Integral Practical: Integral Strategies for Middle East crisis – Don Beck’s Fresh Start Initiative – II

by editor

This is a part of the series of posts titled “Integral Practical” which offer practical, applicable and contemporary solutions for political/social/cultural problems in the world. The current post is a continuation of the previous post titled, Integral Practical: Integral Strategies for the Middle East crisis – Don Beck’s Fresh Start Initiative – I. This particular post will discuss the ideas proposed by Don Beck (an illustrious Integral philosopher and creator of Spiral Dynamics fame) for the Middle East crisis, especially involving countries, Israel and Palestine.

In our previous post, we discussed the various hard truths that have to be accepted by both the Israeli and Palestinian communities. Some such hard truths are: 1. Leaders of the lands will not be able to find a peaceful solution to the crisis as they themselves are overcome by feelings of revenge, guilt and remorse. 2. Polarizing dynamics between two societies have to be addressed and eliminated. 3. The crisis is just a symptom that signifies a major global transformation – a shift from predator-prey relationship or feudal kingdom set up to a war against growing materialism of the developed countries. 4. “Demagogic leaders” often tend to exploit the ground situation in both the countries, resulting in tyranny, riots and more disruptions. 5. Biased media coverage of the Middle East unrest evokes further problems and feelings of revenge. Beck opined that not only is acceptance of these hard truths required but also planned and formulated strategies are required to cure the societies of these elements. What is the way out of crisis? “A fresh start”, says the Integral thinker. But how do we start afresh? From where do we start? What to do with the current situation? How to tackle unrest that may emerge during implementation of plans? How long will the strategies be effective? Find answers to all these questions in the following paragraphs.

Deeper currents that underlie: Exploring the causes for the crisis takes us to the past. There have been so many historic events on both the sides that have kept alive the embers of the deeper undercurrents of hatred and have attracted reactions from different quarters of both the groups. Though responsible people are talking out now, there is still no respite for the violence in the region. But the stakes are higher than before. Many people from this region emigrated to Europe, America and Asia, spreading elements from both the societies to new places, in different countries. Both the groups now have access to weaponry of more complex systems. They too have advanced communication set ups that makes everything “local and global” at the same time. In such a local-global scenario, threats are high and aggressive reactions can be deep and lasting. Revenge can have a ripple-effect of spreading elements of disruptions to other parts of the world. As Don Beck himself puts it, “The representatives are all trapped in highly emotive and historic cul-de-sacs; all are vulnerable to life and death pressures within their own social groupings; and none possess the portfolios to deal with the deeper currents that constantly fuel the atmosphere and destabilize their very best efforts to find a local solution. These deeper currents transcend across all natural and nationalistic boundaries literally dividing and cascading across the entire planet.”

In order to cure all these these, one should arrive at a new set of strategies for resolving the crisis. Such a new set of plans should address everything from deeper undercurrents to obvious economical, social, psychological or political issues in both societies. This is because under these deeper currents, even third party “neutral” voices will be unheard and the finest conflict managers and peacemakers will be of no avail.

A Fresh Start in the Middle East: Several plans have been proposed for the Middle East so far. In fact, a gamut of world thinkers, sociologists, conflict resolvers and leaders have ruminated over a solution for the region. The George Tenet initiative, Camp David sessions, Senator George Mitchell’s efforts etc. are some of the most popular ones. Now, everyone, including the people of both the countries opine that the crisis has to be resolved and that it is a high-emergency issue which has to be addressed immediately. Many have agreed over the proposal for creation of two-nation states. Though the idea has been accepted by many, it is kept on hold on account of opposition from a few pockets. Also, political sociologists do not know how to establish two nations considering the highly-tense situation in the region. Beck says that all these can be resolved if, we, as a whole are ready for a fresh start. A start that is free of the past mistakes, holocausts, bombings or violent acts. A start that is devoid of any emotions of guilt or remorse or revenge. A start that would appease both the sides, giving the fundamentalists, moderates and civilians the much needed “break” from violence and tense conditions.

Beck’s Integral design: Don Beck proposes what he calls a “full court press” strategy and a “global mobilization initiative” designed to deal with the problem. It is a proposal to transform the “Battle of Armageddon  into a Declaration of Global Interdependency”. The design of the plan will focus on resolving issues at all levels – including the obvious and most important levels that involve natural habitats like the economic, the technological, the geographic and the environmental lay of the land. In order to temper down and most probably eliminate collective anger, and to infuse a sense of pride and prosperity, eclectic steps would be taken to make Jerusalem the first global city and Israel the Hong Kong of the Middle East.

Beck’s Integral design would be an “integrated” proposal of all that has been previously suggested along with elements that are the results of analysis of the cultural dynamics of the region. Instead of playing the “blame and be blamed game”, this Integral design would “expose the demagogues, shed light on the insidious and corruptive agendas of selfish domination and blackmail, and shame those who sell out to the Machiavellian forces of manipulation and greed.” Beck’s proposal is a synergy of all the powerful resources of the land and the world at large, a synergy that would align, integrate and effectively implement the right strategies for positive change. In a call to the whole world, Beck says, “We call for a Fresh Start. Twenty-first century humans deserve no less.”

Beck presents a design that is confident, applicable and workable. His design is basically drawn from his doctoral dissertation titled, “The Social Judgment/Involvement Approach” that was used to analyze the issues of color in the United States and why it caused the Civil War, leading to the death of several thousands in the country. Modifying the same approach, Beck has used it in South Africa to free the country of the Apartheid differences. He now refers to this as the “Assimilation/Contrast Effect” or ACE. Endowed with both theoretical and practical experience, Beck’s design includes proposals from Camp David sessions, the George Mitchell Plan, the current Arabs and other such NGO or Governmental or UN initiatives. He says that he will encase his design in a “broader package” that will hunt for the undercurrents and clear them completely. His design is said to deal with every other issue, including the “hidden cultural and psychological elements that lie beneath the sand.” But only thing is, the design is a bit complex for people new to political strategy or Integral ideology. Let’s see how Beck unravels his design.

Hard Truths revisited: In Part II of his paper, Beck revisits the hard truths stated in Part I and consolidates them into two basic truths: 1. Both the parties cannot be left on their own accord as they do not have the emotional balance or conflict resolution capacities to direct the states in the right way. A new peace treaty, just as the peace negotiation tables of the past, would spiral down to war and result in what maybe a “massive global tragedy”. 2. After experimenting with the normal/ordinary peacemaking initiatives of the world, it has been revealed that the “horrible situation” cannot be handled with traditional forms of “conflict meditation, reduction and conclusion”. It is imperative that a new mode of thinking is activated and the powerful design of natural habitats be set right in order to resolve the deeper undercurrents of the societies. And this, can be done only by establishing “sapient circles” that involve the efforts of the whole world.

Yes, Sapient Circles are the crux of the design. Beck proposes establishment of three sapient circles for execution of this plan. But before that, he goes on to explain what this design will do to the society. That is, the capacities of the design to tackle issues head-on.

Characteristics of Beck’s Integral design: As Beck puts it, the Integral design package will call for a new level of thinking and will possess the capacities to resolve the situation. Some of the capacities that are promised by Beck:

1. Systemic Thinking: The design will enable people to think in a “systemic fashion” that would look at human existence as a whole, instead of looking in parts or fragments. The design will be able to analyze and propose suggestions to change or remove the hard-nosed relationships between the “oppressor/oppressed, victim/rescuer, have/have not and top-down/bottom-up” and equip us with a new perspective on the issue.

2. Detection of value systems: The system will go beyond “Flatland stereotypes” and look to differentiate people based on their value systems. Drawing from the value memes concept of Spiral Dynamics, the design will “detect the ‘beneath-the-surface’ value systems, life priorities, and invisible, interior motives” behind people’s or groups’ behaviors. This would avoid improper segmentation of people based on their communities or nationalities or religion or color or race. Distorted categorization will be avoided.

3. Detoxification or objectification of past: In countries that have been in conflict for years, the past history cannot be forgiven or forgotten. There is always a lurking sense of guilt or remorse amongst societies. The Integral design of Beck would help people break away completely from the past without judgment or justification. Beck elaborates it more: “It will become necessary to deal with the resulting asymmetrics, but without the charges and counter-charges around guilt, blame, rage, and revenge. This process whereby we assign a time frame to an entity enables us to recognize that different people thought and acted in different ways, in different times, against the demands from different sets of Life Conditions. So, Israel/l948 is not the same as Israel/l988, etc.”

4. Study of human ecology: The process will study human ecology in the region. It would analyze as to what motivates people or what pulls them apart. The design would bring to fore all the hidden or obvious motivators or triggers free flow of human ecology. As Beck points out, it can be anything like “the flow-states, cul-de-sacs, under-tows, tidal waves, sea changes, white waters, cross-currents, backwaters and other metaphors to enable us to identify similar movements in human affairs.” Understanding the human ecology will help us know the underlying economic, technological, historic and cultural currents in the society.

5. The Third Win touchstone: To solve a crisis like the one in the Middle East, one needs to establish a “Third Win” situation. Beck terms it the “ethical touchstone, judgment rubric, and the bottom-line as an anchor for making difficult decisions”. Such a third-win-ground would provide the “rationale” for “hard choices” we may need to make. Beck states that his Integral design would allow establishment of a “Third Win” ground and help craft the flow of natural and undercurrents in the societies.

6. Full court press solution: Since what proposes is an Integral design, it will enable implementation and construction of a “full court press” strategy for settlement of issues and resolving of crisis. Beck talks of his design as one which will “work up- and down-streams, on symptoms as well as causes, in both preventative measures as well as therapeutic interventions” and recognize the natural habitats that need to be re-constructed in a “holistic, integral and comprehensive fashion.”

On the whole, Beck’s Integral design will have the capacity to search for the “DNA cultural code” of the MassMind and comprehend the patterns of interaction, subcodes in the social sphere, factors that contribute to polarizations etc. Applying Spiral Dynamics, Beck intends to explain the root cause of problems in the Israeli and Palestinian camps. As he puts it with agility, “At the core, the Israeli and Palestine “cultures” have different vMeme stacks in their organizing codes. These deep level instructional systems must be understood in any Fresh Start initiative.”

So, how does Beck propose to begin this Fresh Start Initiative? What roles do sapient circles have to play in the conflict resolving process? More on these in Part III of the post.

This is a series of posts on the Middle East crisis. You can access here the Part I, Part II and Part III of the post, “Integral Practical: Integral Strategies for Middle East crisis – Don Beck’s Fresh Start Initiative”


Reference Links:

1. Integral Practical: Integral Strategies for Middle East crisis – Don Beck’s Fresh Start Initiative – I

2. Don Beck’s “Hard Truths and Fresh Start: A Bold, Comprehensive and Integral Strategy for the Middle East” –

3. Ray Harris: “Integral Notes on the Israel/Arab conflict”

4. Nader Said: “Being an Arab in Israel: An Integral Perspective from the Inside”

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