I spend a lot of my time yelling at my former progressive comrades hoping that they will come to their senses. But it also occurs to me that I speak the language and I could just explain how progressives should be responding to this crisis — if they were still progressive. And then they can chose to uphold their purported values or confess that they’ve embraced a new ideology. Regardless of where you are on the political spectrum, I believe that the points below about framing are useful and important.
Nurturant parents know about https://openvaers.com/covid-data and https://c19early.com/
As a former academic who taught linguistics, I really loved this essay. As I said in a comment on an earlier essay of yours, I think the term progressive has been coopted by authoritarian liberals and so has become meaningless. It has become necessary to explain to people that one is a leftist, but a libertarian leftist and not an authoritarian one. This causes great confusion because to many people libertarianism can only be on the right, and communism or socialism can only be authoritarian, so all leftists must be authoritarian. So I think we're in a period in which we are going to have to convince people that if you are on the left, you can be part of the libertarian movement as well. No matter whether you are a left libertarian or a right libertarian, it is the personal liberty that is the primary value. It helps if I have people imagine their ideal society, so that then we can talk about possible ways to organize it. I have begun to talk about the recent book The Dawn of Everything, about the more egalitarian societies in early city states. Some of them are very very early, either pre-agriculture or a combination of hunting and agriculture, and excavation shows that they did not have a top-down structure. They lived both as free individuals with private property, individually owned houses and gardens, AND as part of a community where they were expected to contribute. Some of these city states were large enough to have wards and ward representatives on a city council. There was no elite, no aristocracy. Everyone was expected to contribute part of their labor for the common good of the city, either tending common fields, herding animals, or hunting and gathering. But they were free to opt in or out, since they could freely move away and not participate.. The point of the book, as it goes around the world to talk about cities in every early culture, is that many forms of political organization are possible that we have come to think are impossible.
In the effort to make sure I was being fair to George Lakoff's views on the pandemic I just listened to a 45 minute podcast he did on the topic:
And I discovered that Lakoff has a Substack now too ("FrameLab" with Gil Duran):
Listening to the podcast was painful. If anything I've been too generous to his views in my article above. He has clearly not read a single study on vaccine safety and effectiveness. And he appears to know no actual conservatives because he completely misrepresents their views. Lakoff and Duran create a straw man caricature of conservatism that does not exist in the real world and then they proceed to tear it down and set it on fire. This is bad faith and extremely disappointing.
When I teach, I operate from the belief that any class worth its salt becomes a meditation on the human condition. Lakoff's views on the pandemic are cheap and completely wrong. There is room, indeed a huge need, for a nuanced conservation about different worldviews during this crisis. But progressives seem completely unable to have that conversation right now.
I, too, have spent a great deal of time reading Lakoff’s works and even presented on the Strict Father/Nurturant Parent paradigm at a leadership conference years ago.
While my politics are wildly divergent from his today, I have never forgotten the game-changing power of framing as well as the capability of metaphors to shape thinking.
Thank you for calling attention to these valuable lessons and how we can use them to reclaim cultural, neurological, and political spaces, Toby.
Great writing again.., I have tried to think of how to describe or a word picture that fits the leadership of Ron De Santis or Christy Noem in providing a less draconian approach... Christy emphasise that she trusts her people to make wise decisions (as did Sweden)
I think that brings maturity, ie when ever we trust our kids to take responsibility they may fail but mostly they will try and grow by doing so...
Authoritarian parents destroy kids and don’t allow them to mature...those who are too permissive breed insecurity because there are no rights or wrongs
But wording these concepts is crucial as you say...
Some call it servant leadership but it’s encapsulated in Jesus words do Unto other as you would have them do unto you..
I wouldn’t want to mandate a faulty vaccine to others but they are happy to it to me..
I am left aghast at the abdication of responsibility by so many .. they simply don’t want to look...At the adverse effects because vaccines now have a cult status among the informed ... this hasn’t happened by chance it’s been a deliberate brainwashing...
Keep it up
The left's deconstruction of American history that results in something like the 1619 project is based on the premise that all political ideology is disingenuous. That is to say that the only ideology is that of power. According to that view, the founding fathers merely instituted a system that perpetuated their wealth and influence and therefore the founding of the United States is nothing special or even something horrid.
I call this the doctrine of power. Any left ideologue who embraces it views ALL political positions as tactical-- they are a means to the end of acquiring power. One day they may support all women and the next day some other woman might be the kind who shows up when you "drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park."
For example, Marcuse's Repressive Tolerance argues (with a lot of useless and contradictory verbiage) that the left should, while praising tolerance, make every view but theirs forbidden. In other words use the rhetoric of free speech and tolerance to ruthlessly suppress any other viewpoint or idea. Seems like some people took that one to heart, huh?
Another example, in Mao's Yenan Forum he discusses Lu Xun. Lu Xun's writing was very influential in awakening popular discontent against the late Qing dynasty. Mao, however, isn't comfortable with sharp witted patriots penning critical works and so he explains that such literature was useful then but now every writer and artist needs to support party messaging (or else!) That discussion is why I laugh at anyone involved in art and left wing politics at the same time. Good luck with your model opera and propaganda posters since nothing else will be permitted, comrade!
