Moral politics

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Moral politics is the name of a book (Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think) and a theory of George Lakoff. Loosely stated, it is that family role theory and w:political choice theory have a necessary and sufficient relationship to explain people's voting choices through their choice of a parental conceptual metaphor for the state:

  • if they see the state as "a strict, authoritarian father" they accept the logos of moral rectitude, emotional distance, objectivity and embrace right-wing politics
  • if they see the state as "a nurturant parent" they accept the eros of ethical mediation, emotional engagement, equity and embrace left-wing politics

A very closely related theory of Jane Jacobs is that two moral syndromes, the guardian syndrome more associated with rule of a stable fief, and the trader syndrome more associated with merchants and commerce, were fundamental to professional ethics and thus to political and economic choices. Among other things this implied that rural culture which relied on scarcer but more individually reliable human support and urban culture which relied on frequent but distant human contact, had irreconcilable cultures and conceptual metaphors.

Considering the two theories together, both imply that irreconcilable views on the part of various parties in society, as per conflict theory in sociology, might lead each to view the others' views as propaganda. But since someone must make decisions, and must set rules by which political economy is defined, one or the other moral syndrome will be in ascendance.

The subtitle of Lakoff's book "What Conservatives Know That Liberals Don't" suggests that the sophistication of right-wing propaganda may well be a direct result of this necessary association with symbols and with the logos.

Starhawk, Carol Moore, and Winona LaDuke have suggested that the only solution is secession and self-sufficiency away from the empires that produce the logos and define political economy. This would tend to be the general view inherent in green politics and in libertarian politics, both of whom may be sub-branches of moral politics itself, and interestingly, both claim to be "neither left nor right".

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