A new article of mine – Toward a Society of Equals — has appeared as a ZNet Commentary, sent to that website’s supporters. It takes off from new information on emotional factors in political attitudes and behavior and goes to George Lakoff’s on framing and political morality. While supporting Lakoff’s general approach, it raises questions regarding Lakoff’s two major political/social metaphors: the Strict Parent and the Nurturant Parent moralities. I point out that both of these are based on a fundamental model of society/state as parent and citizen as child. Thus, both metaphors implicitly assume an unequal society. I raise the possibility of metaphors supporting equality.
“Many leftists have been suspicious of Lakoff’s view of moral politics because they perceive him as arguing for ignoring social policy analysis, rational arguments, and evidence, and basing political discourse solely on emotional appeals to certain “values.” Further, to many of us, many of Lakoff’s political judgments are too close to those of the mainstream Democratic party, to which he has been a sometime adviser, that many activists see as a prime cause of the decline of progressive social policies and thinking in the last few decades. For example, Lakoff does not echo Thomas Frank’s concerns about the Democratic abandonment of working people in their headlong rush to embrace corporate-friendly globalization. However, rejecting Lakoff’s political judgments, or believing that he overemphasizes one of many aspects of political discourse, does not mean that his thinking on the metaphoric systems that underlie much of political discourse is not illuminating.”
March 11th, 2006