Re: Words and memes

From: Dace (
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 21:22:39 GMT

  • Next message: Jeremy Bradley: "RE: Words and memes: Memes and religion/cults"

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    Subject: Re: Words and memes
    Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 13:22:39 -0800
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    From: Scott Chase

    > > > >Keith,
    > > > >
    > > > >I readily concede that the cattle killing involved a delusion, as did
    > > > >Jews at Masada. But the inaccuracy of a belief doesn't necessarily
    > > > >make it "mutant." Myth is universal among pre-scientific cultures
    and > > > >is extremely important at binding communities. The idea that the
    > > > >Xhosa would regain in paradise all that they had destroyed on earth
    > > > >helped them to resist their absorption into an alien culture. It
    > > > >them to control their demise, to retain their human dignity to the
    > > > >just like Masada. This is a healthy meme. If everyone resisted
    > > > >enslavement to the death, there would be no imperialism, no
    > > > >systematic injustice and inequality. We would indeed be inhabiting
    > > > >paradise.
    > > > >
    > > > >
    > > > Isn't Masada still a big component of the Israeli-Jewish cultural
    > > > milieu? _The Complete Idiot's Guide to Middle East Conflict_ (by
    > > > Mitchell Bard, 1999, Alpha Books, Indianapolis) refers to a "Masada
    > > > complex" and says that Israeli soldiers swear an oath ("Masada shall
    > > > not fall again") at the Masada site. Hopefully I'm not reliving the
    > > > mosque/mosquito thing here.
    > >
    > >Yet another example of the degeneration of culture to cult.
    > >
    > >
    > Can you elaborate a little?

    What began as a symbol of resistance to subjugation has mutated into an
    excuse to perpetuate the subjugation of another people. This kind of
    transformation is especially common in capitalist society. What began as
    culture, for instance the rock music of the late sixties, becomes
    commodified as the same songs are played over and over again on "classic
    rock" stations. Science fiction has gone through this process twice. It
    got started in the 19th century as a fascinating new strand of literature
    only to ossify into the pulp mags of the twenties and thirties. Then, right
    around WWII, it was renewed by the inspired writings of Heinlein, Asimov,
    Dick, Bayley, etc., only to sink once more into mindless muck.

    Toynbee built his whole notion of history around this concept.
    Civilizations are born as dynamic cultures but eventually enter into a "time
    of troubles," when society breaks down into different factions vying for
    control over the vast wealth unleashed by the initial period of development.
    This phase ultimately yields to the "universal state," in which order is
    restored at the cost of freedom. Society is cemented into place, and it's
    only a matter of time before the cracks begin emerging and the weeds start
    breaking through. Once the senescent civilization disintegrates altogether,
    the cycle begins again. In my terminology, culture degenerates into cult,
    which provides the fertilizer from which a new culture is born.


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