All That Remains Frontman Clarifies Tom Morello Comments

Phil Labonte has clarified his recent harsh remarks about Tom Morello over Morello's commentary on Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

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Vocalist Phil Labonte of Massachusetts metallers All That Remains has clarified his recent harsh remarks about Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello over Morello's commentary on Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who was tapped last week to run for vice president on the Republican ticket alongside presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In a New York Times profile, Ryan who is known for his far-right positions on both economics and social issues claimed that he enjoyed the music of Morello's ultra-leftist rap-rock band, reports Blabbermouth.

In reponse, Morello penned an op-ed piece for Rolling Stone on Ryan in which he said that Ryan's "love of Rage Against The Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved The Beatles but didn't understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against The Machine," Morello said.

A few days later, Labonte took to his Twitter account and offered his two cents on Morello's op-ed piece, writing, "Tom Morello is a communist and a fool. He's also had the wool pulled over his eyes by the system." The singer added, "I'm not saying he's dumb. I'm saying he's a fool for the statist perspective that our government is good when a Democrat is in office."

Yesterday (Thursday, August 23), Labonte released the following statement clarifying his remarks and offering his views on the upcoming presidential election:

"OK, so here we go. I'm taking the time to write this to clarify my 140-character comment on Tom Morello's piece in Rolling Stone. I've caught a lot of heat over my remarks about it. Mostly from the metal blogs or individuals pointing out that he went to Harvard and I didn't, so he must be right and I must be an idiot.

"Well, I would submit to the left (the most vocal, angry and vitriolic about my comment) that GWB and Bill O'Reilly both went to Harvard. Does that make them infallible and brilliant? Yeah, I didn't think so.

"Let me start by stating I do not support Romney/Ryan in the upcoming election. I am not a Republican. I do not support statism. I know it's hard for the far left and the far right to understand, but it's true. I am called a 'liberal' by the far right for my opinion on drug policy, gay marriage, immigration, etc. I am called a 'right-wing nut' by the far left for my opinion on gun rights and fiscal policy. That myopic and lazy view of 'right' and 'left' is what I am staunchly against. On to the point.

"I've never met Tom Morello, so my comments were in no way meant to be a personal attack on his character. Though I do believe his political opinions are incoherent and foolish, I also believe he has good intentions.

"I said he's a communist because I believe I have heard him call himself a communist. I have seen him wear a hat that said 'COMMIE' on it in photos. If I am incorrect and my recollections are inaccurate and he is simply a socialist, then I would offer my apology. Regardless, that remark wasn't intended to be an insult as so many people have portrayed it. It was a comment on what I believe his political ideology is, and again, if I am incorrect, I am sorry. But I don't retract the core of my statement.

"I'm gonna quote Tom's piece. 'I wonder what Ryan's favorite RAGE song is... is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production?' That one sentence speaks volumes about his perspective. He is advocating theft and the initiation of violence against a minority by the majority. That is immoral.

"Now I understand he is focusing his rage on 'The 1%' and because of the minority in question, it's socially acceptable to demonize them and call for theft and violence against them. But that doesn't change the fact that he is calling for violence against, and seizure of the property of, a minority.

"In the piece he calls for 'a more humane and just planet.' Is aggression and theft justice? Unequivocally no. It is my perspective as a libertarian, the best way to limit the power and influence of 'The 1%' is to limit the power of government to influence society via legislation. If you have no favors to sell, you will have no one trying to buy favors.

"One may not share my libertarian views, but nonetheless, it is hard to reconcile advocating violence as somehow morally correct.

"He talks about covering 'Fuck The Police' and wonders if that is one of Ryan's favorites. Yet he would need a powerful government who would use the police to force people into submission to further his agenda. His perspective and agendas could not be achieved any other way. This makes no sense.

"He condemns U.S. imperialism, and I agree on this point, but then later in the piece he whimsically hopes that Paul Ryan is a mole who would 'Throw U.S. military support behind the Zapatistas." Is that NOT a contradiction? He would condemn U.S. intervention in one area of the world, but support it in another? Never mind the fact that constitutionally, not even the president, let alone the vice president, has the authority to do this. Again this makes no sense.

"In closing, if Tom's perspective was not simply looking to use the force of government to further his own political predilections, I would retract my statement and offer a full apology. But I don't believe any of the things he is advocating could be achieved without the force of government.

"Government is violence. Using violence to coerce is immoral. Tom's perspective therefore is advocating violence and aggression, disguised as peace and unity. This is immoral and I'm not sorry for pointing that out."

52 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Phil Labonte made a few good points in his reply. Unfortunately, all too many people will only read the 140 character Twitter post. Im not saying I agree with Labonte on everything, but I like what he said about 'myopic lazy view of right and left.
    All politicians are crooks, good men or women don't make it into office, and musicians should just have fun making their music. Opinions are all well and good, but pissing contests via blogs and twitter just make everyone look silly.
    Good men and women do not make it into politics often for a lot of reasons. But, a big reason is people need to be more aware of politics. I think it's great when musicians speak their mind (even when they are mindlessly parroting their party's platform like Phil whats-his-name). More young adults need to develop an interest in the political workings and direction of this country if anything is going to change. The sad thing is some people only look up to musicians and rock stars (if that title still exist). But, if it sparks an interest...I think that's a good thing. Just my opinion.
    I didn't understand 99% of what that guy said. Maybe the political fellow just likes funky beats and heavy guitars with quirky riffs. Like in all rage songs.
    Well, that's my favorite part about RATM songs. And Morello's distinct approach to guitar solos.
    I've spent a lot of time trying to understand Tom Morello's political views. He claims to be an anarchist, but he also supports communism. You couldn't find more polar ends if you tried. He's all about government regulation on the heads of industry, yet he wants the workers to take control of the workforce. If the government controls the bosses, they definitely have a hold on the workers. Tom Morello also loves Che Gueverra; the man who was behind the Cuban missile crisis and has been quoted saying that he completely intended on attacking America if the missiles ever made it to Cuba. Harvard grad or not, Tom Morello has some ass-backwards and directly conflicting political beliefs despite his ability to construct amazing riffs. Labonte is right here. I've never met anyone who listened to Rage because they thought their lyrics were awesome. It's all about the riffs, solos, and intensity.
    Never heard of Anarcho-communism? It's probably the best form of Communism. Shit, just look at what Communism is supposed be: a "classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production" What's more anarchist than a stateless and moneyless society where everyone is in the same class of "no class"? It was Lenin that ruined Communism, when he thought up the idea of a political party that should lead the people to a Communist state. Fuck him. Thing is, though, you'd have to be dumb to think anarchy would work in this day and age, where violent crimes, corruption, and exploitation still happen despite there being an entire system of law set up to stop it. You can't exactly stop violent crimes by force.. You're just going to have to wait until humans evolve a bit more to stop being stupid. BUT. You can definitely stamp out corruption and exploitation, especially in the workforce, with governmental help, simply by making sure no one is in the position to exploit or corrupt. And, if you properly maintain your government, like any representative/democratic society should, you will be able to avoid the ditch that the US is in (you know, politicians being bought and bribed, etc., etc.). Sadly, in order for the US to get out of said ditch, you need to start teaching people that the rich old bastards they're trying so hard to protect, actually do nothing to help the average Joe, what so ever, and do a lot more harm to them than good. And that will take a long, long, long time.
    I would like to know where you got that quote from. The reason I ask is because by nature, communism is a state. It is a relationship in which the state works to protect the workers and in turn the workers work toward protecting the state; as far as Marx would define it. In order to maintain the kind of class equality that communism strives to achieve, there has to be some kind of an institution in place to ensure that people have the same wage, every job is filled, that no one in society is any extra work, and to protect the workers from their bosses, who would own the majority of the resources.. That institution would be a government. Every single person has different needs and tastes, as well as a desire to improve or acquire; and those aren't bad things. True communism can't exist without something with more power than an economic upper class regulating and limiting its citizens. I suppose I haven't heard much of anarchist communism is because as long as there are human-beings, such a state would never exist for very long. The ideas of absolute individual freedom and complete societal reliance simply contradict each other.
    I'm sorry, in my second paragraph I said "that no one in society is any *extra work." I meant to say *does.
    Awful singer... not so awful thinker. I think he and Morello should exchange views and ideas with each other, privately, rather than Blabbermouth and UG playing the "Ooh no he didn't" hype machine.
    Or have a civilized chat, with coverage by GW or someone. It'd be interesting to read the back and forth.
