A couple of months back I wrote about danishness and the impossibilities of such an identity in the light of the recent so-called terror-event in Copenhagen. In the meantime a new string of events have emerged that has turned the tables of these problematics; a great humouristic turn that leaves us all bewildered and some of us delighted. The 19-year old poet Yahya Hassan has emerged as a politician, staging himself as a candidate for a new political party created by a small group of second generation immigrants.
THE NATIONAL PARTY
The National Party as the new party is called, was created 6 months ago by a small group of danes with immigrant background. With their claim to fight for danish values the creators of the National Party turns mainstream politics upside down. These values are defined strictly on national terms, but with a content of humanism, inclusion and equal rights, they are defined from an immigrant position This inverted gesture is what I in other contexts have described as ’cloning’. By appropriating the symbolic language of the enemy and reloading these symbolic forms with the exact opposite political agenda, the discourse is inverted. By this cloning an intricate, oppositional discourse is established; a discourse that attacks the enemy on the enemy’s own terms. The position of the enemy is temporarily occupied, reclaimed, and all positions in the political game as such are repositioned. The National Party did this cloning – a conceptual appropriation of the exact position of the right wing populist party Dansk Folkeparty (The Danish Peoples Party) in almost secrecy a half year ago. No one really noticed how elegant and how ironic their name and their program actually was – until last week.
Yahya Hassan is a young danish poet, who published a book of poems a year ago. The poems described his upbringing and and his life as a young second generation palestinian immigrant. In a harsh, very direct language and with a large degree of street wise cred, he lambasts his family, his class, and the ghetto he has grown out of. Hassan immideatly became the new star of danish litterate life, praised by both the culture-radical leftists and the culture-conservative rightwing as an authentic voice from the ghetto. The authentic voice we had all been waiting for. Hassan positioned himself – and was positioned by strong forces in the litterary field – at the exact empty spot, everyone was waiting for someone to occupy. Overnight he was turned into a public figure.
In the ensuing year he has used this public position in various ways, seeking to develop a public voice that somehow would be in accord with his street wise credibility. All along he maintained his identity as a poet, and was also framed as such; an artist. In the last month or so this changed. In the aftermath of the tragic killings at Krudttønden and the all too predictable debate that grew out this event, Yahya Hassan all of a sudden turned political. In a series of public acts and appearances he suddenly used his public figure, to act politically. An example (in danish):
Last week – taking everyone by complete surprise– he suddenly appeared as the new candidate for the National Party. In a press-meeting , april 7th, he announced his candidature by reading aloud a 55 minutes long political manifesto, adressing an array of political issues: immigrant-issues, the israel-palestianian conflict, the iraq/afghan-wars, the terror-complex, the freedom of speech debate, the role of Denmark in an European context. Everything delievered in a harsh, funny, direct poetry, that ridicules and mocks mainstream politics and the lame discourses of the established parties.
The combination of the National Party strategics of cloning the enemy and Yahya Hassans brilliant performance of his newfound political persona is a marriage made in heaven – not in the islamic heaven of the martyrs – but in the danish mainstream media, that all of a sudden has turned into a real political arena. A platform for dissensus and critical political debate.
ART & POLITICS?
Out of the blue, by a completely unexpected turn, Yahya Hassan has proven art and politics possible – an existing possibility. Yahya Hassan and the National Party performs this conceptual possibility; in public, in mainstream. Out there in the pragmatics of parlamentarian politics. Politics proper.
After this post was written a new election in Denmark has been announced to take place on june 18th. The National Party tried to collect signatures enough to take part in the elections as a political party. The didn’t make the deadline, which means that the party is not eligible for the elections. Party-leader Kashif Ahmad, Yahya Hassan and 3 other candidates will take part as individual candidates anyway, but that is a far weaker position to campaign from. Yahya Hassan though, is still creating live televison worthy of a situationist: