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« Responsible Aging | Main | Nanotechnology Safety »

February 18, 2006

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Tom Craver

One of the most commonly neglected aspects of futurism is the importance of ideas (or "memes"). Technologies create potential - ideas drive change.

This is a fascinating article: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=260

I can believe the strong likelihood that many of the memes listed actually were "meme weapons". New new memes tend evolve organically out of previous memes and new conditions - eg. Protestantism as a reaction to the decayed state of Catholicism, Marxism as a reaction to industrialization and nationalism.

But many of the memes listed in the article (those not directly arising from Marxism) seemed to come up out of nowhere, in reaction to nothing.

Here's the list of "suicidalist memes":

- There is no truth, only competing agendas.

- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.

- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.

- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.

- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.

- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)

- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.

- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.

Of course, the list focuses rather much on "leftist" memes, because the article claims they are specific examples of meme weapons used against the US in the Cold War. The "Right" reject these memes, but many on the right embrace some equally dangerous memes which the article also mentions.

If you're like me, you look at the two US political parties, and the prospects for the 2008 elections, with utter dismay. It's a choice between cultural suicide from the left, or aggressive reversion to memes more suited to the 17th century on the right.

adbatstone

Those who tout memes like "Nirvana" or "Uplift" are fighting a battle already lost.

Based on evidence from our human cultural surroundings, here's the best percentage you are going to get of each scenario happening.

STAGNATION (Pessimism): 15%
SLOW GROWTH (Realism): 75%
EXTINCTION (Doomsday): 2%
ENSLAVEMENT (Tyranny): 2%
STATUS QUO (Indifference): 2%
UPLIFT (Optimism): 2%
NIRVANA (Pipe-Dream Fantasy): 0%

Rik

Tom Craver & Adbatstone, but I think you both show your bias towards what everyone else knows as 'levelheadedness'. Suicidalist memes? Haha! Most are on the way out.
75% Chance at Slow Growth (realism)? And humans have not invented science, capitalism and come to dominate the planet in a mere 1000 years! Haha!
So sorry, but to me both of you are stuck in a late 'fin de siècle'. There was a study publishes (a couple of weeks ago in the NL), which found that internet-addicted kids are more prone to depression. So, what if you are like such a kid? Get out there and play!

Mike Deering

It appears to me that exponential trends in technology development are showing no signs of slowing, therefore our choices seem to be leaning toward extinction or nirvana. In either case we are turning over administrative control to SAGIs (superhuman artificial general intelligences). I think it will start with turning over financial management at all levels, personal, business, and government.

Tom Mazanec

A new Dark Age is a likely prospect, as is a Singularity. Which depends on who wins the race between nanotechnology and an unsustainable oil based civilization.

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