Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello on May Day 'Guitarmy' and the Occupy Spring
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"I think that it's important for working-class people and for union people in particular not just to fight bad legislation, but to put forward our own agenda of how we want to see our country and our world," he explained. "I mean, I'm very blessed that I'm able to do what I think I was meant to do. That opportunity is denied not to millions, but to billions of people on the planet due to gross economic inequality. How many discoverers of the cure for cancer, or [the next] Mozart are slaving away in the maquiladoras along the Mexican border, or in Indonesian sweatshops. The reason that they are not allowed to be the people that they were meant to be is due to this horrific economic inequality that is just -- I think it's just -- those that are socially conscious and believe in social justice need to keep fighting until that's rectified."
Of Walker, he simply said, "My hope is that we get that son of a bitch out of there."
Occupy's Valley Forge
Asked by another blogger to ponder the future of the Occupy movement, Morello acknowledged the difficult winter the occupiers endured.
"I think this last winter was our Valley Forge," he said. "And then we've gone through some of the under-the-radar spring training, and this was the re-emergence of the Occupy movement today, in New York City and around the globe. And, you know, with the recall of the Wisconsin governor and with the heightened political atmosphere around the elections--the one thing that the Occupy movement has done which has changed the dialogue irrevocably in the United States, is it's put the dirty, five-letter word 'class' on the front page of the paper. In my lifetime, not as an activist, but as a human, that has not been the case where grotesque economic inequality is something that is discussed. When can you remember there being a Republican candidate whose feet are being held to the fire because he's too rich? That's due to the Occupy movement, and the shifting of perspective -- instead of, 'Let's all just high-five at the Super Bowl' -- to: 'There's something fundamentally wrong with a system that allows such gross economic inequality on a global scale.'"
"The biggest challenge [is] the unbridled force of repression that is used when people in large numbers stand up and protest economic inequality," Morello said in response to a question by blogger Marcia Stepanek. "And it's the people wielding the batons and the tear gas are members of the 99 percent, as well. That's an ongoing historical tragedy -- that gains have been made, but I think we have to continue to demand the impossible."
Asked by Stepanek what impact Morello expects the 2012 election to have on the Occupy movement, the guitarist replied, "There's a more heightened political atmosphere, and it gives an opportunity for ideas to come to the fore."
He scoffed at comparisons between the Tea Party movement and Occupy. "The Tea Party is not much of a party, because it ain't no fun. It's super-mean," he said, laughing, "whereas the Occupy movement really does very much feel like a party in the streets….And that's one of the things that I do; music does not just steel the backbones of people who are fighting for social justice, but also to make protest an enjoyable endeavor. It tends to cast the nets wider."
Freedom of Choice
For Morello, becoming an artist wasn't an option, as he explained in his acceptance speech. His choices are made in the space where his art meets his activism.