Re: virus: war

Alex Williams (
Wed, 1 Jan 1997 15:04:30 -0500 (EST)

> But I have to object to the Pacifist/warlike division. Why is it, in any
> group of intellectuals, there will always be those who will call out
> anyone who says that war is bad as some kind of hippie or pacifist. (and
> then develop a whole text that proves pacifism to be inherently
> stupid/slow to develop a culture and ultimately self destructive.)

Mainly because most groups of intellectuals only host /one/ member
(misspelled `memer' on the first pass, my subconscious is sending
telegraphs) who thinks war might be something other than a terrible
bane of humanity and typically comes across more forcably than
intended (though not necessarily more forcibly than /held/) on the
subject. Intellectuals /in general/ tend toward being, in your words,
`hippies and pacifists,' probably due to some memetic infection I (and
the other `war hawks') never caught. Its probably related, as well,
to the feeling of being `outnumbered' and thus requiring the `heaping
on of coals' to support one's position.

> But war like behaviour is not useful in other circumstances. People who
> are exclusively war like do not advance in the areas of diplomacy,
> cooperation and ally forging.

That depends ... within or beyond the frontier of the society? With
the resources used by war, a significant amount of diplomacy,
cooperation and ally-forging within the economic and political
structure /must/ be attained to sustain the war efforts. That
resivoir of expertise can be tapped and used with other countries if
it occurs to someone to, and eventially it will.

> When facing a very large enemy, who will ally with a community that is
> likely to bite them in the ass? No, let the barbarians take the front
> line and let them fall first.

A good philosophy whether you're warlike or pacifict. :)

> I have not forgotten your collapsed version of Chinese History in which
> you assert that the Chinese civilization eventually succumbed to the
> west's brilliant use of gunpowder (as a weapon rather than a party
> favour)
> *note* which is absolutely wrong- the chinese invented the first
> military rockets. and gunpowder powered crossbows.

One points out the dispensation of China: for all intents and
purposes, they lost. They're not considered a cutting-edge
first-world country even today. It was a big deal when they launched
their first satelite. This from the country that was cutting-edge in
rocket technology centuries ago. The West used /many/ technologies
(of both the memetic and physical variety) brilliantly and still do,
for the most part.

> This lead to a very insular society (and, as *I* generalize) this is
> what eventually lead to the downfall-- the insulation meme prevented the
> empire from accepting foriegn memes even when (eventually and after a
> LONG time) they caught up and surpassed what they had.

This is a good piece of the pie, too. The insularity of the Empire
ate them alive, though it did, at first, provide an important buffer.
Like a cell membrane for memes, a little insularity can make sure that
you don't get infected by the first meme to come along, but again like
cell-membranes, if its too thick and there're no mechanisms to feed
through it, the cell within eventually dies of starvation.

> So long story short-- "There's a time for-- a time for peace -- turn
> turn " (maybe misquoted from The Yardbyrds)

Its the fact that `there's a time for war' that it seems, in my
experience, most intellectuals shy away from.

> I feel that there is a time for ruthlessness- of course. But I think I
> (probably because I am Canadian) host different memes about war than you
> (as an american) When America goes to war it's a big media event and it
> is a thing that is suddenly "done". The president effectively "throws
> the switch in front of the cameras-- there's some discussion of some
> human tragedy like the Kurds (as if their tragedy suddendly *ping*
> appears--) And War is "on"

Absolutely and without argument. America, for the most part, has
bought into its image as the Superman of the planet, to protector and
defender, and just as with any superhero, when America goes from
mild-mannered wheat exporter to `da da DUM!' SuperNation, there's a
blair of trumpets, flashing lights and a creshendo of music. Then
SuperNation flies off, defeats the Enemy of the comic book, and
returns to the accolades of the planet.

Somehow, I just can't see SuperCanada in the same light. :)

> My family in the UK still host anti-american memes because of the way
> (to their perceptions) the US held off joining the fight against germany
> until the very end and came swooping in. The war is won. The americans
> go home holding a ticker tape parade being very vocal about the victory
> for american values. But as my uncle would say "who did most of the
> fighting? Us!"

A perfectly valid argument, but wouldn't they have felt the same way
if we'd have swooped in early in the war, kicked major ass and flew
back out again? Except this time it'd be because we thought they
couldn't handle it on their own, young whippersnappers, don't think
old Granddad Britain can fight a /war/ any more. Why in my day ...

> Now, I don't believe my uncle's opinion is 100% right. His memes are his
> because of his personal history as a soldier and his bruised identity as
> a subject of the "Empire".


> Do you think that media turns war into something else-- something other
> than the logical expression of your community's needs and most effective
> method of attaining them?
> Maybe because sometimes it is *not* a logical expression of your
> community's needs and a whole lot of lying has to be done?

Media turns /everything/ that it touches into something its not
through memetic alchemy. I can't even watch the 6pm news any more
without picking apart each story they reveal, trying to find the
memetic implication that's being carried on the carrier wave of `just
a news report.' More often than not you'll find it.