Confessions of a Libertarian Goth: A Significantly Expanded Blast from the Past.

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 (in any case, domain is now for sale).  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.

I went looking online searching for other libertarian (the lack of capitalization matters) Goth’s.  Found one person on twitter from the UK who identifies as Libertarian Goth.  A couple of passing references to individuals here and there some of which were at least “used to”. (Goths like to say “it’s not just a phase” but for some people it is.  Young people go through phases as they try out different things to find which “fit” them.  For some that final fit is “goth”.  For others, they try it and it’s not.  For them it is “just a phase.”)  That pretty much summed up what I found on Google.  Both Bing and Duckduckgo had an earlier iteration of this post as the number two item (which may tie more to some cookie on my computer than to the actual search position) but otherwise was the same.

There just doesn’t seem to be any significant presence out there for libertarian or politically conservative goths.

To be honest, I tend to be pretty much a loner as a Goth.  In Indianapolis, where I live, when I first went looking there was 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.  Now we appear to have two:  Spellbound Indy’s “Darkwave DJ Dance Night” (Darkwave–close enough considering the lack of other options)  and Sins of the Flesh Goth Night at the Black Circle Brewing Company.  Both appear to be monthly, one in the middle of the month, one at the end.  I’ll admit that I haven’t had the chance to check them out for various reasons but that may change down the road.

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.  For a while I’ve had to back off a little bit for personal reasons but lately I’ve gotten back into experimenting to find my personal “style.”

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.

About that time, one of my co-workers who was living “on the economy” as we said in the military (meaning he had an apartment off base rather than living in dormitory accommodations).  I don’t know how he managed it since, as I recall he was single and the same rank I was.  His name was Patrick Lince.  Later, at a different posting, we became better friends than we were at this first one.  During that time in England he had a relative, a young woman, a sister or cousin or something like that, visiting him.  He mentioned that she had her hair dyed purple.  I remember thinking to myself “I could never be interested in a woman with purple hair.” Looking back, I think I was in “he doth protest too much” mode on that.  Once, a number of us from the shop were invited over to Pat’s place to socialize and play Trivial Pursuit.  Pat’s relative was there so I got to meet her.  She was a perfectly nice young lady that was a pleasure to be around.  This not being a romance novel, there was no “chemistry” and we certainly didn’t become involved.  I’m not even sure she was even aware of my existence except as “that stranger at the party.” Still, what it did was show me that my preconceptions on unconventional fashion were unfounded.  I couldn’t consider it for myself–not then, not in the Air Force–but it was no longer taboo.

As an aside on that note, I later came across an issue of World’s Finest comics (I was an avid comics fan).  That series features Superman and Batman team-ups.  In this issue they were seeking a lost heiress.  Batman showed Superman a picture of the heiress.

Superman: “She has green hair.  That’s some kind of rebellion thing, isn’t it?”
Batman: “Used to be.  Now it’s just fashion.”
(Today, the “rebellion” aspect seems to be ascendant among certain groups but for many it still remains “just fashion” and their “personal style.”)

As you can see, I was moving in a “goth” 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.

It really, really didn’t work.

Didn’t help that all the “fashion advice” in the world couldn’t change that I was an “odd”, who suffers from crippling social anxiety and a complete lack of “getting” social cues.

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 across 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, I 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 groups Sisters of Mercy, the 69 Eyes, and others.

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, and 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 Then What?

I didn’t sleep at all the night before last so I crashed early yesterday and didn’t get anything posted.  Sorry.

Some people, on both the “Left” and “Right” have been talking about revolution.  Whether it’s “We need to get rid of those fascist right-winging KKK Nazis” or “we need to get rid of those liberal commie pinko hippies” or whatever, the idea of using widespread violence to overthrow the existing order and impose ones own has been gaining steam.

I have discussed why this would be a bad thing elsewhere.

But, let’s presume that people don’t listen (and given just how much influence I don’t have–thank all the gods I’m not the only voice crying out about that–I would not be surprised).  Suppose we get the violent insurrection that grew into civil war.  And suppose one side finally won.

Now what?

If it’s the side that wants more and more expansive government power, more control over people’s lives, and a more intrusive bureaucracy, no problem.  You’ve won.  And a government imposed by force of arms generally has no problem using force to expand its power.

But what if it’s the side that wants less government intrusion into people’s lives, less control, and less bureaucracy, you have a real problem.  How do you set that up so it sticks past even one election cycle (presuming you have elections in whatever you set up)?

So, are you going to have a Constitution?  How will you establish that Constitution?  Will you just write it and impose it on the population or will you use some mechanism, any mechanism, to give the people some voice in the Constitution you establish?  If you don’t have a Constitution, how are you going to limit the government, not just now but in the future?

High level decision:  are you going to let the people have a say in their own government or are you just going to force on them the government (strong or weak) which you want them to have?  If the latter, how are you any better than the people who wanted to impose their government on the people?  (And if you say “no government” then how do you prevent someone else from coming along and establishing their own choice of government on you?)

