Re: virus: Rich and Poor

Robin Faichney (
Fri, 28 May 1999 15:10:45 +0100

In message <023401bea8f5$1be997a0$e0a0bfce@proftim>, Tim Rhodes <> writes
>The Darwinian view of the marketplace makes
>A great deal of sense. But I might offer that the market behaves more
>a meme pool than a gene pool in many respects, and I think this is
>many of the more common market theories go wrong.
>It's really a bit of a Prisoners Dilemma in the long run, isn't it?

You've outdone yourself, Tim. This was brilliant. I've felt for a while that memetics must have something to offer economics, but never got around to sitting down to think about it, and now you've given me it on a plate.

Neo-classical economics is based on the myth of the rational agent: people are supposed to do what makes them happy. What garbage! How are people expected to know what will make them happy? And even if they did, would we really expect them consistently to ignore all distractions and act accordingly?

Economics is all about human behaviour and therefore eminently suited to memetic analysis. Most of the time, of course, we do not what will make us happy, but what our memes tell us to. Of course, some memes survive because they do, indeed, contribute to our happiness, but a great many survive in spite of having exactly the opposite effect.

What particularly interests me just now is structure: many capitalists see government as a fundamentally parasitical structure, but what are commercial corporations if not memeplexes hell-bent on their own survival, using humans as and when it suits them, which is only when they cannot get more reliable machinery to do a particular job? Some people, including at least one professor of robotics, worry that robots and computers are going to take over. They don't realise that virtual, memetic machinery has already done so, using both politics and big business to enslave us. If you doubt it, go down to the mall and check the faces you see for happiness. I'll bet it's confined to the kids, i.e. those not yet fully integrated into the system (along with some fool-on-the-hill types who never will be).

(Excuse the diatribe -- the poverty, in REAL terms, of neo-classical economics is one of my sore points.)

Robin Faichney
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