The future is one of the implicit categories of political discourse. Any event occurs in the course of a very long duration of time through the structuring effects of social and political relations. Time is inseparable from human beings: it models them as social beings, and they, in turn, model time, so there is always a desire to foresee or to anticipate future events. In political discourse, forecasts, scenarios and models of the future are powerful means of influencing the addressee. Models of the future and their interpretation require certain conceptual operations. Linguistic political prognostics is a new branch in the study of political discourse that involves the integration of future studies, political science, and cognitive linguistics. The material for the construction of models of the future is prognostic texts of various chronological periods. The key unit of knowledge is considered to be a cognitive metaphor. The article presents a piece of the study of the retrospective models of the future of Russia. The material is prognostic texts of American political discourse of the XIXth century (1855–1881). Retrospective analysis allows one to penetrate into the past and study it, as well as to look through the text at the part of the past reality that lies behind the text. Historical analogies can help in solving the problems facing the modern state.
Keywords: Retrospective analysispolitical discourselinguistic political prognosticsfuturemetaphor
The possibility of forecasting the future has been at the centre of attention of philosophical conceptions since ancient times. The reflection of humanity on the knowledge of the future in philosophy, synergetics, future studies, prognostics, political forecasting, social and political thought is based on the past experience and present trends, that is, it as invariably correlated with the past and the present, which makes the future meaningful, directed, time perspective and retrospective (Helmer, 1983). In political discourse, forecasting future events is based on the analysis of previous states: “societies mobilize their memory and reconstruct their own past to ensure their functioning in the present and resolve actual conflicts” (Schmitt, 2008, p. 132). The value of ideas about the future lies in the fact that they give historical meaning to the human activity: the future always lives in the present not only in the form of a certain perspective, but also in retrospect, filling it with historical meaning. Moreover, the past, the present and the future of various systems are interconnected by indissoluble bonds as distinctive phases of their evolution. (Evans, 2013; Fitzgerald, 1980; Giddens, 1996). Thus, the prognostication of political discourse is inextricably linked with the retrospection. The reversibility of political discourse towards the future does not exclude its orientation to the past, but, on the contrary, actualizes the meanings, facts and events that have already happened. Historical analogies accentuate the reversibility of time in political discourse and the possibility of human society to return to any state that has already occurred. Linguistic political modeling of the future is based on historical facts, it takes into account historical parallels, mutual penetration of the time horizons ‘the past – the present – the future’.
One of the essential epistemological tenets of any science is its ability not only to describe the past experience, but also to be aimed at the future, that is, prediction is connected with the world of the potential or with a trend towards an endless continuation. In the modern scientific paradigm the main linguistic categories are studied on the basis of the unity of cognitive schemas and their verbal expressions (Evans, 2007; Fauconnier, 1994). Therefore, the movement of linguistics from the study of futurity semantics of parts of speech to the analysis of discourse prognostication seems reasonable and natural. Political institutionalization of the future is a systemic process where textual markers of futurity are subordinated to specific geopolitical values and ideological goals. Political discourse is related to the results of human activities accumulated in the form of readable, understandable and systematized data (political texts) which reflect our knowledge that operates with mental or cognitive images. Linguistic political prognostics is considered a methodological field of operations designed to study the phenomenon of ‘running ahead,’ or anticipating and predicting the future status of a certain state. In the methodological aspect, the study of the future contributes to a more complete perception of historical events and facts, taking into account the possibility of their modeling by helping to look at the object to be analyzed as a whole, since the study strives to find universal characteristics. These characteristics are embodied in the tools of linguistic political prognostics: static and dynamic matrices, systems of metaphorical models involved in the representation of the future, static and dynamic linguistic prognostic scenarios. The relevance of linguistic political prognostics is due to:
the importance of forecasting both ontologically (anticipation is one of the basic cognitive functions; the possibility of long-term anticipation is the fundamental difference between the human and animal psyches) and socially (prediction is the basis of any administrative process including public administration);
the insufficient knowledge of metaphorization as a forecasting tool;
the complex nature of political forecasting, which is both a product of analytical activity and a discursive means of self-positioning in the political sphere.
Is there a significant relationship between metaphors used to describe the future of the country, the scenarios they tend to produce (best-case scenarios / worst-case scenarios) and the discursive factors of the retrospective period analyzed?
