Whose Freedom?: The Battle Over America’s Most Important Idea

ISBN: 0374158282
ISBN 13: 9780374158286
By: George Lakoff

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About this book

Lakoff, an adviser to the Democratic party, shows that 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. Unabridged. 6 CDs.

Reader's Thoughts

Chase Parsley

A no-nonsense look at freedom and politics. I loved it.


Excellent book and worth reading but if you want a shorter version of basically the same ideas, something to help you retain the essential talking points, you might want to read another book by Lakoff, Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision.

Heather Denkmire

While I risk appearing as if I've just drunk the Lakoff Koolaid and lost all perspective, I won't stop talking about how important these ideas are.As progressive as I am, on the radical side of the 3-D spectrum in many cases, I've been suckered into the radical RIGHT's side of political debates.We've got to stop this. Progressives *and moderates!* need to recognize how the radical right have co-opted the phrases freedom, harm, opportunity, and liberty. We must take them back. Not by calling the Tea Party movement names, but by getting clear about our own values.


That's right, I'm recommending reading this book if you are an AMERICAN. A book about the concept of freedom written by a professor of cognitive psychology? Lakoff asserts in this piece that American freedom has ALWAYS been progressive freedom, and that it's about time to take it back. Quite possibly my number 1 read of 2007.


Whose freedom do you want???


I've only gotten through the introduction, but even though it's pretty much cognitive linguistics lite, I cannot put this book down. Lakoff goes through the invisible way in which the right has hijacked the idea of freedom and used it to make a great deal of headway in the culture wars. Of course, all of this happens while what he calls "progressives" (and I call Democrats;) sit around on our asses wondering why nobody sees what's going on. I'll have more to say about it when I'm done, but so far I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the subtleties of language and anyone who believes that words are a lot more than ink blobs on a page.


The book starts off somewhat weakly, given that it has to explain the logic of applying cognitive science to politics up front. Lakoff has written about his ideal family models approach to politics at length elsewhere, and here he focuses it on the notion of freedom.The book picks up a lot of strength midway through part II, after he's done with "the basics" chapters and delves into the implications of conservative and liberal family values in such realms as causation, economic freedom, and foreign policy.


Very much a politicsly biased book. Progressive vs Conservative. This being the pro-Progressive stance. Makes a lot of assumptions. Glazes over important ideas. Main points have to do with the “Freedom From Need” and the idea that not only do you have the freedom of movement, but should also be given the capacity to move, i.e. roads. Empathy with responsibility. If you see another suffer, you are responsible for them in a way. Focused a lot on the Republican thought pattern as a strict father figure and the Progressive pattern as a nurturing parent.


Americans need to wake up to the real danger facing the liberties we have always taken for granted. In this book, Lakoff explains how the groups who call themselves conservatives on the one hand, and progressives or liberals on the other, often have totally different meanings for the same words.The fundamental question boils down to whether we want a paternalistic, intrusive government enforcing a regressive, authoritarian, and conformist values system, or a society in which government respects the right and ability of adults to make their own decisions and allows for a variety of subcultures and values systems to coexist.This book presents cogent arguments in favor of the latter, and shows how these ideas have been steadily eroded for decades by forces that would like to enforce the former on the rest of us.


Good, but slow going. Shows the different mind sets of conservatives and progressives. Hope is hard to find.

Michael Mena

Not to deep or entertaining but still a revealing look into how conservatives use a "Strict Father" model in the way they conduct themselves in politics. Unable to comprehend systemic issues facing real American, they often choose heartless tough-love maneuvers in the name "liberty"-that is, free ourselves from the common good mentality and helping your neighbor- and "freedom"-that is, the freedom for YOU to pick up YOURSELF so that I don't ever have to empathize with your suffering. Both rightwing concepts, of course, being sadly the likely causation for widespread hunger, homelessness, our terrible healthcare system. (hopefully, Obamacare will right that ship.)

Todd Martin

Whose Freedome? provides a clear and inciteful look at the fundamental differences in the way in which radical conservatives and progressives view the world in general and freedom in particular. Given that radical conservatives include indefinite detention, torture and domestic spying within their framework of freedom, it's clearly very important to understand how these different groups understand the concept.


This is a clear and readable analysis of two distinct conceptions of freedom, and how they have guided conservative and progressive political positions. As a progressive, Lakoff then uses cognitive psychology to demonstrate why the framing of "freedom" matters, how progressives have lacked in doing so, and how that has effected the way Americans actually think with regard to political issues.


This is an essential book to read no matter what political persuasion. It is especially important for people with progressive views to understand the true underlying ideology of the conservative right and the language they have used to "frame" the issues over the past 30 years. This book shows how the conversative right have highjacked our most cherished polical idea, Freedom, and the alarming consequences. We are seeing the results of that way of thinking in our current economic and housing crisis. Progressives have failed to see the dangers and haven't understood how to combat this conservative onslaught. This book takes Progressives to task and gives us the tools to take back and win in this linguistic and ideological war for our most cherished ideal, Freedom.


Another compelling read about how the Right frames the politcal discussions....

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