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George Lakoff writes: "It seems to me that the OWS movement is moral in nature, that occupiers want the country to change its moral focus. It is easy to find useful policies; hundreds have been suggested. It is harder to find a moral focus and stick to it. If the movement is to frame itself, it should be on the basis of its moral focus, not a particular agenda or list of policy demands. If the moral focus of America changes, new people will be elected and the policies will follow. Without a change of moral focus, the conservative worldview that has brought us to the present disastrous and dangerous moment will continue to prevail."

Portrait, George Lakoff. (photo: Bart Nagel)
Portrait, George Lakoff. (photo: Bart Nagel)

A Framing Memo for Occupy Wall Street

By George Lakoff, Reader Supported News

19 October 11


Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns


was asked weeks ago by some in the Occupy Wall Street movement to make suggestions for how to frame the movement. I have hesitated so far, because I think the movement should be framing itself. It's a general principle: Unless you frame yourself, others will frame you - the media, your enemies, your competitors, your well-meaning friends. I have so far hesitated to offer suggestions. But the movement appears to maturing and entering a critical time when small framing errors could have large negative consequences. So I thought it might be helpful to accept the invitation and start a discussion of how the movement might think about framing itself.

About framing: It's normal. Everybody engages in it all the time. Frames are just structures of thought that we use every day. All words in all languages are defined in terms of frame-circuits in the brain. But, ultimately, framing is about ideas, about how we see the world, which determines how we act.

In politics, frames are part of competing moral systems that are used in political discourse and in charting political action. In short, framing is a moral enterprise: it says what the character of a movement is. All politics is moral. Political figures and movements always make policy recommendations claiming they are the right things to do. No political figure ever says, do what I say because it's wrong! Or because it doesn't matter! Some moral principles or other lie behind every political policy agenda.

Two Moral Framing Systems in Politics

Conservatives have figured out their moral basis and you see it on Wall Street: It includes: The primacy of self-interest. Individual responsibility, but not social responsibility. Hierarchical authority based on wealth or other forms of power. A moral hierarchy of who is "deserving," defined by success. And the highest principle is the primacy of this moral system itself, which goes beyond Wall Street and the economy to other arenas: family life, social life, religion, foreign policy, and especially government. Conservative "democracy" is seen as a system of governance and elections that fits this model.

Though OWS concerns go well beyond financial issues, your target is right: the application of these principles in Wall Street is central, since that is where the money comes from for elections, for media, and for right-wing policy-making institutions of all sorts on all issues.

The alternative view of democracy is progressive: Democracy starts with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly on that sense of care, taking responsibility both for oneself and for one's family, community, country, people in general, and the planet. The role of government is to protect and empower all citizens equally via The Public: public infrastructure, laws and enforcement, health, education, scientific research, protection, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, and on and on. Nobody makes it one their own. If you got wealthy, you depended on The Public, and you have a responsibility to contribute significantly to The Public so that others can benefit in the future. Moreover, the wealthy depend on those who work, and who deserve a fair return for their contribution to our national life. Corporations exist to make life better for most people. Their reason for existing is as public as it is private.

A disproportionate distribution of wealth robs most citizens of access to the resources controlled by the wealthy. Immense wealth is a thief. It takes resources from the rest of the population - the best places to live, the best food, the best educations, the best health facilities, access to the best in nature and culture, the best professionals, and on and on. Resources are limited, and great wealth greatly limits access to resources for most people.

It appears to me that OWS has a progressive moral vision and view of democracy, and that what it is protesting is the disastrous effects that have come from operating with a conservative moral, economic, and political worldview. I see OWS as primarily a moral movement, seeking economic and political changes to carry out that moral movement - whatever those particular changes might be.

A Moral Focus for Occupy Wall Street

I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed.

It seems to me that the OWS movement is moral in nature, that occupiers want the country to change its moral focus. It is easy to find useful policies; hundreds have been suggested. It is harder to find a moral focus and stick to it. If the movement is to frame itself, it should be on the basis of its moral focus, not a particular agenda or list of policy demands. If the moral focus of America changes, new people will be elected and the policies will follow. Without a change of moral focus, the conservative worldview that has brought us to the present disastrous and dangerous moment will continue to prevail.

We Love America. We're Here to Fix It

I see OWS as a patriotic movement, based on a deep and abiding love of country - a patriotism that it is not just about the self-interests of individuals, but about what the country is and is to be. Do Americans care about other citizens, or mainly just about themselves? That's what love of America is about. I therefore think it is important to be positive, to be clear about loving America, seeing it in need of fixing, and not just being willing to fix it, but being willing to take to the streets to fix it. A populist movement starts with the people seeing that they are all in the same boat and being ready to come together to fix the leaks.

