So it's the 40th anniversary of the Tate- LaBianca slayings, Lynette Fromme is about to be paroled and Bobby Beausoleil’s incredible soundtrack for Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising has finally been given a worthy reissue.
I don’t think Charles Manson is ‘cool’, but nor do I have a particularly adverse reaction to him either. I think the “Charlie is awesome” brigade (maybe they’re slightly less visible than they once were though?) and the “Manson is the most evil serial killer ever” people in the other corner basically display the same inability to process the information available and both sets turn to reactionary knee jerk responses.
Manson related iconography can be found to some degree in most Blockade releases, several of our songs and a number of our shirt images (and Susan Atkins in the Survivalist banner at the top of this page). I’ve brought up Manson in a two band interviews in the last few years and rather than repeat myself I’ll just republish my answers again:
What's this obsession you have with Ulrike Meinhof? You have herpicture on your webspace and one of your songs' is named after herbrain. How do you feel about RAF and militant struggle in general?
The song "Ulrike Meinhof's Brain" is about how after her death in 1976 herbrain went missing after her body was unofficially exhumed. In 2002Magdeburg University admitted they had been studying her brain to see if theremoval of a tumour in childhood had caused abnormal brain development andleft to the development of her terrorist activities.
One of the more interesting things about the RAF is when you compare theGerman government's treatment of Nazi war criminal's post WWII with thetreatment of RAF members.
Most Nazis tried in Germany by German courts weregranted amnesty during the 1950s whereas surviving RAF members received muchlonger sentences and many of them are still behind bars to this day. Now, I wouldn't be ascrass as to suggest that the German government is favourable to the Naziparty but it is telling that crimes committed in the name of the State(though a State since overturned) are dealt with less harshly than crimescommitted against the State.
Militant struggles in general are of broad interest to me, just as militantposturing in general is of broad interest to me. My interest is in the pointwhen militancy leaves the realm of ideas and manifests into action, whether I can agree on a moral level or not. Some examples would be SozialistischesPatientenkollektiv, Shining Path, Khmer Rouge, various Volkish groups,Black September, The Angry Brigade, Aum Shinrikyo / Aleph and many many more.
I guess a classic demonstration of my interest would be The Manson Family; from a heavily institutionalised ex-convict picking up the dregs of thehippy movement (already long in decline when Manson arrived on the scene) tobutchering families and hiding out in Death Valley trying to find a hole inthe Earth that would lead them to an underground kingdom.
My interest is not in death and murder per se but in the process that people go through to makethat decision that terror and violence are the only options for them to engage in.
I'd also like to make it clear that I only have a passing prurient interest in most serial killers. It's the ideological aspect of violence that I’minterested in, not random slaughter.
-It’s More Than Music, 2007
Should radical groupations such as "the family", "aum shinrikyo", and others who strive for their goal even though they are swimming against the current be considered heroes of our time? I'm not emphasizing the shock effect of their actions, but the driving force and the extreme willpower. Defying the modern society in a very explicit way is something that is worthy of respect in my book.
These people aren’t heroes. Bombing a subway with nerve gas, I’m sorry but I’m just not really into that. It stems back to my yes/ no on the death penalty; who the hell has the right to decide that complete strangers need to be put to death for a cause?
Personally I’m not into idolising transgressive actions simply because they’re transgressive. If you get into that game you might as well put up shrines to all the paedophiles, shit eaters and dog fuckers that are out there because they’re also following their desires and goals to the extreme.
If someone wants to nail their dick to a plank of wood because they think they’re bringing back some ancient shamanistic practice that mankind lost a long time ago, go for it, just don’t expect me to care. I hate self proclaimed transgressive cultural terrorist idiots.
So that’s where I stand on supporting people who undertake these activities because of their inner force.
However, this is not simply an open and shut thought in my mind. Sure, I don’t consider these people heroes by any stretch of the imagination but they do fulfil a massively valuable function over and above merely being viewed as society’s pariahs.
I’m an unapologetic misanthropist; people generally make my skin crawl. In groups they’re stupid and obnoxious and many people deserve all the misery they get. Conversely however I’m still an idealist; I want to live in a better world, mostly for me, but sure, might as well make everyone else happy whilst you’re at it. I’m also not really into blatant injustices and people fucking other people over. I shouldn’t care, but for some reason I do. My politics can be boiled down to the radical notion (sarcasm fully intended) that people should basically leave each other the hell alone.
So, when you combine idealism, ideology and violence my interest is piqued. And it’s piqued because it’s symbolism I can put into my daily life. I’m not some retarded Manson worshipping fan boy, but give me an image of Leslie Van Houten or Lynette Fromme and I’ll turn them into my own personal avatars of revenge, my own guardian angels of fucking shit up.
We all need to pray to things and for things, whether it’s to Discharge, Jesus or whatever. Fuck, give me Abraxas; I’ll pray to Him when I need to. I’ll make Ulrike Meinhof my Saint of Justice. I’ll make Jim Jones a facet of my alter ego when I feel utter alienation from everyone around me: “If we can't live in peace then let’s die in peace. We are not committing suicide-it’s a revolutionary act”.
Lets give ourselves new rallying crys, new credos, new avatars because the old standards are almost completely irrelevant. “Throw out Christ, bring back Thor” as Boyd Rice said.
Fetishising (in the truest meaning of the word) death and pain and in my case people like Baader Meinhof, Aum Shinrikyo and the Symbioses Liberation Army is exactly the same as other people reading romantic novels, listening to love songs and buying kitten calendars. A million tired songs about death and violence has the same root as a million tired songs about love. The world is often a cold and unforgiving place; we make our peace with loneliness through idealised romance. We make our peace with death and our acceptance of the complete and utter entropy of the human race through idealised gore and violence. Barbara Cartland and Peter Sotos are the exact same things. Barry White and XXX Maniak are the exact same things.
On a different note, the violence of The Manson Family and of Baader Meinhof and their ilk is committed in the way it’s committed because of the belief that spectacular violence will bring about real change. This is a totally modern concept, one of the few we really have in this world. Guy DeBord was really on to something. The Spectacle is everything. Even in destroying The Spectacle we participate in defining The Spectacle.
And finally, let’s not forget that other than Charles Manson, most of The Family were actually children. Fucked up street kids on the whole and you know, if you’re going to be a weird drop out that hates your life you may as well kill movie starlets and low rent Hollywood drug dealers, point loaded guns at U.S. presidents and make some kind of a statement bar “spare some change” even if it is slightly garbled.
- Freak Power, interview conducted 2007, currently unpublished
As for Manson himself, well, he’s never getting out of jail and it’s probably for the best. We’re talking about a man who’s spent around 10% of his entire life outside the confines of institutions.
Of course it depends on your own perceptions of the world and if anything he quickly says before moving on to the next point hits your own reality models.
All The Way Alive.