Prof . Dr . Tilman Baumgärtel on Thu, 15 Jun 2017 22:40:03 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Can the Left Meme?

Dear all,

the Left has invented the Meme and created some of the most successful memes ever.

You do not have to look at relatively obscure groups like the
Situationists or the Angry Brigade. Just look at the work of German
Dada artist John Heartfield whose Memes/collages combined with strong
slogangs were published in socialist magazines with high circulation
and read widely in the German workers movement of the 1920s. They have
been reprinted and republished endlessly ever since. Some examples,
some of which you might have seen:

I would argue that this type of activity has been highjacked by the
alt-right in a similar fashion as concepts of "Gegenöffentlichkeit",
alternative media etc. I don´t think that there is anything intrinsic
right-wing about memes. It is just that the alt-right-trolls - because
of their nihilism/cynicism - can create memes that are atrocious
enough to stand out even within the current race to the bottom on the
4chan-segment of the internet and elsewhere.

Leftists are by defintion attached to some kind of humanist view of
the world and hence cannot stoop low enough to create stuff that is
attractive to the crowd the enjoys /pol/-type of Memes. But I don´t
think that it is a loss, since you will not convience this clientel of
your political agenda, no matter how much you try to cater to their


Am 13.06.2017 um 10:21 schrieb Keith Hart:
Just to return to basics for a moment, the neologism "meme" was
coined by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary or Darwinian biologist,
in The Selfish Gene (1976) which came hard after E.O. Wilson's
Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (1975) which was in turn heavily
criticized methodologically within the profession by Richard Lewontin
and Stephen J Gould and from outside by Marshall Sahlins The Use and
Abuse of Biology (1976). This was the heyday of a convergence between
market economics and evolutionary biology documented at length by
Philip Mirowski in Machine Dreams: How Economics Became a Cyborg
Science (2001). Mirowski earlier demonstrated how late 19th century
economics superficially mimicked physics (specifically the second
law of thermodynamics) in More Heat Than Light: Economics as Social
Physics, Physics as Nature's Economics (1989).


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