Sideshow: Another False Choice
Distraction for further corporate traction
By William A. Cohn
June 23, 2016 "Information
- All the noise around the Brexit referendum, once
again shows the power of agenda setting in the
corporate controlled mainstream media. The utility
of the Brexit debate for corporatocracy is in
distracting the public from its power to learn,
organize and mobilize in exposing myth vs. reality.
Recently, we have seen free trade agreements exposed
as enabling corporate lobbyists to subvert the
public sphere standards on law, adjudication, and
intergovernmental organization, skewing the
relationship between the state, citizen, and
corporation. WikiLeaks and the Panama Papers have
empowered people to learn and act.
The media deluge on Brexit in recent weeks affords
another case study of the smoke and mirrors
agenda-setting and consent-manufacturing role of
plutocracy. Once again, a false choice is presented
so as to perplex and instill fear in the public.
Stay the course or cut rope? Well, how about
neither? How about something else, like building new
institutions? How about organizing society from the
bottom-up rather than the top-down?
Just as the corporate media proclaimed that Hillary
won the democratic nomination before she had, they
say that Britons will vote today to Remain rather
than Leave the EU, before they vote – a variation on
more overt tactics of disenfranchisement. The tragic
murder of British MP Jo Cox one week ago has been
used to push this preordained conclusion.
Whether or not the foregone conclusion of the
corporate media comes to pass, thankfully, starting
tomorrow, we will have to hear less about the
so-called debate on Brexit – a debate which has been
marked by lies, omission, and fear-mongering. New
issues will capture the headlines, and new false
choices will be presented. Ignore them as best you
It is summer time. Unplug your electronic devices,
time to read books. Here are some good one’s: Bad
Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang (exposing the lies of
rich nations which rewrite history in service of
free trade ideology); News: The Politics of Illusion
by Lance Bennet; Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart;
Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon Wolin; Johnny Got
His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Knowledge is potential
power, to be acted upon, towards building new and
better ways of organizing our world.
William A. Cohn, professor of jurisprudence at New
York University, and lecturer on law, ethics and
critical thinking at the University of New York in
Prague, is now teaching Free Trade: theory and
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