Saturday, July 18, 2009

Industrial morality: a contradiction in terms?

How can anyone involved in industrial music criticise its worst excesses and abuses? The genre was in large part based on the expression of ambivalence, disgust, social tension, and the systematic violation of repressive taboos. Industrial music that does not generate some form of unease or ambivalence, even among its core audience, is simply another form of electronic sound. That we should have reservations about it is essential to its effectiveness and in this context Laibach's statement, "In art morality is nonsense; in practice it is immoral; in people it is a sickness.", is particularly relevant.

Once we accept the value or significance of industrial it is already ridiculous to speak in terms of "morality" in the usual banal sense. If we allowed morality to dictate our aesthetic preferences we would not be following or accepting the existence of industrial culture in the first place. Moreover, a society governed by mainstream morality would be as totalitarian as one governed by the agendas of some openly Fascist industrial groups. So in the context of industrial culture morality is certainly a "nonsense", or at least it is faintly ridiculous to invoke it.

Just as we cannot easily speak of morality in the industrial context, neither can we talk credibly about the “corruption” or “perversion” of a genre that departs from an acceptance or diagnosis of corruption. However, some of us now believe that we can speak about the attempted appropriation and political normalisation of industrial culture by forces that are ultimately as conservative and censorious as the liberal mainstream that industrial producers and listeners find to be so oppressive.

With these issues in mind we want to start a debate to explore some of the questions often posed of industrial and its listeners:

How do you reconcile buying music by or attending shows by acts whose politics you despise but whose aesthetics interest you?

How do you explain to those outside the scene that aesthetic identification or appreciation is not always the same as political identification?

Do you still listen to such acts but refuse to buy their music or watch their shows? Which ones?

Are thre any acts you boycott completely on political grounds? Which ones?

At a time when acts from industrial and related genres as well as their fans remain subject to violent hostility we believe that discussing these issues openly will make a valuable contribution to the debate.

Please add your comments here (bear in mind that for obvious reasons comments are moderated, they will appear here as soon as they are processed...)

Alexei Monroe/ICRN.

1 comment:

mutazione urbana said...

Hello Alexei,

very interesting this discussion about "industrial morality".
I agree with the Laibach statement: "in art morality is nonsense; in practice it is immoral; in people it is a sickness."
We saw often in the noise-industrial scene, groups referring to fascist-nazi imagery.
I think everyone should try to find out,i.e. researching on the internet or reading interviews etc.,how deep are these people dealing(or involved)with such political ideology.
I think many bands use this as a "shock tactics" like some early acts:Throbbing Gristle or Spk, but of course especially referring to German bands this right wing attitude is considered a taboo especially thinking back at the history of this country.
It is really annoying in fact listening to bands that are using always such hitler speech sampling or similar..
Personally I dislike bands that are using too many "white power" statements.
I've been to gigs of bands such as:
Death in June, Ex Order, MZ412,Boyd Rice,etc. and actually in the crowd I saw some typical right wing people but also some other ordinary people.
I think it's interesting to read a book about this topic(pity it's only written in german):
"Ă„sthetic Mobilisation – Dark Wave, Neofolk and Industrial under pressure of rightwing ideologies”
you can find a review on:
some more infos also on:,2,5,5.html
Like in your discussion:"we cannot easily speak of morality in the industrial context, neither can we talk credibly about the “corruption” or “perversion”.