Memes and reproduction.

Progressives do not reproduce at anywhere near replacement rate.  But they set things up so that conservatives have to send their children to educational institutions controlled by progressives.

If memes reproduce from parent to child, then in the long run, surviving memes will be favorable to the people that hold them.

If, however, memes reproduce through state pressure and state sponsored evangelism, they are going to be selected for state pressure and state sponsored evangelism, which is likely to result in those memes being hostile to survival and favorable to ever greater state intrusion on everyday life.

In Old Testament times, Hebrew memes reproduced from parent to child, hence natural selection apt to result in pro survival memes.The Hebrews had a lower death rate due to their rules of washing their hands, burying their feces, and not eating animals that died of natural causes.

They had a higher reproduction rate because of strict patriarchy, no female autonomy, female consent preferred but not required for sex and marriage, absolute patriarchal power over wives and children, plus a patriarchal duty of care and protection for wives and children, in particular the no infanticide rule. (B. disagrees with my interpretation of Old Testament rules, interpreting them in a manner curiously compatible with modern progressivism.  To see how the people of the time interpreted them, read the Book of Ruth, chapters three and four, and Genesis chapter twenty four.)

According to the Pentateuch, the twelve sons of Israel produced six hundred thousand adult males four hundred and thirty years later, which corresponds to a high, but not at all miraculous, growth rate of 2.5% per year.

The Hebrew economy was more productive because of rules protecting private property, and prohibiting coveting, thus prohibiting redistributionist ideologies.

We don’t know much about Canaanite memes, but it is clear that the practice of burning one’s children alive in front of the congregation, like progressive memes, reproduced through state sponsored religious practices and state sponsored evangelism – that members of the elite were coerced or pressured to burn their children alive, thus inspiring emulation among the commoners.

Soft power, the power of the state department, is the power that accrues to a state by propagating its belief system beyond its borders.  When the State department gets Muslim states to make abortion available on female demand, the state department accrues power, and when the Canaanites got Hebrews to sacrifice their children to Moloch, the Canaanite states accrued power.

The Canaanites suffered from the decadence characteristic of the last days of Bronze Age civilization.  Ipuwer depicts late stage Bronze age decadence as something very similar to modern leftism, which is a meme system that today reproduces through state sponsored quasi religious practices and state sponsored evangelism.

The practice of sacrificing one’s infant children to Moloch by casting them into the flames in front of the congregation demonstrated one’s faith – and having done such a terrible thing (perhaps to advance one’s career in the state apparatus) difficult to doubt the belief system that made it a good thing.

Thus, burning children alive was an effective means of making people into Canaanites. The Canaanite memetic system reproduced, while Canaanites did not, just as progressivism reproduces, while progressives do not.

The Canaanites were successful in their efforts at conversion, inducing some Hebrews to sacrifice their children to Moloch (Canaanite equivalent of Jehovah). This sacrifice was conducted by dropping the living child into the fire in front of the assembled congregation.

Similarly, today’s progressives do not reproduce, but instead seduce the children of conservatives.

Memeplexes that propagate through coercion seem an almost unavoidable aspect of states.  Such a memeplex is subject to selection pressures that are apt to make it more and more evil, destructive, and insane.  Propagation through power is orthogonal to truth or survival, thus entropy prevails.  Local reductions in such entropy tend to be astonishingly expensive.


55 Responses to “Memes and reproduction.”

  1. Brian says:

    Interesting logical consistency…

    Modern-day progressives, that support abortion, HAVE to keep supporting abortion, and have to continue to convert others into believing abortion is not murder.

    Because, if at any time they start to believe abortion IS murder, they will have to face the fact that in doing or supporting it, they are horrible, baby-murdering monsters.

    thus, in order to not think themselves baby murdering monsters, EVERYONE has to be convinced that they are not, in fact, baby-murdering monsters.

    But, regardless of their belief, they know, deep down, that they are, in fact, horrible baby-murdering monsters. So guilt keeps pushing them harder and harder to prove that they are NOT baby murdering monsters, by murdering more babies.

