Michael Daniel 11-16-2006 Arendt: Ideology and Terror In Ideology and Terror Arendt says that the totalitarian

state derives its power from an ideology. In the case of communism the ideology was history. In the case of nazism the ideology was nature. Ideologies claim to be able to explain everything past, present and future. The ideology is used to create terror which is used to control the populace. Communism advocated the idea that certain social classes will become extinct and Nazism advocated the idea that certain races will become extinct. From these principles they passed laws requiring that certain races or social classes should be put to death, which is illustrative of the idea that totalitarian laws tell people what they should do instead of telling them what they should not do. Ideologies take scientific observations and translate them into a directive for action, even though the directive for action is not implicit in the observations. For example, it does not follow that you should commit genocide against a race simply because that race is fated to become extinct. Arendt says that in a totalitarian state, “Guilt and innocence become senseless notions.” (p. 94). While Arendt may disagree with the totalitarian notion of guilt and innocence, the totalitarian ideas of guilt and innocence are not senseless notions. For example, in Nazi Germany, it was illegal to go around without a star of David on your clothes if you were a Jew. If you kept this law then you were innocent of that crime. If you broke this law then you were punished as a criminal. The law may be unjust but guilt and innocence still exist.

This reading reminded me of when I read Virus of the Mind, which is a book about memetics. Memetics is the study of how ideas spread. There are structural memes, which tell us the names of things. A structural meme is like the word ‘ball’ or ‘coffee’. There are cultural memes, from which we get our ideas of morality and behavior. There are many other sub categories of memes, but those are the two big categories. There are many memetic principles which can be followed when constructing a meme. For marketing, the slogan ‘just do it’ is good because of it’s brevity and attitude. It can be broken down linguistically and compared with other successful marketing to show why it works. If you want to run for president you need to fit the meme of the WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant). In my experiences in politics I saw many people sitting around trying to make things palatable for the public and memetics was a commonly used tool for that.