article-single

The American Heroic Myth

The word hero is defined as a legendary figure, often of divine descent, endowed with great strength or ability. Heroism is man’s attempt to fulfill a higher purpose, it is the basis for character development, ethical living, and critical thought. Athletes, race car drivers, and firemen are all marketed as heroes, but they do not pass the critical test: They are not engaged in a battle of good versus evil.

The State does not wish for the battle against evil to be discussed, except in terms that it can control. Thus, the State defines heroism as triumph over adversity, or danger. To call heroism a triumph over evil makes the state uncomfortable. It knows that an increasing number of Americans are engaged in a heroic battle against domestic tyranny, which is clearly evil. The State thus denies it’s evil nature, all the while increasing it’s tyranny.

Government animosity towards heroism has it’s roots in the conflict between Jeffersonian Democracy, and the Marxism we have today. Our original democracy promised equality of opportunity, whereby each man was expected to succeed or fail according to his own effort. This individual effort stands as a threat to Marxist equality of condition. Our government attempts to enforce equality by destroying the bond between effort and reward. Through taxation and redistribution of wealth, the State punishes effort, and rewards allegiance.

Everyone knows, of course, that lack of effort does not create equality, it creates poverty. When a Marxist such as Al Sharpton promises to elevate the poor, he is really promising to deliver equality as an illusion. Children are taught to expect reward without effort, and status without achievement. Military rank is a prime example: Promotion occurs as a result of political correctness. The ability to win battles is no longer a factor.

The Marxist disconnection between effort and reward has resulted in a new pathology: The cult of non-effort. To witness non-effort in action, tune to MTV. There, one can view young Anglo’s Hanging Out and young blacks Chilling. The cult of non-effort is a celebration of sloth within a materialistic utopia. Kid Rock, Snoop Doggy Dog, and Puff Daddy are the primary arbiters of this worldview. This cult takes other forms, as well. Consider the lottery. Everyone is equal in the eyes of Lady Luck, so effort is pointless. The lottery is self-funding Marxist propaganda.

According to the cult of non-effort, nobody works, everybody is rich, and all men are joined in a brotherhood of ego. Lurking just below the surface however, is a deadly cynicism. Even the followers of this new religion know it’s a lie. The success of the cult of non-effort is evidence that American youth are attempting to fabricate a heroic mythology, but without the benefit of worthy heroes. These young men don’t know it, but they have been stripped of their heroic myth.

What is the heroic myth, you say? It is the spiritual battle that each man fights with evil, that places his life and personal struggle within a context of greatness. Every man fights this battle. The heroes of his mythology are drawn from his culture. Over the last hundred years, there have been three cultural Icons who have played central roles in the American heroic myth: Ragged Dick, John Galt, and Christ.

Ragged Dick is a novel that was written by Horatio Alger, in 1868. To quote the publisher: Young Dick is a plucky street boy who smokes, gambles, and speaks ungrammatically, but he is also honest and hardworking, striving not for wealth and status, but for a steady job, a decent place to sleep, and respectability. This was the first of a series of poor-boy-makes-good books that connected virtue and hard work with success. Ragged Dick is effort personified.

Atlas Shrugged is a 1957 novel by the Objectivist Ayn Rand. In this novel, John Galt, the protagonist, makes a conscious decision to think. It is that momentous decision, to become self-aware, that changes his life forever. The libertarian creed of self-determination, rather than collective responsibility, is reasoned as the highest ideal. John Galt is integrity personified.

The Bible is a collection of divinely inspired stories, woven into an account of what many believe to be an accurate history of the world. Christ, the rebellious central character of the New Testament, exists as the Son of God who has been sent to atone for the sins of man. Mankind, through worship, projects his most basic sense of self onto Christ. Out of love, Christ returns this sense of self, in the form of mercy. He serves as a vessel for our trust, and through forgiveness, provides grace. Christ is virtue personified.

These three figures are part of a group of hundreds of real and fictional heroes that together form a standard of bravery, honor, and good conduct. St. Augustine wrote extensively on the subject, saying that the conflict between good and evil rages not only in mankind as a whole, but in every individual.

Fathers are the primary mythical heroes. Young men internalize the heroic myth, and use it to form an identity. This identity serves as a rudder, which helps each man to steer a course through a dangerous and complex world. Marxist governments hate and fear the heroic myth, and wish to destroy it. They know that it challenges their authority at the deepest level.

Why do they fear it so? There are three primary reasons:

(1) The heroic myth is masculine, and chivalrous.

It exists exclusively in the minds of men. It is Camelot, King Arthur, and the Damsel in distress. This fact is intolerable to female Marxists who demand, but can never achieve, heroic equality.

(2) The heroic myth is self-aware.

The conscious man explores his mind and heart openly. Marxism, through repression, uses shame and guilt to force portions of the conscious mind to submerge into the sub-conscious. Conscious men are not easily repressed. Nor are they easily governed.

(3) The heroic myth is spiritual.

Heroes, above all, are moral beings. The inner voice that calls upon each man is the voice of his own conscience, and proof of his spiritual autonomy. Marxism, by definition, is atheistic and authoritarian. These forces stand in perfect opposition.

The heroic myth serves as a model for all men who wish to be free. That is exactly why our Marxist government cannot allow it to exist. Feminism encourages divorce, which separates fathers from sons, breaking the heroic myth continuum. Secular Humanism denies the existence of God, which removes the basis for a moral life. Finally, leftist propaganda defines masculinity as the source of violence, rather than acknowledging it’s true function as the source of honor.

Young men need a strong hero myth for proper character development, the same way they need vitamins and minerals for a healthy body. It is a primary objective of our Marxist government never to allow that to happen.

As Americans, we must reintroduce heroic mythology into the minds of young men.

We must swim against the tide of popular opinion, and the Marxist agenda of the public schools and universities. This heroic call to greatness is the path to freedom.

February 21, 2002

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts