Post-Postmodernism and the “Alt” spectrum of ideology

This was a very challenging post for me. It is partially a response to ‘s 4 Things that Make the Alt-Right Postmodern. I first want to say that I have really enjoyed Hanzi’s prolific work on the Alt-Left, and find it to be an excellent counterbalance to my own Right-Agentic tendencies. His ideas have caused me to shift my own perspective somewhat over the last few months with regard to what a mature Second-Tier (Yellow) culture might look like. I will try to come back to that in a future post. First however, I want to address Hanzi’s views on the Alt-right, colored as I think they may be by his own communal bias. This is only to be expected, as our communal/agentic biases are, I believe, the largest hurdle for an integral understanding of any particular worldview. Hanzi’s writing, from his communal experience of the Post-postmodern YELLOW/G-T (Integral) wave (what he calls Metamodern), helps me to examine my agentic bias, so perhaps this post can bring him (and others) a fuller perspective from within an agentic experience of Integral.

A Broader Definition for the Alt-Right

It occurs to me now after digging into this topic more deeply that when some people talk about the Alt-right they are really just talking about a certain extreme Identitarian-Nationalist subset of the “right.” Others refer to the entire broad spectrum of Anti-establishment voices on the political right (agentic) as Alt-right. I have been in the latter category not the former. Time will tell if the moniker Alt-right goes on the apply only to that narrow spectrum for which it was first coined, or if it will apply to a broader spectrum definition. Either way whether we call it Alt-right, New-right, Integral-Right or whatever, I see the alt-right not as a regression toward nationalism, but (with the help of the alt-left) a progression toward global Panarchy.

This is my working definition of Alt-Right/Alt-Left):

ALT-RIGHT (LEFT):  (1) An Agentic (Communal) expression of an Integral-SDi YELLOW/G-T wave of political ideology characterized primarily by an integration, inclusion, and embrace of healthy (non-coercive) manifestations of prior political/ideological waves.  (2) A moniker for a certain sub-culture on the political right(left) that embraces certain positive aspects of the post-modern-SDi GREEN/F-S wave (tolerance of the “other,” Civil Rights, Gender equality, Environmentalism, etc.), while rejecting  pathological manifestations (racial preferential treatment in law, the “social justice” phenomenon, pseudo-religious gaia-worship, nihilism, globalism, etc.). They tend to promote a diverse panoply of Agentic (Communal) political structures that operate on a local level and respond to local needs rather than monolithic global top-down post-modern style governance. 

This definition treats the Alt-Right and Alt-Left as a political spectrum for the inevitable social transcendence from Postmodern-GREEN/F-S to Integral-YELLOW/G-T and recognizes both the Agentic and Communal lenses through which people will experience this wave.

With definitions out of the way, I’ll start with some of the points I think Hanzi and I agree on:

Attempting to describe the Alt-Right in terms of concrete political ideology entirely misses the mark. Rigidly insisting on equating it with the political proposals of some self-identified Alt-Right advocate or another is as inadequate an approach as equating the term “fascism” with the political program of the Italian Fascist Party of the Interbellum Period. Not only does such an approach omit the many individuals who don’t identify with either of the abovementioned movements, but nonetheless are considered part of these currents. Neither does it reveal the underlying psychology and social mechanisms that have come to signify the broader semantic meaning of these terms.

The Alt-Right is no more a monolithic ideology than the Alt-Left is. Such categorical political identities are typically rejected in the great leap to second tier consciousness. This is why many of the most influential figures on the alt-right paradoxically do not self-identify as members of the “alt-right” (because they do not identify completely with other voices considered to be alt-right).  As I’ve demonstrated before the “cultural leadership” (if you will) of the alt-right is comprised of a hugely diverse cast of people, whose backgrounds and identities seem impossible to reconcile. Only if one looks at them in light of a second tier (integral) worldview, does it make sense that they can all fit under a single broad memetic banner.

Postmodernity has fostered an intellectual climate that has alienated a large part of the population and created an ideological vacuum from which the Alt-Right draws its power. In addition, the inability of postmodern thought to efficiently tackle many of the new issues to have appeared in our digital postindustrial societies and to properly address the felt societal concerns of all citizens, to which mainstream society remains just as clueless, has thus opened the door for the Alt-Right to dictate public discourse for years to come.

Here Hanzi alludes to the “rejection” part of the Spiral Dynamic cycle. Every cultural memetic wave goes through a cycle of Rejection, Transcendence/Inclusion, and finally Entropy. Hanzi sees the entropy of the postmodern wave as opening the door for a new version of postmodernism (the Alt-Right), and this is where he and I slightly depart. To me the Alt-Right, and the Alt-Left, are higher level Cultural vMemes corresponding to SDi’s YELLOW (G-T) wave. This wave is currently in the process of Rejection, and this will remain so until the cultural center of gravity irrevocably shifts from the Postmodern GREEN wave to the Integral (or Metamodern to borrow Hanzi’s term) YELLOW wave.

But even if the Alt-Right above everything else should be seen as a counter-reaction against postmodern ideology and discourse, it’s just as much a postmodern phenomenon itself. It differs from previous currents to oppose postmodernism in the way it has adopted certain postmodern methods and insights to conduct the resistance. So even if the Alt-Right in many respects entails the absolute opposite to postmodern values, as a societal development it’s inherently postmodern.