Publicize the Public

Tell the truth about The Public, that nobody makes it purely on their own without The Public, that is, without public infrastructure, the justice system, health, education, scientific research, protections of all sorts, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, … That is a truth to be told day after day. It is an idea that must take hold in public discourse. It must go beyond what I and others have written about it and beyond what Elizabeth Warren has said in her famous video. The Public is not opposed to The Private. The Public is what makes The Private possible. And it is what makes freedom possible. Wall Street exists only through public support. It has a moral obligation to direct itself to public needs.

All OWS approaches to policy follow from such a moral focus. Here are a handful examples.

Democracy should be about the 99%

Money directs our politics. In a democracy, that must end. We need publicly supported elections, however that is to be arranged.

Strong Wages Make a Strong America

Middle-class wages have not gone up significantly in 30 years, and there is conservative pressure to lower them. But when most people get more money, they spend it and spur the economy, making the economy and the country stronger, as well as making their individual lives better. This truth needs to be central to public economic discourse.

Global Citizenship

America has been a moral beacon to the world. It can function as such only if it sets an example of what a nation should be.

Do we have to spend more on the military that all other nations combined? Do we really need hundreds of military bases abroad?


We are part of nature. Nature makes us, and all that we love, possible. Yet we are destroying Nature through global warming and other forms of ecological destruction, like fracking and deep-water drilling.

At a global scale, nature is systemic: its effects are neither local nor linear. Global warming is causing the ferocity of the monster storms, tornados, floods, blizzards, heat waves, and fires that have devastated huge areas of our country. The hotter the atmosphere, the more evaporated water and the more energy going into storms, tornados, and blizzards. Global warming cannot be shown to cause any particular storm, but when a storm system forms, global warming will ramp up the power of the storm and the amount of water it carries. In winter, evaporated water from the overly heated Pacific will go into the atmosphere, blow northeast over the arctic, and fall as record snows.

We depend on nature - on clean air, water, food, and a livable climate. And we find beauty and grandeur in nature, and a sense of awe that makes life worth living. A love of country requires a love of nature. And a fair and thriving economy requires the preservation of nature as we have known it.


OWS is a moral and patriotic movement. It sees Democracy as flowing from citizens caring about one another as well as themselves, and acting with both personal and social responsibility. Democratic governance is about The Public, and the liberty that The Public provides for a thriving Private Sphere. From such a democracy flows fairness, which is incompatible with a hugely disproportionate distribution of wealth. And from the sense of care implicit in such a democracy flows a commitment to the preservation of nature.

From what I have seen of most members of OWS, your individual concerns all flow from one moral focus.


The Tea Party solidified the power of the conservative worldview via elections. OWS will have no long-term effect unless it too brings its moral focus to the 2012 elections. Insist on supporting candidates that have your overall moral views, no matter what the local issues are.

A Warning

This movement could be destroyed by negativity, by calls for revenge, by chaos, or by having nothing positive to say. Be positive about all things and state the moral basis of all suggestions. Positive and moral in calling for debt relief. Positive and moral in upholding laws, as they apply to finances. Positive and moral in calling for fairness in acquiring needed revenue. Positive and moral in calling for clean elections. To be effective, your movement must be seen by all of the 99% as positive and moral. To get positive press, you must stress the positive and the moral.

Remember: The Tea Party sees itself as stressing only individual responsibility. The Occupation Movement is stressing both individual and social responsibility.

I believe, and I think you believe, that most Americans care about their fellow citizens as well as themselves. Let's find out! Shout your moral and patriotic views out loud, regularly. Put them on your signs. Repeat them to the media. Tweet them. And tell everyone you know to do the same. You have to use your own language with your own framing and you have to repeat it over and over for the ideas to sink in.

Occupy elections: voter registration drives, town hall meetings, talk radio airtime, party organizations, nomination campaigns, election campaigns, and voting booths.

Above all: Frame yourselves before others frame you.

George Lakoff is the author of "Moral Politics, Don't Think of an Elephant!," "Whose Freedom?," and "Thinking Points" (with the Rockridge Institute staff). He is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+56 # fredboy 2011-10-19 11:24
Positive and moral--those words must be the foundation of this movement. A movement based on goodness.
-86 # Martintfre 2011-10-19 12:15
For the good of whom?
If a slacker majority decides to enslave the productive minority -- it will be good for the majority, not so good for those who have been enslaved.
+37 # tedrey 2011-10-19 13:17
But if a slacker minority decides to enslave the productive majority, it's all right with you?
-12 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 11:30
No one has a right to the life of another.

Every one has a right to trade freely or not with whom they see fit.
+11 # daveapostles 2011-10-19 13:26
That is a reductive, Utilitarian conceptualizati on of goodness - it does not have to be 'framed' in that way.
+28 # mebemo 2011-10-19 14:10
If you knew more people who coast through life on inherited wealth, you might understand how a slacker minority can enslave the productive majority. But I fear that an understanding of how all living beings on this planet are mutually connected has so far escaped you.

All you need is love.
+31 # Martintfre 2011-10-19 11:34
how about a moral focus that a just government respects the rights of all people equally and grants special favor to none.

