Confessions of a libertarian Goth

I’m going to ramble here a bit.

When I first started exploring Goth subculture I saw posts that said that Goths come from all walks of life and all political persuasions.  However, in my own experience I’ve seen more of a left-wing bent.  One link I found (not going to link to it) that purported in a forum to be to “right-wing goths” and had an appropriate sounding URL but led to a porn site.  Apparently the poster thought that was a prank worthy of a giggle.  I supposed a kinder interpretation might be that the registration on an old domain had expired and a porn site had bought it up invalidating the old link.

In either case, it wasn’t what I was looking for.

To be honest, I tend to be pretty much a loner as a Goth.  In the city in which I live there is exactly one “Goth Club” and even that is just one night a week at a club that serves other segments of the community the rest of the week.  And since I’m older (and need my recovery time) and have to go to work in the mornings, staying out late to party on a weeknight just doesn’t work.

Maybe “Goth-lite” or “Entry-Level-Goth” is a better description for me.  I tried the “Cowboy Goth” look for a while, but in the end it didn’t suit.  Recently I’ve decided that, since my religion of choice is Asatru, I should see if I could create “Viking Goth” as a look.  My results have been mixed.  I’d love to say that adding a sword or an axe to an outfit is always appropriate, it can be a problem when having to deal with mundanes.

Let me give you a little bit of my background as it relates to being a “libertarian Goth”.

When I was a child, for a long time, black was my favorite color.  This really wasn’t a Goth thing.  It was late 60’s.  This was before Punk was even a thing, let alone the various post-punk movements which included Dark Wave and Goth.  Still, when you add in that my household were big fans of the original run of Dark Shadows, it was perhaps a sign of things to come.

Time passed, and I just missed the early days of the Goth movement in England in the mid-80’s.  I mean just missed it.  You see, I was in the Air Force at the time and stationed in England from 1983-1985.  I’d finished training and, well, I’d started buying clothes for off-duty wear.  Looking back those clothes were pushing in the direction of what could now be called “trad-goth”.  Being in the military there were limits on what I could do with hair and piercings were right out.  Being a man in the military with even simple lobe piercings is a great deal of trouble.  However, I was moving in that direction.  Then someone took me aside and “explained” that if I wanted to be attractive to young women I needed to start wearing bright colors and that my darker ensembles were a put-off.

Being irredeemably heterosexual I took this advice to heart.

It didn’t work.

Still, the habits stuck for a long, long time.  I slipped into uncomfortable mundanity. (I don’t care, Spell Check.  That is too a word.)

During all this time, I nurtured a deep and abiding distrust of government.  It started when I was very young but especially blossomed in the years post-Air-Force.  I’d always been a fairly small-government conservative.  I didn’t so much change as think through my positions more and try to make them more consistent. (Do I still have inconsistencies?  Since I’m human that’s going to happen.  I try to work things through and make them consistent but that’s an ongoing process which will likely continue to my dying day.)

Fast Forward.  Some years back, however, I came several books by John Ringo.  He introduced me to music that didn’t so much drag me out of the musical rut I’d been stuck in as blast me out of it with a cannon.  Dragonforce.  Nightwish.  And this group called The Cruxshadows.

Oh.  My.  God.

The Cruxshadows.  Some sources called them “Dark Wave”.  Others called them “Goth.” Well, I’m not really clear on the difference.  But…wow.  Dark music, but music that honors concepts like self-sacrifice and martial virtue that resonated with my own political philosophy.

I expanded from that starting point exploring other bands.  Within Temptation.  More Nightwish.  Evanescence and their “spin off” band We are the Fallen.  Bauhaus. The Cure.  Souxie & the Banshees (in an interview she swore up and down she was not Goth, but others drop her in that category).  Lacuna Coil.  Epica.

Well, you could go on and on.

I find Goth Rock (Bauhaus for instance) a pleasant change of pace, but most of what I listen to these days is Gothic and Symphonic Metal (Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica, etc.)

And, at the moment, I’m fixing a hole in my musical history knowledge and exploring Sisters of Mercy.

A lot of the music fits with my personal philosophies surprisingly well.  And a lot doesn’t but it’s still good music.

But, I encounter so very few people out there who combine both my philosophy of “leave government out of things, no, there ought not be a law” with the enjoyment of the darker side that I get from Goth/Gothic Metal music and subculture that I often feel very much alone.

But that’s okay.  Being alone in a crowd that does not understand…is Goth.

And here’s some music to end with:

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13 thoughts on “Confessions of a libertarian Goth”

  1. Andrew Eldritch claims that Sisters of Mercy aren’t Goth either, and gets promptly ignored on the subject. He may not have intended them to be Goth, but genres do have a way of defining themselves. And, whether or not she was integral to the mid-to-late 80’s version of the band (Star Wars Prequel levels of arguments have been made either way), Patricia Morrison certainly set the standard for female Goth fashion.

  2. I feel your struggle. A good bit of my 20’s were spent trying to reconcile Punk with inborn conservatism/libertarianism.

    Now, I listen to Doom Metal and Fusion Jazz (and everything else) and have stopped caring. The human heart contains multitudes.

  3. I’m sorry to have to say this, but your post reminds me of a motivational poster with a small, lonely pine tree on a snowy wind-swept mountaintop, with the words “LONELINESS: When you feel alone, you’re not alone. Yet you *are* alone, so very alone!”

  4. Hooray, there’s more than one of us!

    I’m apparently a couple of years younger than you, and I came to gothdom from New Wave, synthpop, etc. in 1987 when I was 22. The Sisters of Mercy “This Corrosion” video was literally my epiphany. It took me a few years to put together the wardrobe and convert all my daytime clothes to all black, but my head was in it from that moment.

    I agree that most goths are left-wing. I live in Seattle, and if anything the goth community here is *more* left-wing that the overall population. And sadly, for all the protestations of “freethinking” and “not marching to the same drum” and so forth, they relentlessly parrot the party line, responding in lockstep outrage to whatever provocation the meme factories have thought up for the day.

    For the life of me, I can’t understand why goths aren’t more libertarian — a majoritarian democracy with the power to interfere in your personal life is a direct (if latent) threat to *any* subculture perceived as “weird”. Look at how closely goths dodged a bullet after Columbine, and those idiots weren’t even goth.

  5. I was one of you for a long time and arguably still am. Despite the brighter colors I have been reliably informed that multiple years of spinning goth on the radio means your goth card never expires.

    In my experience there was always a bit of a libertarian streak. While I was close to the loan conservative on the old Boston Netgoth mailing list a lot of people had libertarian bents if not out and out politics

    1. While I can’t speak to any folk you know or knew, in my experience a lot of so-called libertarian’s “libertarian bent” can be summed up in “I want my pot” without any real thought for the philosophy behind libertarianism.

      And on that note let me say that personally I cannot abide those kinds of drugs but I also don’t think it’s my place to make that decision for any adult who is supposedly responsible for his or her own choices.

  6. “Being alone in a crowd that does not understand”

    I think that pretty well sums up what Sarah defines as ‘the Odds’. Goth is just one of the subsets of being an Odd. You’re not alone, you’re with all the rest of us Odds doing our own things.

    1. Except at least in the goth scene, you have to do your time before you can do anything other than express your individuality by dressing exactly like everybody else. 🙂

        1. Yes, but in my experience newbies and babybats pretty much all adopt the same two or three styles for the first couple of years until they’ve established their goth cred and develop their personal style into one of the six or eight major streams of goth and/or goth-adjacent fashion.

          1. I tend to respond to the “look like everyone else (in your subculture)” because a lot of mundanes use that as a sneering disparagement of something they don’t understand. I could go into the psychology of human perception, how people first note the biggest, most obvious aspects of something and only with familiarity does one start picking up on less blatant cues. This is why “all (race with which a person hasn’t had a lot of personal interaction) look alike” really isn’t a matter of racism but simply the way human perception works. I could go into that but…oh, wait. I just did. 😉

            In my experience the “baby bats” (and, to be honest, I’m more or less there myself, generally start with a rather basic look and it just takes time to figure out what their individual look will be. This is normal for anyone adopting any fashion.

            Add in that “Goth” stuff (unless you’re good at scrounging and adapting) can be expensive meaning that it takes money, which generally means time, to accumulate an individual wardrobe.

            And even within the major groupings, there is quite a bit of individual variation, at least as much as “business casual” or other more mundane fashion categories. But a lot of folk simply see “lots of black” and therefore “all the same”. (See “how human perception works” up above.)

            And right now I’m trying to make another “major grouping”: Viking Goth. There’s quite a bit of overlap between Goth and Metal as it stands and Viking Metal is definitely a thing. (And, you know, historical Goths–Ostra and Visi–shared a common origin with Vikings so…) So Viking Goth should be a thing. 😉

            I am also reminded of the commencement speech given by Neil Gaiman which applies by analogy:

            And fifthly, while you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.

            The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

            Someone starting out hasn’t really found their own “vision” of what it means to be Goth. So they copy others. Given time, they grow into their own “Gothness”. This is as it should be.

  7. I was probably the only Redneck-Hippie-Werewolf-Conservative-Goth that I knew, back when I was into the whole Goth thing. I do currently know a Redneck-Libertarian-Jewish-Goth, though.

    Oh, I must have been a sight; imagine Joe Dirt, with fangs and black fingernails, and dressed in black, and you start to get the general picture.

    My tastes in music and style of dress have changed slowly over the years, but the whole “leave me the hell alone, and I’ll return the courtesy” thing, that’s still there, and always will be.

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