And if, instead, you allow the people to choose, the same people that voted in the government you just overthrew, what is to stop them from just voting back the same thing once more, rendering that whole insurrection and civil war an exercise in futility with the blood being shed for nothing.

I have had people, when this issue is pointed out to them, refer back to the American War of Independence.  The argument is along the line of “They did it, so we can do it.” But you need to consider what they actually did.

When Europeans settled in the land that would become the United States, one of the first things they did was set up local governments.  These governments derived their authority from the various European governments behind them.  Over time, the local governments grew, often with a governor appointed by the Crown.  And the far-away European Government (English for the thirteen colonies that would become the thirteen original States) exerted greater or lesser control to supersede that of the local governments.  But the local government was there, with continuity going back to their European forebears.

During the lead-up to the American Revolution First Continental Congress and then the Second Continental Congress were formed.  Each of these contained representatives from the Thirteen Colonies that would become the United States. (Note:  The “Stamp Act Congress” was formed before the First Continental Congress but not all of the colonies that would become the United States were represented.) These representatives were sent by their Colonial governments to represent the people of their respective colonies in the Congress.  Since these Congresses were represented by people chosen by their respective colonies, via their Colonial governments, again we had continuity of authority stretching back to their European forebears.

The Second Continental Congress served as the national government during the first part of the American War of Independence.  It passed the Declaration of Independence eschewing outside authority over the thirteen colonies.  Note, however, that it did not renounce the internal Colonial governments already in existence.  It retained continuity of authority from the past.  It passed the Articles of Confederation, the first charter for a national government structure for the nascent United States.  And once again, it did so under authority it already had ceded to it from the existing Colonial governments.  Again, continuity of authority.

The Second Continental Congress gave way to the Congress of the Confederation (Not to be confused with the Congress of the Confederated States of America) under the Articles of Confederation passed by the Second Continental Congress.  This lasted until a new Constitutional Convention was convened, again with representatives chosen by their respective State governments, the Constitution was written, and was ratified by the States.

Note one thing that did not happen:  The Continental Army did not at any point turn and say “you will accept this government that we impose on you.” The people, through their elected representatives, chose their own government.  There was continuity of authority leading back to the very founding of the various colonies.  The military province, the province of the war, was to reject outside control over first the colonies and later the states.  The authority and the government, was established in each step by the actions of the existing government.

Once the new government was established, military force was certainly used to enforce its authority (Whiskey Rebellion et al) but it was not used to establish it in the first place.  Nobody pointed guns at Americans and said “you will be a free nation whether you like it or not.”

This, I think, is where too many would-be “revolutionaries of freedom” break down.  They have no real plan for how to establish freedom after the shooting is done.  Do they have a Constitutional Convention?  If so, how do they keep States from sending exactly the same kind of representatives to the Convention that they are already sending to Congress?  Do they pick and choose their own representatives from each State?  If so, then in what possible way are they “Representative”? Do they go on a massive killing spree, kill enough people who disagree with them until they have a solid majority on “their side”? Can anybody here not see the problem with that?  Or perhaps they let people “vote” but only for candidates approved for ideological purity.  The “election” system in the old Soviet Union provides a good model for that.

None of those are exactly a good start for a “free” society.

That’s the problem.  If you want to create a free nation, you have to change the people first.  You have to convince the people that they want a free nation, that freedom, for all of it’s dangers and problems, is superior to tyranny.  But if you can do that, why not do it before the revolution?  After all, if you can do that, get the people solidly behind the ideal of freedom, the politicians will either fall in line or lose their place.

Once the people are solidly behind the idea of freedom, the only way for would-be tyrants to remain in power is force or such rampant fraud that nobody can deny it.  And while fraud has become increasingly apparent in recent years, particularly this last election, I do not believe we have reached that point.  Too many people are still willing to turn a blind eye to it and pretend it doesn’t happen or isn’t “significant.”

It is only after you have overwhelming support for the ideal of Freedom among the people–actual Freedom, not the so-called “Freedom” of various guarantees and security that some try to use to co-opt the word–can a revolution hope to bring about a free society in its wake.  And once you have that you may find that you don’t need the revolution after all, the ballot box being all the revolution you need.

As we go into the Christmas Season

If you’re an Atheist or Agnostic who doesn’t like “Merry Christmas.”
If you’re a Christian who doesn’t like “Happy Holidays.”
If you’re a Jew who doesn’t like “Blessed be.”
If you’re a Wiccan who doesn’t like “God Be with you.”
If you’re a Muslim who doesn’t like “May Thor hold his hammer between you and harm.”

I have one thing to say to you: Grow. Up. Take these things in the spirit they are offered, one of well wishing, and leave it at that.

And on that note, I wish you “Gud Yule” and “May Thor hold his hammer between you and harm.”

And for those who do not believe in Santa Clause, may I present the United States Marine Corps Reserve: