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14.7 Memetic Explanations of Racism

In Cultural Software: “A Theory of Ideology”, Jack Balkin argued that memetic processes can explain many of the most familiar features of ideological thought. His theory of “cultural software” maintained that memes form narratives, networks of cultural associations, metaphoric and metonymic models, and a variety of different mental structures. Balkin maintains that the same structures used to generate ideas about free speech or free markets also serve to generate racist beliefs. Balkin describes racist beliefs as “fantasy” memes which become harmful or unjust “ideologies” when diverse peoples come together, as through trade or competition.