Bernie Sanders

Henry Rollins Punks Out, Supports Bernie Sanders

But other punks such as Pere Ubu's David Thomas would - horrors! - "totally vote libertarian"


Over at Political Punks, Lisa De Pasquale and Brett Smith lay into former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins for his embrace of big government and the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders.

Rollins has recently told The Daily Beast:

"I like [Sanders], because I think he's a straight shooter. I love his progressive ideas about health care, election campaign reform, and foreign policy. I've always liked him because he's honest to a fault. He's a true statesman."

"Obviously you can't sell him to the Midwest or the South. But I just think he's the best guy running. His concepts are way too radical for America in terms of health care and all that, but I don't think any of his ideas are threatening. I don't think any of them would be bad. I don't think he wants the next war."

I'm with Rollins on foreign policy, at least to the extent that Sanders is a non-interventionist. But Rollins' utter contempt for large parts of the country, especially those of us living in Districts 2 through 12, is nothing new. Recall back in 2010 when he argued that Tea Partiers were amphibian incestuous child molesters.

But as De Pasquale rightly notes, Sanders' health care and campaign finance reforms are all about expanding the size, scope, and spending of government and shrinking the scope of individual autonomy. She writes:

Remember when punk rockers spoke out in opposition to the state and big government rather than in support of it? Is Rollins so naive that he doesn't realize that supporting Sanders "progressive ideas" means more government in every Americans' lives?…

We now have Rollins talking about how cool the President is.  So not punk.  He told The Daily Beast, "I think [Obama]'s an amazing man and he's got more cool than 10 James Bonds. I would have lost my dignity long ago, and he gets called a lot of names."

Punk is anti-establishment. Pro-individual freedom.  Punk is not fawning over politicians or crying over politicians being called names.  Punk is non-conformity.  It is not conforming with nearly everyone else in the entertainment industry.

For his part, Brett Smith writes, "[Rollins] is a shill for Big Government. It makes no sense. It's not consistent with how he lives."

More here.


As it happens, punk rockers were anti-state (or more precisely, anti-everything) for about 15 glorious minutes. By the end of the 1970s, virtually all punks, at least to the degree they espoused anything approaching politics, had converged on a doctrinaire leftism that tended to celebrate regimes and ideologies that rarely created safe spaces for rock-and-roll types. And when it comes to the beneficiary of the single-biggest political statement by a major punk act, well, let's just say The Clash are dead but the Sandinistas are still up to their old tricks.

Meanwhile, over at The Baffler, Eugenia Williamson ponders the cultural stain left by punk long enough to sigh:

Left to its own devices, punk would totally vote libertarian—think of David Thomas, frontman of the four-decades-and-counting épater-le-bourgeois "avant-punk" ensemble Pere Ubu, who has recently come out as an antigovernment individualist in the rawest American grain (even though he's lived in England for the past two decades).

So when punk isn't annoying people on the right, it's disappointing folks on the left. Which means that a movement that famously counseled "Kill Your Idols" is working exactly as it's supposed to: It leaves none of us any place to rest easy. The music and the people what make it fail us always.

And with that, take it away Pere Ubu, with "Non-Alignment Pact."

NEXT: Bernie Sanders Says He'll Try to Woo Donald Trump Supporters

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    1. Yup. Like Henry is doing anytging other than signaling anyways

      1. By God, I do believe Henry’s got a thrill up his leg for Obama.

        I can only imagine what he’s got for Bernie.

        It’s amazing what passes for talent these days.

  1. “But Rollins’ utter contempt for large parts of the country, especially those of us living in Districts 2 through 12, is nothing new.” That is probably metaphor I’ve seen for coast-dwelling liberals’ views about the rest of the country.

    1. probably the best metaphor***

    2. I’m from District 13. This is not who were are and it is not okay.

      1. I’m from District 9 and I’m turning into an alien!

      2. A thought. After you burn an opponent thoroughly in an argument, your closing line should be “you just got fisted”.

    3. You don’t need to be a liberal to have contempt for the South.

      1. Any liberty-loving American should have contempt for the entire country.

    4. “Obviously you can’t sell him to the Midwest or the South. ”

      Obviously. Duh.

    5. Fuck the west coast liberals. I have a bottle of champagne waiting for the day when CA falls into the ocean. And I don’t even LIKE champagne. Just going to be glad when those fuckers all die.

  2. Trump is the most Punk candidate ever

    1. And his favorite punk band was The Dictators, amitrite?

  3. Ja – a great majority of the punk rockers I know have turned into gimme-dat-welfare lefties. Their youth has run out, the hordes of tattoos limit their job possibilities, many didn’t go to college, and now they have families. Rebels they aren’t – though they claim to be – and are now “destroying the system” by voting for an even larger government.

    1. It might be the fastest way to take it down.

      1. The ensuing civil war I forsee will be a good opportunity to cleanse America of its progressives.

    2. All of my punk/hardcore/metal friends are pretty seriously feeling the Bern these days. It is not okay.

      1. Which just goes to show what a joke Nick’s attempt to make punk and the like into a libertarian vehicle is. All of Reason’s ‘cultural putsches’ are failures.

        1. You know who else led a failed putsch?

          1. Some Austrian WW1 vet?

    3. Turned into? Haven’t punks always leaned socialist?

      Punks love other punks,no?

      1. Certainly British-movement punks. On the superficial level, it was “We hate ‘facher an’ ‘er snobby supporters”, but once you got beyond that, it was superficial “eat the rich”, “let us wreck our council-housing-estates-because-we’re-losers” activism.

        When punk rockers screamed “Anarchy in the UK”, they were inviting us to impersonate Inigo Montoya.

    4. not surprising at all actually. they’re staying consistent with being self absorbed idiots.

  4. Also, The Hunger Games is hot garbage.

  5. From Robert Higgs:

    “The typical man is an okay fellow. He is loving and dedicated to his family. He is kind and helpful to his friends and neighbors. He is reasonably competent on the job. He cares about others and engages in charitable and community activities.

    But when he participates in politics, he becomes a monster. He supports politicians who promise to take other people’s money and channel it to him. He favors the suppression of other people’s liberties in countless ways. He whoops it up for the local government to smash minorities and for the national government to engage in the mass murder of foreigners. Indeed, no crime is too heinous for him to support, provided he can support it via political/governmental means.

    Does this stark contrast not warrant our conclusion that something is terribly wrong with politics and the government actions that arise from politics?

    1. The funny thing is that progs don’t realize that it’s about them.

  6. Punk rock sucks anyway. always been posers. Hip Hop always been the most real.

      1. +Antoine Fisher A greatly misunderstood song. Its actually a strong political critique of communist ideologies. By saying “Fuck up some Commas,” Future is suggesting that Communists, or ‘Commas,’ should be vilified and berated. When he states “40 thou to a 100 thou, 100 thou to 100 thou,’ he is laying out the importance of profit to his life; Profit of course being the nemesis of communism.”

        1. And here I assumed the Commas referred to here were in reference to the separators in dollar amounts over $999.

          Thank you for opening my mind with such a shite torturing of the language.

    1. HA HA nice try “cRap” fucking sucks, it takes no talent. Any low grade moron can talk in front of a turn table and drum machine. It takes fucking talent to actually play instruments. FUCK HIP HOP. Long live Rock and Metal.

      1. 1995 called and wants their “Rap Sux Metal Rulez” internet trolling back.

  7. Left to its own devices, punk would totally vote libertarian?think of David Thomas, frontman of the four-decades-and-counting ?pater-le-bourgeois “avant-punk” ensemble Pere Ubu, who has recently come out as an antigovernment individualist in the rawest American grain (even though he’s lived in England for the past two decades).

    Honestly, any other politico-philosophical opinion would only suggest a serious lack of understanding of Pere Ubu’s namesake.

  8. Rollins was always a tool and probably Black Flag’s least entertaining front man. On the other hand there were these decided non-left guys:

    I love how some of the comments bag on them for “homophobia.” It’s pretty clear they WANTED to piss you off. If you’re the type of person who could get offended by something a band like that (“They Saved Hitler’s Cock”) says, than it’s safe to say you’re one of their targets.

    1. You know it’s real punk when an entire album is 17 minutes and 44 seconds.

      1. What? 32 Ramones songs aren’t enough for you?

      2. That “The Ballad of Jerry Curlan” is one of the true punk masterpieces of the 1980s is one thing, but even better is that it’s 2015 and this accomplished respectable lawyer probably has to be reminded once a year that the brother of a college friend happened to be in a band.

    2. Hey! I just listened to Inside My Brain before Xmas.

    3. ‘Lights Out’ is a great take on mystical bullshit.

      Also, a really great punk song.

    1. A short, tattooed man who performs spoken word, which I seen in person because I apparently despise myself.

  9. Henry Rollins is a short man too… well shorter than me. What’s my point? Shorter people are more likely to be progressives. /not entirely serious

    1. That is a bleak outlook for a guy who goes by “Humongous”.

    2. He’s 5’10”, I wouldn’t say that qualifies as short.

  10. Henry hosted a show on History (or Discovery?) called “10 Things you didn’t know about” or something. I dunno. Anyway, the guy is a big time history buff. But you could also tell by the way he acted during some parts of the show that he sees the government more as a deity than an organization of men whose only tool is violence.

