Interview with Howard Bloom – Part I by Grégoire Canlorbe

  • “Millions of Muslims envision Islam as a religion of tolerance, pluralism, and peace. But there is a blunt fact staring us in the face…. For Allah and His Messenger demand that Muslims be on top. They demand that Muslims allow others to live only if they take a role as second-class citizens in a purely Muslim state and pay the jizya, a tax designed to shame. And they demand that Islam rule every inch of land on God’s own speck of dust — the planet Earth.” — Howard Bloom.

  • “Those who want to ‘annihilate’ or to convert their fellow men in the West are not madmen. They are rational and they are something more — they are idealists. They want to save us…. If we are tricked into following false laws, believing in false gods… we will go to an unspeakably painful hell.” — Howard Bloom.
  • “It is very unlikely that [Iran’s former president, Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad was proposing a ‘thought experiment.’ He was proposing a reality that Iran and its fellow Muslim states would be able to achieve with their upcoming weaponry — and with the existing 120 Islamic nuclear bombs of Pakistan — bombs that could easily fall into the hands of ISIS.” — Howard Bloom.
  • “My introduction to Islamic culture came in 1962. In the back of a library file on the Middle East, I found several English-language pamphlets printed by the Arab League, a coalition of twelve leading Arab governments. The pamphlets tried to reach people like you and me with an extremely urgent “clarification” of historical errors. First, the Holocaust, the mass murder of six million Jews by Germany’s Nazis, was a charade, a hoax. It never happened.” — Howard Bloom.
  • “As hungry replicators eager to remold the world, ideas often turn their ultimate weapon — the superorganism — into a killing machine. And, contrary to the doctrines of some modern critics, they do not engage in this ‘hegemonic imperialism’ only in the purportedly ‘malevolent West.'” — Howard Bloom.

There are only a handful of authors alive today whose ideas about geopolitics have won respect in both the world of Islam and in the West. One of those authors is Howard Bloom.

Bloom’s second book Global Brain was the subject of an Office of the Secretary of Defense symposium in 2010, with participants from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT. And the Department of Defense’s SENSIAC Military Sensing Symposium then relied on Bloom to explain how to see the world through the eyes of Osama bin Laden.

Bloom’s 182 appearances on North America’s highest rated overnight talk radio show, Coast to Coast AM, a show that airs on 500 of the continent’s leading radio stations, have covered everything from the Gulf War and 9/11 to the Fort Hood shootings. In addition, he has dissected headline issues over 30 times on Saudi Arabia’s KSA2-TV, Ekhbariya TV, Economics TV, and on Iran’s global English language PressTV.

Howard Bloom has also debated one-one-one with senior officials from Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood and Gaza’s Hamas on Iran’s global Arab-language Alalam TV News Network. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, who doubles as the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, has named a racehorse after one of Bloom’s books.

Howard Bloom.

Grégoire Canlorbe: In a market overwhelmed with books on Islam, what is unique about The Muhammad Code?

Howard Bloom: The Muhammad Code tells a story quite unknown in the West, namely the story of the only founder of a major religion ever to call himself “The Prophet of War” and to command 65 military campaigns. It tells the story of how that man set our ancestors in the West up for over 1,300 years of enslavement and attack, the story of how he laid the groundwork for the destruction of superpowers far more potent than the United States, and the story of how he started the longest-running world war in history. And most important, The Muhammad Code tells the story of how that prophet to many people demands that his never-ending war be turned today against the ideals we hold dear in the West—human rights, gender equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of trade, entrepreneurship, pluralism, and democracy.

Millions of Muslims envision Islam as a religion of tolerance, pluralism, and peace. But there’s a blunt fact staring us in the face. What ISIS is doing is merely one attack in the world’s longest running world war—the war of “Mohammed the Conqueror” and the “knights” of Islam, as Bin Laden used to say, against every other civilization on the face of the planet. For Allah and His Messenger demand that Muslims be on top. They demand that Muslims allow others to live only if they take a role as second-class citizens in a purely Muslim state and pay the jizya, a tax designed to shame and humiliate. And they demand that Islam rule every inch of land on God’s own speck of dust—the planet Earth. So Muslims in the West can never be happy. At least not according to the standards of the Hadith and the Qur’an. Not according to the standards of al Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Iranian Islamic Revolution, and the Islamic State. That is, “good” Muslims cannot be happy until Shariah rules every land. And that includes your land and mine.

