EXCERPTS FROM INTERVIEWS GIVEN BETWEEN 1986-1990
Is your role within the umbrella organization of NSK a predominant one? (DELO – YUGOSLAVIA)
The NSK organigram (an organizational diagram showing principles of organization and activities), which has been made public on several occasions, clearly shows the hierarchical structure of the Body. In the head of NSK we co-operate on an equal footing with Irwin and the Cosmokinetic Theater Red Pilot, in a tripartite Council led by the ICS (Immanent Consistent Spirit). The collective leadership is rotational, the members are interchangeable. The inner structure of the Body functions according to the principle of command and symbolizes the relation between ideology and an individual. Inside the Body there is equality. It is absolute and indisputable, and is never questioned by the Body. The head is the head, the hand is the hand, and the differences between them are organic but not painful.
You often emphasize your interest in politics, declaring that the aesthetical and the political walk hand in hand. Could you perhaps tell us where, in your opinion, the present-day politicians are making mistakes and what you have to offer, in the political sense, of course? (DELO – YUGOSLAVIA)
We say that politics is the highest and all-embracing art and that we, the creators of contemporary art, consider ourselves politicians. Yet, we are too wise to lecture those who taught us. Besides, our activity transcends the actual political problems, so that everyday politics in this sense is not our concern. In spite of all that we would like, with reference to current political issues, to give the following statement for the readers of Delo:
1. Quod ab initio vitiosum lapsu temporis convalescere nequit.
2. Peoples, where each tribe wants to become a nation and each nation a state, beware!
3. Peoples, which first hail the conqueror with dance and clamour and then jeer him in order to hail a new victor, beware!
4. If socialism is to remain sound and solid, it must not become a synonym for democracy. Socialism must be brave enough to remain “barbaric”.
Your statements often resemble the statements of our politicians. Could you perhaps explain the sentence you pronounced at the promotion of the album: “… to achieve our purposes, we shall go as far as to act militantly, if necessary …”? (DELO – YUGOSLAVIA)
To act militantly means to operate with force, collectively and in an organized manner. NSK has its own ethical principles to which it wants to adhere and which at the same time constitute our moral law. That means that we are honest and open-minded with each other, and that, if we are friends, we shall continue to walk together to the end with disciplined energy, straight up and ahead. We are imbued with a will for power, which is exactly what gives our lives their true meaning. To create and to live does not mean to meditate, but to act. Each day must begin with a manifestation of the will, embodied in action. We shall draw the sword and cut the knots suffocating us. We are ready for sacrifices and great feats. Our goal is victory and once we conquer it, no-one shall ever maim it.
Is your goal to establish a new order in Yugoslavia? (DER SPIEGEL – WEST GERMANY)
New Order? No. Every new order presupposes the existence of a disorder preceding the necessity of establishing a new order and evoking a new order, as well as a disorder, capable of jeopardizing and destroying the already-established order. The only right order is therefore the order which remains one and the same, whose existence is never threatened and lasts forever, underlying, superimposing, and pervading all things. This is the only order capable of giving life and engendering the world.
We are led to believe that Yugoslavia is a socialist country espousing a fairly lenient version of communist doctrines. How does Laibach fit into this political picture? (ROCKPOOL – USA)
LAIBACH was bred in Yugoslavia, so it fits perfectly into any political picture, although we believe that our true place is being the frame.
We heard that it was very difficult for you to perform in your country, Yugoslavia. Please, tell us if this is true, and what the actual situation in Yugoslavia is now? (TAKARAJIMA – JAPAN)
It is not true. Actually, it is much more difficult for us to perform in your country, Japan. The socio-political circumstances in Yugoslavia are currently very fruitful and productive. They may break one’s bones, but they cannot break our optimism.
Your cultural arena is Europe. Slovenia and Yugoslavia are slowly and persistently sinking into their past. The attempt to conquer the heavens with a new man has obviously failed. Can Laibach and NSK as a whole do something about it? (TELEX – YUGOSLAVIA)
We abhor discouragement and panic. We believe in the future and we shall look for it in the past, if necessary.
What is your relationship with the state of Yugoslavia? (WHPK – USA)
In our country, as in yours, public persons are proud to serve the state, and so are we.