That no one has a right to enslave another.
-43 # Martintfre 2011-10-19 11:37
//Individual responsibility, but not social responsibility. Hierarchical authority based on wealth or other forms of power//

Hierarchical authority is necessarily a collectivist anti-individual concept.
+12 # daveapostles 2011-10-19 13:25
Damn that estates organization of society, with its kings, aristocracy/nob ility, commons, and clerical estate - collectivist bastards.
-46 # Martintfre 2011-10-19 11:38
"Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide."
John Adams
+32 # LeeBlack 2011-10-19 13:26
I believe Adams was referring to the tendency of Democracy to drift toward oligarchy. The only way to MAINTAIN a Democracy is to have informed, active citizens. Enough of these active citizens will balance the power of the few wealthy.
-11 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 11:22
Adams was referring to the fact that when the majority realize they can enslave a minority for their benefit, they do and they declare it moral because the (Tyranny of) majority rules
- Soon the minority quits working as any slave should and it collapses into rebellion and bloody anarchy to be replaced by a dictator.
-60 # Martintfre 2011-10-19 11:53
//Immense wealth is a thief. //
Really? an unsupportable statement that is to blindly be accepted as fact.

Who did Steve Jobes steal from? Name them.
+13 # lcarrier 2011-10-19 12:30
Steve Jobs didn't steal. But vast income inequality does steal jobs.
+25 # Fair Elections Now 2011-10-19 12:35
The American electronics giant Apple was investigating damaging allegations last night that Chinese workers making its new iPad device were subjected to such "inhumane" treatment that some of them took their own lives by jumping off factory roofs.
Documents seen by The Independent reveal there are widespread failures by Apple's suppliers to respect standards on labour rights and safety specified by the company, which had sales of £30bn last year. (from politicalleft.b
+30 # skayne 2011-10-19 12:49
Steve Jobs didn’t steal—but he did get exceedingly rich by using the public commons that Lakoff talks about. Much of Jobs’ wealth depended on the Internet—which was developed using taxpayer money. So you and I—and all American taxpayers—are the venture capitalists of the Internet. OUR financial backing made it possible. Now, a handful of people have gotten extremely rich because they were smart, hardworking, AND they had the Internet (the guys behind Facebook, Amazon, and Google, just to name a few). I certainly don’t begrudge them their wealth but, as a venture capitalist, I expect some payback. And don’t tell me that the Internet is payback enough—after all, I have to PAY for the privilege of using it. If the Internet allowed them to get extra rich, then they have an obligation to pay back a little bit extra than those of us who did not turn a profit using this public infrastructure.
+14 # maryza 2011-10-19 13:15
Steve Jobs and every other American who has accumulated great wealth has done it by exploiting people and/or natural resources.
-19 # Martintfre 2011-10-19 13:47
Russia, China, Botswana, Zambabwi ... have commons as well (to varying degrees of quality) - but they do not fair was well as we do -- WHY? All of them combined and a lot more does not make 1/2 of our economy. China just surpassed Japan to become #2 economy at 2.9 trillion - we are 15 trillion.

These Commons are not the source of wealth - respecting person private property allowing innovation to be rewarded not punished is what makes for wealth and prosperity of all people.
Sure I will never be as rich as Bill gates or Steve Jobes - but their genius and effort led to my choice and millions of other consumers to a win-win to voluntarily buy the goods they created and sold.

Wealth is not created by a mob nor is genius respected by a mob.

all wealth must first be created before it can be distributed.
+16 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-19 19:24
but the commons *are* the source of all wealth, there is no other

and yes, by applying ingenuity, and ambition, and no little advantage of economic leverage and political dominance/force , there are those who make much of the raw materials provided to all by this planet

but that's only a part of the story, for while there is much in civilisation that has produced great advances to the benefit of many - how does your position address this equally demonstrated truth:

“The global industrial economy is the engine for massive environmental degradation and massive human (and nonhuman) impoverishment.
― Derrick Jensen

-14 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 08:36
apparently Derrick Jensen is a dope and I am willing to bet a hypocrite - unless he lives like the Amish and forgoes all the nifty things that technology has made available.

Before we had technology and capitalism the planets carrying capacity was a few hundred million - now it is 7 billion - Birth rates did not magically shoot up in recent times - profit seekers found ways to get rich keeping people alive and happy.
+2 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-21 21:49
it strikes me that calling derrick jensen a probably dope and hypocrite might be a dodge, put forward to avoid addressing the content of his statement; and the further demand as prerequisite that he "live like the amish" in order to be judged permitted to observe what is clearly and abundantly observable - and recorded and quantified - by many qualified persons, seems not very useful nor on point

you seem to imply a false and falsely limited choice, martintfre, that is, that we can and must choose between no technology/capi talism, and only the sort of technology/capi talism we have so far developed and implemented, strictly in the way we have so far implemented it

we're smarter than that; and, many of us hope, better than that

here's an example: allan savory and the reversal of desertification

increased carrying capacity in the short term will, if dependent upon unsound practices, bring a terrible reckoning down the road

