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Lakoff In Space And Time

i-710d005c8660d36282911838843a792d-ClockWeb logo2.JPG This post from October 21, 2004 laments the lack of spatial and temporal context for Lakoff’s theory of political ideology.

As I have complained before, Lakoff’s theory leaves me wanting for a spatial and a temporal context. In other words, I believe that current analysis will remain untested without a comparative study between USA and other countries, as well as without a historical study of changes in two forms of worldviews over the past couple of hundred years of history here, as well as the past couple of millenia around the world.

The only reference to any differences between the American and (vaguely defined) non-American models in “Moral Politics” is in the implementation of the “18 and you’re out” rule in the States. I’ve heard it as a child in Yugoslavia: “You are lucky! If this was America, we would have kicked you out of the house to fend for yourself on your 18th birthday!” But how does this difference affect the Strict Father model in other places? I don’t know. Are there any other differences? Japan? China? Middle-East? Africa? Eastern Europe? Latin America? Does every region have its own version?

As for history, I am no expert, but as I have written before (the same link as above), I believe there is a gradual change in relative strength of the two models in this country. This relative strength can be measured in absolute numbers of people belonging to one or the other, in predominance in the culture as reflected in language, or in political dominance.

I believe that in the absolute numbers, the Strict Father is gradually diminishing and the Nurturant Parent slowly growing. It is a painfully slow process, aided primarily by the Universities, and most recently by popular culture. As for political power, it appears to go back and forth, as parties change powers, with the Strict Father having a heyday right now.

For cultural dominance, I see a pattern of ‘two steps forward, one step back’. When Nurturant Parent had political power, slavery was abolished. In the next swing to the Right, some advances were lost, but slavery was not re-instated. Rights of women came next, step by step: wives not being property of their husbands, wives allowed to own property, changes in divorce laws, voting rights, employment rules, etc. Perhaps 1940s were a move forward for women, and 1950s a slight throwback, 1960s good, 1980s bad, 1990s good, 2000s bad, etc.

That battle was more or less won over the past century or so. If Jim McWorther is correct, the year 1965 was the treshold year: the year when Nurturant Parent won over Strict Father as a dominant worldview in America, as seen in a sudden shift from formal to informal forms of language and music. Battle against racism and for civil rights came next. It’s not a finished job yet, but it’s almost there.

The current battle is for rights of gays, and I see them winning every day, with every campaign speech. Kerry’s mention of Mary Cheney in the debate precipitated a debate that can only have a positive impact for the gay community. Those who found the mention offensive inadvertently outed themselves as bigots, at least closeted bigots, and are now backtracking and covering up. Studies showing ease with homosexuality being reversely-correlated with age are now being publicized in the mainstream media. The whole hullaballoo forced the nation to publically state that being gay is not a choice and is just fine. What a victory. Gay marriage is just around the corner.

The next battle, the biggest battle, the final battle, is coming next. It is a battle between dogma and rationality, between gut-feeling and information, between faith and science, between religion and atheism. The battle seems to be starting right now. It will be a bloody war, and the current election [2004] is its first major face-to-face battle. The Strict Father folks feel it in their bones that this is a war for their sheer survival – their last stand. They are fighting in any way they can. No weapon or trickery is beyond the pale. The only way they can survive is if they win this election, clean or dirty, and then institute a totalitarian regime that will try to roll back the centuries. Good luck! They are outnumbered and outgunned and history is not on their side.