Ted Nugent is a conservative asshole who's politics are more headline-hungry than thought-provoking; he's been emphasizing his gun-toting, quasi-libertarian survivalist side for so long that virtually everyone has forgotten what a good and unique rock and roll guitarist he is. This video, from an Amboy Dukes reunion of a kind, demonstrates that he can still play that angular, needlepoint style of his with the same backstabbing swagger that he had in the Sixties and the 70s, when he shut his mouth long enough to remind people that he used to be taken seriously as a musician. Here, the hatted one, still smirking like someone who just came back to the party after schlonging your girlfriend behind the garage in the dank tool shed discretely wedged between the trash cans and the aromatic compost heap unleashes some major E chord damage and continues with a ridiculous flurry and fury of notes that it is like nothing else other than a blood-lusting intersection when the traffic lights fail and every piece of metal gets twisted and every driver gets a headache, if they're lucky.
That image news well with Nugent’s zeitgeist of preference, social Darwinism, the spirit of the strong and the armed taking what they need by force and the will to do so, attaining provisions and pleasures from the weak, the downtrodden, the unlucky and the losers who cannot defend their patch of the earth against invaders, marauders, hunters and rascals of nastier inclination. This is the culture of bullying laid bare and blatant, a worldview that has absorbed the worst aspect of the warrior ethos and has used the habit of mind as a rationale sanity that goes to the marrow , that each and every act of belligerence, aggression, corrosively applied vulgarity and punch in the face is a matter of course, each an act of bravery, honor, of maintaining a natural order of things.
Poet and essayist Robert Bly tried to humanize this mythology with his book Iron John, wherein he argued that men, as part of the species, need to reconnect with a fuller philosophy of their masculinity, not merely more the warrior, but also embracing and accepting and internalizing the responsibilities of being the father, the teacher, the leader who recognizes his obligations to the greater community of families his family is privileged to live in. Nugent’s cannibal-spirited libertarianism has none of that inconvenient consideration in its desires to make the world and the people in it cower in front of more than his guitar skills. Being weak, sick, not of the war mentality was your own tough shit and no one was obliged to give you aid.
A telling title in Nugent’s time as Amboy Dukes leader was an album called Survival of the Fittest. While generally a kick-ass session of Nugent’s distinct guitar work—ambivalence creeps in hear because even I , an enemy of bullies and the like, have to admit this blathering sociopath can play that guitar pretty damned well— the title of the record, and the cover image of Nugent with arrow and bow, answers the question as to why we should be glad that artists are not the ones in charge of making social policy. The only social agreement for this grubby schoolyard punk is that if you give him your lunch money, he will let you live long enough for you get more lunch money.