    My goodness. It almost makes you want to start killing baby-murdering monsters to resolve their terrible cognitive dissonance. I wonder how hard it would be to convince people that murdering baby-murdering monsters is not evil?

    • jim says:

      If we suppose that the unborn should be treated as non people, then it makes no sense that the tax payer or the reluctant father should provide child support.

      If, on the other hand, the unborn should be treated as people, then the mother should be compelled submit to the father, to be always sexually available to him and never to any other, and the father should be compelled to support, protect, supervise, and guide the mother and the child, and to always be sexually available to the mother.

      Currently we have a system were the unborn are treated as non people in relation to women, and as people in relation to fathers and taxpayers.

  2. Zach says:

    Jim is Moldbugs’s press man.

    Or, perhaps, the other way around.

  3. […] Memes, reproduction, and Moloch. […]

  4. peppermint says:

    so, what should reactionaries think about the inability of the kings of central Europe to keep a lid on heresy during the late Middle Ages?

    Shafarevich claims that those heresies left central Europe depopulated.

    • jim says:

      The question was should the church rule, should the holy Roman Emperor rule, or should each King be the final religious authority, a world of one state, or of many states.

      Naturally, I favor the many state solution – the peace of Westphalia, thus favor heresy.

      Now, however we are tending once again to the universal church, which will require another universal war, probably with nukes this time around. It may be possible for some states to retain independence by playing both ends against the middle

    • Adolf the Friendly Wolf says:

      A fundamental weakness of medieval Catholicism perhaps?

      The Pope acted like the UN. He, and his bureaucracy, managed societies, reforming the parts he considered inhumane or wrong (i.e. no crossbows). Sounds like a prog.

      Kings often resisted his rule, but it was difficult to break apart from Rome. I’m not sure a King was too scared of heretics – they often wanted to overthrow the king, but so did Rome.

  5. rightsaidfred says:

    The take-away lesson here seems to be: avoid human sacrifice.

  6. […] memetic analogy: “… burning children alive was an effective means of making people into Canaanites. The […]

  7. J says:

    The Tophet of Jerusalem (in Gai Ben Hinom, aka Gehenna) was the altar where animal and human sacrifices were burned. Jeremias describes the practice in: (in Hebrew)

    With all the horror of the practice, infanticide was widespread in the world till recently. Human reproductive potential, without the Pill and female career,human reproductive potential leads to Malthusian misery. The Foundling Hospitals had a mortality rate of over 90%. Even today – when children are so valuable – unwanted babies are frequently killed by their mothers (and fathers).

    • jim says:

      My interpretation of the incident with the Pharaoh and the midwives was that the Pharaoh told them that their health plan should feature infanticide, and the midwives said “No Way!”.

      According to Ipuwer, the Egyptians had very high levels of infanticide, and there were too many foreigners from the east – which hints that the foreigners did not have enough infanticide for the Egyptian’s liking.

    • B says:

      >human reproductive potential leads to Malthusian misery

      Without enough population density, you can’t have the critical mass of intelligent people who will create the innovation which lifts us up out of Malthusian misery and give unlimited fat tail payoffs. Had Einstein been born into a tribe in Papua New Guinea, or Newton into the Britain of Horsa and Hengist, they would have left no mark on humanity. So it is the opposite-infanticide leads to Malthusian misery.

      • Candide III says:

        > infanticide leads to Malthusian misery
        Only in a very roundabout way, if that. Its direct effect is to _increase_ living standards because there are less mouths to feed and thus more resources to go around. The limiting factor in a Malthusian economy is land, not people. Once all available land is farmed, a marginal human is less than useless. Gregory Clark describes this in a chapter of “Farewell to Alms”.

        • B says:

          In a direct and obvious way, doing heroin makes you feel great. In a roundabout way, it makes you feel not great. Which one matters more?

          “Available land” depends on technology. “Farmed” is a word encompassing a vast range of techniques with a huge range of productivity. Once technology passes a certain point, there are other food sources beside farming; for instance, Atlantic fisheries have been a major food source for Europe for many hundreds of years.

