There is libertarianism — with its debatable scope and definitions and borders — and then there is parody libertarianism, that is, the one where every business person is dubbed heroic, no matter how cronyistic they may be, and of course, where the Little Guy is squashed daily beneath the mighty, faceless feet of Making Money because no one cares; and so Government is Necessary.
Apropos of that inaccurate impression, those on the moderate left — the guiltiest when it comes to repeating it as gospel — should consider the following story.
The Mayor’s office of Green Bay, Wisconsin recently sent Catholic homeless shelter St. John the Evangelist a letter that says by allowing “too many people to stay at its overnight shelter” St. John is violating the terms of their building permit (they debate this).
The reason for the shelter’s sudden upswing in homeless people might just be that it’s December and December is cold. In fact, the shelter is only open in cold weather and is intended to be an emergency location for people who don’t have anywhere else to go. Nevertheless, as reported in this local Fox affiliate, the charity’s building is permitted to house 64 people, and 64 people it shall house and no more.
Libertarians are on occasion accused of trying to steal entertainment for their own ends. From The Hunger Games to Shindler’s List to just every dystopian tale of government run amok, sometimes folks — sometimes even other libertarians! — think we’re trying too hard to stick politics into pop culture where it just doesn’t belong.
But music is a big deal to people, almost as much so as political philosophy. Yet, if you want to put the two together for a soundtrack to state smashing, your choices are limited. You can either have to pick unsubtle, sugary-sweet ballads about Ron Paul, or you can have punk odes to leftist utopias or country odes to righteous warfare.
Or, you can always pretend Objectivism is the same as libertarianism and go listen to some Rush.
But let’s get a little looser with the definitions. Maybe whatever song makes you feel like smashing the state in whatever way you do everyday, maybe that counts.
So here is my short list of some of my favorite songs, none of which were written by anyone who has ever read any Mises (I assume), and definitely none of which are rap battles
between Hayek and Keynes. But that’s okay, damn it. You don’t need it to contain lessons in sound monetary policy to feel like a song speaks to something libertarian.
- “Suspect Device” by Stiff Little Fingers; sample lyrics to sing loudly, but extra loudly during G-20 or other jackbooted thuggery life moments are “they take away our freedom/in the name of liberty/why can’t they all just clear off/why can’t they let us be? they make us feel indebted/for saving us from hell/and then they put us through it/ it’s time the baaaaaaaaaastards fell”
- “Riot Squad” by Cock Sparrer; “he’s in the riot squad/the shoot on sight squad”. Not so nice to the police.
- “Ain’t No Nobody’s Business If I Do” sung by Bessie Smith (and other folks); it’s pretty libertarian: “If I should take a notion, to jump into the ocean/Ain’t nobody’s business if I do.” Hell, it was even borrowed for the title of a book.
- “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle; libertarian fantasy lyrics we shouldn’t admit: “now the DEA’s got a chopper in the air/I wake up screaming like I’m still over there/I learned a thing or two from Charlie don’t you know/you better stay away from Copperhead road”
- “Ain’t It Enough” by Old Crow Medicine Show; if only for “let the prison walls crumble and the borders all tumble”
- “See How We Are” by X; for “there are men lost in jail/crowded 50 to a room” and other problems of prison lyrics.
- “Ruby Ridge” by Peter Rowan; non-racist, non-heavy-handed look at that real human tragedy; “I got a wife and kids on Ruby Ridge/ please don’t shoot me down”
- “For An Old Kentucky Anarchist” by Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew and The Orphans; Just… do your own thing: “I never cared much for any government/ I got my Jesus for me when the time is right”
- “Fuck Tha Police” by NWA; shame about the sexism and homophobia, but: “searchin’ my car/lookin’ for the product/Thinkin’ every nigga is sellin’ narcotics” gets to the heart of what keeps lots of libertarians up late nights.
- “Washington Bullets” by The Clash; it scorns the U.S. and wretched lefty regimes with “N’ if you can find a Afghan rebel/That the Moscow bullets missed/Ask him what he thinks of voting Communist/Ask the Dalai Lama in the hills of Tibet/How many monks did the Chinese get?” [Keep reading…]