    Like acrtl1000 said above "Maybe the political fellow just likes funky beats and heavy guitars with quirky riffs. Like in all rage songs." Which is why I and probably 90% of RATM fans like them, If it was because of what there songs are about, I'm sure they would of never have been so popular.
    Political views aside, I still do find it ironic that a conservative likes RATM. Like how it's ironic that I'm a liberal and like Ayn Rand novels.
    "He is advocating theft and the initiation of violence against a minority by the majority. That is immoral." This guy is not very smart, is he?
    In the history of the planet there has NEVER been a true communist government ever, period. We've had socialist dictatorships, but never a communist country. It seems like this guy agrees for the most part with what Tom Morello was saying, only disagreeing with the "Violent" aspect that he thought Tom was insinuating. I read the rolling stone piece a few times, and even with the direct quote this guy provided ("Of people seizing the means of production) In no way does Tom advocate violence of any kind. Hes just saying that people ought to control the profits that they produce (Which by the way is the textbook definition of Communism) Which by the way is completely obtainable using non-violent protest (Such as when RATM stood on stage butt naked for 15 minutes with P-M-R-C written on their chests)
    "limit the power and influence of 'The 1%' is to limit the power of government to influence society via legislation." Because deregulated/unlegislated capitalism has never been shown to create even worse environments than what we have now, right? As if regulations weren't brought in, in the first place, to stop corrupt, rich business owners from A) using child labour, B) paying workers horrible wages, C) creating horribly dirty working and living conditions. Getting rid of government regulation is completely ass-backwards, and thinking it will help shows a lack of historical knowledge, as well as a lack of awareness of countries that are currently deregulated shitholes themselves. The race to the bottom is not a race you want to win. "One may not share my libertarian views, but nonetheless, it is hard to reconcile advocating violence as somehow morally correct." No one with even half a brain would share anyone's Libertarian views. And considering most Libertarians have the idea that they need to have an entire arsenal of weapons for the inevitable day the government over-steps its bounds, and the only way to stop it is through armed revolt, really.. You should not be condemning someone's supposed attempt to incite an armed/violent revolt. "Yet he would need a powerful government who would use the police to force people into submission to further his agenda." If he supported yet another false version of Communist that ends up being little more than Stalinism, sure. Anarcho-Communism is a thing, you know. You don't need big government to be a Communist nation. It just so happens that piece of crap dictators tend to use a bastardized form of Communism to run things. The only true Communist nation to ever exist was the one Karl Marx had in his head. "He would condemn U.S. intervention in one area of the world, but support it in another?" Because there's a difference between furthering US control and supremacy under the guise of helping people, and legitimately helping people out. Getting caught in a sink-hole of a war for 10 years under false pretences was bad (though, the world definitely is better off with Saddam). Enforcing a No-Fly Zone over Libya so Gaddafi couldn't slaughter his citizens was good. I'm as tired of the US's shit as any other politically-aware person, but give credit where credit is due. "Government is violence" Just another person who looks and 'bad government' and focuses on the 'government' part, instead of the 'bad' like any sane human being would do. Just go back to making a commercially bastardized form of a once-good Punk subgenre, poser. Keep your Libertarian drivel to yourself.
    Immoral is a subjective term. Is it moral for 400 people to own more wealth collectively than the bottom 56% of the population? Is it moral that the 6 Walton family heirs hold more wealth than 42% of all Americans Combined simply by being born to the right person at the right time? These idiots complain about Statism for one reason...because they are programmed to. Remove government opposition and Big Money will have no constraints. Is that what America needs? It hasn't worked for the last 30 years, opening up the gates of Laissez-faire capitalism a little wider will not help anyone, with the exception of an astronomically wealthy minority. I'm so sick of hearing cxnts like this defend billionaires and the "magic of the market" and fighting, what is usually their own interest, and the interest of the vast majority of working class people...almost as much as I am sick of hearing Communist as a undefinable pejorative. This guy has the nerve to claim how immoral it is to suggest that the majority are not being served in our modern economy, that advocating stealing from the 1% is so wrong. What about the fact that the top 1% income has grown 300x in the last 30 years, while the workers of this country haven't even seen their wages adjusted properly for inflation. When 90% of all new gains in wealth are spread amongst 0.5% of the population. That is theft. Government, (that is "We the People" of a representative, democratically elected government) is the only thing that stands in the way of billionaires, who own or control almost everything as it is, from owning absolutely everything. There is no Democracy without statism or collectivism. That is a one way street to plutocratic totalitarianism. Christ. I hate Libertarians.
    Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well armed sheep. Christ I hate Communists, Statists, Socialists, Collectivists, Republicans, Democrats, etc.
    Your definition of democracy only works under the Laissez-faire, free market parameters that have been established by the plutocrats who collectively and secretly fund the Libertarian movement, while openly funding the Republican party. When the American voters have sovereignty in a true representative government-democracy is a wonderful thing. If you don't like collectivism perhaps you should gather your guns, Gadsden flags and your signed copies of 'Atlas Shrugged' and 'The Turner Diaries' and move to a country that embraces your ideology. May I suggest Somalia...No government, No law, No regulations; none of that pesky Statist philosophy you loathe. Just a vast, free market unencumbered by regulations, ripe for each and every man and woman to make their individual fortunes without the hindrances of tax funded infrastructure. And, the freedom to do anything you want without big brother poking his nose in your business. Check it out, if you decide Somalia is right for you I will personally pay for a one way ticket to just outside of Mogadishu. You'll have to travel the rest of the way by burro, but, it's a small price to pay to avoid the trappings of collectivism. America's problem is not's Fascism. It has been moving in that direction for the last 30 years. Libertarianism will only exacerbate that move. Well armed or not, you most certainly are a sheep. Say "Hello" to John Galt for me.
    I love these arguments "whul, if ya don't like it, ya kin jest go somewhurs else buddy!" That is a fantastic argument. I can use it too. If you love communism and statism so much, why don't you move somewhere that shares your ideals, say, North Korea, China, Russia, etc? See there, you actually have more options, and good ones at that. And I don't disagree with you about the Fascists.... we actually call them Communofascists.
    That was not my argument. My point is that you have to go to the ends of the earth to avoid collectivism and that society, of any kind, does not exist without it. Communofascists...that's well...stupid. Communism and Fascism are complete opposites, Far Left and Far Right. True Communism (which has never occurred and exist only in theory) is the power and the means of production belonging to the people. Fascism is a marriage of corporate and state interest, a plutocratic take over of governance and the commons. Fascism is the antithesis of Socialism and Communism, in that it is designed to benefit the already wealthy and allow them rule. A lot of people confuse Fascism with Totalitarianism. It is true they both have collectivist elements. But, all things eventually do. I never said I was a Communist. I don't think anything I posted even alluded to that. Being opposed to Libertarianism, Fringe Conservatism, Corporatism and ultimately Fascism doesn't make you a Communist. As I see it, my values are American values. You can call them Socialist if you like but America, in my opinion, has always had a healthy mix of socialism. Personally, I believe in the commons, social security, medicare, infrastructure, progressive taxation, a social safety net (that is just that, a safety net) and heavy regulation to keep a working and stable capitalist economy that benefits everyone, allowing responsible growth and rewards for merit rather than birthright. Besides, none of the countries you named practice Communism. China is nowhere near a Socialist country. They haven't even been close in name or theory since Mao. Look at modern China, it is a Totalitarian-Capitalist state. They use the word Communist the way Americans use the word freedom. It's a fiction. And, there is really no reason to move there since China is practically a template for American labor if we continue with Supply-side economic theory. Russia...I'm not sure if you heard about this in the last few decades Russia dissolved the Soviet Union. They no longer use the word Communism. Not that they ever were, Bolshevik Totalitarianism is not Communism. North Korea is a joke. Cuba may be the closest thing to actual Communism. But, it still misses the mark. But, all snark aside. What is it that you, an anti-collectivist want America to be? I am asking sincerely...I'm curious, I would honestly like to know your opinion on the direction that you think this country should take to be anti-collectivist and succeed. I know lots of Libertarians, but I can't say any of them espouse anti-collectivist views.
    "Tom Morello is a communist and a fool" "Regardless, that remark wasn't intended to be an insult as so many people have portrayed it." You called him a communist in an accusatory derogatory way, but it's not insult? This is all way too ridiculous, and if you don't support Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney, why attack Tom for saying that he doesn't like that someone like that likes his band? Standing up for the little guy or something? gimme a break
    Phil is right on. Tom says a lot of outlandish things, and just because you've sold a ton of records doesn't mean someone can't call you out. I agree with Phil completely, Tom will straight up tell you he is a communist so I don't see why anyone would expect Phil to issue an apology.
