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Friday, March 10, 2006

Memetic Warfare

Being rather fond of the benefits of civilization and having an interest in maintaining a free and pluralistic society, I thought this post over at the Armed and Dangerous blog was worthwhile. It is rather remarkable how quickly some people condemn American society for not being perfect while ignoring our history of improvement and the even more flawed alternatives.

Here are some excerpts:

Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithetic. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.

By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions.

But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.

In a previous post on Suicidalism, I identified some of the most important of the Soviet Union’s memetic weapons.

As I previously observed, if you trace any of these back far enough, you’ll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom.

Indeed, the index of Soviet success is that most of us no longer think of these memes as Communist propaganda. It takes a significant amount of digging and rethinking and remembering, even for a lifelong anti-Communist like myself, to realize that there was a time (within the lifetime of my parents) when all of these ideas would have seemed alien, absurd, and repulsive to most people — at best, the beliefs of a nutty left-wing fringe, and at worst instruments of deliberate subversion intended to destroy the American way of life.

Call it what you will — various other commentators have favored ‘volk-Marxism’ or ‘postmodern leftism’. I’ve called it suicidalism. It was designed to paralyze the West against one enemy, but it’s now being used against us by another. It is no accident that Osama bin Laden so often sounds like he’s reading from back issues of Z magazine, and no accident that both constantly echo the hoariest old cliches of Soviet propaganda in the 1930s and ’40s.

The first step to recovery is understanding the problem. Knowing that suicidalist memes were launched at us as war weapons by the espionage apparatus of the most evil despotism in human history is in itself liberating. Liberating, too, it is to realize that the Noam Chomskys and Michael Moores and Robert Fisks of the world (and their thousands of lesser imitators in faculty lounges everywhere) are not brave transgressive forward-thinkers but pathetic memebots running the program of a dead tyrant.

Again, this is by design. Lenin and Stalin wanted classical-liberal individualism replaced with something less able to resist totalitarianism, not more. Volk-Marxist fantasy and postmodern nihilism served their purposes; the emergence of an adhesive counter-ideology would not have. Thus, the Chomskys and Moores and Fisks are running a program carefully designed to dead-end at nothing.

Religions are good at filling that kind of nothing. Accordingly, if transnational progressivism actually succeeds in smothering liberal individualism, its reward will be to be put to the sword by some flavor of jihadi. Whether the eventual winners are Muslims or Mormons, the future is not going to look like the fuzzy multicultural ecotopia of modern left fantasy. The death of that dream is being written in European banlieus by angry Muslim youths under the light of burning cars.

In the banlieus and elsewhere, Islamist pressure makes it certain that sooner or later the West is going to vomit Stalin’s memes out of its body politic. The worst way would be through a reflex development of Western absolutism — Christian chauvinism, nativism and militarism melding into something like Francoite fascism. The self-panicking leftists who think they see that in today’s Republicans are comically wrong (as witnessed by the fact that they aren’t being systematically jailed and executed), but it is quite a plausible future for the demographically-collapsing nations of Europe.

The author actually offers a somewhat optimistic view of the future. All in all, quite a series of thoughts and observations!


Oroborous said...

Whether the eventual winners are Muslims or Mormons...

It might be the Mormons, but it won't be the Muslims.

Mormons embrace and use the tools of capitalism, democracy, and technology.

No Muslim society has yet shown any propensity towards R & D.
They're willing to adopt and adapt other cultures' advances, but make none themselves.

That's unlikely to be a winning formula for the future.

Bret said...

Oroborous, if Islam goes through a reformation like period, and democratization, then they could easily become competitive in the future. In the United States, muslims are quite successful at technology and business, so it's not inherently impossible that majority muslim societies one day become adept at technology and become properous. I don't see that happening in my lifetime, but I wouldn't write it off of over the next several hundred years.

Oroborous said...

I anticipate that they will become much more like us, but I think that such changes will be forced on them.

Places like Jordan, Morocco, the UAE, and Qatar seem as though they "get it", but they're all small nations.

Perhaps that has something to do with it - perhaps the larger nations feel less threatened ?

And of course the oil money that many Muslim-majority nations have enjoyed allows them to remain insulated from reality - for now.
Not for much longer.

But even a nation like Pakistan, which is Western-oriented, and a nuclear power, isn't really a technologically adept society.

Until Muslim-majority nations begin to value scientific, engineering, and medical education more than religious education, they'll stay at the fringes of human achievement.

Duck said...

I don't doubt that the Soviets benefitted from the suicide memes in the Western countries, but I wouldn't give them credit for originating and propagating them. Such memes have no problem propagating on their own. Had the Soviet revolution failed in Russia it is highly probable that we would still have our own homegrown Chomsky's to deal with. Indeed, without the colossal failure of the Soviet regime, Communism would still have the bloom of its untried innocence to lure the anti-bourgeois mancontents of the West.