The Alt-Right is not just using the methods of postmodernism, it is circumventing those methods through superior use and understanding of the new integral communication tools that are available (Internet and Social Media). The Postmodern tools and methodologies of cultural change (Television Mass Media, Academia, and Activism) can be completely bypassed by these newer integral (or metamodern) tools. Postmoderns and Moderns use these new tools as well but not nearly as effectively. The integral advantage is that not only do they understand far far better how to most effectively use the communication tools of this new paradigm, those tools themselves are best suited to propagate the integral/YELLOW/G-T wave.

The Alt-Right is as antithetical as many of its postmodern adversaries, perhaps even more antithetical since the only thing that seems to unite its many different adherents is opposition itself. The Alt-Right identity is one of opposition.

I think Hanzi is slightly missing the mark on this. Remember the first part of the cycle is REJECTION. The Alt-Right is indeed a mindbogglingly diverse group with no one apparently dominant ideology — and this itself is a trait of the YELLOW Wave; because it is able to integrate all prior waves,  YELLOW is the first wave that can hold their particular individual and community identity in balance with all others. They have no need for an overarching ideology other than – “to each his own.”

This explains how “a political current where people who differ on as seemingly critical issues, like whether they’re nazis or not(!), still seem to find common ground and use the very same political label, in the most surprisingly carefree manner.”  The point is not whether they are nazi’s (I don’t know any Alt-Right groups that would characterize themselves that way) as nazi-ism itself cannot be alt-right by definition.  The point is that they are able to find common ground! And not just as begrudging allies of necessity, but actively and openly supporting each other through social media even when they disagree on social issues! Their key characteristic is that they do not see the ideological views of others as a threat to their own identity. Such thinking and behavior is simply not possible at First Tier. It is a primary marker of Second Tier consciousness.



…many proponents of the Alt-Right still tend to be racists, misogynists and homophobes.

This statement is often made by those on the left (more particularly the postmodern left) and I think it is a generally over-exaggerated and inaccurate claim that stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of (or more likely in the case of postmodern GREEN vMeme consciousness; an inability to understand) the worldview of particular Alt-Right sub-cultures. What is clear to me is that these perceptions stem from a combination of the Alt-Right’s tendency to troll the postmodern left, combined with a sincere openness to explore ideas, facts and data that might run counter to prevailing postmodern ideologies.


I’ll spend some time on this one because it is simultaneously the most inflammatory and ironically legitimate criticism the left uses. The figure in the Alt Right that comes most to mind for left wing critics is Richard Spencer. Most of the articles written about him bolster the narrative that he is a White Supremacist and Racist, and since he is often credited with (and takes credit for) coining the term “Alt-Right,” his views color the entire broad umbrella with that stigma in the minds of leftists who don’t take the time or effort to look any deeper into his views. However, one must realize that Spencer’s “Alt-Right” of 2008 is not the same Alt-Right we see today in 2017. No one was talking about the Alt-Right in 2008, because it was Spencer’s narrow version of the Alt-Right, and thus it was a big nothing-burger.

In a very interesting interview by Al Letson at Reveal News we get a picture of Richard Spencer that is a bit more nuanced than the easy label of “Racist.” One interesting quote:

You know, what I’m getting at is that, when I ask you that, even, even despite the fact that you have, you know, I guess a white wife perhaps or a white child. You still answered that I’m an African-American male. And that has meaning for you. And I respect that. If you ask your average white person in America, “Who are you?” they are going to probably never get around to talking about their European identity or their heritage. They’re afraid of it. They know it. Everyone’s kind of racially unconscious. They know it in their bones but they’re not conscious. They don’t want to really talk about it and explore it and think about how that inflects their life. So that’s what I want to bring. I respect your identity. I respect the fact that you think about it seriously, that you take it seriously. I want white people to take it seriously. In terms of what I was talking about of like we’re going to do this together. I think that I want to see an identitarian future. I want to see people, different peoples, different civilizations having a sense of themselves and finding out ways to live together.

I have a multi-racial family with relatives of literally every color and I’m not threatened by Spencer’s ideas–even though it’s not something I agree with–because regardless of my personal beliefs and preferences, everyone deserves to live how they want to live so long as they are peaceful. Unlike the Postmodern Left, Richard Spencer isn’t telling me or anyone else how to live, he’s telling us how he wants to live, and demanding the right to do so in peace. 

Notice also that he is respectful toward the black interviewer. He’s not hostile and he’s not demeaning or acting as if he were superior–demanding to be treated with deference. He says “I do respect your identity and I respect you as a black man. But the question I would have to ask is: Do you really think that we’re all better together?

There is a subtle but important difference between this kind of “racialism” and the racism that existed previously, the kind we are as a society still suffering collective PTSD from. Spencer calls his ideology “Identitarianism” and he doesn’t reserve it for white people only. It is simply the idea that races and cultures have important differences and are better off when in communities of their own. Regardless of whether you agree with that statement or not, notice that it is not a judgement of Superior or Inferior, nor an argument that one race should have inferior rights to another, but rather its an acknowledgement of arguably objective differences and a desire on his part to live in a society of his own race. Postmodern (GREEN/F-S) consciousness and lower cannot distinguish the difference, but an integral (YELLOW/G-T) consciousness can.

I believe the “Alt-Right” today means something completely different than it did when Spencer coined the term in 2008. During the 2016 Election campaign a newer, broader, more diverse “Alt-Right” came into ascendance, and this was partly the fault of the leftist mainstream media, who painted any and all Trump supporters with the same “Alt-Right” “Basket of Deplorables” brush. Rather than shy away from the label or be intimidated by the association as the media expected, it was worn proudly and widely adopted. In a pattern that became familiar during the campaign, the Alt-Right was expert at trolling the left with their own rhetoric.

