Memory and Myth in Economic Policymaking

August 5, 2016 Monika Greenhow

The real world is quite complicated. We make sense of it for the purposes of assessing policies by using the shorthand incorporated in accepted myths and memories. For instance, James W. Loewen explains how the many “facts” that can be brought to bear to explain the Civil War have been condensed into a myth that the Confederacy was about protecting states’ rights and intersectional differences over policies from an overpowering federal government. This myth, or the sense of memory that most Americans have in understanding the Civil War, of course masks the racism inherent in most right-wing extremism in the United States today. That “memory” of the Civil War lets people look past the racism of Donald Trump, to interpret him as heir to that stream of Americana of someone who bravely battles the meddling federal government in Washington.

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