Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Elephant Hegemony

I am reading two books right now.

One is George Lakoff's book on framing,

called Don't Think of an Elephant,

and the other is Noam Chomsky's

Hegemony or Survival.

I haven't finished either one.

I've given two copies of the Lakoff book away already,

and the Chomsky book is well, its on the side of the bed.

But I love Chomsky whether I read him or not.

The Lakoff book deals with why the Right is doing so well right now.

They are just plain old smarter.

Face it.

When the Democrat Party allows the debate on Taxes to be

on Tax Relief.

It's all over except for the voting.

If the best you can do is say its for the wealthy,

you still lose.

And you sound like a loser.

This isn't Tax relief, its forcing our bills on our children.

The Republicans should know this stuff because they got burned early.

Here is Lakoff:

Richard Nixon found that out the hard way. While under pressure to resign during the Watergate scandal, Nixon addressed the nation on TV. He stood before the nation and said, "I am not a crook." And everybody thought about him as a crook.

This gives us a basic principle of framing, for when you are arguing against the other side: Do not use their language. Their language picks out a frame — and it won't be the frame you want.

Let me give you an example. On the day that George W. Bush arrived in the White House, the phrase “tax relief” started coming out of the White House. It still is: It was used a number of times in this year's State of the Union address, and is showing up more and more in preelection speeches four years later.

Think of the framing for relief. For there to be relief there must be an affliction, an afflicted party, and a reliever who removes the affliction and is therefore a hero. And if people try to stop the hero, those people are villains for trying to prevent relief.

Now the President is saving social security.

He has liberated Iraq

and he is bringing freedom and democracy to the Mideast.

In the meantime they are passing the meanest bankruptcy bill imaginable while everyone is looking the other way. It's called the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

And that brings me to Chomsky.

Chomsky told us 25 years ago in Manufacturing Consent that things would get this weird and now they are.

Now he says it going to get weirder.

The choice between hegemony and survival has rarely, if ever, been so starkly posed.

Let us try to unravel some of the many strands that enter into this complex tapestry, focusing attention on the world power that proclaims global hegemony. Its actions and guiding doctrines must be a primary concern for everyone on the planet, particularly, of course, for Americans.

Those who want to face their responsibilities with a genuine commitment to democracy and freedom -- even to decent survival -- should recognize the barriers that stand in the way. In violent states these are not concealed. In more democratic societies barriers are more subtle. While methods differ sharply from more brutal to more free societies, the goals are in many ways similar: to ensure that the "great beast," as Alexander Hamilton called the people, does not stray from its proper confines.

Controlling the general population has always been a dominant concern of power and privilege, particularly since the first modern democratic revolution in seventeenth-century England.

Almost three centuries later, Wilsonian idealism, as it is standardly termed, adopted a rather similar stance. Abroad, it is Washington's responsibility to ensure that government is in the hands of "the good, though but a few." At home, it is necessary to safeguard a system of elite decision-making and public ratification -- "polyarchy," in the terminology of political science -- not democracy.

You can see why the book is still on the side of the bed.

But if you put the two books together.

You get Elephant Hegemony.

Superior shaping,

elite decision making,

and public ratification.

And, as the song goes,

it just won't stop.

til you wise up.



Blogger othermother6 said...

Everybody should read Lakoff and mark it up and try it on friends or folks they can do without. Chomsky is so scary that we don't want to believe him. What we must do is offer people a better option, like hey guys, let's be willing to spend a couple dollars a month more in order to have cleaner energy. Did you know that utilities are one of the three big users of water and two big polluters? How can we change that? and wait for an answer. If they don't have an answer, help them find one. But that doesn't address the current administration. Right now we are galloping forward to the midterm elections. How about you run for office and get your friends and neighbors to support you? You don't have to run for Senator. Run for SOMETHING, or donate money to good progressives. You can do it! Donate money to some good group like the Friends (FCNL) or Sierra Club or a good candidate in memory of somebody you loved and admired. It will do more good than flowers. Don't look over your shoulder; we are all we have (to quote Annie Dillard in HOLY THE FIRM.)

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone should call their senator and tell them what a sucky bill the credit card companies are pushing. its so greedy.

10:45 AM  
Blogger polit thoughts said...

and another thing. Had you noticed that suffering is the precondition for compassion?

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we should call Republican shaping what is....lies.

7:56 AM  

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