Let them Eat Myth

I’m wondering if denying poor people a mythology – even if we know it to be false – is such a great idea. It’s honest, and has more integrity, but it’s a bad strategy for eliciting their support. Poor people would rather vote for the myth that they’ll be taken care of – even if, in reality, it means being further fleeced by the wealthy, and sending their children off to die in war.

Plato argued for a benevolent myth. Maybe the better strategy is for East Coast intellectuals to cease their effort to develop an honest, ethical secular culture, and instead realize that they need to communicate on two levels at once. Maimonides did it. Even Bush does it, by letting the rich know he’ll give them more of the peoples’ money, while telling the poor that he’s their friend in Christ.

Is it time to stifle idealism, and value tactics over truth?

Perhaps not so directly. But on a landscape increasingly characterized by emotion over logic (thanks, in part, to the techniques of marketing and advertising), we must either find a compelling reason for people to re-engage with their logical faculties, or a way to communicate with the heart and gut that also happens to do justice to the facts. It’s hard – even the Bible, which is one of the best efforts so far in this pursuit – is now used to justify slaughter and manifest destiny.

So, in the words of the defeated candidate, we must do better.

Where do we begin?