          The key to transitioning from a Malthusian economy is a critical mass of people with a high IQ.

          • rightsaidfred says:

            “The key to transitioning from a Malthusian economy is a critical mass of people with a high IQ.”

            This may just buy a temporary reprieve. The womb can stay fertile longer than the high IQ people can keep us solvent.

            Primitive Man worried about running out of land. We’re still under resource restraints, and lately we’re busy cutting things like the superconducting supercollider and manned space flights so we can outfit every Democrat voter with a full panoply of public servants and attendant infrastructure.

          • Dave says:

            Japanese rice farmers have high IQs, plenty of labor, plenty of capital, and strong incentives — the government guarantees them a very high price per ton no matter how much they produce. Naturally, their yield per acre is outstanding, but it reached a plateau 20 years ago and has not increased much since. So there ARE hard limits on how much food an acre of land can produce.

            Of course we can always turn to the oceans in search of a palatable species that’s not radioactive and hasn’t already been fished to the brink of extinction.

          • B says:

            There is always something. For instance, in the Arava, the Rift Valley North of Eilat, they’re raising fish and vegetables in tanks. Assuming there is the energy to spare, there is always a way to convert it to biomass. And whether there is energy to spare depends on that critical mass of smart people.

            I don’t see the supercollider or manned spaceflight as anything more than masturbation on the altar of the science deity. What possible practical use could either of those two yield?

          • rightsaidfred says:

            “There is always something.”

            Until the one day…

            The SSC might be an indulgence, but not building it is a symptom of the civilizational loss we get when the funds are instead used to shower calories and bling on Obama voters.

          • B says:

            Compared to the ludicrous waste that was WW2, Obama voters are peanuts. And those guys spent vast amounts of money on science of questionable value, sometimes to the detriment of many people, like all those given therapeutic radiation treatment for sinus problems. In short, let’s not get carried away romanticizing here.

          • rightsaidfred says:

            I had always thought WWII was a big money maker, what with all the industrialization in the US; and the reboot of Germany and Japan.

            And at least the thing came to an end, while Obama voters need their backsides wiped forevermore.

            The point of Malthus is that, in our headlong rush to render all hydrogen ions into flesh, we might want to ponder the amount of phosphorus fertilizer we can bring to bear on the enterprise. If we ever raise some real leadership, they might concern themselves with balancing an equation here.

          • B says:

            Praising WW2 for American industrialization is the broken window fallacy. Compared to the expense of maintaining the client nations the US acquired by “winning” WW2, the Obama voters are negligible.

            About the rest of it, I think that population planning and control is about like climate science in terms of hubris and effectiveness.

          • rightsaidfred says:

            Most public policy is hubris, but we can at least acknowledge a few things here. I heard a public radio piece on drought in South America, and I would think that we could acknowledge that such things are more acute, or even noticed, because there are so many people lining up at the faucet.

          • B says:

            >Most public policy is hubris, but we can at least acknowledge a few things here.

            I prefer Hypocrates’ principle of “First, Do No Harm.” When you have complex mechanisms you don’t understand, which have a vital function, fall into your hands-don’t fuck with them.

            >I heard a public radio piece on drought in South America, and I would think that we could acknowledge that such things are more acute, or even noticed, because there are so many people lining up at the faucet.

            As the Russian rhyme goes, “if there’s no water in the tap, it means the Jews drank it.” There’s not enough water-too many people. There are floods-manmade erosion is at fault. If it’s too hot, it’s manmade global warming. Too cold, it’s a manmade ice age. Naturally, with the exception of the most straightforward solutions to the most obvious problems (Israel’s water desalination infrastructure, for instance,) the solutions solve nothing except the implementers’ perceived deficit of power and income. Surprisingly, in highly populated places like Israel’s central plain, the American Atlantic seaboard megalopolis, China’s seaboard and Singapore, there is no famine or lack of drinking water.

          • rightsaidfred says:

            We can keep solving technical problems: desalinization; pipelines/tankers from Canada. But it is more energy and more complexity; thus more vulnerability.

