Forms of Veridiction in Politics and Culture: Avowal in Today’s Jargon of Authenticity

Mariana Valverde


The forms of political populism that are flourishing around the world, in extreme right-wing versions, but also in left-wing versions, are often dismissed as ignorance, fake news, and demagoguery. However, those analyses often focus only on the content of the claims made by populist leaders rather than on the forms of ‘veridiction’ and the ethical practices and forms that constitute ‘populism’. In this article some theoretical tools borrowed from Foucault’s diverse work on ‘veridiction’ and truth-telling, and also from Adorno’s 1960s critique of existentialism, are deployed to try to understand the forms and techniques that constitute populist leaders as ‘authentic’ and thus as close to the people and as not contaminated by discredited institutions. Authenticity is created through very specific forms of truth-telling, as is shown with the example of the late mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford—in analysis with broader implications.