The false choice analogy (I guess I will keep reposting this until it isn’t true anymore)

Children can be oppositional and defiant when they feel forced to do something or when their wants and needs are ignored. This is especially the case with young children and children with disabilities who can have a great deal of trouble expressing themselves. Lack of agency, not feeling heard, and difficulty expressing wants and needs can even result in violent outbursts and tantrums.

One tactic used to circumvent or diffuse those situations is to offer the child a choice. One of the least effective choices in the long run is some variation of, “my way or the highway.” It tends to build-up contempt over time and can result in nasty blow-ups. But there are other kinds of choices that tend to work more often and don’t have as many negative outcomes. One is to offer the child two options: the first is what the adult wants them to do and the second is something the child definitely wouldn’t choose on her own but it seems much more reasonable to her than simply, “do it or be punished.” Another common approach is to give the child two choices that appear different when they are actually just slight variations of the same thing. These last two choices are essentially false choices and usually require the child to be young or have special needs, or both. When children begin to grow up, they have a much easier time seeing when they are being manipulated.

At this point, either you are trying to figure out what I’m talking about or why I’m talking about it, or an analogy is becoming crystal clear in your mind. Here it is:

We, the voters, the citizens (and I use that term loosely), are perceived by the power elite as potentially violent, disabled (no voice) children. A great deal of time, effort, and money has been spent to insure that we only have two parties to choose from (de facto, if not de jure). They are both business parties essentially controlled by corporations. So, when the “democratic process” deigns it, we “make a choice” like responsible big boys and girls and feel like we have some semblance of agency in the workings of “government” (and yes, I use the term loosely). Those who still even bother to vote that is. If you look-up the statistics you will find astonishingly low voter turnout numbers in the u.s.a for almost all elections.

Of course, at this late date in our “grand experiment” we are usually holding our proverbial nose while marking a ballot or checking a box and uttering the phrase, “lesser of two evils” or something a bit harsher if we have the energy for it. Our so-called representatives don’t represent the majority of us, and those who do have no real power. In other words, if you look at the majority of people who don’t vote and the minority of people who do vote but don’t like the choices offered to them, the false choice technique is on the wane. But, surprisingly, it still seems to be serving its intended purpose. In some ways, better than ever.

When you hear genuine applause from working people for candidates who are millionaires funded by billionaires, you know the potentially violent children with disabilities are going to stay compliant because they feel they are essentially in control of their lives and their choices – the choices they are given of course…

What happens when all of us realize we have been manipulated with the ruse of the false choice? Well, our corporate rulers and their government functionaries will revert to more direct methods to force us into compliance.

Ok, the analogies are over.

Good luck to us all.

– Peace

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3 responses to “The false choice analogy (I guess I will keep reposting this until it isn’t true anymore)

  • Jeff Nguyen

    This is a good analysis of a complex problem. For some, knowing how hard people fought for the right to vote weighs heavily on the conscience yet it’s equally hard to play the game of ‘pick the lesser evil’ when it comes to the two-party facade known as American politics.

    I think your analogies are helpful to see the extent which the elite treat ‘we the people’ as insubordinate children. It’s like they’re not even trying any more to justify themselves…their unending wars, austerity and cradle to grave conditioning. I would add that it’s long seemed to me that the American public at large suffers from a form of collective Stockholm syndrome. We have been conditioned through trauma to love our captors and to turn our back on our fellow captives.

    Great post. I look forward to the day when this post is no longer true.

    • 21st Century Poet

      Thanks Jeff. I posted this back in August as well – and that was a repost from the year before that. The intricacies of why we find ourselves here are virtually unending, but the analogy was an attempt to expose one strand in a complex web of control we are trapped in. While there are many trapped in ideology, which may resemble a kind of Stockholm syndrome, I think there are also attempts at resistance that aren’t always obvious on the surface. These forms of resistance aren’t always static either, so they can be hard to keep track of. As I stated in the post, it may not be aggressive resistance, but one of the biggest ways people have expressed their frustration with the system is simply not voting in most elections. The corporate media will attribute it to stupidity and laziness, but we know that isn’t the case. More and more, when americans are asked what they want, the majority are in favor of left of center policies and favor justice and fairness. After generations of class war waged on working people by the right, I think we are suffering from demoralization and a passivity that has been virtually bred into us. Of course part of that class war has involved the corporatization and privatization of everything. In order to achieve that, they have been dumbing-down the population, training them to expect less and want more, and of course, fear mongering. It has been so effective, people are more afraid, more ignorant, and are now even speaking in corporate-ese without even knowing it. Well, I won’t start down the idiocracy path…My point is that even in the face of all of that, people are still resisting. To continue with the voting theme, more people are identifying as Independent as well. There are dangers there, but it is an indication that people are not buying the party lines they’ve been fed for years. The contempt the elite have for us is so strong and pervasive, it is difficult for most to ignore – though I have to say, liberals still seem to be fighting the good fight when it comes to ignoring that contempt. In the final analysis, I believe it is because they are too comfortable and it feeds their ability to engage in denial and delusion. I know that sounds harsh, but I will repeat what is becoming my mantra these days: If liberals want to see the changes they say the want, they are going to have to become radicals. Maybe one day I will write on the impediments liberals pose to substantive change (to anyone who doesn’t realize it, I’m making this argument from the left, not the right), but to wrap up, there are other forms of resistance happening every day, and more are certainly coming. I think it very well may be too little too late, but if there is one lesson history teaches us over and over, it’s that everything can change in the blink of an eye.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

      – P E A C E

  • Jeff Nguyen

    Well, I could have said it better myself but fortunately you did it for me. The choices we’re given by the state are a form of manipulation that reveals the condescension the elite on both sides of the imaginary aisle have for the masses. I agree that resistance manifests itself in many shapes and forms. Sometimes, change comes in the blink of an eye and sometimes it’s a slow drip. No one knows which drop of water will be the one to collapse the levees. Peace to you.

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