Since the beginning of history, we have been blinded by evil’s ability to don a selfless disguise. From our urge to pull together comes our tendency to tear each other apart. From our devotion to a higher good comes our propensity to the foulest atrocities. And from our commitment to ideals come our excuses to hate. Righteousness in Islam consists in following Muhammad’s footsteps. And those footsteps are violent, imperialist, colonialist, sadistic, and genocidal. But those who want to “annihilate” or to convert their fellow men in the West are not madmen. They are rational and they are something more—they are idealists. They want to free us. They want to save you and me.

As they see it, you and I were made from a clot of blood by Allah, by God. We were given everything we have by Him. Since we are His creations, we will experience true justice and peace only if we live by His laws and are enlightened by His truths. What are those laws and truths? The ones that God himself gave to Mohammed in the seventh century. Islam believes it is out to save us in an even more profound way. If we are tricked into following false laws, believing in false gods, and sticking to what Osama bin Laden used to call false “opinions, orders [and] theories,” we will go to an unspeakably painful hell. Our earthly life is but a brief interlude, a brief gift, a brief test to see if we can follow God’s path. But hell and heaven are forever.

Islamic militants want to save you so you can spend the time that really matters, the time that lasts the longest, the time from your death to the Day of Judgement, in the luxurious upper rooms of paradise. Only if your eyes are opened to the legacy of Mohammed, only if you are persuaded to drop all other “opinions, orders, theories and religions” can Islam save you. What happens, according to them, if you stubbornly refuse Islam? What happens if you cannot be won over to the light? You must be wiped out. You must be kept from corrupting the minds of others and dragging them down to hell with you.

When former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a press conference in September 2006 to report on his visit to Senegal, Cuba, Venezuela and the United Nations, he said, “And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism.” He had also made the same word-for-word statement the previous year. It is very unlikely that Ahmadinejad was proposing a “thought experiment.” He was proposing a reality that Iran and its fellow Muslim states would be able to achieve with their upcoming weaponry—and with the existing 120 Islamic nuclear bombs of Pakistan, bombs that could easily fall into the hands of ISIS.

Islam has called for the annihilation of the Jews for close to 1,400 years. But why eradicate those of us who live in America? My suspicion is this. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Abubakar Shekau, and Islamic militants from Iran to Indonesia and from Trinidad to Dearborn, Michigan, feel that Europe is eager to appease the Muslim world, eager to bow to Islam’s will. Europe can be saved. Europe can be brought into the fold of Islam. But America stubbornly insists on promoting its Satanic culture, a culture that will drag millions down to the pit of fire. Hit America with a few nuclear weapons, take out New York, Washington, and a handful of other American coastal cities, and those left in America will embrace Islam. What’s more, the weak-willed Europeans will finally see the truth and will accept second-rate status in something Allah promised Mohammed long ago—Islam’s global empire.

Grégoire Canlorbe: Besides your concern for the survival of the modern Western civilization, how did you come to have an interest in Islam? Does it have anything to do with your personal history?

Howard Bloom: My introduction to Islamic culture came in 1962. My parents and grandparents were Zionists—people who wished ardently for the right of Jews to return to a homeland that appears in a flood of Hebrew prayers, the Promised Land, the Hebrew territory from which Jews were expelled over and over again and which the Jews stubbornly rebelled to retake in 66 AD, 133 AD, 351 AD, 438 AD, and 614 AD. Those Jews, my ancestors, battled the biggest imperialists of the day, the Romans. Rome periodically got fed up with Jewish freedom fighters and removed most of the Hebrews from the land Jews had inhabited since 1,200 BC. Rome scattered this remnant across the face of the Old World. Yet Jews insistently trickled back into what they considered their native land again, and by 636 AD, Arab historians say these Hebrew returnees, and the Jews still on the land of Judea, had built 41 cities in what is today called Palestine and Israel.

