Quote of the Day
We expect ideas to go away when they are proven to be bad, much as we tend to expect that the pinnacle of human evolution is really someone that resembles Doc Savage. We can understand why an idea spreads under force of threat, but we scratch our heads when the same thing that failed spectacularly before keeps getting picked up, brushed off, and tried again by purely persuasive and even democratic means. We usually explain this by deciding that some bad ideas won’t die because of their pure emotional appeal, but this isn’t quite adequate either after a certain scale of failure.
(M)ore than a hundred million deaths are credited to the destructive meme of communism- which are probably very much underestimated, as we only tend to get figures from relatively well-organized regimes- and god alone knows how much lost productivity and wealth can be credited to its milder cousins. The various strains of collectivism in practice have ranged from merely a dubious idea that results in countries with chronically sclerotic and declining economies, to a truly catastrophic one that kills off half a population. And it remains an extremely successful meme that seems to require no threat at all to perpetuate itself; well-educated people around the world who have read all that history persist in insisting it’s a brilliant idea that has always been somehow poorly implemented. As memes go, it is incredibly robust and fit. No matter how many people it impoverishes or kills, it still seems like a good idea to so many people that it not only keeps being tried, but winds up as fashionable iconography for t-shirts and political campaigns. – LabRat, Parasite memes and monkeyspheres