The Political Mind by George Lakoff

Just read William Saletan’s “Neuro-Liberalism” published June 22, 2008 in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, a review of The Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century Politics With an 18th-Century Brain by George Lakoff.

George Lakoff is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Rockridge Institute, a think tank in Berkeley, and The Political Mind sounds like a guide for progressive politicians.

As Lakoff explains:

American values are fundamentally progressive, centered on equality, human rights, social responsibility, and the inclusion of all. Yet progressives have, without knowing why, given conservatives an enormous advantage in the culture war. The radical conservatives seek and have already begun to introduce: an authoritarian hierarchy based on vast concentrations and control of wealth; order based on fear, intimidation, and obedience; a broken government; no balance of power; priorities shifted from the public sector to the corporate and military sectors; responsibility shifted from society to the individual; control of elections through control of who votes and how the votes are counted; control of ideas through the media; and patriarchal family values projected upon religion, politics, and the market.

Lakoff’s suggestions for progressives, according to Saletan, are also interesting:

What should progressives say? That conservatism is “fundamentally antidemocratic.” It “tells us to save your own skin and not to care about your neighbor,” so “conservatives don’t pay that much attention to injured veterans.”

I don’t know how much I buy into all of this but I’m certainly curious to hear more about Lakoff’s theories!


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