The Gun Lobby –
Belief in Genesis –
Monarchical government –
have in common?
They are all memes, informational entities identifying a group’s culture, and, like genes, transmitted to succeeding generations. The DNA of a gene identifies a single individual. Shared memes identify a group. Both genes and memes are subject to natural selection.
Memes are transmitted perceptually, not genetically. We transmit the meme for working a hula hoop from watching someone working a hulu hoop. Genes may last millions of years; memes may be as short-lived as the hulu hoop craze. A meme is information in a person’s head. Initially, we sit at our mother’s knee. Before long, a thousand others shape that information, thereby laying the foundation of our belief systems and group memberships. The longer a meme remains viable through the rough and tumble of natural selection, the more powerful its impact. The four groups listed above have survived at least five hundred years through many generations.
The Virginia settlers in the early 1600s brought slaves. From the very beginning, memes for race and racism became part of our culture and were transmitted to every succeeding generation. They survived through natural selection. Racism, the Gun Culture, Belief in Genesis, Usurping Monarchical government have been memetically transmitted for at least 500 years.
Firearms from the first Indian Wars through the settlement of the Wild West established the gun culture.
In the early 1500s, Martin Luther translated the Latin Bible into German, insisting God had verbally inspired every word, including, of course, Genesis. 500 hundred years later, highly intelligent clergy subscribe to the belief the dinosaur romped with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – and built a 25 million dollar theme park on that belief.
Despite The Glorious Revolution of 1688, King George the Third called the shots in the 1770s, and monarchical arrogance, by committee, as it were, continues to blight present-day England.
These are mind-mangling memes, their pathologic potency undiminished generation after generation.
Wilfred Bion, my mentor, observed, “If the mind does not see what is obvious, there is nothing to be done.”
If one can’t see 300 million guns, including thousands of AK-47s, or the 100,000 victims of gun violence in our country every year – there is nothing to be done.
If one can’t see the absurdity of racism when simply comparing Barack Obama with Donald Trump – there is nothing to be done.
If one can’t see the ridiculousness of 200 billion galaxies giving place to the fable of Genesis – there is nothing to be done.
If one can’t see a monarchical tyranny over-riding government of the people – there is nothing to be done.
Wilfred is the only genius I knew personally. He understood the deep structure of 500 year old memes. Remember when 20 children, ages six and seven, at The Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, were gunned down in their classroom? Mass shootings come and go, but this! So President Obama established a commission, chaired by Vice-president Joseph Biden, to formulate gun-control legislation. Joe and the members of the task force worked months, often late into the night. Every proposal they came up with was supported by 60 to 90 % of the country.
And each and every proposal got voted down by the Congress!
How was that possible?
500 year memes, that’s how.