Getting It Together
A huge organizational problem is that of getting large groups of people to "march in the same direction", so to speak. To elect a new candidate or party, to adopt a new policy, or to generally start or stop some behavior deemed beneficial by the powers that be, by some "disinterested" observer, or whomever. Some groups seem to be enormously well-adapted at "getting themselves together" while others not, and some just seem to get into the rut of doggedly doing the wrong thing or going in circles in a dysfunctional way. Others seem to very quickly resort to violence or the verbal equivalent, or that seems to be how things are kept in line, while others seem to manage it more naturally or "organically".
I'm playing fast-and-loose with terms here, but there seems to be a concept which we might liken to "apathy" at play. So what? Who are we to say that one group or another are "apathetic" about this or that, and who cares? This sounds like a familiar problem, from a managerial standpoint, but from a memetic one, problems pop up one after another. First off, the term "apathy" is problematic from a purely etymological viewpoint since it effectively means "lack of feeling", and "feeling" is alien to the science of macromemetics. The whole point is to get around vague undefinables that "everybody thinks they understand" like "feelings" and get down to what is measurable. That's the other problem: what is measurable? "This group are apathetic about that" type of statement really seems to be making a statement about the memetic inventory of a given memetic cohort. In other words, I've defined a group of people by their individual members rather than by their memetic cohort membership, i.e., their memetic inurement profiles, which is bass-ackwards from a memetic analysis standpoint. Second, I've determined that they have this quality, which I'm calling "apathy" (toward the new coffee area clean-up policy, or the work schedule process rules, or what-have-you), based on what they are not doing, e.g., the actions or messages I want them to pass which they are not, or the whole set of action/messages which I explicitly/implicitly don't want, which they are enacting.
So this is a pretty fuzzily, messily defined situation I have here. It's not so bad to arbitrarily define a set of individuals irrespective of their memetic relationship. Obviously, it's not interesting from a memetic analysis approach, but for memetic engineering, this happens all the time. We have a corporate staff, an electorate, a group of people living in a city or region, and we want to analyze, and if we are a politician or such, we want to influence them collectively, and this is fundamentally a problem of a memetic nature.
Interest versus Apathy
I feel that "apathy" is a concept worth researching and hopefully defining rigorously in terms of memetics. It may be that it's too vague or laden with too much semantic baggage for this to be possible, but it still seems worth attempting, since I feel it to be a state that a cohort can actually get into, which makes it relevant. If it turns out that something like "apathy" may be successfully characterized (as a macromemetic term), then what might it look like? I've discussed memetic destitution and characterized the differences between "alienation" and "oppresssion"(1), and how these pertain to memetic states that exist between sub-cohorts, i.e., very few memetic interactions possible, most or all of them oppressive, as opposed to many possible interactions, also with many oppressive ones. Apathy seems like it might be related to memetic destitution, i.e., characterized by a paucity of interface memes...but between who and whom?
It is perhaps first useful to define who is being apathetic and towards what...or whom? Some examples might be members of a company, a military force, a family, or any organization vis-à-vis something they have to do, such as a task or mission or new behavior. But who decides this? In principle we are able to observe that a group is "apathetic" towards "something" because that "something" has been elucidated in the form of some other group or sub-group mentioning it in some coherent form, and we can then observe that they other group is being "apathetic" towards it. But that is starting to sound rather "intentional"(2) and anti-memetic, and therefor unfalsifiable.
A cohort may be said to be apathetic when they "resist change". Political movements, especially those that rely on extremism to whip up sentiment, may be dealing with the issue that apathy must first be overcome before one may evince collective action.
This is starting to get interesting. "Apathy" may be the wrong term (since it is wrapped up in the concept of "feelings"(2)), but what we're looking at may be rather like the opposite of a memetic orgy. It may also be what makes a good salesman(3). A good salesman is someone who can quickly discover a person's motivational system as concerns their product and convince them to buy.