that terrible reckoning can be, and should be, avoided, by the exercise of intelligence and care

anything less is an insult to human ingenuity, as well as to the planet itself
+15 # Thro-d-shue 2011-10-19 20:43
I am always surprised by peole like the commentator on this list called Martintfre when they defend the accumulation of immense wealth as if that is a grace in itself, or an ideal state to aim for. Specially when this very wealth some times in its entireity may evade the actual Martintfre's of this world. Are these the real selfless humanists? have we all got it wrong.?? Or are they the real beggars who have nothing better to look forward to and deserve our pity.
I am glad I was able to get this point out without quoting either Hitler, Bush or Steve Jobs who really have nothing to do with this discussion.
-12 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 08:39
How was the wealth created and acumulated.
When some one like Steve Jobes uses their genius to make things that people buy their wealth is earned.

When people accumulate wealth like the government does - at the end of a gun - then it is theft and only redistributing from producer to parasite.

Theft is revenue neutral -
voluntary trade is win-win wealth creation.
+13 # Peace Anonymous 2011-10-19 23:47
It must be created.....and then stolen....

You begin to dabble in foreign policy. And I really believe the first step is to see the truth about who and what we have become as a society. I will not argue with your numbers but I will ask where di much of our wealth come from? How many countries have lost control of their natural resources to the same corporations that are only now crippling our economy? Follow the money and you will find the truth. You won't like it and it makes Lakoff's argument for a moral foundation that much more necessary. Globalization kept a lot of 3rd world countries in the poor house. So if we go global with OWS perhaps we can repair some of the damage done and create a world with at least some hope for peace.
+10 # PaineRad 2011-10-19 17:42
Steve Jobs did steal. He made choices. He could have run his business in a way that respected nature, respected his fellow Americans, respected the Chinese laborers. He chose to exploit them all. That is theft, plain and simple.
-14 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 08:46
B.S. Jobes did not steal
- He is human and did his best to ethically run his business.
This is a lame ass excuse to evade that fact and pretend like Jobes could magically be every where and magically know every thing then fasley dam him as if he wanted to harm people (people who took the best opportunity available - unless their government forced them into those jobs) is lame . My guess is inspired by greed and envy of the writer.

When a tax collector pokes a gun in your face and forces redistribution of wealth - that is theft.
+7 # noitall 2011-10-20 13:58
No, its regulation ("when a tax collector pokes..."). Why do you think THEY are against regulation. Regulation is for fairness and equality. Steve Jobs did steal but it was legal theft. One has a choice, do what is 'accepted' or do what is right. It takes courage to do what is right and one must have the capacity to think out of the box. You're not thinking out of the box when you use the rhetoric of wealth redistribution as being theft. Maybe it is, because what the needed "new redistribution" would do is change the flow to the other direction. The rich haven't always had this inward flow. They used to be taxed 90%, accounting for their uses of infrastructure and expertise, etc. paid for by the tax payers and to pay for THEIR Federal Reserve and its glutted appetite. Theft is what Native Americans experienced. They are now the poorest in the land and are begrudged for their efforts to level the playing field with the few opportunities open to them, such as casinos. I bet you have an opinon on that too.
+1 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-21 22:00
whether or not steve jobs "did his best to ethically run his business" might be a rather difficult thing accurately to determine, and I would strongly disagree that it is a "lame ass excuse" or an evasion of anything to suggest that immensely creative people like Steve Jobs, who attain to great power and influence thro the exercise of their considerable talents and ambitions are more capable than most of running a taut ship (however large, however far travelled) - the man at the top sets the tone, culture, value set, and attitude of his organisation

everyone knows what the boss wants, expects, and will tolerate, in every organisation

insofar as the tax collector, whyever do you think OWS, like its forebears - think wat tyler's rebellion, 1381 - would be likely to embrace the overreaching tax collector, poking his gun in one's face or worse?

I do think you may not understand this OWS group so very well
+6 # daveapostles 2011-10-19 13:20
Not legally theft, but consider the following:
1 Morally, from the workers at FoxConn and Wintek (check out their labour conditions which Apple has seemingly not monitored);
2 Commercially, from FoxConn which has hardly made any profit whilst Apple has racked up billions;
3 Morally, from Berkeley Software Distribution Unix for OS X.x (and, hey, I and anyone can use BSD Unix free of charge through FreeBSD, PC-BSD et al.);
4 Well, it's their own fault, but from the idiots who are prepared to pay absurd sums of money for 'commodity fetishism' when there are much cheaper and better-resource d Android eqipment and apps.
Viva Linux and Unix-BSD.
-11 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 08:49
//Morally, from Berkeley Software Distribution Unix for OS X.x (and, hey, I and anyone can use BSD Unix free of charge through FreeBSD, PC-BSD et al.);//

Oh please be rational - If they offered it for free - then some one is dammed for using what was made freely available?
I also suspect that many of those who were employed by Apple did a lot to improve Unix Java and a host of other code that has reciprocally, beneficially and voluntarily helped so many.

