BLUE (D-Q) (elements of Maslow’s Cognitive/Loevinger’s Conformist L-3/Kohlberg’s Law & Order)
The BLUE vMEME is concerned with the imposition of order and the one right way of doing things.
It often runs a Little Detail meta-programme because deviation from the ‘One True Way’ cannot be tolerated. BLUE-related memes are often couched in negative don’t! terms.) Cook-Greuter (p14) states that “Blind conformism, fundamentalism and prejudice can be expressions of this frame of mind.”
Doing what is right is far more important than compassion or consideration of human cost. BLUE carries out the Conscience function of Freud’s Superego.
In anthropological/historical terms, a major example of the large-scale emergence of the BLUE vMEME in the Western world was the coming of the mercantile trading laws in the 17th Century. (These are embodied today in the work of the World Trade Organisation.)
However, the monasteries of the Middle Ages, several hundred years before, were prominent in promulgating a rigid set of moral ideals based on the ‘word of God’. In fact, it’s possible to trace BLUE back at least as far as Moses and the writing of the Pentateuch.
BLUE’s requirement of detail means that the written word, particularly in terms of the law is now highly prized.
BLUE is effectively the foundation of the modern Western state. Cook-Greuter sees it as a precondition for Democracy to function effectively.
In its imposition of order, consistency, reliability and the search for ‘The Truth’, BLUE has given us organised religion, the ‘scientific method’ and the judicial system. It regulates us to ‘correctness’. For example, most people stop at red traffic lights; and we all want the aeroplane pilot’s BLUE to ensure they go through the pre-flight checklist before take-off. Guilt peaks with BLUE.
Obedience to the legitimate authority is now critical. Kohlberg holds that it is important to obey laws, dictums and social conventions because of their importance in maintaining a functioning society. A central ideal or ideals often prescribe what is right and wrong, such as in the case of fundamentalism. If one person violates a law, perhaps everyone would – thus, there is an obligation and a duty to uphold laws and rules. When someone does violate a law, it is morally wrong; culpability is thus a significant factor in this way of thinking as it separates the bad domains from the good ones.
Graves (1978/2005) notes that the rules, laws and norms may vary according to the social class, caste or grouping into which people are categorised and that BLUE thinking accepts this as dictated by the ‘One True Way’, to which the individual must sacrifice self.
“Most children around school age…progress to the next stage, conformity.” (Jane Loevinger & Ruth Wessler, 1970, p4) Persons begin to view themselves and others as conforming to socially-approved codes or norms. Loevinger (1987) describes this stage of having “the greatest cognitive simplicity. There is a right way and a wrong way and it is the same for everyone…or broad classes of people.” Behaviour is judged externally, not by intentions, and developing an ability to take in the rules of the in-group to avoid disapproval, sanctions and punishments is critical.
Top-down hierarchical authorities are typical in BLUE-dominated organisations, reflected in roles, ranks, castes, social classes and even racial discrimination. Often such discrimination is informed by a vMEME harmonic with PURPLE. Indeed Loevinger does seem to mix in elements of PURPLE in her emphasis on groups – viz: “While the Conformist likes and trusts other people within his own group, he may define that group narrowly and reject any or all outgroups” and she stereotypes roles on the principle of “social desirability: people are what they ought to be.” (p17-18) However, the bulk of Loevinger’s descriptors match BLUE and Graves unequivocally equates Conformist with nodal D-Q.
Cook-Greuter (p12) states that this stage is “widely considered the adult stage in much of Western culture”. From years of large-sample tests, Kohlberg (1984) concluded that most active members of modern Western society don’t usually get past the Law & Order stage where morality is still predominantly dictated by an outside force such as a holy book.
BLUE/orange (D-Q/e-r) (elements of Maslow’s Cognitive/Loevinger’s Conscientious-Conformist L-3/4)
As ORANGE starts to emerge, the individual starts to listen to the views of others – initially in order to learn how to out-argue them. From this comes some acceptance of diversity of thought and experience – though they may be uncomfortable with it. There may even be some element of understanding and compassion for others. With this goes an increase in self-awareness and self-criticism. Cook-Greuter (2005, p15) notes: “The focus on likeness at the Conformist stage changes to focus on individual differences at [this] stage…”
There is likely to be some acknowledgement that not all real-time evidence necessarily supports the assumptions of the ‘One True Way’ which then leads to questioning of whether there might be more effective variations of ‘the One True Way’. From this develops the capacity to imagine multiple possibilities in situations.
