While much attention is given to religion as a group of successfully replicating memes (memeplex) it has been even more successful because of the power that it affords to the group of meme carriers. Additionally we can understand religion as a successful way of engineering human nature to mobilize a large group towards some effort directed by a central point of control. It is important to realize that religion is not the only such system of control and that there are other memeplexes that demonstrate this value.
To start we can identify the systems of control that exist today and how they interact. We can imagine these systems as competing collections of memes, just like living beings compete as collections of genes.
0) Physical: The counting starts with the default system of control. Physical power is the most basic form of control which is actually a genetic and environmental, not memetic system. Meme systems exist to empower people beyond their physical limits in the following ways.
1) Tribal/Social/Racial/Ethnic: This system may still be closely tied to genes. The tribe is an aggregation of physical power, but has a very powerful meme component that runs through all groups called the “tribe mentality”. This is the “us vs. them” feeling that so many groups maintain as a source of strength and solidarity. Many memes are devoted to identify the boundaries of groups including language, traditions, and the following more complex systems of control.
2) Spiritual/Religious: I have given this plenty of attention in previous posts. Just think about the various religious ‘movements’ that are ongoing.
3) Political/National/Legal: National and political ideologies are also quite powerful. These are intertwined with the legal systems of the nation that is being ruled by a set of political parties. The state wields a taxation system, military system and enforces imprisonment. Government at least admits to be a system of control. In the end we must see that government too is a collection of memes that evolves just like any other memeplex. There are competing ideas on how nations should be run including democratic, autocratic, theocratic etc…
4) Economic/Corporate: Perhaps the phrase “almighty dollar” is becoming all too literal. The system of currency, of economy the necessity of growth, securitization, the publicly traded companies; these are all economic memes that evolve and are subject to selection pressure from financial systems, regulatory pressures and the drive for return on investment. We go to our jobs to carry out objectives that serve these economic objectives.
How do we judge a system of control? Easy – just ask yourself what cause people are dying for?
How are these systems of control battling it out? Well, we can view each of these as being a linear progression as they are numbered. First man killed man, then tribes killed one another, then there were holy wars, then world wars, and now wars are fought so that companies can make more money and multinational corporations subjugate all else to make money in the currency of greatest convenience.
Or we can see consolidation of power between meme-systems; the socialist theocracy vs. the free market democracy.
Never has the idea that we serve the memes seemed so natural. We’re slaves to our jobs, to our government, to our church. They feel like such real institutions, but these are all just collections of ideas. Understanding how they propagate in our minds, the selection pressures and evolution of these ideas, is the key to understanding the underlying mechanics of society.