Re: Absolutist memes

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Thu 28 Oct 2004 - 02:44:54 GMT

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    --- Keith Henson <> wrote:

    > At 12:07 PM 26/10/04 -0700, Ted wrote:
    > >According to Israeli journalist Uri Avnery, Jewish
    > fanaticism has reached
    > >such a fever pitch that the country is now obsessed
    > with the possibility of
    > >civil war. The fanatical Jews, no different in
    > principle from fanatical
    > >Christians or Muslims, want to abolish democratic
    > institutions and turn
    > >Israel into a fundamentalist state. The fanaticism
    > is most prevalent among
    > >Israelis who have illegally settled on Palestinian
    > land.
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >Avnery asserts that most settlers did not begin as
    > fanatics but only
    > >developed an absolutist stance as a result of their
    > situation. Only a
    > >minority of settlers, the "hard core," began as
    > fanatics and remain to this
    > >day totally open about their beliefs. The
    > implication, from a memetics
    > >point of view, is that absolutist memes are more
    > powerful than rationalist
    > >memes.
    > I make the case that which class of memes dominates
    > is dependent on the
    > situation. A stressed population facing a bleak
    > future is going to have a
    > high gain setting for infecting those not caught up
    > with xenophobic or in
    > this case "absolutist" memes. Rationalist memes
    > will prevail in situations
    > of lower stress/worry. This selective meme
    > mechanism has the function of
    > synchronizing a tribe's warriors to the ultimate
    > effort to do or die in an
    > attack on a neighboring tribe. (Irrespective of
    > which side won, the hunter
    > gatherer population was thinned out.)
    > >Even when the number of individuals harboring
    > absolutist memes is
    > >tiny, at first, compared to the number who harbor
    > rationalist memes, over
    > >time the group as a whole is liable to fall under
    > the spell of the
    > >absolutist memes.
    > The opposite can occur as we have seen in Northern
    > Ireland (though the
    > reverse situation does not get as much press). In
    > that case, a switch to a
    > much lower birth rate a generation ago let economic
    > growth exceed
    > population growth. Rational memes slowly prevailed
    > and support for the IRA
    > faded out. My claim here is that the psychological
    > switch into and out of
    > war mode evolved in the stone age to be dependent on
    > the difficulty of
    > getting game and berries. Today the mode trigger
    > maps (roughly) into
    > income per capita.
    > Because of the high birth rate in the Palestinian
    > population (and Islamic
    > populations in general), there is no resolution in
    > sight. The most likely
    > (grim) outcome is a spasm similar to what happened
    > in Rwanda.
    > This is my sad prediction based on fundamental
    > evolutionary psychology
    > principles.
    Dace's main emphasis was on the Jewish settlers in the occupied territories, not the Palestinians. Would birth rate be an important consideration in looking at their side of the equation compared to say historical and ideological (or religious) factors? My recollection is that Jewish settler populations break down into subgroups that are settling for different reasons. Some are strategic settlers there mainly as a means of protecting Israel proper. Others are economic settlers attracted to lower costs of living in settlements. Others are the religiously driven settlers that see the West Bank, for instance, as an integral part of historic biblical Israel. Some of these latter might be Revisionist Zionists (as opposed to Labor Zionists), which emerged as a right wing offshoot of the Zionist movement under Jabotinsky. Other historic factors rooted in these settlers mindsets might be the impending sense of doom that comes from a continual threat to existence due to recent events such as suicide bombings, several wars against Arab neighboring states and the Holocaust not to mention more distant events such as pogroms and the Dreyfus affair and going way back the events at Masada. Historic factors cannot be ignored. Jews have had a long history as has Judaism and political Zionism more recently has had quite an emergence and diversification since the days of Herzl. All this should be taken into account for a comprehensive understanding of settlers, just as one would not want to ignore history when looking at the situation in Northern Ireland. Would you want to forget Eamon de Valera or Michael Collins? These histories go back quite a way before the 20th century and are still important in understanding the present. Should we go all the way back to the EEA for an understanding of the Middle East or Northern Ireland and yet overlook stuff that has happened over the past several centuries or decades?

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