Re: virus: Cult of Personality.

David McFadzean (
Tue, 19 Sep 1995 12:30:09 -0600

At 02:56 PM 9/14/95 -0600, Duane Daniel Hewitt wrote:

>rather than large scale mobilization. There
>still seems to be a requirement for a catalyst or figurehead who may be
>charismatic or may just be at the right place at the right time.

It turns out that Hoffer (author of "The True Believer") agrees with
you. "Once the stage is set, the presence of an outstanding leader
is indispensable. Without him there will be no movement. The ripeness
of the times does not automatically produce a mass movement, nor can
elections, laws and administrative bureaus hatch one."

>Are all mass movements constructive rather than destructive?

Which mass movements would you consider to be constructive?

>Are some born out hope rather than despair?

According to Hoffer, every mass movement needs both. A necessary
precondition for a mass movement is a hatred of the present, and
a belief that the movement somehow own the keys to a better future.

>A cult of personality does not necessarily advocate submission of
>individuality. As I understand the term it refers to a leader figure
>being the centrepiece of a movement and the driving force behind it
>either intellectually or symbolically.

So all mass movements are cults of personality but not vice versa?

>Is Virus going to have multiple vectors and who will these vectors target?

I believe it will. Many people have commented that the symbolism of
orthodox Virus (the Biohazard, skulls, Lucifer, etc.) are a bit too
severe for mass consumption. Someone will have to create a vector
with a "nicer" front.

What other vectors should we pursue if we want to target intelligent,
creative individuals?

>Is Virus only for the already rational or
>will it attempt to make converts of the irrational (most sucsceptible first)?

Personally I've had no luck dealing with irrational people. Logical
argument simply doesn't work on them and I'm not willing to stoop
to deceit or coercion.

On the other hand, I think one of our best potential markets is
adolescents who are just beginning to question their religious
upbringing. Call them prerationals. One of my main motivations for
creating Virus is I wish I had found something like it when I
was 18. I would be years ahead of where I am now intellectually.

>Why are some leaders followed to obviously self destructive ends? (Jim
>Jones, David Koresh)

Remember that it is only obvious from outside and/or later.

>Is this memetic natural selection in operation? Actually it seems like a
>meme complex self-destructing while simultaneously destroying its hosts.

I think that is a fair characterization.

>You could assign following a leader a formula like the equation for
>becoming a ruler that you gave but again those variables become very complex.
>Are there some insights from memetics that can be applied to a
>better understanding of those variables?

Memetics as a science or philosophy is still too vague to provide
much in the way of insights. But of course that is one of our goals:
to research and develop memetics and give it meaning.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Merak Projects Ltd.