superorganisms (was Re: Re: We luv the guv't

Wesley Schwein (
Sun, 18 Jan 1998 00:01:16 -0500 (EST)

On Sat, 17 Jan 1998, EvMick wrote:

> To quickly and perhaps grossly summarize <with attendant loss of accuracy
> I beleive that Mr. Bloom is saying that governments...or "superorganisms"
> as he calls them.....are then next step up on the "memetic" food chain.
> They are to people what people are to cells...

One of William Gibson's characters (in _Burning Chrome_) suggested that
visiting extraterrestrials would probably recognize corporations as the
dominant organisms.

Perhaps a taxonomy of superorganisms could be constructed: governments,
corporations, religions, and subcultures remind me of meme-complexes
competing for the belief-space of a single individual.

The individual's memes "live" in the brain; they share neural pathways and
connections. The specific cell doesn't matter but rather that the
connections exist. Similarly, governments and other superorganisms don't
need or care about the particular individuals who serve as their "cells";
what matters is that some individual play a particular role.

Governments and religions such as the RC Church and Tibetan Buddhism seem
to be particularly robust superorganisms. Corporations strike me as more
dependent on the attributes of specific people. Would a company like
Microsoft exist without Bill Gates?

Wesley Schwein Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but
certainty is absurd. --Voltaire