            Can we keep it up forever, in the face of more demand? Maybe. But somewhere along the line the balancing of GDP/capita takes place, and if not explicitly by us, then implicitly by mother nature.

            • jim says:

              Using known technology, the world can support a population of five hundred billion in an affluent middle class lifestyle.

              On the other hand, could not support the population of Detroit in an affluent middle class lifestyle even if they were the only people in the world.

          • B says:

            Farming takes more energy and is more vulnerable than hunting/gathering. Cities take more energy and are more vulnerable than dispersed villages. But this is the pattern of our existence.

          • rightsaidfred says:

            “this is the pattern of our existence.”

            But is it sustainable? It has been a matter of hundreds of years — a mere blip in a species’ existence. I detect the characteristics of a bubble.

          • B says:

            Tens of thousands of years, hundreds if you count Neandertals. Remember, living in the cold with clothes and fire is a lot more energy-intensive and vulnerable than endurance hunting on the warm plains of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

          • rightsaidfred says:

            I was measuring from the industrial age. The burning of coal launched us into the realm of non-renewables, where we depend on our technical advancement to find more and more of such stuff and solve the attendant problems.

            Can we bootstrap ourselves indefinitely? I used to be more optimistic; but as Jim points out, Detroitification is starting to outpace our ability to keep it at bay.

            • jim says:

              The stone age did not end for lack of stone.

              If we go right ahead with nuclear power, coal power will be obsolete soon enough.

              Do you know how many people died of Chernobyl fallout?


              Most Chernobyl fallout fell in the vicinity of Chernobyl, and was experienced in the first days and weeks of the incident.

              This means that we could keep ahead – not that we will keep ahead.

              So if Chernobyl killed a billion or so, everyone in vicinity of Chernobyl would be dead.

              If it killed a hundred or so, there would be substantial excess mortality in the vicinity of Chernobyl.

              The only disease cluster associated with Chernobyl is thyroid cancer, which is dubious because there are a lot of false positives when testing for thyroid cancer, so the more you test, the more you will find. Supposing the cancer cluster to be real, the excess mortality from thyroid cancer in the areas that received most of the radioactivity is nine.

          • rightsaidfred says:

            Nuclear power = excellent source of energy.

            But the thing has been Detroitified to the point where we can’t build new reactors…like we can’t go to the moon, or build a large physics experiment.

            Increasing wealth/technical knowledge also gives the saboteurs more power. Can the good guys stay ahead?

    • jim says:

      Human reproductive potential, without the Pill and female career,human reproductive potential leads to Malthusian misery.

      Sane, decent, people kill someone else’s children, not their own.

      • Stephen W says:

        In times of famine the Chinese have a tradition of swapping children. Then eating them.

      • Hidden Author says:

        So infanticide is alright with Jim as long as it’s done to other families? Gotcha!

        • Brian says:

          welcome to war. Killing other people’s children, wholesale.

          Railing against war is never going to stop it.

          • jim says:

            My post implies that genocidal war with the Canaanites was a good idea – that Hebrews needed to defend themselves against Canaanite memes by any means necessary.

            By and large, in conflicts with peoples that practice human sacrifice, people tend to resort to such methods, which suggests that lesser means fail.

            Cortes’s men found human sacrifice disturbingly persuasive, necessitating elimination of the persuaders.

    • Adolf the Friendly Wolf says:

      I would be interested in seeing an example of “Malthusian misery” that cannot be attributed to white people overfeeding brown people, rather than letting the brown people who cannot feed themselves starve.

      Japan, despite massive population density, has no Malthusian misery. And despite little-to-no usage of birth control and abortion, it’s population is declining.

      • B says:

        The Japanese have lots of abortions.

        The Reverend Malthus was, presumably, influenced by what he saw around himself, and extrapolated. Medieval Europe was by all accounts a fairly miserable place to be a peasant. China, throughout most of its history, even more so.