Many Trump supporters at the time (myself included) had no idea the term was even associated with Richard Spencer, or even knew who he was. All I knew was that the term seemed to fit what was happening, the ascendance of a more “libertarian,” free-spirited, diverse, younger (and I would add Integral) “Alternative” to the (Traditional-Modern) Conservative Right. Importantly, the strongest most compelling voices in the “Alt-Right” didn’t come hatched out of establishment conservative think tanks. Rather, they were (postmodern) liberals or libertarians themselves who had been “red-pilled.”

The “Alt-Right” was a term that might have been coined by a White Nationalist, but it is no longer his alone and it describes something far more broad than his small idea. Even so, those on the Alt-Right (as I define it) are not afraid to engage in free and open discussion with someone like Richard Spencer, regardless of whether they find his worldview repugnant. Unlike the postmodern left, the integral Alt-Right values free speech and free association above all else. As long as Richard Spencer maintains his nonviolent, non-coercive approach, he will find at best active engagement, and maybe even agreement on some issues, and at worst complete ambivalence — “Meh.”


The figures I’m most familiar with on the Alt-Right most associated with “mysogynistic” (i.e. anti-third wave feminist) views are probably Jack Donovan, and Milo Yiannopoulos. Interestingly and perhaps somewhat tellingly, they are both gay men. However, neither of them dislike women, they just dislike the militant left wing “third wave” feminism that has become dominant in popular culture. Third wave feminism is not representative of women in general, thankfully, or we’d be in big trouble.

So why does it take two gay men to voice opposition to extreme feminism? Milo and Jack have an interesting theory on that.  

Contrary to the charge of Mysogyny, women continue to play a huge and influential part in the Alt-Right on social media. In fact some of the best counter-arguments to the “common-wisdom” of third wave feminists that dominate academia and the main stream media come from women and former Feminists like Cassie Jaye and her excellent documentary The Red Pill (which you can check out free if you have Amazon Prime).  

We sadly live in an age where to even bring up the many critical issues that men and boys face in society is to be ridiculed and called a misogynist.


If we are to define alt-right (as I have) to be the agentic mirror of the alt-left (or vice versa), then there can be no place for true homophobes, misogynists, or racial supremacists in the traditional-lynch-mob sense among the alt-right. They just don’t belong. There are many examples of homosexual and trans-gendered people that I would consider alt-right such as the two I mentioned above, Blair White, etc. However, from the perspective of postmodern GREEN/F-S it can certainly appear that there are homophobes, misogynists, and racial supremacists in the alt-right. That’s because there are those on the alt-right who do not approve of homosexual behavior (but don’t give a shit if you’re gay), who believe men and women have different roles in society (but don’t care if you don’t conform to those roles), and  who don’t want to live in community among other races and cultures (but don’t care if you do). The Alt-right is not homophobic, but homo-apathetic; not misogynistic or racist, but gender, race and cultural realists. 

The Alt-Right doesn’t care about your sexual orientation, they just don’t want your sexual orientation shoved down their throats like a gigantic dildo!

What it means:

Integrals on the left and on the right share one thing in common. They can see the first tier developmental stages holarchically for what they are, even if they are not familiar with the models of Graves or Loevinger. They understand intuitively, that the positive post-modern values of acceptance, empathy, compassion, openness etc, are just as important as the modern values of ambition, curiosity, excellence, and freedom; the traditional values of conviction, discipline, loyalty and faith; the egoistic values of courage, endurance, honor and sacrifice; and the tribal values of camaraderie, family, sacredness and trust.

The Integral wave is about reconnecting with all those prior foundational waves and their value systems and constructing a new and unshakable autonomous self on that foundation. It’s about being true to who you are, unapologetically self-aware, and at the same time both flexible enough and humble enough to engage the “other” without demanding acceptance or feeling threatened. Unlike postmodern GREEN/F-S, Integral YELLOW/G-T does not demand that you accept its values, does not demand you use its pronouns, or check your privilege, or hear its voice! It does not care if you accept it or not, because it is fully self-actualized.  

Alt-Right and Alt-Left to me are two sides of the same self-actualized, autonomous, integral, metamodern coin.

Misunderstanding the Alt-Right is easy, even for the Alt-Left

Hanzi goes on to make some very interesting points, some of which I agree with and others I do not (again it’s well worth the read). He characterizes the alt-right as an “identity-project” (specifically white identity) which is correct for some but definitely not for all those on the alt-right, and depends largely on a narrow definition of precisely what the alt-right really is (but I think I covered that ground above). I noticed however, that Hanzi has a pattern (from my perspective) of making a great point only to then couch it in a communally biased wrapping that doesn’t speak to the agentic experience, and then in the next paragraph starts making great points again. It’s frankly dizzying. For example:

Now, it’s a sound objection to stress the silliness of finding pride in ones’ whiteness, or nationality for that matter; after all it’s not a personal accomplishment, it’s just something you’re born with and a superficial feature that doesn’t entail anything worth of recognition. However, that also applies if you’re black, or gay for that matter.

