Battlepanda: One man mission against bad metaphors


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, December 05, 2005

One man mission against bad metaphors

Lawrence of What is Liberalism is on a mission against bad metaphors. He's done a good job taking down Iraq=Vietnam in the comments (I still maintain that liberals should push it, if nothing else to remind people that America is not infallible and invincable even if the parallels are not exact). And now he's out to banish the liberals as nurturing mother and conservatives as stern father analogy:
The nurturing parent slides rather easily into the smothering parent, and those who justify their progressive politics with the nuturing parent world view also let their politics slide easily into the mode of smothering parent. This is especially true for those who value empathy and "the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible". [snip]
Anyone who cares about freedom should take a good look at the nurturing parent metaphor and then fight to exile it from progressive political movements. Because it is a pathetic world view on which to justify freedom. It does not matter if you see the government as a nuturing parent or if you see the government as a strict parent. If you see the government as any kind of parent at all, then you are an enemy of freedom.

I agree. The nurturing mother metaphor poisons public opinion against liberal policy by putting all government action in a humiliating context. For instance, nationalized healthcare is a perfectly reasonable and economically sensible service for the government to provide. It is the aim of all citizens to stay healthy, and the collective bargaining advantages are enormous. Yet under the nuturing parent model, this reasonable service becomes sultrifying coddling by the state. The case is even worse for things like unemployment insurance and the minimum wage. As sensible and desirable as these measure are in terms of maximizing welfare for citizens and correcting bargaining power imbalances, the moment they become characterized as handouts they become loathsome.

In any case, I don't think there are many liberals actively trying to promulgate the nutriant parent model, if for no other reason than our cultural coding of all things female as weak and undesirable in leadership positions. It is a conservative cheap shot.