Recent wave of antifa driven Black Metal concert cancellations spoiled the show not only for those who bought the tickets. An ongoing attack on Black Metal bands that have never claimed to be political leaves no doubt that the apostles of all-inclusiveness use “extremism” only as a pretext to outcast those whose perception of reality is not imbecile positive.
The sterile universe of antifa is strangely resemblant of the dystopian future depicted in the Equilibrium movie, the post-nuclear apocalypse world in which all forms of feeling and artistic expression are illegal. This world is inhabited by the nation of Libria that daily injects the substance removing emotion “in order to prevent war.” Not incidentally, the dark sensation of the Black Metal art is the first to be sacrificed on the altar of this quasi-humanistic mumbo jumbo.
On a larger scale, however, this tragicomedy may indicate the nearing resolution of the crisis that swept the Black Metal scene since its mainstreamization. In this respect, quantitative limitations (shows cancellations, decrease of the audience reached, “halt of expansion”) promise the quality rise for the art that has long been driven into the corner of self-distance and even self-irony. Far from another “think positive” message, it does not cancel the need to create antifa no-go zones in the musical industry followed by the information and social marginalization of this “movement,” as it is the case in all of Eastern Europe.
But at least one outcome is certainly good: the conflict described does not fit into the definition of culture wars between the competing projects simply because the so-called antifa do not represent any cultural or intellectual agenda. This is not a mere political collision either unless by “political” we mean the extreme polarization between “us” and “them” that may emerge in any sphere of human affairs (art, religion, science), as understood by German political philosopher and lawyer Carl Schmitt. This is the clash of two metaphysical or anthropological (human) types, which finally shows the true horizon of Black Metal’s potential. Needless to say, the human type that has to resort to legal remedies to create an illusion of the victory has already lost.
Recalling the motto of Enlightenment as formulated by Immanuel Kant, “Have the courage to use your own reason without the guidance of another” (Sapere aude!), it will be no exaggeration to say that today, in order to retain the status of an intellectual, one has to detest the advocates of political correctness, regardless of one’s real political beliefs.
Back in 2016, I was going to publish an illustrated article on the totalitarian symbols and references, ideology inspired misanthropic jokes, “uniform aesthetics” and simply “vulgar display of power” which were impressively explored or have even become a part of mass culture thanks to the creativity of such diverse bands as Laibach, Slayer, Pantera, Type O Negative (ironic lines from Carnivore’s song, “Jesus Hitler, Adolf Christ / Is this the second coming or the Fourth Reich?”, would be the best epigraph to the given piece), Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Deathstars, Feindflug, Therion, Lux Occulta, not mentioning Neofolk / industrial bands like Death in June, NON, Blood Axis or Von Thronstahl, and many others. Even Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” video clip has a touch of the hollywood “Nazi” aesthetics.
To a great extent, this aestheticization of “totalitarianism” was triggered by earlier cinematographic masterpieces and, overall, the growing request for the radical art forms in the 90-s. There is no need to dwell exclusively on the classic like The Night Porter, 1974 film directed by Liliana Cavani, which set the definition of the Nazi fetish culture and gave birth to the variety of trashier “Nazisexploitation” versions.
It’s enough to mention the cinematographic gospel of the Holocaust awareness, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993): one of the main characters, Amon Göth, whose role is performed by charismatic Ralph Fiennes, is a bright example of the unintentional aestheticization of a war criminal. Act II of Schindler’s List Musical (2013), “Emperor” Amon’s aria “I Pardon You,” which is performed by Al Kaplan and got banned in Germany, France and Israel, would never emerge without this stunning portrayal.
Yet attractive villains, including characters based on the real political history, are as integral part of the Western cultural code as the obscene work of Marquise de Sade. According to the basic principles of the Western legal culture (the difference between law and morality, the presumption of innocence, “everything which is not forbidden is allowed”), there is nothing wrong or illegal with imagining evil and appreciating successful tries to undertake this task.
