The world is undergoing immense changes. Never before have the conditions of life changed so swiftly and enormously as they have changed for mankind in the last fifty years. We have been carried along—with no means of measuring the increasing swiftness in the succession of events. We are only now beginning to realize the force and strength of the storm of change that has come upon us.
These changes have not come upon our world from without. No meteorite from outer space has struck our planet; there have been no overwhelming outbreaks of volcanic violence or strange epidemic diseases; the sun has not flared up to excessive heat or suddenly shrunken to plunge us into Arctic winter. The changes have come through men themselves. Quite a small number of people, heedless of the ultimate consequence of what they did, one man here and a group there, have made discoveries and produced and adopted inventions that have changed all the condition, of social life.
We are now just beginning to realize the nature of these changes, to find words and phrases for them and put them down. First they began to happen, and then we began to see that they were happening. And now we are beginning to see how these changes are connected together and to get the measure of their consequences. We are getting our minds so clear about them that soon we shall be able to demonstrate them and explain them to our children in our schools. We do not do so at present. We do not give our children a chance of discovering that they live in a world of universal change.
Is there today a man among the White races who has eyes to see what is going on around him on the face of the globe? To see the immensity of the danger which looms over this mass of peoples? I do not speak of the educated or uneducated city crowds, the newspaper-readers, the herds who vote at elections and, for that matter, there is no longer any quality-difference between voters and those for whom they vote but of the ruling classes of the White nations, in so far as they have not been destroyed, of the statesmen in so far as there are any left; of the true leaders of policy, of economic life, of armies, and of thought. Does anyone, I ask, see over and beyond his time, his own continent, his country, or even the narrow circle of his own activities?
We live in momentous times. The stupendous dynamism of the historical epoch that has now dawned makes it the grandest, not only in the Faustian civilization of Western Europe, but for that very reason – in all world-history, greater and by far more terrible than the ages of Caesar and Napoleon. Yet how blind are the human beings over whom this mighty destiny is surging, whirling them in confusion, exalting them, destroying them! Who among them sees and comprehends what is being done to them and around them? Some wise old China-man or Indian, perhaps, who gazes around him in silence with the stored-up thought of a thousand years in his soul. But how superficial, how narrow, how small-minded are the judgments and measures of Western Europe and America!
What do the inhabitants of the Middle West of the United States know of what goes on beyond New York and San Francisco? What conception has a middle-class Englishman, not to speak of a French provincial, of the trend of affairs on the Continent? What, indeed, does any one of them know of the direction in which his very own destiny is facing? All we have is a number of absurd catchwords such as “overcoming the economic crisis,” “understanding of peoples,” “national security and self-scruffiness,” with which to “overcome” catastrophes within the space of a generation or two by means of “prosperity” and disarmament.
It is one of the illusions of each generation that the social institutions in which it lives are, in some peculiar sense, “ natural,” unchangeable and permanent. Yet for countless thousands of years social institutions have been successively arising, developing, decaying and becoming gradually superseded by others better adapted to contemporary needs. This book shows how we, the nations claiming to be the most advanced in civilization, are no less subject than our predecessors to this process of perpetual change. Just as the Sumerian, the Egyptian, the Greek, the Roman and the Christian medieval civilizations have passed away, our present capitalist civilization, as mortal as its predecessors, is dissolving before our eyes, not only in that “ septic dissolution ” diagnosed by the Dean of St. Paul’s, brought upon us by war, and curable by genuine peace, but in that slower changing of the epochs which war may hasten, but which neither we nor any¬ thing else can hinder.
The question, then, is not whether our present civilization will be transformed, but how it will be transformed. It may, by considerate adaptation, be made to pass gradually and peacefully into a new form. Or, if there is angry resistance instead of adaptation, it may crash, leaving mankind painfully to build up a new civilization from the lower level of a stage of social chaos and disorder in which not only the abuses but also the material, intellectual and moral gains of the previous order will have been lost. Unfortunately many who assent to this general proposition of inevitable change, fail to realize what the social institutions are to which this law of change applies. To them the basis of all possible civilization is private property in a sense in which it is so bound up with human nature, that whilst men remain men, it is no more capable of decay or supersession than the rotation of the earth on its axis. But they misunderstand the position. It is not the sanction and security of personal possessions that forms the foundation of our capitalist system, but the institution of private owner¬ ship of the means by which the community lives.
