The Antifascist Neofolk Manifesto

This is a write up on some points that came together in discussion with other people in the antifascist neofolk music community and intended to help build an intentional vision of what this emerging music trend can be. It is by no means owned by me or a static document, but ideas about what can be in this new terrain.

  1. Fascism has no claim on neofolk, or any other art form, and its history in the development of the genre gives it no natural right to it. Fascism is a manipulation of the impulses towards romanticism, utopian idealism, and the revolutionary spirit to build a new world. It destroys these impulses rather than preserves them, and so antifascist neofolk is the effort to reclaim this spirit.
  2. Neofolk is a romantic artform built on reconsidering the past in its complexity. Fascist ideologies embedded themselves in this music to fetishize a palingenetic ultranationalism vision of a mythic past, one that is used to create a spiritual and emotional motivation for insurgent nationalism. Antifascist neofolk takes a critical examination of the history of art and culture, reconsidering paganism, ecological sustainability, and resistance to colonial oppression as an inspiration. It looks to the past to inform the struggle against hierarchy and white supremacy, returning these ideas as a memory that can inform our vision of the future. We hope to preserve the beautiful aspects and look realistically at the problematic histories, refusing to ignore the histories of oppression and instead create a historical memory that can aid in our vision for a just and equitable future.
  3. The left deserves a self-conscious romantic art form of its own, one that visions the possibility of a new world founded on justice, equality, and freedom. As such we believe that scientific and legalistic thinking alone cannot feed a revolutionary movement, and instead we need the space to dream. Antifascist and revolutionary neofolk, like other art movements, is intentionally building that space, feeding passion, fantasy, and spirit into the movement to change the world and unite against white supremacy.
  4. Neofolk draws on the aesthetics of past generations recast into a modern form, and in that way we can build a uniquely modern sensibility from the myriad of folk art forms. The continuation of folk traditions is a form of cultural struggle against colonialism, from the heathen spiritual and musical traditions fighting Christianization to the battle to maintain indigenous languages against forced colonial assimilation to the reclamation of African history in communities robbed of their ancestral memory. Neofolk draws on this struggle, not as a reactionary form of identitarian nationalism, but as the organic culture that resists domination and persists in its beautiful diversity.
  5. Antifascist neofolk is simultaneously international and cosmopolitan, refusing the idea that nationalism is necessary to maintain the richness of cultural diversity. While neofolk is often seen as the revival of folk music traditions in Europe, antifascist neofolk necessarily needs to shed this Eurocentric point of view and bring connections with artists from around the world that draw on a range of traditions. We oppose tribalism and offer diversity, solidarity, and mutual aid as the alternative.
  6. Antifascist neofolk is not simply a subgenre of politically motivated neofolk bands, but a new standard being established. Neofolk has a history of fascist artists developing this scene as a place to build metapolitics that lead to political organization, and so even among non-political bands there has been a culture of complicity. Antifascist neofolk artists and fans are establishing new metric for what is acceptable, one that disallows this sort of passive stance and is enforcing an ethical framework that refuses white supremacy any form of platform.
  7. Antifascist neofolk is an organizing strategy, one that sees neofolk as a “contested space” where fascists are trying to build an intentional subculture. We believe that white supremacists and fascists have no legitimate claim to any social or cultural space, and that includes neofolk. Left to its own, neofolk becomes the perfect avenue for fascist recruitment because they have captive access to fans of the music who are yearning for a new world. Instead, we see this as a place of struggle, where antifascist musicians and fans will use this musical framework to push back on fascists from inside the music scene and disallow their presence. Music venues, record labels, publications, and all areas where neofolk is present then becomes this contested ground where antifascist neofolk fans, who are legitimate parts of the musical community, will push back on any complicity with fascist artists or movements. Just as in Oi!, street punk, black metal, and other musical movements that the far-right tried to stake a claim on, we believe that neofolk is worth fighting for and will push them out at every opportunity.
  8. Antifascist neofolk should create a confederation of musicians and labels that will help build a scene that runs counter to the far-right trend. By intentionally creating an antifascist neofolk community it will create a positive option for musicians and break the ideological hegemony that the far-right has tried to impose on neofolk. Before a counter-culture was available, the far-right had the ability to set the terms in the scene, forcing bands to conform or die. Now there is a counter-narrative that highlights the reality of the fascist presence in neofolk and shows that an alternative is possible and available.
  9. We believe in prefiguring the antifascist neofolk community. While antifascist neofolk bands existed all across the world, we are building the scene intentionally before it had formed organically. By determining what kind of musical scene we want as fans and musicians, we are projecting that vision into the world. We wanted there to be an antifascist and revolutionary neofolk scene, and so we gave it a name and started building it rather than waiting for it to appear on its own.
  10. Antifascist neofolk is only a stop over on our way to the real goal: to eliminate the fascist presence in neofolk and shift the values to egalitarianism and anti-racism. In the vision of future neofolk, there is no reason for the distinction, and so we are not satisfied to be an eternal subculture. We intend to take the entire thing over.

4 thoughts on “The Antifascist Neofolk Manifesto”

  1. Thank you for developing this excellent resource and movement. I love neofolk, and the amount of research into bands before getting too attached can become exhausting. Especially now, it is crucial as listeners to do due diligence, and for bands to state their position clearly.


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