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Claude's excellent diary Lakoff nails it motivated me to write a comment but there is much more to be said.  The posts and page on facebook, BeingLiberal are doing a great job of putting some of Lakoff's ideas into practice.  I have been very reluctant to use the label "Liberal" for a long, long time, but find myself sharing the posts from this source more and more.  As Lakoff has pointed out successful framing has real clout in reaching the public.  In the article that motivated Claude's diary, A Framing Memo for Occupy Wall Street Lakoff reminds us:

Unless you frame yourself, others will frame you - the media, your enemies, your competitors, your well-meaning friends. I have so far hesitated to offer suggestions. But the movement appears to maturing and entering a critical time when small framing errors could have large negative consequences. So I thought it might be helpful to accept the invitation and start a discussion of how the movement might think about framing itself.

About framing: It's normal. Everybody engages in it all the time. Frames are just structures of thought that we use every day. All words in all languages are defined in terms of frame-circuits in the brain. But, ultimately, framing is about ideas, about how we see the world, which determines how we act.

In politics, frames are part of competing moral systems that are used in political discourse and in charting political action. In short, framing is a moral enterprise: it says what the character of a movement is. All politics is moral. Political figures and movements always make policy recommendations claiming they are the right things to do. No political figure ever says, do what I say because it's wrong! Or because it doesn't matter! Some moral principles or other lie behind every political policy agenda.

 I have been writing diaries about using Lakoffs for a number of years now and see too little understanding of the importance of what he has to say.  Read on and we can delve into this a little further.

First of all, Lakoff is probably a victim of the very framing he has described so well for he is and academic and writes about very deep stuff.  His many books start with a new philosophy, the notion of the embodied mind, and goes on to Morality in politics and framing.  As we have been taught to do in our culture ideas like his are put into various "boxes" and this does them harm.  He is a "cognitive linguist" and uses modern brain neuroscience to back up his thoughts very well.  In case you are wondering, I also am a neuroscientist and my own interests overlap his quite a lot.

When you strip away the fancy words what Lakoff is telling us is the answer to the question asked over and over again" Why do so many of the 99% vote against their own interests and support the 1%?  Why do they resist so many good chances to improve everyone's lot and do the bidding of the masters?  WhY?  Because they have been led to adopt a moral world view that says it it wrong to do otherwise!  Helping others is bad because it weakens them and destroys their ability to help themselves.  It makes them dependent on others and weak.  If you are down and out and needy you brought this on yourself.  The billionaires got there by hard work which you failed to accomplish.  In Lakoff's words:

Conservatives have figured out their moral basis and you see it on Wall Street: It includes: The primacy of self-interest. Individual responsibility, but not social responsibility. Hierarchical authority based on wealth or other forms of power. A moral hierarchy of who is "deserving," defined by success. And the highest principle is the primacy of this moral system itself, which goes beyond Wall Street and the economy to other arenas: family life, social life, religion, foreign policy, and especially government. Conservative "democracy" is seen as a system of governance and elections that fits this model.
 There is no point in trying to give you a "magic bullet" route to Lakoff's thinking.  He has many books and they are full of ideas and they develop this analysis very clearly.

I do think the link above to BeingLiberal can be a very big step towards implementing the ideas Lakoff teaches.  We have a long way to go to catch up for the morality described above is widespread and effective.  The reframing of the word "Liberal" itself is an enormous job.  I'll give one example about how the moral argument can begin to be exposed for what it really is: a scam, at best.  Today I shared this post from Being Liberal:This is Alice Walton  This turns the frame, "job provider", into a new frame that implies selfishness and the desire to get the American Taxpayer to do what you are morally obligated to do.  It really does not go far enough for it fails to mention that the providing of jobs here depends on the Taxpayers in so many other ways, including the infrastructure that makes this wealth accumulation possible at all.

We have a big job to do.  I say "we" for OWS ios all of us if we understand what is happening.  The big job is to reframe the issues so that all of the 99% understand the difference between real morality and the scam being used to dupe the conservatives.

Originally posted to don mikulecky on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 05:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 05:44:36 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for bring this to us don. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky, mapamp, princesspat

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 06:04:02 PM PDT

  •  Doubt anyone can learn how (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    to construct frames (or schema) from Lakoff.  Theorists are simply not often good at the applied aspects of their science.  OTOH, he can spot a frame that has high resonance faster than others.  

    •  On the contrary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp

      I think Obama learned a lot from him in 2008 and helped himself out of trouble more than once.  I will not be surprised to find out that many others have as well.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 06:20:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If that were true, McConnell and Co. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky, chipoliwog

        wouldn't have been eating Obama for lunch for the past two and three quarters years.

        •  Again on the contrary. (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think I'm the only one who has noticed the change in Obama.  You are comparing apples and oranges so to speak.

