Spirits In The Material World By THE POLICE

Ghost In The Machine

1981 | Rock

Spotify | Amazon

"Our so-called leaders speak With words they try to jail you. — They subjugate the meek but it's the rhetoric of failure.”


  • Hit #11 on Billboard Hot 100 & #7 on Billboard Top Rock Tracks.
  • Sting wrote the song on a casio keyboard in a truck.
  • Sting performed on bass, synthesizer, saxophone, and lead & backing vocals on the track, he even tried to record it without the guitarist at all.
  • If you like spanish and metal, check out Puya's cover of the song. Almas En Un Mundo Material.


Luke Tatum

The first stanza is a liberty goldmine: "There is no political solution, to our troubled evolution. Have no faith in constitution, there is no bloody revolution." As an anarcho-capitalist, I identify with this quite readily. I don't believe a political solution is possible or even desirable. The chorus is a bit more difficult: "We are spirits in the material world." What could this mean? Surely it is meant to juxtapose the nature of humanity with the rules that confine it. But what direction do we take that? I think both communists and an-caps could run with it. The communist could argue that humans have transcended the need for capitalism, and we should all adopt the Marxist dicutm "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need!" For me, though, I choose to read this as a vote for a peaceful society. If we are spirits governed by the material government, let us be free of those chains. Let us live voluntary lives.

Sherry Voluntary

To me, this song is anarchist as f**k! There IS no political solution, which the constitution is a product of, and for all the talk about them, bloody revolutions seldom serve the cause of life, liberty, or property. Politicians subjugate the masses using the “rhetoric of failure,” ( I love that line) with phrases like “we the people,” and “one nation under god” etc. We are “spirits” in the material world. Human life is special and unique and should not be held back by oppressive states. We have to keep combating the ideas of oppression. We cannot buy ourselves wealthy, or vote ourselves free. It’s up to people like us, with an understanding of the devastating effects of The State to be those candles in the dark, as Larken puts it. There is another way and it is the way of freedom. You and I have that to offer to others. Let’s figure out how we can be most effective with our individual gifts and resources to bring more logic and reason to the world daily.

Nicky P

I love when I find out that some of my favorite rock tracks of the past, chart-topping ones no less, have such full political undercurrents. It’s not terribly surprising that The Police would, given Sting as a frontman. Amusingly enough I think Luke’s Ancom-friendly interpretation was reaching. Anyone that looks on human life like they do is unlikely to put any stock in an inherent spiritual value of anyone. That seems to be the overarching idea in this song. There is something spiritual and perpetual about us that gives us value beyond a physical form. That seems to be a core principle of libertarianism. There is an inalienable right we all have to be free. Anything of this earth that tries to deprive us of that right is immoral. Call the value a soul or whatever but it is something not be infringed upon. I simply don’t see any collectivist being able to subjegate the collective to the soul of an individual. Whether it’s god or some cosmic power we don’t understand, we must treat each other as though there is an everlasting soul inside.

Created By
Nicky P

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