What do the masses and their thinking mean to you? (DELO – YUGOSLAVIA)
The masses are a herd, subjected to instincts and impulses. In short, the masses are something unstable and as such more matter than spirit. Therefore, they need guidance; a goal is crucial for their survival, or else they disintegrate to proto-elements and lose their power. The masses always find their head, and the head is always led by the thought.
The principle that you consistently adhere to is the principle of manipulation. This means that this fact of society does not hide behind ideals, but forms a constituent part of your image. This, of course, does not increase your popularity in the media, but rather bars you from them because the media are essentially based on mass-manipulation and administration of information. Have you ever thought about your own medium? (TELEX – YUGOSLAVIA)
Manipulation, manipulation! To manipulate people, nature, living and dead inventory, words, ideas, things and feelings! Here you have the beginning of a new cycle, which brings death to the human race. It is not the demon who will choose you – it is you who will choose the demon! God and Satan are innocent; guilty is the one who chooses!
What is your definition of an individual? (ROCKPOOL – USA)
A multitude of one million divided by one million.
It seems to me that you and your programme, which denies freedom to an individual, are a sort of a negative utopia. Can you deny that? (DER SPIEGEL – WEST GERMANY)
What we are and what we say is the highest point of the free spirit. Therefore we are absolutely positive.
If you are positive, what is your mission then? (DER SPIEGEL – WEST GERMANY)
Our mission is to make Evil lose its nerves.
Unlike the reaction of the British, the reaction in Germany was similar to that in our country, accusing Laibach of Germanophilia and of toying with fascist symbols … It seems that German criticism encouraged the enemies of Laibach here. What is your reaction? (LJUBLJANSKI DNEVNIK – YUGOSLAVIA)
We have already stated that the contemporary Germans are an inferior sort of Slovenes, so it doesn’t surprise us if they mistook us for their own.
When performing in other countries, you cannot ignore their music industry. What do you think about it and what is your purpose in performing in other countries? (TAKARAJIMA – JAPAN)
We do not ignore it; on the contrary, we regard business as the basic principle of life in these countries – and we know that the Great Principles of Life are as everlasting as the Pyramids. To understand the secrets of the Pyramids is a part of our purpose when performing in countries of real capitalism.
Speaking of music, are you interested, for instance, in Bach’s and Mozart’s counterpoint and harmony? (DELO – YUGOSLAVIA)
We are. Music is a credible metaphor of reality. Mozart and Bach both reflect the bourgeois dream of harmony more precisely than all the political theories of the nineteenth century together. Harmony is the true supreme form used by authority to demonstrate its power, satisfaction and its political scenic arrangement. Primitive polyphony, dodecaphony, electroacoustic music, etc., etc., any kind of music is an attribute of authority, its tool and its bond with its people, whatever it may be.
The music forms you are using are all “heroic.” Have you ever thought about “charming” us with different, more sophisticated forms and approaches? (AUDIO ARTS – UK)
As far as music is concerned, we are going to stick to the heroic form. The English might rationally not like it but unconsciously they absolutely love the noise it makes. We leave the more sophisticated forms and approaches to the English music industry.
Your music, although very modern in sound, makes use of forms deeply rooted in the past. How important is classicism to you? (WHPK – USA)
Militant classicism is based on reason, order and clarity and on the belief that discipline is an aesthetic as well as a moral virtue. And so is Laibach.
Do you have any special reason for having selected music as the way of your artistic expression? (TAKARAJIMA – JAPAN)
Music creates order out of chaos: rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony compatibility upon the incongruous. Music is the law of Nature.
Laibach in sound, word and image do not give off much warmth, humour, love, sunshine. This may be a bourgeois notion, but I demand that they be a part of the emotional range expressed by “art.” Are Laibach as grim, intense and humourless as they seem? (TIME OUT – UK)
Humour is a moral irresponsibility of a person in relation to the factual nature of actual relations between individuals and community; it is an alibi, which permits all kinds of compromises, denies the demands set by reality and affirms the principle of satisfaction.
According to Darwin, laughter is an expression mostly common to idiots and, according to English psychologist M. W. Brody it represents the concluding part of aggressive usurpation.
It is well known that the word “humour” springs from England and that the English are proud of it; however, it is also known that England has nothing left to laugh at. Its humour is a leftover of narcissistic hedonism, its weapon against the outer world and a proof of its pseudo-dominion over the actual situation.
