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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10 Apr
2012

A few quick suggested green reframes:

  1. ‘Sustainability’ > One-planet-living.
    [The terms ‘sustainability’ is vague; ’One-planet living’ is not]
  2. ‘Sustainable development’ > Limits to growth; steady-state / dynamic-equilibrium economy.
    [’Sustainable development’ is basically a nice way of saying ‘economic growth’; and is unbelievably hubristic (are we really a model? Have we really developed?]
  3. ‘The environment’ > Ecosystems, ecology; the Earth / our living planet (though NOT ecosystem-services).
    [’The environment’ is not us. WE need to be a part of what we are saving.]
  4. ‘Human being’ > Human animal / humanimal.
    [We need to remind ourselves constantly that we are animals too. (How do you like my neologism, ‘humanimal’?)]
  5. ‘Future generations’ > Future people.
    [See my recent article in THINK for why…]
01 Mar
2012

The meaning of Eastleigh – or, why UKIP can’t be stopped by caving in to them

So, UKIP came second in Eastleigh, pushing the Prime Minister’s Party into a humiliating 3rd: http://www.channel4.com/news/eastleigh-by-election-result-lib-dems-ukip

The Tory fantasy has been that by focussing on Europe they could neutralise UKIP. The opposite is true. As anyone with a decent understanding of framing knows, by stoking interest in the opposition’s issues, one stokes support for them too. Every time the Tories talk about Europe, NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY, they increase likely UKIP support. In particular, promising an in-out referendum on the EU certainly INCREASED the basic ‘salience’ of UKIP.

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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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09 Nov
2011

The New Zealand electoral referendum: we analyse the values and narratives, and find the Conservatives storming ahead

New Zealand’s referendum on voting “reform” this month poses a major threat to anybody who cares about New Zealand’s democracy. Here at the Green Words Workshop we’re concerned that the progressive side is losing ground to a more emotionally and psychologically intelligent right wing. And we’ve seen this happen before. Like in Britain’s disastrously-run and heavily-defeated referendum in May , the question is essentially between a more democratic inclusive voting system (in this case “Mixed Member Proportional”) and the backward 19th century First Past the Post.

There are a number of extremely worrying signs – many of which we watched with horror in the UK referendum – that MMP’s historical lead in the polls could be reversed, with disastrous consequences that would include the decimation of the Green Party in New Zealand, the marginalisation of Maori voices, and a return to minority conservative rule.

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01 Nov
2011

“Green Growth”. Why we need to define it, own it and reframe it

One of the most controversial words in green & progressive politics is “growth”. Conversely “growth” is totally uncontroversial in mainstream economics. The need for growth is probably the single foundational principle upon which the global economy is built. Nothing is more important. The US Federal Reserve’s repeated attempts to “re-start” economic growth are at the centre of the narrative about the current economic “crisis”. In fact the crisis itself can be centrally defined as a crisis of lack of growth.

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