          He has stumbled into their framing as if he has amnesia.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 07:00:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Why didn't anyone frame McConnell and his wife (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          don mikulecky

          Elaine Chou, the former Sec of Labor under Bush II, with sending all of the jobs to China.  What are her ties there? I read one time long ago that her father was high up in the chinese military.  Can't prove that.  But why didn't someone make McConnell reframe himself and his wife?  Why didn't they take McConnelll down?  Democrats are horrible at framing.  I think they feel it is beneath them.

  •  My introduction to Lakoff... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp, don mikulecky, Urizen

    was inauspicious.   It was a question about democrats advocating "abortion on demand."  Lakoff got angry, and denied that this was true.

    Problem is, of course it's true.  It's not the ideal way of expressing it, but "on demand" means without further recourse to law.  It is an accurate term, and Lakoff's anger was seen by me to his attempt to transform  common language into service for partisan goals.

    I oppose this whether on the left or the right.  Words do have connotations, and we are affected by all of the black arts of propaganda and public relations, but that's not the way out of the morass.

    It's development of critical thinking, transcending the image that is presented and showing how one's own evaluation transcends this framing.  Framing is nothing new, it's what advertisers do the public and lawyers to to jurors.

    It's a valuable skill, but it's not the same as finding out if the guy was actually innocent.

    •  So your anecdote negates all his work? (0+ / 0-)

      I think you are being very close to a troll here.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 06:40:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree that words have connotations (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mike101, don mikulecky

      In the argument in question the place to attack is the word "demand" as in, "yes, we believe women have the right to demand control over their own bodies (the denial of which amounts to rape by the state)".

      I wasn't there, so I don't know what happened, but I concur that developing critical thinking is essential to transcending biased frames that are presented to us.  Saying "no, no, no, you're wrong!" tends to perpetuate the frame in question.  

  •  what i like about ows (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    is how it defies all the rules and yet succeeds and grows in momentum in spite of the naysayers.

    leaving the experts and the know-it-alls sputtering in the dust.

    "but this isn't how you're supposed to do things!" decry the serious people.

    the liberal pundits have had 30 years to foment an uprising. thanks, but i'll go with what works.

  •  Democrats Have Not Been as Inept At Messaging (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mike101, ybruti

    as they're credited with.

    When you hear the thundering roar of a hoofbeats, think "stampede" and not "thousands of remarkably stumble-prone cattle."

    We're seeing so little use of framing of factual and liberal ideas because we're seeing so little leadership who support them enough to fight for them. The party for 30 years, certainly 20, has been content to let the right and corporatists do the overarching framing, and confine their messaging to conservative-informed moderate swing voters. For that they need to be speaking in conservative terms and concepts, given that they intend not to educate voters.

    If you're doing that, you're not going to upset the donor class, and you don't risk winning oversized majorities that would put you under pressure to govern for the people at the inconvenience of big private power. 2009-10 was uncomfortable enough for the party after the 08 Presidential nominee merely pushed progressive sounding emotional outreach.

    It's also really not true that the right are voting "against" their own interests. They've been deceived about much more than a moral scheme--they've been deceived about what their interests actually are.

    They're presented by candidates and clergy with voting for eternal salvation instead of damnation which is not a choice that's actually available to them. They're presented with voting to restore a once-beneficial economy but deceived about what made it beneficial. They don't believe for example that it's wrong to help the weak or poor--they just oppose the use of government to do that, being deceived into thinking that charity is the proper and an effective tool for the job and deceived about what the government is both chartered and legislatively empowered to do.

    So it's not mainly that their morals have been perverted although for many that's certainly true. The conservative world view is not only immoral, it's also massively fraudulent.

    Framing won't work on anti-facts.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 06:46:14 PM PDT

    •  What will work? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      don mikulecky, Urizen

      As you say.....

      The conservative world view is not only immoral, it's also massively fraudulent.

      Something has to change voter perceptions.....and hopefully the way they vote.

      I would like to think a change in the national dialogue will help counter the fraudulent anti-facts flooding the airwaves.

      Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

      by princesspat on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 07:05:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the signs the facebook posts (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Urizen, mike101, princesspat

        are all part of that.  It is a hard job.  The bad frames were built over years by repetition.  Now we have to dismantle them by even more repetition.  There are no magic bullets here.  And the stakes are that everything is in the pot now!

        An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

        by don mikulecky on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 07:11:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why don't we frame conservatism? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky, princesspat, ybruti

        Who opposed emancipation?  Conservatives.
        Who opposed child labor laws?  Conservatives.
        Who opposed a woman's right to vote?  Conservatives.
        It's not so much that they're immoral as that they're always wrong on large issues.
        If conservatives had had their way, we'd still be a colony of England.

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