Under the force of nature, humans live from cause-to-effect. They figure out what creates fire and replicate it; they understand how animals hunt, and adopt similar strategies. They live by intellect more than instinct.
When a society thrives, it has excess wealth, and this insulates people from nature. They now think in effect-to-effect: how to demand, coerce, cajole, bribe, or flatter things from other people.
We gently group those habits under “socializing,” since they consist of a social as opposed to political or economic point of pressure. People conform to the need to be seen by the group as inoffensive and genial.
That causes the group to prohibit certain ideas and behaviors, neither of which are goals in themselves but methods of expressing or acting toward goals. For example, it will prohibit mockery or attacking other people as bad methods.
In turn this creates the inversion that political correctness does: the pool of words and methods narrows to only what is both inoffensive and popular, meaning that over time, the human group censors itself into raving idiocy.
At that point, however, the society enters the second half of its life-death cycle. In the first it struggled to master its environment and then itself, banning all offensive and upsetting things.
The second part of the cycle brings its internal conflict, when the banning of unpopular things and the constantly-lowering lowest common denominator — usually human behaviors normally known as “the seven sins” — slowly consume it.
During this second arc of the cycle, whatever you hear in public will be a lie because the words and methods needed to reach “truth” have been banned. Only that which is whispered among trusted friends has any taint of realism.
Naturally, a rebellion forms as people realize that society has become anti-realistic, and therefore is living out a symbolic and emotional reality in lieu of paying attention to actual reality, a condition known as “delusion.”
Delusional societies experience great popularity and success up until their plans clash with reality, at which point everything falls apart and everyone starves. This, to the universe, is high comedy, no doubt.
Those who seek to counter-act the decay find themselves facing an uphill battle because all definitions and values have been inverted, or turned against what they once meant. This means that appealing to core values simply affirms the new definitions.
For that reason, most subversion begins as mockery of the gap between what is promised by the symbols and emotions, and what they deliver. At the forefront of this attempt to invert the inverted back to sanity, we find the meme:
Memes – from the Greek for “that which is imitated” – were once defined as being self-replicating units of culture. This included anything that could be learned, remembered and spread from one brain to another, such as the concept of god all the way to the popular Budweiser “Wazzup” catchphrase.
What’s novel here is an inversion of control – political memes are no longer rare flashes of uncensored personality or intensely manicured visual messages. They are now born from the swamps of the internet in real time, distributed from the bottom up.
When your society has wrecked its order, you cannot work from a position within that order because you will simply be marked “defective” and thrown aside. Instead, you have to come from out in the cold and step out of the darkness to attack.
As it turns out, bottom-up dissent spreads rapidly:
They looked at that information spread in several ways, comparing via computer simulation how information moved throughout the networks when it came solely through word-of-mouth within a network (“bottom up”), when it came solely through external advertising or public information (“top down”) and when it came through varying bottom-up and top-down combinations.
What they discovered refutes Gladwell’s concept that network position is always paramount. They found that in instances where there is even a small amount of advertising — even when it is just a quarter of a percent as strong as word-of-mouth — there’s virtually no difference between the influence of the person at the center of a network and those further out on the string.
“It’s not that word-of-mouth doesn’t matter — it’s that nobody is particularly important for the word-of-mouth process,” Rossman said. “What we saw is that when advertising doesn’t exist, when advertising is exactly zero, it looks like whoever is Mr. Popular, whoever has the most central connections, really matters. And in that scenario, if you start with that person at the center of the network, like the leader of an organization or company, rather than the intern, then whatever you’re selling gets an uptick.”
In other words, memes compete with corporate and ideological propaganda by reaching out to anyone willing to spread them, and then by virtue of their novelty and what we might call naughtiness, spread like wildfire.
As the Left deplatforms conservatives, we do well to remember that this may work in our favor. They will take the most popular places away from us, but that in turn gives our message a groundswell of grassroots support.
Even if it is only a Pepe meme.