[The following text presents an analysis of the Swedish response and debate around the refugee crisis from a value systems perspective. It can be considered as work in progress and different aspects of it have been presented at the Integral European Conference and the ESRAD symposium in May 2016. I will also give a presentation around the topic at the conference for Migration and the welfare states in October 2016.]
The Swedish response to the refugee crisis is analysed from a value system perspective, using the Spiral Dynamics model. The analysis gives an overview of the conflict between the traditional, modern, and postmodern values. Due to the crisis and changes in life conditions, traditionalistic and nationalistic values and perspectives have challenged the dominating postmodern values. Two defining aspects were the sheer volume and its economic consequences that made Sweden substantially reduce its intake, and the sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany, along with similar incidents in Sweden. The first aspect entailed a conflict between a postmodern emphasis on global human rights and tolerance, and traditional stability and national interest, as well as a modern emphasis on economic aspects and a preserved welfare state. The second aspect led to two expressions of the postmodern value system coming into conflict with each other, namely gender equality and multiculturalism. It is discussed whether the conflict leads to a regression of values or progress towards post-postmodern values.
”Instead, bit by bit, the entire house behind the façade is torn down. The façade remains until the crucial moment. At a given signal the old façade falls. Behind it there is already a new one. It seems to always have been there. In one stroke, everything changed. Politicians, journalists, everyone, follows.
Now it’s this corridor that applies. ” [The author’s translation]
The description came from Swedish columnist Johan Hakelius as a consequence of the dramatic shifts in the discourse and debate around the migration and refugee crisis in October 2015. The “corridor” refers to the space of acceptable opinions that you need to keep within if you don’t want to have a diagnosis of your mental health, a Swedish version of an Overton window. The term was coined by political scientist Henrik Oscarsson, director of the SOM-institute at Gothenburg University, which studies public political opinion. In Sweden, the opinion corridor, in relation to the issues of immigration and the refugee crisis, can be seen as the space within which you express tolerance, acceptance and a general positive attitude towards migrants, a generous immigration policy and multiculturalism. But does this opinion corridor really exist? If so, how can these values be characterised and how did they arise? And why did the shift in acceptable opinions that Hakelius describes occur? Into what?
The present analysis takes as a frame and general perspective a view where values, value systems and the value systems landscape as a whole are seen as complex adaptive systems. They are seen as systems, since they consist of clusters of opinions and preferences in many issues; they are complex, since they cannot be fully understood or controlled; and they are adaptive, since they change when the outer circumstances and life conditions change.
The analysis begins by describing the values and value systems landscape as a complex adaptive system. Then the model Spiral Dynamics will be introduced and discussed together with other models for studying value systems based on other assumptions and with better scientific support, such as the World Values Survey, Shalom Schwartz’ value system model, the GAL-TAN dimension applied by e.g. the SOM Institute surveys and a value system test developed by the author and colleagues. There are three main reasons to employing the Spiral Dynamics model for this analysis. Firstly, its explicit development perspective. It is sometimes argued that the postmodern values are more mature, and that traditionalistic and nationalistic values that are progressing should be seen as a regression. Hence, there is a need for a model with a developmental perspective. The developmental perspective and approach are also motivated due to the assumption of values as complex adaptive systems, and in order to understand them as such, they need to be seen as part of a process leading up to the current state (see e.g. Laske). Secondly, the value systems of the Spiral Dynamics model can be linked to corresponding perspectives, or the general view of what is mature and rational behaviour, and what is not on each level. Thirdly, the value systems can be linked to the cultural and societal development in terms of socio-techno-economic progress throughout the history. I will apply the Spiral Dynamics model to conditions in Sweden with a brief historical overview leading up to today’s debate with the refugee crisis as central concern. Finally, the implications of the analysis regarding the continuing shifts in discourse around the refugee crisis and the value system landscape as a whole will be discussed.
The analysis will employ the model that is popularly known as Spiral Dynamics, or as the author Clare W. Graves (1914-86) called it “the emergent, cyclical, double-helix theory of adult biopsychosocial systems development”. The model describes how the value systems or vMemes developed mainly on the cultural level and was further developed by Beck, Cowan and others. The model is sometimes included among the adult development theories and has an indirect support from AD theories such as model of hierarchical complexity, Loevinger’s ego development theory and Kegan’s subject object theory. It also shows similarities with frameworks for social or organisational development, such as Scharmer and Kaufer’s framework for socio-economic development, and Laloux’ framework for organisational structural development. Graves, a professor of psychology from Union Colleague in New York, sought a synthesis between different psychological schools, represented by Maslow, Skinner and Rogers. Graves was inspired by new ideas about systems theory, and general systems theory, formulated by von Bertalanffy. This systems theoretical connection and description of the value systems as complex adaptive systems is later articulated by Hamilton (see Christensen, 2015). Here follows an introduction of some key assumptions and concepts of the Spiral Dynamics model.
A key concept in Spiral Dynamics introduced by Beck and Cowan is the vMeme which refers to the value system. The concept of meme, coming from Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene, is an amount of information, an idea, an -ism, a value or the like, that is spread through the population like a virus. Thus, a vMeme is a coherent set or cluster of basic beliefs and values based on one or more core assumptions. If a person, for example, shows a high tolerance for different cultures also advocating gender equality, one can expect that s/he also advocates human rights. Another person who advocates conformism and obedience can be expected to value traditions and security. Similarly, it is possible to identify 8 different value systems in a developmental order.