        • An inanimtate alumininum tube says:

          Malthusian misery existed but it also tends to be stated in a somewhat oversimplified away, at least with regard to Europeans (less familiar with other groups)

          There were a lot of customs that encouraged delayed or even non-existent reproduction. Like younger sons not inheriting the farm and possibly not marrying, but hanging around and helping out, because there was no way for them to obtain land or support a family.

        • Red says:

          Being peasant in medieval England wasn’t to bad: lots of booze, plenty of holidays, and decent income. Areas with Jewish overseers like Poland really sucked and being an Irish peasant under English rule really sucked.

      • Red says:

        I’m convinced that Malthus was wrong. Everything I’ve read and seen indicates that having a large dysgenic bottom feeder class tends to drive down societies. The more unproductive trash you have the more productive people are taxed via increased security requirements or hand outs to the trash. This naturally causes productive people to spend less time finding ways to produce more wealth and instead spend most of their time trying to protect what they already have. Places where the trash has been eliminated tend to grow more wealthy even when running into food limits. Such societies turn trade, innovation, and colonization to keep people fed.

        • peppermint says:

          Pretty much.

          But we still have the problems of the Irish and the poor English in England that Carlyle wrote about. They could easily have been given productive work to do; unlike modern garbage classes they weren’t even voting for anything.

          Meanwhile, Blacks in the US weren’t complete garbage for over a hundred years. Eliminating the trash can be done simply by assigning them owners.

  8. B says:

    King Menashe, one of the worst idolaters, who sacrificed his own son to Molech, later repented and became observant again. His surviving son, Amon, was even worse, as he did not repent-but his grandson, Yoshiyahu, did (though he made a fatal mistake in the end.)

    So, there are both positive and negative feedback loops. Ultimately, idolatry is the most maladaptive behavior, and monotheism the most adaptive (see, for instance, the recent NYT articles about the disparity between infant mortality and chronic child malnutrition between Hindus and Muslims in India.) Further, being what Taleb refers to as an “antifragile” institution, there is no end to the long-term, non-obvious ways in which monotheism is conducive to long-term survival, specifically our branch of it. Thus, for a minor instance, in a world where intelligence is at a premium, a significant portion of Jews developed high IQ by processes which are in retrospect perfectly obvious but impossible to see at the time or to plan beforehand.

    • jim says:

      see, for instance, the recent NYT articles about the disparity between infant mortality and chronic child malnutrition between Hindus and Muslims in India.

      This is not so much monotheism, as a God that objects to human feces, as compared to gods that do not.

      One could worship as many gods as one felt like, and if they mostly had high standards of personal hygiene, would not be a problem.

      It appears that infant malnutrition in India is not so much caused by lack of food, as by intestinal diseases passed by fecal contamination.

      • B says:

        In theory, you can do Y or Z or any number of things instead of X. In practice, we see that after exposure to enough time and chaos/entropy, which could not be foreseen ahead of time but is perfectly clear in retrospect, Y/Z/the rest of it turn out to be maladaptive.

        Following your logic, given the amount of time polytheism has had in India, one of their cults would have had high standards of hygiene and would have outbred all the others by now. But it hasn’t. So there are other factors.

        • scott says:

          The primary difference between poly- and mono-theism is not one of number of gods, but of cosmic order. Monotheistic relgions posit an ‘external’ transcendent reality on which the immanent reality of everyday life is dependent, while polytheistic/pagan religions make no such distinction. Transcendent religions tend to focus more on the other-worldly as the true seat of being and eternal truth, while pagans tend to attach such notions to the immediate world around them, i.e., for them the world tends to contain the eternal (and to be eternal), while for the monotheistic religions the present is fleeting and insignificant in comparison to the transcendent, eternal reality external to this one.

          Those are very different ‘memes’ which put human life into very different perspectives. I suspect that accounts for much more than the particular rules put foward by each particular religion. For example, what effect might such a perspective have on economic time preference?

          BTW, interesting post!

          • B says:

            In theory, the Hindus have all the stuff about external, transcendent reality of which this reality is an epiphenomenon. Maimonides, in his Guide to the Perplexed, talks at length about how he found a book (I guess in the Alexandrian Library) On The Nabatean Agriculture describing ancient pagan cults, and how they had progressively degenerated from worshiping G-d as the First Cause via His proxies to worshiping the proxies themselves. A lot of the laws of Judaism are basically spiritual hygiene to keep Jews from sliding down this road on their own and from associating with those who would help them go down that path. So it would seem that the particular rules do make a big difference-it is very possible to abstractly acknowledge one larger set of principles while relying on a completely different set of principles in practice.

    • Adolf the Friendly Wolf says:

      >Further, being what Taleb refers to as an “antifragile” institution, there is no end to the long-term, non-obvious ways in which monotheism is conducive to long-term survival

      Interesting. At what point does Trinitarian Christianity become fragile? Or at what point does a small number of gods become antifragile? Probably whenever the gods (or godhead) can contradict each other.

      Roman paganism, in the centuries prior to Christianization, elevated Jupiter to a higher and higher status. Eventually, he became the primary god of the pantheon.

      • B says:

        I suspect that Christianity becomes more fragile with every subsequent mutation allowing willful reinterpretation of its basic tenets/requirements by a charismatic leader.

        Somewhat contradictory tenets are probably a sign of antifragility if they are being synthesized to a higher whole, as they give the flexibility to respond to unpredictable emergent situations without overturning the foundations or having a civil war. Judaism has, for instance, various aspects of G-d as we perceive him-Kindness, Severity, etc, and the “seventy faces of the Torah.”

        My thinking is that idolatry is maladaptive/fragile because it is inherently conducive to a runaway positive feedback loop. Meaning, the nature of idolatry is that you project your desires upon some external object/concept, then serve it with the idea that it will serve your desires. This all warps you, causing your desires, perception and mode of service to be more and more twisted, until eventually you can’t adequately model reality and either die out on your own, are killed off/enslaved/assimilated by a group of people who are not hampered by idolatry to such a degree, or are wiped out by some cataclysm to which you can’t respond because of your fragility. Interestingly, it seems that high IQ+idolatry is less adaptive than low IQ+monotheism.

        Examples: the Westerners/Japanese who project their sexuality onto porn/various sexual deviancy, and end up with collapsing birthrates. The English whose worship of Progressivism has led them to import masses of vicious Muslims who prey on their children. The idolatrous Romans whose survival rates in plagues were much lower than those of their Jewish and Christian neighbors, simply because they did not take care of each other during convalescence. The Aztecs, whose system was so fragile and maladaptive that their empire, numbering millions, and all its institutions were wiped out by a few hundred conquistadors.

        I have the vague idea that antifragility is the same thing as a non-verbalized, institutionalized grasp on a basic underlying reality, which allows for a tighter, closer OODA loop, allowing adaptability to unforecasted crises without losing the original identity. In other words, that the Torah, John Boyd and Taleb are all getting at the same thing from different angles. I also suspect that it is impossible to engineer an antifragile system from first principles.

        • Red says:

          The Japanese have had full fledged porn industry for 400+ years. No effect on the birth rate.

          • Brian says:


            And it wasn’t until recently that their ‘full fledged porn industry” become more attractive than actual sex. This, of course, was tied into brutal westernization that has occured in the last 3 decades, a severe memetic shift from domineering patriarchy to a shadow patriarchy ruled by domineering women.

            Domineering, empowered women are simply unattractive. the nice thing, of course, is that once the birthrate ‘naturally’ falls below a certain level, comfortable civilization inevitably collapses, leading to the reintroduction of a power patriarchial civilization once again.

            Not that the failure period is ever a particularly happy time.

  9. Dave says:

    Progressive public education aims to do two things: educate and indoctrinate future decision-makers, and elevate special-needs children and non-Asian minorities up to the level of their neurotypical white peers. But so much effort has been expended on the second (impossible) goal, that the first was neglected. Now high-IQ children are either home-schooled, or bored out of their minds with progressive pablum. Oft evil will shall evil mar.

    Progressives will fight hard to pass on their memes, to justify their otherwise barren existence, but they will ultimately follow the Canaanites into history’s trash can.

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