Is "Society" a Deep Peme?

Freespeak (
Tue, 17 Mar 1998 22:26:40 -0700

[Note: Earlier parts of the debate -- including the "peme rules"
-- can be found at <>,
which will be periodically updated.]

Is "Society" a deep peme?

In writing my previous peme post, I vacillated between
calling "society" a near-surface peme and calling it a
moderately deep peme.

My experience is that most libertarians relatively easily
see the fraudulent ways in which "society" is used by
political "masters" against their "subjects." For this
reason I should call it a near-surface peme.

However, I thought a few people might not see it so
easily, so I decided on "moderately deep peme."

It now seems that for some people it's a surface peme;
for some, near-surface; for some, moderately deep; for
some, deep; and maybe for a few, extremely deep.

A thought process that will help some to recognize and
clear pemes from their minds is to make a distinction
between the *word* and the *reality* (or non-reality)
the word is usually used to represent. Next focus
on the word and all the ways it's habitually used
by political "masters." Then consider the likely
consequences typically produced in the minds of most
"subjects" by such use of the word.

"When *I* use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,
"it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you *can* make words mean so
many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "***which is to be master --
that's all***." [***emphasis added]

-- Lewis Carroll, 'Through the Looking-Glass'

If the word in question does indeed represent some reality,
then it might be better to use some other word. For example,
you could use "terrocrat" instead of "government official."
(Terrocrat = terrorist bureaucrat or coercive political agent.)
"The question is, which is to be master -- that's all."

A correspondent privately wrote to me that for certain
purposes it's necessary to look at a higher level than
that of individual. For example, we can predict fairly
accurately that out of a million people x% will die from
cancer; whereas we can't predict with much accuracy how
a specific individual will die.

In clearing the "society" peme from your mind, nothing
prevents -- nor is there any suggestion stopping --
you from considering higher levels, such as "people
in general..."

At 06:35 AM 3/16/98 -0500, "Lloyd Miller, Research Director"
<> wrote:
>There is much in the ... [peme material] that is useful
>and valid. However, the claim that "society" and by
>implication other sub-collectives do not exist is clearly
>in error. Pemes (political memes) are to "power collectives",
>"political systems", or "social organisms" as genes are
>to biological organisms. One could just as well say that
>biological organisms don't exist [actually some extreme
>materialist reductionists actually say this!].
>In generating propaganda favoring the individualism that
>is trying to be promoted ... [in the peme material], I
>would not attempt to deny reality, but warn what little
>is left of "individuals" infected by pemes that they
>are being subsumed by a collective or power organism....
>wouldn't they rather be an individual? As pemes operate
>below the level of rational analysis in most individuals
>such individuals still attempt to view themselves as
> there is something to work with there.
>Denial doesn't work. One of Ron Hubbard's valid
>contributions was:
> Not Is ->> Maintains a "reality"
> Alter is ->> Changes a "reality"
> As is ->> Obliterates a "reality"
It will help to make a distinction between the peme as a
*word* as separate from any *reality* (or non-reality) the
word is supposed to represent.

In a sense, when the *word* is viewed "as is" ("as it is"),
together with all the ways in which it is habitually used,
as well as the consequences produced by such use, then the
validity of the word is obliterated -- leaving the *reality*
(or non-reality), the word is supposed to represent, unchanged.