    Isn't this a guitar/music website? Can this site ban anyone for solely signing up to sling their political turds against the wall? I get it, everyone on the thread is a poly-sci savant and needs everyone to read how they can pick apart someone's views.
    Why are you American guys so sh1t scared of communism? Is absolute equality, not to mention a government that gives a rats ass about the citizens who elected it so alien to you? This McCarthyist bullshit has paralysed you with fear since the 60's and to be honest its getting old. A communist candidate, Miterand, won 10% of the vote in France, after seeing what happens when capitalism is allowed the keys to the liqour cabinet. The fact that Tom's communist would make me vote for him over all else. Perhaps that would wake you from your day dream.
    The naivete is strong in this one... Communism is theft. The ones who loaf around get to be "equal" to the ones who put in all the work. And if you don't hand over your hard earned labor? Re-education.
    Re-education? Clearly you've taken the self announced communism to be the true form of communism. However as I've just said, russian communism was communist in name only. Its not about theft or loafing, its about the removal of mass exploitation. The irony is you've just made one of the most naive arguments against communism I've ever heard...
    So then, in practical terms, how does everyone become "equal"? You know there will be those who produce more, and those who produce less... How do you equalize them without taking from those who produce more? Beyond that, how do you get somebody like me to submit to such a nonsensical system? I will not and you will be forced to murder me.
    Um, in case anyone hasn't noticed, Morello is a commie. A self admitted one which is even more disturbing.
    And Furthermore, from the evidence provided above, it is clear to see that Phil Labonte did not actually write this statement and more than likely was composed by a publicist or paid writer.
    You may be correct, it struck me as well written but ignorant as hell. I guess Phil missed the RATM concert at the 2000 Democratic Convention? Or did Phil think RATM was there to support the Dems? Or am I missing something and Tom was forced by the other RATM band members to play a protest concert against his beloved Democrats? (more likely it was a protest against the 2 party system, but you get the point) Furthermore, Phil displays the Manichean left/right thinking he is claiming to oppose, and does so by pigeonholing Tom into naive and hypocritical leftist stereotypes. Not to mention that stuff about Tom having the wool pulled over his eyes by the system! Does Tom not understand his own band's lyrics? LMAO! Way to self-destruct Phil...
    People from the metal community care wayyy too much about politics these days.
    Veronique Vega
    Morello and Labonte are both American. I consider speaking out against government policies to be the highest form of patriotism. As long as its intellegently spoken with SOME logic to it (cough cough Mustaine cough) then Im all for it, whether or not I agree with the point of view.
    What a dick thing to say about one of the most articulate and well educated rockers ever to walk the earth. But he has some good points, such as the "myopic" bit.
    Oh, so he's a libertarian...that explains it... /eyeroll Libertarians = anarchists who are wealthy enough to sympathize with corporate "people" over actual, physical people.
    Everyone is a fool for thinking one of the two major parties can fix anything. It is an embarrassment of riches to know we elected George W Bush twice and gave the keys to the CEO's office to a mailroom clerk in Obama with nearly zero experience. Either party wins by money. Neither truly dont care about you or me.
    I'll start by saying I support NO REPUBMOCRAT in any race. Then I'll go on to rip Morello the new ***** he deserves. This is the same STUPID rock star whose only song that ties him to any fame is about a criminal who killed old people while robbing their house then hid out on the reservation to avoid the FBI. Well that didn't work and the FBI got him with guns a blazin' So now Rage Against Thinking immortalizes Leonard Peltier along with that trendy Che Guevarra T-shirt. Ol ' Che, another loser who got sent away by the party to both alleviate their embarrassment and to maybe convert some South Americans. Kind of like the Wings keeping Linda McArtneys mic off during live performance. Kept Fidels buddy out of their mix and gave him something to do.(decompose mostly.) I would expect as much from Morello who figured out early on that "Causes" can make LOADS of followers and you can get people worked up over the stupidest most unreasonable bullshit if only you have a straw man to burn. In the old days, these people sold fermented distilled snake oil as a cure all to the "believers" who would swear by it ever after, rather than admit gullibility. The world is already full of charlatans and attention *****s. We are pretty much done with the improbability of the successful activist.It is time to get people to stop and ponder "causes" before hyping them. We can call them THINKTIVISTS.Someone should teach Morello to run a deep fryer so he doesn't take up federal assistance once we've forgotten him.
    Yeah, but at least all of that aggression Morello has gets channeled into outstanding music. I mean "Guerilla Radio" is hands down my favorite guitar riff ever.