Another factor initiating the journey from nodal BLUE may be experiencing ‘Authority’ which doesn’t act like authority should, thus undermining its legitimacy – eg: the fundamentalist Christian preacher caught in motel room with a hooker!
Loevinger (1976), however, states that the closeness of the self to norms and expectations “reveal the transitional nature of these conceptions, midway between the group stereotypes of the Conformist and the appreciation for individual differences at higher levels” (p20).
Loevinger also considers the Conscientious-Conformist transitional stage to be modal for adults in American society and thinks that few pass the stage before at least the age of 25. This presents a slight contrast with the views of Kohlberg and her own successor, Cook-Greuter, but nonetheless confirms the view that the bulk of the population under consideration has only developed ‘so far’ in complexity of thinking.
blue/ORANGE (d-q/E-R) (elements of Maslow’s Cognitive)
There is more expression of self but in a cautious, controlled way and an increasing acceptance of personal experience as valid when it does not fit ‘the One True Way’. This leads to the desire to experiment with and search for reality, rather than just accept the ‘truth’ of ‘One True Way’. This awakening to possibilities and the desire to explore them is often tainted with guilt as it is increasingly driven by the wish to improve your personal lot in life. Achievement for self increasingly becomes the focus. Authority figures may still be shown respect in person but may be derided when not there.
Note: in 1976 Kolhberg delineated a stage 4.5 (aka ‘4+’ or ‘4B’), a transition from Law & Order to Social Contract that shared characteristics of both. In this stage the individual is disaffected with the arbitrary nature of law and order reasoning; culpability is frequently turned from being defined by society to viewing society itself as culpable. Kohlberg noted that this was often observed in students entering college. For example, respondents were saying they would adhere to absolutist law in principle but might break it under certain pressing circumstances. While 4.5 appears to represent elements of ORANGE pragmatism undermining BLUE absolutism, the descriptors are too broad to break down into more precise transitional stages.
In the clip below – copyright © 2006 Clearfire Media – Don Beck explains to Doug Kruschke, how BLUE gives way to ORANGE…
ORANGE (E-R) (elements of Maslow’s Cognitive)
Highly autonomous, ORANGE future paces in a far more complex way than BLUE. Running a Move Towards meta-programme, this vMEME employs strategic thinking to set goals to achieve for itself and others it uses. Life is perceived as an endless sequence of challenges, tests and opportunities to separate the ‘winners’ from the ‘losers’. When appropriate, ORANGE uses the systems and disciplines developed by BLUE, not because they are ‘right’ but because they can be useful in achieving the goals. The ends justify the means – and the winners deserve the prizes while the losers don’t. ORANGE is meritocratic.
‘Uses’ is an appropriate term here, too, as ORANGE is on the express-self side of the Spiral. In working to achieve its goals, it will indeed use whoever it can. Empathy is a tool for getting others to help you with your goals.
One of the caricatures of ORANGE in action is the ladder-climbing business executive who pals up with those they think can further their career, then drops them when they’re no longer of obvious use. One of Graves’ early nomenclatures for this system was ‘Manipulative’.
ORANGE may have this distinctly unpleasant manifestation in certain life conditions; but it is essential for autonomous, goal-oriented strategic thinking. Victory and achievement are the prizes in life. It is highly pragmatic about what is achievable and what needs to be done to achieve such goals. As part of its manipulation strategies, substance may be downplayed in favour of image.
ORANGE emerged historically with the coming of the Enlightenment. Accordingly, it prizes science and rationalism as the means of understanding the world and making it work for you.
At a cultural level, ORANGE is increasingly dominant in the Western world as cutting edge thinking, driving the inexorable rise of Capitalism and the growth of globalisation. Such is the spread of this vMEME that even China, formerly staunch BLUE in national character and an advocate of Communism, is increasingly a major player in the global markets.
ORANGE/green (E-R/f-s) (Loevinger’s Conscientious L-4; Kohlberg’s Social Contract)
The individual starts to experience feelings of loneliness and/or lack of fulfilment, asking “Where does all this get me?” kind of questions. Goals and ideals are acknowledged but there is a new sense of responsibility, with guilt triggered by hurting another. Some goals start to seem less relevant and the desire to achieve them starts to become defocused. The trappings of success start to lose their appeal and may even start to appear shallow/hollow. There is a hesitant acknowledgement that teams do have their benefits.
There is an emerging awareness that others have needs too and that their having different opinions and values is both valid and needs to be taken into consideration.
