions of arrested development—green attacked the symptoms, the exterior (or Right-Hand) behavior of the oppressors, which does nothing to uproot the real problem but simply sends it underground to morph and regenerate and pop up elsewhere. (Clearly, any truly effective approach will attack oppression as it manifests in all 4 quadrants, as well as all levels—i.e., AQAL. But to utterly leave out half of the conditions—and the most important half at that, the very source and cause of the interior drive itself—is again to express a profoundly failed leading-edge.)
One of the paradoxical reasons that it is so important that our culture at large understand the general basics of a developmental view is that such an understanding would allow people to see the general limits of just how much they will be able to agree with each other in the first place. All “1st-tier” stages (crimson, magenta, red, amber, orange, and green), as we saw, think that their truth and values are the only genuinely real and important truth and values. That is not likely to ever change fundamentally (it hasn’t for the last hundred-thousand years that it’s been in existence). But the degree to which those beliefs are held, and the aggression that is invested in such a belief, can indeed be softened, opened, dosed with a bit of kindness and compassion—and the example for this must come from the leading-edge. That’s one of the things that a leading-edge does—while being the “highest” level of evolution at that point, it leads all levels—it provides a direction that can energize the population at large—and failing that, it simply fails to lead. But that is exactly one of the problems that the collapse of green ended up generating—all other values were not met with an open compassion but were aggressively “deconstructed” and decommissioned and tossed in the “basket of deplorables,” and anyone who continued to believe them was subjected to harsh, vocal, and unrelenting ridicule. The “culture wars” (which, by the way, are exactly the battle between amber, orange, and green—between traditional mythic religion, modern science and business, and postmodern multiculturalism)—but the culture wars, under green “leadership,” went nuclear. What green was teaching this culture, by example, were sophisticated ways to despise (and deconstruct) those who disagreed with you—they aren’t just wrong, they are the source of every major force of oppression, injustice, slavery, and worse. You do not want to embrace them with kindness and understanding, you literally want to deconstruct them (while you yourself flounder in aperspectival madness, cackling loudly with each new victory helping move others to an equal infestation by aperspectival insanity). What so desperately needs to be understood, from a developmental and evolutionary perspective, is that each major stage of development becomes a possible station in life for those who stop there, and there is nothing that can be done about that—except make sure that all the means of further development are made as widely available as possible (a core task of the leading-edge), and—just as importantly—making room in the society for individuals who are at each station of life (red, amber, orange, green, or integral), and douse the whole affair with outrageous amounts of loving kindness—and do so by example.
What Green Must Learn in Order to Be a Genuine Leading-Edge
There have actually been a moderate but noticeable number of green voices that seem to genuinely have gotten the central message. I’ve heard many staunch green individuals say that the primary lesson they got from this election was not how much they hated Trump and despised his followers, but that they had to reach out to this huge group of people who put Trump in office—that they had spent their adult lives basically looking down on them, making fun of them and ridiculing them, and what was required instead was to genuinely and truly understand them, to include them in the dialogue, to open themselves to seeing the world from their point of view, to make room for them in their world. And this indeed is exactly the type of genuine healing that embraces the self-correction that evolution is looking for. The leading-edge cannot lead if it despises those whom it is supposed to lead. It cannot go forward one more step if it has no idea of what a true “forward” means (which it doesn’t if it has no belief in “truth” itself). It cannot move into a greater tomorrow if it denies “greater” and “lesser” (growth holarchies) altogether, and instead simply sees all values as absolutely equal (which we saw it doesn’t really believe anyway, because it definitely believes its values are superior—what it needs to understand is that the capacity to embrace its green values is itself the product of several stages of development or a growth holarchy, and hence—even if it just wants to see more green get produced—then it categorically must get behind that genealogy or growth holarchy as a truly valid—and “true”—way to move forward in a pluralistic postmodern world).
This path forward would also involve cleaning the invasion of extreme and broken green elements into all of the other 1st-tier stages (red, amber, orange, and green itself). At green, the whole “aperspectival madness” disease has to be rethought and rejected in its many forms. As we just saw in our little academic sidebar, it’s true that all knowledge is context-bound (but some contexts are universal, and thus some knowledge is, too); and it’s true that all knowledge is constructed (but it is co-constructed with subsisting intrinsic factors in the actual world, and thus is not just a “fabrication”); and it’s true that no perspective is privileged (which actually means that the more perspectives that you include, the more adequate and more accurate your map becomes). Technologically, the Information Age (the Lower-Right-quadrant social correlate of the Lower-Left-quadrant green wave of cultural development) all too soon became infected with aperspectival madness itself, and, as we saw, it stopped having algorithms that selected for the Good, or the True, or the Beautiful, and instead simply fed back one’s own narcissistic tendencies. As Time magazine put it, “The Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now the web is a sociopath with Asperger’s. If you need help improving your upload speeds it’s eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority, and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.” This has gotten so bad it often invites regression beyond ethnocentric to deeply egocentric and narcissistic enthusiasms (and “narcissism” does not mean a healthy and proud self-opinion, it means valuing and promoting oneself at the expense of all others).
The utterly free flow of, and access to, all information is a noble ideal. But it’s just that—a value, an ideal—and in addition to a background free flow of data, indexing capacities that are “envalued”—that deal with items like degree of depth, expanse of perspectives (and thus “amount” of truth), developmental holarchies, and other envalued judgments—need to be as available as supposedly “value-free” systems. We saw that Google primarily searches information based on its popularity, so that the information retrieved simply reflects the prejudices of the most number of people. Even an option to search for “least popular” in addition to the default “most popular” would be a start. But the ways that the online world actually embeds and transmits very extensive—and very limited—value systems need to be increasingly addressed. When Douglas Rushkoff can write a book entitled Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, you know something’s deeply wrong.
In addition to green simply taking care of itself and truly healing its extremist, deconstructive, nasty-edged aperspectival madness (by, for instance, expressing its three main tenets in more moderate and healthy forms; or distinguishing between dominator hierarchies and growth holarchies, and thus actually finding a direction to establish a real leadership), what measures are examples of how a broken green can repair its invasive damage of the lower stages?
As for orange economics, although the analyses of this would take a book or two to be complete (as it would with any of these levels), we might start with the economic notion of a guaranteed annual income. As we noted, technologically the world is moving toward a truly utopian but real work-free situation, where everybody would, one way or another, be guaranteed to receive all the (material) basics of a life well lived. But the sooner that happens, the better. But this will actually take considerable reworking of both economic theories and economic practices. This is so because, in part, a fundamental problem of most present-day economic theories is that they still essentially reflect the scientific materialism of the 18th and 19th centuries when they were first created. In short, they only track exterior material money and wealth, not also interior consciousness and culture. The problem with money is that it can buy almost any artifacts in the Right-Hand quadrants (which are all material or physical items), but it can buy virtually nothing on the interior or Left-Hand quadrants (consciousness, love, care, compassion, intelligence, values, meaning, purpose, vision, motivation, spirituality, emotional goods, mental ideas). Thus, when the GDP is calculated—which is often taken as an indicator of the overall success of individual lives—not a single one of those really important items is taken into account at all, not even remotely. There is now a growing and vocal discontent that points out that present economic indexes don’t include things like care-giving or parenting or family/relational realities or any sort of life values at all (which is really just the beginning of an integral inventory of what they don’t include). When we decide that society will provide essentially all of the items required for a full life—and we have theories and models and statistics that begin to track all of those elements—exactly what elements will those be? A broken green is the last wave you want trying to answer that.
And as human lifespan reaches and then significantly bypasses the century mark, what will humans do when they don’t have to work? This is something that every culture is going to have to answer in a truly effective way—or face true disaster. My point again is that aperspectival madness is exactly what you don’t want in charge of finding those answers. (My own view, which I first put forth in Boomeritis, is that, after humans are provided all the Right-Hand goods that they want, what is left for them to want—especially when they start living for a century or two? What could they possibly do with all that time? And the answer is, turn their exploration from the mere exterior world into the vast worlds of interior and virtually unlimited horizons, tasting all of the goods in the Left-Hand domains. That is, any society that will be able to effectively deal—with people living hundreds of years—will have to make knowledge of the many interior levels and states of consciousness available, so that people can begin to pursue the incredibly vast and massively different interior worlds provided by the almost limitless vistas of the higher states and stages of being and awareness—and the staggeringly rich increase that they bring in consciousness, bliss, awareness, love, compassion, joy and happiness. These generally begin with the territory of an integral view—which we’ll discuss in a moment—but they could start to be made available by a healthy and open green.)
In any event, a small technical item that orange business could use right now is the easing of the massive number of regulations that a hyper-sensitive green has put into place. Small businesses in particular are failing in record numbers, as green’s attempts to prevent employee “victims” has virtually paralyzed much of a healthy business operating capacity. This is just a general example of what we’re talking about overall here, which is the difference between a healthy green care, and a hyper-sensitive green obsession, which, in attempting to remove all suffering from all life conditions, effectively removes the conditions themselves; and, as an unintended consequence, ends up increasing suffering, sometimes enormously (to green’s colossal confusion).
This giving more awareness to the downsides of a hyper-sensitivity run amok certainly applies to extreme political correctness. The orange drive of free speech versus the green drive of equality has come out with too much “transcend” and not enough “include”—individual free speech and wide-open knowledge acquisition has been sunk in favor of group rights and an overall equality that doesn’t transcend and include freedom but transcends and trashes it, transcends and denies it, transcends and even criminalizes it. The cure for this—well, this is so obvious I’ll just give one example: this problem will have been adequately addressed when the great comedians of our time are again willing to play college campuses. The same goes for micro-aggression, triggers, and safe spaces—they should be allowed to exist only if they can directly face a freed comedy.
As for the effect of green’s aperspectival madness on amber ethnocentric stages: this is the level that truly requires a conscious intention on the part of green if green wishes at all to heal its nastiness (what Integral theorists, we saw, call “the mean green meme”) and become fit, once again, to actually be the leading-edge. This requires, not agreeing with amber, not acting on amber, not accepting all of amber’s actions, but genuinely reaching out in human understanding, compassion, and kindness (while still holding any amber ethnocentric actions that violate worldcentric wellbeing as being open to sanctions of one variety or another). But this does involve a genuine softening of the widespread view that they are intrinsically “deplorable” (which might be admissible if this were an active choice, but it isn’t: one does not choose one’s stage of development or its characteristics; these simply come with the territory of that stage itself, and they will persist—whether you like them or not—until that stage passes. The most we do in a “judgmental” fashion, using developmentally discriminating wisdom, is to make all means of growth as available as possible, while still sanctioning any overt behavior—racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynistic—coming directly from such ethnocentric stages. But this does not include judging somebody who is actually at an ethnocentric stage as if they voluntarily and gleefully chose those traits as a deliberate moral choice—at most, we can truly feel deep compassion for someone living within the unbelievably constricting, suffocating, and suffering-inducing stages that these are—and from an integral view, compassion is the only judgmental attitude we’re allowed—the only one.)
But it is precisely a lack of compassion, care, and understanding that broken green avidly displayed (in academia, media, entertainment, and liberal politics); and more than any other single item, this mean-green-meme attitude is what lead to the huge reservoir of ressentiment that led to Trump’s previously unimaginable win. (A full 81 percent of those who described themselves as “angry” voted for Trump. 8 out of 10!)
Finally, as we said, much of egocentric speaks for itself. I’ll simply add the idea that I introduced with the notion of “boomeritis.” I pointed out that although the Boomers were indeed known as the “Me generation” and the “culture of Narcissism,” it wasn’t just a generation of kids characterized by narcissism per se. Rather, it was a very high level of development that was infected with a very low level of development. It was green pluralism infected with red narcissism/egocentrism. It was a condition—marked primarily by the Boomer generation, hence its name the “Me generation,” but it is not a condition by any means confined to the Boomers—that is the result of an extensive “pre/post fallacy.” This fallacy occurs because both PRE-conventional realities (such as egocentrism) and POST-conventional realities (such as autonomy and individualism) are both fully NON-conventional, and thus they are easily and often confused and equated. Either pre-conventional realities are elevated to post-conventional truths (so that narcissistic and egocentric stances are taken to be very high expressions of fully autonomous individuality), or else post-conventional realities are reduced to pre-conventional childish modes (so that nonconformist postconventional individuals are charged with being narcissistic and self-promoting). “Boomeritis” is a variety of the former, or elevationism, where—precisely due to the pluralistic/relativistic stance of aperspectival madness—all stances were taken to be equally acceptable, and thus a very low narcissism could hide out in a very high autonomous individualism. We see examples of this, for instance, in some of the Viet Nam war protests. In one Berkeley protest, the students claimed in one voice that their objections to the war were based on universal moral principles—the war was morally wrong, and thus it should be protested against—and yet tests of the moral development of the protesters showed that while a few of them were indeed at universal postconventional stages of moral development, a large majority of them—over 70 percent—were actually at the preconventional, egocentric stages of moral development (they didn’t want the war, not because it was morally wrong, but because “nobody tells me what to do!”)—and that is boomeritis. It was a culture of narcissism, but a narcissism hiding out in very highly developed ideals. It wasn’t just red; it was green infected with red.
We saw what that narcissistic underbelly has done to culture ever since green became the leading-edge, and already its pathological dimensions were starting to dysfunctionally deconstruct anything in its path. Education in particular was hit hard by this undercurrent of narcissism, and it hasn’t really functioned well ever since. And it’s not just its extreme versions—such as getting rid of grades altogether and giving everybody a gold star; instances of kids getting accepted at colleges who literally cannot read—it’s that it pandemically affected education at all levels. The whole “self-esteem” education movement is a classic example, resulting in a graduating class that expressed more degrees of narcissism than any class since testing was begun. But green’s belief that, because no values are really real, all value are equally true (because equally false)—that pathological aperspectival madness simply must be healed, and a discriminating wisdom re-introduced.
Given that green is the present (ersatz) leading-edge, with some 25 percent of the population, its fairly large numbers make it at least a possible candidate for making this change itself, given that it is now widely self-conscious that something is very, very wrong with what it has been doing (and Trump’s election has cemented this suspicion—for every green that simply blames and hates Trump, another green starts to ask what it has itself done to help bring this about). The realization is slowly dawning that elite urban green, not just ethnocentric rural amber, drove Trump into office (a dynamic virtually nobody saw, hence the shock everywhere at Trump’s election—and a dynamic that green has a profoundly difficult time understanding, or rather, admitting).
Here’s just one example of this slowly but widely growing realization of green’s complicity in the election of an amber ethnocentric Trump—and an indication that the self-correcting drive of evolution is indeed kicking in. In an online article by African-American Jeremy Flood (cofounder of At the Margins), entitled “The Revolution Must Be Felt,” after emphasizing that Trump’s election was the victory of an ethnocentric current, Flood very perceptively confesses, “But in the very same vein, we [liberals] must acknowledge the way in which we refer to Trump’s base, the way we emphasize his support from the ‘non-college educated,’ the way we approach the premise of rural white America generally, relies on that very same prejudicial inference. Our hated for these people is at its very essence class-ism [his bold]. This cannot be stressed enough. Contempt for white ruralites is built into the fabric of the modern liberal lexicon. We set them up as a vessel of every oppressive construct university liberalism has aimed to dismantle [i.e., the single great cause of all forms of oppression]—from fundamentalist religion, to sine qua non nationalism, to a general distrust in science, we’ve sculpted these people into a caricature of barbarian ignorance. And then when we come knocking for votes, we expect them not to have noticed. In taking these people’s votes for granted while unabashedly airing our hostility, we pushed them ever closer to the precipice, and then watched in shock as they jumped.”
Exactly one of the points I’ve been making. Flood continues, “And if our own class-ism prevents us from caring about the emotional needs of those we derided as deplorable, we are not really progressives.” He explains:
Do you disagree with the substance of this narrative? Are you aching to insert how [their] views are misleading, the byproduct of sexism, unfair media attention, and double standards? Me too. It doesn’t matter. That was the narrative that we sold to millions of people. And they told us what they thought of it. We lost Michigan. We lost Pennsylvania. We lost Ohio. The razed waste of Unionland. How did we get here?
How indeed? Says Flood, “Pundits can argue forever about whether economic or racial anxiety triggered the detonation. But here is the bottom line: the Left failed [his bold]. We failed not because we didn’t have the facts on our side, not because our policies weren’t better for the working class, not because the redneck sods of the Trumpian horde were too racist to see reason. The left failed because the story they were selling wasn’t strong enough to overcome these not at all new resentments [his italics].”
Ressentiment, indeed. Flood notes that “Solidarity is a story. It’s composed of our actions and our authenticity. It’s about collective [worldcentric] identity and collective struggle. We are not ‘stronger together’ when half of us are ‘deplorable.’” Amen, brother. “We embraced an academic, impersonal style of politics [postmodern poststructuralist], and through our tone and narrative, the Democratic party came to embody exactly the kind of elitist hierarchy it was built to overcome.”
Right on the money. And as we’ve seen, one of the primary reasons that this comes about is that whenever we deny growth hierarchies, then automatically, unavoidably, and by default, we strengthen dominator hierarchies. Without a countervailing current tilting and trending us toward our highest worldcentric and integral possibilities, we slide into our lowest common denominators, our egocentric and ethnocentric drives. (And when originally worldcentric notions regress to ethnocentric displays, they take on the flavor of all amber-stage productions: an absolutistic, fundamentalist, “one-true-way” attitude, and we buy into it with a religious fervor that takes no prisoners. We have seen this happen with science itself—as it slid into amber scientific materialism and reductionistic scientism; with feminism—as, for many, it slid into an absolutistic religion, the slightest disagreement with which was viewed as deeply demonic; we saw it with Marxism—as it slid into a de facto zealot religion for millions: while religion may or may not be the opiate of the masses, Marxism became the opiate of the intellectuals; and we’ve seen it with many political ideologies, even those coming from orange or green, when latched onto with an unquestioning fervor and absolutistic enthusiasm, slid into their lowest ethnocentric and even egocentric displays, with disaster a short step away.) When that happens, then this slide from growth holarchies into dominator hierarchies is deeply unavoidable—and catastrophic coming from the leading-edge itself. No wonder evolution imploded.
While several previously dysfunctional greens, such as Mr. Flood himself, are starting to realize the hand they played in the vast tide of resentment that landed Trump in office, few of them, as yet, fully grasp the need for growth holarchies to actually reverse the trend. The denial of hierarchy in general is an inherent feature of the pluralistic/relativistic wave—it simply recoils in horror at the very thought that some stances could be “higher” or “better” or “more valuable” than others. Any such “judging” and “ranking” is viewed as the very core of all oppression and injustice and wicked power drive. Graves felt that because green is the highest of the 1st-tier stages—and because nested hierarchies or holarchies are widely re-introduced as an intrinsic feature of all 2nd-tier integral stages—then green has an inbuilt hyper-sensitivity to all hierarchies so it will approach these newly introduced hierarchies with appropriate care and caution as it arrives at integral. Since dominator hierarchies truly are the source of much if not all social oppression and injustice, green needs to learn to be on guard for any judging, ranking, or valuing tendencies, and is motivated to undo them wherever they are found.
But that view in its unthinking and extreme form is just an initial, reflex, knee-jerk reaction on green’s part—and green doesn’t really believe it all by itself, as we have seen. The only way green can arrive at the thought that, for example, value judgments are bad, is to make a whole series of value judgements about it. Likewise, green has a ranking system that ranks no-ranking as better and more valuable than ranking—and that is itself most certainly a ranking. It has a very strong hierarchy, or value judgment/ranking, that puts hierarchies on its bottom levels and puts “no hierarchy” on its top levels. It believes, as we have previously summarized it, that its view is definitely superior in a world where nothing is supposed to be superior. That’s not “no judgement,” that’s a very definite and fervently embraced judgment!
