>You've outdone yourself, Tim. This was brilliant.
Why, thank you!
>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.
Guy Debord wrote about that same effect about 30 years ago (although I can't seem to find the exact quote at the moment). He noted that as the means of production becomes more efficent and basic needs are easily filled, it then becomes necessary for the society, acting in service to its growth ecomony, to cultivate a culture of consumers to buy its products. As a result, the consumer becomes the ultimate product being produced by the culture's memetic machinery (what Debord calls the "spectacle').
Here... this isn't the quote I was looking for, but it's close:
"The satisfaction which no longer comes from the use of abundant commodities is now sought in the recognition of their value as commodities: the use of commodities becomes sufficient unto itself; the consumer is filled with religious fervor for the sovereign liberty of the commodities. Waves of enthusiasm for a given product, supported and spread by all the media of communication, are thus propagated with lightning speed. A style of dress emerges from a film; a magazine promotes night spots which launch various clothing fads. Just when the mass of commodities slides toward puerility, the puerile itself becomes a special commodity; this is epitomized by the gadget. We can recognize a mystical abandon to the transcendence of the commodity in free gifts, such as key chains which are not bought but are included by advertisers with prestigious purchases, or which flow by exchange in their own sphere. One who collects the key chains which have been manufactured for collection, accumulates the indulgences of the commodity, a glorious sign of his real presence among the faithful. Reified man advertises the proof of his intimacy with the commodity. The fetishism of commodities reaches moments of fervent exaltation similar to the ecstasies of the convulsions and miracles of the old religious fetishism. The only use which remains here is the fundamental use of submission."
--Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, 1967