The War of the Memes?
July 9, 2002 5:21 AM   Subscribe

The War of the Memes? - An alternative view to the "war on terror".
posted by revbrian (6 comments total)
Hrm... Now I have to go to work and be unproductive all day, thinking about this.
posted by kahboom at 5:29 AM on July 9, 2002

a meme is a meme is a meme--and so too this post. But without the meme stuff you still come up with what the poster is trying to say by merely looking at history, the record, the news...same same.
posted by Postroad at 7:53 AM on July 9, 2002

The Palestine Liberation Organization actually used a similar method as outlined in the War of the Memes (without actually calling it such) in an effort to discourage suicidal terrorists in the Black September Organization, the organization responsible for the terrorism at the 1972 Olympics. Members of the Black September Organization were specifically trained by the PLO to participate in terrorism in an effort to draw worldwide attention to the PLO. It worked. (Sound familiar?)

When the deeply ingrained PLO meme was no longer a useful one in the members of the Black September Organization, it was replaced by the Family meme. More detailed info here:

"Do you want to know how to eliminate terrorism? I'll tell you. In fact, I'll tell you about something that no one else knows. Something that has never been written about. You will be amazed, but it is true. Listen."

While I don't advocate parading young women around as the new anti-terrorism meme, I find the theory of the negative meme replaced by the positive meme an interesting one that warrants further investigation by our government.
posted by alicila at 7:57 AM on July 9, 2002

This is partly why I think Bush's Middle East plan is working, at least for now. The BombUntilTheyGiveUp meme has been replaced with the ArgueAmongstOurselvesWhoShouldRunTheBombings meme. Sure, there are plenty of reasons from the outside you can argue why we should accept Arafat as the legitimate leader, why democracy won't necessarily bring a pragmatic negotiator, etc. But the idea that the White House should just blow away all the failed structure of Oslo, which burns people who have a lot invested in that practically or emotionally, has effectively created a whole new set of priorities for the Palestinians. Call it a distraction or temporary, I won't really disagree. But it's bought more time, so far, than Israel's re-invasions of the West Bank (which were probably a prerequisite anyway). It's bought time in which longer-term solutions can again be discussed.
posted by dhartung at 8:14 AM on July 9, 2002

nice article alicila, relating similarly i think to riane eisler's view:

"[t]he power to dominate and destroy through the sharp blade gradually supplants the view of power as the capacity to support and nurture life."

which is also reflected in david ulansey's view of cultural transition:

"There is a growing awareness of the re-emergence of the feminine, the pushing upward from the unconscious of this suppressed factor of human existence, so what's happening today seems to me to be an answer to what happened 2,000 years ago."

btw, i think howard bloom's concept of a "global brain" is also instructive!
Zoology, ecology, history, and current affairs abound with examples of competing group brains using their individual members as modules, sensors, parallel-distributed information processors, pawns, and experimental test components in relentless battles for supremacy. The largest of them, we call nation states. These collective intelligences have frequently reengineered their organizational blueprints as thoroughly as the bacterial colony retooling its genome.
and here's his take on "islam's war against the west" :)
posted by kliuless at 8:40 AM on July 9, 2002

This article is an appropriate application of the meme principle to current events, but isn't terribly interesting, I think. It's just a cool way of describing stuff we already know. And the author's claim that the war on terrorism is the first time the U.S. has declared war on a meme is absurd. Just because Richard Dawkins first described the meme concept in 1976 doesn't mean that memes first existed in 1976. In everything from the Declaration of Independence to General MacArthur's "I Shall Return" matchbooks to the War on Drugs to the War on Poverty to the Voice of America to the War on Terrorism, we could be said to have been declaring war on some meme(s) or another. Lots of stuff suddenly seems cool when you describe it using memetics. Unfortunately, memetics is currently 99% philosophy and 1% science, which is why Dawkins has been telling people not to go nuts with the idea.
posted by gsteff at 10:09 AM on July 9, 2002

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