I suspect that personal hypocrisy does not bother you at all.
+17 # Joan Manning 2011-10-19 13:39
I think the meaning is that wealth which just keeps on accumulating (becomes immense)well beyond the owners' reasonable needs, and does so while others are in need of the basics of life is at least greed, and could be seen as a theft of resources, such as allowing medical care to become unaffordable.
+16 # mebemo 2011-10-19 14:05
This chain of comments shows a slavish acceptance (if not outright regurgitation) of Ayn Rand's ego-driven selfishness. Some day you may have the experience of deeply loving someone and being loved in return, and it will show you the deep happiness that flows from a sense of connection that extends to all living beings.

In the meantime, read Paul Goodman, Marcuse or the Dalai Lama.
-13 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 11:15
//Some day you may have the experience of deeply loving someone and being loved in return, //
a voluntary interaction such as love between people is selfish as they each see it as beneficial.

Or look at it the other way::
Here would be a Valentine's Day card which takes the premise of selfless love seriously "Imagine receiving a card with the following message: "I get no pleasure from your existence. I obtain no personal enjoyment from the way you look, dress, move, act or think. Our relationship profits me not. You satisfy no sexual, emotional or intellectual needs of mine. You're a charity case, and I'm with you only out of pity. Love, XXX." Gary Hull, PhD in philosophy
+7 # mebemo 2011-10-21 08:15
Somehow, when Jesus said, "Love one another," I doubt if he had your rationale in mind.

Love is the recognition of kinship. What's beneficial about it is PRECISELY its capacity to lift us out of "selfish" egotism and into the appreciation of being connected. The "I-You" dichotomy dissolves into the shared wholeness of "We."

I sincerely hope you will experience this for yourself some day. A new, happier world will reveal itself.
+3 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-21 22:09
once again, martintfre, you set up a false and I must say absurdly extremely delimited "choice"

some people do, as you suggest, love another solely becos the beloved makes the lover feel good/satisfied; however, I might remind you, some love another becos they love the beloved's very nature and existence in the world, regardless of the question of personal benefit

not everyone loves someone just becos - or even primarily becos - the beloved makes them feel good/satisfied; rather, there is satisfaction and happiness in the loving itself, in the recognition of the intrinsic worth of the other

it's a big world, I daresay, brimming with variety
+13 # Peace Anonymous 2011-10-19 16:16
This kind of rhetoric on all parts is divisive. We must be able to discuss our differences with respect. What Lakoff is referring too is an attitude. You cannot legislate honesty, integrity or respect. That is what is missing. Had Wall Street or the government concerned themselves with the well being of the people would we be having this discussion?? Do you agree that our attitude and our values may require an inspection?
+4 # PaineRad 2011-10-19 17:39
Every American whose jobs (no pun intended) ended up in China. Every Chinese worker whose lives have been stunted by the conditions at Foxconn, etc. and those who have committed suicide to escape the slave-like conditions.
-10 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 09:02
Since anything event most tangentially tied to Jobes is fair play -- do we Blame Jobes for people who use his computers to cyber bully or cyber stalk others or to hack site and steal identity data then buy tings at other peoples expense too ?
Jobes should have been watching every thing every one does that might have been done using one of his nifty toys to stop any one from doing anything bad - especially since no one is responsible for what they do (unless they are rich - then they are responsible for them selves and every one else)
+1 # mebemo 2011-10-22 20:41
You'd have a bit more credibility if you spelled Steve Jobs' name right.

Misspelling a name that's been in the news every day for at least a week doesn't reflect well on your powers of observation.
+13 # msleepyhead 2011-10-19 12:12
YES!!!! It is after all what our "Founding Fathers" did ..those men were very well read in the going philosophies of the time. Remember why we went from the Articles of Confederation. We had to work together and mostly, pay taxes!!! Mr. Lakoff, you clarifies a vastly important and urgent point.
+5 # fredboy 2011-10-19 12:17
Martintfre, please explain your position. Our minds are open and considerate. Many thanks.
0 # Martintfre 2011-10-19 14:31
My position is simple - read up above
A just government respects the rights of all people equally and grants special favor to none.

Much is based upon that premise.
+14 # mebemo 2011-10-19 15:49
Martinfre, I think most commentators here would agree with you. The question is: How do we achieve such a government in the face of corporate lobbying power? If you give some thought to thisand propose a solution, I'm sure many here would be interested. I sure would!
-12 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 09:48
//How do we achieve such a government in the face of corporate lobbying power?//

Hold politicians accountable for their actions.

Corporations are children of government and only do what government permits.

When Obama/Bush bail out undeserving corporations do not blindly pretend that when Bush does it is was bad - but when Obama does the same thing it is good. Do not permit a politically motivated hypocrisy to cloud judgement.
+2 # Nomativo 2011-10-22 20:37
Quoting mebemo:
Martinfre, I think most commentators here would agree with you. The question is: How do we achieve such a government in the face of corporate lobbying power? If you give some thought to thisand propose a solution, I'm sure many here would be interested. I sure would!

