the yellow meme in history

Wilber Esoterica Alert: if you haven’t read any of Wilber or Graves, you may not understand the following. Check some of the links to the right (especially Spiral Dynamics). I think it’s fascinating stuff, but if you don’t like it, ignore this.

In the spiral dynamics documents I have read, all the memes through green are described by example. And once you grasp the concepts, it’s easy: I can’t think of John Ashcroft without thinking “blue meme.”

But second-tier memes are described in qualitative terms that can be a little hard to grasp. The reason given is that they are still emerging, and there aren’t many examples of them yet to point to.

I suppose that’s true, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t historical examples. Green meme may be easy to find today, but we can see it in Thoreau’s writing over a century ago.

There is one other reason second-tier memes may be a little hard to find in the past. They will tend to camouflage themselves, appearing orange in a blue-orange context, or orange-green in an orange milieu. They willl not stand out as themselves, but will appear only as subtle variations, moving the action forward.

For example, I suspect Thomas Jefferson had some yellow-meme mastery. He probably operated in a blue or blue-orange social environment, but his impact was distincty orange. As I understand it (and I’m no Jefferson scholar), he was described as saying what he had to say to persuade any audience, to the point of being known as manipulative.

I’ve had a long debate with myself as to whether Abraham Lincoln brought some yellow meme to bear. In fact, I’ve been toying with the idea of stereotypical professions among the memes: red-soldier, blue-cop, orange-scientist, green-activist… perhaps yellow-politician. To really master politics, you have to master the yellow meme. Dealing with diferent contituencies, playing different emotional chords, bringing appropriate mindsets to particular situations. Finding the right aspect of yourself to resonate with those around you, and move things on up the spiral. These seem to me to be aspects of yellow.

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2 comments

  1. Just because it’s the only reference to Lincoln and Yellow on the web…

    I’ve also long suspected that Abraham Lincoln was acting from Yellow. When you think about all of the people he was surrounded with it’s really quite amazing because it seems like he was the only yellow person in the world (not really of course, but the only one involved in the conflict I think). I think the conditions for Yellow were available. There was a strong Green current running among the anti-abolishionists. Lincoln alone was faced with the problem of rectifying that Green current with the heavy,heavy blue, sometimes red slave states and rebels. I believe that one of the conditions of Yellow arising is an intractable conflict between Green and Blue. Thus Lincoln seems to have been acting from Yellow, making use of different memes as necessary to accomplish his goal and also working with individuals from all different memes and dominating them with their own logic (his generals excepted 😉

    I’m reading on Kennedy now and am surprised to see Yellow activity as well. I haven’t read enough but he seems to have faced a similar issue with the “second reconstruction” of the South. I don’t recognize Yellow, or even Green in any other presidents. Nixon is interesting. The political animal that he was he seemed to be able to move quite easily from red to orange and back.

    I’ve thought about the founding fathers but I don’t see any evidence of Yellow behavior in any of them, certainly not Jefferson. Jefferson had a serious red streak but like most of the founding fathers I think they were transitionary blue-orange. Collectively their activity may seem Yellow but I think it is really the starkness of Orange emerging relatively untainted and shining bright that just momentarily looks yellow.

  2. I’ve thought about the founding fathers but I don’t see any evidence of Yellow behavior in any of them, certainly not Jefferson. Jefferson had a serious red streak but like most of the founding fathers I think they were transitionary blue-orange. Collectively their activity may seem Yellow but I think it is really the starkness of Orange emerging relatively untainted and shining bright that just momentarily looks yellow.

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