The different value systems describe how the value system landscapes evolved in different cultures. A value system is a collection of opinions and attitudes on various issues that are related to each other. They describe what people consider to be healthy, rational and desirable in various situations. Value systems are not just collections of opinions, but also perspective on the world. One can say that it is not only a way of seeing the world, but also a way to not seeing the world. Further, the development of values and value systems is a very slow process and these perspectives have evolved throughout history. Thus, the current value landscape is considered to be a consequence of a developmental process of the culture.
A further assumption is that the value systems and their historical as well as individual developments, oscillates between two polarities, those of individualistic and collectivistic. It is, however, not a pendulum motion going back and forth without any progression, but rather a spiral movement, that for each turn also moves upwards – hence the name of the model. Each new level or stage builds on the previous one, but is also a reaction against it and tries to solve the problems that the previous fails to address or creates.
Graves had as a basic hypothesis that the value systems are fundamentally a consequence of how the individual (or culture) perceives the world around them. Thus, a value system can be seen as an agent’s response to its life conditions, which comprises:
• Locations and physical environments, for example in the inner city of Stockholm, in the suburbs, or in rural areas,
• Problems and challenges faced, such as working conditions or safety in the neighbourhood,
• Social circumstances as governed by social status, gender, education and family situation.
Thes life conditions should not be seen as objective truths, but rather, we experience them from different perspectives. We do not see the world as it is, but we see it largely as we want to see it and from the perspectives that are associated to our respective value systems. The notion of life conditions is therefore central to the model and one of the main points of the analysis is the following: if life conditions change, we can expect that the value systems landscape on a cultural aggregate level will change accordingly. This is in accordance with the adaptive aspect of the complex value systems.
Spiral Dynamics Integral
In collaboration with Wilber, Beck elaborated on the model, now referred to it as Spiral Dynamics Integral, and thus further relating the value systems to the development of a psychological as well as a structural level. For instance, by linking the different value systems with different forms of structural complexity in terms of governance, organisational logics and techno-economic development, as well as in terms of meaning-making or mindset, i.e. frames of reference and ways that individuals take perspective on the world. An example of the application of the structural plane is on the evolution of economic systems (Dawlabani). Other applications are as a framework for organisational development (Cacioppe and Edwards), in post-apartheid South Africa (Beck) and on the development and conflicts of the Middle East (Maalouf). The model has as an advantages in its popularity and applicability. It is also fairly easy to relate to the development of scientific paradigms and history of ideas, megatrends, and technological breakthroughs.
A main assumption of the model is that all cultures passes through the same developmental stages or levels. However, the model does not give any characteristics of individual cultures. Therefore, the uniqueness of, in this case, the Swedish culture will also be explored in this analysis. Therefore, some alternative models need to be shortly introduced and discussed.
Comparison with other value systems models
In the following section, some other value systems models will be discussed and compared with Spiral Dynamics. These are the GAL-TAN dimension from political science, Shalom Schwartz’ value system theory (also referred to as Common Cause), the World Values Survey, as well as a value system test developed by the author and colleagues. Finally, the Spiral Dynamics model will be summarised along with a discussion of the more or less normative assumptions that the model is based on. Another aim of the analysis is to clarify the scientific support of the Spiral dynamics and thus, contribute to its further development.
The GAL-TAN dimension: In the analysis of the most recent Swedish parliamentary elections a new perspective was introduced to the public. Besides the classic right-left scale previously mentioned Oscarsson advocated a vertical scale, GAL-TAN, with the former indicating Green, Alternative, Libertarian and the latter Traditionalist, Authoritarian, Nationalistic. The parties that were successful in the election positioned themselves at different extremes of the dimension or scale, mainly the Feminist party and the Sweden democrats. The analysis gives that parties and persons with a general positive attitude towards immigration positive tend to have libertarian values (GAL) and immigration critical parties correspond to authoritarian values (TAN).
A brief comparison with Spiral dynamics shows that GAL should correspond to the postmodern values, although the libertarian values also could be associated with the modern values. The latter seem to correspond quite clearly with traditional values. This would be a reasonable conclusion, but a future work is to show that this connection really has empirical support.
Shalom Schwartz value systems: Another commonly used model to describe value systems was developed by Shalom Schwartz and popularised in contexts around the environmental and transition town movement as Common Cause. Schwartz’ model is inductive, meaning that it is primarily based on empirical data. The values and value systems emerge as the respondents’ preferred values are grouped into different clusters. The Spiral dynamics model, however, can be viewed more as a deductive model with levels formulated early on and subsequently empirical date are assimilated into the existing model. A drawback with inductive methods is that they don’t disclose any underlying mechanism or logic, they only describe the distribution at different times. However, both approaches should not be seen as mutually exclusive, rather they can complement each other, and can be shown to be consistent with each other. Correspondingly, Loevinger’s ego development theory and Kegan’s subject-object theory can be seen as mutually complementary to each other in a similar way as Schwartz’ and Spiral Dynamics. An analysis by Strack (2011) demonstrated that they are based on the same structure, and Schwartz himself suggested a continuing work where the value systems are arranged according to a development dimension.