It seems like "apathy" could come down to a lack of memetic nexuses, a lack of shared MIAOs. Or rather, and this is an important yet subtle point, different members of a cohort may attach different memes to the same MIAO, and this can make it an ineffective MIAO for the group, or even put people at odds. For example (NOTE: apologies for any disturbing references -- they do not represent the author's personal opinions and are presented only as salient examples):
|Nazis||(rallying symbol, unity) →||Swastika 卍||← (Holocaust)||Jews✡|
|(where is the nearest temple, etc.)|
|Native Americans||(genocide) →||"Columbus Day"||← (pride)||Italian Americans|
Okay, so I'm handed an arbitrary proto-cohort, one that does not a priori have much of a memetic relationship, or at least none that is "useful" to me. The other side of the quagmire is what is meant by "apathy", and what do I hope to achieve, i.e., how do I get rid of this "apathy" or at least for starters, how do I characterize it in a memetically useful way.
This is the question that has challenged demagogues for millennia, and the solution has typically been violence(4).
How violence actually works to address the "problem" of apathy is perhaps another interesting question altogether. Close inspection might prove otherwise, but we see the pattern of a Hitler, or the typical "communist dictator", or the "right-wing fear-monger" stirring up fear and hatred with "lies" usually directed toward or focused around some semi-imaginary "enemy" to polarize the electorate into rebelling along with the demagogue or electing them into office, and then consolidating power through a protracted régime of violence.
The proto-cohort were unwilling to do anything, and indeed, seemed incapable of doing anything, and the "great leader" stepped in and they rallied around him, becoming, in memetic terms, a cohort with the "leader" as a memetic nexus. If the country or organization faces an imminent threat, then there is perhaps motivation. Or if there is an opportunity for the leader, regardless of external threats, then it's the same thing. Often, however, the "threat" is a major MIAO off of which the "great leader's" memes are anchored. In principle, the threat doesn't have to even exist, or may be distorted or greatly exaggerated (and we've seen many examples of this).
Okay, we still have the problem of characterizing the "apathy" state, but as I mentioned above, it could be anything, really. Either one merely wants power for its own sake, in which case any definition will do, so long as it leads to the creation of a memetic nexus with oneself at the center of it, or one hopes to solve some specific problem which requires the cohort to share a certain set of memes, or to adopt, be infected with, a memeplex.
Either way, you need to invent a memeplex which will result in the new desired group behavior.
It could be that the impetus of crisis merely allows one to be more "sloppy" in the design of said memeplex, and, for example, to get away with things like "blaming the [imaginary] enemy" for things like having to shift designs mid-course and so on, which would otherwise be unforgivable gaffes if one were trying to pass oneself off as a PR rep, military/political strategist, project manager(5), or memetic engineer. No surprises here, but one should mistrust the "urgent crisis" excuse. One should have to make extra effort to justify that tack, but in practice the opposite is true, and it's difficult to oppose -- especially since it's often employed by those already in power.
This leaves open interesting questions such as whether violence is a fundamentally more effective means for creating a nexus-centered memeplex in an arbitrary proto-cohort, or whether violence can achieve things of which a more considered, non-violent approach is fundamentally incapable(7).
Whence Else, Apathy?
There are a number of other memetic concepts that seem like they might be relevant to the as yet vaguely defined concept of "apathy", and these include memetic states, contact memes, memetic orgy, memetic polarization, and memetic destitution. Or is "apathy" not a state at all, and merely an omniphagic immunomeme or immunomemeplex? Immunomemes exert a conservative force which prevents change. Should a sufficiently complex and general (omniphagic) collection of memes, or even a megaimmunomemeplex, evolve, emerge, in what is effective a cohort thereof, would we see a phenomenon resembling "apathy"? An appealing aspect of this megaimmunomemeplectic theory is that it should be able to be easily subjected to and characterized by memetic analysis, moreso than these others (see below).