Of course, one may go as far as to trace back these influences to Elvis Presley’s German sympathies or David Bowie’s “Heroes.” But industrial or Black Metal bands are more relevant as in their case radical form and content go hand in hand, more precisely, radical content is simply required by the new musical forms.
Some of the abovementioned bands only experimented with totalitarian allusions, and provided extensive explanations for art-naïve viewers on their Facebook page (Therion’s Bardot inspired “Initials B.B.”).
Others, like Laibach, as a band, embody a sophisticated art rendition of the very in-depth study of majestic aspects of totalitarian and radical ideologies, especially leftist:
“We dance to Ado Hinkel
We dance to Schiklgruber
And dance with Maitreya
And with democracy
We dance with fascism
And red anarchy.” (Originally performed in German)
Laibach’s contribution to Iron Sky, a 2012 science fiction comedy about the post-war Nazis’ retreat to the Moon and 2018 invasion of Earth, in fact, made their creativity, B-Machine iconic song in particular, more comic or ironic than it is in reality. Which does not change the fact that Laibach, above all, are artists who can tolerate censorship only when they decide to perform in North Korea.
Von Thronstahl, like Laibach, are musicians, researchers, and politicians in one: in this case, the ideological and cultural canon is defined as naturally as “the revolt” is being “turned into style” (“Hugo Boss und Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent et Louis Vuitton diktieren wie es uns gefällt”). Especially when the message is delivered and reinforced by “girls in uniforms” like RUNA.
Also sporadic, Lux Occulta’s take on extreme ideologies in “Kiss My Sword” video clip, at the same time, is an incredible philosophical examination either of Aleister Crowley’s presumable efforts to familiarize Hitler, Stalin and Churchill with “The Book of the Law,” which was reportedly dictated to Crowley in Cairo after he has spent a night in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid, or the very phenomenon of the authoritarian leader as the “truth,” dark side or epitome of the adherence to Thelema (“Who to himself is law, no law does need / Offends no law and is a king indeed”) and Superman of the godless modernity (“When the gods sleep / I rule this lousy world”).
Fascination with “the Great Beast,” most probably, is what unites “totalitarian” references sub specie aeternitatis by Therion, Lux Occulta and Current 93 (“Hitler as Kalki”).
Half-ironic, dystopian, performed for shock value, joking (like Nergal’s of Behemoth role of a Nazi in a 2013 German movie AmbaSSada) or even glamorous, such instances have long made the “totalitarian” legacy a legitimate subject of the broad cultural exploitation.
It’s not like I want to uncover more possible targets for witch hunt, but when antifa finally awoke to the cruel reality of the educated Western society, at first I could not believe that their threats may be taken seriously. In Eastern Europe and Baltics, latest example being the ethnofuturist conference in Tallinn, nobody understands what the hell they want even when they try to disrupt an openly political meeting by making telephone calls and revelations about the “far right gatherings,” like nobody understands why the latter are bad in general.
Otherwise, the political satire, for instance, Charlie Chaplin’s, becomes impossible. “Der Mussolini” song by German electropunk band D.A.F. (which stands for the German-American Friendship) that was recorded in 1981 and covered, among others, by Atrocity feat. Liv Kristine, does it propagate or condemn the totalitarian regimes? After all, Mussolini, Hitler, communism and Jesus Christ (clericalism) are equalized there, maybe it is “dangerous”?.. Recent comedy “The Death of Stalin,” which was censored in Russia and Belarus, maybe it should be banned everywhere?
Intellectual contrast between the antifa and another blacklisted Black Metal musician, Famine of Peste Noire, is especially striking.
“Panzer Division” Marduk and Taake were also on the list in the draft of my article as the bands which successfully got away with things like making a conceptual album about the Third Reich’s historical legacy and toying with “extremist” symbols and references. One may also recollect the title of Immortal’s album, “Pure Holocaust,” or “controversial” song titles like “IndoctriNation” and “Architecture of a Genocidal Nature” on the 2001 album by Dimmu Borgir deliciously entitled, as for a Black Metal ear, “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia.” Similar lyrical references and metaphors may be easily found in the work of other Black Metal artists of the same level.
