By Ian Parker. Originally published on Open Democracy. The attempts to escape the nightmare of Stalinism provoke false fantasy alternatives, of vacuous democratic participation or individual freedom. NSK works through elements of the revolution betrayed, and in the process, instills anxiety about what is real, and about what must be given up.
SPECTRE, Laibach’s new album, has recently been released. This event raises once again questions about the political interventions of the band and its cultural-political host for many years, Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). Both aim to produce anxiety, forcing the audience to work through that for themselves, and they conceptualise their work using psychoanalytic theory. But now there is a contradiction, between the ostensibly post-political sensibility of many NSK fans and the explicit connection Laibach now make with politics. First we look at the political interventions made by NSK, and focus on the way their project to embed resistance in the heart of power signifies in different cultural contexts. There is a question here of the actual interventions at a time when Yugoslavia occupied an ambiguous and contested place in the imagination of the left, and then the question of the retroactive effects of those interventions at a time when neoliberal capitalism is rampant and every socialist alternative is mocked by the right.