It is very curious that a government whose support is based on an aggressive anti-Muslim populism is now promoting a cultural policy which is more restrictive towards contemporary art than those of Middle or Far Eastern autocracies with their own forms of censorship and intimidation. Hasn’t the Dutch right wing always prided itself on promoting freedom of speech in the face of infringements of freedom of expression?
But axing all but a very few possibilities for artistic expression is an even more radical form of censorship. It doesn’t only target specific, unwanted expressions of opinion or taste, but almost all. This is where the rhetoric of right-wing liberalism tips back into what it always was: an extreme form of bias and authoritarianism that only allows what it narrowly defines as its own heritage and declares an important part of the public sphere and the public debate to be irrelevant. Fortunately, many courageous people in the Arab world and North Africa are showing us how to resist European post-democracy, ethnic clientelism and authoritarianism.
Hito Steyerl is an artist and writer, Berlin