"Empty Causes is another straight forward song with not a lot of hidden meaning and poetic devices. I think that overall the point is that humans find and act upon certain fundamental ideas, morals and beliefs that we individually hold in high regard although as time passes on tend to abandon them, hence an empty cause. The first phase of the song I believe Greg is speaking about the social revolution in the 60's and even 70's, mainly the hippies and political activism. Talks about 'righteous revolutionaries' but then 'they found themselves no more at peace than before, older, meek, and conformed.' So in this case the it can be seen as an empty cause because the VAST majority of hippies and tree-huggers eventually conformed to the exactly system they had hoped to mold and reform. I can't even begin to speculate what he's talking about with the chief being shot...Mohawks rejoicing...probably some historical US event that Captain Cook will tell us all about sooner or later."
"You don't get the second part? Seriously? It's the punk movement. Mohawks... chains... leather. Your stereotypical punks. Some (John Lydon for one) say that the punks ruined punk by adopting a uniform and basing their idea of what punk is about on the likes of Sid Vicious. It seems to state that not everyone understood what punk was/is about (I guess they were just in it for the sake of being different). I'm not sure who or what the Chief is a reference to."
-Amish Rake Fighter
"Just a guess, but 'the shots rang out like popcorn and the chief was hit and rushed out of site' always makes me think of JFK, back in the 60's. The part about 'someone cried out f--k the government, his friends couldn't define what he meant', to me, seems to be a reference to the general response to the assassination and the belief that the government was somehow behind it. It's just the first thing that comes to me when I hear the lyric."