    Regardless, Liar is still a good tune. Also, his cover of Zeppelin’s Four Sticks was pretty cool. I like it when a band takes a cover tune and makes it their own, instead of sounding like they’re playing someone else’s music.

    1. A big time history buff should have come to the intellectual realization progressivism is evil.


  11. It feels like Henry Rollins isn’t so Punk anymore. He’s more Hollywood Brunch Club…

  12. I guess I’ll take Nick’s desperate attempts to try and make his stupid cultural and musical preferences into something important for libertarianism over his insipid and worthless writing regarding foreign policy but still Reason just needs to let this guy go.

  13. Rollins ruined Black Flag. He has been a hack from day 1. I always enjoyed how indie rockers fawned over his spoken word as if he were some sort of of oracle.

  14. “”I like [Sanders], because I think he’s a straight shooter.”

    Sanders = Pro Gun
    Bernie Sanders ?@SenSanders Dec 27
    We have seen far too many people, often African Americans, who are unarmed

    Sanders = A Man of God

    Bernie Sanders ?@SenSanders Dec 27
    It’s time to end religious bigotry

    Sanders = Terrorist Killer

    Bernie Sanders ?@SenSanders Dec 23
    I want a new foreign policy that destroys ISIS

    Sanders = A Man Who “Gets” Money

    Bernie Sanders ?@SenSanders Dec 22
    all Street is a threat to the economy

    Sanders = Knows That “Doing Something” is Something

    Bernie Sanders ?@SenSanders 2h2 hours ago
    The way we improve lives is by passing legislation


      DJ ?@blaubok Dec 22
      @SenSanders so you smash up Wall St, then they move to Calgary, Shanghai & Munich, where’s the money for “free stuff” come from?
      2 retweets 9 likes

      Illuminated Slave ?@LuminatedSlave Dec 22=
      In case you’re not aware, Congress has the power to print its own money granted by U.S. Constitution. @blaubok @SenSanders

      1. With a name like LuminatedSlave, you shouldn’t expect a deep understanding of economics.

        1. What are you talking about? The dollar of a dollar is a dollar! The more dollars you print, the more more dollars you can spend! PWND!

          1. To us, sarcasm. To them, rational thought.

      2. Holy shit; frightening if not actually a joke.

      3. In case you’re not aware, Congress has the power to print its own money granted by U.S. Constitution.

        Actually, it doesn’t. It is silent on the federal power to issue fiat money. That’s why we have a quasi-independent Federal Reserve; our currency is not technically issued by the US government.

        1. Progtards never let a good fact get in their way.

  15. “…I’ve always liked him because he’s honest to a fault….”

    Dumber than rocks, but honest about it! What a guy! What an idiot for supporting him.

    1. I like how he’s truthful about his shitty failed ideas.

      1. There’s been more than one instance lately where anyone who’s paying any attention would realize that Sanders is most definitely not honest. The “oh, sure he’s wrong, but he really believes it” brigade is unsurprisingly a bunch of liars and fools.

  16. I’m confused. Which is it:

    By the end of the 1970s, virtually all punks, at least to the degree they espoused anything approaching politics, had converged on a doctrinaire leftism


    So when punk isn’t annoying people on the right, it’s disappointing folks on the left.

    I’m having a hard time reconciling “converged on doctrinaire leftism” with “disappointing folks on the left”.

    1. I’m having a hard time reconciling “converged on doctrinaire leftism” with “disappointing folks on the left”.

      Uh, because you skipped over the passage where Nick gave an example of someone who wasn’t among the “virtually all punks” on the left?

      1. No, I read that. The problem is that the two passages I quoted deal with “punk” in general/collectively, while he gives a single example of a non-lefty punk.

        I still don’t see how you can say punks generally converged on the left, and punks generally disappoint the left. And that’s what Nick said.

        Maybe the missing piece is that, since the 1970s, punks generally have departed the left and that’s what has disappointed the left. But he never says that, what with this being an article about a high-profile (ex?) punk supporting a socialist for President.

        1. He didn’t say “punks generally disappoint the left.” He said it disappointed people on the left when it didn’t disappoint people on the right.

          1. Yeah, I know he didn’t say punks generally disappoint the left. My use of generally there was ambiguous. Bad drafting on my part. What he said was:

            So when punk isn’t annoying people on the right, it’s disappointing folks on the left.

            I still dunno, Nikki. Perhaps an example of punk (not a single punk, but as more of a collective or general thing) not annoying people on the right AND disappointing people on the left would help. As it is, I think that being anti-government annoys both right and left,so he seems to support this assertion with a null set.

            Nick makes it sound like punk is equally annoying/disappointing to both left and right. Elevating a single anti-government punk into an equal counterweight for all those lefty punks strikes me as, well, misleading. In the end, though, punk’s embrace of leftism happened about the time it stopped being a thing of any cultural importance at all, so its kinda weird that we are talking about “punk” as if it were not an historical curiousity.

            To be fair, though, doctrinaire leftists are inherently disappointing human beings. I suppose its inevitable that they disappoint each other.

            1. i like how arguing about what “punk” means is like the antithesis of actually being punk (as are studs and ripped jeans and nose rings and three chord guitar songs)

  17. To understand why I hate Henry Rollins you’ve got to understand how close he comes to being our generation’s Ayn Rand. Rand, the objectivist “philosopher” and author of such bags of crap as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, promoted the idea of “man as a heroic being with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute.” Roughly translated, that means “make the most out of life by being a selfish asshole.” It’s bad philosophy but that’s Rollins all over the place. Over the past two decades as a punk rock singer, author, spoken word performer, pitch man, and actor, he’s developed a persona that’s equal parts punk fury, body builder vanity, and rigid male morality.…..nt?oid=661

    1. He is a bully. I always have had the feeling that if someone ever hot Rollins in the face while he was shooting his mouth off, he would cry like a girl.

      1. I’d like to see you do it. Either he’d cry like a girl or he’d break you in half. Either way it would be entertaining.

        1. If jail was not such an inconvenience, I would love to. If he kicks my ass, so what? There are worse things and I would make that first shot a good one. Win or lose the pleasure of knocking that loud mouth ignorant fuck would be worth it.

          1. If jail was not such an inconvenience, I would love to.


            Has he aggressed upon you in some way that would justify self defense? Or are we simply seeing the Republican “principle” of preemptive attack manifest itself in your behavior?

            You are a fine Christian regardless, John. Christ would be proud of you.

            1. God works in mysterious ways. And Jesus will still love me after I do it. He even loves humorless pricks like you.

              1. There it is.

                You were just joking…

                …this time.

                Now, were he a Muslim…

            2. FdA, one of the symptoms of brain damage from concussion is occasional irrational violent outbursts. Please have some empathy here.

        2. He isn’t that tough. He lifts weights. Big deal,. So do I. Amd based on his height and build, I’m far stronger than he has ever been. And let’s be honest, he is well past his prime. Though personally I would love it if I hit him and he actually hit back. That would be way more fun. Plus, you don’t look like so much of an asshole when you puns the crap out of them if they actually fight back.

    2. The Fountainhead is a fine novel.

      “man as a heroic being with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute.” Roughly translated, that means “make the most out of life by being a selfish asshole.”

      This writer is doing what he can to make the most out of life by being a total dipshit.

      1. I liked the Fountainhead on a few levels, much more than Atlas Shrugged. It is written better, introduces her philosophy in a more subtle and less overtly political way, and honestly changed the way I look at art and architecture. Could do without the rape scene, though.

        1. That was a little…weird. Didn’t help the book work any better. Her side characters and villains were EXCELLENT.

  18. Who? What? The 1970s? I thought this was a website for millenials!

    1. You got a poll to back that up??!??!

      1. Yeah, but I don’t go in for that

        Oh, poll. Um, no.

    2. Well, what DO the millenials think about this?

  19. Rollins was in a B list punk band 30 years ago and 20 years ago did a spoken word record and wrote a book about his time on the punk rock b list.

    He has done nothing since other than say always stupid and often offensively stupid things. No one else gives a shit about what actually talented musicians and writers think about politics. Why does anyone care about Rollins, a marginal talent who peaked over 30 years ago.

    1. He was in Johny Pnemonic…

  20. “Remember when punk rockers spoke out in opposition to the state and big government rather than in support of it?”

    LOL, no. They were mostly speaking out against Thatcher and in favor of various leftist causes.

    1. Yeah, I wouldn’t confuse being anti-Thatcher and anti-Reagan with being anti-government.

    2. Nothing says small government like doing an entire record named after communists.

      Does Nick actually believe this?

      1. I doubt it; the line I quoted was from someone else. But it does seem to be a common belief.

        1. I was referring to the Clash, who unlike Rollins were talented and a real a list band, Sadinista record.

    3. And Thatcher Reagan did more for freedom than the entire punk rock movement combined. Since when does screaming and spitting on people help the cause of freedom?

