Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Security: Familyland, Fatherland, or Homeland? - 2

Poppa's Got A Brand New Bag
In this series we have been looking at group dynamics within nations, specifically the social dynamics that derive from psychological relationships between the citizenry and their government.

Even more specifically, we have been looking at the dynamics involved when the citizenry sees the government as a parental figure.

That may sound strange to those who have not read up on it, but according to those who labor in this realm, as professors and social scientists, it is generally understood to be a real cultural phenomenon:
Have you ever noticed how many "family" words are associated with the concept of "nation" in literature, politics, and government?

A quick check of a few relevant metaphors (forefathers, father of the constitution, Uncle Sam, motherland, fatherland, homeland, father of the nation, founding fathers, mother of the nation, family of nations, etc.) makes me want to look at perhaps the key source-metaphor for this notion:
... a common metaphor, shared by conservatives and liberals alike -- the Nation-as-Family metaphor, in which the nation is seen as a family, the government as a parent and the citizens as children ...
(The Nation-as-Family Metaphor). To expand upon this concept a bit, consider these comments:
It’s no accident that our political beliefs are structured by our idealizations of the family. Our earliest experience with being governed is in our families. Our parents “govern” us: They protect us, tell us what we can and cannot do, make sure we have enough money and supplies, educate us, and have us do our part in running the house.

So it is not at all surprising that many nations are metaphorically seen in terms of families: Mother Russia, Mother India, the Fatherland. In America, we have founding fathers, Daughters of the American Revolution, Uncle Sam, and we send our collective sons and daughters to war. In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the voice of the totalitarian state was called Big Brother.

As George Lakoff discussed at length in his 1996 book, Moral Politics, this metaphorical understanding of the nation-as-family directly informs our political worldview. Directly, but not consciously. As with other aspects of framing, the use of this metaphor lies below the level of consciousness.
(Security: Familyland, Fatherland, or Homeland?). When the government evolves in a direction from left to right, the citizenry will in general also have that tendency.

Obviously we are not talking about an axiomatic, direct, and robotic response, but what we are talking about is social tendencies involved when and where there is that type of a psychological framework.

Following the 9/11 attack this "below the level of consciousness" dynamic could be observed more easily as the nation became "the homeland", as seemingly endless wars began, as military spending practically bankrupted us, and as the nation evolved toward the dynamics of bullying.

Since then suicide is the number one cause of injury death in the citizenry as well as in the military in America, many such suicides occurring after the mass killing of innocents by the one who then takes their own life.

If we cast the notion of epigovernment into this discussion, then apply these same dynamics, is seems as though metaphorically we are stepchildren in an abusive home.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

1 comment:

  1. The military openly promotes the notion of family: "The Naval Special Warfare family is deeply saddened by the loss of our teammate," said Captain Robert Smith, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, which manages all Virginia-based Navy Seal teams." (US Navy Seal Commander Job W Price, suicide).