We continue our Thought Experiment in this instalment by looking at Doughnut Economics (DE) and its relationship to Spiral Dynamics and Integral City through a Regionalcentric Worldview.

As we noted in our first blog, the Regionalcentric Worldview spans Levels 5 and 6 in Spiral Dynamics (see Table 4). A regionalcentric worldview embraces the structures of Strategic Enterprise and Social Safety Network.

Table 4: Regionalcentric Worldview, Spiral Dynamics, Archetypal Structure

Worldview Spiral Dynamics Level of Complexity Spiral Dynamics Expression Archetypal Structure
Regionalcentric Level 5 Orange – Individual Strategic Enterprise
Level 6 Green – Collective Social Safety Network

We can summarize the inner qualities and outer contexts of these 2 levels of complexity as set out in Figures 7 and 8.

Figure 7

Figure 8

As we examine the correlative life conditions that Doughnut Economics points to, we can see the expansion from local/regional influence into global commercialization commenced the rocky road toward the unbalancing of the Ecological Ceiling and Social Justice factors. Historically, the kinds of human settlements that emerge at these stages are what we would now call modern and postmodern (even Smart and Resilient) cities. They now stretch the balance of local and regional life conditions into a global reach because of the technological developments that enable this possibility.

At the fifth level of complexity, DE Inner factors build on the life conditions of earlier levels including Energy (intensive fossil-fuel and early renewable energy). We also see intensified performance related to Income and Work, a more assertive Political Voice with Education, Health and Social Equity organized into public, private and not-for-profit performance enterprises . Outer factors expand to include Nitrogen and Phosphorous loading (caused by industrialized agriculture practices) Air Pollution (from burning fossil fuels), Ozone layer depletion, and intensified Land Conversion (to capture the commodity and biological resources for industrial use). The earlier factors continued to be threatened with Fresh Water Drawdown and Biodiversity loss (as natural habitats are invaded by regional and global enterprises).

The Level 5/Orange Spiral Dynamics factors are oriented to the individual with the focus on results, growth strategies, competitive labour forces, and global agreements for the exploitation of energy, food and water. Furthermore, the industrialization process leads to the expanded privatization of healthcare, education, housing and land/property ownership.   The Human System Context that set the life conditions at this level of complexity are a capitalist influenced government, with effective, efficient functional departments. In democracies this phase tends to be anti-union, with continued globalization of resources, a divestment of colonial governance but a continuation of colonial commercial influence, and an expectation that land, water and air sheds are available to be exploited.

At the sixth level of complexity, DE Inner factors expand from the fifth level’s factors to include Education, Health, Social Equity (for most definitions of diversity), Gender equity (with equality for both women and men), regional and even global agreements for Peace and Justice. Energy starts to be delivered from renewable sources of water, wind and solar.

Outer factors continue to deteriorate, and the specter of climate change becomes more fully recognized but with few intentions to change the underlying causes. This is characterized by the “inconvenient truths” that could be named but seemed too costly to act on.

The Level 6/Green Spiral Dynamics factors are oriented to the collective with the worldview still regionalcentric with many global characteristics or networks emerging. A sense of global citizenship starts to emerge from the regional affinities, that also spawn transnational human rights initiatives. At the same time people start to recognize environmental protection is needed for the basics of life and even Nature (as forest, water, air, soil). Private, public and NFP options emerge for health, education, housing, land, energy, food and water. The Human System Context favours an increasing interest in Socialist governance (as a counteraction to the privatizing interests represented by Capitalism).  With world courts and strong social activism Social Justice becomes globalized. Truth and Reconciliation processes emerge and the rights of Indigenous people are demanded (if not granted). Environmental activism supports nature, land, water, air quality

Thus, DE helps to reveal the undeniable interconnection of Social Justice factors and the encroachment on our Ecological Ceiling. At this stage of emergence, the great challenge is to make the “walk” match the “talk”.  The alarm bells start ringing, but people are either frozen in place (from fear) or ignore them (expecting technology to solve the problems).

Looking at human habitations in the 21st century, at these fifth and sixth stages, we can consider the implications that these worldviews and capacities have on the effectiveness of economies. The influence that is amplified when strategies are focused on growth expands to globalization. This means that Social and Justice factors become more visible locally while becoming more untenable globally. These worldviews live in a tension between the strategic growth focus and the increasingly loud call for Social Justice that resonates around the world. People act as if they are blind to the increasingly endangered Ecological Ceiling while disconnecting these factors from their impact on Social Justice.

These regionalized human settlements have global aspirations to continue to accumulate wealth. They expect wealth will be invested in technology to solve the overreaches of the Ecological Ceiling.  The continued practice of ignoring the dangers of not living within the Ecological Ceilings and their links with Social Justice factors for all people increases the local, regional and global tensions. This causes Climate, Water and Energy refugees and threatens the whole Spiral of structures within the regions and a planet of cites. This is illustrated in the recalibrated Levels 5 and Level 6 below – showing the dangerous red overreaches representing the planetary challenges we now experience.