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vMEMES #2

PART 2 The Ist Tier BEIGE (A-N) (Maslow’s Survival; Loevinger’s Pre-Social) This vMEME is concerned with basic survival needs and is bottom of the Spiral. It is instinctive and does not lend itself to cognitive thought as such. Air, food and water, sleep, shelter from the elements and sex for procreation (rather than pleasure or affection) are the very basic drives which characterise this vMEME. If these requirements are not met (with the partial exception of sex for procreation), the human body simply cannot continue to function. If the BEIGE driver ceases to work, then we will die because we simply will not do what we need to do to survive. BEIGE ceasing to function is almost certainly what is meant when we say that someone has lost the will to live. Much of what Evolutionary Psychology has to say about the essentials of human nature is centred at this pre-cognitive, animalistic level. BEIGE/PURPLE (A-N/B-O) There is not enough reliable data to break this transition down into exiting and entering phases. The organism is beginning to show signs of cognition. Graves (1978/2005, p214) referred to it as the beginning of “viable psychological life”. Basic cause-and-effect assumptions start to be made. Primitive… Read More

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Miliband was right: Cameron IS responsible!

It’s astonishing just how quickly Ed Miliband’s assertion last Friday (24 April) that David Cameron has a clear line of responsibility for the migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean over the past month or so, has become a non-issue. After being a leading news feature all day, effectively it had disappeared as a news item by mid-Saturday. 4 pages into a Google search and I can find nothing about Milliband’s speech or the furore it created more recent than ‘4 days ago’, online or in printed media. On the Friday, I anticipated the Sunday papers being full of analysis, argument and counter-argument about the speech. Nothing!..or at least nothing I could find. Undoubtedly Milliband was subject to a decidedly-vitriolic response from the Tories – environment secretary Liz Truss saying: “It’s absolutely offensive that Ed Miliband should be suggesting that David Cameron is directly responsible for those deaths, which is what he appears to be suggesting.” (BBC News, 2015b) Even Cameron’s Liberal Democrat coalition deputy Nick Clegg called Miliband’s remarks “pretty distasteful” and accused the Labour leader of “political point-scoring” on the back of a “total human tragedy”. By mid-afternoon Friday Miliband was, in the words of the Daily Telegraph’s Ben… Read More

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Will the West seize the Opportunity the Peshawar Massacre may offer…?

Could it be that the horrendous events in Peshawar this week might just become a turning point in the rise of violent Islamist extremism…? A ‘watershed moment’?, as Aamer Ahmed Khan postulates for BBC News. That great founding father of Sociology Émile Durkheim (1893) stated that when a particularly horrific crime takes place, there is often a drawing together of the community in a shared revulsion and outrage of the crime. This strengthens social cohesion – the sense of belonging to a community. For a day or 5 it may seem as though much of the world is a community – united and cohesive in its collective horror, outrage and sadness at the school massacre in Peshawar. Such is the public abhorrence that the pressure put on Pakistan’s politicians and military commanders may actually lead to them taking concerted offensive action against the Taliban. For too long Pakistan’s leaders have been divided amongst themselves as to whether the risk of trying to use the militants to exert influence in the region (especially Afghanistan) was worth the terrorist atrocities committed on Pakistani soil and the opprobrium of the Americans…or they were simply indifferent to what the Taliban (either side of the border)… Read More

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Afghanistan: Job not done!

There have been a lot of stories crowding the headlines the first quarter of this year. Currently, of course, the news media is dominated by the Russian annexation of Crimea and the disturbing disappearance of flight MH370 – which is generating a number of conspiracy theories, some of them potentially credible. Earlier in the year the news was full of devastating weather conditions – ice storms in North America, floods in the UK and bush fires in Australia, just for starters! Then we had a new prime minister in Italy, yet more civil war in central Africa, the highs and lows of the Winter Olympics gracing our TV screens, the truly-dreadful slaughter in Syria grinding on relentlessly while its peace talks foundered incongruously, the Scots independence debate beginning to get decidedly rough, bankers continuing to get found out – with the US regulator now suing 16 major banks for alleged Libor rate rigging…and even – wait for it! – a ban on women wearing lacy underwear in Kazakhstan. (A true Borat moment, if ever there was one!) So, in and amongst, it’s not entirely surprising that Afghanistan seems to have slipped below the radar for many. The murder of at least 15 people… Read More

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Chemical Weapons: escaping Obama’s Trap

Chemical weapons use in Syria is Barrack Obama’s trap – the trap he laid for himself ever since he laid down their use as a red line which, if crossed, would oblige the United States to act. However, chemical weapons may also be his way out of the trap. We may not know for months – possibly years…possibly never! – who was responsible for the dreadful gas attack in the Ghouta suburbs of Damascus last Wednesday (21st). One argument, explored by the renowned philosopher Howard Bloom on Facebook, has it that, when the Syrian military is slowly but surely winning its vicious and dirty war and the “UN [chemical weapons] team had just entered Syria when the attack occurred. Would Assad really be so dumb?” The Syrian Government alleges that rebels used chemical weapons armaments stolen from military depots to try to stop the Syrian Army’s advance in Ghouta. Al-Arabiya, amongst others, has covered the Syrian TV networks’ reporting of the Army finding rebel tunnels in Ghouta stocked full of chemical weapon cannisters, gas masks, and other equipment for waging and surviving chemical warfare. Thus, the Syrian Government blames the rebels for the civilian deaths in Ghouta. A dark extension of this theory… Read More

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Do Arabs need a New Awakening to win True Democracy?

by Gerald Butt annotated by Keith E Rice Gerald Butt wrote ‘Do Arabs need a New Awakening to win True Democracy?’ as the BBC’s Middle East correspondent. It was published on the BBC News web site on 16 August 2012. Reading it, I was mightily impressed that Gerald’s understanding of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ effectively provided a Spiral Dynamics analysis of the phenomenon – though without the jargon and the concepts. Accordingly, I contacted both Gerald and the BBC who gave me permission to republish his piece here, annotated with a Spiral Dynamics/Integrated SocioPsychology commentary. (The text of my commentary is in red.) Gerald’s piece is timeless in its analysis of conflict between different value systems and the sheer lack of other value systems – vMEMES – hindering the progress of peoples – in this case, the Arabs – in achieving Democracy as we in the Modern West understand the term.  I am deeply indebted to Gerald and the BBC for their permissions. ________________________________________________________________________  Arabs in several countries around the Middle East are relishing the prospect of a new era built on political reform and democratic rule. This craving for democracy was motivated by a desire to throw off the shackles of the past and finally… Read More

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Afghanistan: Sex or starve! What’s the Issue?

If the stories are true – and there does seem to be some confusion in the accounts – then Hamid Karzai’s government sneaked into law on 27 July an amended version of the Personal Status Law for Afghanistan’s minority Shi’ite population. (Around 15% of the country’s 30 million citizens – the vast majority of whom are Sunnis, to whom the new law does not apply.) The coming into law of this measure certainly does seem ‘sneaked’. With the likes of Barrack Obama, Gordon Brown, France’s Human Rights Minister Rama Yade and NATO boss Jaap de Hoop Scheffer joining the international chorus of protest against the original version of the bill in the Spring, Karzai promised to review the measure before implementing it. Now, just days before the increasingly tightly-contested elections, he appears to have sneaked it into law with some different words but the same meanings. Human Rights Watch says it has seen a copy of the final law that requires Shia women to satisfy their husbands’ sexual appetites at least every 4 days, an article which critics have said could be used to justify marital rape. It enshrines a husband’s right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if… Read More

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The Sons of Iraq – a Step towards Stratified Democracy?

The level of violence in Iraq has decreased to the point where troop withdrawals by both the British and the Americans are once again being discussed seriously. Iraq and the United States have reportedly set a preliminary timetable to start withdrawing American forces from Iraqi cities from next June, according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari last week after his meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The Zebari-Rice agreement would link troop reductions to the achievement of certain security milestones. But, given how cautious President George W Bush has been to committing to a timetable for American withdrawal, for his Secretary of State to agree to one at all is an indicator of how much better things have become. And, of course, a few weeks before, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a statement to Parliament announcing the intention to further reduce British troops in 2009. Who would have thought it a year ago? So, what’s changed the battleground so much in the past 14 months? Partly the much vaunted ‘surge’ of American troops in Baghdad, while merely displacing many insurgents to other parts of the country, did create short-term some of the essentials for peace at least in parts… Read More

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Iran: Jaw, Jaw or War, War?

Early in June the Israeli airforce carried out an exercise – sending 100 F15s and F16s out over the Eastern Mediterranean and Greece – supported by aerial tankers for in-flight refuelling. It was an impressive logistical feat and is being portrayed in the media as a dry run for bombing the Iranians’ principal nuclear facility at Bushehr. Interestingly it was not the Israelis or any of the other Middle Eastern states which ‘leaked’ the story but the Americans – with the spin that the Israelis were demonstrating to Tehran that they do have the capability of getting as far as Bushehr. As the news leaked (June 20), the Israeli government stepped up the war of words with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (struggling to regain domestic credibility after more corruption allegations) saying: “Iran will not be nuclear.” Even more ominously Deputy Prime Minster Shaul Mofaz told journalists a strike on Iran was now “unavoidable”. Arch neocon John Bolton, one-time US ambassador to the United Nations, has gone on record as saying he believes Israeli will strike in between the presidential election in November and the inauguration of the new President. A strike before the election might influence it unduly; if Barack Obama… Read More

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Tariq Ali gets Benazir Bhutto wrong!

So that old agent provacateur extraordinare, Tariq Ali, has attacked the naming in Benazir Bhutto’s will of 19-year-old son Bilawal as her successor as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, describing it as “a digusting medieval charade” (His article was the front page lead story in the New Year’s Eve edition of The Independent – and he appeared on that morning’s editon of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, reiterating his position.) In describing the succession of Bilawal as “medieval”, Tariq was spot on! Moreover, his description of Asif Zardari, Bhutto’s widower (and Bilawal’s father), as a “feudal potentate” – a Lord Chancellor or Grand Vizier? – who will run the party until his son is old enough, is also pretty close to the mark. Where Tariq misses the point is to call it “disgusting” and a “charade”. He goes on to say: “How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future?” The point is: this is very much how the politcians in Pakistan must act if they wish to design an alternative government to the military dictatorship… Read More

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