Libertarian Themes in Music: Escape, by Metallica

This is the first post in what I hope to be a many-post series about libertarian themes in music.  Most of them happen to be metal or alternative rock songs, as those genres stress the power of the individual. The first song I have to disect is Escape, by Metallica, written by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett.  The lyrics are listed below, and are from sing365.com, and my analysis follows.

Feel no pain, but my life ain’t easy
I know I’m my best friend
No one cares, but I’m so much stronger
I’ll fight until the end

To escape from the true false world
Undamaged destiny
Can’t get caught in the endless circle
Ring of stupidity 

[chorus:]
Out for my own, out to be free
One with my mind, they just can’t see
No need to hear things that they say
Life’s for my own to live my own way

Rape my mind and destroy my feelings
Don’t tell me what to do
I don’t care now, ’cause I’m on my side
And I can see through you
Feed my brain with your so called standards
Who says that I ain’t right
Break away from your common fashion
See through your blurry sight

[chorus]

See them try to bring the hammer down
No damn chains can hold me to the ground

Life’s for my own to live my own way

——-

“To escape from the true false world” could refer to the world we live in where “truth is treason in an empire of lies,” where what is perceived by the majority of the people as true is false, lies being fed to them in school or by the media that props up the immoral and corrupt government the country is saddled with. To me this represents a longing for knowledge, the truth, and all logic and rationality that is possible. Seeking the truth at all times, aspiring to know as much as I can, even if I have to take the longest routes to get to it.  “Escape” is defined by freedictionary.com as the following:  “To break loose from confinement; get free.”  In a sense, many are confined in the left/right paradigm and to conventional ideas of politics and economics; either supply or demand side, both which have a degree of government intervention, something I oppose.  It can be argued that the left/right paradigm, and other phenomena of modern society, do confine people, in that both left and right have the same destination, they just go down different paths to get to it, yet the people believe in the illusion, much like a hiker lost in the desert that thinks he sees an oasis that is merely a mirage.

“Can’t get caught in the endless circle/ Ring of stupidity” represents the world we live in where people perceive what they are doing as the actions of free people. “Endless circle” represents life as a hamster wheel, just running and getting absolutely nowhere.  As a political activist and a rational thinker, I try to make decisions based on the path that is the most profitable or most probable to improve my life.  Some just graduate from high school and quit at that point, refusing to continue their education, whether it would have been college or a trade.  Unfortunately, I know many like this who have chosen a life of the status quo over a better life. That is how this lyric can also be interpreted as choosing to live a better life by doing things on your own terms. 

“Out for my own, out to be free/ One with my mind, they just can’t see” represents how one can live only for themselves and their family, quite a rebellious act in the eyes of modern society, where welfare and government entitlements are perceived as “humanitarianism” by many misguided people.  “One with my mind, they just can’t see” represents to me the resentments many people have about libertarian thought.  They wonder how I can be so “heartless,” “isolationist,” and “greedy.”  They just cannot see how I think in terms of politics and economics.  It does not register in their mind that my views are based on the most rational thinking, as perceived by me.  It is foreign to them, as they have grown up with the left/right paradigm that I mentioned earlier.

“No need to hear things that they say/ Life’s for my own to live my own way” represents a person’s willingness to live their life, and not be swayed by society. “No need to hear things that they say” was the story of my life in highschool when I had classes called Social Justice and Economics and Personal Finance.  I had already done my research on these topics before I took the classes and had my mind made up:  I was not going to become a stepping stone for the Catholic Church’s social teaching or the Keynesian School.  What I learned in these classes only emboldened my views on private sector charity and Austrian economics.  I also routinely engaged in debates with the teachers of these courses, and it often led to bettering my understanding of my views, so it was not all bad.  “Life’s for my own to live my own way” represents someone who does not care what other people think about them or their lives, and does not let it get to them.  It clearly speaks to the individual in me, which is why I am so drawn to it.

“Rape my mind and destroy my feelings/ Don’t tell me what to do” represents the constant pounding of lies and falsehoods fed to many and some who believe it. Yet, I have become one to be able to shrug that off and learn to ignore it. “Don’t tell me what to do” is pretty obvious.  Do not try to make rules for me to follow, because I will not, and you most likely will not like that, but I do not care and will live my life as I see fit.

“I don’t care now, ’cause I’m on my side/ And I can see through you” represents where people finally cease caring what others/the government think about what they want to do. “And I can see through you” represents the reason why they cease to care- because the reasons they do are not reasonable or “for the greater good”, but merely to gain more control and force more to be dependent on government services.  Examples of this include hindering private charity to increase the numbers on the welfare/food stamp rolls, banning handguns to take the object of last resort out of the hands of the people as well as forcing them to “depend” on the police of said jurisdiction, and one of the most blatant forms: inflating the monetary supply to supposedly jumpstart the economy.

“Feed my brain with your so called standards/ Who says that I ain’t right” represents government schooling/teaching standards and the isolation of anyone who dares to speak out against what is taught in the classroom.  “Who says that I ain’t right” represents the fact that Austrian economics and the libertarian political theory has never legitimately been challenged, and are often just brushed aside and viewed as fringe standpoints supported by big business and misanthropes.        “Break away from your common fashion/ See through your blurry sight” represents a call for people to leave the flock, to do their own thing.  It is a calling for the people listening to the song to change, experience the epiphany that turns them into individuals as opposed to generic people who follow trends.  “Common fashion” represents the way people have always done things, and a call to break away from it shows that there is an alternative to take, a different way to live life.   “Blurry sight” can be interpreted as the left/right paradigm so many are trapped in, to have clear sight is to be able to see things for what they are.

“See them try to bring the hammer down/ No damn chains can hold me to the ground” represents how society tries to either ignore, insult, or at drastic levels- even take aggression upon those who just want to live their lives in peace without fear of government interference.  “No damned chains can hold me to the ground” represents a freedom of soul and mind.  The chains are not necessarily physical, but many have psychological and mental chains; the goal is to overlook them and escape. 

“Life’s for my own to live my own way” the song ends with this chorus, a final message of defiance. The song summed up?  This is my life.  I am going to live it on my own terms and will not believe what you tell me, nor will I live by your conventions. I am much stronger as an individual than you will ever be. I oppose any law or hindrance you will put on me, as I see they lack  and will engage in civil disobedience if I must.  I call on you to take up this lifestyle as well, but I will not force it upon you.

Metallica has many other songs along the lines of this, and in the coming weeks, I will be posting more “Libertarian Themes In Music” posts.  Check back regularly!

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