Memes and Memeplexes

This is part of the Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism.
The sub sections are:
Memes and “The World”
Memes, Humans and Organisations
Memetic Engineering
Memetic Conflict

We have thus far covered organisms and organisations but there is another vital life form that we must discuss; memes. It has been stated that the ego is a memeplex and here we will go into more detail on what a meme and a memeplex is and how they participate in the three way symbiotic relationship between humans, organisations and memes.

A meme is a cognitive virus. It originates within individual minds as a compelling and self-perpetuating idea. These memes evolve as they interact with other memes. They can be transmitted via any communication medium and they permeate the cultural domain. Each individual mind is a memetic ecosystem and the cultural 'network' connects our minds together into a collective cognitive 'environment' within which memes propagate, compete and evolve.

Ideas, concepts, theories, words, images, songs and all cultural artefacts are the manifestation of memes. Some are useful and some are harmful. Some lead toward vitality, wisdom and liberation whilst others lead toward depression, oppression and suicide.

Activities such as advertising and propaganda are a form of biological warfare, using cognitive viruses to manipulate and exploit people’s minds. “You put an idea out there and seed it, and people carry it for you” (president of advertising firm, quoted from The Asian Age, Mumbai, 2007/04/09)

Memetic (cognitive) ecosystems operate in similar ways to biological (carbon based) ecosystems. There are complex networks of dependencies, population dynamics, antagonism or cooperation between various memes thus forming memeplexes.

Memeplexes are organisations which are formed out of memes rather than people. They operate within the cognitive ecosystem that is the network of individual minds inter-connected via the cultural domain. All ideologies, lifestyles, fashions, and other cultural 'movements' are of this nature. A memeplex is essentially a paradigm.

Memeplexes contain many diverse mutually supportive memes. For example, the dominant memeplex in society at present consists of naïve realism, egoism, empiricism, positivism, desire, fear, greed, capitalism, consumerism, authoritarianism and so on. All these memes cooperate and support each other in their dominance and control of your mind, and the meme ‘cynicism’ seals it all by closing your mind, making sure that no other memes can get a foothold.

When exposure to a new meme occurs this can result in a complex cascade of events.

Closed minds can only comprehend and cooperate with each other to the extent that their memeplexes are compatible. However if your memetic ecosystem is open and is exposed to a new idea a cascade of changes can arise, subtly and radically re-structuring things. The degree to which this happens depends on your openness, willingness, self-awareness, intellect, clarity of mind, imagination, intuition, detachment from your thoughts and beliefs (thus allowing them to dissolve and re-form), adaptability, concentration and commitment. If you have a strong degree of self-awareness and inner clarity then the transition will be relatively smooth, because you have the guidance of intuition and insight. Although the ensuing paradigm shift can be challenging and uncomfortable at times, especially if it is far-reaching and radical; many of your habits and attachments may be broken.

However in general we tend to be habituated or attached to certain paradigms but there are ways to facilitate the transition and to gain mastery over your use of paradigms, so rather than being attached to just one you may utilise many and fluidly move between them.

Memes and “The World”

The greatest feat of the subconscious mind is the way that it takes incoming signals, filters them and represents them to consciousness as a richly detailed and coherent subjective experience of a world; an experiential context. The richer, more complex and more accurate one's subconscious paradigm (memeplex) is the richer, more complex and accurate one's world is, whereas a simplistic and distorted subconscious paradigm will result in a simplistic and distorted world experience. Your own subjective world experience is entirely a construct of your mind, which may be either closely or loosely based upon reality.

An experiential world is like a mind puppet; the puppet is made of memes and these are 'driven' by an underlying flow of sensory signals. Don't think of this puppet as an object in front of you; in one sense it is an immersive virtual reality created by your mind and in another sense it is a memeplex within your mind. The mind identifies with some of the puppet and calls this part 'me' (the ego) whilst the rest it calls “the world”. However it is not you and neither is it an external world. It exists solely within the mind and it changes due to incoming signals, which metaphorically pull the strings that cause the mind-puppet to dance. We cannot experience the signals themselves or the sources of the signals; all we experience is the mind-puppet as it dances to the tune of the signals.

If the puppet is closely driven then it moves with the flow of sensory signals and closely represents them, but if it is loosely driven its movements may have little or no relation to the actual signals. If the puppet is internally very 'simple' then it is just a veil that covers the signals and moves with them. However if it has great internal complexity then a small stimulus may result in a cascade of internal states and the puppet may go on dancing wildly just from a small initial impulse.

This occurs when the puppet isn't just composed of ideas arising from experience but also ideas about ideas that form a complex 'logic'. So an experience creates ideas but ideas flow into ideas and result in conclusions, which then become the final experience of 'knowing'. If this logic closely mirrors the nature of reality then the puppet dances due to incoming signals and internal logic but stays in tune with the flow. But if the logic is false, flawed or too limited then the music stirs up many wild movements and the mind can become very fearful or angry, for example, due to misconceptions.

