Metal as power


Words get thrown around without due consideration. Flippantly do people say that metal is powerful, that metal is self-empowering, but do they understand what the word power signifies? Power, by definition, implies a superiority and a triumph, either over a past version of yourself, or indeed over another individual. When it is the first, we euphemistically call it self-improvement, when it is the second, we call it competition, or, worse, subjugation. A third expression of power would be when it is handed over to a group of people as a result of changes in the consciousness of society. Affirmative action would be an example of this type of power, an ordinance which tries to raise previously disenfranchised people to the level of the mean, whatever that may be.

But, as should be obvious, this third form of empowerment is unlike the first two, and has an element of realpolitik and charity about it; the catalyst for this kind of empowerment has to come from outside of the individuals that are its subject, chiefly because those subjects themselves are far too malnourished intellectually, owing to history or nature, to effect the changes they wish for themselves. Indeed, there is an argument to be made that this wish to bestow empowerment on the underprivileged comes more from a neurotic blend of guilt and a messiah complex on the part of those acting as benefactors of society, than any real spiritual unrest in the ones under the yoke.

Which might not be such a bad thing after all; great good can come from dubious motives, and who among us that comes from a land with a sustained history of a thousand years or more would not want for the rest of our countrymen to be brought up to par? Affirmative action might be an opportunistic and myopic device that deludes itself into believing that it is visionary, but, in any case, the responsibility to the nation – if one believes in such a thing as a nation – ought to be to teach the people to learn to respect themselves, and to earn their standing in society and as members of a civilization with a storied history.

Power, then, in all events, is a break from parity, and an assumption of mastery, earned or not. But, to the best of my knowledge, metal has never advocated the third kind of empowerment. The sound of metal, in all its incarnations, conveys self-realization, liberation, and, ultimately, domination, aspects belonging to the first two categories of power. What metal has emphatically not been is a beggar’s yelp for hand-outs and reparations and corrective measures. Metal is proud, above all else, and expects its audience to display some of that pride, too. Metal demands an awakening to be fired from the individual’s core, and shuns all compulsorily foisted solicitude.

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