One observation that applies, I think, to all of these potential models for "apathy", which may even link them together, is that there may be multiple memetic fabrics involved in this "let's all work together" or "elect me!" memetic engineering project. In other words, for example, seeking to unify different departments in an organization, or "getting out the Latino vote" or "the African-American vote" and so forth, one must expect that to some degree these differing groups belong to at least partially isolated memetic fabrics, and the supermemeplex to infect them with would need to be tailored to each to at least some degree.
Contact memes, as I've discussed elsewhere, are to do with the way one group perceives another group, i.e., the signal memes and MIAOs that are emitted, causing the recognition. If the set of contact memes between the "leader" group vis-à-vis the "electorate/worker" group are unsophisticated, then that could be an issue in perceiving apathy or being able to devise a good new memeplex. This is more of a related issue than a central one. Naturally, contact memes are immediately relevant to the construction of the "imaginary enemy" (a MIAO) to anchor the new memeplex. The Nazis, of course, spent enormous efforts to create the icon (MIAO) of the "anti-German Jew", or rather, to anchor an enormous number of deliberately created and coöpted racist and nationalist memes thereto. Communists created the MIAO of the "counterrevolutionary" or "running dog", anchored to the MIAO and supermemeplex of the revolution and its notion of historical progress(8).
Memetic states, even leading up to memetic orgy, are what one might hope to devise for a new memeplex for the cohort, and of course any preëxisting elements that could serve as a scaffolding for a memetic system full of dynamic, even orgiastic, memetic exchanges, would be useful to the design of such a new memeplex. It may be true that demagogues try to find these existing orgiastic states in their proto-cohorts and work on them, building MIAOs, or attaching their own new memes to existing MIAOs associated with orgiastic states (or even baser, pre-memetic emotions) as a mainstay of their process of constructing their new edifice. The Nazi coöption of the Christian cross (swastika) and elements of German Volksgemeinshaft iconography is an example.
Memetic state transitions are interesting because they can explain things like fanaticism and extremism, and are also related to memetic orgies. For example, a state transition could occur when a group of people in an isolated, private setting realize that they are all members of the same religious sect, are all accountants (or other profession), are all from the same town, etc. This state transition means that they have a larger set of memes they may enact with one another with a much greater chance of resonance with the cohort, i.e., a greater chance for memetic reward. Every reference to scripture, or use of jargon, or memory of hometown landmarks is highly likely to be met with resonance and provide an opportunity for somebody else to enact their own home-run memetic deployment.
Clearly, the human organism is drawn to environments having states with higher and higher Memetic Density, i.e., the number of deployable memes and the likely resonance strength of those memes are both high, to the point that a sustained chain reaction, i.e., a "memetic orgy", becomes possible, even likely. Another related factor may be a lack of Memetic Dead Ends, or where each enacted meme gives opportunities for other members of the cohort to enact their own memes in return, and so on.
Again, more of a side issue than something that characterizes what we might call "apathy", as such. It may prove to be the case that we can get our proto-cohort into some sort of different memetic state which works much better than the state we have deemed "apathetic", i.e., that such an alternate memetic state and the path to it exist already, and in some simple straightforward cases such as bolstering morale for work or military this may be true, but in more complex situations, where new challenges are faced, we may still have quite a lot of memetic engineering to do.
Memetic polarization and memetic destitution seem more interesting in terms of actually characterizing the memetic disposition of a proto-cohort which could be considered "apathetic" or a "state of apathy". Is "apathy" a (memetic) state, or is it a case of memetic destitution, or is it something similar to non-polarization, or is it something else again, or some combination? Or, as likely as not, "apathy" is such a vague, catch-all term that any of the above could produce something that resembles it. It is perhaps interesting to think in terms as a large fraction of the proto-cohort members to be memetically destitute with respect to one another. A memetic analysis might show a chaotic collection of memes attached to the relevant MIAOs (the candidate, the work processes, etc.) varying widely from individual to individual. Memetic pathways (see below), leading to the desired outcome of work output, voting, etc., are inconsistent, frequently broken or weak, leading to memetic dead ends, not universally resonant in the proto-cohort.
