The Journey Toward Authentic Nation-States
We believe that authentic nation-states are energetically held together through the Law of Love. When this Law is fully active, its members are interconnected, operating in integrity, and experiencing peace, harmony, and understanding in all of a country’s activities. The members of an authentic nation-state are able to give and receive unconditional love, even in challenging situations involving intractable conflicts. The individuals, couples, families, large organizations, and communities and cultures inside the nation-state are able to evolve. This is the underlying principle of LOVEvolution.
The evolution of authentic nation-states follows the same four-stage developmental model that we followed in mapping the evolution of authentic couples, families, schools, communities, and organizations. We have had a number of unique opportunities to study the evolution of two former Soviet republics since the fall of the Soviet Empire: Ukraine in Eastern Europe and Czechoslovakia in Central Europe.
We have working intensively in Ukraine since 1990, and have witnessed the country’s ongoing struggle to clear Soviet ethics, thinking, practices, values and behaviors. Individuals, couples, families, and the Ukrainian culture have made great progress in their journeys towards more integrity and authenticity. They have worked very hard to retrieve their authentic culture and language that the Soviets did their best to erase. Much of the revival of Ukrainian culture is happening in its microsystems, through art, literature, historic holidays and celebrations, and the establishment of special schools emphasizing its language and historical roots.
As a nation-state, Ukraine has become divided into two camps: the East and the West. While there is a geographic East-West divide, there is a larger East-West cultural divide that reflects contrasting languages, values, beliefs, and behaviors. The East is more aligned geographically and philosophically with Russia, and communist/Soviet governmental structures and social values. The West is more aligned geographically with Central and Western Europe, and with democratic governmental structures and social values. These two camps came into conflict during the 2008 Orange Revolution and again in 2014 during the EuroMaidan Revolution, which has since turned into a perpetual war being fought in the Eastern regions of Ukraine. This war pains Ukrainians very deeply because culturally they are very sensitive and empathic. They carry this nation-state rift inside them very personally, and work internally and individually to find a resolution to this grave divide.
We also lived in Czechoslovakia for six months in 1992-1993 when this nation-state divided into Czechia and Slovakia. A WW II “shotgun marriage: between two very incompatible cultures crashed while we were living in Bratislava, Slovakia, and working inside the Slovak Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family while working on a United Nations project. Two things impressed us about this “Velvet Divorce.” The first was how careful each side was to partition the country with integrity and without malice. This is what earned it the “velvet” description.
The second was how much the partition process reminded us of a couple getting a divorce. The way they divided Czechoslovakia’s resources looked very traditional. The more Germanic Czechs played out the “husband” role, who symbolically “had a good job and took the nice apartment, the new car.” The more educated, more sophisticated, and more “industrious” citizens chose to live in Czechia, which housed the “clean” industries and had more natural resources.
The more Slavic Slovaks played out the “wife” role, and symbolically was “a stay-at-home mother who took the children, went to live in a rented flat, and had to use public transportation.” Citizens who were “agricultural” by nature stayed in Slovakia, which housed the “dirty” industries, such as Soviet nuclear reactors and outdated Soviet manufacturing plants.
Our Personal Experiences Validate our Developmental Model
Witnessing Czechoslovakia’s partition journey and Ukraine’s journey toward sovereignty have both been great validations of our Developmental Systems Theory’s premise that nation-states are large systems that contain many subsystems. Each subsystem carries its own unhealed developmental traumas and intractable conflicts, incomplete essential developmental processes, and unmet developmental needs that operate as as fractals in the larger system.
The degree to which individuals, couples, families, organizations, and cultural groups have completed their essential developmental processes and met their developmental needs determines a nation-state’s level of evolution. Nation-states that encourage individuation and related psychological development have social structures that are more in the independent and interdependent stages of development. By contrast, nation-states that discourage individuation and place barriers on psychological development have social structures that are likely to remain stuck in the codependent and counter-dependent stages of development.
America: A Nation-State With a Cultural Divide
People typically think of America as 50 “united states.” From a cultural perspective, however, it is divided in to a number of cultural regions. It is these cultural differences that are responsible for America’s divide. Our primary divide is between the North and the South. The Mason-Dixon Line created a divide during the Civil War based on the issue of slavery. This line of cultural demarcation is linguistic, as the two groups speak slightly different dialects of American English. Culture-wise, many differences still remain between the cultures of the North and the South.
The South traditionally has had a more cohesive culture based on what is sometimes called, “the Southern White Plantation Culture.” Having lived for eleven years in Western North Carolina, we encountered this Southern culture and its set of beliefs and practices. We know from personal experience that this culture is alive and well, particularly in rural areas. Many Southerners say, for example, that they believe strongly in protecting their “liberty” and “freedom.” We learned that these concepts mean something entirely different to Northerners. “Liberty” and “freedom” to Southerners means that “I can do whatever I damn well please, without the interference of the government. (Sara Robinson, “Southern Values Revived,” Salon.com, 2012).
America’s Eleven Cultural Regions
America is more culturally divided as a nation-state than just between the North and the South and here lies the real problem. Interestingly, it has very little to do with immigration, legal or illegal. Recently, in an article describing Colin Woodward’s fourth book, “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America,” Speiser quotes Woodward’s work on the 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the U.S. (Speiser, 2015). Woodward’s map of these eleven cultures is to the right.
Below, described briefly, are the eleven different cultures that Woodward describes in this country.
- Yankeedom – The Northeast states plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Here there are strong values of education, intellectual development and citizen participation in government as a shield against tyranny. These folks have no issue with government regulation and believe it is necessary to protect our way of life.
- New Netherland – New York City and northern New Jersey. This is a highly materialistic, commercial culture where they are tolerant of inquiry and consciousness. They also value religious and cultural diversity and as a result they have the most cultural and religious diversity of any region.
- The Midlands – Parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. These folks are the middle class that people talk about fondly. They hold moderate view on almost everything, but frown on government regulation.
- Tidewater – Chesapeake Bay states plus eastern North Carolina. This area started as a feudal society that embraced slavery. The people living here place a high value on respect for authority and tradition.
- Greater Appalachia – Parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas. Settled by people from Northern Ireland, Northern England and the Scottish Lowlands, these people are often stereotyped as rednecks and hillbillies. They value personal sovereignty and “liberty,” which means to them that they have a right to do whatever they damn-well please and fight against any government regulation that they see is there to take away their liberty. They are still suspicious of them “yankee carpetbaggers” from the North or the West.
- Deep South – Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina. Established by the slave owners from Barbados, they were styled as a West Indies slave society. The people typically hold rigid beliefs about your place in society and fight fiercely against any government interference of their individual “liberties.” The southern white plantation culture is alive and well in this region.
- El Norte –These are the remnants of the Spanish-American empire composed of parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. This region is distinctly different from any other. The Latino culture dominates and the people value independence, self-sufficiency, family and hard work.
- The Left Coast -Coastal California, Oregon and Washington. Originally settled by New Englanders and Midwesterners, this region is a hybrid of Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration. San Francisco epitomizes the values of this region.
- The Far West – States of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. This is the conservative west. It was developed through large investments in industry, yet the residents tend to resent the Eastern interests who have poured big money investments into their region.
- New France – Centered around New Orleans, Louisiana, here is a pocket of liberalism in the Deep South. The people are consensus driven, tolerant, and comfortable with government involvement in their lives. They are fun-loving, laid-back and generous.
- First Nation – The huge territory where the Native people live. This region is made of what is left of the Native American lands. They still enjoy some level of tribal sovereignty and have tried to hold on to their native traditions.
Woodard says that among these eleven diverse cultural regions of this country, the main cultural battle still remains between Yankeedom and the Deep South. These two cultures constantly compete with each other for the hearts and minds of the rest of the nation. They do not see eye to eye on anything and contribute greatly to the polarized political culture that we currently live with.
The deeply rooted aspects of human experience that form diverse communities and cultures make it very difficult to resolve conflicts between them. Conflicts of values and beliefs repeatedly ignite philosophical, ethical, religious, and value-based conflicts and wars in an effort to prove once and for all who is right and who is wrong, or to determine whose rules will ultimately prevail. The inability to resolve these cultural conflicts deepens the divisions between individuals and groups, reinforcing cultural biases, prejudices, projections, and hatred. While Americans proclaim to be “one nation, under God,” its conflicting values and traditions make it operate more as eleven separate nations that are deeply divided culturally.