Lakoff reinvents the wheel
Poor old George Lakoff. There is a review of his latest book here. He is a linguist by trade but nobody takes him seriously there so he has for some years now been trying his hand at political psychology -- which happens to be my particular area of academic expertise.
It is no surprise to find that he has nothing original to say but it is sort-of sad that he gets some basic stuff ass-backwards. He buys into the compulsive Leftist myth that conservatives are "authoritarian", blithely ignoring that, from the French revolution onward, it has been Leftists (in the person of Communists like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot and Socialists like Hitler and Mussolini) who have been by far the biggest authoritarians. For a quick summary of how and why Leftists sustain the myth that it is conservatives who are authoritarian, see here.
It always amuses me that even outright Marxists often identify authoritarianism with conservatism even though one of their founders, Friedrich Engels (co-author of Das Kapital) was perfectly commonsense about the matter:
"Revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon". -- from his controversy with the anarchists.
With such a wilfully blind start, Lakoff cannot possibly have much to offer. I was, however, amused by this Lakoff prescription that I found in the review above:
What should progressives say? That conservatism is "fundamentally antidemocratic."
Once again poor old George is reinventing the wheel. Precisely that assertion was an integral part of the old 1950 Adorno work that started the "authoritarian conservative" myth. I guess Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were democrats! There have been many Communist movements worldwide over the years but not one could reasonably be called democratic. So Communism is conservative? Black might as well be white. And in the Western democracies today, Leftists never stop their attempts to censor and suppress conservative speech. See my TONGUE-TIED blog for almost daily examples of that. Is that democratic? It is an attempt to hobble democracy as far as I can see.
To cap it off, the original Adorno questionnaire that was used to characterize conservatives as anti-democrratic (the F scale) was in fact a compilation of beliefs that were common in the "Progressive"-dominated America in the first half of the 20th century. See here on the nature of the F scale questions and see here for the rather surprising details of America's "Progressive" era. So if there were any ideas that were shown by Adorno to be anti-democratic, they were in fact "Progressive" ideas at the time!
Another amusing Lakoff prescription: "progressives should rely less on facts and more on images and drama". Talk about preaching to the converted! Since when did Leftists EVER rely on facts? Appeals to emotions have been their stock in trade since the year dot. If they relied on known facts they would certainly have given up very rapidly and very long ago any notion that socialism was a cure for poverty.
The reviewer (Saletan) goes on to point out more of the huge holes in Lakoff's thinking so I will not go on. I have however had a close look at Lakoff's threadbare old ideas previously. See here.