CalJunket

Friday, October 07, 2005

It's not his fault if he's overrated

Berkeley's own George Lakoff pens this piece in my favorite Magazine today. It does a lot to cut through the mumbo-jumbo framing crap people keep misunderstanding Lakoff as saying and applies his ideas to the real life case of Hurricane Katrina: A tragedy that proves the necessity of effective liberal government and the bankruptcy of the conservative governing ideology.
The tragedy of Katrina was a matter of values and principles. The heart of progressive values is straightforward and clear: empathy (caring about and for people), responsibility (acting responsibly on that empathy), and fairness (providing opportunities for all and a level playing field from which to start). These values translate into a simple proposition: The common wealth of all Americans should be used for the common good and betterment of all Americans. In short, promoting the common good so that we can all benefit -- and focusing on the public interest rather than narrow individual gain -- is the central role of government. These are not just progressive values. They are America’s values.

Katrina shines a light not only on the failure of conservative values but especially on their fundamentally un-American character. Since the days of the colonies, when the commonwealths of Massachusetts and Virginia were formed, Americans have pooled their common wealth for individual aspirations.
Lakoff's framing ideas will only take us so far but it's important for liberals and progressives to recognize that the failures of the recent congress and administration are *not* caused by personal incompetence. Rather, a fundamentally unworkable hard-right governing ideology is setting us up for failure regardless of how competent any individual Republican is.



Comments:

Since when is individualism an exclusively conservative value? I do believe liberals and conservatives both complain about the government destroying our individualism. In addition, aren't liberals often the ones who always try to fight "conformity" and stress "individuslism?"
 
DTI,

I don't see anything in what Tommaso posted, or the Lakoff quote he includes that claims anything about individualism being a uniquely conservative value.

I think that the debate between liberals and conservatives has to do with how you use the power of government - to help those on the top of society stay there, or to promote equal opportunity for all to go as far as their talents can take them.
 
Terry Gross talked yesterday (October 6) with Paul Krugman and Stuart Butler (of the Heritage Foundation) about the best policies to follow in rebuilding New Orleans, and aiding those displaced. It was an interesting hour, much more civil than what one often sees or hears. Those wanting to can listen at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4947769. Bonus points will be given for those who successfully identify the frames Lakoff discussed in his Prospect article.
 
I think DTI has difficutly understanding how individualism and cooperation can exist side by side. I assume this is becuase he is used to seeing it as an either/or proposition. I guess it shows just how far right reasonable conservatives are these days.
 
Thinker, Then I guess Lakoff was having some two-thought process going on, deriding the value of individualism in one paragraph and the next one derides the value of conservative ideals. Maybe he's against both as not one and the same.

Far right? So I guess being anti-war, pro civil unions, anti-racist and supportive of California's medical marijuana policy is now being "far-right". Wow times have changed. Very quickly!
 
Look, I'm not saying you aren't reasonable, but when you start interpreting a defense of social cooperation (society, really) as an attack on individualism, well… that presses all my buttons.

I take back calling you far right. For me the difference between a reasonable conservative and a far-right winger is the difference between merely preferring individualism over cooperation when the trade off is small, and denying one completely in favor of another. (The mirror-opposite of the way Communists denied competition could ever lead to better outcomes while liberals are open to both.)

On re-reading I realize you didn't mean to put down all social responsibility, but it just seemed weird that you would interpret it the way you did and I just assumed wrong.
 
No problem, I think it was probably a simple communication error. I think the far-left and far-right intolerants lack an ability to reason, anyways.

I think it would be easier to classify people as extremists vs. rationalists. This far right/left distinction doesn't explain how people on both extremes act in the similar ways that they do. No offense taken.
 
Democrats have been in charge of Louisiana for 30 years. They've put in their policies and their ideals and their whatevers into place for decades. And you still blame conservatives for the failure of those who won't do anything for themselves to do nothing by themselves. This is why the country is constantly shifting to the right on economic policy. YOUR'S DON'T WORK.

And what's this "common wealth" nonsense? The wealth belongs to individuals, not the collective (ie government). Figure it out. Forcing "cooperation" is to by definition get rid of individuals. If individuals want to cooperate, more power to them, but the source of authority ALWAYS starts with the individual, never the collective.
 
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