From Publishers Weekly
Lakoff revisits the theme of his 2004 bestseller (Don't Think of an Elephant!
), exploring the role of rhetorical metaphors in shaping political discourse. Specifically, he explores how the conservative and progressive definitions of "freedom" differ from one another, in order to demonstrate how liberals uphold a dominant American political tradition while "radical conservatives" seek to overturn that legacy for their own selfish ends. The historical evidence for this claim is never detailed to a persuasive degree, however, leaving a simplistic psychological model in which conservatives adhere to "strict father" thinking while progressives embrace a "nurturant parent" model. Though Lakoff's proposed solution calls upon progressives to reject the conservative framework with new language, it's highly questionable whether talking about "freedom judges" instead of "judicial activists" could really catch on. The author undermines his own warnings that the conservative movement is a threat to free will by suggesting that conservatives are trying to brainwash Americans to render them less capable of adopting progressive attitudes. Lakoff has been heralded for offering Democrats a new strategic vision, but the plan he articulates entails creating a populist movement that demonizes the right wing as a "dangerous elite"—hardly a new frame for political discourse. (July)
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"George Lakoff has made pathbreaking contributions to cognitive science. In Whose Freedom? he uses several of his discoveries and much wisdom to produce a systematic analysis of contemporary society and political thinking. The result is illuminating." —Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes’ Error, The Feeling of What Happens, and Looking for Spinoza
"In the battle of ideas, George Lakoff is one of the progressive movement’s Five-Star Generals. Here he shows what we must do to take back precious ground lost to the Right—the concept of "freedom," on which America’s very foundation is built. Read this and arm yourself." —Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy at University California at Berkeley and former U.S. Secretary of Labor
"Few words evoke more emotion or debate in this country than the word, freedom. Our founding fathers intended for it to be that way. And ever since, progressive political leaders have attempted to interpret and employ the concept of freedom and its relevance to American public policy debates. Arguably, President Franklin Roosevelt described it most eloquently and succinctly in his "Four Freedoms" of speech and worship and from want and fear.
George Lakoff's new book is as enjoyable to read as it is important to understand. It comes at a critical time for our country. Because freedom has always been a progressive concept, it is time for progressives to reclaim the word and its meaning in today's context. Mr. Lakoff shows us how." —Former Senator Tom Daschle
“One of the most influential political thinkers of the progressive movement.” —Howard Dean