The Corruption Of The White Westerner Foundation Myth
John Derbyshire wonders why Europeans are so susceptible to guilt. One explanation is that all cultures have a foundation myth that tells them who they are, and the foundation myth of modern Europeans is a negative one.
How do you recognise a foundation myth? It fulfils three functions.
1)It explains the origin and structure of the world (and society).
2)It defines ultimate good and evil (and from those definitions are derived the values that are used to justify the holding of power).
3)It determines what is held sacred in that society.
For modern Westerners the story of WWII has become their foundation myth. It fulfils all three functions.
1)We live in the ‘Post-War World’. The lines on the map, the institutions, the sense of what era we live in, all arise from the starting point of WWII.
2)Ultimate evil is Nazis. Ultimate good is opposing Nazis. The values derived from these definitions are anti-racism, equality, diversity, anti-nationalism and so on.
3)The only thing that is held sacred, that cannot be denied or mocked in the contemporary West, is the Holocaust.
The problem is that all three functions are backwards or negative.
Instead of the origin event being one of fertility and new life, it was a conflagration of death and destruction.
Instead of ultimate good taking the central position in the story that slot is occupied by ultimate evil. Everyone knows that Adolf Hitler, the personification of evil, holds the centre point of the WWII story.
Instead of that which is held sacred being something mysterious and sublime it (the Holocaust) is an obscenity.
Having a negative foundation myth means the tree of life for Westerners is poisoned. People don’t realise it but the bounds of allowable thought and the orientation of ideas are all downstream from the myth of the society. As long as our understanding of who we are is determined by this negative foundation myth the only direction is down.
There is definitely some truth in this. But I’d argue that the foundational myth for many Americans (the white ruralites who aren’t on opiates, anyway) is the first settlers and the American Revolution. This matters less and less because none of the “new Americans” bother to learn American history anymore and everybody knows about the Holocaust.
Analysis of the settlers and revolution myth:
1) Origin and structure of the world (and society): Explorer archetype (settlers) and Prometheus archetype (founding fathers).
2) Ultimate good and evil: Freedom and tyranny
3) What is sacred: Enterprise.