Meme: A call for help

Dan Fabulich (
Sun, 19 Jan 1997 16:10:56 -0800

I'm new to the Extropian movement, but I like it. I've enjoyed and
generally agreed with most of what comes out of the Extropy Institute,
and I'm readily becoming attached to its principles.

However, I have a problem. If it's not appropriate for this list, tell
me so, and I'll take the conversation elsewhere.

The Extropy Institute has a philosophy which strives towards spontaneous
order through decentralized systems. It denies dogma in favor of
healthy criticism. It's a far more open system than any religion or
fundamentalist philosophy. I like that. However, it's been painfully
obvious to me, throughout my life, how far people can get when they're
dogmatically committed towards a particular idea. Ideas like bigotry,
fascism and censorship are incredibly rampant because they develop a
devoted and unquestioning following. The masses flock to their
shepherd. They're insanely bad memes, but problematically trong:
if people are more powerful when they are fundamentally committed
and when surrounded by people who agree with them, then they'll adapt
as is most advantageous to them: conform, centralize, dogmatize.

I don't like any of this. But this has been a problem that I've been
fighting with for most of my life. I'm not here to argue that religion
is better than healthy criticism and spontaneous order. I don't think
that. But in the face of what's out there, how can I, and others like
me, fight a meme of centralization which may be fundamentally more
powerful than the one I'm trying to spread, simply by virtue of the fact
that the meme I'm spreading can never be a dogma? Can this meme ever
surpass authoritarianism?

I hope no one looks at this as trying to pick a fight... that's not what
I'm doing. I'm trying to find some more hope so I can get that dynamic
optimism in line.

If anybody has any comments for me, even if it's to tell me to leave the
mailing list, I'm open.

-He who laughs last thinks slowest-