In art, we appreciate humour that can’t take a joke.
Antlers. I’m told that they are, to indulge in a little light-hearted semiology, a signifier of Slowenische Kunst. They seem incongruous, even humorous, to a British audience unaware of the background. Could Laibach explain their relevance? (TIME OUT – UK)
The marrow of the forehead bone of the animal (a stag) first sends the stimulus (the impulse) through the nerves to the nerve centre of the antlers. The intensity of the activity of the optic nerves depends on the amount of light and on the degree of blindness. When the nerve centres of the antlers receive the signal, they stimulate the hypophysis. The hypophysis is hidden under the cortex and is composed of three layers. Each layer secretes its own hormones. The most important hormones are those secreted by the front layer of the hypophysis and among them the hormone of growth, which stimulates the activity of genital glands and the thyroid gland. The testicles, stimulated by the activity of the hypophysis secrete the sexual hormone and produce semen. The activity of the growth hormones causes the growth and development of the sexual hormone and development of the antlers. The growth progresses until the sexual hormone enters the bloodstream.
During the growth period of the antlers the gristle tissue is soaked in blood, supplied by the double blood circulation system, the external and the internal one. The venous system leading from the marrow to the gristle is the internal conduction of blood and the one between the fur and the periosteum is the external conduction of blood. The colour of the antlers is more intensive and darker when more blood remains in the antlers after brutal tribal combats.
It is strange for us to have to explain about the antlers to the British when it is a well-known fact that Great Britain is very rich in antlers and ranks second, immediately after Germany and before the United States. Nowadays, of course, Great Britain has completely lost its primary sense of reality; this is the price it has to pay for the modern market principles that have caused a degeneration of consumption and a depreciation of value. Hence the void in understanding. The English public should, consequently, be satisfied with the following explanation: the antlers personify the striving for purity, sublimity and ennoblement, uniting eternity with power, dignity with courage and love with death.
What did you do with the rabbit that you had on stage after the concert? (MUSIK EXPRESS – WEST GERMANY)
We ate it.
Your image has been dismissed as macho; how do you feel about this accusation? (NETWORK 7, LWT – UK)
Well, we are men, but this does not necessarily mean that we don’t love our women.
Your image that seems to irritate so many is obviously built on the solid knowledge of the so-called “Zeitgeist”. Perhaps your image can be explained in some other way? (LJUBLJANSKI DNEVNIK – YUGOSLAVIA)
Do you mean something like pittura colta? Hardly; our image is not a surface, a facade or a glittering reflection of the idea that irritates so many. We design and carry the time and we are what we are, from head to toe. Maybe you could call it the spirit of eternity - the Eternal Spirit.
Why your military style on stage? (NETWORK 7, LWT – UK)
You can’t play militant classical music and slouch casually around the stage.
There seem to be moments in your performances when the mask slips and we see you “enjoying” the music (a hip sways, a knee twitches). I assume you enjoy it all the time? (AUDIO ARTS – UK)
There’s a strong disposition in our audiences, which some individuals never shake off, a belief that everyone is having a more enjoyable time than us. But, where there is the tree of knowledge, enjoyment is never far away.
Are you fascinated by the trappings of fascism? (NETWORK 7, LWT – UK)
“Fascism is sexy!” is the commercial slogan of those manufacturers in the West who still produce fascist accessories for the “Carnaby-Street-like” market. For us, Nazi-fascism is an open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, chauvinist and imperialist elements of the financial capital. Nazi-fascism under the disguise of democracy is the rule of financial capital itself.
What do you think about the commercial use of the hammer and sickle as a fashion symbol? (NETWORK 7, LWT – UK)
It is the compulsion of a fetish to reduce its content. That’s how the West was won.
What are Laibach’s impressions of America and how does Laibach feel America perceives the group? (ROCKPOOL – USA)
First of all, we know that America likes us and we shall therefore come back; nonetheless, we have seen it and we agree that it is the only nation in history which has miraculously lapsed from barbarism directly to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization. If America is the foremost nation of today, then history has come to a full stop. If this is the future, then it does not work.
Do you believe in God? (NETWORK 7, LWT – UK)
Yes, we believe in God but, unlike Americans, we don’t trust him.
