Feature:Opinion

Tom Morello’s misguided rage

Photo of Jason Pye
Jason Pye
Editor, United Liberty

On Friday, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello authored a long screed in which he railed against Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Ryan had apparently named Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands. Morello, who is well known for his leftist views, saw this as an opportunity to lash out at the economic policies pushed by Ryan.

While I disagree with Ryan on several issues — he voted for TARP, Medicare Part D, the auto bailout, the PATRIOT Act, and the NDAA — Morello’s self-righteous admonition of the House Budget Committee chairman is rather odd.

In his piece at Rolling Stone, Morello wrote, “Ryan claims that he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don’t care for Paul Ryan’s sound or his lyrics.” He continued, “[Ryan] can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.”

These views are not uncommon among musicians. I spent my late teens and early twenties playing in punk rock bands. I’m still a fan of the genre, listening to bands like NOFX, Propaghandi, and Refused, all of which frequently espouse anti-capitalist rhetoric in their lyrics. However, I’ve always found it somewhat humorous that these anti-establishment bands complain about the “slavery” of capitalism while at the same time promoting a more collectivist society, one in which individualism and self-interest become taboo.

The views frequently pushed by Morello are not at all different. In an interview with Guitar World back in 1997, Morello said, “America touts itself as the land of the free, but the number one freedom that you and I have is the freedom to enter into a subservient role in the workplace.”

Such a view is both incredibly shallow and dishonest. Morello can complain about the worker’s “subservient role” all he wants, but in his ideal world he would sooner have us in a “subservient role” to the state; one in which economic freedoms are virtually non-existent. All wealth would be owned and redistributed by the state.

Also, it is ironic that Morello, who fancies himself as a defender of the so-called “99 percent” while at the same time making millions selling his music, frequently promotes Che Guevara, the Marxist “revolutionary” who in 1959 assisted Fidel Castro in the violent overthrow of Cuba’s Batista regime.

Guevara, whose image can often be found on T-shirts sported by middle-class white kids, was nothing short of a murderer. As explained in “The History of Ernesto Che Guevara — A Short Story,” Guevara personally oversaw the execution of some 2,000 political prisoners and became known as the “Butcher of La Cabana.” Only 180 of his victims have been documented.

Guevara also discouraged the youth of Cuba from questioning “governmental mandates.” He said, “Instead, they must dedicate themselves to study, work, and military service” and “should learn to think and act as a mass.” Not unlike Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and other collectivists, Guevara was hostile to the idea of individualism, calling it a “criminal act to think of individuals.”

Tell me, Mr. Morello, is this the sort of thing you want to see in the United States?

While I understand the frustration over the continuing collusion between business and the state, the answer will not be found in a collectivist state. It will not be found in the unicorn of “income equality.” What we have in the United States today is not capitalism, but rather corporatism.

Freedom from coercion will be found in a free market, where business and state are separated and individuals are free to use their skills to start their own businesses or seek employment where they will be compensated for the fruits of their labor.

Growing government enough to bring about Morello’s odd view of “justice” would likely bring about tyranny.

Jason Pye is a writer/researcher from Atlanta, Georgia. He currently serves as editor of United Liberty. Follow him on Twitter.