Mushrooms around Moscow


漫画 Firing Squad

Manga Index 

模倣子 Guaranteed Minimum Income

I have been wanting to write about this for a while, partly because I think it's an interesting idea, there are a lot of people who could benefit from being on GMI and not having to hold down a job, and there are a lot of jobs that probably just shouldn't be done. Partly because they don't represent dignity of work, but also because I imagine there are a great many cases where it costs society, not to mention the individuals involved, more to have people do certain jobs, including the associated commutes, places they have to live in order to get to the jobs, and so on, than it would to have the people living elsewhere, perhaps not doing a "job," blah, blah, blah.

And of course the point is that none of that is a good thing to argue to actually get GMI implemented. As with everything, I believe a macromemetic approach is called for. My question is what that might look like.

Meme Pairing
Trying to sell any tricky political idea tends to involve meme pairing (1). Actually, meme pairing is a tool to keep in mind in most any memetic engineering endeavor. The concept is that memes are alogical, they don't care whether they make sense or not, and they also don't care whether other memes make sense, or even whether they are anthropomorphized. Hard sciences tend to care about these sorts of things, but soft sciences...not so much. The oh!-so-soft science we're mainly focused on here would be economics.

Economics likes to trot out all sorts of odd-ball MIAOs (2) such as "inflation," "inflexible demand," "full employment," often in response to how its theories fail to match the data of reality. Yes, some of these things actually seem to make sense, for instance, "inflation." Or "hyperinflation" -- is it the same thing, just more, or a totally different thing? The money supply grows, so there is more money for each product to buy, so the price rises. Or it happens so fast that people use wheelbarrows to haul cash down the street to buy a loaf of bread, or they buy super-expensive fur coats now before their money becomes "worthless." Why? Economics seems to create new MIAOs for things that are hard to measure, or to fix, or which have hard-to-define effects.

Memetically, this makes perfect sense. We have a reasonable MIAO, or system of memes associated with an object, but it's obviously not working. One of my favorites is "inflexible demand." In America, unlike a number of other places, we have lots of people dying from things which we know how to cure, but it's just "too expensive."  "Too expensive," is an economic meme, by the way. We also have rich people buying treatments, cures, for deadly diseases they have which cost many years the salary of normal people. In theory, if we made these treatments cheaper, more people could buy them, but then more people buying them would push the cost up, and if we provided extra money to pay for the treatments, then that would increase "demand" and raise the price again. If we just paid for more of the medical machines to be built, that would increase "supply," which should maybe make it cheaper, but who knows? Even though it's happening already quite a lot, people dying because they cannot afford well-known treatment, "inflexible demand," is the idea that no matter what the price, a person will pay whatever it takes to save their life. This is a way for economics to say that there is no point on a "supply-demand curve" where they cross and give a price for given medical treatment in a given economic environment.

So the flaw in the principle of supply and demand is patched up in places where it doesn't work by talking about "inflexible demand" or "inflation."

GMI is an economic problem. Not so much in allocation of resources -- I suspect it's more of a problem of PR (3) -- but in that economic immunomemes are the ones which will be deployed against GMI's implementation. I'm thinking of George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, where he remarks that we do not despise the hobo because he does not work hard, but because he does not earn a profit. Indeed, the problems I see for GMI stem from the economics-derived immunomemes to do with being unproductive, lazy, not having a job, not paying one's way, staying in bed all day, living on the dole, and so on.

Defensive Pairing
To implement an idea such as GMI, the memes which might be used to stop it, undermine it, must be combatted. What does this look like? I'll try to think of some examples. As discussed in The Electoral College Professor (1), the main character, Geneviève, cites Richard Nixon going to China. An obvious reaction to this is "Why is Tricky Dick going to communist China to talk to Mao? Isn't he supposed to be a life-long anti-communist?" This must be combatted, and a preëmptive memetic engineering action would be to defensively pair the "going to China" meme with a "tough on communism" meme in the form of "only Nixon is tough enough on communism to sit down with Mao and represent American's interests and not be bamboozled." This is what was done.