A Useful Description of "Apathy"?
Is it enough to say that when we select an arbitrary proto-cohort more-or-less at random, there is very likely a lack of memetic pathways among the individuals therein? This is perhaps a useful new concept. When it comes to exacting concerted useful behavior from a proto-cohort, e.g., "work", or "vote for me", we effectively want two things:
- for "me" to be at the center of a memetic nexus vis-à-vis said proto-cohort
- for there to be short, efficient pathways to action memes I desire (voting, working, etc.)
So, to recap, we should be able to draw up a diagram showing how a signal meme from the nexus propagates through the (proto-)cohort, and eventually results in an action or series of actions, including changing to different memetic states, e.g., "I'm at work now", or "Election Day is approaching and I'm really going to vote". The actions are of course to show up to work or to the polls, and in the case of work, set up and perform what is probably a complex series of actions, probably in concert with coworkers.
Quantitative Analysis of Events Along Memetic Pathways
This may be one of our first opportunities, or rather, immediate needs, to start to quantify memetic interactions. We've already talked about the physiological measurement of the memetic reward, i.e., is it heartbeat, oxygen levels (probably not, actually), or some kind of "drive reduction", or altogether different and specialized neurophysiological reaction, like orgasm. Orgasm is a kind of paroxysm which occurs in a very specific context, and has been discovered to be centered in a very specific location in the brain such that even a corpse may be made to have an orgasm by the electrical stimulation of this location. Memetic reward may prove to be simliar, and therefore almost certainly unique to the human animal, and therefore likely located in the higher brain somewhere. In which case, would be expect it to be lateralized? Can it be damaged? Could lesion studies be done? What does a human without a functioning memetic reward center look like? How do they behave? Can it have dysfunctions or hypertrophy? Does it have latency or can it fire over and over again (male versus female orgasm analogy). Are there varying intensities of memetic reward reactions and what governs this. In short, these are all questions for a physiological study into the brain to try to discover the memetic reward center of the brain and to characterize it.
Once we know more about how much "reward" a person stands to gain from a memetic interaction, either performing a physical action or deploying a speech-based signal meme, we may be able to characterize the "firing probability" of the various links in the chain from a signal meme from the nexus to the actual desired "work output" action meme(s). Typically there would be intermediate nexuses, i.e., managers or local political party offices and campaign workers. It seems obvious, but the transmission of signals from the central nexus out to these "feeder nexuses" must be made as efficient as possible. These are "beholden populations", so this should be less of a problem to inure them of the additional memes associated with getting the messages out, but by the same token, precisely because they are beholden, this engineering task might be neglected. By "beholden" I mean that they may be inured ("programmed") in a metamemetic manner, i.e., one may openly discuss the memes that are at play, discuss the memetic system itself directly, "break the fourth wall", so to speak, as opposed to "tricking them" or persuading them indirectly. However, having said that, in memetic engineering there is always "trickery" involved, since memes in a memeplex are invariably mutually inconsistent. One can expose this to some degree to a beholden population, however, i.e., they are "in on the joke" to some extent. There are always layers beneath what each individual can see, and ultimately the motivational memetic system is different for each individual, and coöperation is based on this accepted, tacit misunderstanding (see Contact Memes and the Corporation).
