Index of Memetic Materials
I was going to title this "What Role Do Contact Memes Play in the Implementation of Class Systems?" but it kind of went another way. More about contact memes later. See also this Contact Memes and the Corporation.
One thing that interests me is how Adam Smith (supposedly) said that he didn't understand what corporations were for and how they were a "flash in the pan" and would disappear before long. Centuries later, he is apparently wrong on that point. In a similar vein, Adam Smith might (or might not) appreciate the "efficiency" of the US economy, for example. It is said that the US economy is "efficient", but one may well ask what exactly it is efficient at. One could make the argument that the United States is the "greatest" countries, empires, in the history of civilization, based on the extent and depth of her influence on the world in terms of culture, technology, industrial production, warfare, political organization, and so on. In other ways, America is incredibly "backward", especially for a nation considered to be the "leader of the free world", the premiere member of the G8 (or however many) industrialized nations, and so on. America's decades-long confrontation with the Islamic World is ironic. She herself is deeply fanatical, has terrible gender relations, treats women, homosexuals, and minorities horrendously, has massive religious meddling in politics and daily life (only nation routinely circumcising infants, restriction of abortion, etc.), has no public health care or public transportation, and so on and so on. If you do not have thousands of dollars worth of "stuff" (for transportation, etc.), and a lot of money, even if you are in one of America's great cities or suburbs, you might as well be lost in the dessert with only the clothes on your back. In many practical ways, America is just like a Third World country, just with a lot of money, nicer cars, fancier products in the shops (for those who can afford them), people with fancier clothes, and so on, rather like the Kingdoms of Jordan, or Saudi Arabia, say.
In other words, in a lot of ways America just doesn't make a lot of sense.
Evolving Towards Making Sense
But this may be a middle-class perspective. It seems incumbent that America make sense to somebody. There may be degrees to what Slavoj Zizek identifies as the link between ideological alienation and violence(1). Perhaps those who protest or complain the least are those for whom things make the most sense. And maybe that is the function, or the evolutionary trend, of any advanced ideological (memetic) system, i.e., to make everything make as much sense as possible to as many people as possible.
What does it mean for an ideological system(2) to "make sense"?
The Exclusiveness of American Inclusivity
That may be the basis for America's amazing (and enduring?) triumph. She makes things make some kind of sense to a lot of people, maybe more people and in a better way than other societies manage to do it, and in a way that motivates them to take action in ways that contribute to American's greatness, and probably as often as not contrary to the self-interest of the people themselves.
From the employee point of view, the "contact memes" of corporations probably seem fairly incoherent.
However, that's not the whole picture. The contact memes displayed to the owning class, those who actually own the corporation, are probably quite different. I can't speak from personal experience, but it may well be that corporations provide income, and complex tax and asset containment functions that don't make much sense from the tax and income standpoint of a "working stiff".
Corporations as Systems of Control
Another macro-memetic function of corporations is a widespread system a sweeping system of control. That is, control of people and possibly also of assets.
There are theories which could be tested against observations of corporate behavior. Are corporations "profit maximizers" or are they more "mechanisms of control"? How do they behave toward foreign profit opportunities, and when they exploit these, what are the drivers. One would predict that this behavior could be driven by the prospect of exerting control over foreign assets and persons, or, when there is no such opportunity, the involvement and behavior would be deprecated.
What is the behavior of management vis-a-vis profits, organizational decisions, employee autonomy, etc. How well do these track the legal and economic systems of the host culture?
(1) c.f., The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, (film).
(2)When I use the term "ideological system", it is another way of saying a "memetic
system" or a "megamemeplex", but in the sense that it is a system of
memes operating within a given memetic fabric, that is, the collection
of the minds of a specific, potentially very large, group of
individuals. One thinks of "Capitalism" or "Communism" or "Christian
Fundamentalism" as examples of "ideologies", and they may well be, but I
want to make the distinction that I am not referring to an abstract ideology, but one that applies to a given group of people at a given time. One important distinction is that different "classes" (or other sub-groups of people) are running different sets of memes, and these may not overlap.