However, I didn’t finish that piece not only due to the chronical lack of time but also because I simply lost count of various “politically incorrect” stories in which was involved Donald Trump during his pre-election campaign, starting with a retweet of “a very good quote” by Benito Mussolini and a retweet of the creator of an image in which Trump was depicted casting Bernie Sanders into a gas chamber. And my idea was to show how the artistically neutralized “extremist” motives pave their way into politics, become a part of the political capital and even bring the electoral dividends.
When I saw that these episodes seem not to harm his reputation at all, I have been already prepared for the upcoming political change in the entire euroatlantic region. Regardless of one’s attitude to Trump, it’s hard not to give the Alt-Right a credit for taking the politically motivated “culture war” to a whole new level, as well as for decriminalizing quite innocent “politically incorrect” motives by means of humor and a remarkable conceptual creativity. Pepe the Frog’s reinvention only, as well as the subsequent trolling mythology of the Alt-Right, is worth a Nobel Prize in media technologies and networking, again, regardless of one’s ideological affiliation.
After that, Hipster Hitler comic series, also known as “Adolf Hipster,” “Kitler” cats with “Hitler moustache,” a fountain of humorous remakes of the famous Bunker Scene (Hitler’s Rant, Hitler’s Outrage) from Der Untergang movie on YouTube, as well as permanent Nazi-themed incidents in the Asian part of the world (“The Soldaten Kaffee” in Jakarta, Indonesia, which was finally shut down in 2017, Hitler’s Cross restaurant in Mumbai, India, or Hitler Bar in South Korea), look like an echo from the past.
The darker side to this process which is taken dead serious by many is the discussed convulsive activization of anonymous antifa groups and escalation of the left-liberal hysteria in general.
Taake’s case, of course, is not about left-liberal censorship vs. “far right ideas.” It would be so if Taake were an NSBM band. Even if Taake were a band celebrating Norwegian cultural roots, mythology and history, they could easily disavow being associated with the “Neo-Nazis” like Tyr did by recording “The Shadow of the Swastika” song.
Hoest’s goal while displaying a painted swastika on his chest onstage in Germany in 2007 was apparently different, and common for him and Tyr’s frontman Heri Joensen unwillingness to bear responsibility for the crimes committed by the others (“You can shove the sins of the your father where no light may pass / And kiss my Scandinavian ass”), in his case, had no relation to the history.
As opposed to many Death metal / grindcore bands like Cannibal Corpse which, with rare exceptions in the vein of Obituary’s “Slowly We Rot,” convey in music the reality of trashy horror movies and leave the antiutopian subtext up to the listener, Black Metal “aestheticization of evil” often rests on Kant’s feeling of the sublime, as well as on the sense of elemental, wild freedom. Black Metal, overall, is interested in the metaphysical rather than sociopolitical evil, otherwise, there would be more left-leaning bands like Bolt Thrower or Napalm Death within this genre. Likewise, Black Metal engages, above all, in the metaphysical polemics with Christianity or Islam.
In this respect, Lux Occulta were totally right when they linked the ultimate form of Crowley’s Law of the Will (“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”) to the apotheosis of the totalitarian regimes’ might. That’s why the artistic exploitation of the “totalitarian” or controversial symbols by Black Metal bands may be not only a natural part or a concentrated expression of the misanthropic, destructive, aggressive themes which they explore in their creativity, as Hoest of Taake put it.
In the 21st century, totalitarian symbols (unless the representative of some revisionist political organization claims the opposite) lose their direct ideological meaning and rather stand for the dark side (or a logical conclusion?) of the autonomous self’s elevation in the epoch of modernity as a source of respective “grand narratives.” Basically, this is the philosophical issue which does not boil down to the phenomenon of dictatorship, and only illiterates and enemies of intellectual freedom can criminalize the artistic exploration of the authoritarian dialectics of subjective voluntarism and total mobilization (and no less total funeral).
As Oswald Spengler demonstrated, Caesarism (authoritarianism) and populism (“democracy”) are more than compatible, so totalitarian / radical / destructive implications of the individual will to power are inherent in the subject-centric modern culture as a necessary form of its self-reflection. And it’s a question what is “worse” or more ambiguous, their ironic or misanthropic artistic rendition. In other words, only a small part of cases under scrutiny allows further inquiry: confirmed political statements and party programs. Everything else is a violation of the individual’s freedom of conscience.
As for the rest, it’s ridiculous even to discuss the anti-Muslim gestures and lyrics by the anti-Christian and anti-religious band, Taake. Today, in order to prevent unnecessary questions, it seems that one should start a musical career with recording a song assuring of the artist’s equal hatred for all, as Type O Negative did (“We Hate Everyone”).
Want it clearer?
Check the mirror.
We don’t care (We don’t care)
what you think (What you think)
We don’t care (We don’t care)
what you think.
Lies and slander in vain try to shame us.
Riots, protests, violence just makes us famous.
TV interviews, free publicity.
Increase record sales dramatically.
Left: they say I’m a fascist.
Right: calling me a communist.
Hate hate hate, hatred for all. One and all. “
Wisely enough, reaction by Watain frontman Erik Danielsson to the latest fabulous attacks by antifa after they discovered a photo of Watain live guitarist Set Teitan giving a “Nazi salute” was far from affected. His statement submitted to the drama-hungry editorial board of MetalSucks was as follows:
“The gesture on that picture was done in jest that’s as much as we have to say about that, but to put an end to this tiresome and time-consuming nonsense the guitarist in question has decided to step aside for a period of time to avoid further hopeless discussions on the subject.
“We furthermore spit upon the ill-willed ignorance of all those who maintain that Watain have any political agenda whatsoever, for 20 years we have proven otherwise and people should know better by now. Finally we would like to send a heartfelt fuck off to all who insist on feeding the mindless moral witch-hunt hysteria that is now festering on worldwide Heavy Metal culture. Hail Satan!”
Quite probably, sensitive souls of the antifa warriors could not forgive E. his description of the metal audience in France in a 2017 conversation with Duke TV as not only “wilder and more violent” than in other countries of Europe but also as a “real Black Metal audience” in which the “hipster-themed” type is not as common as elsewhere.
Personally, I despise “political correctness,” firstly, as an intellectual (which means rejection of any forms of thought crimes and mental cages), secondly, as a Nietzschean (which means resistance to the imposed triggers of fear, guilt and shame), and only thirdly, as a conservative revolutionary / third positionist who enjoys trolling deadbrain leftliberals and Putinists.
The conclusion is not that one should constantly make “politically incorrect” provocations. Today, this is quite an aristocratic entertainment which requires a political cover. But every intelligent person should definitely stand up to the ongoing barbarization of the West under the mask of humanism, and do it systematically in practice along with the others. There is no need to wait for another attack; as far as we see, there are many possibilities for the voluntary encounter with representatives of the Antifa, more precisely, Anti-Culture movement.
Once the theorist of Frankfurt School Theodor Adorno remarked that “there can be no poetry after Auschwitz” (originally, “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”) which was further boosted to the level of convictions that “there can be no literature / culture / history after Auschwitz.” However, I doubt that he would invest so many intellectual efforts into the future generations if he knew that his direct or indirect contemporary heirs like the Antifa movement would understand it literally.
Although Eastern Europe is the opposite of the Western society when it comes to the antifa problem, and the decommunization in Ukraine leaves no chance for the radical Left, I agree with Taake’s latest statement that there is something much more global behind their backs: the Western culture itself. In my opinion, the foundations of the current crisis were laid years if not centuries earlier, but the powerful imperative of our great heritage not to succumb to strange deviations which we observe today is still heard. Recreate or create something new, it’s up to us. One thing is clear: there is no room for the humanistic euthanasia for the history, culture and art in the envisaged future of the West.
(“Edgerlords” postscriptum is added! https://helenasemenyaka.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/qualis-artifex-pereo-or-why-we-need-black-metal-edgelords-and-dont-need-antifa/#more-545)