This essay analyzes the current historical moment in the United States, where, it argues, ideology has been displaced in the public sphere by what the essay defines as Disinformation. The term itself is Russian in origin, coined in 1949. While the essay retains disinformation’s original sense of misleading information, it redefines Disinformation as a reflexive phenomenon rather than a conscious plan of propaganda, in order to analyze what I understand as a deep historical eruption in the political topography of the United States, represented by the effective collapse of the two-party system. While misinformation is merely a mistake in reportage that is typically retracted in the next day’s news or a distortion of the truth, conscious (spin) or unconscious, for particular ends, such as the Bush administration’s fiction of “weapons of mass destruction,” Disinformation is a deep, historical process of the erasure of history itself, culminating in a disruption or blockage of critical thinking, in which particular fictions (the “war on terror,” for example), through repeated and widespread use in our major institutions (schools, media, government, and political parties), substitute reflexively for facts. But Disinformation is not ideology. It is, rather, ideology’s mirror image, in the sense that while Disinformation appears as ideology’s double, it is the reverse of ideology: whereas ideology is a narrative that retains certain ties to reality, Disinformation is rhetoric utterly detached from, while substituting for, reality yet apparently not cynical in intent if in effect.
Eric Cheyfitz; Disinformation: The Limits of Capitalism’s Imagination and the End of Ideology. boundary 2 1 August 2014; 41 (3): 55–91. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2812073
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