Archetypal Trials and the Management of Dissent: Some Insights from Marketing Theory

Pnina Lahav


Recent marketing theory uses the Jungian concept of the archetype to design strategies for the improvement of product selling. Mark and Pearson propose that archetypes such as the ruler, the hero, the outlaw, and the sage are useful in promoting a product. This article suggests that the concept of archetypes as well as myths such as the Prometheus myth and the myth of the expulsion from Paradise, when combined with the insights offered by Mark and Pearson, may help in understanding the management of trials of dissent as well. The article presents seven motifs that recur in trials of dissent and shows how they form a part of the phenomenon of the political management of dissent: (1) the demonization and otherization of defendants and their supporters; (2) the tendency to employ the charge of conspiracy and thus target a group rather than a single individual; (3) the bending of the laws of procedure; (4) the utilization of previously-untested substantive charges; (5) the appeal made by each side to an external principle or vision--typically, the government resorts to the law of necessity whereas the defense resorts to natural law or a vision of "true justice" (to counter the corrupt justice currently administered by those in power); (6) focus on the judge as manipulator of laws; and (7) the appellate court assuming the role of the ultimate sage, performing its task with balance and detachment. The appellate court may use softer rhetoric in an effort to minimize the damage to the appearance of legality. When it does so, the rule of law is reaffirmed as a concept that benefits all sides; there is thus unity in the commitment to the rule of law, not to patriotism or to identification with the government. In addition, an effort is made to reaffirm the maxim (myth) that the government is a government of law, not of men.

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