I had a conversation with Sweet Mungowitz about our favorite "revolution rock", or anti-government, songs. His nomination is the below track from Corporate Avenger, with whom I was previously unacquainted but who shared members with the Kottonmouth Kings and No Doubt. The primary folks in Corporate Avenger seem to be anarchists, motivated by their Native American identity. The song below, for example, asks the question in this post's title*. The answer, which is evident from the song, is that they'd be pretty pissed off. Which is what Corporate Avenger is.
My nomination was "The Decline", NOFX's magnum opus and also the best political punk rock opera of all time.
In an e-mail to Mungowitz, I wrote the following about it:
This song was released in 1999, so it's a fascinating take of the political economy of that period. (They hated Dubya even more, later releasing an album called "The War on Errorism".) "The Decline" is simultaneously a great public choice take on state corporatism, a vicious attack on the War on Drugs and the prison-industrial complex, a finger-poke in the eye of religious social conservatism, and a harsh indictment of the contemporary bourgeois liberal class. You [Mungowitz] might appreciate the anti-gun stuff less, but the way they tie the movement to the Christian right is interesting.
Their take on democracy and institutions is mostly boilerplate and not particularly nuanced, but then that's a common problem (even among academics, unfortunately). It does anticipate Tea Party populism, in a way. Also attacks the know-nothing left that (mostly) comprises their own audience: "We are the whore/ intellectually spayed/ We are the queer/ Disfunctionally raised".
And how about this criticism of Burkean conservatism, which follows a movement that compares over-medication to religion in an opiate-of-the-masses sense (and references Nietzsche!): "And so we go on with our lives/ We know the truth but prefer lies/ Lies are simple, simple is bliss/ Why go against tradition when we can/ Admit defeat, live in decline/ Be the victims of our own design/ The status quo (built on suspect)/ Why would anyone stick out their neck?".
Or this prefiguring of the financial crisis: "The going get tough, the tough get debt/ Don't pay attention, pay the rent/ Next of kin pays for your sins/ A little faith should keep us safe".
Plus, musically, it's the most ambitious and successful example of a punk rock opera that I know of. Twenty minutes of tight, thoughtful, snotty dissent.
I might flesh that out a bit more and see if Fine Print wants it. Anyway, I'd love to see what protest/revolution songs others like.
*Just in case some dots need to be connected, Andrew Jackson is on the $20 bill, and his animus toward Native Americans is comparable in form and action to Hitler's animus toward Jews.