Re: Darwin's Cathedral

From: Dace (
Date: Sat 13 Mar 2004 - 00:48:25 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Interesting times curse"

    > From: "Francesca S. Alcorn" <>
    > >While I'm not in agreement with this book review, it does bring up a lot
    > >issues we've been tossing about lately. From *Skeptic,* Vol. 10, No. 3.
    > >
    > >--TD
    > It's going on *my* wishlist.
    > I have been dabbling in politics these past few months, and one thing
    > I am running across from critics of the democratic party is a
    > criticism of "identity politics" and "hyphenated americans". These
    > are from people with basically humanistic values who feel that the
    > democratic party has lost the mandate of the "common man" - and that
    > is why the republicans (whose values they decry) have won the last
    > elections. They say that multiculturalism is a failure and that we
    > need to have a single cultural identity - as Americans - (maybe even
    > Christians) - in order to have real social cohesiveness (kind of like
    > this book suggests). My concern is that this argument is really
    > stealth racism/ethnocentrism - and that these people should know
    > better. Is there any research which correlates group cohesiveness to
    > multiculturalism - a sort of multinational survey? Are there other
    > memes which can perform the same function of social cohesion? And
    > has anyone got a real concrete definition of what a "civil society"
    > is?
    > frankie

    I can't recommend any research, but memes certainly perform a function of social cohesion. A belief held by many people can be the kernel around which a coherent culture or subculture emerges. The latest big meme to hit the scene in the US is, of course, gay marriage. After the new mayor of San Francisco decided to register gay couples in defiance of California law, a few other municipalities started looking into it, and before long it was everywhere. Standard memetic behavior. It begins consciously as one person's idea, builds some steam as a few others sign on, and then suddenly
    "hits," just like that. Even New Jersey has seen a gay wedding now. So this is very good for gay culture-- as Western society tends to be built primarily around families and married couples, but it's generated another fault-line in US culture taken generally.

    Hope you like the book or at least find it suitably maddening.


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