The above is absolutely spot on. YES! being white or black or gay or from one nation or another – none of those are accomplishments. All are “unearned” traits, and are thus nothing to be necessarily proud of. This is precisely the point. However then he goes on…

I’d agree that the context differs, the purpose of emphasizing pride of belonging to a minority is a measure to counter the opposite, namely shame. The gay pride movement, for instance, is the result of having been told to feel ashamed about one’s sexuality. But the white people who want to assert their racial pride don’t care about that; they probably don’t understand it either. Most of them simply don’t like that blacks and gays want to feel proud, don’t feel they deserve the recognition they desire and some even find that things like blackness or homosexuality are things to consider inferior or even shameful.

NOOoooooo! You were doing so well and then you slipped in the double standard! Even hard core identitarians like Richard Spencer objectively want ALL identities to be proud of who they are — including whites. Their issue is that for the last 30 or 40 years, to be white has been shameful! I know this personally because I lived it. Growing up in a post-modern public education environment I was constantly bombarded with the narrative of how horrible white people, and white men in particular are! I grew up literally ashamed to be who I was — a white heterosexual male.

Still, some of these inclinations towards white pride may actually stem from sincere and justified emotional needs of feeling proud about who they are; a desire among white marginalized people to get recognition and to be listened to. It’s a telling sign that we rarely see successful people enjoying a large amount of recognition who claim to be proud of being white. Those who most vigorously emphasize their racial identity or nationality, or take excessive pride in the historical accomplishments of those they perceive to be their peers, are usually people who are marginalized in one regard or the other. Feelings of marginalization are a feature of all postmodern identity projects. So in that regard the Alt-Right is actually no different from the other identity projects out there and thus a postmodern phenomenon too.

Yes and no. Yes part of the process of coming into the YELLOW/G-T wave is a desire to reconnect more deeply with healthy aspects of prior waves in a more conscious way. That can mean a resurgence of the tribalistic, egoistic, traditional (nationalistic) aspects of our being. That’s different from post-modernism (GREEN/F-S), which is firstly a rejection of modernism (ORANGE/E-R) and traditionalism (BLUE/D-Q), and a simultaneous elevation and romanticism for egoism and tribalism (RED/C-P, PURPLE/B-O). Depending on the Agentic or Communal bias of the individual coming into integral one might focus more on reconnecting with communal waves (GREEN, BLUE, PURPLE), or agentic waves (ORANGE, RED, BEIGE).

Still, and even if the Alt-Right is predominantly an antithetical endeavor: anti-feminism, anti-multiculturalism, anti-political correctness and so on – it is not – anti-sexism, anti-racism or anti-nationalism. Its whole raison d’être is that it opposes the former – but all while excusing the latter.

I disagree with this statement as well. I’ve studied the figures on the Alt-Right, listen to their pod-casts, watch their you-tube videos. They are not Anti-Feminism, they just oppose the militant third wave of feminism, they are not anti-multiculturalism, they simply oppose multiculturalism’s drive toward a mono-culture (they are hugely pro-diversity, arguably more than postmoderns are), they ARE anti-political correctness because political correctness is disingenuous and dishonest. They are anti-sexism, they oppose sexism toward men as well as women; they are anti-racism, they oppose racism toward whites as well as all other races, they are not necessarily pro-nationalist (some are) but rather see nationalism as a tool to be used in the fight against post-modern globalism.

But we have to rise to the postmodern challenge, to beat them at their own game. How about going beyond the postmodern altogether and present new metamodern visions of society? In the marriage of sincerity and irony we have the means to turn this regressive tide.

This is something I think all of those on the Alt-Right and Alt-Left can agree to. My hope is that both sides can remove the agentic/communal blinders just long enough to see their own reflection on the other side.

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On Regret


I’m not afraid to admit when I am wrong about something and today I feel like I have been wrong about Trump. I voted for the first time in 12 years this last November because I knew and still know, that Hillary Clinton would have sent us straight into WWIII and destroyed this country. I thought that Donald Trump, while far from ideal, would at least buy us time.

In the end it may have just been inevitable.

This is why voting doesn’t matter. This is why “THEY” always win. A vote for Hillary was a vote for war, and now it looks like a vote for Trump was also a vote for war.

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The Alt-Left

There is some really intriguing and important work being done by Hanzi Freinacht at his site There is some real interesting synergy between what he is writing about – the Alt-Left- and the Alt-Right that I am describing.

To be very brief about it; I believe the Alt-Right that I describe and the Alt-Left that he describes are the respectively Agentic and Communal social/political manifestations of the SD YELLOW wave.

To me this is very exciting and I will have more to write on this, but I highly highly recommend reading Hanzi’s work. If you are the more agentically biased sort, like I am you are not going to agree with some of his perspectives, yet still it is very easy to recognize that this is an “Integral” version of the political-left worldview.

More to come.

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The Integral Right

In his response to “This Hitler Nonsense…”  (a re-post from Regie’s Blog) Otis Schmidt asked a very good question:

As a follower of integral theory for the last 15 years or so I’m genuinely intrigued by your arguments. You claim “Now it is the ‘right’ that has the answers to today’s problems… This is a new right (YELLOW). They have the most compelling voice…”. How so exactly? It is certainly fair to say they are riding/guiding the pendulum currently but it would be useful if you could expand on that statement so we can see your reasoning more clearly?

Much of the answer to this question can be found in a post I wrote in September 2015 called “Thoughts on a Truly Integral Economic and Political Framework and Overcoming Bias: a response to Joe Corbett, Edward Berge, Keith McCaughin and others.”But I will expand on that post a bit and logically tie it to some of my later posts where I make claims that parts of the new so-called “alt-right” movement demonstrate the characteristics of the Integral (YELLOW) vMeme.

