virus: Martyrdom

David Leeper (
Thu, 24 Oct 1996 19:32:42 -0500


> David Leeper wrote:
> >1] Martyrdom is usually thrust upon someone. If you want to die, it's no
> >big deal when your
> >killed, we all saw it coming. But when someone (like, say, Jesus) whos
> >memes have little to do
> >with death its martyred, it has a powerful effect.
> >
> >2] People who willingly sacrifice themselves, like those at Jonestown, do
> >not usually do it as a
> >sense of martyrdom and they do not usually make great changes to other
> >peoples memes.
> Isn't that a bit heavy on the generalization?


> I remember reading about how
> the first heads of christianity in Rome had to change their message to
> their flock, people were so eager to get to guaranteed heaven they would
> take any chance of martyrdom. Apperently it was tuch and go there for a
> while; if there was going to be any christians left.

The source of this information?

> Young Palestine men have the same affliction today, thou to a smaller degree.

I thought of this when I wrote the above posting. It stuck in my head as very good
counter-example. Someone else gave an example of the IRA. In the case of the IRA, they may
make heros out of their dead, but I think the English have more to do with their fervor than the
idea of being martyred. I think there's a difference between respecting the dead and a living
person wanting to be a martyr. Perhaps this applies the "Young Palestine" as well...? Notice
that both the IRA and the PLO are defending their own land from unwanted outside domination.
Their backs are up against a wall. Would they be so passionate if the stakes were lower?

I think this is the way out of this example of the martyrdom meme. Here Martyrdom is the word
used to describe the meme "Desperation". In America the Black community uses the word
"Revolution" to describe the same meme. This comes to mind because there was a riot last night
in the town I live in (Clearwater, Fl.).

> And there is always the 'normal' soldier risking death to defend the memes
> of his elders.

I would call this "courage" and "patriotism", but not "martyrdom".

I don't think the meme "Martyrdom" is as powerful as it seems at first. In previous postings, I
presented uses of it from the point of view of Zen and of Cohesive Mathematics. Outside of
these limited and rare situations, it seems Martyrdom is a dangerous operation with little
chance of success.

Of course, we could always test this theory. Mr. McFadzean, would you care to volunteer? ;->

David Leeper
Homo Deus