SCIOPS 01.33: Memetic Resistance
Another day, another infinite abyss gazing back…
The official future is dead. We live in a time of expanded possibility, when the Schwartz Window of plausible futures is thrown wide open and the daylight is pouring in. From Nils Gilman, The Official Future Is Dead! Long Live the Official Future!:
But the real question we should ask is: how will this moment of radical openness end? In other words, which of the many widely divergent possible futures that seem splayed out before us will actually arrive? One way to think about this is by asking what lessons can we draw from the open “Schwartz Window” moment of 1970s. The most important of these lessons is that the Schwartz Window rarely stays this wide open for long. This is true first and foremost because living with a radically open future is cognitively exhausting—people crave a sense of certainty about the future, which is precisely what the Official Future is meant to provide. This means there is unmet demand for political leadership that has the confidence and charisma to impose a compelling new vision for the future. It is in the nature of complex social systems that if incumbent elites fail to reassert control, they will be replaced by new elites who are willing and able to do so. This is precisely the role that Thatcher and Reagan played when they came to power in United Kingdom and the United States at the start of the 1980s.
Gilman goes on to make the totally unsupported claim that the future will belong to the Leninists, but don’t hold that against him – it’s a decent article with a good premise, if not a punchy conclusion.
The future is still up in the air, and the players on the ground are scrabbling to be the one to catch it. (Scrimmaging? Scrumming? I shouldn’t be allowed to make sportsball metaphors, really.)
Team Moneybags, as represented by Reagan/Thatcher and all their neoliberal clone-puppets, has the material advantage. Half the world’s wealth is now in the hands of the top 1%, and they’re surely not done yet. But Team Genocide has ramped up their recruitment efforts, and “certainty about the future” is one of the many cognitive hacks that the fascists use to exploit the minds of the weak and angry.
So take the time to study their tactics: Emmi Bevensee at the Center for a Stateless Society wrote this longform essay about Fascism as a Memetic Hazard :
Fascism is a social technology that carries a special seductiveness for the human animal. Think of it as a particularly dangerous cult psychology, creating a self-referential bubble narrative that supplies easy answers to complex problems and a sense of strength through belonging and performative hate. Even smart people fall for cults and employ motivated reasoning to defend and advance the cult’s memeplex, never bothering to question the core identity or why they should value it.
A good article, if a bit peppered with multisyllabic vocabulary. Definitely read the middle section, where she analyzes the “
cascading epistemological system failure” that is the fascist mentality. And I’ve written about this before , if you need a primer on memetic reverse-engineering.
As always, thanks for reading.
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