Is Tom Morello a Communist or Socialist? | Music Nerds HQ (2024)

Is Tom Morello a Communist or Socialist? | Music Nerds HQ (1)

I love Rage Against the Machine’s music. The raw energy and youthful angst made them one of the best bands of the 1990s. But knowing they were hugely financially successful, some of the things guitarist Tom Morello has said over the years seem hypocritical. So is Tom Morello a Communist or Socialist?

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Here’s what I know from seeing him play and looking into it:

Tom Morello describes himself as a socialist. He has also expressed support of anarchy and general left-leaning philosophies but has stopped short of calling himself a communist, although he has encouraged his fans to read the works of noted communists Karl Marx and Che Guevera.

But that’s not all there is to know.

While Morello loves the play the downtrodden minority raging against white privilege and systemic racism, he’s actually half-white, graduated from Harvard University, and lives in a $5 million dollar house in a gated LA community.

So not all is exactly as he wants it to seem, and there’s some definite hypocrisy at work. Let’s look a little deeper at this talented guitarist with a chip on his shoulder.

Tom Morello 💫

A tribute guitar replica to one of my heroes!

“Arm The Homeless”#RATM 🎸

— Dean Holmes (@DeanH2014) April 17, 2021

Is Rage Against the Machine political?

Rage Against the Machine is a left-leaning political band known almost as much for its activism as its music. But most of the outspoken political views come from singer Zach De La Rocha and guitarist Tom Morello and not as much from bassist Tim Commerford or drummer Brad Wilk.

Ironically though, when the band morphed into Audioslave after the departure of De La Rocha, they really ceased to be politically oriented.

He is a self-described nonsectarian socialist and activist. Tom also has a very far-left politically-minded solo project called The Nightwatchman.

Like Morello, vocalist Zach De La Rocha, the lyricist behind Rage’s songs, is very politically active and far-left leaning.

One of his biggest causes is that of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, a libertarian socialist militant group that has been waging war against the Mexican government since 1994.

Zach has spoken at the UN and is a big proponent of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers which is essentially a labor union focused on farms and fast-food restaurants.

But it’s worth pointing out the CIW is a non-profit so its business model is a little different from more traditional labor unions.

Rage Against The Machine performing at Woodstock 99’

— Classic Rock In Pics (@crockpics) April 5, 2018

Why did Rage Against the Machine burn the flag?

Rage Against the Machine burned the United States flag at Woodstock in 1999 during the song Killing in the Name both to express disdain for the government and police brutality, but also to amp up the crowd.

However, the flag-burning event was planned solely by bassist Tim Commerford without the knowledge or consent of his bandmates.

But, his band-mates did approve of the flag burning afterward.

The event took place at the Woodstock festival’s 30th anniversary. And unfortunately, that whole event is generally regarded very poorly.

Sexual assaults were rampant and both Fred Durst of Limp Biscuit and RATM’s flag-burning helped fuel the crowd’s bad behavior. The result was essentially a riot that resulted in the destruction of much of the festival.

But it wasn’t the first time they had used the flag improperly.

In 1996 the band was performing on Saturday Night Live and hung 2 American flags upside down on their amps. Right before the start of their performance, at the order of NBC, SNL sent a crew to remove the flags.

The band were asked to immediately leave the building and have been banned for life from SNL.

But the reason behind that is that they had already been told during rehearsals earlier in the week to not hang the flags.

So by hanging them right before the start of the performance, SNL and NBC saw it as an obvious F-you and took swift action against the band.

And it’s not like SNL isn’t pretty liberal!

But they also banned The Ramones for life from playing Saturday Night Live also, and of course, at least Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone were known for being conservative punk rockers.

Now trending: Tom Morello’s House #BirdsEyeView

— VirtualGlobetrotting (@VirtualGlobe) July 18, 2017

What is Tom Morello’s net worth?

Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine has a reported net worth of $30 million dollars. He lives in a home in a gated community in the Los Angeles hills area that is valued at over $5,000,000.

So he’s doing all right, despite his proclaimed hated of capitalism.

Most of his worth, of course, is attributed to the work he did in Rage Against the Machine between 1992-2000 (when they broke up for the 1st time).

2 of their albums hit #1 on the charts, Evil Empire and The Battle of Los Angeles.

Of course, when Zach left the band in 2000, Tom and the rest of the band just carried on as Audioslave with the late Chris Cornell taking over on vocals.

So no doubt Tom made money with this band too.

However, Audioslave didn’t do anywhere near as well on the charts. And they also happened at a time where Napster and other services were encouraging people to download music and movies for free (and illegally).

For many artists, Morello likely included, that was the beginning of the end of making money primarily from record sales.

Granted on Spotify, Rage does have well over 7 million monthly listeners.

