Metaphor Change and Persistence: Comparative Analysis of Political Metaphors in Slovenia and Yugoslavia

By Pikalo, Jernej | Journal of Comparative Politics, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Metaphor Change and Persistence: Comparative Analysis of Political Metaphors in Slovenia and Yugoslavia


Pikalo, Jernej, Journal of Comparative Politics


The aim of the paper is to compare construction metaphors and political discourses, and their trajectories of change in the cases of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Slovenia. The paper examines how the political appeared and functioned through the use of metaphor in Yugoslavia and Slovenia. A repetitive structure of metaphorical thought in both state formations was and is positioned along the axis of building connections/unity versus independence/diversity. In the first section of the paper, five major theoretical considerations relevant to a study of metaphor in political science are considered. In the second section, the paper focuses on construction metaphors of binding/connection, bridge, container and block. It evaluates the role, extension, influence and effectiveness of metaphors in their historical contexts.

Key words: political metaphor; metaphor theory; political discourse; Slovenia; Yugoslavia.

"The greatest thing by far is to be the master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from the others; and it also is a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilarities. '2

? INTRODUCTION

Construction metaphors have historically played an important role in the political imagination.3 They have been used in various contexts to generate perceptions and images of politics that have necessarily changed as conceptions of nature and construction have become altered. Politics has usually been viewed as being on the receiving end of the relationship, borrowing imagery and vocabulary from construction. However, some studies4 have shown that there is a relationship of mutual construction, and that concepts from the natural sciences are themselves affected by political, technological and informational (mental) images and discourses.

In this paper, I aim to investigate the relationship between construction metaphors and political discourses, and their trajectories of change in the cases of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Slovenia. The main question I want to ask in this paper is how the political appeared and functioned via metaphor in Yugoslavia and Slovenia. I am not interested in contents of the metaphors in various historical periods, in what metaphors mean or in metaphors in general. What I am interested in, however, is how and why a certain view of the political and its components appears in a certain way at certain times, by using certain metaphors. I am interested in how, by uttering and imagining in metaphorical expressions, we impose knowledge of the political on the political.

By way of example, the case of metaphor usage in Yugoslavia and, subsequently, in independent Slovenia will be used. We hope to show that a recurring structure of metaphorical thought (in both state formations) is positioned along the axis of building connections/unity versus independence/diversity. The pattern of political thinking seems to be repetitive; both Yugoslav and Slovenian political discourses show metaphorical political creativity, conceptual use of metaphors to steer public opinion and, in the most tragic consequence, to start wars. It is a story of a new political rhetoric, evoking background images to serve metaphorical purposes, but above all it is a story of real political power and the potential of political metaphors, a story of how the political appears and functions via metaphor. We begin by outlining some major theoretical considerations relevant to a study of metaphor in political science, and then move on to focus interpretatively on discovering and recovering the relationship between construction and political metaphors.

2 POLITICAL METAPHOR: MAIN ISSUES

2.1 One: Metaphor just a literary device?

Political metaphors have a long history. One of the most persistent questions about the nature and role of political metaphors has been the distinction between the metaphorical and literal meanings of political concepts. …

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