Issue 2/2024

Cultural Wars

The democratic process seems to be facing severe crises and endurance tests worldwide. As much as the scenarios may differ in individual countries and regions, a particularly stubborn front against liberal democracy has emerged over the years, which cultivates many electoral affinities across geographical and cultural borders: that of an illiberal authoritarianism that presumes to act in the name of a clearly definable, autochthonous “people” against everything that deviates from it and does not conform to majority standards. One tool that has recently been reactivated for this purpose is the field of (tradition-anchored) culture, or more precisely: newly positioned “culture wars” that are currently appearing in a variety of guises. From the USA to South America to various European countries – not forgetting Austria –, right-wing rhetoric has begun to focus on an alleged enemy whose projected power is held responsible for all kinds of social aberrations: minoritarian groupings, irregular migration, sexuality patterns that deviate from the norm, “gender madness” and, last but not least, the specter of an omnipresent “wokeness” terror. All these markers are often brought into play when it comes to conjuring up the illusion of a “common sense” or the “healthy sensibility of normal average citizens”. The "Culture Wars" issue examines the background and concrete motives behind this form of antagonism. It will take a look at historical precursors of these new culture wars as well as the ideological blueprints for shifting political demands into the field of culture by proxy. To what extent are advanced art practices of the present exposed to these battles? In what ways are they caught, often unwittingly, in the crossfire of neo-reactionary agendas? And what means and methods are there to avoid succumbing completely to anti-democratic machinations?

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