More on Myths

I was thinking a lot about one of the questions on the reading quiz about myths, and if they exist in modern democracy.  The actual question is #3, which is “What are some of the mythologies that Schmitt diagnoses in his chapter?  Are there similar mythologies at work in the contemporary political world?  What are they?”

I first answered with a quote found on pages 68-69 which reads, “Out of the depths of a genuine life instinct, not out of reason or pragmatism, springs the great enthusiasm, the great moral decision and the great myth.  In direct intuition the enthusiastic mass creates a mythical image that pushes its energy forward and gives it the strength for martyrdom as well as the courage to use force… It has risen out of the masses, out of the immediacy of the life of the industrial proletariat, not as a construction of intellectuals and literati, not as a utopia.”

I think that, given Schmitt’s definition of a “myth” in this case, there are several myths that exist today in the contemporary political world.  The Republican debate that we mentioned in class comes to mind when I think about what Schmitt means by “the masses.”  This isn’t because I’m trying to take a side, but debates for both parties today seem only to rise enthusiasm in the crowd to the point that people will yell “Hooray!” and “Boo!” at the candidate that they like or dislike.  I think that this sense of enthusiasm about a leader is the very myth that Schmitt is talking about in chapter four.  People make decisions based on the fact that they like someone – that they would sit down to have a beer or play golf with that person.  The same applies to those people who vote on a straight balot, just because they feel safe by voting for the side that they would usually agree with.  Most people don’t think about who they think would actually run the country effectively and intellectually, and I think this is destructive.

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