Richard Dawkins is a well known biologist, a genius who has offered so much knowledge and information to this world that it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is one of the heroes of our generation. Some of his best works include his 1976 book The Selfish Gene which offered a gene-centered view of evolution and provided the term meme and the concept of memetics. Richard Dawkins is a staunch atheist with an excellent ability to refute any theological concept that hampers individual liberty. Through his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins almost certainly established that the God doesn’t exist and all theory of creationism and beliefs in a Supreme Being is delusion. An atheist like me would never argue against that and in fact, Richard is such a genius that it is really difficult to refute him. However, even the geniuses commit mistakes and they often do so when they start extrapolating their scientific ideas into other realms of human studies.
Various other researchers developed the idea of meme to memetics to stress on the idea about how difficult it is for a human being to develop free thoughts of his own. However, memetics has been widely refuted because of certain basic faults in the idea of memes controlling an individual’s ability to develop his own independent personality. According to Richard Dawkins, a meme is ‘a unit of cultural inheritance . . . naturally selected by virtue of its “phenotypic” consequences on its own survival and replication’ or ‘a unit of information residing in a brain’. While the idea of memes seems to be effective, it is difficult to study memes as a science because memes are not consistent, nor they are continuous. It has been proved beyond doubt that memes, like traits, will continually be integrated and changed by the receiver of the information. That is, while a receiver will attain information through various memes, he will refine and interpret that information and will use or practice it in his own independent way. There are some other refutations that derecognize the importance of memes1 . However, these refutations don’t stop quackery and various sociologists keep using the concept of memes to support their half baked ideas. One such idea was recently presented by Kalavai Venkat in his post at CRI2 which suggested that it is very difficult for an individual to give up his religious beliefs because he inherits them through his parents. Obviously, he suggested that the State should somehow, save children from their parents because, he believes that religion (especially Abrahamic religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) are very harmful. He is a supporter of State Atheism. Even Richard Dawkins has suggested that the state can take an active role in deciding what truth is and what is not3 . Obviously, he supports the idea of State Atheism and state controlled education at some level or other, and here he commits mistake.
Just like memes transfers religious beliefs, memes transfer cultural, political and economic beliefs. It is up to the individual to analyze and use the information offered by these memes in a rational and objective manner. Richard Dawkins (and maybe, Kalavai Venkat) seems to have refined the information about religion they attained through memes and hence, he is a staunch atheist. However, has he really succeeded in reasonably refining the economic and political information he has attained through those same memes?
Richard Dawkins Trapped in misinformation attained through Economic Memes:
In 2001, Richard Dawkins was invited to express his ideas for Foundation for the Future. In his speech, Dawkins acknowledged that one effective way to abort any global crisis and tragedy of commons is to respect property rights of individuals and individuals should not only get all benefits of their property, they should also be responsible for the costs and losses; he suggested that recognition of property right as a natural right can be said as one of the reason for success of human species. Obviously, he was supporting the libertarian idea of individual rights and free market4 . At that point, it seemed that Richard Dawkins has clearly overcome the economic meme of socialism and cultural meme of altruism as a supreme good. However, he was still confused with the illogical information he attained through irrational memes as in 2008, he suddenly changed his view and in the documentary, “The genius of Charles Darwin,” he mentioned that “paying taxes” is an example of human altruism and it is good5
It was pretty clear at that instance that Richard Dawkins not only failed to refine the illogical economic information he had attained through irrational memes, he also failed to refine the illogical and ill-philosophical information he attained through those irrational memes. It is hard to believe that a person who has so clearly refined all the illogical information about religion he might have attained through meme’s has failed in refining the wrong information he attained about economics and philosophy. However, the reason can be very simple. Richard Dawkins is primarily an evolutionary biologist, so he got enough chances to experiment and verify the ill-information about religion and creationism that he might have gained. But he hasn’t researched or learned economics, nor is he a student of philosophy. Obviously, it is fathomable to understand that he made drastic mistakes in understanding economics. But is he really a supporter of altruism as a coercive compulsion, or was he talking about charity? Paying taxes is certainly not charity6 ; rather it is robbery against individuals under the threat of guns and punishment and well, taxes always hampers growth and progress which, Richard Dawkins had actually realized this when he claimed that property rights are necessary for success of human species.
