Frameworks for Societal Evolution

in #society3 months ago


The above image was made using stable diffusion with the prompt 'painting of societal evolution framework.'

For a long time I've looked at societal evolution in terms of tribes, institutions, markets, and networks, according to David Ronfeldt's framework. This framework, at least in its broad strokes, makes it easier to make sense of the complex and multi-layered machinations of power in society. Tribal organizational structure produce certain types of actions, institutional organizational structures produce other types of actions, and so on. Our biggest and most pressing problems involve all four types of organizational structures.

Recently, thanks to @amberjyang, I've been learning to look at societal evolution through a different lens. The lens of Spiral Dynamics. From Wikipedia: "Spiral Dynamics describes how value systems and worldviews emerge from the interaction of "life conditions" and the mind's capacities." In this model, there are eight value systems through which people and groups progress. Each new stage arises from solving the problems of the previous stage. These stages are termed 'memes' and each meme is associated with a color.

  • Beige is associated with the meeting of individual survival needs.
  • Purple is associated with tribal consciousness and organizational structures.
  • Red is associated with seeking and exercising individual power.
  • Blue is associated with formalized order and obedience to authority.
  • Orange is associated with the strategic pursuit of individual success.
  • Green is associated with the collectivized pursuit of group welfare.
  • Yellow is associated with the individual as a whole and integrated entity.
  • Turquoise is associated with holistic thinking about problems and actions in service to the whole.

The two frameworks don't map directly to each other. Ronfeldt's tribes correspond with the beige, purple, and red memes. His institutions correspond with blue and his markets correspond with orange. Networks could be blue, green, or turquoise. I feel like Ronfeldt's model is more useful for looking at society in general and Spiral Dynamics may be better for looking at individuals and groups in more specific terms. Ronfeldt's model is primarily structural whereas Spiral Dynamics seems more qualitative.

It might be interesting to look at advertising in relation to Spiral Dynamics. Particular ads often appear designed to appeal to particular memes, or rather to the populations embodying those memes. Appeals to family values are very purple while appeals to unapologetic individualism may be red or orange. Government messaging is all blue while most activism is green.

One thing I'm not fully clear on is turquoise. It's easy to picture people for all of the other memes but I can't quite picture people with the turquoise value system. If purple is authoritarian and green is collectivist, turquoise may involve a more enlightened relationship between individual and group power. There may not be too many examples of this meme active in the world.

Even as a Spiral Dynamics beginner, I'm finding the model to be fun and intuitive. Still, I'll need to learn more if I want to begin appropriately applying it to real world situations. Personally, I feel like I spend most of my time in beige or yellow. And now I'm thinking about my friends and wondering what meme they're in.

Underneath my curiosity is the desire for societal evolution to accelerate. I'd love to see much of the total system replaced with something more free and more fair, and I wonder how the memes of Spiral Dynamics could help with that.

Read my novels:

See my NFTs:

  • Small Gods of Time Travel is a 41 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt that goes with my book by the same name.
  • History and the Machine is a 20 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on my series of oil paintings of interesting people from history.
  • Artifacts of Mind Control is a 15 piece Tezos NFT collection on Objkt based on declassified CIA documents from the MKULTRA program.

I'm so impressed with your ability to grasp SD, given that you're just beginning to learn about it! I can't wait to dive deeper into SD with you :)

For sure. Thanks for introducing me to the subject: )

Your desire for social evolution to accelerate has also influenced mine, hahaha
Thanks for the post
I learnt a few things

Hey that's great, thanks!

Till now I stil find it hard to believe in the evolution story about human beings

I think the biological evolution of large organisms like us is more complex than we can currently understand. And we're barely scratching the surface of social evolution.

Perfectly true. So complex