Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Islamification: Europe’s Challenge #2


Preparing for change
British Home Secretary Theresa May was vilified by much of the media for her 6 October speech at the Conservative Party conference for saying (amongst other things):  “… when immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.” (The Guardian’s Alan Travis called it a “new low in politics of migration”.)

However, May was merely echoing the Functionalist argument of Talcott Parsons (1966) that sudden large-scale change disrupts the equilibrium of society and leads to dysfunction. Parsons postulates that social change is necessary for a society to renew and refresh itself but at a gradual pace which the institutions of society can adjust to and cope with. The disruption of equilibrium brought on by significant sudden large-scale change can bring about conflict.

Over the past half-century Western Europe has been flooded with migrants. Their cultures were initially marginalised and disregarded – and then, through Multiculturalism, given nominal equal status with the host majority and a degree of positive discrimination to help foster that equality. A half-century is a relatively short amount of time to assimilate such large-scale changes.

In retrospect, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been more overt conflict between the different ethnic groups. There’s certainly been nothing like the chaos and violence that Enoch Powell (1968) predicted in his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

Michaels concedes that: “Recent polls have tended to show that the feared radicalisation of Europe’s Muslims has not occurred.” However, he goes on to warn: “Nonetheless, second and third generations of Muslims show signs of being harder to integrate than their parents. Policy Exchange, a British study group, found that more than 70% of Muslims over 55 felt that they had as much in common with non-Muslims as Muslims. But this fell to 62% of 16-24 year-olds.”

As so often, it is the young, with RED strong in their vMEME stacks, full of energy and ideas, who are least likely to accept an unfavourable status quo and to want to ‘do something’ about it. And the small but significant numbers of young European Muslims going out to Iraq and Syria to join UnIslamic State is a clear indicator that society is failing to make a portion of Muslim youth feel they belong. They are NOT integrated.

For the majority of young Muslims, though, they should be able to be as integrated as any other self-identifying group. As discussed in David Cameron’s right about Multicultualism BUT…, though,there needs to be more and better means of integrating minority groups – especially the Muslim communites – into European societies. Young Muslims need to feel they have a stake in the nations in which they live – that the UK, Germany, Frances, etc, are their countries. All around, though, there also needs to be recognition and acceptance of diversity within certain boundaries acceptable to wider society.

Muslims, while almost certainly remaining overall a minority in Western Europe (based on Masci’s projections), will become a larger minority. Their views and concerns (values)  will become increasingly important – which means political Islam WILL have a voice. If Muslim concerns are not taken seriously and ‘something done’ to address those concerns, the moderates who would engage and debate are left looking impotent…which then leaves it to the extremists to ‘do something’.

That, of course, involves addressing some of the huge values conflicts discussed earlier. Without ways to manage the values conflicts, the values consensus will break up and social cohesion will weaken, making those with a ‘difficult’ temperament and/or at the more political extreme more vulnerable to radicalisation.

Political and religious leaders across the spectrum need to start preparing for a significantly-increased influence of Islam on British and European public life – and how to communicate this, with the necessary reassurances, to the many different interest groups in the populations.

Change is coming. It can be chaotic and accompanied by civil disruption, overt racism and religious hatred. Or it can be managed in such a way as to minimise disharmony and maximise tolerance and acceptance.

Undermining the extremists with a degree of Islamification
Some extremists, unfortunately, will fit the rigid RED/BLUE criteria of Killing the Terrorists and will need to be dealt with uncompromisingly. In doing this, Europe must call upon its Muslims to take a key part in this. Increasingly there is evidence that ordinary ‘moderate’ Muslims have had enough of the extremists and do want to reclaim their religion from the kinds of sadistic psychopaths who populate the likes of UnIslamic State. As Felix Marquardt writes in the wake of the Paris attacks: “My dear Muslim brothers and sisters, it is time to make our voices heard: we must rise up massively and tell the barbarians who ordered, executed or condoned the acts of mass murder just committed in Paris that from now on we will take the lead in fighting and hunting them down, not just beside, but ahead of, our Christian, Jewish, or agnostic brothers and sisters.”

By making common cause with “our Christian, Jewish, or agnostic brothers and sisters,” Marquardt is demonstrating the assimilation side of the Assimilation-Contrast Effect. Perhaps unsurprisingly, although Marquardt is a devout Muslim, UnIslamic State have demonstrated the contrast effect by putting him on their ‘kill list’!

To improve integration and enhance acculturation, there needs to be more of the assimilation effect while respecting cultural differences amongst the ‘tribes’ now inhabiting Western Europe. There needs to be much more focus on those things which are held to be important to all the tribes. According to Émile Durkheim (1893), the social cohesion of a society depends on developing a values consensus – agreement amongst the majority of citizens on what’s important – which leads to a collective conscience. Not only does there need to be more of a focus on common needs that all groups share but, from them, superordinate goals have to outlined that the tribes can work together on. Working together purposefully gives different peoples access to each other in a safe way so they can learn to appreciate each other and develop something of a common identity. That is a key lesson from Muzafer Sherif et al’s Robber’s Cave study (1954/1961), from which Realistic Conflict Theory was developed.

In any strategy to minimise radicalisation and increase integration, the media have an important part to play. The all too easy, simplistic (and very lazy!) confabulated association of Islam and terrorism in much of the Western media effectively gives credence to the likes of the Britain First, Le Front National and the EDL and is more likely than not to polarise opinion. It may actually make young Muslims more vulnerable to radicalisation.

As Moosavi comments: “Muslims often express a feeling that the media and politicians have been complicit in allowing Muslim identity to be connected to extremism. As a result, in 2011 compared to 2001, there are many more Muslims who take pride in labelling themselves as Muslims because they want to resist the Islamophobic discourses which have surrounded Muslim identities in recent years. Perhaps unexpectedly, when an identity is attacked, those who are categorised as belonging to that group are often likely to assert themselves as part of that group, rather than shy away from it.”

Moosavi shouldn’t be surprised: Social Identity Theory makes it clear that the more you categorise people into a group, the more they will identify with it and absorb its norms and values. As said, PURPLE naturally cleaves to its own and all too easily falls into in-group and out-group patterns. The media need to be coaxed into more running stories of how the tribes can coexist in harmony, rather than so readily propagating the all-Muslims-are-terrorists meme. Villifying all Muslims as potential extremists risks both glamourising the extremists and pushing moderates into the extremists’ camp. As former Belgian presidential advisor Koert Debeuf told  blogger Amir Ahmad Nasr with regard to anti-Muslim sentiment and assaults in the wake of the Paris attacks: “The problem is that extremism breads extremism. A more extreme and Islamophobic Europe will no doubt radicalise people in the Muslim community.”

Hunting around the internet or scouring local newspapers will often throw up ‘good news’ stories about ethnic minorities. One that particularly struck me personally was the widely-reported decision of York Mosque to invite non-Muslims to an open day in May 2013.  They created a climate of trust and transparency that even sucked a small number of EDL protesters into having a cup of tea with them and then joining in a game of 5-a-side football. The mosque’s Muhammad el-Gomati told The Commentator’s Ghaffar Hussain: “There is the possibility of having dialogue. Even the EDL who were having a shouting match started talking and we found out that we share and are prepared to agree that violent extremism is wrong. We have to start there. Who knows, perhaps the EDL will invite us to an event and the Muslim community will be generous in accepting that invitation?”

York Mosque Open Day, 26 May 2013 (Ross Parry

York Mosque Open Day, 26 May 2013 (Ross Parry

As explored in Is Racism Natural…?, familiarity with those who are different often makes them seem less threatening.

Within the broad values consensus, allowing Muslims to have their voices heard and to engage in the political process promotes a degree of assimilation. Of course, allowing Muslims to engage in the political process also means a degree of Islamification. However, as argued earlier, that is likely to bring more influence of the BLUE vMEME into European societies which may be no bad thing as it should strengthen the collective conscience.

The kind of values conflicts discussed earlier are, of course, real and will present a challenge to leaders from all interest groups…but the more the focus is on assimilation – as per the Assimilation-Contrast Effect, the more sophisticated the debates from more complex vMEMES will be and the more likely working consensuses will be able to be developed and managed.

A MeshWORKS approach
Politically-minded Muslims, of course, need to be realistic about how far they can Islamicise Western Europe. They are and will remain a minority in for many, many years; and while Democracy, in theory at least, works to represent all interests, it must – again, in theory – make the interests of the majority its overriding priority. Minority influence researchers such as Serge Moscovici (1976) and Charlan Nemeth (1986) have found consistently that minorities have more influence with the majority the less extreme their demands are. Thus, to return to Moosavi’s example discussed earlier, Muslims campaigning for means to restrict access by children to online pornography are far more likely to get support from non-Muslims than campaigning for a wholesale ban on pornography.

Little by little, incrementally, without creating hysteria among the wider population that the country is on the verge of Sharia law, Muslims can campaign via the democratic system for a more moral Europe. They may well be surprised that they get a fair amount of support from non-Muslims for many of their proposals to make Europe more moral.

