Thursday, 11 March 2010


Warning: I am possibly going to be pretty offensive in the following post, utilising a hierarchical system of cultural development.

Many people try to understand what goes on in South Africa - most of them have pet theories and attempt to shine some light on why we are the way we are in this country. Most of them don't make a lot of sense. So let me add to the heap of nonsense with my own take on Seffrican culture, politics and development, using Spiral Dynamics.

Don Beck has already had at it some years ago, of course.

What we're seeing in this country is an overwhelm by Red and Orange Tiers.

Red - the impulsive,egocentric,to-the-victor-belongs-the-spoils level of development is clearly where the majority of our population is situated.

There is a smattering of authority-abiding Blue, mostly among the old colonials, the Afrikaners and some Indians and Coloureds.

But most people are clearly and defiantly Red.

It shows in our attitude to women, children and the elderly.
It shows in our scramble for the trappings of wealth and power.
It shows in our disregard for the lives of whoever gets in our way in our scramble for the trappings of wealth and power.
It shows in the violence of our crime, the outrageous number of luxury cars driven by people who don't have the wherewithal to pay for them, and in the existence of politicians such as Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma.

The paucity of Blue tier citizenry is not keeping the Red tier in balance, of course. Even rarer is the Green, or sensitive level of development. It exists, but not noticeably. And you could live your whole life in this country without meeting anyone more highly developed - Yellow, Teal, Turquoise and Violet are very,very rare.

Which leaves us with the other big problem - the relative predominance of Orange.

Having just passed through Orange myself, less than 10 years ago, I'm a little hypersensitive to this level. And the stunning point with Orange is that it's like a replay of Red - a secular, atheistic, industrial rehash of the egocentric traits found two levels down.

In this tier we find most of our successful entrepreneurs, many of the upwardly mobile new middle class - the 'Black Diamonds' and many formerly Blue colonialists, who think they're better people for being hard materialists.

But what I think is that, among this conflagration of aggressive Red and equally-although-not-physically aggressive Orange, this country could be destined for the flames.
I don't like this conclusion, and it's tentative of course, but it's looking more and more certain the further we go.