8/15 – Elza S. Maalouf. Emerge! The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East.

Russ Volckmann

Elza S. Maalouf. Emerge! The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East. New York: Select Books, 2014. (NOTE: This book has not been released as yet.)

Russ Volckmann

Elza Maalouf

Elza Maalouf

Pages from EMERGE cover ideas 4-7.21-1One of the challenges with Spiral Dynamics integral has not been the clarity of the Gravesian framework, but the fragmentation of information on how to apply it to self and human systems. Both of the authors (Don Beck and Chris Cowan) have continued training programs in the theory. Beck has hosted over a dozen advanced SDi conferences. While Cowan has edited and reproduced some of Graves’ work in The Never Ending Quest, (there is an interview with him at ) Beck (there are interviews with him at and )has reported on his work in The Crucible (with Graham Linscott), video interviews, a CD set of materials on SDi and on the very active SDi list serve for those who have completed Level 1 of the SDi training.

In addition, there are numerous articles in Integral Leadership Review by Don Beck, Elza Maalouf. Rafi Nasser, Roberto Bonilla, Peter Merry, Alan Tonkin, Marilyn Hamilton and Bjarni Jonsson. In fact, there are probably more materials about SDi and its implementation in ILR than any other publication. At there are eleven of Don Beck’s essays and links to others who are using, writing about and applying SDi. Integral Leadership Review is on that list.

Elza Maalouf has been an outstanding leader in the use of SDi both in her collaborations with Don Beck and others at the Center for Human Emergence – Middle East, and in her own practice as a consultant to businesses in several Middle Eastern countries. Born and educated in Lebanon before moving to the United States, Elza is extraordinarily positioned to report on the history and events of the Middle East, but the applications of SDi, particularly in Israel and Palestine. But there is more to this book than recounting past experiences.

Probably more than anywhere else except in the SDi training programs, the theory and the methods of SDi are explained and illustrated by Maalouf. Many people are familiar with the stages in the Gravesian model, but not so many understand how to take this information and apply it to complex human systems. Contextualized in the history and more recent events (Arab Spring), Maalouf succeeds in bringing the approaches to SDi to life. Her use of the SDi framework as a lens for comprehending history and events in the Middle East provides a view that Don Beck has been advocating for many years. That view honors the importance of history and the relevance of all levels of development while providing a framework for appreciating the cultures of those systems today.

Beck and his colleagues (e.g. Alan Tonkin in South Africa) have written about Stratified Democracy; Maalouf has called this functional democracy. The book spells out the history and an analysis of the arrested development of many Middle Eastern countries and cultures. She shows how the Gravesian model helps to make sense of what has been, what is and the opportunities for development in a way that is useful for examining any human system.

In addition, Maalouf explains a number of the methodologies of applying SDi and includes example of their application in her work with Beck in Israel and Palestine (as well as applications she has been engaged in in other countries of the Middle East). While citing successful developments in some countries, she offers a model – Memetocracy: “…the design for governance that fits.” It is an approach that not only fits with the constellation of developmental stages present in these societies, but the life conditions that are so important in lighting up those different stages. She goes on to state,

MEMEtocracy is a unifying political theory that answers the question of why different people and different cultures need t5o be governed in different ways., MEMEtocracy provides a new framework on how to structure these governing systems. This is a Second Tier theoretical approach that assesses the memetic contours of the culture in order to uncover the deeper layers of conflict within competing political values systems…. Memetocracy designs a functional flow for an indigenous type of democracy that better serves the needs of the people.

In fact, the issue of conflict among worldviews and value systems is central to her presentation:

Working with large-scale systems begins with the analysis of conflict through the prism of value systems and moves through the model of Natural Design and Functional Flow, what we call the “design kit” for large-scale systems change. This is what operationalizes MEMEtocracy as the tool of choice for future governance.

Here she describes the Assimilation-Contrast Effect model and various positions that individuals take in relation to value-system contexts, e.g., flamethrowers, zealots, ideologues, moderates, pragmatists and conciliators. This is linked to Beck’s “Hearts and Minds Strategy” and the four steps for values-spectrum facilitation. The goal is to reduce polarization by answering the question, “How do we bring the Moderates and Pragmatists on both sides of the table, while empowering them to reject the radical Zealots and Ideologues on their respective side?” This presentation is augmented with a discussion of this approach in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Natural Design process is guided by Beck’s familiar question:

HOW does…
lead/teach/manage/design for
…WHOM…to do WHAT
…living WHERE and WHEN?

The book concludes with Appendices:

(1) Global Values Monitor: The Iceland Case Study, and
(2) The Global Values Monitor General Questionnaire

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Elza Maalouf for this timely and important book. I believe that we are increasingly recognizing that many of our long cherished paradigms or human systems, conflict management, and leadership no longer are serving us well. This book represents one of the shifts in paradigms that we desperately need to address the complex challenges of our day. If you are interested in a fresh and significant approach to addressing conflict and issues of polarization in human systems, this book is a must read!


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