RE: Other roots of memetics

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu 10 Apr 2003 - 15:39:03 GMT

  • Next message: Van oost Kenneth: "Re: memetics-digest V1 #1325"

    Interesting, but I don't it can be reduced to per capita income as you suggest below, after all in some cultures material wealth/gain is not considered the goal of living, or of material possession equating to happiness, success etc.

            <This rough model would therefore predict meme "driven" wars or similar
    > forms of social unrest in times and places where the income per capita is
    > falling. (Where per capita income is psychologically mapped to the fruits
    > of hunting and gathering.) The theory does not predict *what* memes will
    > arise, only that socially disrupting memes will become prevalent. An
    > obvious example would be Germany in the late 1920s. The relative lack of
    > wars among the advanced countries of the world in the last 50 years could
    > be seen as an effect of technology increasing the supply of food and other
    > essentials faster than the relatively slow population growth in those
    > regions.>
            <The convulsive mass killings between the Hutu and the Tutsi may have had
    > such a population/economic lead up. Anyone have data?>
            The designation of hutu and tutsi was indeed an economic one, and was not tribal, being a designation based on ownership of cattle that the Belgian colonialists used to organise the disparae population. The aribtrary nature of this no doubt was a major underlying factor in what happened in 1994, and indeed what is still happening now (something like 1000 people were masssacred in the DR Congo in the last week or so).

            <As a prediction based on this model, wars should decline after a plague has
    > killed a substantial fraction of the population (leaving the rest better
    > off). Anyone have data about the rate of European wars in the generation
    > after the plague of 1348-49?>
            Doesn't this also relate to two more obvious things: a) there's less people to fight, and b) the trauma takes the will to fight away from populations. I would put money on there being absolutely no generalizable evidence of declining war due to increasing wealth after a major epidemic. Indeed in the UK after the 14th plague wasn't that the time of the peasant's revolt and attempts to achieve popular control- in particular land rights
    (people wanted the land left by those who died but the monarchy said no)? Also the 17th century outbreak occurred after the English civil war- so maybe the war made the population more vulnerable to diseases?

            I think that memetics is mostly going to be a retrodictive discipline given the wide and complex range of factors that go into social trends. BUT, it wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong.


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