Why Metal Isn’t Really Right-Wing (And Why the Left isn’t Metal Either)

A couple weeks ago an article starting circling the metal communities claiming metal is right-wing. As a self-described hard leftist and metalhead, I was taken aback. However, after reading Hood’s article, I came to the conclusion that his description of metal as far from the left is correct, though it’s not necessarily on the right, either.

He claims at the outset that ” heavy metal music has done far more to advance authentic right wing aesthetics, values, and yes, even philosophy, than all the failed institutions of the Beltway Right put together.” His mentioning of the Beltway Right will show greater importance later in his article after he characterizes the left.

He claims both metal and the right-wing value “themes of conquest, self-overcoming, strength, and conflict.” The right stresses hierarchy while the left stresses egalitarianism. This is a bit of an overgeneralization considering MRAs are generally on the right and the very hierarchical education system is on the left. The leftist hierarchy does tend to ignore nation, creed, and class, however, while the right seeks to preserve them.

As far as aesthetics go, “strength, vitality, and self-glorification” do admittedly tend to come more from the patriotic and narcissistic right. At this point, though, the difference between the labour left and the Tumblr left becomes pretty apparent, though Hood doesn’t give the former a fair shot. Traditional labour movements are about standing up for the value of work done, as opposed to the corporatist right that focuses more on increasing wealth for those who don’t do so much. Last I checked, tanning at one’s mansion while being served by working people is neither strong nor vital. (And it’s the opposite of the type of glory metal is about.)

Hood continues awhile with some valid points, but he ultimately gives the right such a nice presentation that almost anyone would choose it over the left he presents: to Hood the right is the people who work hard to make themselves better while the left is only the people who seek to whine on the internet. Sure he accurately captures a subset of each. but he ignores the left that pushes for better conditions for working people and ignores the right that seeks only to feed those who make wealth from wealth instead of doing things. Corporate doublespeak is neither leftist nor metal.

His poor characterization of the left does show what the popular left has become though. It’s no longer fighting malevolent powers but instead pandering to the attention-seeking needs of the bored (upper) middle class. Meanwhile the right is still selling the story of the American Dream, even if the policies enacted do the exact opposite.

At this point actually placing value on strength, vitality, and self-glorification require abandoning the wealth-serving right and attention-serving left. I certainly disagree with the claim that metal denies all sort of working towards a common good (seriously, “stand united” is one of the most overused phrases in metal). Hood himself derides the popular right we have now, but handwaves it away as not a true Scotsman.

And if we’re giving metal a philosopher, why not Hobbes?

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The Fight We Have Left

On the /r/TumblrInAction subreddit, in a comment, /u/Be3Al2Si6O18 said

> The problem now is that we have a generation with very little to fight for

I disagree, which I think makes the problem you outline worse. Has the battle been won for a lot of groups’ legal rights and at least popular opinion? For the most part. In the Western world, anyhow. Being black or gay won’t get you in legal trouble. Being LGBT or irreligious might get you kicked out of the house if you’re a kid with your parents. Homicide rates are still pretty disproportionate (and while you can handwave racial disparities with wealth disparities, gay people and transsexuals come from all wealth classes pretty randomly).

Which really gets to the yet bigger issue of labour and wealth disparity. Somehow the left in moving to identity politics has neglected to fight for labour and in that time wealth disparities have soared in quite a few countries. Hell, race in America was invented as a concept to make the lower class fight amongst themselves before they’d realize they’d be better off overthrowing the guy cracking the whip. In the richest country in the world people are dying because they don’t have enough money and we’ve somehow become afraid to demand a distribute of wealth that works better for all of society rather than the short term interests of a select few.

There’s a shitload of fighting left to do.

Of course, part of the issue of bad focus comes from who’s doing the shifting. The big civil rights movements generally came from a more desperate point. But the people moving the focus to shit like otherkin generally have a good amount of comfort otherwise. Hell, they spend half the day on tumblr. That’s not encouraging to go out and fight. But it’s sure as hell a more comfortable target for the media to look at than bigger issues with either a smaller affected group (transsexuals being killed) or that might hurt those with extant power (wealth disparity).