OVERRIDE

Whose Freedom?

The Battle over America's Most Important Idea

George Lakoff

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has relentlessly invoked the word "freedom." The United States can strike preemptively because "freedom is on the march." Social security should be privatized in order to protect individual freedoms. In the 2005 presidential inaugural speech, the words "freedom," "free," and "liberty" were used forty-nine times.

"Freedom" is one of the most contested words in American political discourse, the keystone to the domestic and foreign policy battles that are racking this polarized nation. For many Democrats, it seems that President Bush's use of the word is meaningless and contradictory--deployed opportunistically to justify American military action abroad and the curtailing of civil liberties at home. But in Whose Freedom?, George Lakoff, an adviser to the Democratic party, shows that in fact the right has effected a devastatingly coherent and ideological redefinition of freedom. The conservative revolution has remade freedom in its own image and deployed it as a central weapon on the front lines of everything from the war on terror to the battles over religion in the classroom and abortion.

In a deep and alarming analysis, Lakoff explains the mechanisms behind this hijacking of our most cherished political idea--and shows how progressives have not only failed to counter the right-wing attack on freedom but have failed to recognize its nature. Whose Freedom? argues forcefully what progressives must do to take back ground in this high-stakes war over the most central idea in American life.

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Excerpted from Whose Freedom?: The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea by George Lakoff. Copyright © 2006 by George Lakoff. Published in July 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
INTRODUCTION:
IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM
 
Ideas matter. Perhaps no idea has mattered more in American history than the idea of freedom.
 
The central thesis of this book is simple. There are two very different views of freedom in America today, arising from two very different moral and political worldviews dividing the country.
 
The traditional idea of
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REVIEWS

Praise for Whose Freedom?

"George Lakoff has made pathbreaking contributions to cognitive science. In Whose Freedom? he uses several of his discoveries and much wisdom to produce a systematic analysis of contemporary society and political thinking. The result is illuminating." --Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes' Error, The Feeling of What Happens, and Looking for Spinoza
 
"In the battle of ideas, George Lakoff is one of the progressive movement's Five-Star Generals. Here he shows what we must do to take back precious ground lost to the Right--the concept of "freedom," on which America's very foundation is built. Read this and arm yourself."                                                   --Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy at University California at Berkeley and former U.S. Secretary of Labor

"Few words evoke more emotion or debate in this country than the word, freedom. Our founding fathers intended for it to be that way. And ever since, progressive political leaders have attempted to interpret and employ the concept of freedom and its relevance to American public policy debates. Arguably, President Franklin Roosevelt described it most eloquently and succinctly in his "Four Freedoms" of speech and worship and from want and fear.
George Lakoff's new book is as enjoyable to read as it is important to understand. It comes at a critical time for our country. Because freedom has always been a progressive concept, it is time for progressives to reclaim the word and its meaning in today's context. Mr. Lakoff shows us how."                                                               --Former Senator Tom Daschle

 
"One of the most influential political thinkers of the progressive movement."                                                              --Howard Dean

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • George Lakoff

  • George Lakoff, recently featured in The New York Times Magazine, is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a founding senior fellow of the Rockridge Institute, a center for research devoted to promoting progressive ideas. He is the author of the influential Don't Think of an Elephant! and Moral Politics, as well as seminal books on linguistics, including Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things and Metaphors We Live By (with Mark Johnson). He lives in Berkeley, California.
  • George Lakoff Bart Nagel
    George Lakoff
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Whose Freedom?

The Battle over America's Most Important Idea

George Lakoff

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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