George Lakoff on OWS Luntz-Speak

I don’t know if I agree with Lakoff entirely — the word ‘capitalism,’ for example, is not necessarily that popular these days, although I prefer ‘crapitalism’ to decribe the economic system in play in most parts of the world — and I also don’t think that Luntz’s talking points will work this time around; times are too hard for Luntz’s word games. Still, Lakoff has some interesting ideas to consider.

Conservative Frank Luntz Has Set a Trap for Progressives — Here’s How to Outsmart Him and Boost the Occupy MovementProgressives’ basic morality needs to be talked about over and over again, in every corner of the country.
by George Lakoff
December 6, 2011

Progressives had some fun last week with Frank Luntz, who told the Republican Governors’ Association that he was scared to death of the Occupy movement and recommended language to combat what the movement had achieved. But the progressive critics mostly just laughed, said his language wouldn’t work, and assumed that if Luntz was scared, everything was hunky-dory. Just keep on saying the words Luntz doesn’t like: capitalism, tax the rich, etc.

It’s a trap.

When Luntz says he is “scared to death,” he means that the Republicans who hire him are scared to death and he can profit from that fear by offering them new language. Luntz is clever. Yes, Republicans are scared. But there needs to be a serious discussion of both Luntz’s remarks and the progressive non-response.

What has been learned from the brain and cognitive sciences is that words are defined by fixed frames we use in thinking, frames come in hierarchical systems, and political frames are defined in moral terms, where “morality” is very different for conservatives and progressives. What lies behind the Occupy movement is moral view of democracy: Democracy is about citizens caring about each other and acting responsibly both socially and personally. This requires a robust Public empowering and protecting everyone equally. Both private success and personal freedom depend on such a Public. Every critique and proposal of the Occupy movement fits this moral view, which happens to be the progressive moral view.

Read the rest here.

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