Fake news is facilitating the destructive power of Western imperialism, according to a new book, ‘What Is Iran?’ In an exclusive interview with RT, author Arshin Adib-Moghaddam explains how the process works in practice.
Academic Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, professor in global thought and comparative philosophies at SOAS University, London, is the author of over 60 papers and six books on contemporary culture and politics.
In his latest work ‘What is Iran?’ he sheds fresh light on the title’s ever-burning question, along with analysis of Tehran’s history, domestic politics, international relations, and more. Along the way, Arshin identifies what he dubs the “fake news machinery” that oils the wheels of Western imperialism, and sells wars of aggression and plunder to the public.
RT spoke with him to discuss the concept in detail.
RT: How do you define “fake news machinery”?
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam: Fake news machinery is a powerful assemblage of right-wing institutions, their staff, social media accounts, their political representation and global following. Fake news is the staple of right-wing politics.
In our techno-society, technology acts as a great incubator and facilitator galvanizing the process of disinformation. Facebook, Twitter and soon Clubhouse are what the Volksempfanger radio was to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda. Some of the facts and the truths are drowned by an armada of well-connected activists whose aim is solely confrontational and aggressive – against peace, against diplomacy, against immigrants, homosexuals, Jews, intellectuals, Muslims and anyone else identified as the enemy.
As such, this system of irrationality churns out lies on a continuous basis. The ultimate aim is power, of course. But we are talking about a particularly vulgar and destructive kind of power which is inherently inhuman, violent, and abusive, physically and psychologically.
RT: How does this process work?
AA-M: Typically, a narrative is concocted in order to buttress a particular policy. It is then picked up by the various channels of the machinery.
This is how right-wing functionaries inscribe the narrative of war in international relations; via institutions, such as the so-called Foundation for Defense of Democracies; language, such as “America First;” mindsets, for example, “Why do they hate us?” and policies, for instance the doctrine of “pre-emption.”
Once a specific, right-wing project has bedded in, its supposed chivalry is loudly trumpeted, bundled up in a morally righteous and infallible narrative – in essence the legitimation of suppressive power – and stitched into the political fabric of world politics. It is in this sense that right-wing policy reveals itself as war – war continued by other means. The perverse irony of such ideology is, it makes some of us think it serves the liberation of mankind.
RT: What are some of the most egregious examples of fake news about the Middle East, and how does news media misreport the region more generally?
AA-M: Extremist politics, and I would count Trumpism as a part of this category, works with simple binaries as it reflects the uneducated and primitive mindset behind the right-wing world-view. Good versus evil, white against black, civilization opposing barbarism, and so on. The grey zones are denied, there is no complexity in the world of these people.
The so-called ‘Middle East’ comes in very handy in this dichotomization as the ultimate “other,” the black region full of Muslims that is ultimately unworthy of proper attention. Now the self-defeating irony of this type of world-view is that it leads to bad decisions. In the case of the neo-conservatives who gathered around George W. Bush, for instance, the process of myth making led to the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which gave impetus to the demise of US power in West Asia and North Africa and beyond.