How Rock And Roll Saved America From Communism

Picture 34

Photo of French Anarchists but Nocturnale, licensed CC BY-NC, original at http://www.flickr.com/photos/spaceflattener/487645689/

During the 1960s (as Parcbench’s Visiting Geezer, I lived through them), we were swept up in a worldwide enthusiasm to impose (or reinforce) Marxist regimes.  This writer was a member of the New Left … until it became apparent that the rhetoric of Peace and Love masked a deeply sinister agenda: totalitarian control of our lives.

With the Cultural Revolution in full cry in China, and French students throwing Molotov cocktails in Paris (as in the image above, which, full disclosure, is of anarchist rioting after the Sarkozy election, not from the 60s), there was a great deal of agitation among students in the US in opposition to the Vietnam war, the draft, and in favor of civil rights and the sexual revolution.  There was also a lot of passion for Marxist thought.

We’ll never know exactly how close America came to installing a Marxist dictatorship.  But the failure to do so certainly wasn’t from any lack of effort by the self-avowed Marxist/Leninist student leaders.

Who stopped them?

The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Who.  That’s who.

This writer recently shared an article from Parcbench with his 21 year old, deeply progressive, filmmaker son, Michael (of www.Benko.tv).  His witty response?

”Stop it!  Liberals are the ones who are supposed to be hip.  Not funny!”

I replied that Parcbench was setting out to make us retros hipper than thou…. …you’re doomed.

To which he replied, with a good natured zing, “Won’t happen, cause us liberals are speaking the truth, and that’s always hipper.  Plus, all the good musicians are liberal.”

Well, it’s still a free country (notwithstanding the relentless efforts by various totalitarians to destroy free speech, via “local content” rules on talk radio, and to trample many other rights enshrined in the Constitution).  And this dear lad is entitled to his own opinions.

But he’s not entitled to his own facts.  And, in fact, the evidence is that the greatest musicians of the golden age of Rock (to whose work we’re all still listening since nothing better has come along) are, where it counts the most, deeply conservative.

As riots were occurring in American cities, university administration offices were being occupied, and we were toying with Revolution, our real cultural leaders — the leading rockers of the day—put a stop to that.  This may seem, or even be, something of an overstatement, but it is hard to overestimate the prestige and influence that leading rock stars possessed.  If they had gone the other way, it would have mattered a lot, and it might even have tipped the balance.

The most explicit pull on the “emergency chord” was The Beatles “Revolution,” from The White Album (1968) and the flip side to their mega-classic “Hey Jude” which guaranteed lots of airplay. Some lines:

<snip>

You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

<snip>

You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait

<snip>

You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

Nobody was hipper than John Lennon.  If Lennon ruled out Lenin … revolution was officially un-hip.

Meanwhile The Rolling Stones gave us Sympathy for the Devil from Beggars Banquet (1968).

While not overtly political (a samba sung from the perspective of Lucifer), it makes the sly and shocking statement:

<snip>

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

<snip>

The Stones thereby firmly identified the Communists as, well, Satanic, and then coupled Communism with Nazism.  Only a songwriter with the integrity, discernment, talent and courage of Jagger could have survived making such a shockingly politically incorrect observation.  He did.  The artistry here is virtuosic, and the implicit point not lost on us.

We remain forever in his debt for the role he thus played in averting what could have been the institution of totalitarianism in America.  Jagger was the height of cool and if he trashed Communism as an option, it was ruled out.

A few years later, in perhaps one of the most politically trenchant set of rock lyrics ever written, in 1971 Pete Townshend and The Who gave us “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (included on Who’s Next), picked in 2009 by VH1 as the sixth greatest hard rock song of all time.  Its conclusion?

<snip>

There’s nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now the parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

The experience of being a member of the New Left wasn’t a complete loss.  One lesson that has stayed with this writer is, “Capitalize with the Capitalists but Socialize with the Socialists.”  Progressives throw much wilder parties than we do, so … get invited and go!  If they ask you what the hell you’re doing there, tell ‘em it’s a Hippies/Hell’s Angels thing and you’re there as their own personal Hell’s Angel.  This almost always satisfies, or at least confuses, them and you can go back to partying hearty.  Especially if you’ve got some bitchin’ tats.  Meanwhile, we’re counting on Parcbench to show the Right how to really rock out!

So, Michael, my very dear son:

You may be right.

All good musicians may be Liberal.

But all great musicians are Conservative.

And.  The totalitarians are back using pretty words.  Like Hope.  Like Change.

I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive  ***
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

Don’t get fooled again


Ralph Benko, a principal of Capital City Partners, is a conservative human rights advocate and the author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World, available at www.thewebstersdictionary.com, reviewed at Parcbench here. He is a volunteer advisor to www.Benko.TV

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko is a principal of Capital City Partners, of Washington DC. He is also the author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World, for policy and advocacy groups to use the Web powerfully.

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  • kitty

    How timely! I just read this on Page Six:
    WOODSTOCK WOE
    THE rock icons who played Woodstock 40 years ago got peace and love — but they didn’t know if they’d get paid. “The promoters threatened that any band that demanded money would be exposed to the crowd,” Dave Marsh reveals in the September issue of Relix, noting that one of the bands that struggled to get paid was The Who. “The Who’s management got the $11,200 owed them . . . When Roger Daltrey called it ‘the worst gig we ever played,’ he didn’t mean the music.”

  • JohnLocke

    Check out this old article by John J. Miller that lists 50 rock songs with conservative messages. The three mentioned here are among them:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NzZkNDU5MmViNzVjNzkzMDE3NzNlN2MyZjRjYTk4YjE

    And let’s not forget that a few legendary classic rockers have revealed themselves to be right-wingers. Just this last election cycle AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson and Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry came out of the conservative closet. Plus bands have taken some decidedly anti-left positions in the past, like when The Who called out the hypocrisy of Live Earth or Led Zeppelin went into tax exile in response to two left-wing administrations in the UK.

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