Of course, in encouraging moderate Muslims to campaign for change via the democractic route, there is a need to provide reassurance for the remnants of the traditional white working class who comprise the bulk of the Britain First/Pediga/Front National/etc support bases. Though it is clearly a generalisation, their thinking is mainly in PURPLE and RED, with a sheen of BLUE nationalism. So they are motivated by safety in belonging to their own tribe; and they are highly vulnerable to having their fears exploited by RED-driven demagogues as a means to recruit them.

Such people need to be assured that Europe will remain mainly composed of secular/’Christian’ societies – though with an acceptance of people following other faiths, provided that does not unduly impinge on the majority. They need to be told clearly that, while it’s right to respect difference and accommodate minority viewpoints as far as possible, the interests of the majority will always be the primary concern. Perhaps an assurance of religious tolerance and respect for diversity needs to be built into EU constitutions? GREEN’s insistence on respect for diversity has to be clearly balanced with the need to respect PURPLE’s traditional tribal values while strategies are developed to minimise PURPLE’S natural tendency to discriminate between its own in-group and the feared out-groups.

This is by no means an easy set of tasks to lay out. The issues and challenges they raise have been largely ignored by mainstream politicians. The purpose of this feature is to make the case for a purposeful and envisioned management of the processes to enable integration of Europe’s Muslim and other ethnic minorities, with an appropriate degree of acculturation.

While certain key elements such as working for a broad values consensus and creating superordinate goals to facilitate different groups working together in common cause are fairly obvious as well-established socio-psychological principles, it is difficult to be prescriptive about other key elements. This is largely because not enough focussed research has been done on vMEMETIC flows in different cultures and sub-cultures and the memes which are influencing them. What is needed is a MeshWORK approach connecting right across the Western European countries with high Muslim/ethnic minority communities. Such a project would put vital signs monitors ‘on the ground’ to pick up all the different memes influencing attitudes and behaviour and collate that data for analysis – preferably using 4Q/8L. That would enable assessment of the relative strength of vMEMES contributing to a values conflict and the design of appropriate management interventions to try to ensure equilibrium is maintained.

Notice I am not using the term ‘resolution’ here. There will be no ‘final solutions’ but rather irregular ebbs and flows of vMEMETIC strength and cultural influences which may not always be predictable and will need managing as they arise.

Such a project will, of course, be expensive and require the financial as well as political commitment of participating governments… and the project will be semi-permanent, though its scope and its staffing will vary as life conditions across the continent vary. Without such a project, though, GREEN is likely to continue to mismanage both immigration in Western Europe and the integration of its ethnic minorities, with the result that Islamist extremists and far-right neo-Nazis – both driven by RED/BLUE zealotry – will gain in strength and increase polarisation to the extremes.

In David Cameron’s right about Multiculturalism BUT…, I quoted noted children’s author Rosemary Wilkie, in referring to Britain’s past, as saying: “We have had a great story. Now we need a new great story.” Islam, to some degree or other, is going to be part of that ‘new great story’.

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6 Responses

  1. Keith E Rice says

    Thanks, Marc, for your appreciative words about the article.

    Re your disaffection with Spiral Dynamics, do you think you might have had unreal expectations of the model?

    Spiral Dynamics gets over-promoted as the ‘theory that explains everything”. Chris Cowan used that strapline in the past and it’s still on Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics integral site. Marketing bullshit! Spiral Dynamics says nothing about temperament, the unconscious, memory and perception, and psychotic mental illnesses (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder), etc, etc.

    That’s why I go the ‘Integrated SocioPsychology’ route because other sociological and psychological theories/models are needed to fill in the gaps in Spiral Dynamics and to address the many areas SD doesn’t.

    What SD is is arguably the most comprehensive and cohesive theory of motivation. (And what is more important than motivation?) Because it proposes systems rather than rigid stages, it offers a flexibility and an astounding amount of face validity that the stage theories (Maslow, Kohlberg, Adorno and, even to some extent, Loevinger) don’t. Nonetheless, the stage theories offer lots of insight which is why I use them as commentary in my pages on vMEMES.

    As to BLUE being a “repository of ‘morality’”, BLUE does promote a certain kind of rigid total obedience to a ‘higher authority’ set of standards (from Qur’an/Bible to a quality system like ISO 9000). Nodal BLUE doesn’t care about the human cost of total obedience – which is an explanation for UnIslamic State executing people in Raqqa for smoking.

    In contrast, GREEN’s morality is concerned with benefitting the human spirit. Whatever liberates, frees, improves (for the overall system) is fine. What’s moral is what benefits the people, the planet, etc. What’s immoral is what threatens these things.

    PURPLE’s morality is concerned for the welfare of the tribe/family/community group. It will discriminate (sometimes quite nastily) against those not-of-our tribe. Morality is concerned with preservation of the tribe, including its traditions. What is immoral is what threatens the preservation of the tribe and traditions and breaks its taboos.

    RED and ORANGE are, of course, individualistic vMEMES and concerned with personal fulfilment (RED) and achieving personal goals (ORANGE). Thus, morality is a concept that is highly relative. If it benefits me, it’s OK. If I do something that doesn’t benefit others, then it has to be ignored or rationalised or an element of cognitive dissonance sets in.

    The above is, of course, a vastly simplified version, missing out all the subtleties and nuances of transition states and harmonics. If you visit the Comparison Map – still on the old site at this moment in time – you can see I’ve mapped the stage theorists – including Kohlberg – to the full SD model (including transition states). It’s remarkable how well they all go together.

    I’ve had a quick scan of your piece on Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Interesting and I will be back for a more thorough read.

    When you talk about the “traditional muslim world”, I’m far from sure ORANGE has any place in a ‘reformation’ just yet. Writers like Said Dawlabani and Elza Maalouf of the Center for Human Emergence Middle East – strongly hold the view that the Arab states have to grow from PURPLE/RED feudalism with a sheen of BLUE religiosity into a true BLUE culture before there’s any place for ORANGE mindsets to exert a strong influence. I’m not an expert on the Middle East but I largely concur. The West has tried to impose rational Democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq and all it’s produced is corruption and/or sectarianism. The tribal/feudal mindset is not ready for one person/one (secret) vote.

    Muslim communities in the West are, in a sense, more complex – some of the complexities I’ve attempted to deal with in the article. But the disconnect between the values of Islam, as imported from the “traditional muslim world” and Western values may well be a driving forces in many cases of European Muslims going off to fight for Unislamic State.

    I’d recommend Elza’s book ‘Emerge!’ – – as a way of getting to grips with much of where the Middle East is at and needs to go.

    • Marc Pontin says

      Thanks for your response Keith, I take your point about expecting too much from SD! I will look at that book it sounds excellent.

      I have to say you do intrigue me. It is fascinating to see just how sophisticated a thinker can be but still be caught in a flatland paradigm of subtle reductionism!! (sorry couldn’t resist!).

  2. Marc Pontin says

    That’s a quite excellent summary of the situation we are facing. It is so great to read sophisticated analyses of this most pressing issue. Despite wide agreement with your thesis I would like to make a few comments if thats ok.

    Your recommendations revolve around harnessing the inherent morality in traditional (BLUE)Islamic culture, which seems to rest on the categorization of the BLUE Vmeme as the root of ‘morality’. I feel this is a little misleading and points at the heart of some technical theoretical issues with SD as a framework for analysis.

    You seem to assert that BLUE is the repository of ‘morality’, as if it is some kind of fixed idea that pops up at this level and then disappears. Morality is a line of development and unfolds (ala /Kohlberg) in a transcend and include kind of way, with circles of compassionate embrace moving from egocentric (RED) to sociocentric (BLUE) to worldcentric (ORANGE+). I believe we must look to the moral values found in the modern/ORANGE world view. The modern world view is based on the cognitive achievement of rationality and as such leads to a moral span that is more inclusive than ‘my tribe’. It is the roots of all the great civil rights movements, abolition and womens emancipation. Unfortunately in SD ORANGE is caricatured as the selfish ‘Gordon Ghecko’ type outlook which misses the profound worldcentric moral outlook that is also a part of this wave of development. Furthermore I believe that it is really ORANGE, rather than BLUE that the ‘mean GREEN meme’ really loathes and it is a weak ORANGE, as much as a weak BLUE that is allowing the assertion of regressive theocratic moral systems such as Islam. Therefore it is a reassertion, in the West, of these modern values, stripped of their euro-centric bias, that could perhaps assist the traditional muslim world to make progress with its own reformation which has to be a crucial aspect of the Islam and the West debate. However there are some significant structural immunities within Islamic theology to embracing a rational, ORANGE perspective, highlighted by such writers as Ayaan Hirsi Ali for instance.