So what green needs to learn to do, after it gets over its initial and not-well-thought-out reaction against all hierarchies and all value judgments entirely, is to realize that it is even able to reach that conclusion in the first place because it has its own version of value judgments and hierarchical attitudes—these are impossible to avoid. Thus, instead of pretending to get rid of judgments and rankings and hierarchies altogether—which it can’t really do anyway, which is why it keeps expressing its own versions of these—it needs to distinguish between what is a good, true, real, and ethical form of hierarchical judgment—which green tends to possess (compared to earlier stages)—versus what is a corrupt, dominating, oppressive, and unjust form of hierarchies (which the lower stages inherently possess). And doing that, it comes straightforward to the distinction between actualization (or growth) hierarchies versus dominator (or oppressive) hierarchies. And growth holarchies have the profound advantage of themselves following directly a real genealogy, a real evolutionary current, a real developmental process that unfolds in some 6-to-8 major stages of increasingly inclusive, increasingly loving, increasingly caring, increasingly whole and conscious and complex—and increasingly less domineering, less oppressive, less unjust forms—and which we summarize as the ever-expanding growth from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric to integral.
Using these growth holarchies, a healthy green can see immediately that these were in fact the actual basis of its original judgments and original rankings—that these growth hierarchies are what it actually had in mind when it condemned dominator hierarchies. It didn’t mean to stop making all judgments entirely—green itself was making judgments left and right. It meant to stop making racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, and similarly prejudiced judgements (that is, stop making ethnocentric judgments), and to start making judgments that were worldcentric, all-embracing, and truly inclusive—those judgments you are most definitely supposed to make! And those judgments are based on the growth hierarchy that we need to move from ethnocentric (and lower) to worldcentric (and higher) if we are to reach and express our own truest potentials. So stop making ethnocentric judgments and rankings and hierarchies, and start making worldcentric/integral judgments and rankings and hierarchies. Ah, now it all fits!
Furthermore, realizing this, green is likewise immediately released from its endless performative contradictions. To give merely one major example: it’s released from its unending claims that it is universally true that there is no universal truth. Now what green really means by this is because all truth has a historical dimension (which itself is a universal truth), and because in the past what was taken as “truth” was often a partial, prejudiced, and bigoted “truth,” which marginalized and oppressed various groups, then we want to be aware of this nasty possibility, and therefore we are going to point these factors out, and when we do so, we mean that they apply to all cultures, at all times, in all places. And thus, what we are really saying is that here are some universal worldcentric truths that will help us combat and prevent ethnocentric and oppressive truths. Presented in that light, then all of green’s rankings and value judgments on the horrors of ethnocentric truth can pour forth, in a fully noncontradictory and truthful fashion. And it is indeed expressing universal truths when it does so (truths that become available at the green level and express perspectives that are enacted and manifest at that level for the first time). Because green is coming from a very high level of growth hierarchy, it can condemn and criticize the dominator hierarchies that sprung out at lower levels.
That is the overall realization—growth holarchies are how we overcome dominator hierarchies—that is central to green’s healing its fractured, broken, ersatz-elitist, and de facto oppressive slide into its own disastrous and self-contradictory forms of absolutistic and fundamentalist ideology. And thus to be able to return to its genuine functional role as a truly leading leading-edge, marshalling a collective humanity’s self-organization through self-transcendence.
So the process of a broken green fundamentally healing on its own level and returning to its central and much more healthy “true but partial” tenets is one possibility for a way forward. This depends, first, on green’s releasing its perverse hostility to virtually every previous stage of development that came before it. Not deplorable, but compassionately empathized. And second—and more difficult—is to realize that the actual and true basis of its “negative” judgment about the previous stages is that all previous stages are indeed less inclusive, less embracing, less complex and less conscious than is green in its healthy forms (because they are all lower levels of growth and inclusiveness). And that is most certainly true, and is grounded in an authentic genealogy, a true evolutionary unfolding. But the healthy, correct, just reaction to such realities is an attitude of outreach, of embrace, of compassion and care. Each higher stage—green in this case—inherently “transcends and includes” its predecessors. But despising them, loathing them, actually hating them is to “transcend and repress,” “transcend and exclude,” “transcend and ridicule”—at which point one’s right and capacity to be a genuine leading-edge is forfeited, which green most certainly has done.
Working against the possibility of a green self-healing is the fact that green itself, in whatever form, is an actual stage of development; it’s a worldview; and in that sense, it operates like a paradigm. And the thing about paradigms is that, whether functional or dysfunctional, they are notoriously hard to get rid of. Max Planck (creator of the notion of a “quantum” of energy, thus ushering in the quantum mechanics revolution) is credited with being the first to notice that, paraphrasing, “Old paradigms die when the believers in old paradigms die”—which I summarized as, “The knowledge quest proceeds funeral by funeral.” The point is that, put bluntly, boomeritis might die only when the Boomers die. But seeing the millennials adopting many of these notions, sometimes in even more extreme forms, it doesn’t look like death is anywhere near strong enough to get rid of a really bad thing.