Then came an imperialist force that made the Romans look like pipsqueaks; a violent, militaristic, colonialist empire on its way to becoming largest in the history of the planet—one of the few imperial powers still around in today’s world and still, like us, in a mood for conquest: the empire of Islam. Mohammed himself did not take kindly to Jews. Mohammed said, “Whoever of the Jews falls into your hands, kill him.” And, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.” According to the 9th century Muslim historian Abu Al-Abbas Al-Baladhuri, the armies of Islam wiped those 41 Jewish cities off the face of the map. For the next 1,312 years, Jews would end their springtime holiday Passover dinner with the phrase, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Zionists such as my grandparents and parents were proud of the fact that Jews had trickled back into Israel once again in the 19th and 20th century, had drained the malarial swamps, had run irrigation lines to the deserts, and had made this small slice of miserable Turkish land into a garden, a rich farmland. To my grandparents and parents, Zionism meant establishing a Jewish state and teaching our Arab brethren to turn the vast and barren two billion acres under Arab control into a land with trees, groves, and valleys abundant in harvests.

In 1962, when I was 19 years old, my father offered to send me for a year to Israel, a country a mere fourteen years old. Israel had kibbutzim—one of the most radical forms of social experiment on the planet. These were socialist agricultural communities in which the land and goods were held in common by roughly 350 adults. The children were raised together by child-care experts, the meals were made in a communal kitchen and eaten in a communal dining hall, and the laundry was done by a communal laundry staff. As a result, when they finished their day of farming, parents could romp with their kids for hours, free from the worry of nagging their children to clean up their bedrooms, and free from the need to shop and cook a meal.

My dad’s offer sounded good. I wanted to see if 19th and 20th century thinkers were right: if by changing the structure of society you could change human nature and wipe away greed, gripes, and violence. The kibbutz was a laboratory of social change. So I said yes. To prepare myself, I hitch-hiked from my hometown, Buffalo, New York, down to Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College, where I had friends, and spent a month in the library studying peoples of the Middle East, such as the Natufians of 11,000 years ago and a little-known culture, the Nabataeans, who invented a system of terraced irrigation that allowed them successfully to farm the deserts of southern Israel and the surrounding lands from 312 BC to 105 AD.

Then one day, I had a shock. In the back of a library of materials on the Middle East, I found several English-language pamphlets printed by the Arab League, a coalition of twelve leading Arab governments. The pamphlets tried to reach people like you and me with an extremely urgent “clarification” of historical errors. First, the Holocaust, the mass murder of six million Jews by Germany’s Nazis, was supposedly a charade, a hoax; it never happened. Second, World War II had not been a confrontation started by the Germans in an effort to take over the world on behalf of a blond and blue-eyed master race. It had been started by Jews out to win the sympathy of the world and to establish the state of Israel. Third, Adolf Hitler had not been a Jew-hater. To the contrary. He had, according to them, been a Jewish puppet, a Jewish creation set in motion, once again, to achieve the establishment of a so-called Jewish homeland.

The villains behind these radical misunderstandings of history were, according to the Arab League, those clever liars, those people out to dominate the world, those “sons of pigs and monkeys,” the Jews—my family and me. One of my aunts had managed to survive the Holocaust’s concentration camps. One of my cousins had lost her parents, her brothers, and her sisters, and had been saved by a Catholic farm family in Poland. The rest of my family in Europe, the Shebshelovitzes of Riga, Latvia, and the Wechelefskys of Belarus, had disappeared entirely. I was under the impression that the Holocaust had been real. Very real. But the Arab League wanted me—and you—to believe otherwise.

This was one of my first introductions to the fact that another culture can have a radically different system of thought, a radically different way of seeing the world. It was also my introduction to Islamic anti-Semitism. Where did this hatred of Jews come from? There are fewer Jews on the planet than the inhabitants of just one Muslim city, Cairo. Did the officials of the Arab League seriously imagine that a tribe so absurdly small could manipulate the mind of the German Volk, the mass mind of the German people, and could plan and promote one of the biggest wars in history?

If I were to understand just how different the world looked through the lens of another culture, I might as well study a culture that made hatred of me a central preoccupation. For the next four decades I studied the instinctual underpinnings of war, creativity, and genocide. For the next four decades I studied mass behavior, from the mass behavior of quarks, nucleons, and galaxies to the mass behavior of reptiles, chimpanzees, rats, birds, fish, bacteria, and human beings. And for the next four decades I used the culture of Islam as a test-case, a supreme living specimen in which to watch the instinctual forces of history at work. That’s how I came to write The Muhammad Code.

Grégoire Canlorbe: Your book invites the reader to pay attention to the achievements and the mentality of Mohammed, especially to understand the mass murders and infringements of personal freedom perpetrated now on behalf of Islamic fundamentalism. Could you tell us more about the life of “the Prophet”?