Richard Dawkins Proved that Free market libertarianism and Non Aggression Principle is key to success
The major problem for Richard Dawkins was that he was very much disturbed by the usage of his book “The Selfish Gene” in promoting the idea of selfishness. It was nothing new as another great geneticist and chemist George R. Price also went through the same dilemma when he successfully derived the Price Equation and mathematically proved that the basic reason behind compassion, kindness, charity, and, love is selfishness and not altruism7 . Just like Richard Dawkins, George R. Price also failed to understand that the success of human species doesn’t depend on his selfish nature, rather; it depends on his rational self-interest. There is certainly a difference between selfishness and rational self-interest8 . Rational self-interest indeed represents co-operation9 , compassion10 , charity11 , and forgiveness12 and unlike an irrational selfish person, a person’s rational self-interest promotes him to cooperate with others and respect their individual rights and this is the basic premise of free market libertarianism or Objectivism.
In his documentary, Nice Guy Finish First, Richard Dawkins successfully explained that co-operation offers better chance than selfishness with the help of the computer program ‘Tit for Tat’ whose basic four conditions were mentioned by Richard Dawkins as13
1)Unless provoked, the agent will always cooperate.
2)If provoked, the agent will retaliate.
3)The agent is quick to forgive.
4)The agent must have a good chance of competing against the opponent more than once.
A close analysis will establish that the program Tit for Tat exactly establishes the libertarian theory and principle of Non-Aggression Principle. Non-Aggression Principle14 is the base of Libertarianism which suggests that kindness, charity, co-operation, compassion, and forgiveness are essential characteristics of a libertarian. However, Non-aggression principle also asserts that if provoked or attacked, or aggressed, the individual will retaliate and may counter-attack. The idea of free market libertarianism is essentially based on the condition that unless provoked, a free market producer, supplier, consumer, will cooperate with each other and the whole society. This is the reason why Anarcho-capitalists suggest that there is no need of monopoly over initiation of force because initiation of force is strictly immoral and unacceptable.
Another basic idea of free market libertarianism is that it doesn’t work on the premises of vengeance and punishment; rather a libertarian remains ready to forgive any fault, any attack against him and will accept proper restitution as it will be beneficial for both, the accused and the victim. Another basic premise of free market libertarianism is equal opportunities for everyone willing to compete in the market as a free libertarian society won’t be placing any restrictions, or reservations for a specific cartel of market players as usually happens in socialism or mixed economy crony capitalism.
Despite these complete similarities of free market libertarianism, Richard Dawkins suggested that free market isn’t the real way and using social Darwinism to support free market is wrong. However, Richard Dawkins was seriously wrong in his interpretation because free market doesn’t represent a jungle rule; rather, it represents perfect harmony and real efficiency in the market. On the other hand, a state controlled market exactly represents everything against the four basic conditions offered by Richard Dawkins for the program Tit for Tat15 .
A state controlled market (socialism, mixed economy or crony capitalism) suggest that individuals (agents) will always remain under threat to oblige with the orders of the state managers, that is, they will always be provoked. They will have to pay taxes and duties for living and he cannot retaliate against direct or indirect taxes (robbery by government). What Richard Dawkins failed to understand is that co-operation cannot happen under the threat of gun and taxes don’t represent charity or co-operation, rather; it represents robbery under the threat of government, police and guns and taxes are direct violation of property rights that he has always supported. You are obliged to pay taxes, it’s not co-operation as it is not voluntary. In a state-controlled market, agents (individuals) cannot retaliate because all the laws and regulations are written by the state-managers. Individuals (agents) have to accept them irrespective of these regulations being provocative, because if they will retaliate, they will be imprisoned. While individuals have no chance to forgive under a state-controlled market because they are victims, the state is never forgiving because the State hates competition. In a state controlled market (socialism or mixed economy, or crony capitalism), there can never be equal opportunity for individuals (agents) because state always turns out to be a dilemma of bureaucratic red-carpetism, corporatism, and favourism.
