Saturday, November 13, 2004

Strategery: Unity [Lakoff i]

I've been reading George Lakoff's book, Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, and I'm writing a series of posts promoting bits within it. First of all, this is an excellent book. In fact, I expected it to be good, but it is better than I had imagined from the combined hoopla and interviews I've heard with him. He just has quite a bit more to say than he says in an interview. And he says it all in 120 pages. Buy it. Read it.

Lakoff thinks conservatives have been more successful than their actual virtues would justify because of their unity.

He identifies six basic types of progressives, based on their thinking styles, i.e. the kinds of arguments they tend to make: socioeconomic, identity/race politics, environmentalists, civil liberties, spiritual, and antiauthoritarian.

All six types are examples of the nurturant parent morality. The problem is that many people who have one of these modes of thought ... do not see the unity in all the types of progressives. They often think theirs is the only way to be a true progressive. That is sad. It keeps people who share progressive values from coming together.
Conservatives figured out how to bring their people together. Every Wednesday, Grover Norquist has a group meeting--around eighty people--of leaders from the full range of the right. They are invited, and they debate. They work out their differences, they agree to disagree, and when they disagree, they trade off. The idea is This week he'll win on his issue. Next week, I'll win on mine. Each one may not get everything he wants, but over the long haul, he gets a lot of what he wants.

Nothing like this happens in the progressive world.


At 11:27 PM, Blogger Eli said...

But fundamentally the lack of unity is what the progressive cause is. Pluralism and such things. The conservatives have been good at single message, but thats alienating groups of people.

At 12:58 AM, Blogger conchis said...

The point of unity is twofold, I think (1) Unity among progressives, as people, just means that we watch each others' backs. (2) Unity of message just means that we emphasize a unified, simple message at any given time within the news cycle. Like Lakoff says, if we all push the environmental message one month, then we turn around and push the anti-undeserved-authority message the next. We're loyal to each other, and we make sure we repay those debts. And unity of message never means that anything is suppressed.

At 2:53 AM, Blogger Eli said...

But it does, it means that intelligent discourse is supressed, just as it is now. We are supressing intelligent thought for talking points. If anyone says anything intelligent or complex they are attacked for it. When I was living in Israel nobody would take being treated like an idiot for even a moment, here we just accept it as fact. Raise the level of discourse, don't drop it.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger conchis said...

Well let me be more explicit in agreeing with you: I think our primary objective is that all the individuals and disparate groups within the left get their message out. In fact, that's why I like the Internets: because it makes it easy for each of us to work on crafting our message. If you reread my original post (or better yet the original Lakoff) within this context, I think you'll see what I mean.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Eli said...

Sorry about that I think I just needed clarification.


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