Some lightweight thinking. No apologies for incoherence.
Differences in language, indeed all unique language development, has always been fostered by distance
. Communities might stem from the same single gene pool but separate them by several miles and they’ll grow into divergent cultures. Then, along comes globalism. Communications technology makes every world-corner accessible. The entire populace can potentially engage in the same cultural products at any time. The tendency then is to de-differentiate, to limit or smooth out cultural peculiarities by adopting a shared language, say like English. Remove the distance and then homogenise the means of exchange. But then the peculiarities become worth fighting for: all the local colour and quirks that typify nationality, local languages etc. Folk musics and dialects become politically loaded again. Maintain the distance of peculiarity.
But this dual action doesn’t happen on the meme
level. Or maybe, all the resistant elements (all the unique qualities proudly maintained) function in the same way, colouring all ‘foreign’ ideas as outsiders or distantly (ir)relevant views. Only particular ideas, it seems, are shared easily (sewerage plumbing, say). Our memepool doesn’t yet have that broadly shared base. To which the wide appeal of Buddhism is an exception, as is the popularity of self-help books. Or maybe ‘the West’ is that shared idea, and a big can of worms.
From a memetic longevity POV, the best system should also last the longest, be the most stable — and maybe here the familial culture of China and the caste-system of India (cunningly designed for hierarchy-longevity) might be of note. The big excitement and also the vaguest gray-area of globalism is that few have considered its long term affect and projection. Like Montin says, a big change in thinking is required here. Longevity-thinking only tends to become appealing in middle age, for first-time parents and for cultural movements as well. By which time much of their energy is dispersed. So, groundwork is needed. Not new business and power paradigms.
Also, the Neu!
column is now live at PopMatters