A couple of paragraphs from the book, “Formation of the State” by Lawrence Krader

This is a few paragraphs from the slightly dated, but still good, short book by Lawrence Krader called, “Formation of the State”. Part of the “Foundations of Modern Anthropology Series”, which was edited by Marshall D. Sahlins. Page 62 of my paperback.


”     In Egypt, the royal ritual and the state ritual were one, thus the unity of the people as a religious representation was given political expression: the representation of their political unity under the state. The state power had to be a legitimate one, conforming to the beliefs and customs of the people; the state power was affirmed as legitimate in the state ritual: coronation of the king, inauguration of the president. The ritual of the state expressed the myth of the founding of the state; the founding act was a myth, the subject of popular belief. This act was the principle which made legitimate the rule of the state. The doctrine of the Egyptian state was is in fact that of the nation-state today.
The people in a society legitimate the sovereign power; the sovereign power is derived from the people who participate in the ritual act of legitimation when a new sovereign assumes the office. There is nothing false about this myth and its ritual expression; they refer to the constitution of the people in the state. “The myth,” to paraphrase Malinowski, “is the founding charter of the state.” Moreover, the social contract idea current in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is itself a myth of legitimation of the state. According to this myth, individuals by contract gave up their freedom in exchange for the benefits from common life in civil society. This is not a foolish fancy; it is understandable as a myth of the origin of the state.
The state itself has acquired a myth of power, endowed with a (mythical) will of its own, and is often an object of worship. Those who adore power for itself venerate the state, and create thereby a cult of the state. Instead of a mode of relations as among human beings, the state then is made into a thing unto itself, with an existence independent of those who participate in it. This is the curious fallacy of reification: worshipers of state power have reified the state as cult by making it into a thing.”

So, i may wonder, how does one go about changing myths? How can we do violence to myths? What weapons do we have? What weapons can we make?