Obviously, through his documentary Nice Guy Finish First and the success of program Tit for Tat, Richard Dawkins proved that Free Market libertarianism is certainly the only way for human society to develop and progress and to avoid the tragedy of commons.
So why did Richard Dawkins failed to understand this simple win of free market libertarianism over State controlled market in his own documented game? The reason is simple, Richard Dawkins is yet not clear about the economic, political, and philosophical information he has attained through illogical memes. He simply fails to understand the principle of NAP (unless provoked, agents will cooperate, if provoked, will retaliate, will remain ready to forgive, and will offer equal chances for everyone by respecting natural rights of everyone), and the concept of rational self-interest. He also failed to understand that what he is terming as reciprocal altruism is in essence represents the rational self-interest. The thing that disturbs me is that Richard Dawkins has simply ignored the historical failure of Crony Capitalism, state-controlled markets, and mixed economy, which always represented irrational selfishness, and have never worked for development of individuals and always failed as a tragedy of commons.
Richard Dawkins Trapped in Illogical Political Memes
Richard Dawkins has suggested that State can be used to get rid of the ill-effects of religions. While I am not clear about his ideas, I have seen some fans of Richard Dawkins supporting State-Atheism as a solution to religious problems. What these people (Kalavai Venkat and others with similar ideas) fail to understand is that the political information they have attained in favor of the State is just a result of illogical memes. This idea erupts from the fact that since always, State has used religion to rule over people and the state is still doing so. However, the simple fact is that despite of all immoral dealings between state and religion, people have always rejected the tortures of religion and state. No matter how harsh the laws against heresy were, Galileo confirmed that earth revolves round the globe. No matter how closely state and religion worked, common mass came to realize the ills of state and church right after the invention of printing press which became a reason behind the renaissance and revolutions. State is coercion and supporters of State Atheism want to entertain coercion. That is why Kalavai Venkat expressed his desire to make India such a state where all the property and rights of religious bodies (especially Christians) will be confiscated and anyone promoting religious ideas will be severely punished and penalized16 . I explained the inherent wrong and irrationality of State Atheism in my previous article. However, does Richard Dawkins realizes that if his fans are promoting the idea of State Atheism, then they are naturally going against all the four basic conditions of the program Tit for Tat that is supposed to win against all odds and tragedy of commons? And if religious people are to be hunted and killed just because they are religious, where is the idea of rational-self interest, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness gone?
Obviously, it is clear that Richard Dawkins and those who use his excellent research works to promote State Atheism and State Controlled economy are trapped in the misinformation offered to them by the illogical, immoral, and irrational philosophical, economic and political memes.
- As the American critics of the diffusionists showed, memes, like traits, will continually be integrated and transformed by the receiver of information. They do not spread like a virus but are continually and completely made and unmade during communication. The process of their reproduction is not transmission between passive receptors, as is the case for a computer virus, but active psychological processes occurring in people.