Howard Bloom: To understand men such as Osama bin Laden, the iconic example of guerrilla warfare; Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the “George Washington” of the Islamic Revolutionary Republic of Iran; Dr. A.Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistani Islamic Bomb of 1998; to understand the heads of groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and Hamas; to understand the Islamic militants making headlines today and who will make headlines tomorrow, you have to understand the key to their way of thinking, and, like them, you have to understand the life of Mohammed.

Two hundred years after the fall of Rome, Mohammed was a merchant living in the desert town of Mecca, a bleak and isolated community on a caravan route over which passed camels carrying goods to far‑off, elegant cities such as Damascus. At the age of twelve, when he was an apprentice to his uncle—a trader—Mo­hammed made his first trip to cosmopolitan Syria to learn the export/import business. When he was 25, Mohammed married a well‑to‑do woman of 40 and became a respectable, wealthy burgher, a man whose opinions were listened to. But all that changed when Mohammed reached a mid-life crisis at 39. He began to have visions. He had been sitting in a cave in the mountains one day, he said, praying in solitude, when the angel Gabriel had appeared in a blinding light, grabbed him in a bear hug, and forced him to read a message from God. Since then, claimed Mohammed, he had been functioning as God’s spokesman on earth.

Some modern scholars feel that Mohammed’s visions may have been the result of epileptic fits. The citizens of Mecca would have found the diagnosis believable. When Mohammed planted himself on street-corners and declaimed the new truths that the angel Gabriel had communicated to him, his fellow Meccans were certain that this formerly upstanding, middle‑class man had gone insane. They mocked Mohammed or ignored him. One, while Mohammad was praying, put a slimy camel foetus down his neck. Another tried to stran­gle him. Only a few believed him. Among the believers were a handful of close relatives, one good friend, and a disconcerting number of slaves.

The citizens of Mecca were none too happy with the havoc Mohammed’s new notions wreaked on their households. Slaves who had abandoned the tried and true religions stopped their household chores and ran off to pray and wash themselves at all kinds of strange hours. But Mohammed would not keep his visions to him­self. When a plot was hatched to murder him, Mohammed fled. He sought refuge in a community where his views might be a bit more welcome, more than 200 miles away in Medina, another town isolated in the desert along the caravan route. In Medina, Mohammed found more willing listeners. During the course of a few years, he was able to build a following large enough to dominate his adopt­ed city’s politics.

The fledgling prophet was no man of peace. He consolidated his hold over Medina by ordering opponents assassinated. Then he masterminded a series of assaults on passing Meccan caravans and the armed escorts sent to protect them. When Mec­cans, fearful of Mohammed’s new power, attacked the outskirts of Medina, he led his faithful against the intruders and won. Mohammad’s military success impressed some of the fierce tribes that wandered in the hills outside of town. They signed up with the new, battle‑tested religion. A few years later, the prophet marched his troops 200 miles to the Jewish town of Khaibar and conquered it. He killed all of Khaibar’s 900 men and carried off the women and children as slaves.

At last Mohammed was ready to take revenge for the indignities his former neighbors in Mecca had heaped on him. In 630 AD, eight years after he had fled, the prophet led an army of 10,000 followers back to his old home town. The Meccans were not particularly interested in being treated as the Jews had been the previous year. They gave up with scarcely a fight. Thanks to the heavily armed Islamic squadrons parading through the streets, Mohammed was able to convert Mecca’s inhabitants to the beliefs they had formerly scorned as the ravings of a madman.

Once Mohammed’s birth­place had been conquered, the sword of Islam was not sheathed. The city’s wealthy traders and illit­erate Bedouins joined the army that had begun in Medina, and went out to conquer the world for their new belief. They were astonishingly successful. In short order, the legions of Islam overran the ancient empires of Persia, Mesopotamia and Egypt. During the next hundred years, the Mohammedan hordes spread across northern Africa, taking Algeria, Morocco and Libya. They invaded India—attacking the towns that had defied even the invincible Alexander the Great. They snipped off parts of Spain and nearly conquered France. They even faced the mighty forces of the Chinese army at Talas in Central Asia.