Memetic pathways may be short or long, but if long, like a neural pathway in the brain, they stand to "break" by failing to "fire" at any of the stages along the way. A major issue here is that at each step along the way, an individual deploying a meme, whether it be actually performing a unit of work, or passing along a signal that keeps others working, should stand to receive a memetic reward, effectively from their fellow workers, for having successfully enacted the meme. Having to receive rewards from the managers (the "feeder nexuses", or the "minions" of the central nexus) tends to overload the feeders and is not scalable (see Growth Experience comic). This is perhaps the major work of building a strongly producing cohort from a proto-cohort, i.e., the building in of these memetic rewards (from the rest of the cohort) for memetic interactions along the critical path of production. In other words, if you're talking about getting the vote out, or getting productive work done, there has to be interpersonal involvement in a way that motivates those memetic enactments crucial to the desired result. If there's a lot of talk, but ultimately your supporters don't know where their polling place is, or they don't know when election day is, or they don't know how to get their early voter materials from the county office or party office, then all the other effort and memetic infrastructure is wasted. Similarly, there has to be a basic understanding of the work process, and a memetic diagrammatic characterization of same, and then the "choke point" interactions should be identified and strengthened, usually by packing the meme space around them, perhaps building multiple pathways, making sure that fellow cohort members have plenty of memes to deploy to reward those that enact these memes (perform critical tasks). Furthermore, analysis of how reliably these memes will be enacted in response to signals from the nexuses, and with what time scale, should be studied and if possible measured and improved over time.
One interesting point recently brought to my attention is the long-term health of the organization and of the memeplexes, MIAOs, and memetic pathways built up in the process of "fixing" an apathetic proto-cohort, or making a memeplex and its cohort more "efficient" at achieving some stated desirable output (votes, products, test scores, etc.). Remember, memes and memeplexes serve only themselves, and MIAOs are their passive instruments. Another issue is that a memetic fabric can only sustain a certain number of memes. That's the whole point of packing the memespace -- to prevent entry of counterproductive memes. What happens if the needs of an organization change? There is expense associated with this memetic engineering exercise. What if the memetically packed and engineered memetic pathway to the original desired outcome becomes obsolete? There is some cost-benefit analysis to be done. Furthermore, in the face of change, some memes and MIAOs may have to be reconstituted, some may have to be culled, if only to free up the memetic fabric so that new memes may be introduced. A non-forward-looking memetic design could lead to a worse situation than when one started, or even greater expense or effort than originally expended in order to adapt to new conditions. Organizations such as governments or large corporations become inefficient or fail due to inability to change, even if they were very effective when they first started. Having to change a plethora of memes, all interconnected, can seem daunting, as can mega-MIAOs which anchor a large portion of the critical memes and memetic pathways of an organization or society. Some examples might include the "money MIAO" and the "God Concept" -- they connect to almost everything. On top of it all, all memetic systems, even engineered ones, even ones that function "badly", have a panoply of immunomenes to keep them stable and functioning. Most any effort to extirpate or alter the system will meet with resistance from its immunomemetic system. Once created, memeplexes have a life of their own, which is good because they are self-sustaining, do their jobs without constant monitoring, and can even be scalable, but they also actively resist being removed.
Organizations in a Memetic Quagmire
Below are some real memes that one can hear in organizations that are unable to react flexibly to problems, come up with new ideas/approaches, etc. Note that omniphagic immunomemes appear to be prevalent, and this appears to be for at least a couple of reasons: they are universally effective against any "threat" to destabilize the prevailing supermemeplex, and they are more palatable since they tend not to target a specific group or hang off of a specific "fact" or idea. They have longevity for the same reason. Targeted immunomemes, on the other hand, tend to target groups, i.e., they tend more strongly(9) to be racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, classist, political, etc., which puts them and the persons/organization infected with them in conflict with liberation movements, casting them in a negative light, and they are typically not usable by everyone, e.g., members of the targeted groups themselves or non-bigots, which can cause fragmentation of the cohort. If a targeted immunomeme asserts something specific, such as "women can't work as well or fight as well as soldiers" is proven to be false, and more importantly, widely accepted to be false (or mean-spirited), the meme itself, the memes it resonates with, and even the MIAOs it is attached to, may collapse entirely.