Purpose of the Study
In the linguistic prognostic scenario the core of the evaluation is political metaphors (Frank, 2009; Goatly, 1997; Lakoff & Johnson, 2003). The tasks of the researchers within the present article are
to show how the metaphor organizes the prognostic text / context;
to draw attention to metaphors that act as binding, constitutive elements of the content of the prognostic text determining its direction either to the optimistic ‘best-case’ scenario or to the pessimistic ‘worst-case’ scenario;
to prove that other linguistic units with the semantics of the future serve as formal means that organize the prognostic text / context and complement its ‘best-case’ / ‘worst-case’ metaphorical prospect of the future;
to illustrate different types of the prognostic text / context organization.
The three-level method of analysis (matrix – system of metaphorical models – linguistic prognostic scenario) (Solopova, 2016) allows us to identify the static and dynamic aspects of forecasting in connection with the implicitness / explicitness of the prognostic text: from minimal dynamics on the first level through implicitly expressed dynamics of the second level to the explicit dynamics of the third level.
The matrix(the first level of analysis) describes the external world – social, political, cultural, and historical, it represents a set of factors of the present capable of influencing the future development of the country. The matrix focuses on the basic, general parameters, factors, and circumstances that influence future events, as well as on modeling cognitive structures of the most general level of categorization of the world of politics.
The analysis of the
systems of metaphorical modelsand other linguistic means functioning in political discourses (the second level of analysis) allows one to recognize the dominant trends, the actualization or prevalence of specific metaphorical models, the relevance of certain linguistic means used to produce the image of the future of Russia in a certain historical period; to find out universal trends and nationally specific characteristics in political discourses of different countries. The linguistic prognostic scenario(the third level of analysis) represents a logical order of events, which shows the ‘growth’ of the future from the political situation of the present, and involves the analysis of linguistic representation of actors, temporal and local characteristics, cause-and-effect relations (the Frames “Participants”, “Time and Space”, “Consequences”). Each scenario is a generalized summary of the future as a fragment of reality, particularly, of the development and changes of the political system reflected in the political text. In describing the conceptual model of the future of the selected chronological period, two scenarios are analyzed: the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario that represent ‘extreme’ ideal images of the future.
The reduction of the political world model makes it possible to reduce the world of the future to its black and white version, the relative poles of the reduction, its ‘extreme’ alternatives being the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario. As the researchers note (Issers, 2008; Sheigal, 2004), this ‘two-valued orientation’ is effective in modeling the socio-political situation in the temporal aspect and in metaphorical comprehension of reality. Moreover, the scenario method in political prognostics, modified to study the linguistic representation of the future, is also aimed at fixing the ‘extremes,’ limiting numerous alternatives of the present trends to their absolute ‘plus’ and absolute ‘minus’.
The present article analyzes the frame of the linguistic prognostic scenario “Consequences” based on the material of American political discourse of the retrospective chronological period (1855–1881). The images of the future of Russia are constructed in black and white and almost mirror-like. Russia exists in several hypostases, therefore, its probable future is interpreted and evaluated in different ways. On the one hand, it is a huge and mighty power worthy of a great future (the great Slavonic power, the great Slavonic empire, the Eastern Giant, Russia’s gigantic power, the rising colossus, richness of Russia, a brighter day for Russia, Russia is prosperous, Russia’s world mission, Russia’s ambitious dream, Russia’s great political future, etc.). On the other hand, its alter ego is a narrow-minded, official, destructive, uncooperative, antinational ‘old’ state whose place should be the backyard of Europe, and whose fate is death, decay, and collapse (a hostile and aggressive empire, a complete autocracy, barbarous Russia, cold, cruel Russia, troublesome Russia, aggressive Russia, etc.).
To illustrate the predictive potential of political metaphors, the authors analyze the prognostic texts / contexts focusing on:
the intersection of the time horizons ‘the past – the present – the future (the past crosses the present as it moves towards the future)’;
the existence of the future in the present;
the subjective perception of Russia’s future;
the ‘self-orientation’ of any model of the future;
the dependence of the perception of Russia’s future on the discourse and the period analyzed;
the power and ability of metaphors to convey a variety of semantic shades, to realize positive and negative connotative meanings, choosing an alternative to the future, organizing a prognostic text / context as a coherent whole and ‘dictating’ the choice of other linguistic means involved in representing the future of Russia.
