Re: Grad program on memetics?

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Sat 09 Oct 2004 - 01:22:45 GMT

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    The point of the talk was religious belief is used in war to inspire troops and to justify violence. People who believe that God is on their side will for example will take extraordinary risks because they believe that God will protect them and even if they die they will be going to heaven. In the U.S. and other similar nations, the army pays ministers of various faiths to accompany troops into battle. They say prayers that inspire, and comfort those who have lost friends, finding religious justification for their deaths. In WWII, the only forces that didn't have religious figures accompanying their troops were the Soviets, who lost 27 million to the Germans. Hitler very consciously and very cynically co-opted Catholic and Protestant leaders. Eventually, Stalin realized that there was an advantage to having religious figures accompany his troops and brought them into his forces.

    A war doesn't have to be overtly religious for political leaders to be able to co-opt religious motivation.

    At 08:51 PM 10/8/2004, you wrote:

    >--- Ray Recchia <> wrote:
    > "Last night I attended a very good talk on the
    >roleof religion in war that had a large evolutionary
    >component init."
    >My response:
    >Ray, there are religious wars, but not all wars have a
    >religious basis. For instance, what religion was
    >involved in the Korean war? North Korea invaded South
    >Korea, the casus belli for that "police action" of the
    >UN. North Korea (under Kim Il Sung) had an ideology of
    >Soviet communism. NK had a burning desire for
    >reunification that was shared by its polar opposite in
    >Seoul (under the no more palatable Syngman Rhee). The
    >context leading up to that war was years of colonial
    >oppression by the Japanese giving way to Soviet and US
    >spheres of influence after Japan surrendered post
    >Maybe we could generalize about mindsets playing a
    >role in wars with religious bases being just a subset
    >of prevalent ideologies.
    >In Vietnam the Hanoi regime was communist where the
    >Saigon regime had a significant amount of Catholicism
    >behind it (at least under Diem). Catholicism was of
    >course a French import. Ironically France may have
    >played a slight role in importing Marxism as Ho Chi
    >Minh spent some time in France as an up and coming
    >socialist trying to win justice for his embryonic
    >nation. IIRC he had developed contacts with French
    >communists while he was there. Bao Dai was a protege
    >of the French and his successor, Ngo Dinh Diem spent
    >some time at a seminary in the US, good Catholic boy
    >that he was.
    >There was an undercurrent of religious tension in
    >South Vietnam as I've discussed here recently, but I
    >can't recall it being central to the wars (Indochina
    >war between France (with US support) and Vietminh or
    >the US's subsequent Vietnam war against Hanoi). The
    >differences between Diem's Catholicism and the
    >militant Buddhism of some of those living under his
    >regime came to a boil.
    >The Indochina war fought by France was more about a
    >colonial power trying to regain its former status
    >against a determined nationalist guerilla movement
    >than anything religious (even if France was Catholic
    >and a lot of Vietnamese practiced a mixture of
    >Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism). The US war was
    >more about a perceived need to stem the tide of
    >communism in Asia after China had been "lost" to Mao
    >and the US (with help of British, ROK and other
    >allies) had just fought a nasty war against North
    >Korea, China and perhaps the USSR and saw its French
    >ally against the creeping Red menace fall at Dien Bien
    >Phu. Hanoi perceived it as a need to get foreigners
    >out of Vietnam and to destroy the corrupt puppets of
    >the foreigners. The Vietnam war was not a religious
    >war. It was an ideological war though.
    >Religious wars (crusades and jihads) are but a subset
    >of ideological wars or clashes of mindsets. Do ideas
    >use people in their proxy wars against each other?
    >That would be the ultimate in memetic puppetry.
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    >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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