And Audioslave has almost 6 million. But it’s also important to note that Spotify pays approximately $3,222 per 1 million streams. (source)

So assuming Tom gets 1/4 share from both bands, he’s only earning a little over $10,000 a month from Spotify.

Of course, there are other streaming services, but I’m guessing Spotify is what pays him the most, and they continue to be the #1 streaming service.

I learned two things today about @tmorello

1). I never knew he was a Harvard grad in political science

2). Never get in an argument with Tom Morello#SmartMan #harvarduniversity

— Dale E. Thompson (@daleethompson) June 6, 2020

Did Tom Morello go to Harvard?

Tom Morello did attend and graduate from Harvard University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies.

Ironically, in interviews, Morello has claimed he only paid $1,500 per year to attend Harvard by using scholarships and getting grants. (source)

The current face value of attending Harvard is almost $80,000 per year. (source)

If we adjust that down to account for the cost of living in the mid-1980s when Tom attended, that drops to $46,935. And currently, students getting scholarships are reported to be paying an average of only $12,000 per year.

And again, adjusted back for inflation to the 1980s, that would be about $7,000 per year.

So while it’s possible Morello only paid $1,500 per year, it’s unlikely it was really quite that low. And he’s probably had a lot of funny looks over the years for railing against the system while having a degree from Harvard.

So he probably likes to make it seem like it really wasn’t that costly.

After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles but seemingly never had any aspirations to become a teacher or educator despite that being the primary thing people do with a social studies degree.

Rage Against The Machine: How Tom Morello Got Humiliated By A Restaurant Owner

Final thoughts

If you can’t tell, I’m open to all points of view, but I don’t have a lot of tolerance for hypocrites.

Tom Morello loves to bite the hand that feeds him. He has a net worth of $30 million, lives in a gated community in the LA hills valued at $5 million dollars, and graduated from Harvard University. Capitalism has literally benefitted him his entire privileged life.

And yet he makes his living railing against it.

Tom may think he’s fooling everyone, but eventually, the truth comes out. It’s a pity, as while his inane statements don’t stop me from listening to his music, it does cause me to not respect him as a person. But he’s undeniably talented.

And it’s totally OK to rail against corruption or racism and to try and make the world a better place.

But when your whole mission is to stir people up against the very system that you’ve made millions from, there’s just no other way to call it than to say he’s a hypocrite and self-serving.

Photo which requires attribution:

SSSC @ Mountain View 5/22/09 by swimfinfan is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Is Tom Morello a Communist or Socialist? | Music Nerds HQ (2024)


Is Tom Morello a Communist or Socialist? | Music Nerds HQ? ›


Thomas Baptist Morello (born May 30, 1964) is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, and political activist. He is best known for his tenure with the rap metal band Rage Against the Machine and with the rock band Audioslave. Between 2016 and 2019, Morello was a member of the supergroup Prophets of Rage. › wiki › Tom_Morello
has outlined his socialist political drive throughout his career, starting with his contributions to the activist rap-rock of Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine (often abbreviated as RATM or shortened to simply Rage) is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1991, the group consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello, and drummer Brad Wilk. › wiki › Rage_Against_the_Machine
in the 1990s.

What is Tom Morellos political affiliation? ›

Morello, as well as fellow members of Rage Against the Machine, hold left-leaning political views. Morello in particular identifies as a socialist, and has called socialism a "necessity" for the world, saying "I think [socialism is] a necessity, to save the planet [...]

What political party is Rage Against the Machine? ›

The band is known for melding heavy metal and rap music with punk rock and funk influences, as well as their revolutionary socialist political views. As of 2010, they have sold over 16 million records worldwide. The band will be inducted into the 2023 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Are Rage Against the Machine anarchists? ›

They are at least sympathetic to anarchism, and have used anarchist rhetoric and symbolism throughout their career. I can't find much information on most members' specific beliefs, though Tom Morello said that he used to consider himself an anarchist, but now considers himself a non-sectarian socialist.

Is Rage Against the Machine Native American? ›

Killing In The Name was released as a single on 2 November 1992 as the first single from Rage Against The Machine's debut album. The band was formed the previous year in Los Angeles. Vocalist Zack de la Rocha was born in Long Beach to a Mexican-American father and his grandfather was a Mexican revolutionary.

How many different types of socialism are there? ›

Socialist ideologies
  • Utopian socialism.
  • Scientific socialism.
  • Communism.
  • Marxism.
  • Anarchism.

Does Tom Morello donate to charity? ›

Tom Morello has supported the following charities listed on this site: Aid Still Required. Amnesty International. Feeding America.

Is Rage Against the Machine a leftist band? ›

Roughly three decades ago, the American rock band Rage Against the Machine (RATM) was formed. Since that formation, the band have gone on to release four studio albums, each containing a plethora of aggressive and politically charged songs that are super left leaning.

