Most people around me disbelieve my claim that this is the case, though I do not claim myself perfect at explaining verbally why AC/DC are so significant. It is the recent writings of Rod Dreher and Peter Jones that suggest the Enriched World’s views on sexual morality have changed much more rapidly than I can observe from local news, even in my lifetime. To put it another way, the status of suburban Australia as a cloister for people of traditional views is extending long beyond the Bush Senior Era – when I recognised the fact by comparing the culture I was exposed to with what I found going on in the Enriched World – indeed even intensifying.
Dreher makes a major understatement when he says:
“Gay-marriage proponents succeeded so quickly because they showed the public that what they were fighting for was consonant with what most post-1960s Americans already believed about the meaning of sex and marriage.”What Dreher ignores is how working-class men in Europe came to collectively reject Christianity immediately upon their move “from farm to factory” that James Kurth described as the great movement of the Industrial Revolution. Two reasons for this are:
- that children did not provide economic benefits to men working in factories, whereas improved technology did, as Phillip Longman says on page 31 of The Empty Cradle. Major movements to exclude women from working in these dangerous conditions had the effect of creating a near-complete gender divide in worldview. Women remained strongly Christian whereas men outside of the ruling classes generally rejected Christianity because children’s household labour benefitted only women and very wealthy men.
- that working-class males in very dense cities observed very wealthy families who possessed much more than they did. Consequently, they wanted to have what these very rich people did and felt that the rewards obtained for their work were unfairly small. Women at home, on the other hand, busy raising children did not observe this and accepted traditional Christian restrictions on what they could and should aspire to.
It is here that AC/DC come in. At a time when laws against homosexuality and abortion unsupported for many generations by the working classes were being repealed, AC/DC’s music put forward in exceedingly simple language a completely new cosmology – one that isolated each individual and pitted him against each other. A song like ‘T.N.T’ which expresses total joy at destroying other people provided much more of a different “cosmic” view of the world and the way it works than the persistent calls for equalisation that the working class had built up over the previous 125 or so years.
If destroying other people be viewed as a good thing like it unquestionably is in ‘T.N.T.’, it negates everything traditional Christianity is supposed by its adherents to stand for – most especially human dignity and the “right to life”. Should destroying other people be celebrated, then nobody whatsoever can possess an inherent “right to life” – if somebody is permitted to kill under this scheme of things, then his or her victim, as well as himself or herself, cannot have any right to live. What such implies is that each person must stand up for himself or herself, and that to avoid the strong having the power to destroy on a massive scale, opportunities must be equalised in the most radical manner possible. Thus, the elimination of any moral restraint against force naturally produces absolutely radical individualism and absolutely radical egalitarianism as necessities to prevent violence at levels far beyond anything known today. Rod Dreher notes that it was 1990 when the religiosity of younger generations fell off dramatically – corresponding with the time when AC/DC’s disciples like Metallica and Pantera (‘(expletive) Hostile’ is the definitive anti-religion rock song) were becoming the mainstream of popular music – as well as with the growth of political rap among other sections of the Enriched World’s workers.
This result really suggests that the influence of heavy metal, grunge and rap has been felt in a radical belief change much more than in the growth of violence as feared in many conservative texts I used to read fifteen years or so ago.
The praises to “rock and roll” that dominate many other AC/DC songs can be seen as a means of disturbing the peace and quiet so essential to traditional religion, as I note here. It is in fact difficult to see what other purpose it could serve in many cases such as ‘High Voltage’ or ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’ except to rouse the faithful – which itself says something about how intense the power of AC/DC’s music, which proved more consistent in style over time than the Bible or Qur’an ever did.
As Jason Toombs told me nearly a decade ago, AC/DC satisfied a genuine if unspoken need among working class baby boomers for an alternative “cosmology” to Christianity, which they had found oppressive for a very long time. Although AC/DC never followed their disciples like Metallica and Slayer (with the possible exception of ‘This Means War’) into political songs, that their lyrics imply an extremely leftist politics is undeniable, as is the fact that the cosmology they created now dominates the Enriched World’s working classes.