World Values Survey: The most influential measurement of cultural values is the World Values Survey (WVS) led by Ingelhart. WVS has since the 80s studied the values of socio-cultural, moral, religious, and political issues among a representative sample of the populations of many different cultures in five year intervals, resulting in different cultural value maps. These maps are usually used to illustrate how values differ between different cultures. The data is openly available and can also be used to study how values are distributed within cultures, and can also be analysed from a development perspective. Such an analysis was carried out by Sjölander, where the value systems of the dates 1996 and 2006 in both the USA and Sweden were compared, where USA during the period showed a regression towards traditional values on the expense of the postmodern ones (Sjölander & Stålne, 2012).
Value System test: Sjölanders analysis of data from WVS could reasonably accurately capture the traditional to postmodern values, where the modern where differentiated into two groups. However, the interview questions in WVS is not optimal to describe the development dimension. Therefore, Sjölander and colleagues have since been working on alternative formulations that can better differentiate between different developmental levels. A central aspect of this ongoing work, which is based on an inductive approach, is to find statistical measures to show that a certain value system should be seen as being more developed than another.
Summary of Spiral dynamics and some critical remarks
Spiral Dynamics can thus be seen as a deductive framework for how values develop throughout history, as well as describing at least three of the most currently dominating value system and their corresponding perspectives. The model provides a rough and simplified view of the value system landscape of a typical industrialised Western country from a developmental perspective. These simplifying assumptions are beneficial to the models applicability and its popularity. A further assumption is that all cultures move through the same stages. Hence, there is a need to complement an analysis of a certain culture with a discussion of cultural uniqueness.
One obvious criticism that can be directed towards the model is its normative elements. A model or theory being normative means that it not only describes how the world or a part of it is constituted, but it also prescribes how it should work. Normativitity can be more or less explicit and can in this case imply that certain value systems are more desirable than others without demonstrating why. One way to avoid this normativity is thus to clarify the underlying argumentation or by referring to the empirical data. Another way is to be transparent with the assumptions and axioms on which the model is based. Here the model of hierarchical complexity can be seen as a good example.
In the comparison with, for instance, Schwartz’ model and WVS, Spiral dynamics describes value systems as being more or less developed. This was an assumption on which the model was constructed rather than an empirically based conclusion. It is not explicitly normative in that higher levels are better or more desirable. Nor is it deterministic, progress is not predestined to happen. Temporary setbacks, more permanent regressions or collapses are always possible. Thus, it can function as a taxonomy for cultural values. Graves’ own position on the normative question can be regard as weakly normative on the cultural level, which is explicit in the following quote:
“I am not saying in this conception of adult behavior that one style of being, one form of human existence is inevitably and in all circumstances superior to or better than another form of human existence, another style of being. What I am saying is that when one form of being is more congruent with the realities of existence, then it is the better form of living for those realities. And what I am saying is that when one form of existence ceases to be functional for the realities of existence then some other form, either higher or lower in the hierarchy, is the better form of living. I do suggest, however, and this I deeply believe is so, that for the overall welfare of total man’s existence in this world, over the long run of time, higher levels are better than lower levels and that the prime good of any society’s governing figures should be to promote human movement up the levels of human existence.”
Another normative element is the “momentous leap” between the postmodern and the integral values, which are a direct consequence of the description of the previous value systems not differing in complexity. They are just different perspectives with the same complexity of structure, a system of values occurring as a consequence of the perceived life conditions. The integral values of the model includes, integrates, all former value system. This big qualitative shift and leap have no support from the other theories from that AD field, with each stage or level being more complex in structure than the previous.
Further such an assumption is the advocacy that the spiral should be balanced and therefore “healthy”. This means that a culture needs a representation of all value systems up to the highest existing level. From this assumption follows, firstly, that cultures cannot skip a step, but need to pass all levels. And further, that value systems that is further down the spiral will never disappear or should be fought per se. This idea can possibly find support in view of the value system landscape as a complex adaptive system. Values and value systems do to allow themselves to be fully described or controlled.
In the discussion of these normative aspects it should be noted that one of the main points of the model is the part that is all but normative. The different value systems and their corresponding perspectives can also be seen as different kinds of rationalities. Rationality, or action-logic, mean frames of reference, an understanding of what are desirable behaviours, goals and values. Assuming that there would be a single set of correct, rational and good values, where other values are irrational and based on fear or malice, would have been normatively, if anything! Here lies a strength of the model, where it can complement the other models and contribute to interesting discussions.
In the following section, the Swedish culture and history to be discussed from a Spiral dynamics perspective, in which the different value systems will be introduced.
An Overview of the Swedish Value System Landscape with a Historic Context
Here follows an introducing description of the dominating value systems or perspectives, and how they emerged in the Swedish culture, starting at the Viking Age and its dominating pre-traditional values. The value systems was colour coded by Beck for pedagogic reasons, which will be inserted here.
The pre-traditional (red) values emerged in the Viking Age in A.D. 800-1100 as a consequence of, among other things, a technological development in a marine revolution that opened the way to the oceans with the conquest of new lands and plundering of places which lacked proper defence and countermeasures for several hundred years. The Swedish voyages eastward were probably driven mainly by trade with Baltic and Russian coast, and further down the rivers toward the Orient and Constantinople (Istanbul). At the end of the Viking Age the Swedes consisted of a number of loosely connected and practically autonomous regions with their own provincial laws. They worshiped and sacrificed to the Norse pagan gods of Odin, Thor and Frey.
