16 Apr
2013

The true story of a marketing campaign that sparked a revolution: what we can learn from Chile’s struggle for democracy and the new movie about it: “No”

It was fortunate that a Chilean friend last week asked me to go see the new film “No” starring Gael García Bernal (who played “Che” Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries).

View trailer here

“No” dramatically tells the story of the national referendum that took place in Chile in 1988. A bizarre proposition by Western standards, the question boiled down to whether to continue with dictatorship: “yes” or “no”. To me the film itself is extremely well done in a way that makes its subject completely relevant today: its authentic details do not detract from a fast-moving storyline; the characters and language are realistic and believable, the dilemmas understandable and well-illustrated, the drama never under or overplayed. Excitingly, some real historical figures play cameos of their younger selves, as the film blends historical campaign footage with fiction (for this reason the whole movie was shot with late 80s TV news cameras). Partly because of the presence of historical figures in an advisory capacity, the movie’s faithfulness to real dramas is extremely impressive.

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14 Mar
2013

How to talk about our Moral/Political Opponents

It’s a tricky business talking about political enemies, and indeed simply addressing most political issues, which are saturated with questions of who’s wrong/who’s right/what’s wrong/what’s right. In order to ensure we are championing our values, and not those of our opponents, it’s necessary to keep in mind at all times what our values are, and how their variations function. I’ve already made an everyday-language reinterpretation of George Lakoff’s Strict and Nurturant values, which I repost directly below. But below them I have extrapolated some new personal characteristics of their opposites, to make it clearer what us progressives need to do, and what to not do. Here are the positive statements of the two moral systems:

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29 Dec
2012

Book review: “The Little Blue Book” by George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling

I’ve been at sea for a while, literally; on a sailboat in the islands of the South Pacific. It was a strange contrast to be under the tropical sun reading George Lakoff’s latest book, co-authored with a student of his, Elisabeth Wehling. But although the context is almost exclusively US, the lessons of George Lakoff’s work are universal and, in my view, essential reading for any wishing to change the world for the better. I’m speaking of Lakoff’s work in general. This new book, unfortunately, as the review here shows, is somewhat of an exception.

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20 Aug
2012

The Olympics are over. But their legacy of conservative brain-change has just begun

The races are run, the results are in. But what was and will be the cognitive cost of the London Olympic Games? And in what way might the games influence the moral and political attitudes of a generation?

At the Green Words Workshop my colleague Rupert Read and I explore how moral values are generated and communicated, and how they move from the outside world into the depths of the human brain.

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20 Aug
2012

Conservatives always make sense. Even talking about “legitimate rape”. They just make “conservative-sense”.

This weekend brought us a particularly shocking example of how different conservatives can be from progressives. His Democrat opponents and the left were outraged at a US Republican congressman’s insensitive comment that victims of “legitimate” rape do not get pregnant. Here’s what he said:

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Todd Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not on the [unborn] child”.

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04 Jan
2012

My Strength Is Not For Hurting

strengthhurtI just want to quickly draw people’s attention to this excellent anti-rape campaign in California, entitled “My strength is not for hurting”. To my mind it takes the key Authoritarian value of Strength and couples it with normally opposing Nurturing priorities. An excellent way, to my mind, to appeal to men’s strength and egos whilst changeling them into doing the right thing.

The campaign’s use of the idea of Strength also enables them to maintain a theme that runs through their website, with pages entitled “Share your Strength” and “Resources of Strength” etc. The website is www.mystrength.org I’ve archived some more of their posters on flickr, here. Good, values-based framing, for a good cause.

03 Jan
2012

Reframing (betraying) Beveridge

In his “radical rethink” of Britain’s benefits system in “A William Beveridge for this century’s welfare state“,  the Labour Party’s Liam Byrne has produced a spectacular and instructive example of the failing of contemporary politicians to understand how the human mind works, and consequently to understand how to do politics.

The lessons we can draw from it show how values, not policies or issues or attitudes, are the real framework behind how voters think, and the real key to understanding them, communicating with them and changing society for the better.
It also shows us how the Labour party is not only mimicking the Conservatives in a way that will only harm them and society, but how it is dangerously close to engaging in hate speech.

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19 Nov
2011

David Cameron says light must “pull its weight”

As part of Britain’s contribution to the ongoing investigations around the speed-of-light controversy generated by the discovery of apparently faster-than-light neutrinos at the Cern/Gran Sasso super-collider laboratories, Prime Minister David Cameron today unveiled a new package of reforms aimed at helping light make its contribution to science and grow to meet the challenge of its newest competitor, the neutrino.

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