Politicians, scholars and political pundits are almost unanimous in their belief that their political views are entirely objective. As such, they often maintain that those who disagree with them are either misguided, ignorant, plain obtuse or worse. They are entirely oblivious to the fact that much of their political reasoning is motivated by the subconscious biases that shape their temperament. In light of this premise, George Lakoff argued that our political attitudes are defined by the “central metaphors”, which are shaped by the process of socialization. Hence, our earliest interactions with family members tend to define the core attitudes that constitute our political temperament.
Although people have been known to change their ideological orientation with age and experience, yet most people are not able to do so. As a rule, the average person forms his political beliefs based on passion and prejudice rather than reflection or deliberation. Accordingly, Lakoff regards liberal politics as a reflection of the “nurturing parent” central metaphor and conservatism as a consequence of the “strict father” familial outlook. As for libertarianism, Lakoff deems that to be a form of “extremely pragmatic conservatism”. In Lakoff’s view, that libertarians reject the authoritarianism of the strict father paradigm and embrace the mental toughness element of this outlook on life. On the other hand, socialists and communists aspire to expand the “nurturing parent” paradigm and apply it to as much of society as possible, even if that must be done by force.
Lakoff concluded the book with a provocatively titled chapter “who is right and how can you tell”, arguing that the Nurturing Parent approach corresponds to the authoritative style of upbringing and the Strict Father approach corresponds to the authoritarian child-rearing manner. Although the thematic links Lakoff observed seem appropriate, the situation is not as cut and dry as he imagines it to be. There is always more nuance to questions of moral psychology than ideologues tend to realize. Throughout his book, Lakoff cited ample evidence for how socially conservative and religious parents often practice an authoritarian kind of “Strict Father” parenting, yet he unduly lumped all Strict Father parents together, insinuating that they are necessarily authoritarian. By his own admission, libertarians are different from the typical conservatives in the sense that they reject the hierarchical nature of social relations that many traditional conservatives appear to embrace.
Even more significantly, Lakoff summarily disregarded the possibility that the “Nurturing Parent” approach can quickly degenerate into indulgent or permissive parenting.
Camille Paglia put it well, the millennial generation are a product of the self-esteem movement and helicopter parenting. Naturally, most people in the millennial age group tend to associate feelings of warmth with bureaucrats, government activism and other phenomena where authority figures actively intervene in the lives of ordinary people. This is clearly the consequence of the Nurturing Parent child-rearing style gone askew.
In stark contrast, a healthy mistrust of centralized power and political authority has always been deeply embedded in the American collective consciousness. For this reason, the founding fathers of the United States promoted de-centralization of power and opposition to the expansion of federal government. Notwithstanding the practical and philosophical merits of this position, one may argue that such a view of government is motivated by a subscription to a traditional view of the family that Lakoff describes as that of the “Strict Father” approach.
For decades, leftist academics have vilified the conservative temperament, insisting that it is a result of an abusive familial environment. Many have even gone so far as to follow Theodore Adorno’s argument that equated a conservative ideological orientation with the authoritarian personality. Despite that Adorno’s book on the “authoritarian personality” is now regarded as one of the most deeply flawed works in modern psychology, its undertone carries a popular appeal among leftist scholars and activists alike.
As recently as the 1960s, Jean Paul Sartre encouraged his fellow leftist “intellectuals” to refrain from publicly discussing Stalin’s democide as to refrain from “discouraging the proletariat”. Today, it is common knowledge that the communists have slaughtered many more political dissidents than all regimes of right-wing authoritarianism did combined. In every meaningful sense of the word, socialist and communist regimes were authoritarian. However, a superficial juxtaposition of Lakoff’s two central metaphors seems to suggest that those who subscribe to the Strict Father paradigm are more likely to be authoritarian than those who accept the “Nurturing Parent” position.
However, as we have shown in our previous discussion, the brute force approach seldom constitutes the most effective method for despots to seize the power they desire. Instead, they are often better off engaging in stratagems that dupe their followers into seeing the leaders as benevolent caretakers rather than as their oppressors. In part, left-wing authoritarians gained more influence than their right-wing peers because they embraced Carnegie’s counsel concerning the importance of making people “glad to do what you want them to do”.
The applications of this principle to the modern day politics of the PC left are abundant and evident. During Bush’s presidency, two-thirds of liberals opposed the Patriot Act and NSA’s unlawful surveillance of innocent civilians. Under Obama, two thirds fully endorsed the president’s sanctioning for NSA’s violation of the citizenry’s Fourth Amendment rights. Similarly, the liberals have protested Bush’s war in two countries, yet turned a blind eye to Obama’s drone warfare on seven different countries. For all of their outrage at the wealth disparities under Bush, very few liberal writers dared alluding to the fact that the Obama administration engendered the kind of windfall profits for Wall-Street, that the reviled 1% could never have even dreamed of under Bush. The most tellingly of all, liberals categorize Trump’s border security rhetoric and limitations on immigration from various Middle Eastern countries as xenophobic, fascistic and even un-American . On the other hand, they have nothing to say about the fact that Obama actively clamored for legislation that forced children of immigrants to appear in federal court without an attorney and that Obama deported more immigrants than Trump promised to.
Today, thousands of student activists not only accept all of the authoritarian acts of the Democratic Party that they’ve accused the Republican Party of committing, they actively demand for the government to limit the citizen’s individual rights. This is evidenced in light of the fact that they now support the government’s prerogative to conduct unlawful searches and seizures, provided only that the Democrats are in charge of this endeavor. Despite the numerous financial connections between the Clinton Foundation and her cronies in foreign governments, liberals preferred to dwell on Trump’s lewd comments than on Clinton’s actions that undermined the rule of law and diminished the prosperity of the American middle class.
In the spirit of Marcuse’ repressive tolerance, the modern PC left is wedded to his maxim that “everyone is entitled to an existence free from fear and misery”. As such, they are willing to support any act of tyranny, violence or malfeasance provided that it is sanctioned by a soft, left-leaning politician who embodies the “nurturing parent” metaphor. In other words, it is entirely acceptable for Hillary or Obama to be even more corrupt than the most invidious of Republicans, provided only that they care about transgender restrooms and the other kin.