It’s probably best to address the elephant in the room firstly. I really don’t know if DEATH IN JUNE is a White Power band. That’s one of the first things that comes up when you do a Google search on this English neo-folk band, who has been around in various incarnations for over four decades now. Douglas P has certainly painted a thematic portrait around himself over the years, with a steady connection to National Socialist and otherwise uber-Right imagery. If he’s not condoning it then he’s certainly been stubborn about sticking to the shock affect. He’s never quite come out and said it, but it’s always been there, to a much greater degree than any of the otherwise apolitical punks that sported swastikas or SS emblems. I always felt that despite being tasteless, most of the punks wore it as a kind of Mark of Cain, a kind of self-exile. Death In June takes it beyond that in a way that I’m not exactly comfortable with. I do understand the fascination with the imagery. My generation grew up in the shadow of the Second World War and despite that the US had already moved on to several other horrific conflicts, Adolph Hitler was part of the daily discourse. He was the bogeyman invoked daily as the horror to end all horrors. For every tragic image of Vietnamese children burned by napalm there were ten references to Nazi Germany. Maybe it’s that most people were still chilled by the idea that another world war was more than just a possibility, but that it would be worse than the last one. Maybe surrounding oneself with the imagery, which is still very striking, was a means of nullifying the sense of danger? I don’t know.
Maybe Douglas P is just a fucking creep. He is a talented fucking creep though and the music is a ready testament to his talent. It’s also got all the darkness of early Joy Division and beyond, and it’s as close as you’ll get to punk rock/post-punk with acoustic guitars. It’s chilling, post-apocalyptic cafe music.
And just to make it perfectly clear to anyone that comes across this, I am rabidly anti-racist and anti-fascist. Feel free to ask me what that means but it’s not virtue signaling from my side. If you don’t believe me, fuck around and find out, okay. Fuck around and find out.
The allure of fascism in a world where so many people are grasping desperately for moral, political and ideological certainty doesn’t surprise me. It removes the exhausting struggle of determining right from wrong, for some people. It’s more akin to religion than to political ideology and again… moral absolutism is intoxicating for those fearful of their own worst instincts (and the instincts of others). It’s a security blanket for the tragically insecure. That people are drawn to it doesn’t surprise me. Our grandparents witnessed horror in their lifetimes. The fear was passed down to us and where we couldn’t see it with our own eyes anymore, our imaginations took over from there. Im not making excuse for it. Quite the opposite. It’s as tragic and horrifying as childhood cancer but more deadly because it’s contagious. There is no cure for mass hysteria, and the fatality rate is staggering. It’s the zombie apocalypse. Shoot the infected in the head.
And that makes me sound just as crazy, right? It’s just frightening how this stuff manifests.
It’s hard to tell from the music where Douglas P. stands. It probably doesn’t matter. The music is interesting though. It’s not likely to convert or transform anyone to an ideology they haven’t already adopted. It begs the question though, if these were paintings, would creating them be considered propaganda, or merely representations of a part of the world we would rather not look at? In this case I would lean toward the latter.