2003-03-21 23:29, by Julie Solheim-Roe
I have tried to snippet this article, Metaphor and War, Again By George Lakoff ... which is hard, as it really is worth reading in it's entirety. I have been told, however, that due to the copywrite wishes of alternet that it was not appropriate, as I did originally, to post the whole article. I also think that Blogs look and read better in reality, when they don't have entire articles. So my mistake.
But this issue of the living mythos, and how we become like cogs in the machine, going along with an old story of power corruption deceit and lies lies lies... oh boy, how the lines are getting drawn right now. Henry Miller in Tropic of Capricorn spoke of how every person living in the then-modern machine of New York, was in fact serving the larger entity. There was no way to be an individual against it's will, without doing in fact what he did --- and leave, to then ex-pat Paris. That's what we are all planning, isn't it? Should we do what Ken Carey suggested in The Third Millennium/ The Star-Seed Transmissions -- not to leave the institutions people work in, but from the inside-out theory... I think if we are truly willing to live a new mythos, back into wholeness and beyond polarity... we will know when It's Time to Leave. The eternal City of Isis and Lights... a Temple City with the Pastoral Middle Ground.... is forever calling me Home.
So, here's a much smaller snippet, again, from that article by Lakoff, about the FRAMING of the current INVASION as a conflict of self-defense:
...One of the most frequent uses of the Nation As Person metaphor comes in the almost daily attempts to justify the war metaphorically as a "just war." The basic idea of a just war uses the Nation As Person metaphor plus two narratives that have the structure of classical fairy tales: The Self Defense Story and The Rescue Story.
In each story, there is a Hero, a Crime, a Victim, and a Villain.
... In Gulf War II, Bush II is pushing different versions of the same two story types, and this explains a great deal of what is going on in the American press and in speeches by Bush and Powell. If they can show that Saddam = Al Qaeda - that he is helping or harboring Al Qaeda, then they can make a case for the Self-defense scenario, and hence for a just war on those grounds. Indeed, despite the lack of any positive evidence and the fact that the secular Saddam and the fundamentalist bin Laden despise each other, the Bush administration has managed to convince 40 per cent of the American public of the link, just by asserting it. The administration has told its soldiers the same thing, and so our military men see themselves as going to Iraq in defense of their country.
In the Rescue Scenario, the victims are (1) the Iraqi people and (2) Saddam's neighbors, whom he has not attacked, but is seen as "threatening." That is why Bush and Powell keep on listing Saddam's crimes against the Iraqi people and the weapons he could use to harm his neighbors. Again, most of the American people have accepted the idea that Gulf War II is a rescue of the Iraqi people and a safeguarding of neighboring countries. Of course, the war threatens the safety and well-being of the Iraqi people and will inflict considerable damage on neighboring countries like Turkey and Kuwait.
And why such enmity toward France and Germany? Via the Nation As Person metaphor, they are supposed to be our "friends" and friends are supposed to be supportive and jump in and help us when we need help. Friends are supposed to be loyal. That makes France and Germany fair-weather friends! Not there when you need them.
This is how the war is being framed for the American people by the Administration and media. Millions of people around the world can see that the metaphors and fairy tales don't fit the current situation, that Gulf War II does not qualify as a just war - a "legal" war. But if you accept all these metaphors, as Americans have been led to do by the administration, the press, and the lack of an effective Democratic opposition, then Gulf War II would indeed seem like a just war.
But surely most Americans have been exposed to the facts - the lack of a credible link between Saddam and al Qaeda and the idea that large numbers of innocent Iraqi civilians (estimates are around 500,000) will be killed or maimed by our bombs. Why don't they reach the rational conclusion?
One of the fundamental findings of cognitive science is that people think in terms of frames and metaphors - conceptual structures like those we have been describing. The frames are in the synapses of our brains - physically present in the form of neural circuitry. When the facts don't fit the frames, the frames are kept and the facts ignored.
It is a common folk theory of progressives that "The facts will set you free!" If only you can get all the facts out there in the public eye, then every rational person will reach the right conclusion. It is a vain hope. Human brains just don't work that way. Framing matters. Frames once entrenched are hard to dispel.
This war is a symptom of a larger disease. The war will start presently. The fighting will be over before long. Where will the anti-war movement be then?
...As the war begins, we should look ahead to transforming the anti-war movement into a movement that powerfully articulates progressive values and changes the course of our nation to where those values take us. The war has begun a discussion about values. Let's continue it."
George Lakoff is the author of "Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think," University of Chicago Press, Second edition, 2002. He is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and a Senior Fellow of the Rockridge Institute.
[For creative political adventures in metaphor, see the Metaphor Project .]