I was a Teenage Anarcho-Capitalist

Since I was old enough to have political opinions, I’ve always been pretty socially liberal. My dad was a bit of a biker type, and my mom was kind of a hippie, and for the most part they espoused the old “live and let live” philosophy. I learned to value genuineness and self-expression, and maybe even a bit of non-conformity and anti-authoritarianism. But like a lot of working middle-class folks, they bought into the old quasi-Biblical platitudes like “you don’t work, you don’t eat” and “God helps those who help themselves” (although my mother would’ve been quick to point out while she found the second one theologically sound it’s not a phrase that’s actually found in the Bible). I think most people’s initial political stances are are shaped heavily by their parents, and I was no different. As a fledgling voter in 00’s America, I identified most as a Libertarian – socially liberal, economically conservative – small government, personal responsibility, and free markets.

In an episode of the sitcom Shameless, character Lip Gallagher posits “every Libertarian is born on third base and thinks he hit a triple“. I’m not a big baseball fan, but I know enough about it to understand the sentiment. Most people know hitting a home run is when you’re able to round all the bases off one hit – a triple is just short of that – you stop on third base instead of continuing on to home. A runner on third base is most of the way to scoring already – the run isn’t guaranteed, they may still get tagged out heading for home – but they’ve got better chances and less work ahead of them than a guy that’s fresh up to bat.

It’s a poignant metaphor and its history goes back further than Lip Gallagher, even though the writers of Shameless seem to be the first to tie it to Libertarians in general rather than specific, individual people of privilege (previously it’s been leveled against George Bush, Sr. and Jr., for instance). The idea is that it’s hypocritical for a person that was born with advantages to take all the credit for their own accomplishments. If you were “born on third”, you had a lot less ground to cover than a guy that had to hit his own triple. It doesn’t mean you didn’t still face the risk of failure, and it doesn’t mean you didn’t have to run as hard as you could if you wanted to score, but the odds of your success were a lot more favorable. And the unfortunate truth is that a lot of people that have those kind of advantages are blind to them – they do think they hit their own triple.

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Never Forget

In 1970, if you heard an anti-war song, I’d imagine it was an entirely reasonable assumption that it was a Vietnam protest song. There were enough of them to go around, and many of your most revered anthems by prolific songwriters of the era drew inspiration from speaking out against what they felt was an unjustifiable war.

Despite that, members of Black Sabbath have stated “War Pigs” actually wasn’t a Vietnam protest song. Bill Ward claims the band was anti-Vietnam, but Ozzy Osbourne has been quoted as saying they really didn’t know anything about Vietnam at all. Rather, “War Pigs” was a song about the horrors of war in general. Anti-Vietnam, sure, but generally, not specifically. Instead, the War Pigs were fictitious, archetypal evil minds that plot destruction – not just in 1970, but throughout humanity’s history. Given that Black Sabbath generally writes about fantasy, mythology, and sci-fi, rarely venturing into politics, I’m inclined to believe it – “War Pigs” was a fiction, maybe inspired by current events surrounding Vietnam, but not about it specifically.

When I covered “War Pigs”, I wanted to release it as an EP with something original along the same lines. I wrote about a near-future dystopia. One where a country is embroiled in endless wars for profit, and raises up generation after generation of youth to fight in them. They maintain the illusion of choice, of voluntary service; but through propaganda, social engineering, and economic manipulation, they plan children’s whole developmental process around making good soldiers, and give all but the most privileged of young people few other realistic choices. An America where our schools focus more on teaching obedience and tribalist loyalty than academics. An America where a living wage, education, and healthcare are inaccessible unless you enlist. An America where we sell our kids on the idea that going to war is the most noble choice a person can make, but minimize the risks and long-term effects, and then neglect them and deny them care when they come home physically wounded or emotionally traumatized.

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