Welcome to the first installment of Thoughtcrime Thursdays on Liberty Weekly! Intended as a reflection on the miasma of current political affairs, the focus of this weekly column is to plunge headlong into the depths of fictional dystopia.
The column’s title, Thoughtcrime Thursdays is a direct reference to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four, a seminal novel in the literary sub genre of dystopian fiction. Together, we shall celebrate thoughtcrime (or crimethink) by exploring works of the imagination that are meant as a critique of real-world affairs.
Today, we will be exploring the cavernous depths of Meshuggah’s “I am Colossus,” the first track off of their 2012 masterpiece Koloss.
Aided by the sheer brutality of their sound, Meshuggah are able to immerse the listener into the cold depths of the shadow government in a way that no other genre could allow. With this track, the band subjects its victims to a terrifying aural barrage that is doubly effective against those unfamiliar with its genre’s abrasive nature.
The song’s title “I am Colossus” seeks to personify government as an ancient horror, akin to an Elder God of Lovecraftian ilk. With this theme in mind, the opening stanza evokes a shudder:
I’m the great Leviathan, insatiable colossus
Titanic engulfer of lives, I reward you, absorb you
I’m the monstrous mouth that hungers for your awe
Immense construction of lies. I own you, disown you
Right away we see the Leviathan government as an insatiable, titanic maw, built upon lies told to the people. These analogies draw remarkable similarities with Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State, where the State is revealed as a very old, predatory system of violence and coercion.
From Anatomy of the State, we know that the State “hungers for the awe” of its citizens. Rothbard writes: “. . . the chief task of the rulers is always to secure the active or resigned acceptance of the majority of the citizens.”
I am life. I’m death. You empower me
I’m a mammoth king evoked, conjured by your dreams
Summoned by your fears. You need me, you feed me
I’m the imposing giant. Infallible dictator
My rules apply to all. You’ll heed me, bleed for me
I am life. I’m death. I decide your fate
You empower me. You’d even kill for me
The second section of the song hammers home the inescapably of government. Government is a “mammoth king” created from the dreams of men to ward off his fears–an “imposing giant” whose “rules apply to all.” It is a constant that is always there from beginning to end. Over the history of civilization, billions of people have killed or been killed by their governments–a term coined by R. J. Rummel as “democide.”
Guzzling down your dreams – the tears of unheard pleas I drink,
Imbibe with such delight the fear that floods your temporal shell
Raging red rivers and streams – the kingdom of my shadow
Where dread of man in endless night revives my every cell
To those who doubt – your wounds will never heal
To those who question my creation – I’m not real
Randolph Bourne famously wrote: “War is the Health of the State.” For those who live under the yoke of oppressive regimes, the misery is palpable–for tyrannical government, its a lifeblood which greases the cogs of the machine. This stanza suggests the State’s role in that process.
As to the last two lines of this stanza, the State punishes dissidents, but to those who don’t believe the State should exist, we know it is imaginary.
I am pain. I am grief. I’m the things you fear
I’m the lie whispered into your ear
I’m the great Leviathan. I’m dominance and greed
You imagined me, so I was conceived
I am life. I’m death. You belong to me
Call me what I am. I am colossus
The final stanza of the song contains its most chilling imagery, specifically, that of the narrator whispering lies into the ear of the listener. As we all know, the government lies all the time. The “great Leviathan,” is of course built on lies, power, and greed.
An important point can be made through the song’s conclusion. It is that, if government is created by us, we can have power over it by realizing it for what it is. Although the lyrics may not expressly hint at this interpretation, I would assert that the first step in becoming free is to see the walls of your cage.
With that, the song concludes.
I would stand by my interpretation of the song, however “I am Colossus” may very well just be about some Lovecraftian monster, as my wife tells me. Who knows?!
If you are brave enough, I’ve linked the official music video below. For best viewing pleasure, crank up the volume and watch in the dark!
Thank you for joining Liberty Weekly for the maiden voyage of Thoughtcrime Thursdays, which will return next week with a book review of Russian dystopian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
*The lyrics for this article were gathered from www.darklyrics.com*