This may be a useful way to target organizational dysfunction by the way, i.e., to identify and attack the targeted immunomemes, i.e., those that rest on propositions which may be shown to be distasteful and/or false, especially falsehoods that are easily demonstrated as being counter to the (stated) goals and the health of an organization or society. This is one reason why the liberation of women (and minorities) is so important. Oppression of women and minorities poisons everything and renders the supermemeplex brittle and inflexible by severing memetic pathways and preventing (positive) change to adapt to challenges and dangers. The liberation of men is more problematic, however, since the oppression of men is more intimately entangled with the inner workings of society(10), i.e., society would have to be much more fundamentally restructured in order to meaningfully change the roles of men in it. However, my conviction is that men's liberation is hopeless unless substantive liberation of women and minorities is first achieved.
NOTA BENE: Some of these memes may be disturbing, so I'd like to apologize for that and make it clear that they do not represent the author's opinions or those of any specific person or organization. Any semblance to the contrary is purely coïncidental.
|Omniphagic Immunomemes||Resonant/State-Changing Memes|
|That will never work
We'll do that later
Don't worry [you low-level schlub] We're [big cheeses] working on it
It's their job
I don't understand that
I don't know what you're talking about
Just do your job
That's a waste of money
Management will never get behind that
We're a team*
We have a deadline
Semantic or grammatical nit-picking
It's "complicated" (without qualification)
We [already] have a tool for that
That's inappropriate/"non-PC" speech
We've spent money on...
You're committed to...
Why are you late on your project?
We can only integrate when things are all done
We can't spend money on that
|How can we pull in more people?
How do we make it fun?
What other groups can we reach out to?
What are our reüse opportunities?
How can our experts mentor others?
How can I spread capability?
|NOTE: many of these memes are discriminatory and hateful, and do not in any way represent the author's personal views or opinions.
Mentally ill people's ideas are irrelevant
Women/minorities are only focused on their own issues
Women just want to find husbands and leave
New people can't see the big picture
New people lack the necessary experience
People inside the company can't fix our problems
Outside consultants don't understand our "culture"
Long-time people are "set in their ways"
Women cannot/should not fight in combat
Guns [in and of themselves] cause social violence
It is reasonable, even good, for private citizens to own guns
Civilian ownership of guns promotes public safety
Cannabis [marijuana] is an evil, addictive drug
All recreational drugs should be legal and easily available
*creates an un-self-examined MIAO-like abstraction which ultimately has a damping effect
What it Means to Create a Cohort
To overcome "apathy", or more precisely, any situation where the memetic pathways in a population (which is not a cohort at the outset) do not reliably lead to the enactment of memes that the memetic engineer hopes to evince, the mission is effectively to create a cohort from a memetically chaotic population (or "community"(11)). Again, this is about illuminating the desired functional outputs of the cohort ("vote for me", "produce products", "learn subject material and/or get good test grades", etc.), including intermediate outputs such as "produce progress reports", "turn in homework", "recruit others to vote", and so on. One may have to create MIAOs from whole cloth, but it's best to enlist existing ones. The memetic engineer may face the problem of different individuals and sub-cohorts having different relationships with given MIAOs (as above). This may create disconnects between sub-cohorts, but it may also provide connections between groups which would otherwise have no commonality (memetic connection). For instance, a cynical politician might "wrap herself in the national flag", which connects her to veterans or other sincerely patriotic people by providing her a panoply of memes to deploy in wooing these cohorts. This could be viewed as a negative example, but in other cases shared but differently anchored MIAOs could bring together groups with disparate viewpoints but which actually share common purposes. MIAOs, like memes, don't care.
If there are many groups, e.g., owning class, middle class (managerial class), and working class, and marginalized peoples, each nominally represents a sub-cohort, i.e., there are high levels of communication between sub-cohort members and less between sub-cohorts. How do they all access the shared MIAOs (money, in many cases), and does the concept of inventories defining cohorts still work? This is a challenge for the cohort/inventory/state idea. A cohort is determined by the collection of shared memes, i.e., the memetic inventory shared between individuals of the cohort. This suggests the possibility for quantification, i.e., the quantity of shared memes, if one shrinks the collection of memes defining a cohort, the membership tends to grow. How "intensely" or "strongly" held are these memes from person to person (which is effectively a micromemetic concept, but which has macromemetic ramifications), and so on, since "degree" of memetic inurement is presumably a contunuüm and not binary (more study required). How does one characterize these quantities, and how to do so such that they are actually measurable and usable with other memetic quantities, units of measure, yet to be elucidated?
