The Nation As Person metaphor

Publié le :

Can we look at Nations as Persons?

Signal vs. Noise thinks so and has a pretty humorous way of describing the noisy children out there:

The USA is the spoiled rich kid who always gets his way (“No Mommy, I will not give up my SUV!”).
France is the touchy, feely type who always wants to communicate about her feelings (“I think it’s time we had a talk about where this relationship is going.”).
Germany is the recovering addict who can’t even stand to look at booze anymore [...]
The Arab world seems like a group of abused children who now view the world through a prism where everyone is always out to humiliate and exploit them [...]
And of course, everyone assumes it’s the other guy who has a problem.

George Lakoff, who authored Metaphor and War: The Metaphor System Used to Justify War in the Gulf in 1991, gives us a sequel with Metaphor and War, Again:

One of the most central metaphors in our foreign policy is that A Nation Is A Person. It is used hundreds of times a day, every time the nation of Iraq is conceptualized in terms of a single person, Saddam Hussein. The war, we are told, is not being waged against the Iraqi people, but only against this one person. Ordinary American citizens are using this metaphor when they say things like, "Saddam is a tyrant. He must be stopped." What the metaphor hides, of course, is that the 3000 bombs to be dropped in the first two days will not be dropped on that one person. They will kill many thousands of the people hidden by the metaphor, people that according to the metaphor we are not going to war against.

All good readings. Now, the sanity check: how many of the following statements are true?

  • George W. Bush is a spoiled rich kid
  • Jacques Chirac is a touchy, feely type guy
  • Gerhard Schröder is a recovering booze addict
  • Saddam was abused when he was a child

Note: combinations are not allowed (e.g. "George W. Bush is a recovering booze addict" doesn't count).