However, “The tendency to look at things in a broader social context” (Loevinger, p21) is offset by a self seen as apart from the group, but also from the other’s point of view; as a result “descriptions of people are more realistic…[with] more complexities.” Standards are self-chosen and distinguished from manners, just as people are seen in terms of their motives and not just their actions.
Laws are regarded as ‘social contracts’ rather than rigid dictums. Those which do not promote the general welfare should be changed when necessary to meet “the greatest good for the greatest number of people”. This is achieved through majority decision and inevitable compromise. In Kohlberg’s view, democratic government is ostensibly based on Social Contract reasoning.
Cook-Greuter lays emphasis on Conscentious’ trust in science and rationality to ‘uncover’ truth. She also observes much more self-reflection in this stage.
Graves equated Conscientious with E-R (ORANGE); but undoubtedly Loevinger’s descriptions carry some significant elements of F-S (GREEN).
This development is characterised by an increasing need ‘to find myself’ in the context of others/humanity…here is an increasing conviction that people and their quality of life are more important than either law and rules or wealth and success, leading to a growing desire to bury self in a group and engage in a communal form of expression. Accordingly community needs start to become important. Feelings – including the feelings of others – start to be more important than achievements. Materialism more and more looks shallow, overtaken by a desire to find meaning in life.
Along with this is an awareness and increasing emotional reaction to injustice, discrimination and maltreatment of the disadvantaged.
In the clip below – copyright © 2006 Clearfire Media – Beck tells Kruschke how disillusionment with ORANGE values leads to the emergence of GREEN…
GREEN (Maslow’s Aesthetic)
GREEN, prizing egalitarianism, is the great equaliser. It recovers from the endless striving for improvement of ORANGE and seeks inner peace by reconnecting to humankind and valuing all equally. Sharing, understanding, appreciating and tolerance are the watch words of this vMEME. However, GREEN can be rigid in its demands for open-mindedness. Acceptance of diversity is mandatory.
Sharing and caring are more important than competing. Collective guilt, especially over the inequities in life that lead to disadvantage, is a common mantra.
Although the large-scale emergence of GREEN in the Western world is often associated with the hippie counterculture of the 1960s, GREEN thinking can be seen as driving force in Philosophy at least as far back as the French Revolution of 1789 with its motif of Liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Thus, GREEN thinking has given birth to feminism, anti-racism, anti-ageism and just about every anti-discriminatory ‘ism’ there is. This vMEME readily champions the disadvantaged. GREEN, in its ethic that all are equal, has also created the concept of positive discrimination to enable the disadvantaged to have the same opportunities as those who are not disadvantaged. GREEN will put in wheelchair ramps for the disabled, ringfence pots of money for mainstream schools to take in children with ‘special educational needs’ (SEN), send millions of pounds to feed the starving in the latest African famine and make it a prosecutable offence for a white to call a black a ‘nigger’. In many ways GREEN shows the Ego Ideal of Freud’s Superego.
GREEN thinking is consensual, meaning all have to contribute to, engage in and own decision-making. Graves (1978/2005) notes that someone thinking in nodal GREEN will internalise the group’s view over their own. A key motivator here, in an echo of PURPLE, is acceptance by the group and the avoidance of rejection.
In accordance with the desire to appreciate symmetry, beauty and order, GREEN extends its care of all to non-human animals and the planet in general. Thus, this vMEME has created environmentalism and manifests itself in animal rights activism and ecological/conservation priorities.
Whatever is seen as liberating and/or nourishing ‘the human spirit’ is usually considered acceptable – so there is no need for constraints on sexuality, spiritual exploration or substance use as long as others are not threatened or harmed by it.
GREEN/yellow (F-S/g-t (a’-n’)) (Loevinger’s Individualistic L-4/5)
The individual experiences a growing dissatisfaction with group consensus methodologies and dogma and frustration at consumption of resources (time, money) with little care for their cost. People going through this transition are turned off particularly by attacks on those who do not conform to the group dogmas. There is an increasing and broad-minded tolerance of and respect for the autonomy of both self and others. Loevinger explains: “To proceed beyond the Conscientious Stage, a person must become more tolerant of himself and of others…out of the recognition of individual differences and of complexities of circumstances…moralism begins to be replaced by an awareness of inner conflict….” The transition is also “marked by a heightened sense of individuality and a concern for emotional dependence” (p32).
There is a growing realisation that rules and laws have their place – as do wealth-creators and those who are goal-oriented.
Resources can be used more speedily and effectively with less communal decision-making. If necessary, decisions can be made by a single authority figure.
The world starts to look too complex for a single way of dealing with it and there is a growing interest in just exploring life for the sake of it…of being.