For example, a simple gesture such as a smile can be taken as just that, but to some it resonates in their minds and becomes a "sexual advance" or a "sinister smile" or a 'grimace'. Each person experiences the sensory signals very differently depending on the nature of their mind-puppet. Whilst that which drives the puppet are signals arising from some reality, due to naïve realism, many people assume that their personal puppet IS reality. But the puppet is just a virtual reality constructed by their mind, in which they experience themselves as a being in a world.

Memes, Humans and Organisations

There is an intricate three way symbiotic relationship between memes, humans and organisations. For example, memes inhabit our minds and we inhabit organisations, whilst organisations metabolise us and we metabolise memes.

Certain memeplexes influence people’s minds and cause them to interpret, experience, understand, express and respond to things in ways that assimilate them into a particular organisational niche. This can transform an organism into a citizen, consumer, scientist, politician, lawyer, soldier, thief, drug dealer, pop star and all kinds of organisational roles. Culture is a vast and complex memeplex that conditions us to serve different roles within organisations.

The many minds animate the flow of memes and the many bodies build and operate the equipment that animates the organisations. The memes passing through our minds and propagating through the culture are the inner life and inner awareness of organisations. From families to corporations to nations, this dynamic exists. By controlling the flow of memes one can control the formation and destruction of any organisation. This is the purpose of 'education' and also highlights the power of the media in human civilisation.

Our minds are the real estate (territory) in the memetic ecosystem and our input / output capacity is the fundamental resource or energy source that drives organisations. By conditioning our minds to flow with their memes and our behaviours to manifest certain input / output activities, organisations assimilate us like cells within their bodies. To the degree that we are infected by their memes and show symptoms, that much are we assimilated. We can have many ‘allegiances’ but the memes are constantly struggling for dominance over territory (minds) and resources (our life forces).

"The Cultural Web identifies six interrelated elements that help to make up what Johnson and Scholes call the “paradigm” – the pattern or model – of the work environment... The six elements are: (1) Stories – The past events and people talked about inside and outside the company... (2) Rituals and Routines – The daily behavior and actions of people that signal acceptable behavior... (3) Symbols – The visual representations of the company including logos, how plush the offices are, and the formal or informal dress codes... (4) Organizational Structure – This includes both the structure defined by the organization chart [formal], and the unwritten lines of power and influence [informal] that indicate whose contributions are most valued... (5) Control Systems – The ways that the organization is controlled. These include financial systems, quality systems, and rewards... (6) Power Structures – The pockets of real power in the company. This may involve one or two key senior executives, a whole group of executives, or even a department." [FR]

Whilst the natural evolution of memes in a self-organising society can lead to the evolution of organisations that serve the individuals and the society as a whole, when the organisations form their own agendas from an organisational perspective (evolving collective egos) then they come to manipulate the meme-stream to strengthen themselves and thus they enslave the individuals in their agendas. When there is no communication and respect flowing between the humans and organisations via the meme-stream, then there is oppression.

"Coercive Persuasion is the methodical – often subtle or even clandestine - application of psychological manipulation. Coercive Persuasion coerces its targeted audience into ‘perceiving’, ‘learning’ and ‘adopting’ a prescribed set of thoughts, beliefs, values, attitudes and/or behaviors... Coercive Persuasion operates by undermining the individual’s defense mechanisms, their perceptions, their values and their attitudes. Coercive Persuasion alters the otherwise expected personal conduct and the person’s ability to reason - without resorting to physical force. In the current time frame, "coercive persuasion" cleverly and covertly overcomes an individual's decision-making by impacting the individual’s judgment. The victim gradually loses the ability to make independent decisions or to insist on the information necessary to make an informed and intelligent decision." [FR]

Watching television is like an injection of memetic viruses, which in a modern society is designed to subvert your self-control and self-awareness, to reinforce your ego, program the ego with desires, aversions, attitudes, paradigms, ways of thinking, ways of responding, ways of interpreting and experiencing, ways of communicating, ways of acting and in general to condition and determine your concept of ‘normality’.

These form into a complex ecosystem of memes that permeates and conditions our minds and then filters and constructs our experience of reality. The ego is the root of this manipulative memeplex and all the others build on top of it. Without an ego one would be impervious to advertising, but with an ego one is it victim in numerous subtle and overt ways.

A common way to strengthen the ego is to condition it with feelings of deep inadequacy and a need for MORE, to make people feel isolated and cut off. By doing this they are cut off, from reality and the source of all genuine ‘nourishment’. Hence a slow process of existential starvation creates a deep and inexpressible emptiness, cravings and despair that are agonising and provide a driving force that keeps people moving and consuming and producing. Happy, satisfied and content people don’t make productive cells within an egoic regime.

