1988 | Rock
Spotify | Amazon
“I exploit you still you love me, I tell you one and one makes three. — I'm the cult of personality. — Like Joseph Stalin and Gandhi, I'm the cult of personality.”
- The song reached # 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and # 9 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart.
- The title comes from Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 anti-Stalin report, “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences.”
- The song begins with an excerpt from the beginning of his speech "Message to the Grass Roots", by Malcolm X.
- Other excerpts include: John F. Kennedy's inaugural address "Ask not what your country can do for you..." and ends with Franklin D. Roosevelt saying "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", from his first inaugural address.
THE HOT TAKES
Now this is fertile ground for some self-reflection. I have never met a person, man or woman, who is completely immune to hero worship. Several are named here: Gandhi, Stalin, Kennedy, Mussolini. Populists, figureheads, leaders. Call them what you will, there is a toxic negative side to even a great leader. A hero, after all, is an ideal. To hold a human being as a hero is to make them out to be perfect in some dimension. If there is a perfect version, then everyone else is imperfect. Every hero is also a judge; it shows our insufficiency. Now, we liberty-espousing types have to be especially careful. We're already commonly seen as "Ayn Rand Lovers" or "Ron Paulbots" or whatever else. As though we are disciples of a cultish belief. Surely, the irony is lost on the statists.
This is just one solid bad assed song. Those opening guitar licks are just iconic. Not only is it musically great, its lyrically on point. Many may think of actors, religious leaders, philosophers, and the like when they think of people who cults of personalities build up around, but I see the duopoly as the ultimate dangerous cult of personality. It doesn’t really matter who the person is, once they earn the R or D, they become the guy or gal of the two cults and every excuse will be made to back them up and support them. Take Trump for instance. He was a lifelong Democrat, whom many on the R side would have despised, except he got the R. I know people who hated him during the primaires, but as soon as he got the nomination, boy it’s like he’s been the golden boy of Republicans all his life. They will hear no criticism of him whatsoever. This wouldn’t be so bad if he were an actor or even a religious leader, the damage that those people can do is limited. When it comes to politicians though, especially in powerful nations like the United States, the politicians scope is not limited to the state, or the county. Politicians have the ability to affect the the lives of millions, and at certain levels tens of millions. The cults of people that will vote for anyone as long as they have the right alphabetical designation is scary and breaking that spell is an important part of activism.
I worship no man outside of Corey Glover. But that’s excusable since he sounds like he does, right? I’d rather people worship musicians over influence peddlers like Ben Shapiro. Seriously though, this song is all about treating all of humanity as human beings. This includes failings & foibles. One of the major insights that libertarians bring to the table is the idea of radical equality under the law. We realize that no man is equal but share in the same detriments that make us all fallible. We can’t look to demigogues to be perfect beings because they too are only human.