There are contact memes that connect cohorts, i.e., how one subgroup views another. There are also the contact or interface memes, say, for a rich person versus a middle-class person vis-a-vis a corporation. The investment/reward systems portrayed to each are probably quite different, and may make more or less sense to each, which could have direct bearing on the "strength" or "intensity" of inurement (suggesting the need for a quantity: "inurement intensity"). Unless one is in memetic destitution, i.e., not having enough memetic rewards available through engaging with the prevailing ideology (supermemeplex), each individual has a sense that they are "engaged" with the system, understand the rules (even though they may be illogical and contradictory). A middle-class or working person may feel perfectly normal relating to the corporation or to the government, though it cause them a great deal of suffering and dissatisfaction, and so they do not feel moved to rise in rebellion or violence because there are still ample memetic reward opportunities to be had and memetic loops to be closed. Again, this is the distinction between memetic destitution and oppression.
The idea that things may be valued in terms of some (supposedly) objective, agreed-upon, standard means that everybody can communicate in terms of that standard. Money is effectively a MIAO, and perhaps not so different from other MIAOs. Money may in fact be a collection of MIAOs, e.g., actual paper money and coinage, electronic money, monetary/investment instruments (stock shares, bonds, etc.), the sense of value of objects, the sense that one is owed for one's work, the idea that it costs money to live (in modern society) and have possessions, one's own self-worth, and so on. Money may also provide a sense of national, or "community", identity. Cultural icons and royalty are often on the paper money and coins.
As mentioned above, money becomes a shared MIAO with different contact memes or anchored memes for different sub-cohorts in a population. This provides a means for memetic relationships, and indeed, for ways of engineering memetic pathways which can lead to predetermined outcomes. Where once peoples had to be subjugated by force in order to extract labor and resources from them, for example, through colonization or other forms of mass enslavement. The propping up of memetic systems for making colonized peoples police (bully) themselves into compliance often involves the MIAO of the superiority of the conqueror, and this MIAO is resisted at first, a source of resentment thereafter, and ultimately a rallying point for rebellion once the conqueror has spent years and untold resources in establishing it as a MIAO with many anchored memes in the minds and lives of the colonized peoples. Sowing the memetic seeds of their own demise, as it were.
Money solves this. Unless a people are, say, "primitive", and resist the idea of money outright, the idea of money, the currency of a wealthy nation, means that people of poor nations may obtain it, and use it to further obtain the prestige and the trappings of wealth and technology which members of the wealthy, developed society with which they have come into contact appear to enjoy. The money MIAO is anchored to many positive things. It can potentially be anchored to negative things as well, but many or most good things that come are the result of money going into them. One pernicious effect is that simple, non-monetized pleasures and cultural factors of a "monetarily colonized" people tend to be drawn under the ægis of the money MIAO, and thus become subject to the so-called "laws" of economics. The monetization of people's time and work is an example.
"You are your job..."
The oppression of "housewives" (or "house husbands") versus those who work may be worth a look. The 1970s saw a US divorce upswing and court cases where it was argued that a woman who stayed at home performed services which, if hired out to cleaners, cooks, nannies, and even, pardon the reference, sex workers, would amount to a sizeable annual salary, and this was used as an argument for setting alimonies and such. In terms of fairness this is perhaps not a Bad Thing. But it also reduces, yes, almost certainly reduces, the value of what spouses, parents, spouses, and so on do for each other, their families, and for the community. Indeed, any "job" with non-excludable (positive) externalities, e.g., mother, teacher, police, nurse/doctor, etc., is devalued by monetization, and this is a fundamental function of the money MIAO. Also, how one spends ones own time just for oneself is colored by the money MIAO. If one makes a great deal of money, i.e., one's time is "highly valued" by the supermemeplex anchored to the money MIAO, then it may somehow seem not worth it to relax at home when each hour has a certain "cost" or "value", or one has only a certain amount of vacation time per year (which also has a monetary value), so spending a comparable sum on going to an exotic locale or enjoying an expensive activity such as skydiving or scuba seems appropriate, even obligatory. It's unclear what the alternative might be, however, although any "solutions" will, of course, undoubtedly be memetic ones.