So I submit that meme-promoters will only be proven right about cultural inheritance when someone finds a meme. I also think it will be difficult to find a meme without specifying what the search is looking for, and where. The situation with respect to cultural inheritance is not the same as that for genes because genes are already established as a mechanism for informational inheritance. Once genes are on the scene, all inheritance, including cultural, might already be accounted for (although I agree with Boyd and Richerson that this is unlikely). If not, then we still have the option of invoking ecological inheritance. So identifying a more-thanoperational meme and its mechanism of replication are both necessary before memetics can get off the ground. Only by providing a physical model of meme replication can memetics take its rightful position in the list of replicators covered by what Hull terms ‘general selection theory.’ Until then, they remain simply an analogy to the better-known case of genes., The Status of Memetics as a Science, Robert Aunger, Oxford University Press, 2000 [↩]
- Libertarian Myopia & Religious Fredom, CRI [↩]
- This is one of the places that I seem to disagree with Richard Dawkins. Whenever you disagree with Richard Dawkins, the chances are, you’re wrong. Dawkins seems to think that the state can come in and have the authority to decide truth or not truth. He seems to think that the teaching of evolution is really, really important and that the state should do it. I think historically, we see them replace religion with the state; things go way, way badly, Penn Jillette, Big Think [↩]
- Dawkins suggested meta-strategies to engineer the game so individual players might profit from behaving altruistically. He also noted that overexploitation of resources due to the tragedy of the commons is creating a downward spiral. He illustrated the tragedy of the commons with the example of a cow pasture on which farmers have the right to put as many cows as they like. Of course, each farmer tries to maximize the number of his cows on the pasture, which leads to overgrazing, the destruction of the pasture, and the deaths of the cows. Dawkins acknowledged that one good way to handle the tragedy of the commons is to divide the common land among the farmers so that each individual not only gets the benefits but also bears the costs. That is why the majority of farmland today is fenced, he concluded. Dawkins is clearly groping toward a greater understanding of how the institutions of free markets and property rights can help humanity plan for the future better. The game he wishes to engineer so that players profit from behaving in an altruistic way already exists. It’s called the free market. Adam Smith described the Dawkins game well when he wrote in The Wealth of Nationsthat “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”, Richard Dawkins and the Future, Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins discovers the power of markets, Ronald Bailey, 2001, Reason.com [↩]
- In his 2008 series “The genius of Charles Darwin” Dawkin’s listed “paying taxes” as an example of human altruism. [↩]
- What are Taxes, Why Not to Pay Taxes, Rational Libertarian Corner [↩]
- Price Equation, George R. Price failed to accept the selfish reasoning of Kindness in his Price Equation tried to disprove it deliberately which ultimately resulted in his death, Wikipedia [↩]
- When one speaks of man’s right to exist for his own sake, for his own rational self-interest, most people assume automatically that this means his right to sacrifice others. Such an assumption is a confession of their own belief that to injure, enslave, rob or murder others is in man’s self-interest—which he must selflessly renounce. The idea that man’s self-interest can be served only by a non-sacrificial relationship with others has never occurred to those humanitarian apostles of unselfishness, who proclaim their desire to achieve the brotherhood of men. And it will not occur to them, or to anyone, so long as the concept “rational” is omitted from the context of “values,” “desires,” “self-interest” and ethics, Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Ethics, The Virtue of Selfishness [↩]
- Cooperation: Cooperation is the free association of men who work together by voluntary agreement, each deriving from it his own personal benefit, Ayn Rand, Screen Guide for Americans, 1947 [↩]
- Compassion: I regard compassion as proper only toward those who are innocent victims, but not toward those who are morally guilty. If one feels compassion for the victims of a concentration camp, one cannot feel it for the torturers. If one does feel compassion for the torturers, it is an act of moral treason toward the victims. Ayn Rand, Playboy Interview, 1964 [↩]
- Charity: My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue, Ayn Rand, Playbout Interview 1964 [↩]
- Forgiveness: Everything can be forgiven but, “Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others, Ayn Rand, Galt’s Speech, Atlas Shrugged, For the New Intellectuals [↩]
- Conditions of Tit for Tat, Nice Guy Finish First, Wikipedia [↩]
- According to the nonaggression principle, a person can do with his body whatever he wants as long as he does not thereby aggress against another person’s body. Thus, that person could also make use of other scarce means, just as one makes use of one’s own body, provided these other things have not already been appropriated by someone else but are still in a natural unowned state, Argumentation and Self-Ownership, Hans Hermann Hoppe [↩]
- Effective Strategy in Game Theory, Wiki [↩]
- Libertarian Myopia & Religious Freedom, CRI [↩]