In 1976, biologist Richard Dawkins discovered The Meme. He didn’t invent it. He found it! It’s not matter. It’s not energy.
“What is it then?”
“Dawkins discovered Google!”
– Of course not. Google is merely a gigantic storage bin. Memes are information in action. They are in the heads of people.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Did God spend the seventh day creating Information?”
– Information came in with language, an event as puzzling as the origin of life. With language, we became informants. We developed the spoken word, which serves as the bearer of information. We speak a mutually intelligible language and have the powers to thrash belief systems and the complexities of a culture. No other animal speaks a symbolic language. No other animal has the faintest idea of semantics and the structuring powers of syntax. When language was first heard on the planet is anybody’s guess. Contrasted with geologic time, it was closer to yesterday than a month ago. What is obvious is that it made us the masters of the planet and its custodians.
“That’s all very interesting, but where is relief from the Trump Horror Show? The other day he injected racism in a ceremony to honor Native Americans. The depravity of our government is an unobstructed work in progress.”
– Trump’s racism is a meme, an informational entity identifying a group’s culture, and, like genes, transmitted to succeeding generations. The longer a meme remains viable through the rough and tumble of natural selection, the more powerful its impact. The DNA of a gene identifies a single individual. Shared memes identify a group.
“Is there a more powerful meme than that of racism? It’s been around since the first colonies.”
– Racism has a long history. The longer a meme has been selected the more power it wields in a group. A meme is “a culturally transmitted informational entity.” Racism is certainly in a lot of heads and shapes behavior generation after generation. One of the great benefits to us of Dawkins’discovery of memes is that we needn’t be discouraged that memes, say, for the gun culture or racism, persist. Their durability is the nature of the beast. Here’s another meme, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” This informational entity has also been transmitted generation after generation.
– Through thick and thin, we have kept our political traditions dynamically relevant. For 240 years we have adhered to The Rule of Law and our Constitution. It’s our history. It’s We the People. It’s our America. Above all, we have submitted to the peaceful transfer of power.
– The most remarkable fact of the Trump Administration is its foreignness. Not just its treasonous alliance with Russia, but its daily perversity in attacking our way of governing, our way of life. The meme for Bozo the Clown as President does not have a long history. It will not survive natural selection.
– Simply put, the Trump meme doesn’t have generational breadth. It’s an oddity, the unlikely convergence of bits and pieces from the dark places of marginal political groups. It will not survive natural selection. In political life, that takes place in the voting booth.
– Recent election results in Virginia and New Jersey indicate the continuing memetic vigor of our democracy.