But for green to move forward and begin actions that would lead to its genuine self-healing, the two steps that I summarized above (drop its reactive hatred and hostility to all previous value levels, and do so by adopting growth holarchies that inherently combat dominator hierarchies) are both mandatory, in my opinion. But my sense is that the first step will be much easier—and that, indeed, that first step has already begun in many cases. But the second step is a huge one for green, and it will likely be that we simply have to move on to the second major possibility for humanity moving forward if this second step is to be widely implemented.
I’ll come back to my thoughts on exactly which way that is most likely to go. But first let’s go ahead and explore that second major possibility of an effective response to a Trump presidency (and why it is really there).
Another Way Forward: Truly Integral
The other possibility that would work to help the present self-correcting dynamic of evolution actually get some traction would be to introduce not a healthy green (although that would always help), but to directly introduce a turquoise integral-stage leading-edge. This will happen, come what may, at some future point. But there is no reason some aspects of it cannot start to take hold now. The reason this would be so effective is that while green can push itself and strive to be more open, understanding, and compassionate toward all previous levels (which now exist as stations of life in society), the integral stage does this automatically, inherently, and in a much deeper, more authentic fashion. We saw that the integral stage is the first developmental stage in all of history that feels that every previous stage has a great deal of importance and significance. It does not necessarily agree with them, but it fully accepts and embraces them (though not their limitations)—if nothing else, each previous stage is indeed a stage in an overall human development, and no stage can be skipped or bypassed. Loathing previous stages is deeply, deeply suicidal. The integral stage thinks that each previous stage is important, while each previous stage itself thinks that only it is important.
That is why an Integral approach (capitalized when it means a specific theory and practice) would almost automatically end the disasters of an aperspectival madness, and restore the leading-edge’s capacity to actually lead. This, after all, is exactly what the self-correcting move of evolution itself is attempting to introduce. And anybody adopting an Integral stance would be riding the very leading-edge of evolution itself, with all of its goodness, truth, and beauty.
The other major advantage of an integral leading-edge is that it would create an enormously powerful downward-acting morphic field that would exert a strong pressure on green to heal its fragmented and broken ways. Although this would not in itself directly cure each and every green defect—that can be done only with green’s own actions and cooperation—it would nonetheless introduce a powerful regenerative field that would compensate for green’s malfunctions and in many cases would indeed help green to directly heal them. In general, then, this second way forward would tend to include within it much of the first way forward, transcending and including it in an altogether more embracing fashion (with an ideal way forward including a good deal of both).
(This is just one of the things that an integral leading-edge would accomplish. But the stunningly far-reaching effects of a truly integral leading-edge is something that we of today can barely fathom—and for the simple reason that humanity has never, at any point, had anything like this in its entire history. Never have we had a leading-edge that truly embraced and included every previous stage. We have no precedents for this whatsoever; we have no idea what this might be like. It is so dramatically different than any previous situation that it almost falls into the category of science fiction. But we saw that when around 10 percent of the population reaches the same level as that of the leading-edge itself, then there is a “tipping point” reached, and the generic qualities of the leading-edge tend to seep into or permeate the entire culture. We already have around 5 percent that is already at integral, and it might reach 10 percent within a decade or two. At that time, there would be a transformative shift in the interior domains the likes of which humanity has never, but never, seen. The true inclusiveness that forward-thinking social and political theorists have long idolized as near utopian would in fact become a very real possibility for humanity for the first time in its entire history. This will be happening at about the same time that we reach something resembling a technological Singularity—and together, they would propel the world into a transformative event the likes of which has never been remotely seen before. This will be in direct opposition to many of the present-day degenerative, degrading, divisive, devolving currents that are the product of both an abundance of lower stages—that, among other items, drive terrorism, social injustices such as trafficking, global warming, and environmental degradation—and are headed by a leading-edge that has disastrously derailed. This are truly dangerous times. That is why the beginning of a truly Integral Age—in all 4 quadrants—will arrive not a moment too soon. I could go on endlessly here, but I’ll simply leave this tantalizing possibility for your imagination. I will point out that this integral stage, because it has already started to emerge in full force around the world, has, among a huge number of other things, created entire theories that originate at this newly emergent level—with Integral Metatheory, which I represent, being one of the most effective, with over 60 human disciplines that have already been fully re-interpreted through an Integral lens—giving items such as Integral Business, Integral Medicine, Integral Art, Integral History, Integral Economics, Integral Education, Integral Politics, and so on—with each one of them much more effective and inclusive).
But one of our central points, with either major way forward, is essentially the same, which I’ll briefly summarize: the green postmodern leading-edge of evolution itself has, for several decades, degenerated into its extreme, pathological, and dysfunctional forms. As such, it is literally incapable of effectively acting as a real leading-edge. Its fundamental belief—“there is no truth”—and its basic essential attitude—“aperspectival madness”—cannot in any fashion actually lead, actually choose a course of action that is positive, healthy, effective, and truly evolutionary. With all growth hierarchies denied and deconstructed, evolution has no real way to grow, has no way forward at all, and thus nothing but dominator hierarchies are seen everywhere, effectively reducing any individual you want to a victim. The leading-edge has collapsed; it is now a few-billion-persons (or so) massive car crash, a huge traffic jam at the very edge of evolution itself, sabotaging virtually every move that evolution seeks to take. Evolution itself finds its own headlights shining beams of nihilism, which can actually see nothing, or narcissism, which can see only itself. Under this often malicious leadership (the mean-green-meme), the earlier levels and stages of development have themselves begun to hemorrhage, sliding into their own forms of pathological dysfunction. And this isn’t just happening in one or two countries, it is happening around the world.
This culturally divisive and fragmenting force (in the LL) has joined with various systemic forces (in the LR), such as a technological drive toward divisive, echo-chambered, and siloed individuals, and an interior drive (in the UL) toward increasingly narcissistic displays. With no overriding drives to cohesion, unity, or self-organization available in any of the quadrants in a truly effective and available fashion, there is an almost historically unprecedented regression in essentially all quadrants. Evolution, in a decided move of self-correction, has paused and is in the process of backing up a few paces, regrouping, and reconstituting itself for a healthier, more unified, more functional continuation. What virtually all of these regroupings have as a primary driver is a profound anti-green dynamic acting as a morphic field radiating from the broken leading-edge itself.
Donald Trump, more than any other single factor, has (unknown to himself, or virtually anybody else, for that matter) ridden these anti-green forces to a massively surprising Presidential victory. As previous stages became, in various ways and to various degrees, activated by Trump, whether orange, amber, or red, they all shared one thing, the anti-green dynamic (a dynamic that because it was not recognized in any significant way, made Trump’s victory a stunning and unbelievable surprise to virtually everybody). And—although Trump himself will do little to actually address the details of this—as each of these stages works to redress the imbalances inflicted on it by an extreme green and its aperspectival madness, the overall effects of these recent events can indeed turn out to be quite healthy, allowing evolution to generally self-correct, adopt a leading-edge that can actually lead, and thus allow evolution itself to continue its ongoing march of “transcend and include,” a self-organization through self-transcendence.
The Likely Future
In order for that to happen, not only do the various earlier stages (red, amber, and orange) need to throw off the deconstructed shambles inflicted on each by an unhealthy green, but green itself has to heal, has to become truly functional again, has to reject its nihilism and narcissism, has to let go of its aperspectival madness, has to learn the difference between dominator hierarchies and growth holarchies, and introduce a developmental-based discriminating wisdom, in order for evolution to again start moving forward in a truly self-organizing and self-transcending way.
The one other option, slightly different, is for evolution to leap-frog to an integral stage of unfolding as its new leading-edge, which would inherently perform all of the tasks now required of a regenerated green. This “leap-frogging” would not constitute skipping a stage (which is not possible), but it would mean building a higher stage on a diseased predecessor, which lands it with a handicap right from the start. The integral attitude, however, is designed to effectively spot and route around such roadblocks, and this we would expect to see.
The most likely course of action, however, is some mixture of both. That’s not a cop-out, it’s a precise prediction. Green simply cannot function, not even on its own level, if it continues in its extreme, mean-green-meme (vindictively seeing “deplorables” everywhere), hyper-sensitive, over-the-top politically correct, dysfunctional, and pathological form in which it now exists. Its inherent contradictions are increasingly being seen and felt, and ways to work around them are being explored (which incorporate the partial truths of green but not their extreme and pathological absolutisms). We’ve already seen that one of the immediate effects of Trump’s election is that a significant number of green individuals, instead of simply bemoaning and reviling Trump and his many supporters, have begun instead to realize that they themselves must begin doing the one thing they previously despised—they have to try to reach out, to understand, to include in the dialogue, and to extend the courtesy of a rudimentary amount of compassion, care, even love, to the whole basket of deplorables—which embodies an understanding on green’s part that green itself might indeed have directly contributed to the anger, resentment, sometimes hatred that the core of Trump’s supporters expressed. Yes, many of Trump’s voters were clearly and deeply amber ethnocentric. But all-too-often it was green’s reviling, ridiculing, despising, and vengeful attitude that directly contributed to turning typical amber into a seething, deeply resentful, angry and even hateful cauldron of truly vicious amber. Thus, as we noted, it is broken green, not just amber, that drove Trump into office (a dynamic that virtually nobody saw, hence the universal shock at the election results—and the deep, deep difficulty that green has in understanding its own complicity).
But that “anti-green” message is starting to get across to many greens themselves, and hence the anti-green morphic field is having its intended effect—which is the overall drive toward a softening and more inclusive embrace, across the spectrum, of each stage of development, an embrace evidenced to some degree by each of the stages themselves, but an embrace lived in an exemplary fashion by the leading-edge itself—if it is to really lead.