Is there a logic of history? Is there, beyond all the casual and incalculable elements of the separate events, something that we may call a metaphysical structure of historic humanity, something that is essentially independent of the outward forms social, spiritual and political which we see so clearly? Are not these actualities indeed secondary or derived from that something? Does world-history present to the seeing eye certain grand traits, again and again, with sufficient constancy to justify certain conclusions? And if so, what are the limits to which reasoning from such premises may be pushed? Is it possible to find in life itself for human history is the sum of mighty life-courses which already have had to be endowed with ego and personality, in customary thought and expression, by predicating entities of a higher order like “the Classical” or “the Chinese Culture,” “Modern Civilization” a series of stages which must be traversed, and traversed moreover in an ordered and obligatory sequence?
For everything organic the notions of birth, death, youth, age, lifetime are fundamentals may not these notions, in this sphere also, possess a rigorous meaning which no one has as yet extracted? In short, is all history founded upon general biographic archetypes? The decline of the West, which at first sight may appear, like the corresponding decline of the Classical Culture, a phenomenon limited in time and space, we now perceive to be a philosophical problem that, when comprehended in all its gravity, includes within itself every great question of Being. If therefore we are to discover in what form the destiny of the Western Culture will be accomplished, we must first be clear as to what culture is, what its relations are to visible history, to life, to soul, to nature, to intellect, what the forms of its manifestation are and how far these forms peoples, tongues and epochs, battles and ideas, states and gods, arts and craft-works, sciences, laws, economic types and world-ideas, great men and great events may be accepted and pointed to as symbols.
The theory of group evolutionary strategies described in A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy (MacDonald 1994; hereafter PTSDA) argued that Judaism may be understood mainly as a cultural invention, maintained by social controls that act to structure the behavior of group members and characterized by a religious ideology that rationalizes ingroup behavior both to ingroup members and to outsiders.
Although evolved mechanisms of group cohesion are also important, it was shown that social controls acting within the group were able to structure the group to facilitate ingroup economic and political cooperation and resource competition with outgroups, erect barriers to genetic penetration from outside the group, and facilitate eugenic practices aimed at producing high intelligence and high-investment parenting ideally suited to developing a specialized ecological role within human societies. Because of these traits, and particularly an IQ that is at least one standard deviation above the Caucasian mean, Judaism has been a powerful force in several historical eras.
The proposal that Judaism may be usefully conceptualized as a group evolutionary strategy suggests that anti-Semitism be defined as negative attitudes or behavior directed at Jews because of their group membership. This is a very broad definition—one that is equally applicable to anti-Jewish attitudes in any historical era. It is also consistent with a very wide range of external processes contributing to anti-Semitism in a particular historical era, and also with qualitative changes in the nature of anti-Jewish attitudes or the institutional structure of anti-Semitism at different times and places.
Fundamental to the transformation of the United States as a result of massive non-European immigration was the decline of ethnic consciousness among European peoples. It is fascinating to contrast the immigration debates of the 1920s with those of the 1950s and 1960s. The restrictionists of the 1920s unabashedly asserted the right of European-derived peoples to the land they had conquered and settled. There were many assertions of ethnic interest—that the people who colonized and created the political and economic culture of the country had a right to maintain it as their possession. This sort of morally selfassured nativism (even the word itself now has a pathological ring to it) can be seen in the statement of Representative William N. Vaile of Colorado, a prominent restrictionist, quoted in Chapter 7 of CofC.
By the 1940s and certainly by the 1960s it was impossible to make such assertions without being deemed not only a racist but an intellectual Neanderthal. Indeed, Bendersky (2000) shows that such rhetoric was increasingly impossible in the 1930s. One can see the shift in the career of racial theorist Lothrop Stoddard, author of books such as The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy and numerous articles for the popular media, such as Collier’s, Forum, and The Saturday Evening Post. Stoddard viewed Jews as highly intelligent and as racially different from Europeans. He also believed that Jews were critical to the success of Bolshevism. However, he stopped referring to Jews completely in his lectures to the Army War College in the late 1930s. The Boasian revolution in anthropology had triumphed, and theorists who believed that race was important for explaining human behavior became fringe figures. Stoddard himself went from being a popular and influential writer to being viewed as a security risk as the Roosevelt administration prepared the country for war with National Socialist Germany.
