Transforming through Progressive and Conservative Worldviews: Part 4

Posted by: Rita George on March 08, 2017

George Lakoff, a neuroscience and linguistic professor, studied our nation and lays out the difference in values in two contrasting family models.  There is a vast split in our nation between the conservative and progressive values or mind sets.  Values are the morality or the foundation on which a government is built. 

Let me simplify how Lakoff lays out both moral worldviews.

Conservative:  the world is dangerous because there is evil; the world is difficult because it is competitive; there will always be winners and losers; there is an absolute right and wrong; in this world, we need a strict, strong father to protect and support the family and teach the family, society and the world what is right from wrong.  The father controls family members and disciplines his children till they obey and act morally.  In my opinion, this worldview is built upon the perception that there is scarcity and limitations in the world.

Lakoff outlines how the strict family worldview links morality with self discipline, self interest, prosperity and wealth. If you are not wealthy or are not supporting yourself, you are not disciplined or moral.  This worldview only rewards the good people who are prosperous and moral.  There are different types of strict family morality e.g. believing in free markets and tax cuts for the wealthy; opposing abortion; Mother Nature is a resource for prosperity and it is o.k. to use it for profit. 

The strict father worldview is against the collective:  caring about others, social or safety net programs, education or health care run by the government, a living wage, and regulations which protect the public but would stand in the way of profit. This is why the Republicans under Trump are attempting to destroy public education, health care, and unions, roll back financial regulations, eliminate or privatize social service programs run by the government so corporations can generate more profit at the expense of the collective.

Think about this:  Hillary Clinton was immoral because she believed in and supported progressive values so she must be defeated at all costs.  Winning is Everything!

Progressive:  the world is not evil; some people do evil things; everyone deserves to be a winner; children are born good so they and the world can be improved; we need a parent who nurtures their children and teaches them the moral responsibility about how to nurture them and to take care of each other and the environment. The nurturing parent also teaches honest, open communication and responsibility for growing, evolving and leading a fulfilling, meaningful life.   

I believe this worldview is built upon the perception that possibilities are limitless so everyone should have an opportunity to prosper.  This evokes empathy and compassion and leads to people cooperating and working together to serve the community, and not just their self interest.  It focuses on protecting the collective and serving our self interests through government programs that advance and support both business and individual interests.

This worldview values and also protects children and others from unethical practices that harm our freedom of choice, health, education, employment and fair wage opportunities and ability to prosper and so on.  There are different types of progressives from the socioeconomic, civil liberties, human rights, and environmentalist to the spiritual.

Lakoff believes most of us are biconceptual.  We can be progressive in one area of our life and conservative in another; for example, a strict father at work and a nurturing parent at home.  And there are variations with each of the two worldviews.  

For 40 years, the Republican’s have spent billions focused on reprogramming the neuro circuitry in people’s brains to embrace the strict father authoritarian rule, vote Conservative and win elections even though the majority of people believe in and embrace Progressive values.  Their strategy has paid off:  Republicans control the White House and are the majority in the House, Senate, Supreme Court, Governors and many state legislatures.  Part 5:  Transforming by Embracing the Seven Principles