Book Review: The Political Mind

The Political Mind:  A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide To Your Brain And Its Politics, by George Lakoff


This book is worth reading, if at all, mainly for the way in which it demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of the left and the prostitution of science, history, and everything else for leftist political aims that passes for woke writing.  This book was written in the immediate aftermath of Obama’s victory and it reads like the author was of the belief that the victory of Obama heralded a triumph of progressive politics over Enlightenment liberalism or conservatism.  Rarely has a book so demonstrated the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of its author and simultaneously discredited the point of view that the author was trying to promote.  To be sure, the author was certainly not intending this to be the case.  He probably meant the book to be encouraging to fellow Progressive activists in encouraging them to frame political matters for their own political advantage while demonizing supposedly radical conservatives for having the gall to undo progressive gains of the past, as if that was a horrifying thing.  The book though, demonstrates that it is Democrats who deny reality and seek to reframe it away when it does not please them and that all of the accusations that the author makes against conservatives are the regular way that leftists operate, and that all of the restraint and decorum that the author claims for the left is in fact the regular behavior of most conservatives, except perhaps for book reviewers.

This book is almost 300 pages long and is divided into three parts and eighteen chapters along with other material.  The author reflects upon the limits of the plasticity of the brain and social change in an introduction after the preface.  The first part of the book looks at how the brain shapes the political mind (I) in four chapters that deal with the various narratives that Anna Nicole Smith could fit (1), the political unconscious that hinders rationality (2), the brain’s role in family matters (3), and the brain’s role in political ideologies (4).  The second book looks at the political challenges for the contemporary mind (II), with chapters on the author’s goal of a new consciousness (5), the traumatic ideas of the war on terror (6), the framing of reality (7), the supposed fear of framing on the part of the left (8), the confrontation of negative truths/stereotypes (9), as well as the claim that leftists aim above bad apples (10), cognitive dissonant policies (11), and the contesting of concepts (12).  The third part of the book then discusses the technical as the political (III), with chapters on the exploration of the political brain (13), the problem of self-interest (14), metaphors and rational action (15), the success of hawks (16), the brain’s language (17), and the author’s ideas on the new enlightenment (18) and expectations of success, after which there are the usual acknowledgements, notes, and an index.

This book is a fascinating game of opposites.  Where the author refers to the leftist family as nurturing and leftist values as life-affirming, one looks in vain for the lack of nurturing that results from the abuse that leftist thinking inflicts on children and the lack of stability that results from leftist models of relationships tied to emotionality, to say nothing of the life-affirming nature of abortion or the gulag or laogai.  The author repeatedly claims that leftists are empathetic of others who are suffering and claims this as an aspect of superiority for leftists over conservatives, forgetting that empathy requires people having experienced what others have, something that is quite notably absent from most of the coercive politics of dependence that leftists demonstrate.  The fact that the author is rampantly biased only makes this particular book all the more entertaining because it shows the way that bias is a bad thing when one is writing books of science.  The author should stick to writing agenda pieces for appreciative leftist hack editorials rather than trying to write books that purport to be nonfiction.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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