So. Here we are. The 3rd of October. The Day of German unity. It’s only fitting to do something… Symbolic here.
Let me post today’s song and image right after each other, and then explain why I chose those two for today.
This picture is part of a public steel mural hanging on the outside wall of a local credit union just a few meters away from where I currently live/reside. There are four steel plates showing Gelsenkirchen’s history from the middle ages to about 2000. This is the third plate. What it depicts should be relatively obvious.
So, the Day of German Unity. The day on which the FRG and GDR were made into one country again. … Or so we then thought and hoped. But as with many things, it wasn’t quite that easy. And the very recent federal election showed that this day is still casting deep, dark shadows upon the “unified” Germany.
But, well. The split.
World War 2. The Nazis. Death. Destruction. Genocide. Warcrimes. Industrialized murder. Firestorms.
And then today’s song.
The ever so coy Douglas Pearce. And, by extension, all the other oh so ‘playful’ NeoFolk artists who are ‘above it all’ and don’t think it “necessary” to declare what they personally think about all that dark and oh so transgressive imagery they dress their music, their lyrics and their bodies in.
Walking a very fine line between calling out all the things that led to the rise of the Nazis… And celebrating and promoting it.
The Goth scene and the NeoFolk movement are inexorably linked. Well, perhaps not these days, as both have moved on. But in the 1990s and 2000s? The lines were very blurred. And at times, it was somewhat dangerous.
The rise of the Völkische right-wing, especially in Germany, who are now forming the intellectual and financial spine of the AfD and similar monstrosities, can look at several strains of NeoFolk as their origins. And their nurturing parents.
Ever so slick, ever so courteous, ever so well-read and well-spoken. Ever so impeccably dressed. Ever so /sharp/. That was the typical NeoFolker in those days. And all too often they would turn out to be akin to the Christian Seducing Serpent, putting poison and lies into the minds of people easily swayed and seduced.
While, generally, the local goth scene managed to get through it and remain decidedly anti-Nazi and anti-right-wing, it was not a foregone conclusion. It took organized community effort to combat those ideas.
And it seems that not all sub-cultures, not all mainstream cultures and, most decidedly, not all political and cultural leaders took this effort as seriously as it should have been taken.
The 3rd of October. The Day of German Unity.
This year celebrated in a deeply divided nation.
And find those division across almost all democratic nations.
Never become complacent.
Never stop teaching.
Never stop fighting.
The mistakes and horrors of the past shall never be repeated.
Don’t let yourselves be swayed by emotive language, powerful images and seductively easily answers to hard problems.
Enjoy NeoFolk, by all means. But never, EVER, stop thinking about the horrors those artists harken back to so easily, so carelessly in such highly romanticized words. Always ask yourself if they try to point out the dangers of being seduced by evil thoughts, or if they try to seduce you into falling prey to such a set of evil thoughts by painting the picture of a past they so often describe “better”, “more honourable”, “firmer”, “more decent” and “lost because through treachery”. Even when it never was anything but.