Quite bizarrely Graves (1978/2005) equated Individualistic to E-R/f-s (ORANGE/green). Yet undoubtedly, Individualistic has a sense of being which places it in the transition from GREEN to YELLOW – as Cook-Greuter (p23) notes: “Seeing sometimes is believing. There is no need to prove everything in order to live by it. …Rather than trying to analyse everything, Individualists want to enjoy the subjective experience. It is all that can be trusted. Thus, there is a major shift from the Conscientious person’s preference for ‘doing’ to focusing on ‘being and feeling’. Instead of marching into the future, individualists become now-oriented. They begin to notice how feelings affect the body and vice versa and how feelings are diffused throughout the body. There is a new sense of body/mind connection. Therefore, the shift from conventional to postconventional stages also reflects a shift from a more intellectual to a more organismic or embodied awareness.”
The 2nd Tier
green/YELLOW (f-s/G-T (A’-N’)) (Kohlberg’s Principled Conscience)
The later phase of this transition is characterised by an emerging concern for the environment and elements of the planetary eco-systems, with an awareness that all resources (human and non-human) need looking after wherever possible.
Laws are valid only insofar as they are grounded in justice; and a commitment to justice carries with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws.
There is also the strengthening desire to make and live by independent decisions rather than accepting group consensus responsibility. The individual acts because it is right for him/her, and not because it is instrumental, expected, legal or previously agreed upon. However, there is also an increased willingness to walk away from lost causes and seek to engage in activities which are intrinsically self-satisfying.
Markedly there is a more innovative approach to problem-solving.
YELLOW (G-T (A’-N’)) (Maslow’s Self-Actualisation; Loevinger’s Autonomous L-5)
YELLOW/TURQUOISE (G-T (A’-N’)/H-U (B’-O’)) (some elements of Maslow’s Self-Actualisation; Loevinger’s Integrated; Cook-Gretuer’s Construct Aware)
Due to very small sample sizes, there is insufficient credible data to delineate significantly between exiting and entering phases.
Broadly this transition is marked by increasing loneliness and stress from coping alone. Lawrence Kohlberg & Clark Power (1981, p254) see despair as being key to this transition: “…with the consideration that human life and action is in the final analysis meaningless and doomed to extinction. The experience of despair calls into question the fundamental worth of human activity.” The response to this despair is a growing sense that there is something beyond self and self-struggle. There is a growing conviction that there is Order beyond the Chaos and a need to find that Order, leading to the understanding that everything connects to everything else, with the need personally to be connected.
Maslow (1956) talks about self-actualisers who are not self-centred but focus on problems outside themselves. They become mission-oriented, often on the basis of a sense of responsibility, duty or obligation rather than personal choice. including acceptance and respect. Graves (1970, p154) writes: “His thema for existence is now ‘express self so that all others, all beings can continue to exist’” – supporting Maslow’s idea of accepting responsibility. Since YELLOW never knows when it might need people or things, as it becomes less self-focussed, the inclination is to look after all resources.
Egocentricity is perceived as a constraint to further growth and there is an acceptance that all perceptions are constructed via the ‘self’…whereas real understanding is beyond that. There is an increasing awareness of the future and the need to resolve issues. Accordingly capacity develops to not just be aware of inner conflicts but to reconcile and make peace with those issues. As Loevinger (p25) puts it, a “reconciliation to one’s destiny”. Increasingly there is no discrepancy between how someone thinks and feels and how someone behaves. There is complete acceptance of inner conflict and the paradoxes it produces. Outward behaviour becomes the congruent expression of the true inner self.
According to Young-Eisendrath (p330) “learning is understood as unavoidable…the unattainable is renounced”. Cook-Greuter (p30) notes: “As the process of self-awareness deepens and reasoning becomes further differentiated for Construct-aware individuals, access to intuition, bodily states, feelings, dreams, archetypal and other transpersonal material increases.” Maslow also states that, in varying degrees and with varying frequencies, self-actualising persons have experiences of ecstasy, awe, and wonder with feelings of limitless horizons opening up. These experiences are followed by the conviction that the experience was important and has a carry-over into everyday life. He called these ‘peak experiences’ and they can seem religious or mystical. Sometimes they can be life-changing. Loevinger (p140) attributes these experiences as being more characteristic of her Integrated stage than Autonomous.
TURQUOISE (H-U (B’-O’)) (Maslow’s Self-Transcendence; Cook-Greuter’s Unitive; Kohlberg’s Transcendental Morality)