Henry Andrews on the Mean Green Meme

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Henry Andrews:

"Wilber’s Mean Green Meme (MGM) has done more damage to Gravesian theory than nearly anything else. While he and Beck had a half-decent idea in creating it (motivate better Green through critique), Wilber became so enamored of pushing MGM as a central societal adversary (with Turquoise as the societal savior) that it’s all warped out of recognition. Cowan noted that Wilber transferred some aspects of Green to Yellow/Teal or even Turquoise in order to preserve this arrangement.

Wilber and Beck both doggedly conflate Green with leftism and progressivism, losing track of the fundamental Gravesian dynamic of FS (Grave’s term for Green), which is: “adjust/sacrifice self now to gain acceptance from peers.” “Peers” here should be interpreted very broadly, not just personal friends or colleagues. This is the dynamic that motivates all of Green.

It is anti-hierarchical because it looks to lateral peer relationships for guidance rather than vertical authorities (elders, strength of force, religious authorities, secular authorities, or winners by some metric). It is pluralistic because it looks broadly and sees different views that most co-exist or else there is no way to resolve your own behavior against peer views. This is a necessary step towards the metamodern (GT/A’N’/Yellow/Teal) ability to hold paradox. It is deconstructive because that is a mechanism for eliminating the vertical hierarchies that are antithetical to its peer-based dynamic.

The desire for consistent peer outcomes plays out at both the individual and group/cultural levels. If I, as a White person, consider Black people to be my peers, than I want equitable treatment for them. Otherwise we have an imbalance of the sort that Green can’t abide.

Green has nothing to do with left vs right, aside from rights movements being an early and highly visible manifestation of Green. The right is currently heavily Green in the Gravesian sense. It is adopting identity-based language, claiming that Whites now suffer from inequity. It has deconstructed the entire traditional media apparatus, and at this point only slightly respects its replacement, Fox News. Increasingly, it is whoever is loud and interesting across either TV or the internet that dominates the discourse (this is not specific to the right, of course).

The problem with Wilber’s view of Green is that it was a narrow focus of a specific slice in time. We have learned tremendous amounts about FS/Green in the past decade, and any view of Green that fails to account for this is not worth paying attention to.

As with all levels in Gravesian theory, Green (as a dominant system) eventually outstays its welcome. But this is not in the form of intolerant “wokism”, which is mostly the result of people at lower MHC levels attempting to adhere to values that require at least Systemic MHC. People at the Abstract or Formal MHC level tend to just invert hierarchies rather than seeing the systems in their proper complexity and applying things in a context-sensitive way.

The excess of Green has much more to do with it having succeeded at tearing down much in our society that does not work, but not knowing what to build in its place. Green thinks a totally flat peer-to-peer world where we are all context-sensitive rebalancers of resources would be ideal, but we need more structure than that. We need to choose our narratives instead of killing all of them. We need participatory co-creative structure rather than blindly hierarchical structure. And many other things.

What we see now in our culture, with Green so strong left, right, and center, is that there is no longer a core on which we all can agree. We can’t go back to the kind of fixed, societally-imposed core that had built up across all past stages of development. We need to co-create a new foundation. That is the role of Metamodernism (Yellow/Teal)." (Metamodern Forum, April 2021 [1])