Re: virus: Re: Virus: Sociological Change
Wed, 18 Dec 1996 14:18:55 -0500

Let me jump in on your anarchy discussion by stating that I'm coming from a
background in an international relations paradigm called constructivism. This
paradigm draws quite a bit from structuration theory (in sociology) and
pragmaticism (semiotics and philosophy). I just read Lynch's "Thought
Contagian" and started checking out memetics on the Web, since it appeared
the theory has some key ideas in common with what social scientists call
"agent/structure" analysis. There are some profound differences, as well, but
I'll skip that for now.

I'll try to make my point by blending my constructivist vocabulary with what
I'm finding here. A central term in constructivism is rules. These are the
basis of social practice, expressed through speech acts that coordinate human
behavior: "Rules put resources into play" and "Rules make rule" are axioms.
The term anarchy, defined as the absence of authority, suggests the absence
of coordination. Thus, the establishment of any social coordination over time
and space, from a two-person interaction to anything more complex obliterates
anarchy. Agents are producing a structure, and reproduce their identities by
their participation in it. (This simplifies things alot. I hope not too
much). Anyway, would I be right in also saying that memes coordinate such an

Yet, we still have this notion of Hobbesian anarchy governing state behavior.
Constructivists like Wendt and Onuf see anarchy as a social construct that
elites use to justify various predatory international behaviors. It is an
ideology by which they enlist support for their program--MAD,
balance-of-power, nationalism, etc. "Anarchy is what states make of it." The
point would be that anarchy is a very powerful, resonant meme--an ideology
rather than a true state of affairs.

Does this make sense?