“Die Liebe ist die größte Kraft. Die Liebe, die alles schafft.” [Love is the greatest force. Love, the universal source.] These lines were sung by art collective Laibach during the mid-1980s. They came embedded in the hard, dark arrangements so typical of these musicians, performed as part of a militaristic stage show that flirted with fascist political aesthetics. It was not a classic love song—that was clear right away. In fact, it was commonly thought to be more about love’s destructive power, and this impression was reinforced by the group’s concert performances.

The most dastardly deeds are indeed done for love, as a quick look through the history of crime will teach us. And it was for love that the most famous characters in world literature committed treason, sins, and murder. Shakespeare’s entire body of works is full of it. Love can also quickly morph into fanaticism, and fanaticism into insanity. So love actually has quite a bit to answer for. It’s also used to justify acts that, upon closer inspection, may actually have entirely different causes: greed, jealousy, the lust for power … but also ambition, cowardice, and selfishness.

Those who claim to act out of love take the object of said love hostage. And they reject responsibility for their own deeds by singling out a seemingly higher power to which they were supposedly compelled to submit. Crusaders of the heart. Those who love are at love’s mercy—as the schlager numbers playing on jukeboxes in small town taverns never tire of explaining to us. What’s more, lovers are always crazy—though some were crazy to begin with. Those who sacrifice themselves for love should ask themselves whether the ones they love would approve of said sacrifice and whether the willingness to sacrifice themselves might in fact have other causes. Whether it might not simply be practical to use the other as an excuse, to seemingly escape one’s own self-responsibility, as if acting at another’s command, as if simply obeying, without a will of one’s own. To deny all this, to blame it all on love … love doesn’t deserve that.

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