In this model people are driven into despair but also into denial of their despair, thus they try to alleviate their suffering by responding in conditioned ways, by repressing it if it isn’t productive for the organisation, or losing themselves in pursuing it if it is. This leads to buying more, doing more, taking drugs and constantly trying to fill a hole that never seems to fill up.

What they need is connection to reality but that is the last thing that the organisation will let them have because they might escape the manipulative meme-stream and start to self-organise. Then the established organisations would simply dissolve and be reformed into new organisations that were an expression of the co-creative will of the people. The organisation simply wishes to hold onto ‘its’ vitality. It has acquired us within “its body” and its ego considers us as just bits of ‘it’.

It is a matter of life and death for organisations to keep us in its meme-stream, to keep us reliably and predictably programmed, docile to organisational power (myth of authority is a central meme in this), receptive to certain organisational memes and resistant to or inoculated against memes that are not part of the organisations agenda. If we stray or return to ourselves, these organisations become diminished, they lose the vitality that our minds and actions gave them. From the viewpoint of the organisation, it fears that a competing organisation / memeplex might assimilate us whilst we are unoccupied cognitive territory and an un-utilised resource.

If you overcome the ego you step out of the meme-stream entirely, the memes cannot manipulate and control you any more. They may still flow through the mind but the ego no longer controls you. Once the 'I'-thought loses control all the various things that it has ‘acquired’ and identified with are set free, including you, the real you. Your ego can no longer be used as an inner dictator that controls you and is itself controlled by the collective ego. Instead the flow of reality through the mind cleanses it and you are guided from within and dwell in reality.

Our current organisations are the initial 'phyla' or basic organisational structures. However they are evolving within the constraints of the environment, the society and the planet as a whole. Given that our fundamental constraint is the finite size of the planet it is perhaps likely to evolve into something like a higher-level planetary cell, where the sub-organisations are like organelles. Organelles are the cell's metabolic 'machinery', e.g. nucleus, mitochondria, etc.

So you see that we operate within a complex environment where an ecosystem of memes permeates our minds and the culture whilst organisations condition and constrain us into specialised roles and perspectives as part of their own metabolic processes. We are inhabited by memes whilst we inhabit organisations, and we metabolise memes whilst organisations metabolise us. These forces heavily condition our experiences, our understanding and the whole culture.

Memetic Engineering

The process of constructing energised thought forms [FR] is the creation of conditioned stimuli [FR] or symbols that arouse an inner response. It is a cultural memetic technology that is one of the core technology with which civilisation has been built. A system of coordinated symbols, in the old language, is called an egregore [FR] and in the new language, it is called a paradigm. Once conditioning has been imprinted in a population it provides hooks in people's minds by which influence can be exerted, either by the people themselves or by external power structures. It unleashes and harnesses the power of the subconscious mind, thus it is a very powerful technology.

Once these hooks are in place they can be subtly manipulated and turned to different purposes. For example, the rhetoric of "freedom and liberty" may have been imprinted to encourage people toward personal freedom and liberty but once this becomes a conditioned stimulus and it becomes a strong egregore/paradigm it can be gradually distorted. This may take place within the context of an authoritarian discourse so that it implies collective freedom and liberty through greater strength, 'security' and authority for the governmental system, which in turn promises to provide personal freedom and liberty, but in order to do so it must impose measures that ultimately destroy people's freedom and liberty.

This process of creating and wielding symbols is now called psychological manipulation. It is a technology that is as old as civilisation itself but a great deal of research has gone into it in the last century. Whilst its techniques are now well understood its broader implications are not. The danger inherent in this technology is that eventually it always backfires when the manipulators are themselves manipulated. We are all human beings and as such are vulnerable to distortions in our minds, and naïve realism leads us to confuse that distorted impression of the world for being the world as it is. Hence some vested interests manipulate and distort the meme stream but eventually they or their descendants succumb to those distortions too and take that distorted experience of reality as the reality. They continue their strategy of distortion, which is no longer considered to be distortion but just "common practice" and the distortions build on top of each other. This eventually results in a complete disconnection from reality that brings us into conflict with reality and thereby the breakdown of whatever system was being built out of those distortions.

"It’s hard to imagine the level of paranoia that the federal government must be experiencing. Between the insanity of badly orchestrated lies, which precipitated our involvement in all the wars in the Mid-East... and now the “storm” induced military-turned-policed-nation... one senses that as lies continue to build upon lies, danger ensues as dangerous people continue to fall flat on their platforms of deceptive leadership and pathological propaganda." [FR]

When the original mysticism was subverted and the basic structure of modern civilisation first arose the original role of the priesthood was as the root of the social mechanism. They were the custodians of reality, who retained their connection to the original mystic paradigm which had been subverted and used to manipulate the population. To effectively manipulate, one must know the base level reality and then distort from that, otherwise the whole process loses its way and becomes lost amidst countless delusions.

