Saturday, February 9, 2019

Part 3: Labeling Polytheistic Culturegen Vignettes

Baal & Elijah
This week I've been really interested in how pre-axial age polytheistic governance / religious meta-narrative memes were wielded in the cultural evolutionary space. Wright's book "The Evolution of God" has been fantastic here.  In terms of cultural evolutionary dynamic insights from first hand sources during great moral awakenings, it's is a solid companion to Chris Beneke's "The Religious Origins of American Pluralism" and Alan Taylor's "American Revolutions" series.

Wright has made a compelling case that pre-axial post-Tobleki era religion / governance policy was operationalized for the masses via polytheistic priesthoods which were nationalistic in nature and functionally focussed on national meta-narrative formation. These narratives and priesthoods functioned similarly to the intersection of modern political parties, journalistic partisan narratives, partisan policy oriented think tanks and populist rabble rousing.

While this intersection is, on its own, fascinating, these fabilized vignettes were more than just memes. Deity stories explained a nation's past, situated the state via polytheistic parthenon positioning, shaped foreign and domestic policy, and provided existential angst expression which embodied populist concerns. But, these narratives are more than simple memes. They only exist in a highly moralized adaptive group space. The connection between narratives and actual policy and action was strong enough that these divine memes were also constrained by pragmatic concerns about proximal zones of action. For example, a divine expression of frustration with your neighbour likely represented some very real policy orientations - both for you and your neighbour. This wasn't idle supernatural fantasy. It was an expression of "diplomacy", especially if you see diplomacy from a lens of Trump-like subtlety.

While it's easy to explain duelling supernatural narratives in religious language, doing so in a secularized quasi-religious frame is much more difficult. For one, I'm not sure how many people are going to view quasi-religious group agents as having any role in modern moderately moralized socio-political rhetorical space. Of course, I think people are totally wrong here. I think the dynamics are VERY similar, and are getting more and more similar as the level of moral loading, socio-political polarization and identity based tribalization increases.

So what to call this? It has to be more than a meme. As discussed, these memes have some necessary adaptive behavioural conditions associated with them. Furthermore those behaviours and the cultural space they inhabit have a genetic component to them*. Thus Richerson's culturegen concept may be more relevant. But, that tends to miss the religious, quasi-religious, and moral aspect of the idea.

Here are some possibilities for these fabilized moral meta-narrative quasi-factual vignettes

FMNQFV's - fabilized moral meta-narrative quasi-factual vignettes (just kidding)

FMQFV's - fabilized moral quasi-factual vignettes (maybe I'm not kidding - guess the LGBTQ+ movement makes anything conceivable!)

Socio-political Policy-gens (a bad nod to Richerson's culturegens)

Fabilized Policy Narratives

Policy Fables

Moralized Policy Vignettes

Policy Parables

Meta-narrative Policy Parables

Meta-policy Parables 

Existential Policy Fables


Mythtoricity (a bad nod to historicity)

Governing mythtoricities

Governing Meta-fables


And, that seems like a good place to rest on...


*I'm assuming they are genetic because they are highly associated with polity size changes and stabilization issues. This has lots of fitness implications, is selectable, and as we can see from civilization birth places, has at least some lineage tied behavioural consequences whose affects are still visible today.

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