The discourse of the historical period under consideration is saturated with metaphorical units when modeling a bright alternative of the future of Russia. The future component can be integrated into a physiological metaphor representing a model of the natural development of an individual organism from infancy to maturity; age gradation (childhood, adolescence, youth) orients the metaphor and the text to the future:
The historical evolution faces the possibility of the other development alternative, the worst-case scenario (‘a gloomy future’). The interweaving of light and dark shades of the future is typical of the image of the future as a whole. On the one hand, one can see a romantic utopia in an attempt to fly ahead of history, foreseeing a positive transformation of the political and economic components of the country’s life. On the other hand, the use of metaphors filled with negative connotations is obviously connected with the desire to reduce the extent of influence of the geopolitical rival, to form a negative attitude to the events and phenomena of the social and political life of the country. The following example illustrates a type of prognostic context where the alternative of the worst-case scenario is presented in its final part:
A prognostic political text is subjective and personal in nature. Never being neutral or objective, it is formulated within a certain ideological interpretation frame, often being a product of immediate diplomatic and international relations, and of the current political situation and environment. The evaluation aspect is revealed extremely expressively, emotionally, and diversely, metaphors being the core components of prognostic texts / contexts. They serve as basic elements organizing various linguistic means around the leading idea of the ‘extreme’ alternative (the best-case and the worst-case scenarios), linking those means, pointing explicitly or implicitly to the symbolic characteristics of the future, forecasting by analogies with models of the past. Charged with positive and negative connotations, they complicate the prognostic text with special shades of emotional, evaluative, and aesthetic nature. They make the meaning of the prognostic text more complex than it is required by the objective and logical content of the forecast that theoretically must be based on the revealed and fixed objective laws, regularities, and tendencies of the country’s social and political development. Thus, the interpretation of the ‘present’ and its possible future outcome depend greatly on the historical situation of a specific epoch, on the distribution of global power, on the strategic goals, intentions and relations of the countries whose discourses are subject to analysis. In general, it should be noted that the discursive factors (the alliance between the Russian Empire and the United States that lasted for a long time; the intensity of Russian-American contacts, the absence of significant contradictions between the two countries in any regions of the world in the historical period under consideration) noticeably influence the model of the future of Russia in American political discourse of the retrospective period, getting the author of the prognostic text to oftener choose metaphors modeling the best-case scenario of the future rather than those that aim at constructing the other alternative (the worst-case scenario).
The research is financially supported by the Russian Scientific Foundation, project No.16-18-02102.
- Cambridge advanced learner’s dictionary (2009). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Evans, V. (2007). The structure of time: language, meaning and temporal cognition. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co.
- Evans, V. (2013). Language and time: a cognitive linguistic approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Fauconnier, G. (1994). Mental spaces: aspects of meaning construction in natural language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Fitzgerald, P. (1980). Is temporality mind-dependent? Philosophy of Science Association, 1, 283-292.
- Frank, R. M. (2009). Shifting Identities: Metaphors of discourse evolution. In A. Musolff, J. Zinken (Eds.), Metaphor and Discourses (pp. 173-189). New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
- Giddens, A. (1996). The concequences of modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.
- Goatly, A. (1997). The language of metaphors. Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group.
- Helmer, O. (1983). Looking forward: a guide to futures research. CA: Sage Publications.
- Issers, O. S. (2008). Communicative Strategies and Tactics of Russian Speech. Moscow: Publishing house LKI.
- Lakoff, G., Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Sheigal, E.I. (2004). The semiotics of political discourse. Moscow: Gnosis.
- Schmitt, Zh. K. (2008). Mastering the Future. In L. P. Repina (Ed.), Dialogues over time: Memory of the past in the context of history (pp. 127-148). Moscow: Krug.
- Solopova, O. A. (2016). Linguistic political prognostics: a comparative study of models of the future of Russia in the political discourses of Russia, the United States and Britain of the XIX (1855–1881) and XXI centuries (2000–2014). (Doctoral dissertation).
- Webster’s encyclopedic unabridged dictionary of the English language (1996). New York: Gramercy books.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
About this article
19 February 2018
Print ISBN (optional)
Business, business innovation, science, technology, society, organizational behaviour, behaviour behaviour
Cite this article as:
Solopova, O., & Chudinov, A. (2018). Future Of Russia In Metaphors (Retrospective Analysis Of Xix Century American Discourse). In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1288-1296). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.02.151