The Metacrisis is Giving Rise to the Transformation Age

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“There really is one planetary civilization connected in real-time, and much more so than any other era we’re going to rise together or fall together. The global pandemic demonstrates that. The threat of nuclear annihilation demonstrates that. Climate change demonstrates that. If we don’t reorganize ourselves to handle these things together, a serious planetary regression is possible. The risks go up a lot from here forward.” — Robb Smith


iles Seiden is a talented creative executive and complex thinker who approached Robb to help him make sense of the “Great Release” and decide how he could contribute to the rise of the Transformation Age. To answer this question, we first need to understand what’s driving the emergence of the Transformation Age out of the Information Age: a global metacrisis, occurring amidst a great release of global power, which as it becomes more acute is exposing the limitations of the current era’s structures, sensemaking, key contradictions (all pluribus, little unum), scarce resources (meaning), and the sources of power themselves (convening power).

Indeed, it is the integrative innovation underway as we speak that is growing the Transformation Age structures that will integrate and overcome today’s contradictions through transitions to new consciousness (from pluralistic self to integral self), technology (quantum computing, effectively free energy, nanotechnology, personalized genetic medicine etc.), governance (dysfunctional oligarchy to representative panarchy), education (economic-focused, job preparatory translational education to citizen-focused, lifelong transformative education), economics (accelerated decoupling of the physiosphere from noospheric economic growth) and environment (full, internalized costing and circularity).

But this transition to the Transformation Age is not inevitable. In the face of exponential tech and existential risks, today’s Great Release could end up catalyzing a cascading set of failures that send humanity back to the dark ages. This is why every person listening — you! — have such an essential role to play in understanding the outlines of what’s at stake, and why it’s essential we expand our minds to see a fuller picture.

“Isn’t there some global, all encompassing, overriding context that can be brought to bear?… Why can’t someone come save us, an all powerful [integral] President of the United States that comes to save us?… No, because the United States and its power function is exactly what is breaking down today… There is no one to save us, there is no overriding power function to be had here, no single dominating context… But there are leaders operating at the edge of their own Transformation Age being, who are accruing the power they’ll need to help us adapt to the Transformation Age… The Green-stage Information Age has created the tools that help save us from its own contradictions, becoming the rocket fuel that takes us into the Transformation Age…. You get the resilience [arising in the Transformation Age] by distributing wisdom down to the individual levels from the hierarchical savior leader, you get resilience by having power, wisdom and economics distributed amongst the crowd. So it is implicit in the nature of Green that, as it breaks down centralized power, what it’s also doing is reconfiguring it in a preparatory way for the resilience that’s needed at Teal, sowing the seeds for its own solution to emerge.”

Previous  Episodes  of  The Transformation Age
Transformational Theses: Your Doorway to Changing the World

Transformational Theses: Your Doorway to Changing the World

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A Transformational Thesis (“TT”) is the name for a specific hypothesis that if you can effect this change, you can...
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Robb Smith

About Robb Smith

Robb Smith is a leading thinker on the Transformation Age and the global Integral movement. He is the co-founder and CEO of Integral Life and founder of the Institute of Applied Metatheory.

Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for TVB TVB says:

    Great discussion guys, thanks for sharing. I concur with the 5 pillars that you explore and elaborate upon. I tend to frame it under 3 pillars: Economics, Sustainability, and Governance. I use the term ‘Sustainability’ because I think that the term ‘Environment’ is too closely associated with the general impression that human beings are part of the environment, which is partly true, but we are also the environment and the environment is in all of us (I wonder where the idea or impression that humans in the environment and somewhat above it came from…). Also, as you state, the meta-crisis is at the level of the globe, therefore Sustainability defined in principles is probably a better frame to tackle the environment pillar as we have sufficient and robust empirical ground to back it up at such a level. For education, I usually refer to “capacity building” as continuous methods of transfer, exploration, and learning how to learn and grow up (Or Ken’s conveyor belt but perhaps we need a better term/frame here). Each new generation needs to be brought up to speed so to say. Nothing new here.

    Spirituality is probably among the most influential source of the meta-crisis unfolding as it is at the root of the ongoing meaning crisis. Although it is a touchy subject, the spiritual crisis can partly be ascribed to some of the negated aspects of modernity and post-modernity (e.g. the sacred or intra-subjective realness that can get negated by hyper-objectivity or further flattened by hyper inter-subjectivity and the confusion regarding methodologies of knowing/experiencing).

    When I try to explain the unfolding of the current crises, in short, I say that 3pp negated 2pp, and 4pp negated 3pp and went back to the absolutistic view of 2pp in doing so. All were more or less reactionary moves it seems and probably unavoidable at that point. Add a compromised 2pp/3pp governance and economic structure, the blind spots/contradictions of 4pp, technology and the resulting culture wars to the mix and you have the mess we are in. A century or more in the making (not to mention the deep influence of all previous structures). (pp = person/people perspective)

    All 5 pillars are definitely and closely interrelated. I would be curious to know more about how you frame the hierarchical order of these 5 pillars.

  2. Avatar for Mbohu Mbohu says:

    Just a small point: Robb mentions people going to the streets to demand a carbon tax in the same way they are going to the streets for Black Lives Matter.
    I cannot imagine this happening anytime soon. Didn’t the Yellow Vest movement (in France) start exactly as a movement AGAINST a carbon tax? The transformation necessary to get emotionally as riled up about a seemingly abstract and collective issue, as about a purely personal one (“Why should I pay more at the gas pump?”) or a tribal one (my tribe under attack–black lives matter), I think, is very far off in a large enough portion of the population.

  3. It is innately human to strive for grow and develop. It only happens in a mature sustained way when include/integrate is actually done in a healthy way ~ yes, all levels remain present. Otherwise it can remain as a peak experience or insight.
    Also we must not forget that Integral Theory is a representative model of the world. There are many models being practiced by perhaps Billions (not thousands as with Integral Theory) that are striving for and are lead to transformation.

  4. Do you see it as a new and better” attempt to do the same thing humanity has always been doing? Humanity consciousness is a collective that works organically through us all. We as individuals can attain understanding of this as we climb the spiritual ladder of understanding within ourselves.

    I think Integral Theory is just another map to perceiving reality, A non-theist’s scientific approach to wrapping the magic and mystical traditions into a format that is easier to accept. Rather than the religious, occult or more esoteric traditions. To me it seems they are all required to reach an inclusive integral perspective and understanding as individuals.

    The collective human consciousness is beyond my pay grade but I hold to the idea that it is always working for the good of the whole. What do you think about these ideas?

  5. Yes, in the terminology of Integral - Waking up is only part of the equation. Cleaning up is absolutely necessary to waking up and both are interdependent with growing up. We can’t pick one side or the other and call it integral. In contrast to this, traditionally humanity has separated rationalism and science from religion, occult, and esoteric traditions. Atheism is usually “against” mystical explanations and interpretations, and religion has traditionally gone to the extreme of executing scientists who suggested religious explanations were not factually accurate.
    Integral is a “new and better” attempt because by definition it isn’t either - or, but yes - and.

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