The Metacrisis is Giving Rise to the Transformation Age

Integral Life Audio, Leadership, Perspectives, Premium, The Transformation Age, World Affairs 5 Comments


“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.”

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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.

Notable Replies

  1. Revolution without liders
    Revolution without riots
    Silence revolution of self-knowledge
    No need of Mummy
    No need of Daddy
    No afraid of death or pain
    One more step to be civilized
    One more step to be a human
    The chance is there to trascend

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. TVB would you mind drilling down & elaborating more around the 2pp, 3pp, 4pp stuff? I’m not familiar with any of that but sense you’re saying a lot there. Thank you

  5. TVB says:

    Sure, so 2pp maps to a more ethnocentric, absolutistic mythical view, 3pp maps to a world-centric, liberal view and 4pp maps to a pluralistic, more culturally, and context-sensitive view. You can also map them loosely to pre-modern, modern, and post-modern eras. In integral color: amber, orange, and green. The interplay between the 3 and how they came to be in this current unfolding is an important distinction to make. All moves were somewhat reactionary from one rung to the next which brought a peculiar dynamic between theses 3 main stage worldviews. In a different context, this interplay might have played out differently but this is what we got in this day and age.

    It’s also important to note that 4pp is not well established in the structure and it’s attempting to find its ground so to speak. But since modernity (3pp) neglected a big part of its make up by moving mostly towards empirical science/evidence, an overly inflated objectivity and everything is a commodity, 4pp (post-modernity) came about in disenchantment land, looking for meaning in all this (it might have found a temporary replacement in images of a show business era but a rather flimsy one). Flirting with going back to what might have appeared to be a better ancient time (pre-trans fallacy), it fell deeper into a reaction move. It’s like trying to function in a highly dysfunctional environment. It doesn’t work.

    Another layer to all of this is: legal structure and siloed organizational structures and the geo, political and economical landscape that favored a certain stagnation when it comes to innovation and further fragmentation of the social human fabric in the last 50-60 years while going through the great acceleration of what might become the Anthropocene. In short, communal de-responsibilization became normal, pain a problem to fix or distracted from at the cost of not growing up, and meaning was further at lost in a flatland deprived of depth. Seeing all this at play became the next stage’s playground. This time around, it needed to respond, and not so much react. Here we stand.

    Again, I’m overly simplifying but it’s a quick rendition of the dynamic at play between these worldviews and why the current social structures and world order can’t hold them much longer.

    For a better rendition on person perspectives, I recommend Susanne R. Cook-Greuter article on ego development:

    Also, I recommend reading Ken’s Excerpt A as to better establish some of the philosophical ground to all this.

    Another take on hyper-individualism that is worth looking into is Adam Curtis’s Century of the self. It’s not so joyful and certainly tainted by interpretations but it reminds of a few key historical juncture of the last century.

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