Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Monadic Marketplace of Ideas

Wikipedia/Culture/Culture as Civilization:

From the 19th century onwards, some social critics have accepted this contrast between the highest and lowest culture, but have stressed the refinement and sophistication of high culture as corrupting and unnatural developments that obscure and distort people's essential nature. On this account, folk music (as produced by working-class people) honestly expresses a natural way of life, and classical music seems superficial and decadent. Equally, this view often portrays Indigenous peoples as 'noble savages' living authentic unblemished lives, uncomplicated and uncorrupted by the highly-stratified capitalist systems of the West.

Today most social scientists reject the monadic conception of culture, and the opposition of culture to nature. They recognize non-élites as just as cultured as élites (and non-Westerners as just as civilized) -- simply regarding them as just cultured in a different way.

[ Retrieved from Wikipedia on June 14, 2008 ]

It is into this pro-monadic and anti-monadic social science debate that I want to inject the concept, phrase, and meme (about memes): "Marketplace of ideas".

"Marketplace of ideas" seems to be an early 20th century label for all or most of what we mean by the newer term "memes".

Here is where I think the anti-monadic social critics get it wrong: there is one corporeal space, and some cultural memes, which upon implementation, displace others. When the displacement happens, the "power-over" occurs, that is a form of social critique in which the displaced, suppressed, or less used meme receives a negative review. This negative appraisal is not within an academic discussion or populist town hall meeting, it is the primordial ultimate ontology called "THE STARK FIST OF REALITY".

( "Stark Fist of Reality" is an old Church of the Subgenius phrase. I was once best friends with Hypercleets and hung out with Sterno. I am mentioned in some of the books on the church. Within this blog posting I am wielding the term with authority and reinvigorated meaning. )

Its should be stressed that this is not prejudice, but rather post-judgement. It is judgement, at its most impartial moment.

What did Lance just say?

Lance just said that the idea of untouched wilderness versus the idea of building Interstate highways were in competition. The idea of Interstates won, because untouched wilderness is not as good of an idea.

Intestates are better, according who?

The mighty god called Reality.

Reality has its moments, and it also has its continuum. These moments of judgement by reality ( in which some ideas get implemented and others are retired to corporeal extinction and relegated to the dictionary of dead things ) are not without review and reappraisal. We can review actions of the past, and take a different course next time. But this iteration is still a competition of memes, and they will be subjected to the same stark fist of reality, and some memes will win.

The anti-monad social critics have been getting away with a perverse meme: they hate the post competition phase, they hate the outcome of reality, they hate the central functionality of the "Marketplace of Ideas". The "Marketplace of Ideas" is a box, into it goes many memes, out the other side emerge less memes. In this the anti-monad social critics see a violent crime, to them the "Marketplace of Ideas" is Auschwitz.

Because most anti-monad social critics are mentally deficient, too weak to engage in dialogue about reality, and above all else too weak to live a life engaging with reality.

What did Lance just say?

Lance just said that New Agers, anarchists, and postmodernists who say "all thoughts are equal", "all things are equal", "its all just energy" are wrong. Wrong enough they should not be allowed to vote.

Now to Piss Off the Right Wingers

One could take what I've said and run with it to make the claim that "whatever has happened, is right and beyond reproach". More meaningfully, one could think I'm taking the side of 18th century cultural academics who thought European civilization was the highest aesthetic achievement on Earth. Or the early 20th century Christian conservative framework of higher excellence in Jerusalem->Rome->London->Philadelphia.

Tokyo, Berlin and Iceland all disprove those conventional lineages of superiority by the old pro-monadists.

The bubbling up of memes from folk music(s) has been great for the world. This is just one example out of many of the benefits of retiring the old elitist ideas about what civilization is. I once owned a classic music theory book written in 1938 that made the claim that black communities do not make music but rather a kind of noise. Reality has thankfully dealt that claim a death blow, with jazz becoming the one of the most respected art forms in the world. But what came to the rescue of black music? The anti-monadist social critics writing papers and lecturing to students? Or the Marketplace of Ideas working inside the heads of both white people and black people, and the songs of Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix becoming the monadic cultural standard?

I contend that the old conventions of pro-monadists were off base most or all the time. Not because they were mean spirited or politically incorrect, but rather because too few ideas came onto their table for review. We make a mistake calling them wrong because they were elitists and unfair, we should rather say they were wrong.

A short word needs to be said about "free market" economics. I actually support this kind of economics, which makes me an enemy of socialists/leftists. I just think the way lobbyists have leverage, and courts intervene to protect what society is clearly trying to kill off, are both examples of how far we are from allowing the free market to work its magic. Short of it is, the government needs to let society kill off the bad ideas.

Progressives need to rediscover the Marketplace of Ideas

Hey flat-hierarchists, know why you have no power in Washington DC, or even in your own home? Because if every idea is equally valid then you can't get anything done, which if we all did lived like you, we would die. It is actually much better having George Bush lead us rather than fall in the bottomless hell pit of a Portland hippie consensus community. We've seen the countercultural hippie way from 1968-2008, and it sucks.

Here is where I make the pitch for an innovative evolutionary step. Don't kill all the flat-hierarchy memes! Just go back to the "Marketplace of Ideas" as a box. The flaky, weak, overly sensitive anti-monadists were freaked out at the killing off of memes at the output end of the box. What was missed is the input part of the box. More memes need to go in.

Thats the revolution, baby. Thats the fairer world. Thats the better world.

Don't hate competition and attrition inherent in the "Marketplace of Ideas", don't hate THE STARK FIST OF REALITY. Use them, they will happen anyway. Rather, hate those who cannot stand having their ideas critiqued and not selected, and also hate not having enough ideas at the start of the process.

Progressives need to fall in love with THE STARK FIST OF REALITY. They need to become cops, bank loan managers, Interstate bridge designers, and hardware store owners. Progressives need to continue their anti-elitist identity, but lose their anti-realist stance. THE STARK FIST OF REALITY weeds out those who cannot deal with it.

Deal with it.

1 comment:

BFGalbraith said...

This is good stuff. Two comments:

1) Format: the "what did Lance just say" sections are good for clarifying exactly what you are talking about.

2) After reading Scott Ridder's "Waging Peace" I began to understand the "stark fist of reality" when it comes to flat organizational structures that I have been trained in organizing. There's a reason why Seattle used to have dozens of worker cooperatives, and now it only has a few: organizational darwinism. If the organization can't adapt as fast as the competition because it's decision making process is too slow, it's dead in the "market place of (organizational structure) ideas."

Co-ops that survive IMHO have really good boundaries & solid quick-witted decision making structures (like Left Bank Books who wouldn't let me as a C3 student touch one of their meetings with a 10 foot pole - and I got an answer within a week. The co-op that did let me study them disintegrated before I finished my thesis on the 3rd co-op I helped start as part of my thesis.) In other words, the are co-ops that in a very darwinian way are better suited for survival in the "market place of ideas."