34 Years Ago: LAIBACH interviewed by TV Tednik (with English translation) 34 Years Ago: LAIBACH interviewed by TV Tednik (with English translation)

Daily Noise - / 2017

34 Years Ago: LAIBACH interviewed by TV Tednik (with English translation)

LAIBACH's infamous TV Tednik interview was broadcast by RTV Ljubljana on this day in 1983. Following the broadcast Slovenian authorities banned all public appearances. They also banned the use of the name LAIBACH.

...in June 1983, the group made their first television appearance in an interview on the current affairs programme TV Tednik (TV Weekly). Wearing military fatigues and white armbands bearing a simple black cross, Laibach were interviewed in front of graphic images of large political rallies more than a little reminiscent of those in Nuremberg whilst reciting their "Documents of Oppression". Their flirtation with such controversial imagery once again revealed uncomfortable similarities between Fascist and Socialist Realist iconography; similarities which instantly posed questions about the freedom of the media and the message. Their extremely provocative appearance on this program prompted the show's host to brand them "enemies of the people", appealing to respectable citizens everywhere to intervene and destroy this dangerous group.
- Official Laibach biography

Below is the TV Tednik interview transcript in full officially translated into English:

MC: Is it possible that someone has allowed, in Ljubljana, the first hero-city in Yugoslavia, a youth group to bear a name which aims to recall, by force, memories of the bitter LAIBACH!?

LAIBACH: The very name and the sign are the visual materialisation of the Idea at the level of an enigmatic cognitive symbol. The name LAIBACH first appeared in 1144 as the original name of Ljubljana, with the etymological meaning "town by the river". It appeared again after the capitulation of Italy in WWII, when the Nazis and the Slovene White Guard imprisoned, tortured and murdered those citizens of Ljubljana who did not believe in the victory of the Third Reich. In 1980, with the emergence of a youth culture group, the name LAIBACH appears for the fourth time, though now it indicates the concretely given possibility of the formation of a politicised - systemic-ideological - art, as a consequence of the influence of politics and ideology. In this sense the name summarises the horror of the conjunction between totalitarianism and the alienation of production, of industry in the form of slavery.

Jure Pengov: Laibach therefore always appears in history together with something which is not Slovene. You also bear a symbol which is reminiscent of Nazism...

LAIBACH: In its work, LAIBACH mainly uses the means of manipulative abilities of propagandistic nature and repressively exploits the power of information. First and foremost, these are the means suitable for collective consumption, with which the masses are first dissuaded from critical thinking, e.g. film (as the most powerful weapon of long-term and permanent influence on the spirit). We also include here the other instruments of propaganda strategy which primarily act on an emotional basis: open-air mass event (rock concert), speech (immediately working rhetoric in front of microphone and camera), uniform (taking over the military tradition), poster, and leaflet. Less, or only indirectly, we also use means which are not suitable for collective consumption and which address the critical intellect of the reader and demand a rational - discursive line of thought (newspapers, journals - journalism, literature...).

Jure Pengov: I must say I can't get rid of the impression that you recall the Hitlerjugend; is this only provocation, or do you carry within you more dangerous germs of nazi-ideology; could your Idea also be called nazi-punk?

LAIBACH: Both the art of the third Reich and of socrealism have shaped and emphasised to perfection, within the framework of new state ideologies, the old classicist form of man, based on the principle of transhistoric humanistic ideals. LAIBACH analyses the relationship between ideology and culture in a late era, shown through art. It discovers and expresses the conjunction of politics and ideology with industrial production and the unbridgeable divisions between this conjunction and the spirit. In designating this imbalance, LAIBACH uses all expressions of history. In its work, it practices provocation of the revolt of alienated consciousness and unifies warriors and opponents into an expression of the scream of static totalitarianism.

Jure Pengov: All right, provocation; do you know how native Slovenes in Austria struggle for every Slovene word, for every Slovene signpost, how the fascists around Trieste challenge the native Slovenes, what do you say to that?

LAIBACH: LAIBACH deals with the relationship between art and ideology, whose tensions and disharmonies it sublimates into expressive feeling. Thereby it eliminates any directly ideological and systematic discursiveness. Our activity reaches beyond concrete engagement and we are a perfectly non-political group. Concrete political problems in this sense are therefore of no interest for us.

Jure Pengov: And why do you read the answers to all questions?

LAIBACH: This form of interview (which is a message format) is actually a limit of comprehension, within which the subject is allowed to feign conceptual ignorance and communication. At the same time, the way of its formation is a process of permanent repression of linguistic models, and thereby also of the subjects which construct them. Such a form reduces the possibility of individual influences on the structure of the expression itself to a minimum; it is dictated through the totalitarian structure and understood as the right to incomprehensibility, non-communicativity. LAIBACH thus constantly degrades each communication at the level of the word to ideological phraseology.

Jure Pengov: And what can you say about yourselves, eg. who are you, what do you do professionally, how old are you, are you all here or are there more of you?

LAIBACH: We are the children of the spirit and the brothers of strength - whose promises are not fulfilled. We are the black ghosts of this world, we sing the mad image of woe. We are the first TV generation.

Jure Pengov: Where is this from?


Jure Pengov: You were formed three years ago in the mining districts of Trbovlje. You are extremely proud that you were founded in the Red Districts. Why?

LAIBACH: The formation of the group is closely linked with the rise of modern consciousness and the new socio-economic relations, whose function and meaning were fully revealed precisely in Trbovlje, a town with a strong revolutionary and industrial tradition. The formation of the communist party, the "Trbovlje Commune", the biggest miners' strikes, the fascist action of Orjuna, tragic hunger strikes, unbearable working conditions, poverty, persecution of workers, high unemployment and the unbreakable revolutionary spirit constituted the pre-war Trbovlje. Today, the mining districts are changing their image; among the factories and the mines, a contemporary industrial worker has grown and matured, with a developed feeling of class affiliation. Few towns show in their exterior and their very life such great antagonisms between the old and the new as Trbovlje. This town has built us and we continue its revolutionary tradition.

Jure Pengov: Are then the miners and workers there also proud of you? Did they support you when the police prohibited your activity?

LAIBACH: The action in Trbovlje in 1980 was conceived as a test of the alertness and effectiveness of the authorities of state security, as a project which was to palpate the positive consciousness and defence mechanism of the Red Districts against incursions of subversive elements of another culture. As such, the action succeeded completely, since it had to be banned in its very conception. The workers acted in accordance with the policing-legal authorities and affirmed a high degree of positive consciousness.

Jure Pengov: You present yourselves as provocateurs, you proffer yourselves as - one could say - public enemy no. 1. Do you have imitators?

LAIBACH: Art is sublime mission which carries an obligation to fanaticism, but LAIBACH is an organism whose goals, life and means of activity are higher - in strength and duration - than the goals, lives and means of the individuals which comprise it.

Jure Pengov: But aren't you afraid that somebody might rough you up sometime because of all this?

LAIBACH: Art is sublime mission and as such it carries an obligation to fanaticism.

Jure Pengov: You staged your last successful provocation in April, at the Music Biennale in Zagreb. I suggest we watch the recording, noting that the Executive Council of the Biennale then wrote that, bypassing what was agreed, you projected an edited reel of a video show of unsuitable and indecent content. Let the public make up its own mind...

Jure Pengov: With all this adoration of totalitarianism, worship of the state, so to speak of Nazism, Stalinism, hierarchy, manipulation with people, what do you think then about the ingenious idea of Edvard Kardelj, who said that happiness cannot be given to man either by the state, or by the system, or by the party, but that he can create it himself?

LAIBACH: Neither the state, nor the party, neither God nor the Devil; happiness consists in the complete suspension of one's own human identity, in consciously giving up one's personal taste, conviction, judgement, in voluntary depersonalisation and the ability for self-sacrifice, identification with a higher, superior system - with the multitude, collective, ideology.

Jure Pengov: Was it perhaps this very depersonalisation, alienation from people and everyday problems of people around us that led to the suicide of one of the members of your group?

LAIBACH: Art is sublime mission which carries an obligation to fanaticism, but LAIBACH is an organism whose goals, life and means of activity are higher - in strength and duration - than the goals, lives and means of the individuals which comprise it.

Jure Pengov: Who are your role-models, where do you draw your ideas from? You probably won't claim that these ideas of yours are original?

LAIBACH: Originality is an illusion of false revolutionaries, but our basic inspiration - role-models which are not models by their form but the very material of LAIBACH manipulation - are: industrial production, nazi-kunst, totalitarianism, Taylorism, bruitism, ...and, of course, disco.

Jure Pengov: So far, you have been spreading your ideology, your ideological provocation - to put it more precisely - by means of the written word. Was the decision to present yourselves to the audience of, say, half a million viewers of Slovene television, difficult for you?

LAIBACH: Television - the medium of television - is, within the industry of consciousness (in addition to the school system) the leading moulder of uniform thought processes. The television program is fundamentally centralised, with one broadcaster and a mass of receivers, while communication between them is disabled. LAIBACH is aware of the manipulative abilities of modern media instruments (and the system which connects them), so it exploits fully the repressive power of media information in its propaganda actions. In this case, the instrument is the TV screen.

Jure Pengov: So, if I understand correctly, you exploit television for your provocation; all right, so do WE! Maybe, maybe only now someone will get moving and prevent, repress these dangers, these horrible ideas and statements right here in the middle of Ljubljana.