What do you want to convey to the Japanese audience through your concerts in Japan? (TAKARAJIMA – JAPAN)
We want to tell them that Americanism cannot possibly function as a permanent support for the Japanese spirit because Americanism is a vulgar practice. It can never be the cause, which the people would be glad to live or die for. The foundation and support for the national spirit must be discovered within the youth. Tradition, a product of three thousand years of culture, cannot be erased in five minutes or in fifty years. It is the only worthy cause for which people should die and nations survive.
Your verse, in “Zdravljica” (=The Toast) for instance, is rather simple and straightforward. Does this mean, in terms of culture, that you want to express yourself in such a way as to reach as wide an audience as possible or do you use the language that you are most familiar with? (DELO – YUGOSLAVIA)
It is true that, according to our needs, we have developed a simple linguistic form, which on the surface easily adapts to the economy of time and surroundings, but unlike the standard poetic language it always means more than it says.
Laibach’s insistence on this form of interviews (written, depersonalized) goes far beyond the desire to depersonalize creativity. Doesn’t this merely re-mythologize a group who might already be suffering from misunderstanding? (TIME OUT – UK)
The de-mythologization of traditional mythical values is caused by ideological and technological interests of the “technological universe”; this process is a direct and indirect expression of a wider planetary “civilizing” process aimed at improving and increasing production and consumption of Hybris. The destructive force of de-mythologization is aided by the process of secularization, degradation of mythical contents and by the replacement of these contents with models of the “consumer society”, which, in turn, constitutes the category of “consumer mythology”. The artificial and programmed currents of “purification” of these mythical contents represent the greater part of this process. The system of oppression undertakes the purification of memory in order to drive the “dangerous intuitions” out of it. Our tendency towards re-mythologization means that we have realized the significance of the contents of tradition and of traditional values of innovation.
Friends who were in Yugoslavia and in Ljubljana this summer mostly met people who thought you belonged to a right-wing political party. How would you label yourselves? Where do you really stand? (DIE GRUNEN – WEST GERMANY)
We are there where evil prays for mercy.
Are you then fascists or not? (DIE ZEIT – WEST GERMANY)
We are fascists as much as Hitler was an artist.
If you are neither fascist nor communist nor democrat,… what are you then? (DIE ZEIT – WEST GERMANY)
Then we are the bricks of the out-of-the-world Spirit.
Why did you choose to remake Let it be? (SPIN – USA)
Let it be (F I A T) is a prophetic title, which covers the ill-starred nature of an operation that gave us pop music and its industry. The Beatles record itself stands as a cheapskate epitaph, a cardboard tombstone and a sad and tatty end of the era when it all started. We have enough imagination not to do cover versions; what we are doing is rewriting history, which every now and then has to be corrected and reinterpreted to serve the future.
Are cover-versions superior to sampling techniques as a foundation for musical production? (LIMITED EDITION – WEST GERMANY)
The essence of music is a miracle of technology, which is based on mechanical principles of the universe. The essence of mechanics is Ewige Wilderkehr des Gleichen (Endless Repetition of the Same). On this basis we find no superiority in the cover-versions over sampling techniques. Our work, however, which is original, or rather a copy without the original, is superior to the historical material.
Are the Beatles well known and popular in Yugoslavia? (SPIN – USA)
In their time they were more popular than Jesus.
I enjoyed your show at the Kitchen in NYC. What were your impressions of New York City and its people? (SPIN – USA)
New York seems to be a big proportional distortion. From its top we saw no people. And we were really surprised to find some, when we came down.
Do you think that nations with such different cultural and political histories as the United States and Yugoslavia could ever communicate and learn one from another? (SPIN – USA)
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border nor Breed, nor Birth,
When four strong men stand face to face,
Though they come from the ends of Earth!
What hope does Laibach have for the West in terms of its own survival? (SPIN – USA)
You’re asking, “what is our hope”? We can answer in one word: VICTORY! Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be: for without victory there is no survival. And without multiplication there is no survival. Victory and multiplication.
What does Laibach feel is the key to a nation’s strength? (SPIN – USA)
The key to strength is the recognition that others are more afraid than we are.