Vikings can be considered as a clan culture where blood ties and honor were very important for the identity. Retaliation and vendettas were common elements according to the Icelandic sagas. According to pagan religious beliefs, the bravest and best warriors were brought to Valhalla after their death to fight in glorious battles at the end of the world, in Ragnarök. This warrior mindset, lacking fear of death, was very effective in combat.
From a Spiral dynamics perspective, the prevailing cultural, political and structural organisation was well consistent with the pre-traditional value system. The Viking Age was put to an end on the battlefield, the rest of Europe got better at defending themselves. But also, Christianity was introduced by Danish king Harald Bluetooth (yes, same as in your phone) in the late 900s, who were baptised to become part of the Christian political sphere, which guaranteed him protection from other military powers within the Christian realm.
The pre-traditional values appear today to a very small extent and has a little influence on the debate, although some extremists on the nationalist and islamist sides, seem to gain momentum. They can be seen as a form of extremely individualistic self-assertion, where the outside world and social context are seen as fundamentally threatening. Purpose and meaning of life is given by acquiring power at the expense of others. The means to achieve this are threats, force and violence. This simple rationality or action logic is: the strongest will win! It is a mindset well suited in contexts of more or less organised crime.
The traditional (blue) values emerged in the shift from the Viking to the Middle Ages when the Swedish state emerged, roughly in the 1100s. This new Sweden was in essence a feudal society, with a strict hierarchy with the king at the top, with static roles and with a ruling elite that exerts top-down power. Although the feudalism was not that pronounced, since the farmers had political power to a large extent, compared with those on the continent. During this time the church grew up as an increasingly important player on the scene, although in comparison with other cultures it has always had a relatively weak position in the Swedish society.
Martin Luther’s Reformation movement in Germany spread to Sweden, meaning that the sermons were conducted in Swedish, the Bible was printed in Swedish, and literacy of the general population became a concern for the church. Sweden began to function better as a country and administration of a functioning judicial system, and the use of raw materials such as iron and copper with subsequent trade took off. Another important aspect of the functioning of the internal politics was the political development towards a proto democracy and parliamentarianism. The establishment of the Riksdag of the Estates, consisting of nobility, clergy, burghers and farmers, had a real impact in the 1600s. This ancient tradition is commonly cited as unique in international comparison. Here, the farmers had a real political influence. Historians and ethnologists usually point to this order to explain both our preference to negotiate and reach a consensus in various discussions, and also our trust in the state and that the societal system is ultimately beneficial to us. This tradition, according to many, is manifested in today’s political and organisational culture. We are described as a culture of cooperation and consensus, and according to WVS we rank highest in the world in terms of trust in social institutions, and among the lowest in corruption.
In terms of Spiral dynamics, in the Middle Ages, Sweden operated according to a traditional logic. It relied on a conformist and authoritarian logic of a hierarchical, feudal social structure, in which you are born into your place in the hierarchy. Agriculture accounted for the dominant share of production and employment. The traditional logic are associated with order, justice and stability.
Today the traditional value system and perspective is characterised by conformism, collectivism, and a traditional view of e.g. faith and knowledge, national identity and traditional gender roles. In the political landscape, the traditional values are associated with the former working-class movement, and can today be seen in the Sweden democrats. Institutions that operate on a traditional logic are those who are connected to the core task of the state of guaranteeing stability, such as the military and the police forces.
The modern (orange) values are associated with the transition into modernity and capitalism that emerged in Sweden around the 1750s. Philosophers, such as Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon, and scientists such as Isaac Newton, who formulated classical mechanics in the 1600s, paved the way for modern science. Along with the extraction of fossil fuels, the Enlightenment paved the way for the Industrial Revolution, and the French revolution with the development of democratic ideals of human equality and the right to vote, even though women’s suffrage would take another hundred years. Enlightenment ideals can be seen as the triumph of reason over the traditional collective authority, science liberation and victory over the church and religion, and the liberation of the individual from the law of Jante. From a financial market perspective, the man later came to be regarded as a rational being whose highest purpose is to maximize self-interest, homo oeconomicus.
The Enlightenment and modernity also meant a redefinition of the individual, on the cultural as well as on the psychological level. The modern Swedish society was constructed according to a principle that is referred to as “state individualism”, which is characterised by an accented individualism, mostly from family ties, sponsored and supported by a strong welfare state that guarantees economic security, e.g. if you lose your income or get divorced. Thus, the Swedish modern individualisation project can be said to be an emancipation from the family and the collective that would replaced by the state. Public schools were inserted in 1842, which contributed to Sweden in 1850 having the highest literacy and the highest number of university students per capita in Europe. This is a obvious example of how the state supports the citizens’ education and personal development, although the school also had as a mission to foster the pupils into good obedient citizens.
