After my dismal experience yesterday with Lakoff’s attempt to create a wholistic model of progressive and conservative thought, I’m drawn to the idea of memes and how the thinking on each side is a loose constellation of memes. Some are more foundational. Some are more emergent. Some enduring, some ephemeral.
The memes idea is appealing because it would allow for narrow, but contradictory beliefs to coexist more easily – and for beliefs to shift more fluidly over time in response to events and trends as they obviously do (on both sides).
It also is a more organic way to imagine diverse constellations of human actors to develop collective beliefs – since neither progressives nor conservatives are meeting all at once to ratify grand philosophies, it is really the only possible way for them to develop: piece by piece, bit by bit.
While memes are commonly used as a framework in technology and social media, they don’t seem to have found much of a home in theories of political thought. There are very few citations found when you do a google search. Those that are seem very narrowly focused at the level of specific rumors or facts. Everyone instead seems to be looking for the big, unifying idea when maybe things are not that coherent.
Anyway while doing a bit of googling on this topic, I came across a recent article titled “The liberal meme that regulations don’t cost jobs“. This echoes a comment posted on my blog the other day that left me baffled. I’ll leave the article to speak for itself, but it illustrates the dynamic perfectly.
I especially like his reference to the article in the Wall Street Journal about Italy. I read that same article and had the exact same thought: an obvious example illustrating why and how regulations constrain growth.