That lessening of green’s pervasive hostility and vindictiveness toward all previous stages of development is what we identified as “step one” in the requisite self-healing of green. There is at least a decent likelihood that this will—and to some degree already has—begun to happen. On the other hand, “step two”—the realization that growth holarchies provide the actual basis of the value judgments that green is already making, and that these growth holarchies also are the only truly effective means to displace the dominator hierarchies that green correctly ranks on the bottom of the list of social desirables—is a bit less likely to occur at the green level itself, but will most likely depend upon the transformation to integral 2nd tier. My strong suspicion, therefore, is that green will perform a good deal of step one on its own, and that this will have a very positive effect on culture at large. (And conversely, to the extent that at least this first step is not taken, then the self-corrective drive of evolution will continue to push, and push, and push into existing affairs, driving more Trump-like “disasters” as evolution redoubles its efforts to force its way through these recalcitrant obstructions.)
But step two will likely be taken at this time only by integral communities themselves, and otherwise will await the growth of 10 percent of the population which would initiate a tipping point and propel the integral stage into being the next-higher leading-edge, with altogether stunning repercussions.
Contributing to this growth and increase in truly inclusive awareness, and under the drive to discover “what’s next” after postmodernism, various Integral theories and metatheories are increasingly gaining ground, and wherever they do, they automatically correct the green dysfunctions that they unearth. Little by little, in other words, an Integral awareness is helping to embody an evolutionary self-correction in its very actions.
It is this Integral view that I wish to recommend to any who are ready for such. It deliberately and self-consciously embraces every perspective that it encounters (literally), and thus not only provides the balm for a world gone slightly mad with fragmented, siloed, broken shards and slivers of reality, but can bring together not just various people but various approaches to truth itself, resulting in truly comprehensive and integral overviews of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. It is grounded in the newly emergent, most inclusive, most unified, and most embracing stages of development and evolution yet to emerge (which “transcend and include” every single previous stage, thus insuring real comprehensiveness)—and are not based merely on an idea (as is, say, pragmatism), but are grounded in the actual territory of a level of development of being and awareness itself (namely, the integral stage/s). This provides a means for us Showing Up (in all of our dimensions or quadrants of being); Growing Up (in all our levels of development and lines of development); Waking Up (to all of our states of consciousness, including those called Enlightenment, Awakening, Metamorphosis, Moksha, Satori, the Great Liberation); and Cleaning Up (our shadow elements driving epidemic emotional dyseases). In embracing all of yesterday, it opens us to all of tomorrow. And it will provide a leading-edge of evolution the likes of which humanity has literally never seen before.
This is indeed the next, authentic and genuine leading-edge, and it has already begun its inevitable emergence. It carries with it the inexorable drive to “transcend and include” literally all of the previous stages of development and the stations of life that they now inhabit—but minus the inherent rancor that each of them, on its own, feels for the others. Humankind has never had a leading-edge like this at any previous point in history. It is indeed “cataclysmic,” “a monumental leap in meaning,” and it is here for each of us to embrace and express should we so desire. And it is the one, sure, and certain balm—if authentically inhabited—for the isolating, regressive, repressive, mean-spirited, and fragmenting state in which the world now finds itself rapidly drowning.
Seeing this bigger picture, this Integral overview, allows us to escape the suffocating suffering of focusing solely on a Trump win. Conversely, feeling nothing but despair at Trump’s victory is to fail to see the larger currents at work in this situation. Understanding this election—as well as similar events now occurring all over the world—as a manifestation of a self-correcting drive of evolution itself, as it routes around a broken leading-edge green and attempts to restore the capacity of its leading-edge to actually lead (while also seriously starting to give birth to the next-higher leading-edge of integral itself)—this gives us a glimmer of real hope in an otherwise desperately gloomy situation.
In the deepest parts of our own being, each of us is directly one with this evolutionary current, this Eros, this Spirit-in-action, radiant to infinity and luminous to eternity, radically full in its overflowing overabundance and excessive in its good graces, wildly crashing off the heavens and irrupting from the underworlds, and embracing each and all in its limitless love and care. And the only ones who should be allowed to work politically for a greater tomorrow—and who should thus work—and those who truly understand that it is not necessary to do so; who see the utter fullness of the Great Perfection in each and every moment of existence, and who nonetheless work to trim-tab (or adjust through leadership) the manifestation of more and more and more of the Good and the True and the Beautiful, right here and right now in this gloriously manifest universe, moment to moment to ever-present moment, knowing full well that this entire world is nothing but the dream of an infinite Spirit, yet each and every one of us is directly this very Spirit itself, dreaming the world of our own amazement.
And we can try endlessly and tirelessly to fix this dream…. or we can simply wake up.
Or—the true and ultimate secret—we can discover the integral embrace that actually does both, thus totally freeing us (by ending the dream) and completely fulfilling us (by fixing it), miraculously performed fully together in one and the same instant, now to now to endlessly now….
KEN WILBER Trump and a Post-Truth World