Trolley Problem Meme Analysis

The Philosophy of Will

When we look at Trolley Problem memes we are met with a simple moral conundrum. Do we act and save 5 lives but lose 1, or not act, and kill the many?

The answer is apparent, but the question itself is deeply flawed, let’s see how memes can illuminate the flaws of the Trolley Problem, and illustrate the truth about choice.

The Trolley Problem is a problem of Will. It assumes humans are imbued with free will and can make the choice given to them. To dig deeper, we need to consider Nietzsche. The problem at hand is not one of free or determined wills, but rather one of weak and strong wills.

“The 'unfree will' is mythology: in real life it is only a matter of strong and weak wills. “

-Beyond Good and Evil

Nietzsche believed this was the essential issue, not freedom of will, but the power of will. He realized that strong wills often leave a trail of bodies, and the stronger the will, the more bodies. This can be seen clearly in the way children approach the trolley problem, they kill everyone they can for the fun of it!

“The magnitude of a "progress" is gauged by the greatness of the sacrifice that it requires”


In memes we have “multi track drifting”. The multi track drifter is not a hypothetical. They are in fact the leaders of the world. 

Another beautiful meme is about the Berserk character “Griffith”, showing a track full of people, and his willingness to keep going in pursuit of his Dream. Griffith is a multi track drifter in the spiritual sense.

When we hear political activists describe billionaires as having stolen their money, or standing on bodies, they are certainly not wrong, but they fail to realize that this is the nature of all Power.

What Italian filmmaker Pier Pasolini calls “the Anarchy of Power”. Individuals with a strong will tend to subject those with weaker wills, for the sake of a great vision or dream, the strong willed one is not restricted or moral in the way their followers must be, this One is an Anarch, and more so, an Autarch.

Our opinions of powerful people are shaped greatly by the Greatness of their will, the reason we prefer King Arthur to King Richard the III, or an Alexander to a Stalin. Napoleon is exemplary of a great will. It is said he remembered the name of every single soldier who ever fought by his side, and could recognize them on sight. When Napoleon walked a battlefield after the battle, he knew every body, he was cognizant of what was necessary to do his Will.

This individual who subjects many to their dream is not unlike a Meme. The meme seeks to infect as many people as possible, and if it is a strong meme, or what I call, a Big Meme, it can infect an extraordinary amount of people, and become something more than a simply internet meme. The Will of the Meme is singular, which makes it immensely powerful, and the more archetypal in nature, the greater this Meme becomes. 

Previously, the Biggest Memes have been Good, Evil, God, and so on. These living concepts dominated humanity for millennia, leaving millions and millions of bodies in their wake. As their grip becomes loosened, with the Death of God, and the failure of popular morality, which Memes will rise in this nihilistic cauldron?

So I rake the web

I listen hard

I trawl the memes. 

Remember, Memes Matter