2The Myth of the State1947

The word myth is a very queer word. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will find it defined as “a tale, a fabrication, usually invoking the supernatural to explain natural phenomena.” This definition is literally correct, or at least as correct as a dictionary definition can hope to be. You can test it for yourself; just see how neatly it fits the “myth of the state” we’re going to talk about tonight.

And yet the rhetorical emphasis on the definition and its propagandistic aim are the exact opposite of what we today usually mean when we talk about the myth. What the standard definition conveys is that myth is a silly superstition, an old wives’ tale. At best, it is tolerated as a harmless flight of fancy, as an ...

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