The Politically Incorrect Show - 17/05/2000
[Music - Die Fledermaus]
Good afternoon, KAYA ORAAAA & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Wednesday May 17, proudly sponsored by Neanderton Nicotine Ltd, the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit & excellence against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.
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Today, something a little off the beaten track, a respite from the foul doings of our evil government, although ultimately there is a connection. Yesterday, caller "Martin" asked me if I knew anything about the theory of memetics. I told him no, but that if he wanted to e-mail me a brief summation I would offer comment today. He did, & I do. Here is what Martin wrote:
"The most surprising and most profound insight from the science of memetics: your thoughts are not always your own original ideas. You catch thoughts - you get infected with them, both directly from other people and indirectly from virus of the mind. People don't seem to like the idea that they aren't in control of their thoughts. (You read your family's bookshelf containing socialist oriented books in your childhood; these memes infected you through university years and beyond, until ultimately you rejected them in favour of the truth.) Do you always need to go down wrong paths, take bad turns in the journey of life, ultimately for them to give you the strength to reject them? Or are there lots of people who never recover from a mind virus, but don't die, & often get into areas of power?"
Well I can say straight off that I don't believe in "memes" any more than I believe in gremlins. It would be nice to be able to forgive those in power on the grounds that they simply caught a "mind virus" at some stage & couldn't help what they were doing, but that would be letting them off far too lightly - & it would be nonsense. There are no such things as "mind viruses." (There are viruses that can affect the mind by attacking the brain, certainly, but that's not what is meant here.) I did not become a communist as a youngster by catching a virus from the books bequeathed by my grandfather (a one-time leader of the New Zealand Communist Party) - I became a communist through READING the books & believing their content. Ultimately, by a process of further reading & observation, I came to believe I had been mistaken & changed my views 180 degrees. There were no viruses involved. There WAS a lot of hard intellectual slog, for which, actually, there is no substitute.
After all my years as a broadcaster &, latterly, magazine editor, reporting on & contemplating the human condition, I have come to the conclusion that, were I a cynical opportunist, I would set myself up as the guru of some fanciful new belief system, liberally impregnated with pseudo-science & possibly spiced with a vision or two. The more far-fetched this pseudo-philosophy, the more adherents I would attract & the more readily would they part with their money, for there's one born every minute. People generally seem to want to be told what to believe - & the further removed from reality the better - rather than to think for themselves about the big issues of life. But a cynical opportunist I am not, & the temptation I have easily resisted.
As it happens, I did end up embracing someone else's philosophy myself, not because I "caught" it, but because I independently judged it to be ruthlessly reality-orientated & insistent that one think for oneself. Its name is Objectivism; its author, Ayn Rand. It is not a virus, but it IS an antidote - to thousands of years of a tragically mistaken ethic that is the moral root of our politicians & the acquiescence to their evil by the sheeple. Had I discovered it earlier, there are many, many respects in which I would have probably lived my life differently, & I still would definitely not presume to hold myself up as an exemplar. But I commend it heartily to your attention, especially to you younger listeners. One thing I can assure you - the Objectivist morality is not a series of floating abstractions disconnected from daily life, or unchosen duties designed to make one miserable. Its purpose is to teach one, in Ayn Rand's words, "not to suffer & die but to enjoy yourself & live."
Somehow I don't think you're going to get THAT from memetics.
Politically Incorrect Show, food for thought - your own! ... 309 3099
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