    As an aside to the above, these reflections have rather crystallized my issues with SD. When I did my SDi level 1 training with Don Beck some years ago, one of the main reasons for doing it was to try to find out whether SD was really a developmental framework or not. In my view (from Ken Wilber and Robert Kegan) any developmental model must have at its core a holarchical structure, in that each level transcends and includes the previous level. When I questioned Don Beck repeatedly about this he really didn’t seem that interested in clarifying this point. The relationship between the VMemes remained unclear. Sometimes SD is presented as a developmental unfolding and sometimes it seems to be presented as if all the VMemes existed together ‘a priori’ within the brains neural networks and were simply triggered by the appropriate life conditions. When I am being uncharitable I think that SD occupies a strange hinterland in-between a developmental growth model and a horizontal typology model. Suffice to say I was rather dissapointed in the lack of clarity on this issue ‘from the horses mouth’ as it were and there ended my loyalty to SD. Especially as the main block to integral consciousness (2nd tier if you like) is a deep and rabid anti-hierachy in the postmodern GREEN wave. Any developmental framework that cannot demonstrate a healthy holarchical structure of increasing inclusivity is doomed to be dismissed as oppressive and elitist.
    This also links to another aspect of SD that I find problematic. Lets assume that SD purports to be describing a developmental unfolding in the UL of the AQAL framework. Now the UL is about consciousness and how that consciousness unfolds. Any genuine model that describes this has to have, at its heart the relationship of Subject and Object, the balance between them (Kegan) and the nature of the boundaries drawn between what is ‘me’ and what is ‘other’ (Wilber). The true power of the genuine UL models such as Kegan and Wilber is that they go beyond simplistic models of the organism and the environment (or VMeme and life conditions which is pretty much the same thing). They articulate that what changes and unfolds at the different levels of consciousness are fundamentally different constructions of what is self and what is other. It is in the development of the subject/object balance itself that is the true heart of any developmental framework in the UL. SD spectacularly fails in this respect. It seems to me to be primarily a 3rd person perspective on UL development and doesn’t attempt to articulate a developmental logic rooted in individual consciousness.
    I believe it is issues such as these that led Wilber to abandon SD as his introductory developmental model of choice.

    I think it also explains somewhat why SD can clunkingly deposit ‘morality’ in BLUE. As if whenever I am being kind it is my BLUE being activated. This seems to be pretty muddled to me.

    I appreciate that this isn’t the most articulate presentation of these complex ideas but I wanted to have a go at expressing some of them to you as I sincerely respect and admire your work. I realise that you have a bit of an issue with Wilber and thats fine but I do urge you to look at Robert Kegans framework and how he has integrated and refined both Piaget and Kohlberg into a profoundly powerful subject/object model of unfolding consciousness (The Evolving Self is his masterwork in my opinion).

    Feel free to move this rather long winded comment elsewhere if you want!

    all the best!


    • Tom Christensen says


      I think your brain would enjoy the tensions that would emerge if you read Graves in The Never Ending Quest. To point out one area that dissonance would arise: Graves Levels of Existence (SDI vMemes) are NOT measures of a line in the ULQ. As Bruce Gibb once enlightened me, “The quadrants are the bunches of grapes, and Graves’ Existential Levels are the bowl.” Imagine the AQAL matrix. Now add a depth dimension, that extends the color spectrum forward and backward along an axis that the quadrants move along. That depth dimension is where Graves’ levels of existence occur. There is a lot more in Graves than Beck and Cowan’s reduction of his ideas presents. Check him out…in the original.

      • Marc Pontin says

        That’s really interesting, thanks. I can’t really imagine what a 3-d AQAL matrix could actually mean to be honest. Level’s of existence of what exactly??? It’s a nice image but I would be surprise if these ‘levels of existence’ are not implied in Wilber’s AQAL framework.

        I will check out Graves’s original theories though. thanks for the tip!

  3. Albert Klamt says

    Thanks, Keith. This discussion is truly local as much as global. In the context of the writings of Arab GEN Y writers like Amir Ahmed Nasr and others from the Arab world in special and the broader Islamic cultures as much as from Turkey and anywhere in Europe. Where contributors from foundations, think tanks, civil society , media and from wherever could meet. Thus building some sparks of connectivity and initial convening points.

    Personally, I am not using the word islamification. In Germany it creates immediately foreseable reactivity in many ways.

    On the other hand portals like invites dialogue which is per se a useful but limited approach.

    I welcome your posting as initiative to shape public spheres which can connect to every rabbit hole within the diverse media as much as introducing qualified perspectives and educational learning curves from Spiral Dynamics and systemic, integrative framing in general.