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What Is a Political Myth? (Что такое политический миф?)

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What Is a Political Myth?

A political myth is a narrative, usually in the form of a dramatic story, which relates to a political topic. A political myth might claim to explain how a particular state came to be (появилось, стало существовать) or describe the relationship between two groups as part of a larger, legendary narrative. Political myths, whether they have any basis in historical fact or not, satisfy a group's need to have current a current political situation legitimized by inclusion in a larger story.

The term "political myth" was coined (появился, был придуман) in 1975 in Henry Tudor's book of the same name. Tudor described this type of myth as a myth in which the hero or protagonist (главный персонаж, в отличие от героя, не обязательно положительный) was not a single person but a group. The group might be a nation, an ethnic group or a social class. Political myths relate to history but are not necessarily historical; group members accept the myth as valid in philosophical terms rather than as historically accurate.

One common type of political myth is the national origin story or ethnogenesis. Many nations have semi-legendary accounts, often based to some extent on historical fact, of how they came into existence. For example, early medieval historians recounted the arrival of the English in England under two mythical leaders, Hengist and Horsa, while medieval historian Snorri Sturluson created a mythic origin for the Scandinavian peoples that linked them to Classical mythology. A more modern example of this type of myth would be the story of Puritans sailing to the New World to escape religious persecution and founding what would become America.

Not every political myth is an origin (исток, происхождение) story. Other political myths provide a grand narrative to frame political and cultural movements. For instance, the westward (на запад) expansion of the United States in the 19th century was accompanied by the creation of a political myth known as Manifest Destiny. This narrative explained American territorial acquisition as part of an inevitable growth. Proponents perceived reaching the Pacific ocean as the United States's "destiny." The US itself became the protagonist of this myth, with resistance to American expansion perceived as being a threat to the national destiny.

The role of political myth is to unite the community (сообщество - обычно группа людей, проживающих в одной местности, одном районе) and instil a sense of belonging (принадлежность, причастность). This can have both positive and negative consequences. Political myths often serve as rallying points in times of national crisis, but they can also be used as tools of oppression. For instance, the "dolchstosslegende," or "stab-in-the-back legend," was a narrative which claimed that Germany had lost the First World War due to betrayal by internal enemies. It was a major element of Nazi propaganda and encouraged support for the regime.


Myths of Nationhood

Being a good American means that you only subscribe (придерживаетесь) to one version of the USA, Mythical America. That is the America, we have been told, that always puts the interests of the poor and downtrodden first. That is the America that would never strike first, and is a good world citizen, never polluting or using more than its share of the world's resources. As far as countries go, Mythical America is as good as it gets.

Myth forces a certain "truth." We cannot escape (избежать) myth. It is the crucial way for us to move from our present state to a very different future. Myth can be revolutionary or reactionary. Myth has been called a "cultural troubleshooter," a solution to cultural contradiction.

Political veils include political symbols, rhetoric, rituals, mythologies, and traditions. They veil the rough edges offering idealized images of the system. But veils always imply (подразумевают, предполагают) some degree of concealment of truth.

The language of politics is ineffective without mythic elements that are unverifiable, irrational yet motivational. Therefore, myth should be embraced with reserve. Myth has a virtual power in producing events, before and after the fact.

Mythic events burst through the status quo. We build our historical "truths" as healing or divisive fictions from a mythologized perception (восприятие). It is neither false consciousness nor an unqualified positive force. Myth can serve subversion or the ruling elite. Oppression and subversion is the dialectical myth. The grand dialectic is between myth and history. History generates myth and myth generates history.

Political myth can be used as persuasive ideological discourse. It is a continuous process of unfolding narrative significance and collective social meaning. They help us orient and know how to act and feel about our world, whether we buy into them or react against them. From the banal to the extraordinary, they help us name the unknown and chart our direction.

Political myths differ from sacral myths in the forms they are presented in and the functions they serve. But these stories have the status of sacred in one or more social groups. They embody operative intentionalities, a narrative for ways of being in the world. The myths we embrace define our place in society.

But the modern political psyche is in the midst of a rite of passage where economics and imperialism take centerstage. Globalization is the foremost issue of the 21st century. Is the "clash of civilizations" myth just another propagandized view that has become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The function of myth is essentially hegemonic but no individual or political group can occupy the seat of power that unites all society. Hegemony isn't a description of the status quo but a description of the means of political change and opposition to domination.



Тексты на английском языке,
учебные материалы
и статьи по политологии

  • American Vs. British Elections
  • British Government
  • Civil War in Moscow, October'93
  • Elections in the United Kingdom
  • Fall of The Soviet Union
  • Glossary of Political Terms
  • How British Parliament Works
  • How the European Union Works
  • How the Presidential Electoral System Works in Russia
  • How to Become a Politician?
  • Labor Day in the USA
  • Levels of Government in the USA
  • May Day - the Real Labor Day
  • Propaganda Techniques
  • Russian Revolution, October, 1917
  • US Electoral System
  • US Regions and States: How Do They Differ?
  • What Is a Political Myth?
  • What Is Democracy?
  • What is the Difference between a President and a Prime Minister?
  • What is the European Union?
  • Западнолотианский вопрос и соглашение Сьюэла (Статья)
  • Перспективы реформирования формулы Барнетта (Статья)
  • Практика функционирования парламента Шотландии (Статья)
  • Еженедельное обращение Б. Обамы (19 октября 2013 г.)
  • Инаугурационная речь Б. Обамы (20 января 2009 г.)
  • Речь Б. Обамы после победы на выборах 2012 г.
  • Вторая инаугурационная речь Б. Обамы (21 января 2013 г.)
  • Послание Б. Обамы Конгрессу США 25 января 2011 г.
  • Послание Б. Обамы Конгрессу США 25 января 2012 г.
  • Послание Б. Обамы Конгрессу США 12 февраля 2013 г.
  • Послание Б. Обамы Конгрессу США 28 января 2014 г.
  • Выступление Б. Обамы в школе г. Арлингтона (штат Вирджиния) 8 сентября 2009 г.
  • Выступление Б. Обамы в агентстве Ассошиэйтед Пресс 3 апреля 2012 г.
  • Обращение Б. Обамы к Генеральной Ассамблее ООН 25 сентября 2012 г.
  • Речь Барака Обамы по поводу иммиграционной реформы (2013 г.)

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