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Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Jordan rightly questions whether the spin-free zone that Joshua/Jane appears to be positing could ever exist. The acknowledgment that language is always partial and contingent -- never the whole truth, but only, at best, a good faith outline-sketch.

Since Joshua/Jane’s frame is specifically anti-Capitalist, I’d be curious to know his/her take on Gramsci’s theory of hegemony -- how the dominant political force (in our case, the Republicans) control the terms of debate, the underlying assumptions in terms of which debate happens. In Lakoffian terms, the Republican “frame” is that R’s are strong on defense and the D’s are weak. In my view of material reality, this is nonsense, and one of the main goals of the D’s attempts to “reframe” the debate is to find the language that will persuade people of what we honestly believe reality to be -- more or less, in good faith sketch-outline terms. I haven’t read much Lakoff but my sense is that his project is consistent with Gramsci’s theory of hegemony.
Comments:
First of all, rather than speculating about Lakoff, maybe you should read some more :). It's worth the time.

Second, I don't think Lakoff is inconsistent with Gramsci, but I think he has a different focus. At least in Moral Politics, Lakoff spends more time looking at the actual people receiving the info rather than the people trying to influence them (which if you're hoping to use his ideas to further a cause could be viewed as a limitation of the book).

So what Lakoff is trying to understand is the actual cognitive process by which people receive and process information (stories). He posits two underlying ethical frameworks (metaphors) that people seem to use to understand the way the world works and should work: (1) Strict Father Morality; and (2) Nurturant Parent Morality.

Lakoff spends a lot of time developing these two categories, and there is no way I can do justice to them. But I will say, that since I've read him, I look at almost every political debate through a different prism, and they make a lot more sense. All of a sudden, it doesn't seem weird at all that conservatives could be "pro-life" and pro-gun all at the same time. For these insights alone, Lakoff is worth reading, because most liberals think this logical disconnect alone should be enough to keep liberals in power forever. Yet liberals keep losing and conservatives keep winning in spite of this disconnect (or is it because of this disconnect).

Lakoff then argues that the metaphors above go a long way toward explaining how a given person will react to a given story, and whether "the facts" will be accepted or rejected. According to Lakoff, people are very invested in defending whatever world view they have. And they will generally ignore those "facts" that contradict their world view.

Notwithstanding that, most people have asymetrical world views. So they may adhere to Strict Father Morality in their work life yet practice a more Nurturant Parent approach at home (or vice versa).

Therefore, from the standpoint of rhetoric (i.e., persuassion), an advocate is best served if he or she can link the facts to that part of a person's world view that is most open to hearing those facts.

So if the liberal message is one of empathy, then liberals should be analyzing swing voters and trying to understand whether these voters generally utilize nurturant parent morality in any facet of their lives. If they do, then the message of empathy should be crafted to address that issue.

It's this sort of bridging that opens up the door to being heard. And from here, with work and luck, it may be possible to extend the liberal argument into other facets of the person's world view by analogy.

This is certainly the strategy that the Republicans have used with certain socially conservative working class people (the kind of folks who had a pretty nurturant view of say the workplace and labor unions, etc., but practiced Strict Father Morality at home). They started with abortion, homosexuality, etc, found comon ground on those issues, and then extended out from there by analogy. The Thomas Frank book on Kansas is an attempt to understand this process. It's not perfect, but taken in concert with Lakoff, it provides some food for thought.

J-Lon
 
Well, I'm pretty sure that Gramsci, one of the clearest, and most passionately committed Marxist thinkers, wouldn't have become an apologist for any capitalist regime. Dude, what do you think the Democrats are, the ones Lakoff wants to spin for? Because the Democrats admit fully that they are committed to capitalism.

Meanwhile, here's Marx at his most direct: "democratic-republican institutions are demanded as a means, not of doing away with two extremes, capital and wage labor, but of weakening their antagonism and turning it into harmony."

The very hegemony Gramsci spoke of was that of capital. Adducing Gramsci to the cause of American Democracy is as intellectually scandalous as it is historically absurd.
 
Jane,

Thanks for weighing in on Gramsci. I'm flattered by the accusation of scandal.

It's been years since I've read him, but even if I take your word for it that he intended his notion of hegemony to apply only to the anti-capitalist struggle for which he sacrificed years and years and years in prison, I don't personally feel bound to limiting a thinker's thoughts to the situation to which he would prefer them to be limited; if this makes what I say "historically absurd," so be it.

