Morello: 'Ryan embodies the machine our music rages against'

In Australia, Treasurer Wayne Swan made headlines by saying he was a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen ― despite implementing neoliberal economic policies of the sort Springsteen rails against. Mining billionaire and wannabe Liberal politician Clive Palmer jumped up to respond that his favourite band was Redgum ― despite the famously left-wing folk band, active in the 1970s and '80s, representing politics that are the exact opposite politics to Palmer's.

It seems it is not just Australian politicians claiming to like bands whose lyrics represent the opposite of their policies. Republican vice-presidental candidate Paul Ryan ― a notorious right-wing politician who supports extreme free market capitalism ― has listed left-wing rockers Rage Against the Machine as one of his favourite bands.

In an op-ed published by Rolling Stone on August 16, Rage's revolutionary socialist guitarist Tom Morello responded.

Morello wrote: “Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades ... Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.

“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 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.

“I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of 'Fuck the Police'? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production?

“So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!

“Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta 'rage' in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment.

“Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.

“You see, the super rich must rationalise having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that 'Those people are undeserving. They're . . . lesser.'

“Some of these guys on the extreme right are more cynical than Paul Ryan, but he seems to really believe in this stuff. This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket.

“But Rage's music affects people in different ways. Some tune out what the band stands for and concentrate on the moshing and throwing elbows in the pit. For others, Rage has changed their minds and their lives.

“Many activists around the world, including organizers of the global occupy movement, were radicalized by Rage Against the Machine and work tirelessly for a more humane and just planet. Perhaps Paul Ryan was moshing when he should have been listening.”

The guitarist concluded: “My hope is that maybe Paul Ryan is a mole. Maybe Rage did plant some sensible ideas in this extreme fringe right wing nut job. Maybe if elected, he'll pardon [jailed Native American activist] Leonard Peltier. Maybe he'll throw U.S. military support behind [anti-capitalist indigenous group in Mexico] the Zapatistas. Maybe he'll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign ― and then torture them with Rage music 24/7.

“That's one possibility. But I'm not betting on it.”