Every now and then, one comes across conjecture over what a nation comprising of hessian metalheads would be like. After all, it is only natural to want to live amongst those we perceive as sharing similar ideals and perspectives on life; human tribes through history have been organized around this principle of mutual interest and affinity towards a common cause. Whether metal and the ideals sprouting from it are strong enough forces to override the racial and cultural differences among metalheads is a topic for another day, but for the sake of brevity, let us assume that they are, seeing as how metalheads spend much of their time inhabiting the mental and idealistic sphere.
Any attempt at conjecture over a metalhead nation has to begin with identifying the qualities that characterize metalheads. This process is bound to involve a healthy amount of self-projection, but I can only refer to my personal experience, and my observations of the other metalheads whose tastes and opinions I respect, in bringing those qualities into greater relief. Bearing that in mind, I have found the following attributes common to metalheads, separated as they may be by geo-genetic barriers:
Curiosity for knowledge and motion towards truth
People of common sense understand that there is far more that they don’t comprehend than that which they do. The paths to knowledge can be either streamlined and focused, or they can occur through happenstance and personal intrepidity. Either way, once set on wheels, the impetus to gather knowledge, to become a more aware human being, and ultimately to uncover some small kernel of truth, become the primary motives to exist for the avid metalhead in a constantly fluctuating and at times meaningless world.
Natural aversion for authority and oppression
Metalheads are, or desire to be, free-spirited, therefore they naturally gravitate towards a laissez faire form of government. This isn’t to mean that they prefer a state of anarchy, but rather that the state should exist primarily for the broadest purposes of national defense, judicial relief, and public infrastructure. The last of these three is open to varying amount of dissent, but let us assume that hessians would expect the metalhead state to provide some bare minimum of assistance to its denizens (chiefly through education, healthcare, and infrastructure) so they can carry out their social roles appropriately. For most other administrative purposes, one assumes that a hessian nation would be happiest with a federal system of governance where autonomous local units are free to interact with each other on self-designed terms and conditions.
Acknowledgement of the delicate difference between individuality and individualism
Individuality is the tacit understanding that human beings are not equal, that they have different talents and weaknesses which make them the individuals they are. Individualism, on the other hand, is the social theory that each human being exercises full control over his private destiny; myriad individual wills, responsible for their individual upkeep and cocooned from one another, eventually add up for the betterment of society. Like Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” analogy, that betterment happens unbeknownst to the participants; they are concerned with their personal well-being and are entirely unaware of the gentle current sweeping them towards safe harbor.
Metalheads respect individuality. Their admiration for freedom and independence also makes them empathize to some extent with the concept of individualism. However, man is a social animal, and cannot live a healthy life happily isolated from the concerns of his fellow creatures. Unbridled individualism can only lead to solipsism; the gentle current of previous analogy then becomes a voracious tide pushing the individual, and society at large, further out into the choppy seas of an alienated disenchantment.
Belief in free speech/Anti-censorship
Metalheads believe in free speech, not just as lip service, but with all their being. To them, it feels almost like a psychological truism that rancor is best expended than allowed to metastasize. Animus doesn’t exist without reason; once out of the system, and with maturity permitting, cooler passions can come to prevail, and differences can be worked out in a more amicable manner.
Healthy appreciation of tradition
Metalheads’ tireless admiration for metal music from a past time suggests that they understand on some subliminal level the idea of entropy; that all things, metal included, atrophy and change into something lacking the essence of their forebears. If we understand that art imitates life and the world in which life is conducted, then it becomes easy to transpose that same notion of entropy on to the wider realm of human affairs. Metalheads don’t believe that everything about the past is innately worth salvaging; their intellectual and critical honesty prohibits them from going down the road to blanket revisionism. They understand and value the importance of progress in certain aspects of human life, but the operative part within that statement is “certain aspects of human life“. Metalheads appreciate the fact that the term tradition becomes worthy of the connotation through a long history of trial and error; while the paradigms within which a tradition is judged change periodically, the very least that metalheads can do is refrain from “throwing the baby out with the bath water” as it were, and use their critical faculties in inspecting whether the world today is a better place with or without those traditions.
A circumspect Godlessness
A God-fearing metalhead and a theocratic metalhead state are oxymorons if one takes into account the revulsion for overbearing authority supposedly innate to fans of this music. Most reasonable metalheads admit to a sort of cautious agnosticism, because beyond a certain point in space and time, we simply don’t know. That being said, with time, I have found that debating acerbically the existence of God with the faithful is a far more redundant and ultimately boring exercise, than attempting to understand the machinations of mind which make the God hypothesis all but inevitable. The smug yet, in reality, childish asseverations peddled by the modern atheist movement would, no doubt, have an answer for said mental contortions, but I have long since moved past the stage of finding their militant intolerance amusing; rather, an earnest examination of the causes behind the God hypothesis hold promise for a far more fascinating and philosophical self-discovery. For whoever said that a faulty premise precludes and renders false all that is to follow in the domain of mental thought? The Tower of Pisa leans, erected as it is on a bad foundation, but it still stands all the same, doesn’t it?
The point here is not a mealy-mouthed accommodation of God and religion, but rather an acknowledgement of the role they have played in shaping human thought and civilization, along with an intellectual willingness to come to the table for a greater discourse if the opposite party is civil enough to do the same.
A metalhead’s sense of pride bristles at the suggestion of a “helping hand”. He would much rather put his native powers of industry to use, and accept the fruits of his labor, than be the recipient of pity-helpings. Nature does not deal her bounty equally; a metalhead accepts that bias, but within those proscribed limits, he tries to be the best that he can be. The flipside of the equation brings the nihilistic element integral to the metalhead character into focus. It is not unusual for the metalhead to swing wildly between enthusiasm and a happy resignation at the eventual futility of it all; in light of the latter, and despite all his nous, he may simply choose to be content with his lot in life, considering that life to be a journey between two points in time to be endured with a brave face. In all events, however, the metalhead respects the sanctity of merit as the single relevant factor in deciding the social heirarchy which he inhabits.
No society can survive without specialists, but the tragedy of our times is the absence of an overarching holistic vision stretching across disciplines. What that holistic vision may be remains to be seen, but metalheads at least realize the lack of it. They appreciate the interconnected nature of the past and the present, as well as the decisions that have shaped these ages. Nothing occurs in isolation, in nature or in the world of man. The metalhead nation would have to be a philosophical nation, first and foremost, its overall direction charted by an explicit stress on intellectual deliberation and a perpetual “grasping at the bigger picture”.
With further granulation and more adventurous thinking, other such qualities are sure to be revealed, but these will do for now. When I read back through them, they seem a little too idealistic and utopian, a hodge-podge of conflicting ideologies, some of which will, by equal turn, appeal and repel demographics traditionally at loggerheads with each other. I do believe that these attributes, at their core, carry some facet of the three ideals dearest to metalheads: truth, honor, and courage. Other ideologies have promoted these virtues, also, but the optimistic nihilism germane to metal, lends a radically different spin to the manner in which they could be realized in a metalhead nation.