Here’s where things really start to get interesting.
Although the vMemes themselves in their general characteristics are consistent and effectively “immortal,” the manifestation of a vMeme in a given social group. Much like a person, they are born, they grow and mature, they peak, and eventually they grow ill and die off. The life cycle of a vMeme in a given society can be as short as a few decades, or as long as millennia depending on the social circumstances of that particular group in that particular time.
Another important thing to remember is that the Meme (the content) is not the same as the vMeme (the container). For example, a christian, a muslim and an atheist have very different beliefs yet their worldview comes from the same absolutist vMeme (BLUE) – different Memes, same vMeme. A Meme can even spread across several vMemes as we’ll see.
A given vMeme will continue to dominate a society as long as life conditions fit the vMeme. When that changes a new vMeme begins to emerge. The new vMeme emerges after the current vMeme’s peak/plateau has come to an end due to a change in life conditions and has begun the slide downward. It’s during this slide downward that the dominant vMeme will often attempt to “color” prior vMemes. In Spiral Dynamics this is called “stretching down” or “stretching up” depending on the direction. This is where the term Mean Green Meme comes from. And it is why GREEN, which should be a very empathetic and inclusive Meme is now so confusing. Its when a formally Healthy GREEN Meme (such as that which peaked in the 1960’s and 1970’s) begins its downward slide and starts to color certain RED, BLUE and ORANGE social groups with GREEN Meme values. Those social groups remain rooted in their vMeme, they simply use and broadcast GREEN-looking value sets. This is what other healthy RED, BLUE and ORANGE social groups who do not adopt GREEN values have very astutely come to call “virtue signalling.”
So lets take the example of the Emergence, Rise and Fall of the GREEN vMeme. GREEN was born out of the exploitative and materialistic Industrial Age of the mid 19th century. It was a reaction to the “flatland” materialist worldview of ORANGE where the resources of the world were considered free to be exploited for the benefit of Man. As those resources began to appear finite a change in life conditions became apparent, resulting in the emergence of the GREEN vMeme.
As the new GREEN vMeme began to take hold, and ORANGE began to fall ORANGE colored BLUE and especially RED Memes finally resulting in the rise of Fascism (the Mean Orange Meme) and two terrible World Wars. The end of WWII marked the end of ORANGE vMeme dominance and the beginning of GREEN vMeme’s rise to dominance. GREEN gave us the Civil Rights Movement, Environmental Movement, Anti-War Movemement, and so on. In fact I believe it was GREEN cultural vMeme values that saved us all from nuclear war.
However GREEN peaked probably at some point in the late 70’s when again life conditions made it apparent that a full rejection of materialism, industrial progress and science and a completely egalitarian society would not be sustainable. A new vMeme emerged which is able to take all the pieces of prior vMemes and bring order to the chaos, this vMeme is what we call the Integral (YELLOW) vMeme.
As YELLOW emerged GREEN has stretched down to color ORANGE, BLUE and RED in GREEN value statements. ORANGE corporations and politicians parrot green values casting themselves as “Environmentally Responsible” or “Equal Opportunity Employers” etc., BLUE churches became more “liberal” and “Unitarian” and BLUE bureaucrats and politicians make their absolutist and authoritarian expression of GREEN values into law. RED absorbs all the plunder GREEN can offer, and willingly plays the “victim” for GREEN, they bring the fight to the streets in violent protests and riots, and demands for redistributed wealth and other special treatment or entitlements.
That is the Mean Green Meme.
Healthy expressions of GREEN have been drown out completely by the Mean Green Meme, and even those who are genuinely operating at GREEN have a difficult time seeing the RED, BLUE and ORANGE motives behind the wall of virtue signaling.
I believe that Healthy GREEN has more common cause with Healthy ORANGE and BLUE than with the Mean Green Meme.