Anton Shekhovtsov: Apoliteic Music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and "Metapolitical Fascism"

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  • 8/8/2019 Anton Shekhovtsov: Apoliteic Music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and "Metapolitical Fascism"



    Patterns of PrejudicePublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:

    Apoliteic music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and 'metapolitical fascism'Anton Shekhovtsov

    Online publication date: 10 November 2009

    To cite this Article Shekhovtsov, Anton(2009) 'Apoliteicmusic: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and 'metapolitical fascism'',Patterns of Prejudice, 43: 5, 431 457

    To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/00313220903338990URL:

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    This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.

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  • 8/8/2019 Anton Shekhovtsov: Apoliteic Music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and "Metapolitical Fascism"


    Apoliteicmusic: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and

    metapolitical fascism


    ABSTRACT Shekhovtsov suggests that there are two types of radical right-wing

    music that are cultural reflections of the two different political strategies that fascism

    was forced to adopt in the hostile conditions of the post-war period. While White

    Noise music is explicitly designed to inspire racially or politically motivated violence

    and is seen as part and parcel of the revolutionary ultra-nationalist subculture, he

    suggests that metapolitical fascism has its own cultural reflection in the domain ofsound, namely, apoliteic music. This is a type of music whose ideological message

    contains obvious or veiled references to the core elements of fascism but is

    simultaneously detached from any practical attempts to realize these elements

    through political activity. Apoliteic music neither promotes outright violence nor is

    publicly related to the activities of radical right-wing political organizations or

    parties. Nor can it be seen as a means of direct recruitment to any political tendency.

    Shekhovtsovs article focuses on this type of music, and the thesis is tested by

    examining bands and artists that work in such musical genres as Neo-Folk and

    Martial Industrial, whose roots lie in cultural revolutionary and national folk


    KEYWORDS apoliteic music, Eurofascism, fascism, Martial Industrial, metapoliticalfascism, Neo-Folk, racism, ultra-nationalism, White Noise

    New war sorrows, new national storm tides will spawn new folk songs as well.

    */Hans Breuer, 19131

    I n 2000, when I was the editor of a small self-published musical magazine,I received a CD entitled Victory or Death by the Swedish band Folkstorm.2I would like to thank the musicians Ivan Napreenko and Eric Roger, who advised me andcommented on a draft of this article. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers, aswell as to Anna Melyantsev and Vickie Hudson, who were kind enough to proofread.Mistakes, however, are solely my own.1 Translated and quoted in Britta Sweers, The power to influence minds: German folk

    music during the Nazi era and after, in Annie Janeiro Randall (ed.), Music, Power, andPolitics (New York: Routledge 2005), 65/86 (68).

    2 Folkstorm, Victory or Death (Northampton: Cold Spring Records 2000). The name of theband is a translation of the German Volkssturm, which was the name of the Nazi militiafounded by Adolf Hitler in October 1944.

    Patterns of Prejudice, Vol. 43, No. 5, 2009

    ISSN 0031-322X print/ISSN 1461-7331 online/09/050431-27 # 2009 Taylor & Francis

    DOI: 10.1080/00313220903338990

  • 8/8/2019 Anton Shekhovtsov: Apoliteic Music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and "Metapolitical Fascism"


    The CD contained ten tracks of harsh Industrial music and the disc wasdecorated with a Nazi-style Reichsadler atop an empty oak wreath.3 The back

    cover was ornamented with runes and listed the tracks Feldgeschrei (FieldTurmoil), Harsh Discipline, Propaganda, We Are the Resistance, Social

    Surgery, to name but a few. The words of the songs were inaudible, due tothe highly distorted vocals, but everything else vaguely suggested the

    radical right-wing nature of Folkstorms ideology. Surprisingly, the band

    promised No politics. No religion. No standard, a prudent statementwritten on the disc itself.

    If the band disclaims any reference to politics while these signs suggest theopposite, what type of propaganda is it? Folkstorms message has little todo with that of some of its compatriots like Totenkopf, whose track Cant Be

    Beaten unreservedly proclaims: Show them where you stand and feel no

    remorse, my Aryan brother, its time for race war.4 Neither is Folkstorms

    message a provocation similar to the late Punk Rocker Sid Vicioussnotorious posing in a t-shirt with a swastika on it. If the message is notthe White Noise broadcast of racial hatred,5 or the spit in the face of

    bourgeois society, then what is it? In this article, I argue that there exists a

    particular kind of radical right-wing music that does not promote outrightviolence, is not related to the activities of political organizations or parties,

    and is not a means of recruitment to any political tendency. Therefore, I takeFolkstorms No politics statement seriously, although I hope to reconcep-

    tualize it in a way that avoids any futile attempt to drain the clearly right-

    wing message of its essence. I refer to this music as apoliteic (a termexplained below), and this article will analyse its nature and significance by

    considering two musical genres, namely Neo-Folk and Martial Industrial,that are most often used by bands and artists for disseminating an apoliteicmessage. I hope to demonstrate that apoliteic music and White Noise are

    cultural reflections of the two different political strategies that fascism was

    forced to follow in the hostile conditions of the post-war period.Before I proceed, it must be noted that neither Neo-Folk nor Martial

    Industrial can be considered fascist musical genres. Unlike White Noise,

    which refers specifically to ideologically motivated music, these two genresare first and foremost typological constructs that embrace particular kinds ofcombined sounds. Indeed, whether or not Neo-Folk or Martial Industrial can

    be equated with fascist or neo-Nazi propaganda has been hotly debated

    since the mid-1990s when a number of bands playing in these genres started

    3 The Reichsadler (imperial eagle) is a German national insignia. In 1933 the Nazisintroduced the image of an eagle atop an oak wreath with a swastika at its centre.

    4 Totenkopf, Cant Be Beaten, on Various Artists, White Pride World Wide III(Stockholm:Nordland Records 1996).

    5 White Noise is the term that has been used for neo-Nazi rock music since the early1980s. This type of music is explicitly designed to inspire racially or politicallymotivated violence.

    432 Patterns of Prejudice

  • 8/8/2019 Anton Shekhovtsov: Apoliteic Music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and "Metapolitical Fascism"


    to receive*/due to their extensive use of fascist imagery*/attention from left-wing journalists as well as attacks by anti-fascist groups. On severaloccasions, anti-fascist protests, petitions and pickets were supported bythe authorities who banned performances of particular Neo-Folk/Martial

    Industrial bands. In 2004 the major Austrian Martial Industrial act, DerBlutharsch, had to cancel a performance in Israel due to protests by, amongothers, the Israeli cabinet member Natan Sharansky, the Knesset memberYossi Sarid, the mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai and the Anti-DefamationLeague. The following year, the most famous Neo-Folk band, Death in June,lost the right to sell its album Rose Clouds of Holocaust in Germany after aninvestigation conducted by the Bundesprufstelle fur jugendgefahrdendeMedien (BPjM, Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young People).6

    Neither of these bands is part of the White Noise scene, but bothembrace*/as I shall argue below*/explicit elements of the fascist


    Major terms and concepts

    There are several terms that journalists, public officials and scholars use torefer to artists or bands that*/from the observers point of view*/performmusic impregnated with fascist or extreme right-wing ideas. Some of theseare umbrella terms that encompass different musical genres, while others

    refer to specific ones.The term White Noise originates from White Noise Records, a label that

    released Skrewdrivers single White Power in 1983. Skrewdriver was aBritish band that openly promoted revolutionary