One phenomenon once true in the US and still in other countries is the idea that people like teachers, mothers with children, police officers, and others should be treated with extra respect and consideration. This could take the form of titles and forms of address, special assistance and free services from businesses, government offices, and even individuals, such as unpaid assistance, volunteer help personally or at work, waived fees and charges, gifts, free food and services, and so on. This could be an example of a memetic solution to a problem with economists may have thrown their hands up over.
The fact of the matter is, however, that the super-rich are still royalty, even if they are not the faces on the money (which perhaps they never were). They are invisible, and they use the memes of the proletariat around money, to do with money, in order to manipulate them, in addition to the money itself. "I gave you a little bit of my royalty" (which was never possible or conceivable before) which is probably not even true -- there is a critical mass, i.e., a threshold of wealth needed to be "elevated" (to use the term from heraldry). So Capitalism may probably be described as a very viable, virile, successful memetic system, and that may be that it creates this MIAO of money. And, as evidenced by the predominance of paper fiat currency, the concept of money, the abstract MIAO of money, is more important than the reality. Could the idea of money be a kind of MEMETIC NEXUS? Whatever you invent will step into the nexus and stay there, no matter how you try to mess with it. This is perhaps a very interesting question in and of itself, as is the memetic nature of money generally.
(1)Oppression versus Alienation, see The Memetic Orgy of Pretendiansim.
(2)I describe "intensionality" as a kind of anthropomorphicization of something which usually doesn't exist in any real sense. At best, it gives preëminence to the "feelings" of one or more individuals, which as Jean-Paul Sartre points out, are meaninglessly inextensible. We need to reject these characterizations and focus on rigorous memetic inventory.
(3)Please note that in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, James Mason told Shelley Winters that she was "quite a salesman", hence, "salesman" is gender non-specific.
(4)With voting a form of sublimated violence, c.f., Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers.
(5)"You people have turned out to be even lazier than we first thought, so we're going to have to demand even harsher overtime and other policies"
(6)See Schrödinger's Catechresis comic, et al.
(7)This is one of the fundamental questions of Macromemetics, i.e., whether memetic change (infection/disinurement) may be achieved without the deaths of millions of people, as we've seen time and again in the genocides, wars, and pogroms throughout history.
(8)Slavoj Zizek, The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, Sofie Fiennes, director
(9)In fact, this may prove not to be true. More study required.
(10)Men are typically enlisted to carry out the violence required to maintain the stability of the mememetic system, and to do the dangerous work, including fighting in wars. Men are expendable, reproductively speaking, and so their mistreatment, emotional damage, and higher death rate has much less impact on future generations and the overall health of society, and they may also be deployed into activities which are dangerous and/or produce little of value to society or are even harmful. The economic and military strength of a nation vis-à-vis other nations is largely predicated on how efficiently it exploits its men, regardless of the suffering caused. Hence the competition between nation states is tightly intertwined with the suffering of men and so is very difficult to alleviate. Ultimately physical and emotional damage inflected on men translates into harm to women and children.
(11)I have hitherto used the term "population" to describe a group of individuals in memetic contact (able to exchange memes with one another, regardless of whether they are actually doing so). By the way, a population is not the same as a cohort, which is the collection of people inured of a given memeplex. They may contain the same individuals, but a cohort is always a subset of a population. "Population" is a good, generic term, but "community" may better convey the notion of the connectedness between member individuals.
Post a Comment