Populism and Contested Articulations of National and European Identities: Argumentation and Art

  • Abstract:

    Populism is not only one of the contemporary trends in European societies but also an important space of articulating national identities, quite often in opposition to the European identities. Populist politicians claim a certain vision of national identities via political discourse and by the appropriation of memory sites and art. Nonetheless, discourse analysis and art practices also provide means to challenge populist imaginations. Therefore, the major purpose of this presentation is to suggest the usefulness of integrating argumentation and art theoretical insights for the purpose of a better understanding of and responding to the populist phenomenon. In this paper, populism is understood as a “thin-centered ideology” (C. Mudde) that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic camps, “the pure people” versus “the corrupt elite,” and which argues that politics should be an expression of the general will of the people. The paper focuses on the discursive and non-discursive construction of the opposition between the people and “the other” in terms of values, which is elaborated in reference to the concept of the “heartland” (P. Taggart). The key points are exemplified by the Hungarian case, and, in particular, the analysis of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speeches, memory politics and cultural policy.