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Sunday, September 04, 2016

Quote for the Day

Beware of "anti" formulas. They are always inadequate because they are purely negative. One cannot conquer a principle except by opposing to it another principle -- a superior principle.

This statement by Daniel Guerin appears in the 1945 preface to his Fascism and Big Business. I've chosen to read this for the next meeting of my left book group, at which fascism will be the topic.

Guerin may here be seen as anticipating frame theory, whose application to politics has been expounded on in recent years by cognitive linguist George Lakoff. Of course Lakoff is a social democrat whose political perspective remains within the horizons of capitalism and statism, whereas Guerin was a libertarian Marxist. But the psychological principle expressed is similar -- with Lakoff's version actually being somewhat more robust in that he suggests "anti formulas," by implicitly restating and thereby reinforcing the nominally opposed frame, are not merely inadequate but directly counterproductive.

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