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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/5/17

An alternative take on alternative facts

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Author 508645
Message Neal Curtis

Aside from the absurd suggestion that we might be able to know how many fantasy figures might dance on the head of a pin, this is the consumer model of truth, now presented as an aesthetic/rhetorical problem rather than an epistemological one. Without oversight, fact checking or filtration by journalists, politicians can now describe the world any way they choose.

This tactic is also related to the form of political control that documentary maker, Adam Curtis, earlier called "non-linear warfare". This is an explicit use of both disinformation (information known to be false, incorrect or partial) and contradictory information (especially using elements from across the political spectrum) to create confusion and disorientation, and hinder judgement and meaning-making by the citizens trying to use the information.

We can see this in the "Alt-Right's" use of Milo Yiannopoulos as their poster boy. His identity as a gay, Jewish man undermines the charge that "Alt-Right" is anti-Semitic and homophobic. This can also be seen in Trump's funding of HBCUs. How can an administration that puts high levels of funding into historically black colleges and universities be racist? Given Betsy Devos suggested the day before that segregation in education was positive because it provided "school choice" for black people, it is safe to say that a white nationalist government might fund HBCUs in order to encourage voluntary segregation.

However, the point is that this tactic allows the Trump administration to promote a racist agenda while making it difficult for the opposition to make that charge stick. It is a form of PSYOPS (psychological operations) deployed by a government on its own people. Interestingly, Adam Curtis traces this tactic back to Putin's e'minence grise, Vladislav Surkov.

If this particular version of the critique of facts continues, in the end there will only be the mouth of Trump. In such a world, the work of analytical philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein will be subject to a little spin.

TRUMPTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSPHICUS

1 The world is everything that comes from Trump's mouth.

1.1 The world is the totality of what comes from Trump's mouth, not of things.

1.11 The world is determined by Trump's mouth, and this being all that exists.

1.12 For the totality of Trump's mouth determines both what is the case, and also all what is not the case.

1.13 The extension of Trump's mouth into illogical space is the world.

1.2 The world divides as Trump's mouth decrees.

But this is only one future. We can and must create another. To do this we need to contest the lies, deception and confusion and resolutely advocate for the alternative facts that did actually take place and do exist, but are elided by power. We must continue to uncover counter truths that challenge dominant narratives and hierarchies. In Foucault's language, this is a political project rooted in the truly democratic advocacy of subjugated knowledges.

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Neal Curtis

Associate Professor in Media and Communication, University of Auckland. Author of Idiotism (Pluto Press, 2013) (more...)
 
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An alternative take on alternative facts

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