The memetic engineering method I propose it to identify as many "negative memes" or immunomemes against GMI, and pair them with counter-memes that form a positive memetic pair that supports the adoption of GMI, which means that they convert proponents and opponents and get them working on the same objective, though probably through different pathways.

Oppression and Alienation
Remember that people like to deploy memes that they are as sure as possible will get a reaction, achieve resonance with others, as many as possible. This implies a number of things, covered elsewhere. One is oppression. People will deploy memes that get a memetic response, even if this results in their getting harmed. This is distinct from alienation, where no matter which memes a person deploys, they are unable to get a memetic response from the cohort in which them find themselves. This is also known as memetic desolation (4). Another issue is what I'm calling The First Law of Immunomemetics, which states that any stable memetic system must contain an immunomemetic subsystem, or immunomemeplex. Memetic systems resist change, which is obvious, since otherwise we would not see things like languages, cultures, organizations, because they would change wildly and chaotically, rather than gradually if at all. This means that any "new idea" is resisted, for if every time somebody tried to do things differently

Having no memes to talk about GMI, or having GMI memes paired to negative memes that result in obstructionism, or unproductive memes deployed on the part of "supporters" (5).

Memetic Fabric Polarization
A good strategy, perhaps a sino quod non one, is to develop a bifurcated set of memes for an "empire" and a "rebellion." It's the "Great Taste, Less Filling" approach. Why does this sort of thing work? One is that you're pairing the same action memes, i.e., "vote in favor of GMI measures," with multiple sets of memes that allow the members of two or more factions to achieve frequent resonance with each other. Another interesting benefit of a GTLF design is that it provides all factions with an individualized immunomemeplex to deploy "against" the other factions, which of course strengthens the overall system (6).

The idea is that since no one group is going to want to use all of the memes of a single system. Acknowledging this and designing cohesive submemeplexes within the megamemeplex can provide each faction, each sub-cohort, the opportunity of an individualized memetic inventory which they may employ thoroughly. One also designs a custom immunomemeplex for each sub-cohort, which provides additional memes for each to deploy "against" the other sub-cohorts, heightening engagement in the system by all concerned.

Summary and Conclusion
There are a number of basic macromemetic design issues to consider when trying to package an idea, such as GMI. Plan the pairing of GMI memes so they not get linked to negative memes, memes that allow immunomemes to be deployed. Anticipate such immunomemetic deployment opportunities and design pairings to thwart them. Design memes for all known factions, and pair GMI memes with new or existing memes that will be usable by each faction, and design immunomemetic systems for each faction to deploy "against" the other factions.
(1) See Electoral College Professor in the OtherWorlds anthology, where Geneviève discusses Richard Nixon.

(2) Memetic Iconic Anchoring Object.

(3) Public Relations is also a macromemetic sub-discipline.

(4) A good film for this is A Pervert's Guide to Cinema, with Slavoj Zizek.

(5) An example, perhaps a controversial one, might be some people who call themselves "feminists" but deploy memes that infuriate opponents, alienate potential allies and moderate supporters, and don't make the lives of real woman (poor women and women of color, especially) easier, and maybe even more difficult. This is an example of how positive, "on-message" memes and signal memes may be paired with ineffectual or destructive action memes.

(6) See Cheaters, Masochists, Sociopaths, and Proselytizers


漫画 Step Fourth Part II is Published

Manga Index 

Hey, now the second part is available!

The adventure into the subconscious continues! I plan to make it available on Etsy soon! Buy the 'zine form so you can have your very own copy to read over and over again, with a schnazzy color cover!




模倣子 Castes and Group Behavior

The caste system guides the individual in his day-to-day activities as well. Each caste has its own behaviour patterns to be followed by all its members in all important matters like dress, diet, ceremonial observances, and rituals at birth, marriage and death etc.

