Libertarianism is a political philosophy for intellectuals, perfect for the clever discourse of Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman or the erudite insults by Tom Woods. But every once in a while, with the relentless irrationality of the ubiquitous statists, liberty advocates need to break from thoughtful discussion and just rock out.
Yes, libertarians like music and when we listen, we don’t want to hear big government propaganda like that creepy Obama song — we want to hear freedom-loving poetical genius. Of course, there are risks in translating philosophical smarts into music and if one’s not skilled you may end up with the cringeworthy lyrics like, “We don’t want big government, or the Bilderberg Group that pays for it,” in Aimee Allen’s unfortunate ode to the indefatigable Ron Paul.
Luckily, there is a long history of the best musicians in the industry using their gift to rage against the machine. From The Beatles to the up-and-coming Rap Metal Backwordz, the history of rock and roll is littered with anti-state anthems. Here are the best:
- “All Rights Reversed” by The Chemical Brothers
With such an ominous, Big Brother-sounding techno beat and ghostly chorus that I had to use it for my dystopian thriller soundtrack. Some say the song is about Discordianism, a parody religion based on the worship of Eris, the goddess of chaos. Whether a call for a call for anarchy through chaos or a critique of the state in which all rights are reversed, it is a dramatic statement.
Money Lyric: “Heaven’s down and Hell is up, all rights reversed.”
- “My Life” by Billy Joel
Joel likely wasn’t trying to write a libertarian anthem with “My Life” but the sentiment reflects the reality that everyone is libertarian, at least for themselves. He’s basically conveying the non-aggression principle in a slightly funky ’70s lounge jam.
Money Lyric: “Go ahead with your own life; Leave me alone.”
- “Big Brother” by Stevie Wonder
Who would have thought big time Democratic supporter Wonder could’ve penned the libertarian gem “Big Brother” without irony. In it he critiques the relationship between the state (Big Brother) and their poor subjects and laments “You just come to visit me ‘round election time.” He alludes to the security state, FBI watch lists, and even assassination conspiracies in the dense tune.
Money Lyric: “I don’t even have to do nothin’ to you, You’ll cause your own country to fall.”
- “Kiss Ya Lips (No ID)” by Ian Brown
Despite some of the worst logic in lyrical history (If five five is your number, Times that five by two to make a ten, Cause I I ain’t no number), this is a straight up anti-security-state jam complete with a non sequitur reprise of a dancing girl.
Money Lyric: “ID cards don’t stop no hijack jet.”
- “Exodus Damage” by John Vanderslice
In a beautifully moody indie jam, Vanderslice conveys the heartfelt story of a gun-toting conspiracy theorist, analyzing the 9/11 terror attacks and yearning for his libertarian muse.
Money Lyric: “Dance, dance revolution.”
- “Police and Thieves” by Junior Murvin
Lumping the two enemies of the people together, Junior Murvin makes the comparison perfectly in his flawless falsetto backed with smooth roots reggae.
Money Lyric: “All the peacemakers turned war officers.”
- “Good Ol’ Boys (Theme from The Dukes of Hazzard)” by Waylon Jennings
This song and the show got a bad rap due to its ostentatious display of the Confederate battle flag, the show was libertarian to the core: a family of bootleggers forced to give it up fight the real enemy of the people: Sherriff Boss Hogg. The theme song embodies it perfectly.
Money Lyric: “Just the good ol’ boys, never meaning no harm. Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born.”
- “Killing in the Name Of” by Rage Against the Machine
Predating Black Lives Matter by a quarter century, RATM was ahead of their time calling out the institutionalized racism and brutality by many police officers in this funkedified metal jam. While half of their so-called “libertarian socialism” is absurd, the other half is explosively pertinent even more so now than it was then.
Money Lyric: “F— you, I won’t do what you tell me!”
- “Taxman” by The Beatles
Don’t be fooled by the leftist leanings of Lennon, George Harrison at least was clearly aware of the unjust pilfery perpetrated by the government. Just when The Beatles were poised to really start doing well for themselves, Mr. Wilson and Mr. Heath come along and take 95% of it. Nothing is off limits in this mockery of government thieves.
Money Lyric: “And you’re working for no one but me.”
- “Uprising” by Muse
With overtly libertarian and conspiracy-theorist lyrics, Muse walks dangerously on the edge of being cheesy but then immediately destroy any sense of cheese with searing electric guitar riffs. The lyrics are revolutionary in a dystopian setting, but are easily applied to today’s struggle.
Money Lyric: “Interchanging mind control; Come let the revolution take its toll.”
There are plenty of other brilliant libertarian songs that missed the top 10. Leave your favorites in the comments section.
This article was edited for grammar, style, and spelling, but not for content. The views expressed are that of the author, JSB Morse, exclusively, and do not reflect that of BeingLibertarian.com or Being Libertarian LLC