Front cover of MEMEnomics
|Author||Said E. Dawlabani|
|Subject||Macroeconomics, Capitalism, Values|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|LC Class||HM548.D38 2013|
MEMEnomics: the Next-Generation Economic System is a book by Said Elias Dawlabani, first being published in September 2013. It was a 2014 finalist for the prestigious Eric Hoffer Award which honors freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit.
The book presents a framework for defining the natural evolution of economic systems based on the application of the value system approach. Borrowing from the extensive works of Dr. Clare W. Graves and the theory of Spiral Dynamics, the author builds upon his in-depth knowledge of macroeconomics, financial and real estate markets, and his decade-long experience with Graves’ successor, Dr. Don E. Beck (who wrote the forward for the book), to devise a comprehensive macro-memetic-economic model through which he reframes the United States economy through historical, present and future cycles.
MEMEnomics through the prism of value systems
There are two tiers of cultural value systems according to the Graves/Spiral Dynamics/MEMEnomics model. Within the First Tier there are six levels of value systems which Dawlabani believes exhibit values of subsistence (pg. 40). He begins by detailing four active macroeconomic systems and a future fifth system (Second Tier) to identify what he calls MEMEnomic Cycles (pg. 21). The framework  illustrates that as societal and economic complexities increase, a culture experiences new problems that cannot be solved by the previous system. Cultures must transition to new higher order value systems to solve existential economic and social problems or face decay and entropy. Typically transition alternates between individualistic value systems and communal value systems on an upward trajectory towards higher meaning.
The four MEMEnomic cycles
Through rigorous analysis, Dawlabani demonstrates how the cultural emergence of world economies, including the United States, have approached capitalism so far from the values of subsistence (pg. 68). The author identifies the financial crisis of 2008 as the tipping point that signaled the entry of the United States into the decay phase (pg. 78-81) of Third Cycle (pg. 125) of his model. Dawlabani explores the complex problems visible in the world today including shifts in global wealth, dysfunction in Washington, and the Arab Spring. He posits that these global crises are symptoms of the transition to the Fourth Cycle (pg. 158). He believes that the worlds’ more advanced nations will continue to experience significant turbulence within the Fourth Cycle over the next decade.
The framework illustrates how the end phase of every cycle overlaps the entry phase of the next cycle and how the values of previous cycles become part of the DNA of the higher level system. Each cycle corresponds to a predominant values system level that is color coded in the Spiral Dynamics theory and Dawlabani details how his MEMEnomic Cycles can be observed in the United States in tangent with these value systems:
- The Fiefdoms of Power Cycle (pg. 105) is the 3rd value system - the Red System in Spiral Dynamics theory, and the first cycle detailed in MEMEnomics. This was an era that lasted from the end of the United States Civil War to the middle of the Great Depression when a few men built an entire economy. These the values of the individualistic Red System that are identified as egocentrism, heroism, and feudalism.
- The Patriotic Prosperity Cycle (pg. 108) was a MEMEnomic era that lasted from the mid-1930s till the late 1970s. It is identified with the values of the communal 4th system - the Blue System of righteous living, law and order, the one-true-way and heavy regulation.
- The Only Money Matters Cycle (pg. 125) was a MEMEnomic era that started in the early 1980s and is going through the entropy and collapse phase during this decade (2010-2020). It is identified with the values of the individualistic 5th value system - the Orange System of strategic enterprise, personal advancement and resource manipulation. Dawlabani posits that the Financial Innovation expression of this cycle falls outside the normal economic emergence cycles as money decouples from its historic relationship to human productive output.
- The Democratization of Information Cycle (pg. 158) aligns with a 6th level Green value system. The United States entered the embryonic phase of this MEMEnomic era in the 1990s and transitioned fully into the growth phase following the financial crisis of 2008. It is identified with the communal Green System of egalitarian and humanitarian values, seeking the equal distribution of information, knowledge and resources.
Dawlabani explains why, although advanced cultures and economies around the world do welcome the virtues of the Fourth MEMEnomics Cycle, the values of the 6th level Green System cannot be sustained in the long term. The framework indicates that, although each new system fills the gaps created by preceding systems, the First Tier systems fail to see the complexity or contribution of other value systems and are resistant to integration. The very nature of the Green communal system believes that egalitarianism is the highest virtue humanity can achieve. It dismisses the entire hierarchy below it, victimizes the Red system and blames the Blue and Orange systems. This phenomenon is what Don Beck and integral philosopher Ken Wilber call the "Mean Green Meme".
Dawlabani argues that the mandate of this cycle is already beginning to create problems that the current system cannot solve. The democratization of information through the internet, social media, cell phone cameras and YouTube, and the coming of age of digital manufacturing and 3-D printing are all ushering horizontal economies and unprecedented transparency that is creating disruption and chaos everywhere. These problems, Dawlabani argues can only be solved from the next system, which is a part of his fifth MEMEnomic Cycle.
The future Fifth MEMEnomic Cycle
In the last five chapters of the book, Dawlabani designs a new economic system. Emerging societal values at this time in history are not based on the subsistence economy and the subsistence ethic, but the values of what he calls a magnificence of existence ethic (pg. 170).
The Fifth MEMEnomic Cycle is based on the big picture views of the 7th value system - the Yellow System. This is the first level of the Second Tier systems and presents a significant breakthrough change in perspective within the Graves/Spiral Dynamics framework. It is what Graves called Humanity's Momentous Leap. In the Yellow system, economic values from all prior systems are integrated into natural hierarchies with functional flows informed by the awareness of interdependent life on a planet with finite resources.
Dawlabani argues that since humanity has much work to do to heal the damage caused by the First Tier Systems, the values of the Fifth MEMEnomic Cycle will define economic expression for many decades to come. Once this individualistic system develops more fully, a communalistic 8th value system - the Turquoise System is expected to materialize to fill gaps that are sure to arise from new life conditions. Dawlabani posits that it is difficult today to imagine an 8th level economic system that has no capital markets, commodities and currency, but it is the emergent nature of the socio-cultural value systems that places human emergence in a capitalist system on that trajectory.
The Platform for Functional Capitalism
Based on the MEMEnomics interpretation of the values of the Yellow and Turquoise systems and the magnificence of existence ethic, Dawlabani designs a functionally empowered economy that aims to build a future based on Distributed Innovation (DI) (pg. 202) for all who are willing to participate. At the base of this platform is a smart government.
- In Chapter 9, Dawlabani analyzes why we have to move from the democratization of information (pg. 158) to the functionalization of knowledge (pg. 200-201) as quickly as possible.
- Chapter 10 deals with creating a functional financial system with pioneering ideas on currency, central banking and capital markets.
- Chapter 11 details the concept of Second Tier manufacturing, with the promise that sustainable technologies  and additive manufacturing  hold.
- The final chapter deals with defining the resilient corporation of the future through the prism of value-systems. It offers a MEMEnomic analysis of how corporate "ownership" in a capitalist society has evolved over the years and what the future of the corporation looks like based on this trajectory. It introduces the concept of 7th level leadership (pg. 237) and 7th level corporations (pg. 244-255). It analyses the values of Google’s disruptive innovation, the virtues of the Conscious Capitalism  movement and their impact on the future of capitalism.
- Clare W. Graves
- Spiral Dynamics
- Don Beck
- Knowledge economy
- subsistence economy
- moral economy
- Evolutionary economics
- Financial Crisis
- systems thinking
- value system
- disruptive innovation
- Ken Wilber
- Integral Theory
- collective intelligence
- information cascade
-  Integral Options Cafe, "What Investment Means to Different Cultural Value Systems", by Said E. Dawlabani
-  Integral Leadership Review, article, "Economic Policy and Global Value Systems", by Said E. Dawlabani
-  Integral Leadership Review: Notes from the Field, "Natural Design Solutions for Indigenous Cultures: The Next Frontier in Geo-Political Strategy", by Said E. Dawlabani
-  The Eric Hoffer Award website
-  “The Never Ending Upward Quest", interview by What is Enlightenment magazine with Dr. Don E. Beck
-  “The Never Ending Upward Quest" (pg. 16), interview by What is Enlightenment magazine with Dr. Don E. Beck
-  “Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature”, Report to the United Nations for the 2012+20 Conference
-  National Institute for Smart Government, website
-  Risk Management Sustainable Technology, EPA website
-  Additive Manufacturing, website
-  Conscious Capitalism.org, website