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Noopolitics and memetic warfare within the noosphere

Anticipating When Blackbirds Sing Chinese (Part #7)

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Noopolitics: As presented by Wikipedia, noopolitics is an information strategy of manipulating international processes through forming in the general public a positive or negative attitude by means of mass media. The aim is to reframe external or internal policy (of a state of block of states) such as to create a positive or negative image of ideas and promulgated moral values (David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla, The promise of Noöpolitik, First Monday, August, 2007; A. V. Baichik and S. B. Nikonov, Noopolitik as Global Information Strategy, 2012).

Although Realpolitik is commonly equated with hard power, and seemingly Noopolitik with soft power, both are broader in their embodiment of a form of organization. Specifically, Realpolitik is not limited to hard power and coercion, but embodies a hierarchical form of organization. Likewise, Noopolitik is not limited to reliance on knowledge and soft power, but embodies a networked form of organization.

Seemingly there are as yet no studies of "memetic warfare" (as such) in relation to "noopolitics" (as such).

Memetic warfare: As yet to be clarified is the extent to which "memetic warfare" is a primary characteristic of noopolitics, as might be readily assumed. For Brian J. Hancock (Memetic Warfare: the future of war, Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin, April-June 2010):

Memes form the invisible but very real DNA of human society. A meme is essentially an idea, but not every idea is a meme. In order for an idea to become a meme it must be passed on -- or replicated to another individual. Much like a virus moves from body to body, memes move from mind to mind. Just as genes organize themselves into DNA, cells, and chromosomes, so too do replicating elements of culture organize themselves into memes, and co-adaptive meme complexes or "memeplexes"...

The principle of memetic warfare is to displace, or overwrite dangerous pathogenic memes with more benign memes. Once a critical level of saturation of the new meme set is achieved in the target population, undesirable human artifacts and behaviors such as weapon caches and IED attacks will disappear. Ideally the virus of the mind being targeted will be overwritten with a higher fidelity, fecundity, and longevity memeplex in order to assure long term sustainability. When this is not practical, it is still possible to displace a dangerous memeplex, by creating a more contagious benign meme utilizing certain packaging, replication, and propagation tricks.

As a primary instrument of Realpolitik, the use of "missiles" merits consideration, especially given the manner in which metaphoric use of the term may be indicative of a transitional condition to Noopolitik. Such "intermediaries" have been considered separately (Missiles, Missives, Missions and Memetic Warfare: navigation of strategic interfaces in multidimensional knowledge space, 2001) under the following sections:

Missiles, Missives and Missions
Missile defence and conceptual defence
Mainstream hegemony and its conceptual defence system
Conceptual defence systems and memetic warfare
Simplicity vs Complexity
Viewing complexity through simple frameworks
Viewing simplicity through complex frameworks
Entrapping 'simple people' in complexity
Liberating 'complex people' through simplicity
Navigating complexity
Strategic simplicity vs strategic complexity

Metaphorical warfare: The section on Conceptual defence systems and memetic warfare notes that a variant of memetic warfare might be considered under the name 'metaphoric warfare', but there have been no references to this on the web. However, a 'metaphoric projectile' is identified in an exploration of metaphoric vehicles, This is evident in Patrick Crogan's review of the implications of the work of Paul Virilio:

Virilio uses metaphors as a means of the rapid derailing of the conventional understandings of things. We will see this in the following sections of this paper where his mobilisation of the figures of the tendency, the accident and the journey will be examined. In Virilio's texts, the metaphoric vehicle is pushed to crash velocity, as it were, in the attempt to challenge the traditional apprehension of the metaphoric tenor. It becomes a metaphoric projectile. This 'dangerous driving' of the metaphoric vehicle is consistent with Virilio's fast-moving, schematic characterisations of the major tendencies immanent in contemporary phenomena. (In: John Armitage (Ed.), Paul Virilio: From Modernism to Hypermodernism and Beyond, 2000)

Operating "under the memetic radar": A preoccupation in development of the stealth characteristics of Blackbird aircraft and drones is the capacity to operate "under the radar". The term is widely employed metaphorically with respect to covert operations more generally. This raises the question of the nature of the "stealth technology" capable of operating "under the radar" in a noopolitical context -- within the noosphere. Clearly one form has become evident with respect to electronic surveillance. Of greater interest and relevance to this argument might however be a recognition of "memetic radar" technology as it might be deployed in noopolitics. What might then be capable of operating "under the memetic radar"?

The above mentioned IARPA Metaphor Program could well be understood as an element in the design of some such memetic radar system -- purportedly focused as it is on the interpretative translation of metaphors of significance to measures of defence. The challenge for any protagonists may however be more interesting to the extent that metaphor is of relevance to what might be termed the dimensionality of communication. The question might then be the dimensionality of meme transfer within a memescape such as to elude cognitive and technological techniques characteristic of Realpolitik -- namely the dimensionality required to operate "under the memetic radar".

Humour and aesthetic metaphor: The condition can be usefully illustrated by the use of humour, especially to elude repressive intervention in constraining environments. This is acknowledged through recognition of the inability of some in that environment to "see the joke". More generally this incapacity is recognized as a characteristic of those with an autism spectrum disorder, most readily recognized in the form of the Asperger syndrome. Given the remarkable extent to which Realpolitik could be understood as associated with a lack of any sense of humour, or the capacity to laugh at oneself, the question would be how this might translate into any adaptation to Noopolitik. Is humour a characteristic of noopolitics?

This suggests that operating "under the memetic radar" may be a question of use of aesthetic metaphor and humour of dimensionality to which opponents may not have access -- in terms of ability to comprehend and "see the joke". Communication of higher orders of significance could be carried by this means. Rather than conventional understandings of secrecy, as characteristic of Realpolitik, the issue would then be how "open secrets" could be communicated without being meaningful to those who would wish to control their dissemination. Their efforts to reduce the dimensionality of metaphoric communication -- as with the Metaphor Program -- would expose them to patterns understood as essentially meaningless. The significance of whatever was associated with the meta-pattern of connectivity would lack meaningful coherence.

"Engendering autism"? Ironically memetic warfare could then be framed as extending the autism spectrum such as effectively to render the opponent relatively more autistic. The capacity of stealth aerospace technology, including drones, to operate at amazing speed -- as noted above -- could then be interpreted as a challenge in metaphorical terms. Speed in conventional terms might then be out-matched by speed in cognitive associative terms. The issue has figured in developing computer capacities to play chess. However, as noted above with respect to Knight's move thinking (specifically valued by the intelligence community), the challenge is reframed when the "moves" are essentially aesthetic in response to considerations of higher dimensionality than can be effectively embodied in an algorithm.

Strategic advantage through metaphor: Reframed metaphorically, "stealth", "speed" and "highest" offer strategic advantage through articulation of aesthetic qualities, as notably explored in blackbird song. The argument can be framed otherwise by the traditional association of metaphor in Chinese culture with complex systemic encodings (****). This is naturally deprecated from within any Realpolitik mindset. Warnings regarding the comparative strategic advantage of such cultures, when innovation is inspired by elusive metaphors, are extensively presented by Susantha Goonatilake (Toward a Global Science: mining civilizational knowledge, 1999) and separately discussed (Enhancing the Quality of Knowing -- through Integration of East-West metaphors, 2000). The strategic challenge might be succinctly caricatured as how to frame "dumbing down", or to "borgify" the opponent.

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