Within a few generations of Mohammed’s death, these men from backwater towns and primitive desert tribes had built an empire of awesome size. But their victories did not stop there. In coming centuries, Mohammedans would repeatedly make the Euro­peans tremble—eventually attacking even Vienna. They would seize African lands as far away as the Sudan and the Niger. They would convert Afghanistan, win over the Mongols, and spread their rule as far as the Pacific islands of Indonesia and the Philippines. The notions of a man who had claimed to meet an angel in a cave would spawn battles whose bloodshed would soak the earth for the next 1,400 years.

Grégoire Canlorbe: You conceive of Mohammed’s ideology—his complete system of values and beliefs—as a “meme” or replicator. Could you clarify this notion, borrowed from Richard Dawkins?

Howard Bloom: In 1976, Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene rearranged the way that many of those who deal with animal and human behavior see the world around them. Dawkins came up with the idea of the “replicator.” The replicator is a clever and narcissistic mega molecule that is able to make copies of itself. That avaricious mega molecule is the gene. Dawkins said that we tend to see ourselves and the creatures around us as the masters of our genetic endowment, but that in reality, we are merely servants. We are not using genes to achieve our own ends; our genes are using us. The idea had been anticipated by the English poet and satirist Samuel Butler in the 17th century. Butler had quipped that, “A hen is just an egg’s way of making more eggs.”

If Dawkins is right, humans and their social groups originated as mere puppets, complex tools of tiny mole­cules. You and I were fashioned as if we were cranes, dump trucks and tanks, designed to be driven by a set of replicators. We are gatherers of raw materials operating at the behest of microscopic mini‑factories seated at the center of our cells. For genes are infect­ed with an overweening ambition: their ultimate goal is to repro­duce—and in the process, to overrun this world. Up to this point, Dawkins was summing up and simplifying the evolutionary biology emerging around him. Then Dawkins made a totally original contribution: He posited the existence of a new replicator, one that has no physical substance, and can not be studied under a microscope or kept in a jar. It is the meme—the catchy idea.

Genes, said Dawkins, first made copies of themselves in primordial puddles. But memes also copy themselves in the puddles of human minds. And the ones that are truly successful jump from one mind to another until they girdle the planet. Think of the pop song you loathe but cannot get out of your mind. That is a successful meme. So are Islam, Christianity, and freedom. The memes that count the most are the ones that assemble vast arrays of re­sources in startling new forms. They are the memes that con­struct social systems, from tribes to empires. As genes are to the individual organism, so memes are to the social organism, or super-organism, pulling millions of individu­als together—family, tribe and nation—into a collective creature of awesome size.

The meme, like its predecessor the gene, is capable of assembling vast amounts of matter. Unlike the gene, the meme can manufacture forms of order than mere genetic stuff could never dream of. And finally there is something that Dawkins himself failed to see. Very often, it is the meme, not the gene, whose survival and expansion come first. We are willing to live and die for “something bigger than ourselves.” And that something is the cluster of ideas that sits at our culture’s core. But there is more. As hungry replicators eager to remold the world, ideas often turn their ultimate weapon—the superorganism—into a killing machine. And, contrary to the doctrines of some modern critics, they do not engage in this “hegemonic imperialism” only in the purportedly “malevolent West.”

The ravenous voice of the meme calls out to charismatic men and women. Disguised as revelation or inspi­ration, it has spoken to humans as diverse as Mohammed, Napoleon I, Lenin, St. Paul, Moses, Hitler, Joan of Arc, Mahatma Ghandi, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, and the Ayatollah Khomeini. Its message varies. But under the many disguises is one imperative: gather a group together and awaken them with my words. Wield them into a mighty force which will impose its dominion on a large swatch of the world.

The voice of the meme calls out to those on a lower level as well. To them, it dictates sacrifice. The converts have a sublime perception of truth and feel caught up in a fren­zied oneness with some superior being whose power leaves them in awe. But the holy vision or lofty secular ideals that create this thrill may be merely the voice of the larger social beast calling for some ultimate contribution—demanding that a seventh century Mohammedan hurl himself against the defenses of a city far from his ancestral home; or that his descendant hijack a civil aircraft and crash it into an American office building.

Grégoire Canlorbe: The intellectual elite in the West is often reproached for believing blindly in the neo-Darwinian view of evolution, according to which genes (instead of groups) are the true objects of “natural selection.” It implies, in particular, that humans and other social animals, far from sacrificing their own individual interests—survival and reproduction—for the sake of a mythical Leviathan, society, instead cooperate for their own selfish motives and, unwittingly, in the interest of their genes. What are your thoughts about that?

Howard Bloom: Our membership in a larger organism—and the fact we occasionally find ourselves expendable in that superorganism’s interests—is indeed not a fashionable theory at the moment among academics. As I mentioned, current evolutionary theory says that preservation of your genes is your first priority—preservation for yourself, your children, and for your remaining relatives. And self-sacrifice in the interest of the group, the very definition of altruism, does not quite square with the notion of genes fighting for themselves no matter what. Underlying the notion of genetic selfishness is another, even more basic assumption, the theory of individual selection, according to which the “struggle for life” occurs between individuals—and only between individuals. In fact, the idea that this competition could occur between groups has been resoundingly dismissed since the publication of The Selfish Gene. It has been mocked and scorned.

Yet Dawkins and individual selectionists have had a very bad time dealing with the problem of altruism. August theorists such as W.D. Hamilton and R.L. Trivers explained away the seemingly “altruistic” tendencies in humans and other species by generating a new mathematical system, the notion of kin selection. It stated that individuals would only sacrifice their own interests in favor of others if the others in question were relatives, creatures who contained similar sets of genes. In other words, self-sacrifice was “selfless” only at first sight. In fact, it consisted of increasing the number of our genes in generations yet to come. The selfish-gene theory of evolution is partly right. It is a powerful tool for cracking the mysteries of evolution and human behavior. But from Darwin himself to V.C. Wynne-Edwards, Robert Ardrey, and the late Edward. O. Wilson, its limitations have been attacked by a line of scientists with powerful minds. Those critics demonstrate that our biology often refuses to follow the paths that scientific assumptions about personal survival and kin selection would predict.

We come complete at birth with an arsenal of survival instincts in the interest of our genes. But we are also equipped with self‑destruct mechanisms—depression, anxiety and hopelessness. Not to mention the deactivation of our immune system when we are seriously discouraged. That depressed immune system invites disease to come in and do its worst. And we are crippled by the stress hormones that flood our system—glucocorticoids. These hormones in short, sharp doses are energizers, emergency handlers. But in the long, never-ending doses that hit us when we are down, stress hormones destroy our health. Stress hormones are poisons generated within us—not by psychology alone, but by our biology. According to selfish gene theory and the theory of individual selection, these self-damaging circuits should not exist. So why are self-destruct circuits present in animals of all kinds?

A wide range of evidence—evidence you can find in my books The Lucifer Principle and Global Brain—indicates that these biological suicide circuits turn us into components of a mass IQ, neurons of a collective brain. And our fellow neurons in the collective brain, our fellow humans and thought partners, are not necessarily our kin. How do self-damagers increase the collective intelligence? They turn down the resources and the influence of those of us who do not seem to be able to solve the problem of the moment. And they turn up the popularity, health, vigor, cash, and influence of individuals who do seem to have a handle on things. They are tricks our body uses to turn us into modules in a neural net. A massively parallel-processed social learning machine—to repeat, a group IQ.

If preserving our genes were indeed our ruling force, then self-destruct mechanisms should not exist. Or, at best, their action should be limited to aiding those who carry genes nearly identical to our own. Even more damning, our acts of valor on the battlefield have generally nothing to do with an individualistic gene selfishly protecting a copy of itself. By the standards used by the selfish gene clique, and their colleagues in economics and the social sciences, the rational choice crew, the genes of kamikaze aviators in the closing stages of World War II were radically different. They did not show the degree of genetic relatedness demanded by Hamilton’s and Trivers’ mathematics. To many Americans, the kamikaze’s ultimate devotion to their emperor and the glory of Japan seems baffling, alien, something that could never happen here. But it has hap­pened here. Patrick Henry was declaring his loyalty to the cause of his fellow revolutionaries when he said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” He was confessing that the social organism of which he was a part was more important than his genetic interests—his own survival and that of his genes.

Here is the bottom line. Evolution, either biological or cultural, is not just a competition between individuals. It is also a competition between groups. It is a race between the varieties of cooperation that grow up between solitary creatures—the unseen ties that bind those creatures together into a larger unit. Men and animals do not merely struggle to maintain their individual existence. They are part of social organisms that scramble for survival—and that work for mastery over other organisms of their kind. And very often the interests of the group outweigh those of the individual, including his life and the posterity of his genes. What’s more, our savagery, not only as individuals but as groups, comes as an actual feature of our biological legacy. As E.O. Wilson writes in his 2012 book, The Social Conquest of Earth, “To form groups, drawing visceral comfort and pride from familiar fellowship, and to defend the group enthusiastically against rival groups—these are among the absolute universals of human nature and hence of culture.” “It can now be argued in the context of modern biology,” says Wilson, that “our bloody nature is ingrained because group-versus-group was a principal driving force that made us what we are.”

From military crusades to ethnic deportation, mass slaughter, and migratory invasion, culture alone is not responsible for group violence. In fact, it comes from something both sub- and superhuman, something we share with gorillas, apes, fish and ants—a brutality that speaks to us through the “animals” in our brain. From bacteria colonies to human conglomerations, superorganisms are hungry creatures, attempting to break down the boundaries of their competitors, chew off chunks of their opponents’ substance and digest and redistribute it as part of themselves. In the world of humans, that struggle takes the form of a competition between ideologies, between worldviews, between group souls. When the Japanese aviators guide their planes to the American enemy, when the Crusaders of Christendom march off to challenge the Empire of Islam, or even when Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin gauge each other, the struggle is not a battle of men, but a battle of networks, learning-machines bound together by memes, testing and confronting their respective shapes, claiming supremacy over each other.

In law, politics, and economics, individualism is a personal credo of great importance. I, for one, am a passionate believer in free speech, democracy, and capitalism. But to scientists, the obsession to place emphasis on the individual has been a chimera leading them down a dead‑end path. History, either natural or human, has never been the sole province of the selfish individual, essentially preoccupied with preserving his genes. For history is the playfield of the superorganism—and of its recent step-child, the meme. It is the environment of the mass murders that occur when one animal society tries to dominate another, the large‑scale savageries that arise when one human culture tries to impose its own system of values. On May 12, 2004, Osama Bin Laden explained how powerfully the 21st century’s wireless jihad was driven by Mohammed’s ideology. In a message to the worldwide community of Islam he wrote, “The main confrontation,” is “a religious and doctrinal one, not an economic or military one.” “The clash,” he said, “is in fact a clash of civilizations”—a clash of worldview-driven sociopolitical blocs.

Bin Laden also told us just how powerfully Mohammed’s notions powered him and what those memes mean for the Western civilization in a statement he addressed directly to us Americans, a statement most of us missed. “Why are we fighting and opposing you?” asked bin Laden. “What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you? The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam. The religion of the Unification of God; of freedom from associating partners with Him [Islamic code for Christianity], and rejection of this; of complete love of Him, the Exalted.” Then bin Laden commanded us to “the discarding of all the opinions, orders, theories and religions which contradict the religion He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad.” In other words, bin Laden called for a worldwide end to Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, yoga, New Age beliefs, secularism, humanism, Darwinism, constitutions, and separation of Church and State. Only time will tell if our memes have the stick-to-it-iveness to survive or if Mohammed’s ideology will take over your life and mine.


Howard Bloom is the author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History (“mesmerizing”-The Washington Post), Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century (“reassuring and sobering”-The New Yorker), The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism (“Impressive, stimulating, and tremendously enjoyable.” James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic), and The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates (“Bloom’s argument will rock your world.” Barbara Ehrenreich).

He also has two books about to be published in new versions: How I Accidentally Started the Sixties (“a monumental, epic, glorious literary achievement.” Timothy Leary), and The Muhammad Code: How a Desert Prophet Gave You ISIS, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram—or How Muhammad Invented Jihad (“a terrifying book… the best book I’ve read on Islam,” David Swindle, PJ Media).

Bloom explains that his field is “mass behavior, from the mass behavior of quarks to the mass behavior of human beings.” That specialization gives him a wide scope. In 2005, Bloom lectured an international conference of quantum physicists in Moscow—Quantum Informatics 2006—on why everything they know about Schrodinger’s Equation is wrong, and the concepts Bloom introduced were later used in a book proposing a new approach to quantum physics, Constructive Physics, by Moscow University’s Yuri Ozhigov.

Bloom has his own YouTube series, Howard the Humongous, which gets up to 790,000 views per installment. His website,, has had between four and five million hits.

Grégoire Canlorbe, a journalist, currently lives in Paris. While presently collaborating with Howard Bloom, he has conducted many interviews for journals such as Man and the Economy, founded by Nobel Prize winning economist Ronald Coase, and think-tanks such as Mises Institute and Gatestone Institute. Contact:

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