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From: The Socialist issue 606, 6 January 2010: RAGE AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT

Search site for keywords: Music - Raging against the machine - Bankers - Anti-capitalist - Afghanistan


Raging against the machine...

IT WAS great to see the anti-capitalist band Rage Against the Machine make Christmas No.1 against X Factor winner Joe McElderry.

Rage are known worldwide for their anti-authoritarian lyrics and actions - front man Zack de la Rocha has even been to Mexico to assist the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, a group fighting the authoritarian Mexican state. They also campaigned against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Guantanamo Bay, repressive police tactics and on many other issues.

The song which made No. 1 was "Killing in the Name" which contains the lyrics "f**k you I won't do what you tell me". The band followed this sentiment many times, including ignoring the Chinese government's ban on their performance. This song, as well as being a protest against X Factor, may help fan the flames of working class anger.

Crucially though, it shows what a mass of people can do when organised. As guitarist Tom Morello said, "whether it's a small matter like who's at the top of the charts or bigger matters like war and peace and economic inequality, when people band together and make their voices heard they can completely overturn the system as it is."

The campaign was organised purely through social networking websites, it did not have the financial backing of X Factor or its own TV show, and yet it still succeeded. Grassroots campaigns on issues people care about can succeed.

Dan Crowter, Coventry

...but Sony's money still rolls in

RAGE AGAINST the Machine beat Joe McElderry, whose victory in X-Factor had been watched by close to 20 million viewers, to the Christmas No. 1. A number of people chose the song for its overt political lyrics.

Ironically however Sony, one of the world's biggest media corporations, released Killing in the Name originally in 1992, as well as controlling X-Factor guru Simon Cowell's Syco which released McElderry's The Climb, and therefore will have profited from the fierce competition between the two tracks.

The question is, what next? True, Killing in the Name was an unexpected Christmas No. 1 that surprised the music industry. Those who participated in this success have begun discussing on the facebook group that started the campaign whether to try and repeat this feat next year.

Either way, the record companies and Simon Cowell (who are like the bankers in that we detest what they do but seem powerless at present to stop them) will still be there not just next Christmas but all year round.

You get a great feeling from denting the dominance of such figures, But it is only when their power is permanently broken and the organs for publicising and distributing music are taken into public ownership and democratic control that we can see a blossoming of real musical talent and not just what particular acts that Cowell and his ilk can make the most money from.

Iain Dalton

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