Gideon Rachman argues that fake news will fail because it must ultimately confront reality (“ Why fake news will ultimately lose”, August 7). Such an argument might have held in the past, but we shouldn’t be so complacent as to think that it holds today.
Regimes such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union held to rigid ideologies whose contradictions could be exposed. But Trumpism is altogether different — a product of a postmodern political condition, if you will. Donald Trump has no rigid ideology. He contradicts himself constantly. He changes political positions at a whim. A cursory internet search is enough to demonstrate the falsehood of many of his remarks, so why does he still have support?
The answer lies in the fact that Trump supporters are not duped by him — rather, they are complicit in a kind of performance. President Trump’s act is a theatrical one, in which inconvenient boundaries between truth and fiction are blurred or ignored. He and his supporters among the alt-right lean heavily on ambiguity and irony. What prevails is what the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard termed “hyperreality” — it becomes impossible to distinguish between reality and simulation, between news and fake news. Mr Trump’s politics is the politics of superficiality.
Corpus Christi College, Oxford, UK
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