themes / Dangerous Liaisons

Dangerous Liaisons power and culture

moderator: Jacek Żakowski
participants: Chantal Mouffe / Zbigniew Libera / Fatos Lubonja / Pius Knüsel / Tomislav Medak

The term “soft power” is a relatively recent addition to the cultural discourse. However, the practice of using culture as a tool for colonizing the world, including our closest surroundings, is ages old. Culture is used by those in power as an alternative, non-violent way of planting and strengthening ideologies. On the other hand, this model of culture finds its justification in government institutions, which popularize its artistic and intellectual achievements.

Unfortunately, cultural policy showcases some phenomena as representative and valuable, while sidelining or discarding others. This kind of selection seems problematic: it simultaneously fosters and threatens the development of culture, which when mired in political correctness, shies away from risk and experimentation.

Do the benefits of strong ties between power and culture outweigh the inherent dangers of that relationship?

We would like to discuss to what extent art can be apolitical and function without political support, and to what extent it is dependent on politics; we also wish to discuss the interests and ideas that cultures should work to serve, in reference to Joseph Nye’s concepts of “soft” and “smart” power.