Brian Due

Brian Due

Brian Due

Karma: 2383 (?)






Dit parti er en familie
Jeg var til forelæsning med den berømte lingvist George Lakoff på Københavns Universitet i formiddags. Manden talte om sine teorier om metaforer, om hvordan de strukturerer vores måde at tænke på og hvordan man politisk kan bruge metaforer og framing langt mere strategisk. Den rare mand var ganske underholdende. 
Han brugte en del tid på at fremlægge teorien om, at man kan forstå de konservative og liberale som to typer af familier. Familien som metafor siger dermed noget om, hvordan konservative værdier fra patrikalske familiestrukturer påvirker og definerer politik på den ene side og hvordan liberale opdragelsesværdier og mere demokratiske familiestrukturer på den anden side kendetegner de progressive som han selv. 
Jeg spurgte ind til hvordan man kunne overføre metaforen om familien fra amerikanske til danske forhold, men han var lidt uklart i spyttet. Man må sige at det er en noget generaliseret metafor, men rigtig er den nok langt af vejen. 
Her er lidt om familliemetaforen:

The Nation-as-Family Metaphor

What links Strict Father family-based morality to politics is a common metaphor, shared by conservatives and liberals alike -- the Nation-as-Family metaphor, in which the nation is seen as a family, the government as a parent and the citizens as children. This metaphor turns family-based morality into political morality, providing the link between conservative family values and conservative political policies. The Strict Father model, which brings together the conservative metaphors for morality, is what unites the various conservative political positions into a coherent whole when it is imposed on political life by the Nation-as-Family metaphor.
The Strict Father model of the family, the metaphors that are induced by it, and the Nation-as-Family metaphor jointly provide an explanation for why conservatives have the collection of political positions that they have. It explains why opposition to environmental protection goes with support for military protection, why the right-to-life goes with the right to own machine guns, why patriotism goes with hatred of government.
The requirement of such forms of explanation is not the norm in discussions of politics. Political commentators are all too ready to accept random lists: conservatives favor A, oppose B, favor C, and so on. But on occasion explanation is attempted and all the other attempts I know of have failed. For example, William Bennett defines conservatism thus:
Conservatism as I understand it . . . seeks to conserve the best elements of the past. It understands the important role that traditions, institutions, habits and authority have in our social life together, and recognizes our national institutions as products of principles developed over time by custom, the lessons of experience, and consensus . . . Conservatism, too, is based on the belief that the social order rests upon a moral base...
This does not explain which elements of the past are judged to be best (certainly not witch burning or child labor or slavery) or which moral base the social order rests on. It also does not explain why traditional institutions like public schools are not to be preserved. Nor does it explain conservative views in cases where there is no consensus, such as abortion.
Other conservatives claim that conservatives just want less government at the federal level. This does not explain cases where conservatives favor more government. The obvious examples are increased military funding, the three-strikes law which requires many more prisons and the costs of keeping prisoners, the promotion of orphanages (which would be more expensive than the welfare programs they would replace), and tort reform, which would take enormous powers from the states and give them to the federal government. In short, conservative theorists are not very good at explaining what unifies conservative positions.
Conservatives sometimes claim that they are just following the Bible. But the Bible requires interpretation, and there are plenty of liberal interpretations (e.g., the National Council of Churches, Liberation Theology). It is Strict Father morality that determines what counts as a conservative interpretation of the Bible.
Liberals haven't done much better. The common liberal idea that conservatives are just selfish or tools of the rich does not explain conservative opposition to abortion, feminism, homosexuality, and gun control.
To sum up, the conservative world-view and the constellation of conservative positions is best explained by the Strict Father model of the family, the moral system it induces, and the common Nation-as-Family metaphor that imposes a family-based morality on politics.

The Nation-as-Family Metaphor

Applying the metaphor of the Nation as Family, with the government as parent, we get the liberal political worldview:


  • The government, as nurturant parent, is responsible for providing for the basic needs of its citizens: food, shelter, education, and health care.


  • Regulation: Just as a nurturant parent must protect his children, a government must protect its citizens -- not only from external threats, but also from pollution, disease, unsafe products, workplace hazards, nuclear waste, and unscrupulous businessmen.

  • Environmentalism: Communion with the environment is part of nurturance, part of the realization of one's potential as a human being. Empathy includes empathy with nature. Caring for children includes caring for future generations. Protection includes protection from pollution. All of these considerations support environmentalism.

  • Feminism and Gay Rights: Nurturant parents want all their children to fulfill their potential, and so it is the role of government to provide institutions to make that possible.

  • Abortion: Women seeking abortion are either women who want to take control of their lives or teenage children needing help. Considerations of nurturance for both require providing access to safe, affordable abortions.

  • Multiculturalism: Nurturant parents celebrate the differences among their children, and so governments should celebrate the differences among its citizens.

  • Affirmative Action: Since women and minorities are not treated fairly in society, it is up to the government to do what it can to make sure that they have a fair chance at self-fulfillment.

  • Art and the Humanities: Knowledge, beauty, and self-knowledge are part of human fulfillment, and so the government must see to it that institutions promote such forms of human nurturance.

  • Taxation: Just as in a nurturant family it is the duty of older and stronger children to help out those that are younger and weaker, so in a nation it is the duty of citizens who are better-off to contribute more than those who are worse-off.

Again, what we have here is explanation -- explanation of why liberal policies fit together and make a coherent whole: what affirmative action has to do with progressive taxation, what abortion has to do with affirmative action, what environmentalism has to do with feminism. And again the explanation centers on a model of the family, the moral system that goes with that model, and the Nation-as-Family metaphor.

Unfortunately liberals are less insightful than conservatives at recognizing that morality and the family lie at the center of their political universe. The cost to liberals has been enormous. Where conservatives have organized effectively in a unified way to promote all their values, liberals misunderstood their politics as being about coalitions of interest groups And so have remained divided and unable to compete effectively with conservatives.


Lakoffs nye bog der ikke er i trykken endnu. En meget normativ sag....  

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