In the late 1800s industrialisation took off with large successful engineering companies, such as LM Ericsson, Asea, Alfa Laval, SKF, Electrolux and steel companies such as Sandvik and LKAB. With this followed a rapid urbanisation and a new working class quickly grew to 30 percent of the population. In 1880, 85 percent of the population were still farmers, which decreased to 50 percent at World War I. Sweden kept outside of the war but was still one of the poorest countries, and many chose to emigrate to America. This wave of emigration, which peaked in the second half of the 1800s, due to population growth combined with a crop failure while many positive reports in the form of letters and newspaper articles came from the United States.
Finally, it should be noted that the strong industrial development in Sweden during the mid 1900s, largely due to a strong Swedish tradition of engineering and the ability to collaborate within and between companies. But it also had a cause in Sweden keeping outside World War II and could thus produce and export while the rest of Europe were being rebuilt. This created a demand for labor, which was a strong incentive to the women for entering the labor market. Further, immigrants from southern Europeans could be put to work, primarily in the engineering industry. From being one of Europe’s poorest countries, from where people emigrated from, Sweden quickly became one of the world’s richest, where people immigrated from all over the world.
Today, the modern values are most evident in the business sector where companies and individuals compete on a market logic. Economic liberalism and capitalism developed as a consequence of the deregulation of banks and trading on the free market, as opposed to a state-controlled planned economy. Continuous economic growth and a positive future outlook are at the core of the modern value system. Technological and scientific advances are key and defines a culture’s success from this perspective. The scientific ideals are seen in the positivism of natural sciences, with the scientific hypothetical-deductive method.
The postmodern (green) values emerged roughly half a century ago with political movements such as post-colonialism, feminism, and the peace and environmental movements. One of the three big postmodern political movements that has had a strong impact in Sweden’s is the environmental movement with sustainability as central concern. This can be seen as a reaction to modernism’s belief in technological and scientific advances, the view of nature as inexhaustible resource, which were triggered by advances in systems theory applied in Limits to Growth simulations from 1972. Climate change and its consequences have subsequently emerged as an increasingly influential and defining issue for the civilisation. Since the early 70s environmentalism and sustainability perspectives went from being a marginal alternative movements to have a widespread acceptance in the population as a whole, but particularly in the media and the political establishment. Climate change and sustainability issues are obvious examples of how new values are emerging as a consequence of changed living conditions.
In the transition to modernity, it was primarily man’s emancipation that were of central concern, but with time the awareness of women’s situation were increasing. Feminism is usually described in three waves: the first involved a quest for equal rights and suffrage in the early 1900s, the second in the postwar period that focused on the upgrading the status of the woman with gender equality and against discrimination, and a third wave that can be regarded as postmodern feminism, which instead focused on how gender is constructed by means of cultural beliefs that are inherited as we raise our children differently depending on the sex. The strong impact of the feminist movement in Sweden is reflected in Hofstede’s cultural studies, where we rank as the world’s most feminine culture.
If environmentalism and feminism can be seen as two major political postmodern movements, then post-colonialism and anti-racism is the third. In different value studies Sweden is described as one of the world’s most tolerant towards other cultural expressions and towards immigrants, due to several reasons. First, we have an own history of emigration, exemplified by travels to America in the 1800s. We also only need to go back a few generations to find starvation and poverty in our own country. We also have many positive experiences of immigrants having enriched the country, for example in the form of post-war labor immigration. In addition, it should be emphasised that tolerance towards other cultures tend to increase with the level of cultural development. Postmodern values are often associated with tolerance and care for all people, regardless of ethnicity and sexual orientation. It is a lot harder to be homosexual, for example, in a culture dominated by traditional values.
On the political arena multiculturalism has been dominating, which means the view that foreign cultural expressions are seen as enriching and worth preserving instead of immigrants having to abandon their previous cultural expressions and identities, and assimilate into the Swedish culture. Immigration policy has long been Europe’s most generous relative to population size, but has strong support from politicians and the established media in which the postmodern values has the strongest foothold. Politicians and the mainstream media have strived for being in the frontline of cultural development and advocating tolerance, feminism and anti-racism. There is a logic in that the state and the elite is more progressive in terms of development, which have been a recipe for success during the last 1000 years. But the debate about the refugee crisis has gradually become increasingly polarised, from the time the Sweden democrats entered parliament in 2010.
Now the stage is set for an analysis of the debate and response to the refugee crisis. But before that, another quite recent change in life conditions will be described.
Analysis of the Refugee Debate
The review of the Swedish historical development through the value systems showed some unique cultural features, such as the ideal of consensus and the high trust in the state. They have been the reasons to our cultural success and strengths when our sparsely populated country have competed on an international market and developed through value systems. But what were the strengths and success factors for Sweden has increasingly turned into weaknesses. This is seen in the postmodern values, which dominates among established politicians and the media, which is evident from e.g. surveys of political sympathies and values of journalists. All are expected to be feminists and anti-racists, if not they are anti-feminists and racists, which have created a polarisation of the debate. Thus, it has not been generally accepted to discuss limitations in volumes, economic aspects, security concerns, and national identity, in relation to refugee issues. Arguably, this has contributed to the growth of immigration critical Sweden democrats party. The opinion corridor can from the developmental perspective be understood as the combination of the ideal of consensus and high trust in the government and the establishment, and the postmodern values which are presented as democratic, just and tolerant. Many who have questioned or opposed these values have been declared undemocratic, hateful, and intolerant.