This is exactly what has happened. The priesthood gradually became entangled within the web of deceit and the whole system came adrift. Then the priesthood was overthrown and replaced with empirical science and political leaders but we have remained lost in the web of deceit and disconnected from reality. Empirical science has overcome most of the obvious delusions but it is fundamentally unable to overcome the naïve realist distortions that disconnect us from reality because it enshrines those distortions within its empiricist and positivist foundations. Once it overcomes these it merges with mystic science and transforms into a unified science [FR]. Quantum physics is inexorably leading science towards such a merger.

Within some cultures certain mystic traditions have retained their connection and have quietly persisted amidst the centuries of delusion and mayhem. These provide a vital storehouse of original wisdom that can help us to realign the entire system with reality. Furthermore, due to the obvious delusions of the priesthood and its church hierarchy many small groups broke away and returned to their roots, which any of us can do and thereby reconnect with reality. Such groups, although they still use similar symbols, they are no longer representatives of the corrupt web of deceit but are real, although somewhat immature, connections to reality and as such they can play a vital role in helping others to reconnect.

The technology of symbols, memetic engineering or psychological manipulation is the mainstay of civilisation. Its tendency to backfire is a serious danger when deception and delusion are promulgated for personal or elitist agendas, which leads to growing delusion and dysfunction. However when truth and justice are promulgated by it, the tendency to backfire creates a positive feedback loop that results in ever growing truth and justice. This technology must no longer be left in the hands of priesthoods such as the media, governments and corporations. If we as a civilisation are to regain and maintain sanity this technology must be reclaimed by humanity and its use must be transparent, accountable and directed toward truth, holistic wellbeing and greater harmony and vitality for all. The dangers of its abuse are clear and the potential of its effective use has yet to be explored on a large scale.

Through abuse of this technology we integrate to form a monstrosity, i.e. the collective ego, that seizes control of "its body" and uses civilisation to pursue its agendas and satisfy its cravings. Through effective use of this technology we can integrate to form the higher Self of the planet which flourishes and grows in beauty and complexity, bringing abundance, vitality and life to all of its many beings.

Memetic Conflict

In the population at large the memeplexes of naive realism (egoism, empiricism, materialism, consumerism, authoritarianism) and that of realism (mysticism, spirituality, asceticism, compassion) are both proliferating. We see the greatest level of delusion and trance inducing memetic manipulation in recorded history right alongside the largest, longest and most pervasive mystic revival in recorded history.

Many people are rapidly being assimilated as units of cognitive territory and energy resources for vast organisations. They dwell in a sea of manipulative advertising and propaganda, focusing only ‘outward’ into a totally conditioned cultural domain, totally dependent on the cultural domain for all their information, knowledge, ideas and ways of interpreting, comprehending and responding. These conditioned beings are assimilated into vast oppressive organisations driven by naïve realist memeplexes. Their productive capacity (life force) is harvested, channelled and made available to various power structures who use this to pursue their agendas.

At the same time there is a massive groundswell of people waking up and empowering themselves. Thus there are arising vast self-organising, co-creative organisations that are driven by realist memeplexes. These provide an organisational framework for diverse collectives of people to express themselves and engage with the world in new ways. The collective has no will of its own, but is instead driven by the collective will of the people.

These two memeplexes permeate the entire cultural domain and conduct their struggle within each of our personal memetic ecosystems or minds and within each organisations' collective mind. One pushing us towards darkness and despair and the other one liberating us and raising us to ever higher levels of awareness and Life.

The two memeplexes we see in the world today can be thought of as the ego and the higher Self of the planet. Whilst the human collective ego seeks to assimilate the earth as “its body” in order to use it to pursue its agendas, the higher Self is being stirred into action to prevent this by raising our individual consciousness beyond the level of the ego so that we can self-organise in non-egoic ways and thereby co-create a non-egoic civilisation.

The suffering and destruction that the ego has induced is the driving force for the awakening and the awakening is exactly the radical change that will keep us from ego induced annihilation. The two forces are engaged in struggle in a sense, the ego hangs on and resists change because it fears losing control, the higher Self responds with deep compassion for the deluded and suffering ones, and it reaches out for change. The ego is just a phenomenon stirred up by ignorance and the essence of the higher Self is wisdom. When a candle is lit in a dark room the darkness is instantly transformed into light; it doesn’t matter if the darkness or ignorance has held sway for thousands of years it cannot resist the light because it has no substance of its own, it is only the absence of light or wisdom.

The next section is: The Growth of the Ego.
Or return to: Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism.