11th Jul 2008 | By Raghu Ananthanarayanan

Let us examine person A who lives in a green home designed and built on eco-friendly principles, does meditation everyday and is very compassionate with the people he meets and transacts with. However, when we move our frame to accommodate a larger systemic view, his huge estate is protected by an almost impassable barrier and policed by an army of people equipped with the most up-to-date technology. Move the frame even larger and we seek that the surrounding areas are slums run by slum lords. However the economy of these slums is based on sending the raw materials dug out of its grounds and its non renewable wealth to the household of ‘A’. Also, the agents of ‘A’ do business with these slum lords. The slum lords envy A and create a small coterie around them that profiteers and creates an oasis that initiates ‘A’s lifestyle in the slum. This creates tensions and strife, but, A and his agents turn a blind eye to it.

In fact what we extended the frame across time, the land A lives on he took by force and trenchancy, any attempt by the slums to become self sufficient, stop exporting raw materials and become more egalitarian, democratic and focused on discovering solutions relevant to their slums is actively and sometimes forcefully disrupted. At other times, ‘A’’s agents offer to help the slums by lending money and drawing up development plans. The slum lords are happy they control the flow of funds, they can appear benevolent.

Obviously, the impoverished and disinherited and dispossessed slum dwellers get drunk, fight, become superstitious and regress into clannish groups or into warring gangs.

How will we map this context on value memes? Would ‘A’ be a schizophrenic and would the slums just be people reacting to deep hurt and loss and the slum lords schizophrenic too?

A in the meanwhile selectively takes from the slums the people with the best minds and puts them to work. Some go into developing new assessments, others into new technology, and many into ways of entertaining the people in the household and catering to their whims.

What are these value memes? The espoused values, practical values, propagandist values….?