|Rise of the Strong Man|
That can be analyzed from several perspectives within several academic disciplines.
Today, I want to revisit this phenomenon from the perspective of how it hovers always just below the covers in the United States (and nations like the United States).
It is the psychological or social perspective of groups that I am getting at.
According to expert observers, it is a surprisingly common understanding that liberals and conservatives alike are aware of and generally have agreement about:
(Security: Familyland, Fatherland, or Homeland?). That quote from the first post in this series begs the question: "how does that take shape?"
The photo to the left is a photo of a family in the NAZI governed Germany of long ago.
A NAZI Family?
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.(The Nation As Family, PDF). It is important to remember the part of the concept indicating that "the use of this metaphor lies below the level of consciousness", because in this post today we are going to try to take a look at part of that iceberg we can see, which is not only conscious, but is also attached to the bulk that is not conscious.
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.
That question spawns the following answer:
"The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).(Understanding Trump, by Dr. Lakoff, Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, emphasis added).
What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.
In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others — who are responsible for themselves."
When events are seen in ways that indicate "things are going bad," the reactionary members of the populace who hold this strict father world view become sycophants and/or authoritarian followers (Beware of the Sycophant Epidemic, 2).
History tells us that it solves nothing and in fact brings the house down on our heads:
For example, the Encyclopedia Britannica pointed out the ingredients of the DNA of that history, which incidentally, also applies to our current culture's genetic code:(Previous Post). What remains to be seen is whether the strong man disease will infect enough despots to become "the new normal" (Follow The Immunity - 4).
"In the Study Toynbee examined the rise and fall of 26 civilizations in the course of human history, and he concluded that they rose by responding successfully to challenges under the leadership of creative minorities composed of elite leaders. Civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively, and the civilizations then sank owing to the sins of nationalism, militarism, and the tyranny of a despotic minority. Unlike Spengler in his The Decline of the West, Toynbee did not regard the death of a civilization as inevitable, for it may or may not continue to respond to successive challenges. Unlike Karl Marx, he saw history as shaped by spiritual, not economic forces."(Stockholm Syndrome: The Declaration of Intellectual Dependence). Take note of the three genes in the cultures of suicidal civilizations: "nationalism, militarism, and the tyranny of a despotic minority".
The previous post in this series is here.