November 29, 2010 - NAi Publishers - Open 20: The Populist Imagination – The Role of Myth, Narratives and Identity in Politics
November 29, 2010

Open 20: The Populist Imagination – The Role of Myth, Narratives and Identity in Politics

The Role of Myths, Storytelling and
Imaginary in Politics
OPEN 20: The Populist Imagination

‘All power to the imagination!’ Is one of the most famous slogans of the revolt of May 1968. Those who have hijacked the imagination nowadays—whether Silvio Berlusconi of the Tea Party movement or the Dutch politician Geert Wilders—have altogether different intentions.

Right-wing populist movements are storming the political stage in the USA and Europe. The imaginations of their citizenry are being put to work in order to sharpen and fix identities, cultivate myth, and stir desire for an imaginary past.

With an introduction by Merijn Oudenampsen (guest editor), the ensemble of authors in this issue of Open deal with the imagination, storytelling and myth in populism and politics today. Stephen Duncombe argues for a dreampolitik that can stir the imagination with impossible dreams; while Yves Citton maintains our need for new, emancipating myths in order steer a course for the future of our society. Aukje van Rooden further wonders whether the greatest myth in contemporary politics is our assumption that we can function without a mythological structure. However, the writers’ collective Wu Ming asks: To what extent is the political use of myths justified? The populist imagination is what Willem Schinkel sees chiefly as a means of criticism for the survival of democracy; while Nina Power prefers an authentic popularity over the sham popularity dished up by the media. And Rudi Laermans‘ interview with Ernesto Laclau puts a double spotlight on populist politics and parliamentary impotence. Zooming in on the American political scene, Franco Berardi and Marco Jacquemet examine the success of Silvio Berlusconi and the resurfacing of forces from the Baroque Era in the current ‘semiocapitalistic’ system. Jolle Demmers and Sameer S. Mehendale, on the other hand, turn their attention to Europe, arguing the imperativeness of recognizing the relation between xenophobia and neoliberalism in the Netherlands.

OPEN 20: The Populist Imagination includes artist contributions by Louisa Corna and Lynda Dematteo and Foundland.

Open is a cahier that reflects upon contemporary public space from a cultural perspective and is an initiative of Foundation for Art and Public Domain. Open appears twice a year in a Dutch-language and an English-language edition. Through a thematic investigation into the changing conditions of public domain and through new ideas relating to this space, Open aims to make a structural contribution to the development of theories about these subjects and to function as a platform for reflection on socio-cultural and artistic practices. Among the international authors writing for Open are philosophers of culture, sociologists, media theorists, architecture and art critics and political scientists.

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