Political myth

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A political myth is an ideological explanation for a political phenomenon that is believed by a social group.

In 1975, Henry Tudor defined it in Political Myth published by Macmillan. He said

A myth is an interpretation of what the myth-maker (rightly or wrongly) takes to be hard fact. It is a device men adopt in order to come to grips with reality; and we can tell that a given account is a myth, not by the amount of truth it contains, but by the fact that it is believed to be true, and above all, by the dramatic form into which it is cast ... What marks a myth as being political is its subject matter ... [P]olitical myths deal with politics ... A political myth is always the myth of a particular group. It has a hero or protagonist, not an individual, but a tribe, a nation, a race, a class ... [and] it is always the group which acts as the protagonist in a political myth.[1]

In 2001, Christopher G. Flood described a working definition of a political myth as

an ideologically marked narrative which purports to give a true account of a set of past, present, or predicted political events and which is accepted as valid in its essentials by a social group.[2]


Examples cited as political myths include Manifest destiny,[3] The Clash of Civilizations,[4] and national myths.[5]

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Niemann, Yolanda Flores; Armitage, Susan; Hart, Patricia et al., eds. (2002). Chicana leadership: the Frontiers reader. University of Nebraska Press. p. 52. ISBN 0-8032-8382-2. 
  2. ^ Flood, Christopher (2001). Political Myth. Routledge. p. 44. ISBN 0-415-93632-2. 
  3. ^ Bass, J.D. & Cherwitz R.A. (1978). "Imperial mission and manifest destiny: A case study of political myth in rhetorical discourse". Southern Speech Communication Journal (Routledge) 43: 213–32. 
  4. ^ Chiara Bottici & Benoît Challand (August 2006). "Rethinking Political Myth; The Clash of Civilizations as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy". European Journal of Social Theory 9 (3): 315–36. doi:10.1177/1368431006065715. 
  5. ^ David Archard (September 1995). "Myths, Lies and Historical Truth: a Defence of Nationalism". Political Studies (John Wiley & Sons) 43 (3): 472–81. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9248.1995.tb00315.x.