Hey #mebemo! So glad you brought this question up! There are two movements that have been initiated to put and end to corporate influence in our govenment: first and foremost, please check out and support a political action commitee created by a journlist outfit I truly respest, The Young Turks. Their mission is to influence individual state governments to come together to bypass Congress and ratify a Constitutional Amendment in order to make it illegal for corporations to donate money to politicians.

Second is occupygovernmen An organisation dedicated to supporting candidates to public office that pledge to refuse corporate donations and vote to pass laws that benifit citizens and not banks and corporations. Please spread this message out as this seems to me the most logical next steps that help us, the 99% get a foothold towards changing our nation and the world for the betterment of "Life"
+11 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-19 17:02
I suspect your position seems not at all so simple to understand to many reading here; if I may ask, Martintfre, how would your position square - or not - with the following, if we understand "community" to express itself practically thro its chosen/develope d form of "government":

“Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy."

“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”
~ Wendell Berry

+5 # Peace Anonymous 2011-10-19 23:36
“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”
~ Wendell Berry

Well Stated. Thanks for that. And in the shadow of that statement I simply ask, "Can we continue the way we have been going?" But we must go forward in peace.
-10 # Martintfre 2011-10-20 09:59
//how would your position square - or not - with ... if we understand "community" to express itself practically thro its chosen/develope d form of "government"://

I suggest first having an understanding of a few concepts::
What is legitimate and what is illegitimate government?

What is the difference between an inherent right that pre-exist any government and requires no force upon another vs what is a political privilege that requires force of government to implement?

Does anyone have a right to enslave another?

In one aspect I am evading your question by asking other questions - in another aspect I am trying to force thinking to concentrate on concepts that must be understood so one can separate legitimate vs illegitimate governance.
+1 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-21 22:31
yes, you are evading my question by asking other questions ... I shall, rather, not evade yours:

you no doubt have your own very strict ideas about what is and is not "legitimate" government, and, as that notion "legitimate government" can be properly understood in many ways, it would avail us little for me to venture forth on any one of too numerous paths just for the sake of meandering around in a field you find pleasant and preferred territory

further, you yourself confuse the issue considerably by referring in your last graf to "legitimate governance" as if it were one and the same with "legitimate government" which is not always nor necessarily the case at all

likewise your next question opens an enormous subject, one upon which everything from political philosophy to pragmatism to natural law to religion and beyond, can, and usually are, properly brought to bear

clearly, the answer to your next question is no

I thank you for your concern for my possible deficit wrt "thinking to concentrate on concepts that must be understood etc ..." please be assured I shall endeavour to keep the side up, without coercion, however, as that won't be necessary, thanks all the same (wink)
+13 # PaineRad 2011-10-19 17:47
As the old saw goes, the devil is in the detail.

As Martinfre has ably demonstrated, one can come up with nice sounding generalities and still not understand the essence of them, to view them through a completely contradictory frame and a set of beliefs that promote exactly the opposite.
+11 # angelfish 2011-10-19 12:19
Positive and Moral, two great goals to aspire to, IF we can stay focused and above the petty, accusatory rhetoric. I know how hard that is because, to my way of thinking, "positive and moral" are two concepts unknown to the Fascist ReTHUGlican Regime. I KNOW there are many positive and moral Conservatives from the old Republican Party out there, I just don't understand WHERE they've ALL gone? Come out, come out, wherever you are. Yours are voices that are also needed if we are to formulate a new healthier, more responsible way of governing ourselves for the greater GOOD of our Country and the World!
+5 # molinarico 2011-10-19 13:44
We need some humanitarian help right now. There is a new level of despair in America. Please check out some real American stories -- heartbreaking in their growth and similarity all across America. This is why we are Occupying Wall Street. Pls. read a few of these and feel lucky for what you still have. Wearethe99perce
+8 # wantrealdemocracy 2011-10-19 13:54
All very nice to talk about the moral component of the 99% movement---but the task is to change the government and that task is political. The new movement must do something about their understanding that our current government is corrupt and no democratic at all. The members of Congress do not heed the voice of the people but do the bidding our the people who give them bribes. We must remove these people, and that is just about EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS. It would be good to have replacements ready to step forward but not necessary. All we have to do is vote out the whole bunch of paid lackeys of the rich. That will open up the chance of some improvement. Re elect the scum in office now and you will get WORSE than we have now. Forget the D or the R after their name. Did they vote against the wars? Did they vote to give trillions to the banksters? Do they vote to cut our domestic programs? Do they vote to lower environmental standards that may cause the profits of the corporations to go down? Check this against your rep and you will see that this person needs to join the unemployed. Don't vote for the corrupt.
+4 # AMLLLLL 2011-10-19 14:14
One thing we can do right now:

