Saturday, April 10, 2010

It's all in their world view. Law or Gospel?

Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives by George Lakoff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fascinating. Lakoff is a "cognitive linguist," some of his observations remind me of the symbols and archetypes of Carl Jung. Enlightening.

If there's 3 things I like it's psychology, good writing, and politics. This book has all 3, but don' t let my comment about Carl Jung put you off- this is a breeze to read. Fun and easy.

Lakoff explores the perceptual "frames" or world-views of the left and the right and explains why language is so powerful. He thinks that it is important to be able to articulate your values clearly and speak in terms of positive assertions rather than negative criticisms or reactions.

His basic preface is that there seems to be two basic world-views in America right now, the "Strict-Father Family" model and the "Nurturant-Parents Family" model. At first I thought it correlated with Thomas Hobbes and John Locke- but now I realize that it is much more like the differences between the Puritans and the Quakers. On the right you have the punishing rugged individualism of James Dobson's "Focus on the Family," and on the left you have the empathetic, community-orientation of Jim Faye's "Love and Logic."

I really think that this book would be good for both liberals AND conservatives, and even independents. I don't think that he maligns or libels conservatives, if anything, I believe he just clarifies what most Republicans already know about themselves and in many cases already admit about themselves.

What I wish would happen is that other, "casual" conservatives and independents would read this book and have their eyes opened- so that they'd become aware of the broader strategy and the powerful propaganda that the far-right has been using to take advantage of them. But as soon as they find out that it was written by a Berkley professor- I'm sure that their "frame" would kick in and not let them even give it a chance.

I hope you'll give it a chance because, bottom line, he explains why & how they've been winning for the last thirty years and what we progressives need to do to compete more effectively in the marketplace of ideas.

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