What is a machine Democrat? ›

In the politics of representative democracies, a political machine is a party organization that recruits its members by the use of tangible incentives (such as money or political jobs) and that is characterized by a high degree of leadership control over member activity.

Why did RATM get banned from SNL? ›

On April 13, 1996, Rage Against The Machine was banned from ever appearing on the iconic program "Saturday Night Live", due to what was later dubbed as the "Flag Incident." Rage is probably one of the greatest protest bands of our generation, so what you will read next won't be surprising. Yet!

Do anarchists want communism? ›

Anarchist communism is a political philosophy and anarchist school of thought that advocates communism. It calls for the abolition of private property but retains personal property and collectively-owned items, goods, and services.

Are anarchists against government? ›

Anarchism is a political philosophy and movement that is skeptical of all justifications for authority and seeks to abolish the institutions it claims maintain unnecessary coercion and hierarchy, typically including, though not necessarily limited to, governments, nation states, and capitalism.

Why is Rage Against the Machine cancelled? ›

Rage Against the Machine have canceled their 2023 North American Tour due to Zach de la Rocha's leg injury, the band announced across social media on Tuesday. The decision comes nearly two months after the injury forced Rage to cancel their European show dates as well.

What was the most violent Native American group? ›

The Comanches, known as the "Lords of the Plains", were regarded as perhaps the most dangerous Indians Tribes in the frontier era. One of the most compelling stories of the Wild West is the abduction of Cynthia Ann Parker, Quanah's mother, who was kidnapped at age 9 by Comanches and assimilated into the tribe.

Who were the most hostile Native Americans? ›

The Comanche were noted as fierce warriors who fought vigorously for their homeland of Comancheria.

Why did Rage Against the Machine write killing in the name? ›

The lyrics were inspired by the police brutality suffered by Rodney King and the subsequent 1992 Los Angeles riots.

What countries have failed socialism? ›

Critics of socialism cite the Soviet Union and Venezuela as examples of countries where socialism has failed.

Who is the father of socialism? ›

Karl Marx revolutionized and popularized the ideas of Socialism. Therefore, he is called as the father of modern socialism.

What are the weakness of socialism? ›

Disadvantages of socialism include slow economic growth, less entrepreneurial opportunity and competition, and a potential lack of motivation by individuals due to lesser rewards.

Are Ted Nugent and Tom Morello friends? ›

Morello has held firm about his friendship with Nugent as of late. He told The Howard Stern Show in March 2021 that while the pair “certainly have differences, I consider him a friend”. Then, in an interview with the NME in October of that year, he maintained that he “reserves the right to be friends with anybody”.

What does Tom Morello have a degree in? ›

Tom Morello graduated from Harvard University 91with a bachelor's degree in political science. That should come with no surprise, since he was the lead guitarist of one of the most politically vocal and active bands of all time, Rage Against the Machine. For Morello, music and activism have always been intertwined.

Did Tom Morello and Chris Cornell get along? ›

Tom Morello had a close relationship with Chris Cornell while they worked together, and the guitarist has recalled the first time he met the singer, who he described as having a "dark" aura about him.

Why did Rage Against the Machine burn the flag? ›

Back in 1999, there was no heavy rock band more politically engaged than the nu-metal legends Rage Against The Machine, and they were sure to use their huge spotlight slot at Woodstock 1999 to make a political statement by burning the United States flag during their performance, enraging a certain spectrum of America's ...

Is Zack de la Rocha a Democrat? ›

Left-wing in every sense of the word, de la Rocha's Anarchist beliefs give Rage Against The Machine and his other projects a zest that his peers could only dream of achieving. Be it Evil Empire or One Day as a Lion, his tremendous character has created some of the most essential political records ever made.

Why was Rage Against the Machine banned from radio? ›

Rage Against the Machine's entire discography — four albums and over 50 songs — were deemed unacceptable, apparently because the band had been critical of America and capitalism.

Who was the most famous political machine boss? ›

William Magear Tweed (April 3, 1823 – April 12, 1878), often erroneously referred to as William "Marcy" Tweed (see below), and widely known as "Boss" Tweed, was an American politician most notable for being the political boss of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party's political machine that played a major role in the ...

What is machine politics in simple terms? ›

A political machine (sometimes called just machine in politics) is a political organization in which a person or small group with authority that has enough votes or is popular enough to have control over political administration or any type of government in a city, county, or state.

Which political machine ran politics in New York? ›

Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was an American political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789, as the Tammany Society.

How many bands are banned from SNL? ›

Ever. At least eight musicians and bands (that we know of) have been banned from the show since it started in 1975. As the show is performed live for broadcast, they've got some strict rules on what they can air and what they can't.

Why was Rage Against the Machine banned after 9 11? ›

All songs by Rage Against the Machine were pulled because they were seen as anti-American. That … the “machine” being capitalism and/or government oppression is the whole idea behind Rage. Alanis Morrissette's “Isn't it Ironic” was apparently on that list. Cat Stevens' “Peace Train” was on that list.