At the conclusion of the Cold War, military planners in the U.S. made the assumption that a military organized, trained, and equipped to fight a near-peer competitor would be able to handle any type of conflict, which would, after all, be considered a subset to a Major Theater War (Barnett, Mar 2004). The pattern that has emerged since the end of the Cold War, however, is not one of conflict with powerful industrialized nations; rather the U.S. has been engaged in locations that were considered to be no immediate threat to national survival, the Third World. It is the Third World that has spawned the “gravest threat we face”, the threat from trans-national terrorism (Barnett, Mar 2004). U.S. military operations since the end of the Cold War also suggest, 1-1 by their mixed results, that the U.S. military is not fully prepared to handle the threats from trans-national, clandestine terror organizations. This fact was most emphatically highlighted on Sept. 11, 2001 (Barnett, Mar 2004).
There are a plethora of definitions for the meme, with most being variations of Dawkins original notion of a unit (whatever that means) of cultural transmission, where culture may be defined as the total pattern of behavior (and its products) of a population of agents, embodied in thought, behavior, and artifacts, dependent upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. None of extant definitions of a meme is sufficient to allow a meme to be clearly recognized, measured, or provide the basis for scientific research. And without the establishment of a scientific basis and the ability to explain, predict, and control phenomena, memetics will remain a functionally useless pseudo-science. A few of the many definitions extracted from the literature include:
A self-reproducing and propagating information structure analogous to a gene in biology.
A unit of cultural transmission (or a unit of imitation) that is a replicator that propagates in the meme pool leaping from brain to brain via (in a broad sense) imitation; examples:
―tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches Ideas that program for their own re-transmission or propagation.
Actively contagious ideas or thoughts.
Shared elements of a culture learned through imitation from others – with culture being defined rather broadly to include ideas, behaviors, and physical objects.
An element of a culture that may be considered to be passed on by non-genetic means, especially imitation.
Information patterns infecting human minds.
While the internal meme is equivalent to the genotype, its expression in behavior (or the way it affects things in its environment) is its phenotype.
Any information that is copied from person to person or between books, computers, or other storage devices. Many mental contents are not memes because they are not acquired by imitation or copying, including perceptions, visual memories, and emotional feelings. Skills or knowledge acquired by ordinary learning are not memes.
A (cognitive) information-structure able to replicate using human hosts and to influence their behavior to promote replication.
Cultural information units that are the smallest elements that replicate themselves with reliability and fecundity.
A rule of behavior, encoded by functional neuronal groups or pathways. [Behavior is action, whether mental or physical. Ideas such as tying shoe-laces or opening a door represent rules of physical action, i.e., rules of patterned neural-muscular interaction. Concepts such as apple, seven, or causality, represent rules of mental action, or rules of cognition, i.e., rules of patterned neural-neural interaction. Hence, physical movement is governed by memes which represent rules of physical action and thought is governed by memes which represent rules of mental action].
Any kind, amount, and configuration of information in culture that shows both variation and coherent transmission.
A pattern of information (a state within a space of possible states)].
A unit of cultural information as it is represented in the brain.
An observable cultural phenomenon, such as a behavior, artifact or an objective piece of information, which is copied, imitated or learned, and thus may replicate within a cultural system. Objective information includes instructions, norms, rules, institutions and social practices provided they are observable.
A pattern of information, one that happens to have evolved a form which induces people to repeat that pattern.
A contagious information pattern that replicates by parasitically infecting human minds and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern. Individual slogans, catch-phrases, melodies, icons, inventions, and fashions are typical memes. An idea or information pattern is not a meme until it causes someone to replicate it, to repeat it to someone else. All transmitted knowledge is memetic.
The smallest idea that can copy itself while remaining self contained and intact – essentially sets of instructions that can be followed to produce behavior While Dawkins focused on the meme as a replicator, analogous to the gene, able to affect human evolution through the evolutionary algorithm of variation, replication, and differential fitness, for near-term practical applications the relevant key characteristics of the meme are that it consists of information which persists, propagates, and influences human behavior.
1. Nihilism stands at the door: whence comes this uncanniest of all guests? Point of departure: it is an error to consider “social distress” or “physiological degeneration” or, worse, corruption, as the cause of nihilism. Ours is the most decent and compassionate age. Distress, whether of the soul, body, or intellect, cannot of itself give birth to nihilism (i. e., the radical repudiation of value, meaning, and desirability) . Such distress always permits a variety of interpretations. Rather: it is in one particular interpretation, the Christian-moral one, that nihilism is rooted.
2. The end of Christianity–at the hands of its own morality (which cannot be replaced), which turns against the Christian God (the sense of truthfulness, developed highly by Christianity, is nauseated by the falseness and mendaciousness of all Christian interpretations of the world and of history; rebound from “God is truth” to the fanatical faith “All is false”; Buddhism of action).
3. Skepticism regarding morality is what is decisive. The end of the moral interpretation of the world, which no longer has any sanction after it has tried to escape into some beyond, leads to nihilism. “Everything lacks meaning” (the untenability of one interpretation of the world, upon which a tremendous amount of energy has been lavished, awakens the suspicion that all interpretations of the world are false) . Buddhistic tendency, yearning for Nothing. (Indian Buddhism is not the culmination of a thoroughly moralistic development; its nihilism is therefore full of morality that is not overcome: existence as punishment, existence construed as error, error thus as a punishment–a moral valuation.) Philosophical attempts to overcome the “moral God” (Hegel, pantheism) . Overcoming popular ideals: the sage; the saint; the poet. The antagonism of “true” and “beautiful” and “good”.
4. Against “meaninglessness ” on the one hand, against moral value judgments on the other: to what extent has all science and philosophy so far been influenced by moral judgments? and won’t this net us the hostility of science? Or an anti-scientific mentality? Critique of Spinozism. Residues of Christian value judgments are found everywhere in socialistic and positivistic systems. A critique of Christian morality is still lacking.
5. The nihilistic consequences of contemporary natural science (together with its attempts to escape into some beyond) . The industry of its pursuit eventually leads to self-disintegration, opposition, an antiscientific mentality. Since Copernicus man has been rolling from the center toward X.*
6. The nihilistic consequences of the ways of thinking in politics and economics, where all “principles” are practically histrionic: the air of mediocrity, wretchedness, dishonesty, etc. Nationalism. Anarchism, etc. Punishment. The redeeming class and human being are lacking–the justifiers.
7. The nihilistic consequences of historiography and of the “practical historians,” i. e., the romantics. The position of art: its position in the modern world absolutely lacking in originality. Its decline into gloom. Goethe’s allegedly Olympian stance.
8. Art and the preparation of nihilism: romanticism (the conclusion of Wagner’s Nibelungen).
The Manchu Annals introduce the history of the English opium war with a statement that, early in the summer of 1838, the Director of the Court of State Ceremonial, Hwang Tsioh-tsz,” represented in a Memorial to the Throne that the growing consumption of foreign opium was at the root of all China’s troubles. Silver,—and coined dollars proportionately, —was becoming scarce and relatively dear, the tael having advanced from 1,000 to 1,600 cash in price; the revenue was in confusion, peculation rife, and trade disorganized. Opium, he said, came from England ; but, though those foreigners were ready enough to weaken China and absorb her wealth by encouraging its use, so severely did they forbid smoking amongst themselves that offending ships were sunk by heavy guns.
They had possessed themselves of [Koh-liu-pa or] Java by this means, and had endeavoured to seduce Annam, which state, however, had firmly discouraged any relations with them. They were now ruining the bodies and the fortunes of the Chinese with their abominable poison ; and the memorialist proposed that the penalty of death should be decreed against all offenders. In consequence of this the Emperor at once remitted the matt’jr to the consideration of all the high provincial authorities. Without a single exception, those officers recommended the most stringent measures and he amongst them who wrote the most uncompromisingly was LiN TsBH-stJ, Viceroy of Hu Kwang, who was at once sent for to Peking, whence, after receiving the Emperor’s instructions, he was dispatched as Special Imperial Commissioner to Canton, armed with full Admiral’s powers in addition.