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e-flux conversations

Idiot Wind: An Introduction

When Paul Chan and Sven Lütticken proposed to gather a series of “reports” on the (mostly) recent rise of right-wing, populist movements for e-flux journal, it was immediately apparent that the urgency and complexity of the topic required its own special issue. As protests erupt throughout Europe in opposition to austerity measures being pushed through by right-wing governments and EU fiscal bodies, we are also now witnessing a phenomenon spreading throughout the Northern Hemisphere in which some of the most brazen hardline racist rhetoric emerges not only from politicians, but from the general populace as well. What is going on? It is our pleasure to present Chan and Lütticken’s Idiot Wind: On the Rise of Right-Wing Populism in the US and Europe, and What It Means for Contemporary Art as the January/February 2011 issue of e-flux journal.

—Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle

The global financial crisis that began in 2008 continues to impoverish countries by exposing them to punishing economic forces that seem neither controllable nor accountable to the sociality from which they spring. And, like clockwork, right-wing populist movements in the US and Europe step onto the social stage to reassert the will of “The People” in these great times.

These populist movements reconceptualize real fears about deteriorating social and economic conditions as an imaginary loss of an “original” commonality at the center of society that must be renewed at the expense of those living at the circumference. Xenophobia, racism, nationalism, and homophobia fill the void left by the loss of lives and livelihoods ungrounded by the downturn. Government austerity measures meant to contain the economic fallout further erode the interconnections between classes, races, and ethnicities that make up contemporary life, adding to the growing sense of social isolation, which in turn reinforces the desire to forge a common country by punishing what is considered most foreign from within.

Read the full article here.