The Meme : As A Mean In Establishment of Internal Order Rather Than International Order

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During this month, we encountered mostly about Matt Hancock’s discourses in the parliament as a Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of UK. He launched his own smartphone application that targets the intellection of citizens. It is the first step of the Memetics[1] Science which enables politicians control citizens throughout their own information of their existence so that I wanted to explain both background and the manner of work. Secretary aims to collect info via application then shape their privileges.

The need for security that comes after Maslow’s most basic physiological needs, which conflicts in the Hierarchy of Needs, affects the attitudes of the nations towards peace. Regardless of the political regime, the primary objective of an entity is security. The US imposed sanctions on the international security dimension after September 11 as an example of this issue. When we formulate; we can say that there is a linear relationship between the security threats of the countries and the levels of peace avoidance. Guaranteeing the security of a nation-state will ensure that it follows a peaceful policy regardless of the political regime.

Realism sees states as a billiard ball. But the political regimes of states, except vital issues like security, affect their war and peace decisions. According to this theory, which is called the Theory of Democratic Peace, conflict does not occur between countries adopting a democratic regime. But a coalition that these countries adopting the common regime would create a confrontational attitude towards an opposing country. This theory, which is based on liberalism, has indeed built an independent peace, but it only requires that we see democracy as an independent variable. At this moment, cultural differences cause collisions between countries. We can summarize Sustainable Peace with the accord between politics and culture.

Politicians make their decisions according to values of their culture which they inherited from their ancestors. These mindscapes shape attitudes on other governments. If we want to talk about the concept of Sustainable Peace, we must first prevent this culture complexity. As we remove the emic approach and dissolve the cultural diversity in a common way, the changing perspective of the countries and the peaceful approach together will be brought to light.

At the same time, after the Cold War, the decisive factor in shaping contemporary politics is not “political ideology” but “identity”. This view bases itself on the different attitudes of the United States to two different countries on nuclear weapons production.

The US strongly condemns the nuclear activities of Iran, which is thousands of kilometers away, while it does not consider Canada as a threat to itself, which is located next to it and has at least the same degree of nuclear readiness as Iran. Variables such as language, culture, religion and mentality that constitute the identity of countries should also be considered. All of these concepts contain memetic functions that have power to lead administrators of governments as well as the people who constitute the society.

The term Meme is described as an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer. This matter of fact was coined in the book which was named ‘The Selfish Gene’ of Richard Dawkins in 1976. There are either terms or concepts that shape the behaviors of people in a designated area such as nationality and religion. All of them are transferred like genes not biologically but by an individual that influences another to adopt a belief is seen as an idea-replicator reproducing itself in a new host. The meme’s capability to spread among people is due to its contribution to the effectiveness of its host. This event is likened to theory of ‘Natural Selection’. The memes might be also evolved under these circumstances.

Throughout history, social scientists tried to produce methods and concepts that can turn into memes which can be adopted by people. All of these efforts should be used for maintaining sustainable peace in the world.

Cumulative contributions about cultural approaches by founders or thinkers of Classical Social Theory enabled Contemporary Cultural Theory to emerge. We can exemplify this remark with the quote of Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The point in this sentence is that it wouldn’t have been possible without contributions of predecessors. Karl Marx was situated in the forefront. His concepts about culture focus on historical materialism. He tried to designate the both base and superstructure models of society that was accommodated with means of production according to his thoughts. Under this materialist understanding of industrial society, culture which was associated with politics and the law was seen as an epiphenomenal superstructure built upon a determinant economic base.

Culture in industrial society carries a dominant ideology that is produced by bourgeoisie and serves to legitimate their authority. This approach leads false consciousness that allows people to feel happy is spite of either their miserable lifestyles or inequalities by using culture and religion as an ‘opium’. When we consider statements of Marx, we realize that the memes in the society are selected by superiors or bourgeoisie in the words of Marx. Apart from the faith on evolving of the memes in the Memetics, Karl Marx emphasizes that the society which was classified as proletariat and was bare of awareness, is ruled by the owners of the memes and is sentenced to maintain. Because bourgeoisie creates his own memes that preserves their interests to lead the society especially by means of economy in industrial perspective.

