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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

 
Fisking The Jukebox 2

Today's subject is Freewill by Rush. Here is a live performance of the song.



Note the running clothes dryers on stage - concert tours must not leave a lot of time for doing the laundry.

This song goes wrong by confusing the definition of "free will" - autonomy over one's thoughts and deeds, the ability to act without coercion that impels to do otherwise. Let's look at the chorus:

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear, I will choose freewill

First: people coerce, religious (or secular) belief does not. Paranoia ("phantom fears") does not coerce, either, unless it is rooted in brain chemical imbalances. According to Wikipedia, the "kindness that can kill" refers to socialism - socialist governments do coerce.

Second: the last line is a non sequitur, which brings an entirely new topic into the song. The "path that's clear" reference is relevant not to whether one has the ability to choose, but whether one can recognize the best of available choices. Sometimes the wisest path is hazy, other times it's not but human foolishness chooses another - you see both kinds of freewill at work on Wall Street.

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