Has Laibach heard of the expression “the American dream”? If so, how does Laibach view the “American dream”? (SPIN – USA)
The “American dream” is for Americans only. We sleep well enough without it.
Isn’t there a danger that a group that remakes pop will be regarded as a pop group? Can this really coincide with a strictly political and philosophically reflected approach to art or is this your kind of subliminal performance? (METRONOM – VERLAG – WEST GERMANY)
Pop is music for sheep and we are wolves disguised as shepherds.
Reflecting on the possible potency of art, SPK’s Graeme Revell once said “You can’t do much else but art, unless you want to be a terrorist or kill yourself.” Would you sign this statement? (METRONOM – VERLAG – WEST GERMANY)
This is a very nihilistic statement; if the positive part of the world consisted only of artists, we could expect the same result as in the case of terrorists and suicidal persons. The aim of art is to give immortality to everyday practical behaviour and work, which is necessary if life is to provide us with a ladder leading to divinity.
Doesn’t the idea of totalitarian equality lead to anarchy and nihilism? (METRONOM – VERLAG – WEST GERMANY)
The substance of the idea of totalitarian equality stimulates the will to bestow well-being on everybody without exception. Woe to those who don’t respect its real essence. They will be happy if they end only in anarchy and nihilism!
The state should be, according to Kant, “the centre of reason”. Isn’t your conception of the state rather as a centre of mysticism, an ideology that should be granted the “right not to be intelligible”? (METRONOM – VERLAG – WEST GERMANY)
The state was created by passion. We celebrate its creation with a feast where the tables are weak-legged under the weight of Fleisch (meat). Fleisch is the armour of reason.
What is the current situation of NSK, considering its different levels of acceptance by the Yugoslav state (censorship and distrust on the one hand, exaltation of NSK on the other)? (METRONOM – VERLAG – WEST GERMANY)
The state behaves as we do. This is a dialectical dialogue, traumatic for the public.
How important are the patterns of industrial production in the age of computerization? (LIMITED EDITION – WEST GERMANY)
Computerization is the brains, the measure, the Name of the Game; industrial production is a method of gratifying permanent satisfaction. If there exists a demand to preserve the being in its ecstatic stable attitude, then the head and the vision (the latter is also an attribute of computerization) must be in the service of the perpetual, which is the technical substance required for everlasting life.
Will there be a growing North-South conflict as a result of better relations between East and West? (LIMITED EDITION – WEST GERMANY)
The difference between North and South is the difference between Vernunft and passion. Passion is selfish and as such, in spite of its essence, it strives for enjoyment, which is also an attribute of the Spirit, more particular and inclined to destruction. The intervention of Vernunft makes enjoyment more secure and stable. The innermost law of this planet is to behave in the positive direction towards perfection.
Does any opposition which is not totalitarian have a chance to succeed in Western Society? (LIMITED EDITION – WEST GERMANY)
Opposition, which is about to assume power, must represent itself as a promoter of welfare and good for all. This is a totalitarian position per se – no other conception has any chance to succeed.
What is your view of the current national conflicts in your country and in the Soviet Union? (LIMITED EDITION – WEST GERMANY)
Every change of social, national or political situation is a manifestation of the purpose of the spirit, which always works for its own well-being but never forgets to pay its dues for its entertainment.
A critical attitude towards pop culture, i.e., more precisely, towards the Star system, is regarded as immanent to your work (“Life is Life”). Does the Star system really originate in and is it roughly revealed in totalitarianism/fascism? A banal picture: Hitler as the ideal pop star of all times. Didn’t the Star system develop much more strongly in Hollywood? (FALTER – AUSTRIA)
The Star system has its own rational foundation: in the fascist form of totalitarianism it helped the people to transcend their immediate traumatic existence by identification with the leader. The Hollywood principle awakens belief and recognition that there is a world in which the fulfilment of dreams is reality.
It is said, in one of the songs by LAIBACH, “there is life before death”. Does this statement, in the sense that each work of art itself may be regarded as an act of hope, in principle imply optimism? What is the role of existentialist moments in your work? How does one live before death? (FALTER – AUSTRIA)
Our conception of death transcends the existentialist view of the world. Death is the final moment and the eternal loser as opposed to the infinite principle of all-transcending Absolute, in which life is never extinguished. Life is live and Death is for death.