• Disinformation: The Limits of Capitalism's Imagination and the End of Ideology

    Eric Cheyfitz (see profile)
    Interdisciplinary Approaches to Culture and Society
    Cultural studies
    Item Type:
    intellectual history
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    "Disinformation: The Limits of Capitalism's Imagination and the End of Ideology" analyzes the post-9/11 U.S., a state of massive income inequality, waging endless war at home (the militarization of the police) and abroad, within the context of two terms: "Disinformation" and "ideology." The theoretical matrix of the essay distinguishes “misinformation” from “Disinformation,” and, centrally, Disinformation from ideology. I define misinformation as 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,” which can be countered by information. On the other hand, I define Disinformation as a deep, historical process of erasing history itself. Disinformation is a radical decoupling of mainstream political rhetoric from reality such as "the war on terror." However, as such, Disinformation is the opposite, or more precisely, the mirror image of ideology. That is, while Disinformation may appear to resemble ideology, it does not correspond to it. If, as Louis Althusser posits, ideology in substituting for reality still alludes to reality, Disinformation in its substitution makes no such allusion. Disinformation, then, approximates what Jean Baudrillard calls the “simulacrum”: “The transition from signs that dissimulate something to signs that dissimulate that there is nothing….The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation” that “bears no relation to reality.” While ideology offers a coherent national narrative, however mystifying, that integrates the subject, Disinformation, while simulating such a narrative, is fundamentally incoherent and disintegrates the subject. Analyzing texts that range from President Obama's speeches to Federalist 10, I argue that the U.S. is now operating under a regime of Disinformation, in which the ideology of American exceptionalism, while still being deployed by the two dominant political parties, is disintegrating.
    This is also the first chapter of a book-in-progress, "Disinformation: The Limits of Capitalism's Imagination and the Decline of Liberal Democracy."
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