Re: Meme-set conflicts [was Re: some U.S. observations and notes]

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Tue Dec 18 2001 - 17:33:31 MST

From: "Robert J. Bradbury" <>

>> The answer is no. Look at communism, Robert. Communism didn't
>> fragment until a number of other conditions were met (probably
>> the Cold War didn't help much to support the "information wants
>> to be free" meme, either)
>It isn't clear to me precisely what caused communism to fragment.

I'm not sure either. When I started traveling to the Baltics in
1989 (two years before the coup), the 'independence movement' was
already in a fairly advanced stage. The largest change that I could
see was the freedom of speech. The folks there could speak in their
homes, in their cars, on the central plazas carrying long
monologues. Wow. No bugging. Dissidents were speaking as they had
before, but this time, they weren't getting arrested. Large
demonstrations had already been successfully carried out (which were
peaceful, no arrests).

I don't think that Gorbachev was paying too close attention to
Baltic corner, or to the other little countries which were flexing
their independence muscles. He had his hands full with the fighting
between the Azerbajanis and the Armenians. By the summer of 1991,
the different ethnic groups were visibly defying the Kremlin by
flying their own ethnic flags on the flagpoles instead of the hammer
and sickle flag.

A huge amount of international press focused on Riga and Vilnius in
the early part of 1991, eight months before the coup (and the USSR
Fall) during several bloody confrontations with the OMON (Black
Berets). In that confrontation, some people, who were protecting the
local government buildings (where newly elected noncommunists were
running the regions) with only sticks, were killed by the OMON,
which further helped the Balts because they presented a sympathetic
image to the outside world. And who where these new local
politicians? The most vocal was a musical composer named Landsbergis
who was the first from the USSR to declare Lithuania to be an
independent country.

I know that Gorbachev wanted to open up the Soviet Union a bit.
However, I don't think that he wanted to lose the whole country, and
I don't think that he expected the independence movements to gain
hold as thoroughly as it did, and as quickly as it did, and he lost

This is about what I saw from the 'inside' from personal experience,
but I'm curious to know more about the communism fragmenting process.

>> What are your goals here? To push U.S. ideology in conditions
>> like that? If you want to use force to push U.S. ideology
>> through their baren soil, then I won't help you.

>I don't believe in pushing any idealogy other than the one that
>people should be free and some form of a democratic government is
>better than an oppressive government not chosen by a majority of the
>people. I might want to push the concept of fundamental human
>rights, along the lines of U.N. treaties (I haven't read them in
>detail to be sure I fully agree with them).

I would personally like to see people at least as free as me.
However, I have a big problem with 'pushing'. If I had some evidence
that people in an open and accessible region were eager to expand
their freedoms, then I would be happy to be there with a portable
xerox machine, copying pages from _Road to Serfdom_, _The Machinery
of Freedom_, and _Capitalism and Freedom_, for example. But I
wouldn't send troops to break into a country to distribute these

>I believe that only 2 countries in the world had relations
>with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. I think that says
>a *lot* about the number of people who generally thought we
>were better off without that group.

Would you send in the military for that reason? The U.S. was one of
the countries since 1945 to *not* recognize the USSR as the legal
government overriding Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Would you have
sent in the U.S. military because it (rightly) recognized that a
very nasty government was in control there? What do you think is the
right reason to send in troops and start bombing another country?

One must know the difference between helping (for example, give a
people some potentially useful information), and between acting as
if everyone should 'be like me' and 'want what I have'.

Back to meme-set conflicts: I suspect that you and I have different
tolerance levels for 'pushing' memes. I simply don't because I
consider even 'little' as coersive. My solution instead is the
metaphorical 'plant seeds' or I choose to be an example.

Finally, regarding 'pacifism': I choose my actions that benefit me.
In the unsafe situations which I have been in the last years,
this particular practice has benefitted me (far more than hurt me)
so there's no need for me to pay attention to what philosphers say.
(BTW, pacifism does not equal passive).


Amara Graps, PhD email:
Computational Physics vita:
Multiplex Answers URL:
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." --Anais Nin

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