In How much more unreality can we bear?, I wrote:
I’m quite aware of T.S. Eliot’s phrase, ‘Humankind cannot bear too much reality’. What I want to know is, what happens on the other side – just how much unreality can we bear? For how long can this flight from reality, this refusal to see things as they are, this continuing to act in a way which shapes reality with one’s wishes, but only at the cost of a more painful reality making itself manifest in the near future – for how long can it go on? When will the resources that allow it to happen run out? When will enough people walk away from the charade, so that it simply collapses for lack of participation, as happened in/to the Soviet Union?
All of this is important, but the truth is that the financial system is not a concern for almost all people in the world. But the embrace of unreality, the flight from reality, the closing one’s eyes to uncomfortable truths and the wishing away of unpleasant facts is not confined to the world of money. It is hurting people – young, vulnerable people – and the frequency with which it inflicts its pain is intensifying, precisely as a result of the willed ignorance of those in positions of responsibility …
Those in responsibility – the leaders of societies so civilised that they need only be lightly policed – have opened the borders of their countries to the worst elements of the third world. And now that those worst elements are behaving to type, the response of those in responsibility is to pretend nothing is happening and to continue on importing more of these worst elements.
You need only the slightest familiarity with the psychology of how people respond both to incentives, and to a lack of disincentives and inhibitions, to understand that the situation will continue to deteriorate.
No first-world society can survive this.
The only questions left, are:
- how long will it take until people demand a change of policy; and
- what form – how severe, really – the change in policy will be.
The question which fascinates me – taking the 50,000 foot view of the consulting philosopher, you understand; as a person I am horrified – is how on earth could things have gotten so out of control? Is this the result of a plan? Or stupidity? Or is this just what happens when people become so prosperous and secure that they forget what we might call Kipling’s Gods of the Copybook Headings …
This evasion of reality can go on for a long time.
Until one runs out of resources. Or one heeds the cries of one’s children. Or one sees the gang-rapes happening in front of one, in a shopping centre where, last year, school-girls wandered safely, laughing and chatting to one another.
I can’t help but recall the scene in Ridley Scott’s Titanic, where Mr Guggenheim, descending the grand staircase, waves away a life jacket and indicates that he would like a brandy – only to be confronted soon after by the reality of the freezing Atlantic rushing in on him. The look on his face (about 30 seconds in) has over the past year appeared on the faces of millions across Europe, as they realise that for so long they have been lied to, that the third world, in all its fetid, hungry, fanged and priapic wildness, has suddenly appeared in their flash, pristine shopping malls and car-lined streets, and that the hell that their leaders are bringing to their homelands is actually the outcome that those leaders want to see.
And that’s just the start. Imagine what you and I will be talking about in ten years’ time. I suspect the problem won’t be the level of unreality plaguing the world; it will be how much more of this reality we can bear – and who will deliver us from it.
How then does the memeplex respond to the reality that muslims are machine-gunning, knifing, running-over with cars and bombing civilian populations in western and non-western societies, and are doing so after having aligned themselves with pious muslim groups and while crying out ‘god is greatest!’ ?
On current evidence, the response from the Cathedral is ‘this has nothing to do with islam’. Again, no evidence is provided for this contention – it is simply spouted as a universal truth that all should accept. The rider accompanying this pronouncement is ‘islam is a religion of peace’ – again, with no supporting evidence (note as well, that it is only islam for which this claim is made; you don’t hear people claiming ad nauseam that Buddhism is a religion of peace, because Buddhism is actually a religion of peace and there is no doubt anywhere about that fact, and thus no need to state the obvious).
Facts provided from reality – islamic-inspired muslims committing terrorist acts against people they see as infidels – are re-interpreted to fit the memeplex (‘this has nothing to do with islam’). Inconvenient facts – these people actually are muslims, and they are inspired to massacre by islam, are simply ignored and/or covered up. And the ‘religion of peace’ mantra is repeated (‘chanted’, in Leghorn’s phrasing) in order to re-inforce and soothe the mindsets of group-members and help remove doubts.
So, I would suggest that we have a memeplex, and denial of islamic terrorism and militancy is fundamental to the ongoing internal coherence of that memeplex. And the more that reality – in the form of islamic terrorist attacks – contradicts that memeplex and its dogma, the more we will hear about how such terrorism has nothing to do with islam, and how islam is a religion of peace. More Waleed Aly and other muslims (including, especially, smiling, articulate, scarf-clad, clitoris-free muslimas) on free-to-air programming and in the Fairfax press, making baseless claims against which no-one will offer a contradiction or challenge. More ‘Harmony Days’. More politicians visiting mosques, and federal police officers attending Eid-el-Fitr gatherings. All to reinforce the belief that none of this effort is needed because nothing is happening …
So, that is, for me anyway, a great step forward in understanding what is going on. What next? How do we change a memeplex?
We have an advantage here that doesn’t exist with the individual mind-set. Only one person gets a vote with a mind-set, and given that the mind-set controls the mind that makes the vote, and that mind-set is strongly self-reinforcing and defensive, it’s difficult to make a reasoned, evidence-based argument in favour of change that would convince that mind-set.
However, a memeplex operates at a society-wide level. Also, it is usually imposed by a ruling elite (The Cathedral, which can be found in any society across time and space) in order to justify its own existence and discourage/dissuade/remove opposition. At any time, a person who concludes that the memeplex, or parts of it, are just garbage can ‘check out’ of a memeplex: they can physically leave a society – as happens with people who flee inhospitable regimes – or, should they be physically prevented from fleeing, they can just ‘check out’ mentally, as happened in communist countries, where, one day, it happened that enough people had ‘checked out’ that the system came to a grinding halt and had to be replaced.
So, we have a system where people can and do stop supporting the memeplex which makes it all run. And, despite the best efforts of memeplex supporters to define opposition to the memeplex as ‘hate speech’ and have it outlawed, we still do have a great degree of freedom of speech, of thought and of assembly. Therefore it is possible to make arguments against the memeplex, and have those arguments heard by the population.
In other words – we do not have to convince the memeplex to change or adjust, as we might have to convince a person to change/adjust their mind-set. We need only cause a withdrawal of support for the current memeplex, and substitute another in its place …
As more terrorist attacks occur, the further will the memeplex move from reality, and the more people will ‘check out’ from it, weakening its hold on society. Soon enough, those cynical politicians will grasp which way the wind is blowing, and will change their tune. We will have a new memeplex, and it will be less forgiving of islam and islamic terrorism.
Thirdly, here is a refresher on The Cathedral.
And now we have Orlando.