PJHR Colloquium Speaker Professor Robert Leib

The Dangers of Political Myth: Past and Present

Nov 3, 2016 (1:00pm)
AH 52, Room 205

Peace, Justice and Human Rights Initiative - Colloquium Series

As every voter realizes, politically motivated lies, propaganda, and spin present significant challenges to a just and fair democracy. Political myth, however, is a less recognized and potentiolly more dangerous adversary. While lies and propaganda might be exposed for what they are, and spin may be corrected by the "facts", political myth is largely immune to argument and reason because it projects a dream for the community, a narrative in light of which a group or nation orients itself and forms its identity. At the same time, however, these myths can be used to exlude and silence those whom a community rejects.

As Jewish philosopher Ernst Cassirer wrote of the Nazis' rise to power in 1933: "The real rearmament began with the origin and rise of the political myths. THe later military rearmament was only an accessory after the fact." But, what is political myth, and how does it work? According to Cassirer, "political myth acted in the same way as a serpent that tries to paralyze its victims before attacking them. Men...were vanquished and subdued before they had realized what actually happened." This talk examines the relationship between language and politics in the context of Nazi Germany, with an eye toward current and emerging forms of political practice.


Robert Leib

Visiting Instructor in Philosophy, Florida Atlantic University

November 3rd 2016

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Location: AH 205