Is SNL still improv? ›

But what we do here is so nailed down that there's very little improvisation. Every line, every bit of dialogue, has a camera cut attached to it. If you're not where you're supposed to be, then they're going to miss the shot." Plenty of cast members have run afoul of Michaels and his show's strict requirements.

Is fascism capitalist or socialist? ›

In terms of economics, fascism incorporates elements of both capitalism and socialism. Fascist economists advocate for self-sufficiency and individual profit, but promote government subsidies of corporations.

What is the opposite of communism? ›

They are theories that represent two inherently opposite ways of thinking. One is extremely individualistic (Capitalism), while the other one (Communism) believes in putting the society before self. The communism vs capitalism clash polarized the world during the cold war.

Who invented communism? ›

Most modern forms of communism are grounded at least nominally in Marxism, a theory and method conceived by Karl Marx during the 19th century.

Can an anarchist be a socialist? ›

Anarchism has been historically identified with the socialist and anti-capitalist movement, with the main divide being between anti-market anarchists who support some form of decentralised economic planning and pro-market anarchists who support free-market socialism, therefore such terms are mainly used by anarcho- ...

Why do anarchists hate capitalism? ›

Anarchists argue that certain capitalist transactions are not voluntary and that maintaining the class structure of a capitalist society requires coercion which violates both anarchist principles and anarcho-capitalism's non-aggression principle.

Who is the father of anarchism? ›

Anarchism. Proudhon was the first person to refer to himself as an "anarchist". Proudhon's anarchist mutualism is considered as a middle way or synthesis between individualist anarchism and social anarchism.

Who is replacing Rage Against the Machine? ›

Best known for the 1993 anti-authority anthem Killing in the Name, Rage Against The Machine will be replaced in the main slot by the English pop rock band The 1975.

Why are artists canceling their shows? ›

Unfortunately, the impact of COVID-19, along with all the costs and bureaucracy associated with touring, means that more and more artists are struggling to tour. Therefore, many will reduce live dates or forgo touring altogether.

Why was Rage Against the Machine controversial? ›

Critics have noted Rage Against the Machine for its "fiercely polemical music, which brewed sloganeering left wing rants against corporate America, cultural imperialism, and government oppression into a Molotov co*cktail of punk, hip-hop, and thrash."

Is Rage Against the Machine anti police? ›

Initially, the lyrics—written by singer Zach de la Rocha, along with Morello, bassist Timothy Robert Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk— were inspired by the Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police in 1991, resulting in riots across the city in 1992 after the officers involved in King's beating were acquitted.

Why did Tom Morello leave Rage Against the Machine? ›

“It was a lack of emotional maturity in being able to deal with each other as people. We had political vision and the shows never suffered, but we just couldn't agree on stuff and that sort of unearthed feelings that made it hard to make records.”

Why is Rage Against the Machine cancelling? ›

Zack de la Rocha says he has “made the painful and difficult decision to cancel the remaining shows on our 2023 North American leg” after tearing his Achilles onstage with Rage Against The Machine earlier this year.

Does Tom Morello have a PHD? ›

2. Tom Morello. Tom Morello graduated from Harvard University 91with a bachelor's degree in political science. That should come with no surprise, since he was the lead guitarist of one of the most politically vocal and active bands of all time, Rage Against the Machine.

Why is Tom Morello considered a good guitarist? ›

Tom Morello is best known for his creative guitar playing style which combines feedback noise, unconventional picking and tapping, as well as incorporating a heavy use of guitar effects through pedals to give a truly unique sound.

How many Grammys does Tom Morello have? ›

Morello has shared two Grammy Award wins and another four nominations with his Rage Against the Machine bandmates. He also shared a Grammy nomination as a member of Audioslave. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Morello as #26 in their list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Did Rage Against the Machine cause riots? ›

2000 DNC in Los Angeles

After the performance, numerous attendees provoked police, causing them to declare unlawful assembly, and a riot broke out ending in violence and arrests.

What personality type is Tom Morello? ›

Tom Morello ISTPs are extremely independent and will like the freedom to work in short bursts of energy on difficult action oriented practical problems that hold their interest.

Was Tom Morello in the E Street Band? ›

Morello first jammed with Bruce Springsteen back in in 2008 at a California gig, where he joined the band for “The Ghost Of Tom Joad.” He eventually became a touring guitarist for the E Street Band in early 2013 for an Australian trip that Steve Van Zandt was unable to make, and went on to perform on eight tunes on ...

Did Tom Morello have a cameo in Iron Man? ›

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello appeared in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him capacity in the original Iron Man, playing an anonymous member of the Ten Rings terrorist cell. The polarising Tesla billionaire appeared as himself in Iron Man 2.


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