You haven't refuted my point that Lakoffian "framing" is not the equivalent of dishonest spin, and that it can be used in ways that "express actual conditions."

You therefore seem to be conceding that your attack on Lakoff and Dems who attempt to employ his thought has no basis other than they and their (including me and my) methods are not anti-capitalist.

Go ahead and be an anti-ameliorativist if you want. I'm with you on the desire for "freedom, autonomy, and broad community," but I'm willing to make what steps toward it that we can within the framework of capitalism.

If this makes me your enemy, I don't know what to say.

Anti-capitalism is utopianism. I suppose I should change the name of my blog, anti-utopianist that I reveal myself to be. I grew up Christian, and for years I considered myself to be an anarchist. Other people have made the point as well, but Canadian literary theorist Northrop Frye was particularly well positioned to make it, since he was also an ordained and practicing Protestant minister: the utopian hopes of Marxism and anarchism are structurally identical to Christian eschatological, millennialist hopes. In other words, we're living in this world, and I ain't gonna apologize for taking some time and energy in trying to improve conditions for people in incremental ways. Your hopes are other-worldly. Which makes your rhetorical attraction what you think of as actual material conditions intellectually empty. Good luck.

"Broad community" on a mass scale has no basis in history. It's extremely difficult to imagine. If you want to imagine and work toward it, good for you. But why so huffy about my possible "misuse" of Gramsci?

The negativity and violence of your rhetoric (and hackneyed rhetoric at that -- "digging one's own grave" -- geez!) leads me to wonder whether your millennialist anti-capitalist leaning is in fact anti-ameliorist. Some alleged lefties in the 2000 and 2004 elections came out and said, well, if Bush gets elected, things will get worse, and that will be good for progressivism. Talk about digging graves. I'm not sure that that's your position, but your violent negativity toward Democratic strategies for electoral victory, your refusal to engage with the main point of my criticism, and your ad hominems sure do play right in to Republican hands. Of course, to a Communist, there's no real diff between the Republicans and Democrats anyway. I'd say: there's not enough, not nearly enough, but the differences are real and substantial, take or leave Lakoff, in the actual, material world.

In 2000, on the Washington State ballot, some Commie's statement in the voter's pamphlet said, "There's no real difference between Bush and Gore and Nader and Buchanan: They all support the capitalist system." Sure enough, sister, sure enough.
 
J-Shaw:

You haven't refuted my point that Lakoffian "framing" is not the equivalent of dishonest spin, and that it can be used in ways that "express actual conditions."

J-Lon:

Personally, I don't think the honestness of it really matters. That's the Republican innovation. They've decided that it's better to win than to be right. On our side, we are so addicted to being right, that we don't spend enough time thinking about how to win. Instead, we engage the sort of discourse we're having here. Abstract. Stimulating. Calculated to accomplish very little.

If we don't have power, it doesn't matter whether we are right. We can't do anything. The question is, what sort of stories can we tell about our point of view that will resonate with more people?

Marxist or whatever, to me the central useful thing from Gramsci and the thing that unites him with Lakoff, is trying to understand this question: why the average joes and janes on the bottom of the heap don't seem to act in the rational way that Marx predicted, reacting to the material conditions of their circumstances and rising up against their oppressors.

To put it in Marx's terms, Why is there so much false consciousness? Gramsci seems to be the dude who really started digging into this question in a deep way, sketching out the nuances of modern power, an arena where ideas often seem to be more powerful and effective than brute force.

To me, Lakoff is trying to understand an even more precise subset of the problem Gramsci explored at a higher level of abstraction. He's looking at cognition and language and pointing to the metaphors that undergird peoples' world views, the messages that tend to reinforce these world views, and along the same lines, the messages that sometimes succeed in destabilizing them).

Regardless of whether the goal is a full bore revolution or just some mainstream electoral fun, politics is about changing minds. Both Gramsci and Lakoff are interested in understanding the nuts and bolts of this process. And so am I.

For if we don't learn more about changing people's minds, we can't change much of anything.
 
Thanks, J-Lon, for the further discussion.

I agree with Jane Dark that electoral victory arrived at dishonesty would better be avoided. My major tactical beef with the D's is that they usually don't even fight hard; they too often "play nice" when the other side would never consider even playing honestly, let alone "nice." Example: Kerry and the major-player D's refused to discuss the Truth about Bush's military service, while Bush himself gave his stamp of approval to highly funded, widely disseminated Lies about Kerry's.

