Piše: Mitja Iršič
The Slovenian reality is similar to the Russian one. It exists in some isolated time and space, completely removed from real reality, where facts and consensus matter. We have gotten so used to it that it does not seem like anything special anymore. In Slovenia, for example, we are convinced that the Arab Spring originated as a covert operation by the Mossad and the CIA. We are convinced that the Bush administration single-handedly brought down the New York Twins. We are convinced that Yugoslavia fell apart due to a conspiracy of Western powers, who were jealous of the functioning socialist state and saw it as a nuisance (something similar was claimed by the old Slovene politician and former NLB supervisor Mateja Kožuh Novak). We perceive privatisation as a form of fascism. We are convinced that the Israelis are committing genocide against the Palestinians, and we read such articles without flinching, even on the portal of the public media. We are also convinced that Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is in fact the work of the Americans, who want to boost the production of their arms industry. Such opinions have always existed in our country. But the problem is when such opinions come up against the wall of reality abroad. The anarchist-socialist rock band Laibach from Trbovlje recently found out what happens then.
The Laibach group does not hide its flirtation with totalitarian regimes. There were rebels in the SFRY, not because they accused the communists of repression, but because they deviated too much from the path of true socialism. In North Korea, where they performed, they praised the regime of Kim Jong Un without sarcasm or artistic distance. Therefore, it is no surprise that they have also secretly sympathised with Putin’s Russia, although they will never admit it publicly.
Let us remind you that the concert of the Laibach group in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, announced for the end of March, was cancelled according to the Ukrainian concert organiser due to the protest of Ukrainians against the arrival of the Laibach group, which, as they wrote for STA, was “a consequence of the group’s misunderstanding of the reasons for our war”. The organiser of the Bel Etage Music Hall concert told STA that the Ukrainian audience believed that the Laibach band’s statements were pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian.
According to STA, Ukrainians were divided by the statements of the Laibach group that the current war is a geopolitical conflict between Russia and the USA on Ukrainian territory. The conflict is “a cynical proxy war for the geostrategic interests of the superpowers and financial capital (military industry, etc.)”, the band announced to the British The Guardian when announcing the concert.
The group’s attitudes are perceived as monstrous abroad
Such a position is normal in a country where all political and ideological strings are pulled by the penultimate president of the Central Committee of the Republic of Poland, a good friend of Putin’s who believes that Ukraine is also to blame for the war. Half of Slovenians accepted such statements as political mainstream, not realising the controversy of similar statements. The claims of the Laibach group were just a continuation of the same thought – there is no autonomy of the Ukrainians, it is only a clash of two superpowers, where Russia was “provoked” to attack due to the foolish moves of the Euro-Atlantic alliance, to expand to the east – this is what they hinted at in their note on Facebook at the start of the invasion. Such theses would garner enormous approval in Ljubljana’s pubs, where embittered Titoist old men with YPA tattoos on their shoulders sip from syringes and rave about capitalism. That is why the Trbovlje rockers were probably a little surprised that their words were perceived as monstrous abroad.
Slovenian normality is such that the United States, partially the entire Western civilisation and colonialism are to blame for all the woes in the world. These are echoes of the anti-imperialist front from 1941, which benefited both totalitarianisms – Nazi Germany and the communist Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin and his regime are the natural successors of both. Milan Kučan, Laibach, Aurelio Iuri, the nameless Delo columnists, and the protesters at the “Kučan” protest with anti-NATO banners are the product of such a mentality.
The Laibach group was clearly shocked. So much so that they even had to lie and claim that the Ukrainians asked them to declare all Russian art to be worthless – with this, of course, they wanted to play on the strings of pro-Russian Slovenia, which they knew would be disgusted by this.
