Sunday, January 20, 2019

Fake News Doesn’t Hide Reality: It Seeks to Replace It, Moscow Scholar Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 20 – Those in the Duma who want to pass a law banning fake news do not understand the nature of the problem they face and the essential difference between lies as they are traditionally employed and fake news which has become “an inalienable part of political discourse,” according to Boris Yakemenko.

                “The task of the traditional lie,” the historian at Moscow’s Friendship of the Peoples University says, “is to conceal the truth; the task of contemporary fakes is to replace reality” altogether in the minds of those it is directed against and “to organize political discourse as such” (

                Consequently, Yakemenko says, “the fake becomes the framework with which political discourse develops and by means of it is possible to distinguish reality from illusion. Now one is speaking not about hiding or distorting particular factors but about eh intentional and systematic replacement of reality by fakes.” 

            Because such a replacement works, there are ever more fakes on offer, he continues, just as “freaks ever more often replace ordinary people.” That is “a trend,” and trying to reverse it by declaring fakes illegal is a fool’s errand.

            “Millions of people live in this reality as in a genuine world since one must use one’s brains to distinguish life on the net from real life and the majority simply aren’t interested in doing that.” Given that and given that fake news will be accepted by so many, there is no useful purpose served by banning it.

            Indeed, except as yet another means to selectively persecute members of the media and the population, there is no real reason to think that such a ban would have any significant effect beyond making its authors feel they were doing something. 

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