Edited by Monika Kopytowska
[Benjamins Current Topics 93] 2017
► pp. 243–270
Discursive violence and responsibility
Notes on the pragmatics of Dutch populism
This chapter discusses the discursive strategies of the Freedom Party (PVV), a contemporary Dutch populist and Islamophobic party. After tracing its ideological roots to mainstream liberalism rather than earlier forms of extreme right political movements, I will discuss its discourse about Muslims. It will appear that this discourse goes far beyond the legitimate expression of opinion. Using some of Judith Butler’s ideas about the performativity of hate speech, I will attempt to describe how PVV leader Geert Wilders’s language is not only a discourse about violence, but is also itself a discourse of violence. Simultaneously, however, Wilders systematically denied responsibility for any violence his words might contain, imply, or provoke; instead, he and his sympathizers blamed both Muslims and his political opponents for whatever violence might occur in the wake of his utterances. This appears most clearly in the discussion following Norwegian Anders Breivik’s murderous 2011 assault on the Utøya island, an act which he himself claimed was in part inspired by Wilders’s political rhetoric.
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