Recent changes in life conditions
At the same time as the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine took place and shortly thereafter Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula. Separatists in Eastern Ukraine started an uprising and was supported by Russia, first in the form of military equipment, then with “volunteer” troops, while all official involvement was denied. This is a new type of warfare than previously conventional war, such as World War II. USA:s war against terrorism in the Middle East is often described as asymmetrical warfare, with a large military force against a technologically inferior force that responds with terrorist operations against civilians. Russian interference in Ukraine is usually referred to as hybrid warfare and includes irregular troops, disinformation, psyops, aggressive military exercises over (and under) the Baltic sea, cyber attacks and a generally threatening rhetoric, with the intent to destabilise the opponent without direct military measures. This development has triggered a broad discussion and concern around security issues, military spending and a possible joining in NATO. The increase concern over security issues can be seen as part of a rise of traditional logic and perspectives, and henceforth in traditional values.
In the summer of 2014, just before the national election, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt held a famous speech where he urged the Swedes to “open their hearts” to the refugees. The Migration agency asked for increased funding and discussions on the economic perspectives in connection with the refugee crisis made it clear that the refugee crisis was not an economic opportunity to Sweden, but rather a cost. However, references to volumes or costs were still not considered as valid objections to the generous refugee reception. The reference to human rights and having a moral responsibility to help those who are fleeing across the Mediterranean trumped all other arguments. A very powerful, and for the debate defining, image became the drowned three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who was washed up on the Turkish shore in the summer 2015. The picture made the debate even more emotionally charged, and the polarisation between the postmodern and the other values increased. These objections are described in the following section.
Critique towards the postmodern view on the refugee crisis
Firstly, there are objections from a traditional perspective that primarily emphasises law, order and security. This is in relation to the lack of integration and suburb areas populated with high fraction of immigrants that are seen as outside the society and where the police are unable to maintain order and security, a breeding ground for radicalisation and hundreds of people traveling from Sweden to Syria to fight with ISIS. In connection with those issues the work situation of the police force with heavy workload and many defections are discussed to a greater extent. A large part of the police’s resources have been allocated to handling the influx of refugees, a large share of which have disappeared and gone underground before being registered as asylum seekers.
Then, from a national perspective, the multicultural society are seen as a threat towards the Swedish culture, a line of reasoning of the Sweden democrats. The objections have not had any great impact among the mainstream media or the other parliamentary parties. In the debate on immigration a common perception has been that the traditional values and perspective have been equivalent to the Sweden democrats. But rather, the Sweden Democrats have been allowed to usurp the traditional values, where other parties have abandoned them and instead indulged in modern and postmodern values.
Objections from a modern perspective has mainly focused on the economic aspects. Famous professor of public health Hans Rosling argued that our prime measure should be to donate money to the UNHCR, to which Sweden has reduced considerably in aid to fund the substantial increase costs for the refugees managing to reach our border. Rosling argued how much more cost effective it is to help those in place than those who come here. Rosling then highlighted a conflict between refugee costs and the cost to help those who are unable to leave the refugee camps, for example, by not having the money to pay the smugglers.
Another criticism has come from Tino Sanandaji, a Swedish economist with Kurdish background. He has time and again exposed how the mainstream media uses the wrong numbers and giving overly optimistic numbers on costs, education levels and times to get immigrants into employment. We are the ranked as lowest in Europe to integrate immigrants into the labor market, mainly because the job marked consists of so few low-wage jobs. Sanandaji have argued that the welfare state cannot be sustained should the large influx of refugees continue.
Another argument has come from the professor of history, Lars Trädgårdh, who described the Swedish culture and development into modernity. Trädgårdh has described the debate about the refugee crisis as a conflict between two different perspectives, one based on human rights (postmodern) and one based on a social contract that can be likened to an insurance company (the modern). We work and pay taxes, and we expect to utilise the welfare when we get ill, have children or retire. If the social welfare erodes and with that the trust in the state to be able to keep its part of the contract, then our work and willingness to pay tax will be reduced and the system cannot be sustained. But Trädgårdh also linked the argument to a traditional logic of the social contract are also based on a common vision and sense of national belonging. These are lines of reasons that also have been shown in established media. Leading critics of the postmodern values has also been the bourgeois editorials, and their perspectives on the issues of immigration and integration that have challenged the culture of consensus and opinion corridor. Four examples are Anna Dahlberg, Ivar Arpi, PM Nilsson and Alice Teodorescu. Still, the postmodern values were dominating among the politicians in the parties the Social democrates and the Environmental party, that were in office.
But the life conditions in the new security situation in the area around the Baltic Sea, the internal security and the maintenance of law and order, the Euro crisis and the EU’s major internal tensions, has made the traditional and national values become increasingly prominent, in Sweden, as well as on the EU level. The factor that had the greatest impact over the past year is probably the rapidly increasing flux of refugees last autumn.
ID controls on the Öresund bridge
In April 2015, Prime Minister Löfvén answered a direct question regarding the volume of refugee flows, “No, there is no limit. We will keep receiving according to the conventions we are bound.” But in October, the government and parties from the political opposition (not including the Sweden democrats) made an agreement on how to handle and reduce the large refugee flow. There was a limit, and the volumes had reached unsustainable proportions. And here we are at the time described in the introduction. The previously unthinkable had suddenly become the new reality. And virtually all media that has campaigned towards tolerance and human rights, and upholding the opinion corridor, quickly adapted to this new order. In the blink of an eye, the cultural values had shifted like two tectonic plates releasing their mutual tension in a sudden earthquake.
This can be seen as an aspect of the value system landscape as a complex adaptive system. According to dialectical thinkers such as Basseches and Laske, a complex system can be described in terms of characteristics such as stability, change, internal relations and transformations. Stability aspect can manifest when trying to influence the system and it responds by resisting and pushing back. Correspondingly, any attempt to attack and defeat the traditional values have only contributed to them fighting back and even growing stronger. The transformational aspect can be seen when the system departs from its original equilibrium and find a new one – or collapses. When it comes to ecosystems or the climate system, it is said that the climate is stable up to a certain point, referred to as a threshold or ‘tipping point’. In the values landscape, such a threshold were passed this autumn. However, the new equilibrium should prove to not be that stable.
In November ID controls were introduced at the Öresund Bridge, which had the immediate effect of a substantial reduction in refugee flow. The police could not maintain order and register those who came, costs soared, and the Migration agency could not manage to administer and arrange short term accommodation for all that arrived. The ID controls can be seen as a great defeat to the postmodern values and perspectives. One can say that the postmodern values and ideals not only came into conflict with the other value systems, but also with the reality and the practical aspects. Idealism was defeated by realism and reality constraints, at least for now. But new problems awaited.
The sexual abuses in Cologne
The introduction of ID controls created a change in the political reality, the media followed accordingly. But one event, or actually several, that would shake the media even harder were happening in Cologne on New Year’s eve, when over 600 women were subjected to sexual abuses. It would take a few days before it was reported in media, where most of the perpetrators were from North Africa, and many of them asylum seekers. When the media reported on the Cologne showed that similar events took place in Stockholm, albeit on a smaller scale in the We Are Stockholm Festival where foreign gangs molesting girls. This triggered an intense discussion on to what extent media had not reported on crimes, or new in general, that can have a negative effect on the opinion on immigrants. But why the events have come to the surface now? Of course it is complex, but a couple of reasons can be discussed.
First, the opinion corridor has shifted significantly during the autumn, which Hakelius described. It has become increasingly accepted to debate and criticise immigration policies and issues. Discussions about We Are Stockholm has very clearly illustrated the cost of not reporting on this type of events. Similar incidents had also occurred the year before, and not reporting on the problem has contributed to that it hasn’t been resolved. The Cologne and We are Stockholm-abuses illustrates when the two groups, women and immigrants, both of which are assumed to be subordinated and oppressed according to the logics of the two postmodern ideologies, feminism and anti-racism, come in conflict with each other. Thus, it can be said that two aspects of postmodern values come in conflict with each other. This way, the postmodern values have proved to be inadequate, at least to be able to claim to be “the only true and good values”.
A cultural identity crisis?
On a cultural level, we seem to have reached the point where the prevailing postmodern perspective and values fails to properly address the very important, of not defining, situations described above. The refugee agreement and ID controls have shifted the opinion corridor and the postmodern values have come into conflict with what was possible to implement in terms of the refugee crisis. And the abuses in Cologne and the We Are Stockholm-festival illustrated how the postmodern values come in conflict with themselves and the established media’s postmodern bias in reporting. Thus, they have failed to offer a coherent story of the world and how to act in it. Thus, the postmodern values can not be seen as the only real and desirable, but on the other hand, neither can they be seen as completely incorrect.
The events illustrate a significant shift in the valuation landscape and ultimately in our self-image. We have gone from seeing us as the humanitarian superpower, top ranked on gender equality, environmental issues, tolerance and refugees, to … well what are we really? What should be our new self-image? And which are the new stories we should gather around?
Can this shift in the value landscape mark a shift from postmodern to the integral (yellow) value system, also denoted integral, flex-flow, meta-modern, teal, integrative and reconstructive postmodernism? This value system can be understood as a synthesis of all previous value systems and their corresponding perspectives. The term integral, coined by Jean Gebser, indicating that it will integrate and bring together the previous value systems in a synthesis instead of seeing them as different truths, of which only one can be right and the others are wrong. Rather, they are seen as important perspectives which all have different features and fulfil essential purposes. A central principle of the integral values is the emphasis on the development dimension, where instead of economic development, the development of the psychological, cultural or social aspect is of central concern.
Often it is assumed that development takes place by one paradigm replacing the previous, with the agricultural society having been replaced by the industrial society, which then has turned into the information society. But this is not an accurate description, we still live in an agricultural society, even though agriculture represents only two percent of the population and two percent of GDP in Sweden. We also live still in an industrial society, rather than all working in the postmodern knowledge sector.
Similarly, from an integral perspective it can be said that a value systems of a culture does not replace the previous one, but rather, they build on each other. Although the different value systems criticise each other from their respective perspectives, and although they have largely arisen as a reaction towards the limitations of the previous value systems, from this perspective all value system needs to perform their functions. For instance, a functioning market economy requires stability in terms of law and order, for example so that property rights are respected and trade agreements are followed. High levels of corruption and crime makes it difficult to do business. They require both postmodern values of the modern as they require previous technological and scientific progress.
Returning to the initial question of the discussion, it has been stated that the Spiral dynamics model could be seen as a taxonomy for socio-cultural development (or even biopsychosocial according to Graves), and not as being deterministic in any way. Thus, there is no guarantee that the identity crisis described in above will result in a progress toward more complex values. At the IEC in Budapest 2014, I presented a piece together with prof. Svein Horn from Norway, on integral perspectives on Peak oil and introduced a collapse perspective to the integral discourse. The main conclusion from our work was that it is difficult to differentiate signs of collapse with signs of transformation, since both entails some sort of breakdown in current structures, logic and identity. To grow and transform is to some extent to die. So, is this crisis a sign of collapse or transformation and progress?
My answer is, to some extent, probably both. We will see some parts collapsing and some other parts thriving. Typically, there are some groups that will benefit, learn and develop from this new situation and crisis, while others will suffer economically, socially and psychologically. As previously stated, some suburban areas already suffer from, for instance islamism and radicalisation, or extreme nationalism, while others may thrive. So the question should rather be, how can we contribute to a development where as many areas and sectors as possible can thrive and develop in a healthy direction, should integral values be that direction, or to a higher degree of cultural complexity according some other measure, rather than towards decline and decrease in complexity?
Tasks and competences for Spiral wizards
This is of course an extremely complex question, but I’d like to address a few aspects in terms of competences that are needed for change-makers or “Spiral wizards”, as well as for the culture as a whole. This is taken with the Swedish context in regard, but could to some extent possibly apply to other cultures in similar situations.
First, the debate around the immigration and refugee crisis has been very infected and the tone and debate climate have suffered severely. The debate has torn the country apart, and families and friends have separated due to this conflict. The crisis has, so far, cost us dearly, both in economic terms as well as in terms of cultural capital, trust and cohesion. There is tremendous amount to be learnt from this experience, for instance about who we are as a culture, where we came from and where we might be heading, and what defines a culture. But first there must be some healing of the wounds. Thus, the first concern should be to rebuild the public debate climate. Different public arenas must give room for a multitude of voices, not only those who have said the “right” things. When so, a lot of repressed anger is likely to emerge. In some discussions the pendulum have swung over to the other side. The environmental party, that previously have been almost immune from critique from mainstream media, now suffers enormous critique due to problems with members and officers with islamist contacts and agendas, and poor crisis management. Therefore, there is a great need for facilitators who can hold such arenas and allow for a certain amount of previously silenced critique, but also for new voices to emerge. This is truly shadow work on a cultural level that is required.
A more specific aspect or skill that is needed in the public debate is the ability to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy values. So far, the postmodern values have been declared to be the correct values and the traditional, and later the modern, as problematic per se. It needs to be acknowledged that there are healthy aspects of nationalistic values and perspectives, such as upholding the law and defending the country, as well as having a healthy and balanced cultural integrity and identity, what that might be. Further, there are of course healthy aspects of modern values, emphasising the importance of having a functioning welfare state in the future as well. And also being able to direct the economic help were it can be most useful, to most people. Also, unhealthy aspects of all value systems need to be addressed, even postmodern. The most obvious one being the conviction that the other ones are wrong.
It has been argued that the Swedish attitude towards immigrants and refugees has been characterised by having a big heart, but the mind also needs to be included. The refugee crisis is part of larger mega-trends where security issues, climate change, food security, financial crisis and the rise of right wing nationalists can be seen as being interlinked. Complex thinking is an essential skill in order to see the connections and see the world transforming, and to be able to have an own impact on it. Complex thinking is also needed in order to assess different arguments. An experience from the Swedish debate is that arguments based on the “right” values have been more influential than those from the “wrong” side. Now, let’s give the more complex arguments and thoughts more room, regardless of who’s side they’re on. Let’s direct our focus on those who see a more nuanced and complex problem instead of those who see in black and white, and simple solutions.
A cognitive competence besides complex thinking is perspective-taking and an ability to see the world through the eyes of different parties and stakeholders in this situation, from those with different values and perspectives, to those who are fleeing across the Mediterranean, and to those who cannot afford. Thus, we still need a big heart as well as a sharp mind, but also some guts. Guts as in the courage to stand up for what one believes to be the way forward, even though it might be inconvenient for some who still see the issue in black and white. So far, a high price have been payed by those who have stepped outside of the opinion corridor, but the price is getting lower as time passes, and as life conditions continue to work against the postmodern values.
The recent decade’s cultural development in Sweden has been characterised as a fragmentation in terms of media intake, use of social networks (or lack of), and of opinions, most notably in the issues around immigration. In a culture with a 1000-year history of emphasising consensus, we need to accept disagreement and even conflict as the new normal condition. Even though integral values emphasise that everyone’s perspective and opinion are needed, not everyone will agree to this. And some will use foul play and not hesitate to destroy the debate climate in order to win, this has been an experience from the increasingly polarised Swedish public debate. Thus, in some cases a conflict with the postmodern values needs to be taken by the integral perspectives and values.
Finally, suggestions on how to address the actual issue of the refugee crisis is beyond the scope of the current analysis. The only conclusion in this matter is that all perspectives need to be considered and that they all have important functions and parts of addressing the crisis and related complex issues.