Political And Social Uses Of Myth

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We exist/experience in a holographic universe replete with creation myths about gods/aliens who came from the sky to create the human experience/experiment for any number of reasons - saying they would return return at the end of the illusion of time. Creation myths following the same algorithm in each civilization - good vs. evil.

The most obvious function of myths is the explanation of facts, whether natural or cultural.  Obviously, a myth  functions as an explanation, but the narrative form distinguishes it from a straightforward answer to an intellectual question about causes. The function of explanation and the narrative form go together, since the imaginative power of the myth lends credibility to the explanation and crystallizes it into a memorable and enduring form. Hence myths play an important part in many traditional systems of education.

In the industrialized Western society of the 20th century, myths and related types of tales continue to be told. Urban folklorists collect stories that have much in common with the tales collected by the Grimm brothers, except that in the modern narratives the lone traveler is likely to be threatened, not by a werewolf, but by a phantom hitchhiker, and the location of his danger may be a freeway rather than a forest.

Computer games use sophisticated technology to represent quests involving dragons to be slain and princesses to be saved and married.

The myth of Superman, the superhuman hero who saves the world and preserves "the American way," is a notable image embodying modern Americans' confidence in the moral values that their culture espouses. Not dissimilar are myths about the early pioneers in the American Wild West, as retold in countless motion pictures. Such stories often reinforce stereotypical attitudes about the moral superiority of the settlers to the native Indians, although sometimes such attitudes are called into question in other movies that attempt to demythologize the Wild West.

A particular illustration of the power that myths continue to exert was provided as late as the 1940s by the belief in the existence of an Aryan racial group, separate from and superior to the Semitic group. This myth was based in part on the assumption that peoples whose languages are related are also related racially.

The fact that this assumption is spurious did not prevent the Aryan myth from gaining wide acceptance in Europe from the 18th century onward, and it was eventually to provide a supposed intellectual justification for the persecution of the Semitic Jews by their Aryan Germanic "superiors" during the period of Nazi domination. This episode suggests that, in politics, a myth will take hold if it serves the interests and focuses the aspirations of a particular group; the truth or falsity of the myth is irrelevant. In a sense, of course, this function is merely an extension of its more general role in religion, where a myth, as well as addressing questions such as a society's place in the cosmos, may serve to justify a particular kind of governmental organization.

Although politics is often regarded as having taken over the role once played by religion or myth in Western society, the situation is more complex than such a generalization would imply. Just as myth has always had a strong social and political element, so political movements and theories have mythical dimensions. For instance, a mythological component has always been important in keeping political units together, from villages to nations.

Recently, however, this mythical dimension has gained prominence with the rise of competing myth-like ideologies such as capitalism and communism; the word ideology might indeed be replaced, in much contemporary discussion about politics, by the term mythology. Finally, crucial terms in modern sociopolitical discussion, such as freedom and equality, although they have a long and complex philosophical history, are often posited in a manner analogous to the function of myth presenting its own authority.

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