Defining the “Left” and the “Right” – Agentic/Communal bias

People, no matter their location on the journey up the spiral of consciousness development,  are driven by a very basic desire; to maximize happiness. That which increases happiness is good, and that which increases suffering is bad. Thus people seek out the causes of suffering in the world and try to eliminate them. The problem is not one of intention, for all people (healthy people) are generally motivated by the same basic imperative.  The problem is entirely one of worldview and the lens through which we see suffering in the world.

Thus, if we ask what is it that really separates the so called “left” from the “right” or what we might call “liberal” and “conservative” (although I find those terms very misleading), we find that it stems from two fundamentally different ways of looking at the causes of human suffering. Those on the left tend to see the causes of human suffering as External  to the individual and as largely outside of an individuals control. Whereas those on the right tend to see the causes of human suffering as Internal to the individual and almost entirely within an individual’s control. As Ken Wilber said:

In the last chapter of Up from Eden (“Republicans, Democrats, and Mystics”), I made the observation that, when it comes to the cause of human suffering, liberals tend to believe in objective causation, whereas conservatives tend to believe in subjective causation. That is, if an individual is suffering, the typical liberal tends to blame objective social institutions (if you are poor it is because you are oppressed by society), whereas the typical conservative tends to blame subjective factors (if you are poor it is because you are lazy). Thus, the liberal recommends objective social interventions: redistribute the wealth, change social institutions so that they produce fairer outcomes, evenly slice the economic pie, aim for equality among all. The typical conservative recommends that we instill family values, demand that individuals assume more responsibility for themselves, tighten up slack moral standards (often by embracing traditional religious values), encourage a work ethic, reward achievement, and so on.

In other words, the typical liberal believes mostly in Right-Hand causation, the typical conservative believes mostly in Left-Hand causation. (Don’t let the terminology of the quadrants confuse you—the political Left believes in Right-Hand causation, the political Right believes in Left-Hand causation; had I been thinking of political theory when I arbitrarily arranged the quadrants, I would probably have aligned them to match).

This duality in how we see the causes of suffering is the basis of what I call the agentic/communal bias. The right, which tends toward agency, sees the causes of suffering as largely internal, that suffering can be best alleviated through the power of individual action. That the best way to achieve one’s own happiness is by working on ones own self (i.e. self knowledge, self improvement etc.) regardless of what obstacles may be in ones way, and in so doing, one contributes to the overall health of society as a whole. Thus the “Ideal Man (or Woman)”from an agentic point of view is the one who overcomes all odds, and blazes a path to their own happiness.

Meanwhile the left, which tends toward communion, sees the causes of suffering as largely external, that suffering can be best alleviated through the power of communal action. The suffering of the greatest number can be eliminated by simply spreading material and social benefits equally among all. Thus the “Ideal Man (or Woman)” from a communal point of view is the one who selflessly gives to the community all that is within his ability, while taking only that which he needs for comfort and happiness.

We all have some level of bias toward agency or communion, to varying levels of extremity, and that bias has a huge impact on the way in which we experience our journey up the Spiral. In the 1st Tier levels we are literally incapable of seeing our bias for what it really is. At 1st Tier your current world view is truth, and all else is falsehood, dangerous, threatening, even evil. Even pluralistic GREEN, who believes that all worldviews are equally valid, simultaneously believes that all people (especially within their own society) who do not share their belief are wrong, hateful, oppressors. It’s that very doublethink that causes the cognitive dissonance in GREEN necessary to motivate one to make the momentous leap to 2nd Tier (YELLOW).

It is at YELLOW that we are at last capable of looking at our agentic/communal bias objectively. By freely embracing and accepting our own natural agentic/communal bias we can start to rise above it and take an a-perspectival view.   We can see the “other” clearly for the first time, and accept their otherness as a necessary part of a greater human whole. We need both agency and communion to exist in harmony in order to have a healthy 2nd Tier society.

r/K Theory and epigenetic survival strategies

There is, I believe, a biological (It) component to our agentic/communal bias, and I think it explains in part why our biases seem to be so unwavering, why it seems almost impossible to sway the other side, and why in many if not most cases our biases strongly flavor how we as individuals experience each stage or wave of the Spiral. This biological component is an epigenetic trait that humans have developed as a survival strategy over the course of our evolution. I will quote at length here from my 2015 post (linked above):

Each individual (I) has a bias toward either Interior or Exterior, which translates to a social/cultural (We) bias for agentic or communal, and a political/economic (It’s) bias for Agora or Commune, and I believe there is compelling evidence for a biological duality (It) that influences the formation of our “I” and “We” and “It’s” biases from very early in our individual development (perhaps beginning as early as the womb) and that once hardwired, that bias travels with us throughout our journey along the spiral. This explains why some individuals experience a strongly agentic/interior journey while others experience a strongly communal/exterior journey.

There is a theory in evolutionary biology known as r/K Selection Theory. The theory originally came about as a way to explain different reproduction strategies among organisms. According to the theory, r-selected species thrive in unstable/unpredictable environments where the ability to reproduce and repopulate quickly is crucial. Environments with little direct competition for the same resources (abundance) also favor r-selected species. K-selected species thrive in stable/predictable environments where the ability to compete for limited resources is of higher importance. Environments that are at carrying capacity with heavy competition for resources (scarcity) favor K-selected species. Mice, rabbits, and honeybees are r-selected, while elephants, whales, and bears are K-selected species.

