“Certainly, mythologizers start out with an understanding of the past, which in many (though not all) cases they may sincerely believe to be “correct.” Their purpose, however, is not to enlarge upon or deepen this understanding. Rather, it is to draw on it to serve the political, ideological, rhetorical, and.or emotional needs of the present.” 213
“The mythological past need not be historically accurate. But if it is to be effective in persuading or mobilizing people in the present, it must be bound by at least a loose conception of ‘truthfulness.’” 214
Mythologizers use events that have occurred in the past and using sources, often cherrypicked to their benefit, to shape the present and use for their own means. In many cases, this happens through competing ideas becoming filed down to a singular “truth.” Cohen attempts to avoid this by providing differing viewpoints on a singular event. These new “truths” express themselves in different ways: art, television, propaganda, theatre, books, etc. Commemorations of the past i.e. monuments, days of remembrance, affect how the “truth” around an event is shaped.
Different groups throughout Chinese history have used the Boxers for different reasons. The communists used the Boxers as a positive, stating that they were the spark needed for the Communist ascent. Cohen attempts to differentiate between anti-imperialism and anti-foreignism and explain which the Boxers better identify with.