At 03:32 AM 3/16/98 GMT, "David G. McDivitt"
<mcdivitt@IAMERICA.NET> wrote:
>>After observation and introspection you may realize
>>that you've never interacted with any so-called
>>"society." You have interacted with *individual*
>>human beings (and their computers).
>No, I'm sorry. I don't come to that conclusion. When I relate
>to an individual representing some company, I only relate to
>the individual superficially, but relate to manner of training
>and corporate policies much more. If he does not represent
those things, he may deserve to be fired.
>>"Society" is a moderately deep peme.
>>Murray Rothbard:
>>"..."[S]ociety," which is an abstraction that does not
>>actually exist."
>I do not agree with Brother Rothbard.
>>"...[O]ne of the prime errors in social theory is to
>>treat "society" as if it were an actually existing
>>entity. "Society" is sometimes treated as a superior
>>or quasi-divine figure with overriding "rights" of its
>>own; at other times as an existing evil which can be
>>blamed for all the ills of the world. The individualist
>>holds that only individuals exist, think, feel, choose,
>>and act..." ('For a New Liberty')
>To view society as an encompassing entity serves many
>purposes. One explicit purpose is, I can berate, chastise,
>and even withstand society, without necessarily doing so
>with one individual in the process.
>>Harry Browne:
>>"The gigantic myth called "society" that rules so many
>>lives doesn't even exist." ('How I Found Freedom...')
>The fact is, society shall continue to exist. The degree
>to which we individually allow it to rule us is a personal
decision. Society is not a myth.
>When I spent a year in Korea, I went to Seoul a few times.
>Upon looking down a street, what did I see but thousands
>of black heads. Koreans have black hair. Did I see a sea
>of individuals, whereby I could intimately respect each
>of their personalities? No, I saw a see of black heads.
>That's all I saw. That was society. When I go to the fair
>or a football game, I see the same thing. Please, explain
>to me in straightforward terms, how am I supposed to
>relate to all those people individually?
>>Was the "society" peme planted in your brain? Did
>>you buy it? Have you been helping to perpetuate
>>and spread it in accordance with peme rule 19:
>>"Whenever pro-freedom humans (secondary
>>peme purveyors) communicate -- although
>>they may question, attack, and expose a
>>few surface pemes -- they shall make a
>>special effort to use deep pemes in their
>>language -- in order to maximize peme
>>survival and propagation?"
>I'm sorry, but you have failed to make me feel insecure
>about who I am.
This isn't personal. I can't make you feel. You are
in control of your feelings; they're your responsibility.
>>Tyrants use the "society" peme in various ways: "It's
>>in the best interest of society"; "It's a crime against
>>society"; "The will of society"; "Society is the cause
>>of his criminality"; "Society has a right to define what
>>marriage is and what it is not"; etc.
>>By perpetuating and spreading the "society" peme, does
>>your mind serve as a weapon for tyrants?
>>What I'm trying to sell you on is clearing
>>deep pemes from your mind, and assisting
>>others to do the same.
>You sold me on the premise of pemes. I like it. It is a
>good analysis tool. I will make great use of it. Thank
>you very much.
You're welcome!

At 09:18 PM 3/15/98 -0500, "Karl R. Peters"
<> wrote:
>Do I really want to get involved in this debate?
>Well, I just had a drink, so I think I will, just for the bloody
>absurdity of it.
>On Sun, 15 Mar 1998, Freespeak wrote:
>> After observation and introspection you may realize
>> that you've never interacted with any so-called
>> "society." You have interacted with *individual*
>> human beings (and their computers).
>> "Society" is a moderately deep peme.
>Both "society" and "individual" are memes... and I completely
>disagree with your notion that some memes can be labeled "pemes",
>that is, "memes which are used by the powerful elite to oppress
>the masses", or whatever absurd notion you have...
>No, I'm not being civil. Oh well. Anyway, I have a quote that
>I picked up somewhere which I go by when analyzing things like
>this. "Never ascribe to malice what can more easily be explained
>by human stupidity". I do not believe that there is some conspiracy
>by people in power to control the ideas and thoughts of the masses
>for the sole purpose of keeping themselves in power. I don't even
>believe the Communists did this. Rather, I believe that the avarage
>"person in charge" believes in the ideas he is indoctrinating others
>with, and the negative consequences of this are the result of of
>stupidity, not malice.
>But I'm drunk, so what do I know?
Check out what "L. Reichard White" <>
suggested concerning the possible evolution of pemes through
trial and error at <>.
No "malicious conspiracy" has been suggested.

Frederick Mann
"The [one] who knows what freedom is will find a way to be free."
-- Robert LeFevre
"We are free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it."
-- William Faulkner
"The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
-- Steve Biko
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