I don't think it's too much of a leap to see American racism and sexism as functioning something like a caste system. Depending upon who and what you are, your race, your sex, you are allowed or not allowed to do certain things, to go certain places, to participate freely in certain activities.

The things that one is "allowed" to do seems like very much a macromemetic concept, that is, memetic interactions are how this is mitigated. It's as if who one is, race, sex, wealth, age, etc., are like "memetic gestures" that others experience. Better still, perhaps, "memetic states," rather like the Blue Shirt Tuesday doughnuts experiment (1), in which whether one is wearing a blue shirt determines whether one is "allowed" to eat a doughnut. Being "allowed" to eat a doughnut is determined in a practical sense by whether the surrounding people are likely to deploy supportive memes (recognition that you did something good) or bullying immunomemes. The availability of these memes is directly related to the memetic state, which is effectively a matrix of memes that are available in the given state, and also to which state the system next transitions if a certain meme is deployed in the current state.

There are a lot of issues at play here. One is whether the memetic state is clearly understood at the time of deciding to deploy a meme. The operative concept is marking. A system has poor marking if the status of a memetic agent is unclear, if the meaning of memes enacted and icons/MIAOs used is unclear. This results in memetic agents being uncertain as to which actions they may take, if any, in response.

A lot of racist, sexist, etc., systems have an inventory of immunomemes especially for dealing with "spoofers," or "fakers," or those trying to "pass" as something else (2). This may be a one-way affair, as the Rachel Dolezal incident highlights. Pretending to be a higher-status caste member is met with hostility, while pretending to be of lower caste may meet with little or no resistance. What things affect this, and why this should be may be a topic for another essay.

How It Works
Suffice it to say, in order for a caste system to function, it has to be clear to all concerned who is a member of which caste. There also must be immunomemeplexes in place to allow cohort members to attack those who try to act outside of what is permitted to their caste, or (God forbid!) try to pretend to be of another (higher) caste, and thereby act outside their caste.

Just for the sake of discussion, let's try to imagine the stereotypical 1950s office or other social and work setting in the United States, and what kinds of memetic transactions a woman or an African American person might be involved in which might illuminate how the memeplex functions, remembering that comedy and drama are touchstones of truth (3).

I was watching an episode of Stranger Things, and setting aside what one might think about the writing on that show, it depicted a young woman working in an office, and any ideas she had were automatically mocked and greeted with peals of laughter from the older male staff (unless they involved getting coffee or sandwiches, and even still). Laughter is a physiological memetic response, and it also "leaves nowhere to do," i.e., it is a final memetic state. This is, by the way, one of the ways that someone of a lower class might be treated if they tried to do anything outside their own caste boundaries, another one being violence, which is a go-to memetic response when it comes to African Americans.

Safe Spaces
It's unclear whether African Americans, or any other minorities, or even women, for that matter, have much in what could be termed "safe spaces." However, we do see things such as "Chinatowns" in big American cities (though they've shrunk in size over the years, which is probably telling). I've put forward the idea of memetic orgies, but now it might be a good time to think about memetic feeding frenzies. Whereas in a memetic orgy, every meme deployed by a subcohort member gives other members the chance to deploy more that are also productive, and it turns into a sustainable chain reaction, in a memetic feeding frenzy, every action by the victim and by the frenzy members results in more opportunities to bully the victim, to attack them, mock them, commit acts of violence on them.

Careers like nursing, K-12 teaching, and of course homemaking may represent "safe spaces" where women could be safe, have self-esteem and self-determination, respect, and make an independent life for themselves. Women working in offices might be subject to all kinds of immunomemes, even when it became nominally "acceptable" to "work outside the home." Having ideas in the areas that men develop ideas invited mockery, threats of termination. A woman in an office might be the target of unwanted sexual advances. A woman walking home unescorted could also be the target of sexual harassment or violence. Presumably the police are there to offer protection, but that may not even be true.

African Americans face many of the same attacks, and more, and many immunomemes they face are coming from the police themselves. Why don't the police protect them?

Are People Evil?
This is not really a question that macromemetics can answer. The answer is, I believe, that people enact whichever memes they see as offering the greatest memetic reward from their fellows in a given memetic state. In our 1950s nightmare, someone threatening a woman walking home from work as night approaches seems horrible, but it's something that's in everybody's brains, and that's why people do it. There's either a) everybody will laugh or participate (feeding frenzy), or b) they will see it and let it pass, ignore it.

Historically the police's role was to harass African Americans. If an African American was walking around, unescorted, then they were up to no good, a runaway slave, and the police's first job was to stop them, find out their story (which they assumed was a lie), arrest them (which was assumed they would resist violently), take them into custody, lock them up, and after that nothing since somebody would come and collect them if anybody cared. Like it or not, that's the system that was produced by hundreds of years of chattel slavery in this country. A lot of immunomemes specifically directed at African Americans, and none of them very nice. You can't just erase them overnight, or with the stroke of a pen.

Dismantling Caste Systems
I hope it's obvious by now that you can't stop racism and sexism by having somebody in high authority just saying, "Hey, now, y'all just be nice, now, stop doing that stuff, you know what I'm taking about," which is pretty much what we've been doing, whether it's with those very words or through some legislation (4).

You need to identify all of the immunomemes which may be deployed against targeted populations (women, African Americans, et al) and find a way to replace them with new ones, any new ones. That's the key thing. It's like with all mememtic engineering, packing the meme space is key. By trying to just throw out all racist and sexist harassment and violence, you're creating a vacuum, and the old immunomemes are just going to fly right back in (or worse ones!).

A really silly example that popped into my head, and it might not be a good replacement meme (but it might), is that a cop might hand out their business cards to people they made contact with, without probably cause, instead of arresting them, laying a beating on them, or killing them, and said business cards could have the number of the Cop  Shop and a code for that particular cop. The non-perp could then call in and close a memetic loop, either leaving a message or just entering the code and hanging up.

Sexism and racism may behave like caste systems.  This is interesting since it could be an example of a memetic system actual evolving or being artificially made to carry out a certain task that supports human life. It seems that the presence of a victim may produce a memetic state where a memetic feeding frenzy, similar to a memetic orgy, may take place. In any case, the relevant memes must be replaced in order to dismantle the system. It's not useful to see the "perpetrators" as "evil," or "psychopaths," or "hypocritical," per se, though a psychologist might term them as such, since if anything that only makes it harder to disinure the population of the racist/sexist submemeplex. Note that the victim caste needs to be disinured as well, and this may be the more difficult. All stuff for future essays.

(1) See Practical Memetic Engineering, discussion of memetic states, Prime Pizza Thursday (similar experiment to Blue Shirt Tuesday), and a memetic state analysis of Blue Shirt Tuesday.

(2) An example where fakers seem to skate by is pretendians. This may be precisely because of a lack of immunomemes to catch fakers.

(3) If it resonates with an audience, then it's a thing. By that I mean that it's a possible, or believable, memetic transaction

(4) The 13th Amendment is particularly bad, since it makes things even worse. To paraphrase, "So if y'all want to keep doing all that racist slavery stuff to those folks, or actually, now to any folks you want, you can, but you just have to get them convicted of a crime first."

(5) One interesting orgy or feeding frenzy property may be that the state (memetic inventory and deployment opportunities remain static. This may not be the case, however, but supports the idea that there is always a ready reply to every  deployment. Stuff for a future essay.

漫画 Female Nudes with detail shading



漫画 Mermaid and Female Nude Torso

Manga Index 

Today is not an especially good drawing day. I think I made a few breakthroughs in upraised arms. I'm not clear whether I'm sketching or cartooning...most of the time.