In comparison with Karl Marx, Max Weber’ theoretical works don’t amount to a systematic social theory. He places importance on human action which was rooted with German Hermeneutic Tradition. This aspect of sociology was expressed highly by Kant and Hegel. What was required was Verstehen, or understanding. This term described an activity that could involve re-creating shared cultural values as well as empathizing with individual psychologies and life histories like the memes. From his point of view, the memes might be recognized as self-renewing aggregate and they must be applied to individuals’ ordinary lives.

Subjective meaning of action should have been found by analysts whose job was to discover, as well as the purposes of memes must be found in order to control. Life had lost its sense of purpose, and people had become trapped in what he called an iron cage of meaningless bureaucracy and rationalism. In this period the memes gained importance for kinds of authorities which were basically designed by Weber. Weber set a new approach which consists of two elements; class and status that can be explained as “style of life” and    a shared level of social prestige.

In addition to all these social theories, Antonio Gramsci developed concepts of hegemony. His anti-economistic and antidogmatic version of Marxist philosophy, his theory of the state and civil society and his novel approach to the study of popular culture affected people especially during the unification of Italy. Political rulerships use the cultural hegemony to gain their independence. It explains the unquestionable ideas, people or groups. This approach lays under interpretation of truths to others. The term ‘Consent’ is the principal factor of this system so that powerful groups get under control of language which has mission for spreading values among people and culture which creates the memes for people to obtain. The norms that are the first stages of the memes serves dominated powers. They use media and audiovisual aids to influence people. He claimed that ‘everybody is intellectual’. From this point forth everybody might produce their own memes to use for any purposes on their own.

Pierre Bourdieu was also key player in the history of critical social theory. He rethought class and hegemony. He designed ‘social class’ to explain the steps of cultural propagation which has four phases; economic capital, social capital, cultural capital and symbolic capital. According to Bourdieu, young people of working class create their own common culture, produce individual identities and reject traditional identities. This situation complies with the feature of evolving against tradition in the Memetics. He also produced the logic of a minority elite culture in which art is hijacked to fit purposes by their own instincts. He used symbols to identify the memes in literature. We all live in a symbolic universe so that people might be easily influenced or led by symbols which they were used to such as doves. When any person sees picture of a dove, he/she intrinsically thinks the term of ‘peace’.

In conclusion, it has been determined that the complex structure of international relations, such as the Memetics Theory, can be harmonized. Factors such as the need for milestones that bring the common good of the human beings to fruition, the existence of security, the non-settlement of democratic regimes, ideological approaches, sharing of common culture, and having equal identity influence the level of tendency of nation- states   to war.

It is imperative that these memes must be kept under control so that anarchic international environment can be established and human beings can resume their lives in a sustainable peaceful environment. To formulate; the fixation of critical international concepts in a particular harmony, such as the perfect numbers in the same Euler’s Identity, will help to maintain order if other variables are dependent.

Furkan AYRANCI

[1] Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with genetics and biological evolution. Proponents describe Memetics as an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer and to explain how belief spreads through society, from one individual to another. Scholars used Memetics to explain the phenomenon of the formation of collective belief systems, such as religion, ethical judgments, esthetic judgments, fashion trends, national identity, ethnic identity, collective memory, class consciousness, social status, and social prestige.

The meme, analogous to a gene, was conceived as a “unit of culture” (an idea, a belief, a pattern of behavior, etc.) which is “hosted” in the minds of one or more individuals, and which can reproduce itself, thereby jumping from mind to mind. The meme is a unit of information residing in the brain and is the mutating replicator in human cultural evolution. It is a pattern that can influence its surroundings – that is, it has causal agency – and can propagate.

Bibliography

  • Cole, Nicki Lisa, Ph.D. (2017, April 21). Definition of Base and Superstructure. Retrieved from< https://www.thoughtco.com/definition-of-base-and-superstructure-3026372>
  • Cole, Nicki Lisa, Ph.D. (2017, July 27). Definition of Cultural Hegemony. Retrieved from <https://www.thoughtco.com/cultural-hegemony-3026121>
  • Dawkins, R. (1976). The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press
  • Brodie, R. (1991). The Virus Of The Mind: The New Science Of The Meme, Integral Press
  • Crehan, K. (2002). Gramsci: Culture and Anthropology, University of California Press
  • Xygalatas, D.&McCorkle, W. (2014). Culture in Classical Social Theory, Routhledge Press
  • Fowler, B. (1995). Pierre Bourdieu’s Sociology of Culture: Critical Investigations, University of Glasgow.

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