It is also important to note that, much like any other duality, r/K selection is a continuous spectrum rather than a strict dichotomy. Sea turtles for example are long lived creatures (a typical K trait) but their reproductive strategy is r-selected. In addition to r/K selection cropping up in evolutionary biology, it is increasingly being applied in behavioral epigenetics as well, and this is where the r/K duality becomes really interesting.

In “From Quantity to Quality of Life: r-K Selection in Human Development,” [9] Francis Heylighen and Jan L. Bernheim describe how environmental and social pressures can influence our genes. “The choice between an r and a K strategy does not need to be wholly fixed in the genes (nature). It can also be (epigenetically) shaped by early experience (nurture). Indeed, since the environment changes in carrying capacity and degree of risk or unpredictability over the generations, it is useful for an organism to be able to adapt its strategy to the current situation. This may apply in particular to humans, who excell in adaptability.”

The research implies that humans can adapt to their natural, social, and economic environment on an epigenetic level, and that this survival strategy has an observable impact on human behavior, on psychology, and even on brain structure. The environmental factors that determine r/K selection are those that induce stress hormones in a pregnant mother, or a developing child. “According to the well-known theory of Bowlby [1969], a primary cause of childhood stress is insecure attachment to the mother. This occurs when the child cannot rely on the mother for support when it needs it and/or is not allowed by the mother to explore the world on its own and thus develop autonomy. While such motherly neglect or overconcern is stressful in itself, it moreover is likely to indicate a dangerous external environment, which is either too demanding on the mother to have energy left to care for her child, or so risky that she cannot allow her child autonomy… Less immediate causes of childhood stress may include sexual, physical or emotional abuse, malnutrition, diseases, living in true poverty, in a ghetto or war-zone. (Heylighen/Bernheim)” [9]

High stress environments, such as those induced by war, poverty, social upheaval, issues of abuse and so on in the early development of a child trigger an epigenetic response that directly affects the brain. This response is triggered as a survival mechanism, to prepare the child for a life in an environment that favors an r-selected strategy. Similarly, Low stress environments, such as those induced by a secure, peaceful environment, relative affluence, social stability, and a positive supportive relationship with parents and family will trigger a response that will prepare the child for a life in an environment that favors a K-selected strategy.

The precise causes of r/K selection are extremely varied, but appear to encompass any environmental factors that affect the release of stress hormones in a developing fetus or child. The release of these hormones in turn effect brain development, resulting in structural differences in the brain between those who later exhibit agentic/interior bias and those that exhibit communal/exterior bias.

In a famous study at University College London [5], subjects with reported agentic/interior bias and those with communal/exterior bias were discovered to have slightly differing brain structures. The subjects with agentic/interior bias had larger amygdalea, while those with communal/exterior bias had larger anterior cingulate cortex. The amygdalea is associated with processing memory and emotions. The ACC on the other hand is associated with monitoring uncertainty and conflicting information, which would serve an individual well in an environment which favors r-selection.

By understanding the “It” correlate to the communal/exterior – agentic/interior duality a full AQAL social holarchy emerges. Furthermore, we need to look at this holarchy three dimensionally. Understanding that we are epigenetically wired from very early in our development to be somewhere along the r/K spectrum (keep in mind this is a spectrum not an either/or) and carry that with us throughout our journey along the spiral of consciousness unfolding, we will carry our correlating agentic/communal bias with us on that journey and it will determine how we experience each stage/wave. In other words, not only will an individual experience each stage/wave through the lens of their bias, they will also tend to stay within a stage/wave which confirms their bias for longer. Green, a stage/wave that favors a communal bias, as a reaction to agentic Orange, will be naturally comfortable to an r-selected individual, while being naturally uncomfortable for a K-selected individual. This barrier will either cause the K-selected individual to spend less time in Green before moving to Yellow, or to avoid Green entirely and stay firmly rooted in Orange. Conversely the r-selected individual, being comfortable with Green, will be uncomfortable with Yellow, and will either spend less time in Yellow before moving to Turquoise, or will avoid Yellow and stay rooted in Green.

I think that these internal battles can explain why, as Wilbur observed, people move up and down the spiral, not in a steady path forward but back and forth, in an uneven and unsteady progression, often making temporary breakthroughs, only to then revert back to an earlier stage/wave, to later attempt to move forward (transcend/include) again.

I want to clarify that I think it is entirely possible for an individual to be hardwired from early development for K-selection and through their own journey through young adulthood, re-wire themselves for r-selection, and vice versa. We know that brain development continues into the the late 20’s to mid 30’s and there is evidence that it never really stops, but continues slowly throughout our lifespans. Therefore I do not see r/K selection as unchangeable, but I would think it would require lots of effort and environmental/social stimuli to radically change.

Spiral Dynamics’ warm and cool stages and our individual journeys through them

In the Beck/Wilbur model of Spiral Dynamics (I prefer that color model to Wilbur’s later one), the Spiral alternates between warm and cool colors, and this indeed has meaning; the cool colors represent stages that are more communally (we) oriented (violet, blue, green, turquoise), while the warm colors represent stages that are more agentically (me) oriented (beige, red, orange, yellow). The stages oscillate from communal to agentic up the Spiral. On the aggregate, societies centered in warmer stages will tend to be agentically oriented, while those centered in cooler stages will tend to be communally oriented.