The group published a long note on Facebook, which also included a paragraph: “Make no mistake – we love Russian literature, music, and art. We love Dostoyevsky, Bulgakov, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Mayakovsky, Tatlin, Rodchenko, and El Lissitzky – to name a few – and always will. But in this senseless war between Russia and Ukraine, we are wholeheartedly on the side of Ukraine and its people, who – as in the old biblical story of David and Goliath – are fighting with dignity against a stronger enemy. We mourn the innocent victims with you. We look forward to your victories with you”.
Caught in a lie
But reality hit the unfortunate group again – abroad, their lies will not be covered as gratefully as they are covered by the local STA and other Slovenian media (which is otherwise routinely done even for left-wing journalists). In a statement on Facebook, the organiser of the concert quickly denied the Laibach group’s claims that they were asked to condemn Russian art.
“Of course, I have correspondence, and everything is recorded. After their appeal to Ukrainians, in which an entire paragraph is dedicated to Russian art, no one demanded anything from them,” they explained in Kyiv. “The fact that everything Russian is poisonous to us was mentioned in the letter about cancelling the concert. In other words, no one asked for anything,” Bel Etage Music Hall wrote.
The Laibach group, caught in a lie, further explained to STA in desperation that the request for the group to declare that all Russians are bad, and that all Russian art is worthless was not expressed explicitly by the concert organiser, but their expressed affection was to some Russian artists as one of the reasons for cancelling the concert.
“Immediately after the official announcement of the concert in the Ukrainian and world media, it ended on social networks due to some of our statements and interpretations about the possible causes of the Ukrainian-Russian war, which are not fully aligned with the Ukrainian vision of things, so the promoter requested our official statement that we uncompromisingly support Ukraine in this war. We also made this statement, but we also added that this does not mean that we hate everything that is Russian, and that we still appreciate some Russian artists,” the group wrote in today’s explanation of what happened.
So suddenly they no longer claim that the Ukrainian organisers demanded that Russian art be declared worthless. STA covered for them again, saying it was a misunderstanding. However, it should be further emphasised that the Laibach group did not lie for the first time. They recently claimed that they cancelled all concerts in Russia after the start of the aggression. Which is true – but if we read their old Facebook posts, they did not do it because of the aggression itself, but because it was logistically impossible to enter Russia at the time. Cancelling the concerts was not a protest, it was a necessity. Of course, the Slovenian media did not highlight this lie either. But it does not matter now.
But the genie is already out of the bottle. Slovenia and its “culture” exposed itself to the civilised world. Our dirty family secret is out. We are anti-Western, pro-Russian moralisers, followers of conspiracy theories that the Western countries are to blame for all the woes in the world and that the expansion of NATO was a terrible mistake – regardless of the fact that the countries of the former Warsaw Pact, as well as the former Yugoslav republics, wanted to enter the union precisely as a robust protection against the Russian bear. Such a 1950s way of thinking sees the world as a duopoly, where the smaller Eastern European countries have no autonomy but must be happy under the Russian boot. And they must be happy that they were liberated by the Russians with tanks, instead of the USA with McDonalds, Starbucks and all the other vices of the capitalist world. As echoes from Ramstein’s song America – a group that is on a similar intellectual level to Laibach (somewhere on the level of the anarcho-socialist Banksy, about whom a Guardian columnist wrote that he looks extremely smart and deep – for idiots)
Such an anti-imperialist way of thinking, which was born in Vidmar’s villa in April 1941, is normal only in Slovenia, perhaps even in Serbia. When Slovenians see that the world is not on the same line of thinking as us, we are also cunning manipulators and liars. We would like to keep dark family secrets within the family, so that our Western partners would not accidentally see what is really happening in the dark socialist cellars of the family house of the Republic of Slovenia. Thank you to Laibach, Milan Kučan, Tanja Fajon, Matjaž Nemec, Milan Brglez, Irena Joveva, and Klemen Grošelj, for occasionally exposing the family secret to the European and world public and giving foreigners an insight into what we have known for a long time – that Slovenia is not any ordinary European country.