Personally, I've never favored progressive views of any sort, so I've always taken a dim view of nearly any argument that seems to lead to expansion of government power. Liberty and government authority are part of a zero sum system. Giving to one takes from the other. I think Thomas Sowell calls it the tragic view of the world. Whereas a well-intentioned progressive might envision that some new grant of power to the government will result in whatever fine things the plan promises, we of the tragic view first think of the unbridled hubris with which that power will be handled. Sadly and indeed tragically, we have been proven right time and again. Indeed, I've thought of myself as a cynic since my early teens, and even I was not nearly pessimistic enough to see us getting to where we are so fast.
What I'm getting at is: when it comes to people asking for power, assume the worst. All I have ever seen from progressives is the struggle for more power and I have learned to completely disregard any justification they provides as to why they want it.
Progressives should change completely to accomplish their aims through community and persuasion not government. No matter how much less grand their ambitions must then be. It will limit the collateral damage to all of humanity when things inevitably go wrong.
I used to think I had a “political” opinion or position.
I have found myself afloat, and could not point to a single one right now anywhere in the world.
I only know that the dignity and rights of every human being must be treasured.
The question becomes how many progressives were in it truly for the betterment of mankind, or were in it to bask in unearned moral superiority. The latter naturally fell in with the unquestioning dogma of the pharma-Vax religion. If your heart is set on the betterment of mankind, then you will be open to seeing evidence that contradicts your initial biases or conclusions. However, it seems that many "progressives" were in that camp for the unearned accolades and have been easily appropriated as useful idiots under the quasi religious banner of "The Science"
Progressivism is so focused on a Utopian ideal, that laws of nature fall to the wayside. The only way to enact their desires is through force and control. Without Covid it would have taken longer, but the march of Progressivism was always towards fascism.
The strength of the individual, strong traditional values that are centered around the nuclear family, and a belief that the laws of nature (including human nature) are unbendable is what keeps conservatives in a more emotionally healthy and happy place than those constantly chasing others down a path towards a fictional unicorn.
This nurturant parent (who was injured by Pfizer #1) thanks you for writing this!
Rather than a rescue of the word progressivism, which implies to so many these days an encroachment on their lives by something that will inevitably sclerose into an overbearing bureaucracy, I would rather see this:
I would rather it be pointed out to the Dems that the essence of the word liberal is the opposite of what they have been doing. A Thomas Jefferson liberal could not twist into a bureaucratic suppressor of individual liberties and could not ever, within an original liberal definition, force another person to suffocate their own breathing or to take a medical treatment. Historically, liberalism is closer to and more compatible with libertarianism than anything the Dems have been doing.
Liberal civil rights activists of the last half century have advocated for the rights of victims of torture and poisoning. We were horrified about Tuskegee, but the Dems shamefully re-enact it now on the whole population that they can get their now fascist control over with their attempted mandates.
"When we become too attached to an ideal, the first thing that we lose is respect; first for the people around us, and eventually for ourselves."
Miguel Ruiz Jr., The Five Levels of Attachment
Chris Hedges wrote eloquently about this in 2010 in his book 'Death of the Liberal Class'. https://www.boldtypebooks.com/titles/chris-hedges/death-of-the-liberal-class/9781568586489/# He recognized that the liberal class had become elitist, ineffectual and oblivious to the issues their voting base - labour, women, people of colour, marginalized. They became a caricature of what they once were - fighters for truth and freedom against the oligarchs. The bullied became the bullies. Classical liberals like me are politically homeless and bewildered at the complete transformation of our culture by this elitist political cadre. Liberals used to represent those who wished to be free of fascism. Now they ARE fascists. It's all so crazy-making.
Wow! Brilliant. As someone who believed I was left of centre, to be called a "Trumpster, far right racist, science denying redneck..." (we're Metis) has been an eye opener, to say the least. Your point about "robots" is well taken. Some of the Twitter feeds I stumble onto (docs no less) repeat talking points, and their followers all chime-in, invoking parallels to the "Stepford Wives" ("souless androids") or "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Thanks for contextualizing some of the insanity.
I would agree with you, under normal circumstances.
However, it seems the global population is caught in the midst of a trance, “mass formation” (Matias Desmet) how this was managed -I think we can thank the mainstream media, it reaches even the furthest corners of the earth these days, but we are also in on the birth of the New Religion. The Cult of Covid, which will no doubt link up with the more primitive Climate worship which extends back into ancient mythological times. Once upon a time, the population who didn’t bow to the New Religion what ever it was, were put to death.
Seems nothing much has changed.
Never better stated. You go to the vital organs of a thought and expose all of it - kind of like an autopsy. I’ve attended a couple so I speak from experience. Artery fat looks like chicken fat and seeing it will change your eating habits. If only the people who saw the media’s lies about the Iraq war, the Vietnam war, and about every other important event in history would look at it as though it was an autopsy they would be surprised at the yellow fat. It took me disagreeing with this injection to be put out as aligning with right wing conspiracy and lose all credibility to be able to see the media clearly. That place where execs send out kids hungry for a place in the sun, dress them up in Clark Kent glasses, and tell them to be creative in their lies and vitriol. Chris Hayes and his teeny boppers come to mind., Yes, I should not have been irritated with Glenn Greenwald for speaking truth about H Biden’s laptop just to get rid of Trump. As an apology to Dr Atlas I bought his book and highly recommend it. There are no experts in DC - just egos. You deserve to be in the company of other fearless and clear thinkers on this platform.