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A night of sleep has left me understanding your distinction between myth and ideology better, but I still don't feel I've really got it completely just yet.  Two more points that occurred to

Myths helped Bush win in 2000
It occurred to me that one reason why Bush had even a remote a chance to win in 2000 -- despite his obvious lack of qualifications and the relatively excellent state of the economy (with the caveat that many were already predicting a downturn after 2000) -- is probably indeed the fact that myths operated so well among the conservative basis, and probably even influenced the undecideds.  It also points to a major effect of having strong myths:  motivating the disaffected within the base to mobilize and rally together and vote.

Progressives do need a compelling theoryy (i.e. "myth") of economics
The more I think about Jerome's we are only as rich as the poorest amongst us, the more I like it.  But to make it work for more than just the base -- and I agree with afew that it is important to use this meme to "pander to the base", as you put it, to reassure them, and to expand it -- we need to back it up with some compelling theory.  Someone wrote recently in some other thread that we don't need an economic theory right now, that highlights and general principles will be enough for now.  I disagree.  The huge advantage that conservatives have in the U.S. at least on the economic front is that they have a very compelling folk theory of a free market, one that has explicative force and is coherent.  The nearest thing I could find to such a theory on EuroTrib was a comment Jerome once posted regarding an alternative to the CPE to bolster employment among youths in France -- if I read him correctly, basically he wass advocating Keynesianism in the form of emplois jeunes for masses of disadvantaged youths.  I am embarrassingly unread in economics, but it seems to me that if we want we are only as rich as the poorest amongst us to not sound too "out there" (again, primarily in the U.S.), we need to make it theoretically compelling: it has got to make sense for Joe and Jane Main Street, and it has to help them make sense out of their own real-world experiences.  Right now I fear it comes off more as fuzzy wishful feel-good thinking, not grounded in reality and practicality.  If we can come up with a version of such a theory that makes sense to the broad public, then it can act as a very powerful, perhaps essential, myth for expanding the base and swaying the undecided/uninformed.  (I just discovered the Towards a New Economics Manifesto which I need to get to reading.)

Mythologizing vs. Propagandizing
Although I think I understand your thesis better, I still am somewhat uncomfortable about the very slippery slope/incestuous relationship between "creating/spreading myths" and "propaganda" and "ideology".  You wrote that

Ideology is a very narrow set of myths strongly clustered. Ideology comes from the mythical idea of coherence and improvement. We must not confuse two. Myths are general narratives that explain the world whose main aim is not to correlate forces.

But teasing one out from the other is difficult.  Take Marxism:  I believe, though am not sure, that you would consider Marxism to be an example of a myth.  And from that myth was distilled an ideology.  But how/where do you separate the two?  Marx himself got caught up in his own rhetoric about revolution.  His legacy was indeed leaving an economic myth to generations that followed him.  But I am worried that this legacy lent itself to abuse leading to unprecedented -- and so far, unmatched -- levels of cruelty, suffering, exploitation, destruction and waste.  So, I still feel confused about the distinctions between myth, narrative, slogan, values, ideology, propaganda, and so on.   On the one hand, I obviously see the need for better articulating progressive values and viewpoints to the public; on the other hand, I am uncomfortable with this conscious, deliberate shaping of "myths" to make them more persuasive.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Thu Apr 13th, 2006 at 08:13:36 PM EST
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