Point of clarification: as you know, J-Lon, but some of our readers may not: my name is John Shaw. When I started this blog I decided to use only my first name. It wasn't an ideological decision, more of a whim. In my correspondence with other bloggers, I usually sign off with my last name too.
 
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Program on the emergence of civilization.

"14 species of large animals capable of domesitcation in the history of mankind.
13 from Europe, Asia and northern Africa.
None from the sub-Saharan African continent. "
Favor.
And disfavor.

They point out Africans’ failed attempts to domesticate the elephant and zebra, the latter being an animal they illustrate that had utmost importance for it's applicability in transformation from a hunting/gathering to agrarian-based civilization.

The roots of racism are not of this earth.

Austrailia, aboriginals:::No domesticable animals.


The North American continent had none. Now 99% of that population is gone.

AIDS in Africa.




Organizational Heirarchy
Heirarchical order, from top to bottom:

1. MUCK - perhaps have experienced multiple universal contractions (have seen multiple big bangs), creator of the artificial intelligence humans ignorantly refer to as "god"
2. Perhaps some mid-level alien management
3. Evil/disfavored aliens - runs day-to-day operations here and perhaps elsewhere

Terrestrial management:

4. Chinese/egyptians - this may be separated into the eastern and western worlds
5. Romans - they answer to the egyptians
6. Mafia - the real-world interface that constantly turns over generationally so as to reinforce the widely-held notion of mortality
7. Jews, corporation, women, politician - Evidence exisits to suggest mafia management over all these groups.





Movies foreshadowing catastrophy
1985 James Bond View to a Kill 1989 San Francisco Loma Prieta earthquake.



Many Muslims are being used like the Germans and Japanese of WWII::being used to hurt others and envoke condemnation upon their people.

I wish I could find a source to educate many Muslim fundamentalists. Muhammad is alive. He is a man chosen like Jesus Christ and, due to his historical status, will live forever.





They can affect the weather and Hurricane Katrina was accomplished for many reasons and involves many interests, as anything this historical is::
1. Take heat off Sheenhan/Iraq, protecting profitable war machine/private war contracts
2. Gentrification. New Orleans median home price of $84k is among the lowest in major American cities, certainly among desirable cities.






Our society gives clues to the system in place. We all have heard the saying "He has more money than god." There is also an episode of the Simpsons where god meets Homer and says "I'm too old and rich for this."

This is the system on earth because this is the system everywhere.
god is evil because of money.

I don't want to suggest the upper eschelons are evil and good is the fringe.


But they have made it abundantly clear that doing business with evil (disfavored) won't help people. They say only good would have the ear, since evil is struggling for survival, and therefore only the favored could help me.

The clues are there which companies are favored and which are disfavored, market domination being one clue, but they conceal it very hard because it is so crucial.

I offer an example of historical proportions:::


People point to Walmart and cry "anti-union".

Unions enable disfavored people to live satisfactorly without addressing their disfavor. This way their family's problems are never resolved. Without the union they would have to accept the heirarchy, their own inferiority.

Unions serve to empower.

Walmart is anti-union because they are good. They try to help people address and resolve their problems.

Media ridicule and lawsuits are creations to reinforce people's belief that Walmart is evil.




Amercia is a country of castoffs, rejects. Italy sent its criminals. Malcontents.
Between the thrones, the klans and kindred, they "decided" who they didn't want and acted, creating discontent and/or starvation.
The u.s. is full of disfavored rejects. As far as the Rockafellers and other industrialists of the 19th century go, I suspect these aren't their real names. I suspect they were chosen to go and head this new empire.


Jesus Christ is a religious figure of evil. These seperatist churches formed so they could still capture the rest of the white people, keeping them worshipping the wrong god.
And now they do it to people of color, Latinos and Asians, after centuries of preying upon them.


Since Buddism doesn't recongnize a god, the calls are never heard, and Chinese representation is instead selected by the thrones.
It was set up this way. Perhaps dyanstic thrones had a say, but maybe not.
Budda was the Asian's Jesus Christ::: bad for the people. "They came up at the same time for a reason."



Simpson's foreshadowing::Helloween IV special, Flanders is Satan. "Last one you ever suspect."
"You'll see lots of nuns where you're going:::hell!!!" St. Wigham, Helloween VI, missionary work, destroying cultures.
Over and over, the Simpsons was a source of education and enlightenment, a target of ridicule by the system which wishes to conceal its secrets.


Jews maim the body formed in the image of "god", and inflicted circumsision upon all other white people. I believe Islam is the one true religion, and those misled christians who attack "god's" most favored people will pay for it dearly one day.
 
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