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I think Marx offered one of the most compelling myths : I will explain to you the meaning of human history. His explanation was that history was engaged in a movement of inevitable progress towards a final, harmonious condition. He described a mechanism by which that happened, dialectics. And from it he said predictions could be made. And from that came the ideology of the dictatorship of the proletariat. And from that...

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to show you that's it's easy to "tease out" the mythology from the ideology. I'm not familiar with all this enough to attempt that. Anyway, what's more important, imo, is not the compelling or persuasive character of the myth, but what might be called its quality (basically, it was way off the reality mark, which matters less when a myth purports to describe unverifiable pie in the sky like heaven or the arrival of a cargo ship, more when it sets out to describe economic reality); and, next, its nature, which was to function as a predictive model (a system that claims to interpret the workings of history and to offer infallible predictions based on them has one foot in the camp of religion, anyway).

How I mean to relate this to your unease about thinking about myths is that it's not the case that we should be  attempting "conscious, deliberate shaping of "myths" to make them more persuasive", but that we should be searching in reality itself for a general myth that springs from the base of what is false about the current economic "wisdom" and what seems to us (can't do better than that -- but either we try, or we don't) true about the real state of economic relations. There's a discussion above about, basically, what is the meaning of wealth, what is the meaning of value. Personally, I think that's at the very base of economic thought (there may be others that people may suggest). What we need is to work on those notions till we come up with a narrative that may serve to expose the speciousness of the ultra-free-market myth, while setting out an alternative that has quality (is not miles off the reality mark) and does not have a mechanically predictive nature (will not lead to quasi-religious belief in some future state of happiness).

If we can do that (and it is no small or quickly-accomplished task) then we will have something that measures up to these requirements:

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.

Exactly. Dead on.

And from that point we will have won more than half of the battle. But, I fear, if we don't dig that deep, we will not stem the tide of money-fed propaganda from globalising big-corp financial capitalism.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Apr 14th, 2006 at 05:30:49 AM EST
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