Individuals also progress through the stages, however their “oscillation” I believe is much less severe. In fact for those who have a high degree of agentic or communal bias, the stages only really oscillate from very agentic to less agentic and back again (or vise versa on the communal side). Thus you might hear someone admit “I don’t remember going through ORANGE” or “I don’t remember going through GREEN” and it may just be that their experience of those levels was not stereotypical, rather they experienced a far more communal ORANGE or a far more agentic GREEN.

I also think we tend to linger in stages that match our agnetic or communal biases longer. For the communally baised, the warm stages are uncomfortable, and they are more likely to either be quicker to transcend to the next cool stage, or regress to a lower cool stage. The same in reverse is true of the agentically biased. The agentically biased also tend to access the warm stages more often than the cool ones, and similarly for the communally biased, who tend to access the cool stages more than the warm ones. I created a diagram to show this in my 2015 post linked above.


All of this answers the question of why the “left” and “right” seem to be so irrevocably and irreconcilably different.

Why the “Left” have become the new conservatives, and the “Right” are the new progressives

For the last 150 years (really since the days of Carl Marx and others reacting against pathological ORANGE) the “left” have been the champions of the GREEN vMeme. Their agenda was the “progressive” one, rejecting the Established ORANGE order, they fought long and hard until in the 1960’s and 1970’s when GREEN achieved cultural ascendancy over ORANGE, having eclipsed ORANGE’s influence in academia, the media and popular culture. The dominance of GREEN in those spheres would go essentially unchallenged until the 1990’s.

Now it is GREEN that is the established order, and it is YELLOW that is reacting against it. GREEN has continued to fight the “progressive” fight that it won decades ago, continuing to find more demons to slay in the tiniest of offenses. In doing so it has become a caricature of itself, infested with pathological Memes most of which can be lumped together under the umbrella of the “Social Justice Warrior” phenomenon that pervades academia and the media, and to which our establishment politics have kowtowed until today.

What I see more and more are people who have very clearly come out of GREEN and are transcending it. They don’t know our Spiral Dynamics jargon. They don’t need to. But they are clearly transcending into YELLOW as I described in my post, “Meet the Real Alt-Right.” If you listen to them (get past your communal bias if you lean that way and really listen) you can clearly see that they have integrated GREEN values and transcended them. And they are on the “right”because YELLOW is a warm stage and it will tend toward the “right” politically — toward agency.

Below I give you two perfect examples of this phenomenon of rejection (of pathology), transcendence and inclusion/embrace:

This is why I say that it is now the “right” that has the most compelling voice. It is the right (at YELLOW) that is taking on the mantle of “progressive” in this new Integral Age.

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Excellent post by Regie. The Political Left should reflect on this: If one group is talking, giving orderly popular speeches on college campuses, engaging in debate, and using reason and evidence as their primary rhetorical tools, while the other side is shouting and chanting, throwing bricks and lighting fires, staging fake hate crimes and committing their own, and using emotion and hyperbole as their primary rhetorical tools, which group are more similar to Hitler’s fascists?

Regie's Blog

I am not an expert on Hitler. But my father is.

He toured post-war Germany extensively in 1957 and ’58 as a child performer. And he often recounts the stories. He befriended  teenage Lebensborn children (if you don’t know what Lebensborn children are …well …before you post anymore about Hitler you should read about them). He visited an SS widow and got a peek at her husband’s uniform and Luger (that he’d committed suicide with), she had stored in an old trunk, in the attic.

These and other intense experiences in Germany sent my father on a life-long quest to understand this sociopath (Hitler) and the country that allowed itself to be dragged into one of the darkest chapters in world history. My dad is a Hitler/Nazi buff the way Indiana Jones’ dad was a Holy Grail buff.

As the son of a man with this hobby (one might call…

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Did Climate Scientists Screw up their Math?

The discussion below is certainly interesting. I will frankly not be surprised if what Monckton says is true. I remain skeptical though, and open to the science and the data, which I think unquestionably shows that global warming exists, and the only matter of debate seems to be the extent and effect of the human impact. I’ve long considered myself an Environmentalist, and am very very strongly against pollution (the biggest polluters being governments by the way), although I think free market solutions will be more effective than top-down government “solutions”. The question raised here is whether CO2 is really pollution or not and what is the real effect of CO2 on the environment.

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Meet the Real Alt-Right

Finding the seeds of an Integral Social Wave in the populist alt-right movement

spiral-dynamic-image-1In my last post I made the case that Integral thinkers should find a silver lining in the recent US presidential election. Despite the fact that the election of Trump was in many ways a regression toward BLUE/ORANGE and away from the ORANGE/GREEN in our political leadership, his election was also, I believe, made possible by the growing influence of an intellectual movement centered in YELLOW (G-T). This movement is beginning to rise up and seriously challenge the existing GREEN (F-S) intellectual order represented by Academia and the Main Stream Media for the first time. This relatively small group of upstart Writers, Podcasters and YouTubers dominated social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Periscope, during this election cycle and motivated the bulk of BLUE, ORANGE, and yes even some RED vMemes as well to throw in for Trump.

It should be clear that there has been a shift in the Spiral Dynamic makeup of our societies around the globe since the time that Beck and Cowan published their work on Spiral Dynamics in 1996. I would argue that the center of gravity as one measures political/intellectual  influence and/or power has moved from ORANGE/green to orange/GREEN in that time. As a result we’re seeing a concurrent rise in the influence of YELLOW, which was formally more fringe.

