Plato is often quoted on the online grapevine as saying that those who tell the stories rule society. Sometimes it’s the world that is ruled although that seems to be a Hopi Indian saying. The real quote seems to be something along the lines of “those who hold the power tell the stories.” From the Republic apparently. I am planning to re-read this book soon, so may be able to once and for all verify where this quote comes from.
Whatever its origin or its correct formulation, story-telling is central to the human experience and undoubtedly of political importance. Example: “WWII was fought by the Allies against dictatorship and repression.” Not quite true when you subject the war and its historical context to critical scrutiny. However, it is a story which multitudes live by and is consequently one which exerts a massive influence on everyday behaviour.
And what of ‘society’ or ‘world’? Stories aren’t so much an interpretation of a society or a world. They teally are that world. They make and construct that world and stabilize it.
From a personal perspective, even if everyone subscribes to a common story, it yet remains a fact that everyone has their own story. “My life has been tragic,” “I struggled against the odds,” “I carried on a great tradition,” “We met, it was destiny,” etc …
We are all a story, we live by stories, and stories are an inherent part of the human condition. We watch TV where stories are peddled to us, we read books (fiction or non-fiction) and absorb stories, we meet others and listen to their stories, we fit all this into our own personal story. Even scientific papers are structured to tell a story. (I can hear a post-modernist thinking about telling the story of a story!)
One can then understand why media is so important. It is a medium for story telling that can reach mass groups of people instantaneously. Fame and prestige is a measure of how much people are talked about, i.e. how important are their stories. And those with the most convincing stories rule.