Go to and sign the petition to get $$ out of politics.
+5 # Peace Anonymous 2011-10-19 14:40
Please be patient. I am not finished writing the book yet.
George is correct I think. We have given up our principles for short term profit. There is no integrity or honesty in the system.
Peace Anonymous is about asking ourelves some serious questions about the direction we are heading. It is about change. It is about placing moral values ahead of profit. It is about seeing the truth in who and what we have become as a society and together, changing it, to what we, the people want and value. It is about peace and doing the right thing. It is designed to include everybody on this planet if they so decide to participate.
Please bare in mind that I am ignoring the website so I can focus on finishing the book. But please read the posts. If you find some hope there please send me a note. This has proven itself over and over. It is perhaps the most democratic system I have ever witnessed and it works.
Thank You George
+2 # edensasp 2011-10-19 14:51
When I observe, listen & review my own concerns represented in the Occupy movement, I find that they all have a common origination. Legislative policies not conducive or representative to the purpose of the constitutional authority often used to enact them.

If policies through constitutional authority fail to meet the purpose of the constitution as exampled in the Preamble or Declaration of purpose in the establishment of the constitution, the constitution fails to provide, promote and secure those purposes and in "purpose" are not sanctioned for inclusion, representation or protection of the constitution.

OWS has that framing already embedded into the foundation in the creation and establishment of this Nations constitution. Its very purpose of existence.
-21 # Stu Piddy 2011-10-19 15:41
George Lakoff is a fool.

Just tell the goddamn truth and cut the bullshit about "frames".

Framing is a bullshit sales technique that Wall Street uses. It's political speak. It's bullshit.

Nobody needs George Lakoff. The OWS has had nothing to do with him and like so many others he wants to jump on their energy and give THEM ADVICE.
+4 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-19 18:00
and yet, this man (Edward Bernays), and all who followed his lead and methods, were consistently and impressively successful - this acknowledgement of demonstrated success is not, of course, to be taken as endorsement, indeed, such success inspires dismay, and sometimes, despair:

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."

"Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government."

"The best defense against propaganda: more propaganda."

~ Edward Bernays
-5 # papabob 2011-10-19 16:38
It looks like one more example of crabs trying to get out of a bucket. The ones that have made it out are now using billy clubs to keep the other crabs in the bucket - where they belong.
+14 # stakesb47 2011-10-19 17:12
I think OWS resent "Wall Street" establishment because they are the symbol of the greed that has taken hold of America.
The 99% do not want the 'riches' money, we just want a fair wage for working honestly.
The fact that the 'establishment is trying to 'bust' unions, rig elections through dubious-based regulations (I heard that out of about 300M voters only 87 were convicted of voter fraud.) is just more proof of dishonesty for the sake of greed.
The fact that wages have not matched what our society requires for a decent living, and that these huge companies are taking business out of the country just to make more money than they know what to do with is a basic crime of those who hold that power.
That's how I would sum it up for myself.
+10 # ganymede 2011-10-19 21:32
This is about the best piece currently available on what's happening down on Wall Street and all over the world wherever peaceful protesters are congregating against a dying system that must and will be reformed. I hope people will disseminate this article wherever they can.
+8 # bubbiesue 2011-10-19 22:53
Here's how my daughter framed it in her Yom Kippur sermon--paraphr ased from the report of a congregant who attended:

Money shouldn’t be allowed to control the political process, and human values — and the worth of human beings — need to be put front and center in a way that the alliance of money and political power has subverted.

How's that for a moral statement?
+7 # Ryguy913 2011-10-20 07:50
Stu Piddy, the conundrum is that truth is in fact created by frames. That's Lakoff's whole point, and the point of many other people, as well.

In a deep sense, all speak is political speak, and - insofar as it's not based upon some 'objective reality' - yes, all speech is bullshit. We might also consider the possibility that all speech is sales. Think of it this way: whenever we communicate with one another we are trying to sell our position, even if it is a sincere, genuine, heartfelt position, we are still expressing it to others with the hope that they will buy our sincerity, genuineness and accept our position as heartfelt. This isn't wrong or immoral or deceptive, it's simply what communication is: an exercise in expressive persuasion. And sometimes people need less persuading than at other times.
+5 # Ryguy913 2011-10-20 07:55
The problem with the far left is that we've been speaking amongst ourselves for so long that we've become accustomed to conversations that demand VERY little persuasion, and thus we've lost the art of truly effective persuasion. I understand Lakoff to be saying that we would do well to go back to some of the most basic persuasive tools in the human toolkit: morality and positivity.