Social Media will be the vehicle that will propel the YELLOW (G-T) social wave into prominence. Just as pamphlets and newspaper was to ORANGE (E-R), radio and television was to GREEN (F-S), so will the internet and social media be to YELLOW. I predict that the future will see main stream and traditional media outlets continue to wane and the rise of new, independent, highly decentralized media sources. We’ll continue to see media consumption shift to smaller more niche providers that speak to specific vMemes at their level and in the next decade or two there will be a shift in the dominant “leading edge” of influential intellectuals from GREEN (communal-pluralistic) to YELLOW (agentic-integrative).

Recall that Spiral Dynamics predicts that YELLOW will be an agentic wave. The altitudes along the spiral oscillate from communal to agentic as you build upward and outward. It should surprise no one that YELLOW be born out of the political right. The care we must take is that we encourage a non-authoritarian (i.e. non-pathological) path for the alt-right to grow into something that can actually be properly called “Integral.” We are still far from that.

The major thrust, for now, of the emerging alt-right is to foment a popular rejection of the established pluralistic social order which is driven by a GREEN vMeme Intelligentsia. This will in turn leave a vacuum for a new integrative social order driven by a YELLOW vMeme Intelligentsia. Contrary to what the MSM wants you to believe, the Alt-Right is not driven by racism, bigotry or misogyny. That lazy characterization is convenient for the entrenched intelligentsia that senses its own imminent downfall, but it is little more than fog meant to confuse MSM consumers and delay the inevitable.

The leading edge of a social memetic shift has always been a minority that has had to enlist the help of lower level vMemes to bring about positive social change. I want to take a look at this leading edge and demonstrate why I think the sample of people below are among those that fit the bill (there are certainly many others). I won’t go so far as to make a claim that they are or aren’t “Integral” or are completely centered at YELLOW. I will only submit the opinion that I believe they have exhibited some (though perhaps not all) of the patterns of behavior and thought that I associate with an Integral mind, and I will let you judge for yourself.

For reference those patterns that I looked for are:

  1. They seem to show understanding and empathy for 1st Tier vMemes as (at a minimum) stages we all go through, or stages humanity goes through.
  2. They reject the pathologies of GREEN without rejecting the healthy purpose of GREEN.
  3. They’ve found a functional niche that honors who they are but doesn’t demand approval or validation from others while still being able to collaborate (post-pluralism)
  4. They accept uncertainty with an “I don’t know everything,” attitude. They Look for context and connections between ideas.

Stefan Molynuex

I have followed Stefan off and on since his work started appearing on back in the early 2000’s and of all the people on this list, his work is probably the most familiar to me. Although he can be an “acquired taste,” I have found Stefan to be firm and sincere in his principles, yet empathetic and open to the “other.” His impressive body of work includes his theory of universal secular ethics which he calls “UPB,” Universally Preferable Behavior. He has a large and extremely diverse audience that is demonstrated best through his regular call in shows. He is extremely prolific but I highly recommend taking the time to listen to and understand him. One of my favorite videos of his is below:

Milo Yianopolis

Milo has an incredible wit and has built himself in the image of an unrelenting internet troll battling the social justice warrior phenomenon on social media and on college campuses across the US through his “Dangerous Faggot Tour.” But beneath the troll exterior is a sincere desire to fight for free speech and free thought and to expose the hypocritical extremes of the pluralistic/relativistic mainstream left.

Mike Cernovich

Mike is a master of social media, playing it like the devil plays the fiddle. He’s become a hero for a generation of men who’ve been raised in a hyper-feminized society. Recently he’s become an activist focused on issues of free speech and exposing media hoaxes. Below is an interview that gives some good insight into who he is and you can also check out his blog here.

Carey Wedler

Carey is the Senior Editor for Anti Media (one of my favorite alternative media sites). She is a self described former liberal who supported Obama in 2008 but by the 2012 election campaign had become so disappointed in the Obama presidency that it led to her eventually creating (along with several other contributors) the Anti Media website. She might not characterize herself as a part of the alt-right, but none-the-less she represents a large segment of the anti-establishment crowd on both the right and the left.

Blaire White

Blaire is a trans-gendered male to female who focuses on issues of gender identity politics. Unlike many in the trans community Blaire recognizes her gender as just a part of who she is and not a club to beat the world with. Her activism is geared toward speaking out against the trans SJW crowd’s hostility toward… well pretty much everyone else.

That Guy T

That Guy T is a you-tuber, anarcho-capitalist and downright brilliant guy who also supported Trump over Hillary. His videos, focusing on politics, race and social justice, are well researched and nuanced, showing empathy to all sides of an issue. I have really enjoyed his perspectives on a lot of social issues.  Below is just a sample:

Cassandra Fairbanks

Cassandra is currently a writer and editor at She is a former Bernie supporter that switched to Trump once Bernie threw in the towel and declared his support for Hillary. She almost immediately suffered a vicious backlash on social media, but continued her staunch stand against Hillary, backing Trump as the anti-war, anti-wall street choice this season. The viciousness with which the left lashed out at her and the open armed reception she found among the alt-right has more than likely reshaped her world view.


This is just a very small sampling of some of those voices which I consider to be a part of the broader alt-right movement that helped to elect Donald Trump. There are many many more like them and it is a demographic that I believe will grow dramatically, especially among millennials, who are really the first generation whose Parents also grew up while the GREEN vMeme was fully established within the educational system and media. In my opinion this is the generation that will write the future of the coming Integral socio-political paradigm.

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