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Unformatted text preview: d makes metaphors a powerful rhetoric device used in political propaganda in order to influence the public opinion.
Lakoff (199216) in his widely circulated, Internet-published paper
analyses the system of metaphors used to justify the First War in the Gulf.
He identifies a series of metaphors, two of which are most strongly juxtaposed, i.e. WAR IS POLITICS and WAR IS A VIOLENT CRIME. Lakoff claims
that the Clausewitzian definition of war as politics pursued by other means
has a metaphorical basis and justifies it in the following way:
Clausewitz’s metaphor is commonly seen as literally true. We are now in
a position to see exactly what makes it metaphorical. First, it uses Stateas-Person metaphor. Second, it turns qualitative effects of human beings
into quantifiable costs and gains, thus seeing political action as economics.
Third, it sees rationality as profit-making. Fourth, it sees war in terms of
only one dimension of war, that of political expediency, which is in turn
conceptualized as business.17 16 This paper has been first distributed via electronic mail starting on December 31,
1990. Then it was delivered to an audience at the University of California at Berkeley.
Finally it was published in Pütz (1992).
This paper is an html document without page numbers, so I am unable to give any
more exact reference than the year already quoted. The concept of ‘war’ in the humanities 103 I disagree with labelling WAR IS POLITICS metaphor, as I see both ‘war’
and ‘diplomacy’ as parts of conducting politics, not as separate domains.
Simultaneously, the definition of metaphor Lakoff also seemed to adhere
to, at least in 1980, sees it as a mapping from one discrete domain to another and not between parts of the same domain. Still, even I admit that
there exists a metaphor POLITICS IS WAR, as evidenced in ‘attacks on the
leader’ and ‘battles between party fractions’. Why, then, according to my
intuition, should one be possible, but not the other? The difference primarily lies, I believe, in constructing ‘politics’ mostly in terms of performative speech acts: statements, declarations, international agreements.
So that if we accept the well-evidenced metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR
(posited by Lakoff – Johnson as early as 1980), and if we conceive of
politics mostly as conducted through argumentation, then, by extension,
politics can be seen as war, but only through the mediation of ARGUMENT
IS WAR. As mentioned in Section 3 of this chapter, Lenin reformulated
the Clausewitzian definition into “politics is a way to conduct war by
other means”, neither of which is for me metaphorical. Lenin’s formula
may be an ironical play on a well-known cliché, but not every implementation of rhetoric must necessarily result from conceptual metaphor. Also
the major point that Lakoff makes, i.e. that war as politics hides the immoral aspect of war, does not have to result from its metaphoricity. Any
fossilised expression may have this effect. I admit, however, that it may
be the case that I have internalised the Clausewitzian metaphor so thoroughly that I cannot see its metaphoricity. Yet, I can see through it, and
the immorality of killing others is not lost on me.
A way out of this conundrum may b...
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