Rage Against The Machine dropped their first album 20 years ago. Their music from this album is still the freshest sound on the radio. While listening to what passes for an alternative rock music station, their very first song ever recorded, The Narrows, was introduced as their “new” song on their reissue titled “XX”. The echoes of anger at the injustices of capitalism and the marginalization and disenfranchisement it causes, which the bourgeois press attempts to dismiss as youthful rebellion, blared from the speakers.
Culture is a weapon in the bosses’ arsenal. It is a fundamental element of the superstructure that preserves, nurtures, and continually rebirths the economic base of capitalism. Rage Against The Machine filled the bill for the pop alternative to the necessary act of patiently organizing a disciplined Communist movement capable of challenging and defeating the bourgeoisie, but the contradiction is that their lyrics did politicize many young people who questioned capitalism.
The bosses’ media “transmissions bring submission” since there has not been a single mainstream band or artist that has made politics the center of their music since Rage. Some have made a political song or had a posture of rebellion against Bush or even the Iraq War when it suited them, but only Rage consistently made politics the center of their music. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Communist politics, but very reformist politics that pointed out the issues that capitalism causes without putting forward the necessity of a revolutionary Communist Party capable of destroying capitalism once and for all.
Rage’s frontman, who is also a poet, Zack de la Rocha, continues to stay abreast of organized anger against the capitalist machine. He wrote and posted a poem celebrating and congratulating the Occupy Wall Street movement on their website.
Though each successive album Rage released had weaker politics than the one before, their music helped to clearly point out that the forces that exploit and oppress us are systemic. They brought voice to the voiceless from “Johannesburg to South Central” illustrating the racist apartheid that exists user capitalism is international, not just localized under the new Jim Crow penal system in the US or the blatant segregation that was occurring in South Africa. Granted, they were not even close to PLP’s politics on several points, but they did embolden and politicize millions of youth, some of whom eventually found themselves in the Progressive Labor Party.
During this time of the darkest night where the working class is under a continual assault by the Bourgeoisie’s individualist and pacifying culture that elevates brutal sexist misogyny to an art form, it is refreshing to hear Rage Against The Machine. Our collective “anger is a gift” that will help fuel the working class to someday smash the racist and sexist capitalist machine. But, the only way that the anger can be a threat to capitalism is when it is focused with the laser red ray of the revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party.