People like being moral. It feels good to be moral, largely because you can sleep easy at night with an unstained conscience. Also, we can all recognize how beneficial morality has been in our lives socially, enabling trust and autonomy and love and so on. People also really like to hear positive messages; we're easily persuaded by positivity (look at Ronald Reagan's campaigns). It doesn't matter if what one says is the truth, if one presents it in a harsh and negative manner, people will largely be turned off, and rightly so: you haven't given them any indication that you are communicating this truth for their benefit.
+5 # montanamaven 2011-10-20 08:20
OWS doesn't need Lakoff to remind them about "framing" like the good parent vs strict parent deal he is always pushing. This is not about framing. That is still part of the whole idea of "marketing". It's not about marketing, but about organizing, as one of the organizers, David Graeber, said recently. How do we organize in a way that is outside the same old left/right, Democrat/Republ ican, Nurturing parent/Strict parent b.s.? This is a grass roots bottom up lovely thing to see and has already come up with a brilliant themes like "we are the 99%" and the targeting Wall Street.
But it is really about the right to be free; free from subservience to the banksters. And so they take direct action which is freeing and better than just framing. Speaking in work groups and general assemblies is freeing your voice and not only taking back the word "social" but actually being social. One of the first structures in Zucotti Park was a library. That's a place where you borrow something, bring it back and you don't have to pay interest.
The people in these public spaces are taking back their humanity in a very clear way. They are discovering what their true needs are not just what they want or desire. And the need seems to be making a community not a place of mirror gazing. They are taking back their identity as citizens instead of consumers or cogs in the machine.
+5 # rachel 2011-10-20 09:31
I appreciate Lakoff's ethical focus for us at this moment in history. My understanding is that an ethics of care, in order to be an ethical analysis at all, with regard to decision making,must include the fundamental issue of whether one has the right to exercise such and such a power....for instance, use atomic power to make bombs, but that our characteristic pragmatic rush to power consistently skips the initial consideration.
+1 # RandyatWayne 2011-10-20 17:46
I think the framing memo is simple: "WWJD".

By that I do not mean that the OWS movement is Christian, because we know it draws from many faith traditions and probably athiests and agnostics as well. But I do think WWJD is appropriate because the historical Jesus spent his adult life protesting the Wall Street of his day, fighting for justice for the poor, the underserved and the underrepresente d.

One final reason arguing for "WWJD": all those bracelets are already made. So my vote for a framing memo is "WWJD".

The next batch of bracelets can connect with the many historical figures who, like Jesus in his time, resisted the Wall Streets of their day on behalf of the 99 percent.
+13 # Dave Parsons 2011-10-21 08:04
A crucial difference in the points by Martintfre and the many who posted in response is our relationship to the 'bigger' world around us. Martintfre implies that a successful individual owes nothing to the society or the world and is completely responsible for their wealth. I would disagree and say that we all owe a portion to the world. Roads, schools and a legal system to settle disputes are part of the common good we all support. The air we breathe, the water we drink and the land that provides food are parts of the common good that support us. I suggest that any system that refuses to see the broader picture and focuses only on individual self-aggrandize ment will eventually destroy the ground on which it stands.
+1 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-21 22:33
what dave said
+2 # mebemo 2011-10-22 20:51
Martintfre illustrates the fundamental difficulty that progressives have in talking with reactionaries. How do you get a wide and comprehensive view of reality to fit into a narrow and restrictive frame? How do you explain color to a blind person, or sex to a virgin?

I'm not being facetious. This is a problem our culture must solve if it's not to remain "a house divided." Any ideas?
0 # thirteenthpaladin 2011-10-22 22:04

your question is precisely on point, and, from years of puzzling over it in an effort to communicate with ... well, reactionaries, yes, but even with many self-described "centrists" also beguiled by the "narrow frame" - it has come to me that concrete demonstration is the way to go

by which I mean pointing out successful projects, win-win projects, that satisfy the requisites of the narrow frame as well as those of the comprehensive view

above I mentioned allan savory's work reversing desertification , but there are others that would serve equally

progressives can point to these real world demonstrations as defying the limits, while yet satisfying or even exceeding the demands, of the narrow frame

I have found that this approach sometimes makes some headway, and I am keen to hear others' ideas, as well

thanks for posting the question
-1 # Vermonster 2011-11-13 17:27
Yes, and we all should reclaim the "frames" by using more accurate language when engaging in arguments with the right. For example, instead of supporting the right's stance on reproductive rights by using the phrase, "pro-life" we should use the term "ANTI-CHOICE" since that is what they are actually advocating. Another example is the now ubiquitous use of the phrase "entitlements" when referring to Social Security and Medicare when they are not "entitlements", they are, in reality, "EARNED BENEFITS".

And while we are at it, let’s boycott sociopath Koch brother's products. Here is a short list of those that are commonly encountered:
Angel Soft toilet paper
Brawny paper towels
Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups
Mardi Gras napkins and towels
Quilted Northern toilet paper
Soft 'n Gentle toilet paper
Sparkle napkins
Vanity fair napkins
Zee napkins
Below is a link to a more complete list:
Corporations Are NOT People! Money Is NOT Speech! Reinstate Glass-Steagall!

Pro-Life is really Anti-Choice!

Social Security is NOT an entitlement, it is an EARNED BENEFIT!
+3 # Gringaryan 2011-10-22 14:10
accountablilty, compassion, do unto others

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