    4. -Expecting Nick to be either honest or have a clue what he’s talking about


  21. In other punk memoria/politics, the Dead Kennedys were a much better band when Carter was president.

    1. Speaking of the DK’s, I can’t help but hear the lyrics to ‘Holiday in Cambodia’ running through my head every time I see these spoiled, entitled, so-called ‘student activists’ like the ones in Missouri. The thought of them being worked to death by militants just warms my heart.

      1. Yes. My comment was only meant as a pointless humorous observation, but our colleges are definitely getting a Maoist/Met Sar (Pol Pot) vibe.

  22. socialism is theft,pure and simple.

    1. Indeed. On his XM show, Wilkow was quoting Bastiat last week. That got me to do some rereading over the holiday weekend. Time well spent.

  23. Does Pesquale got fooled again.

  24. Let’s be real = people saying they support Sanders is just a way of socially-signaling that they’re “On the Good-Team”, but avoiding confessing that they’re going to have to Vote for Hillary in the end. Because that just makes people feel yucky.

    1. Pretty much that. I remember listening to Eddie Vetter go on and on about Ralph Nader for President. Nader wanted a 100% tax on all income above $250,000 a year. I would love to have heard a reporter ask Vetter, who was making millions at that point what he thought of that. I guarantee you, he had no idea what Nader actually wanted to do. He was just social signaling.

      1. Vedder.

        And Ralph was the Green Party candidate, so while i get your point, the people claiming they were voting for him had the genuine intention and ability to actually cast a vote for him for President (and he is often blamed as having been the “spoiler” of the 2000 election by drawing votes away from Gore)

        If Sanders were a 3rd party candidate, my point would be completely different. I’d fully support their “More Left Than Thou” preening. Its just that Sanders will never actually get the nomination, so their posturing is really just so much temporary “nice to have”-feelings, avoiding the confession that they’re eventually casting a vote for the ‘least shitty’ in their view.

  25. Punks have always been leftist since the movement was started by a bunch of bored kids living on the dole in the UK. They raised their fist in rebellion while holding out their palm for that welfare check.

    1. This. Punk has never been the music of the middle class and poor. That was rock and now hip hop. Punk was always the music of spoiled rich kids

    2. Except it wasn’t the bored kids living on the dole who created punk. That would be the Ramones. And Johnny Ramone, at least, was actually a Republican.

      1. I’ve never thought the Ramones were punk. They were more like rock and roll greasers.

    3. Punk, like all quality music genres, is American.

    4. American hardcore punk was born out of Reagan extreme right wing neo-con political scene in the 80’s. Funny how the minimum wage hasnt budged much since then either.

  26. Personally, I’m more a Frank Turner fan. If there’s a song that could truly be called a libertarian anthem, it would be
    Sons of Liberty.

  27. Hey Nick! Who’s Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller supporting this election?

  28. OT: I want to know where the candidate’s stand on “comfort women” reparations:

    1. $1000 an hour is rate in DC these days, I think…

    2. How many of the comfort women are even still alive, anyway? That ended (counts on fingers, toes, and you don’t want to know), err, 70 years ago.

      1. According the story – 46 alive in South Korea.

        1. You read the story?


  29. Rock stars. Is there anything they don’t know?

  30. “I like [Sanders], because I think he’s a straight shooter.”

    “Bernie Sanders Verified account

    You have families out there paying 6, 8, 10 percent on student debt but you can refinance your homes at 3 percent. What sense is that?”

    A straight-shooting retard!

    Do people even think, like, at all anymore? Up thread sarcasmic mentioned he’s a history buff so he should be able to see what this sort of reactionary, populist gibberish does to countries.

    Grandpa Gulag made a comparison between an apple and a mango and people just go ‘yeah! Why is that? Fuckers are raping us! The system is rigged!’

    1. Grandpa Gulag? I like it! Can I use that, too?

  31. I have a strong suspicion that Rollins was the inspiration for PC Principal.

    1. You know, that really does fit.

  32. I understand what Rollins is saying and somewhat agree with him. BUT, that said, punk was born from the failures of the Labor Party.

    1. Punk is an American genre, borrowed by the British.

      1. “appropriated”

  33. Im right in line with Henry on Bernie Sanders. Henry hasnt changed his views much.. Punk ideals meant something different in the 80s in an era when Reagan and extreme right wing conservatism ruled govt. Now we live in an era where the uber wealthy and giant mega conglomerates control government policy making,. Democracy is an illusion.

  34. Henry Rollins…


  35. Henry Rollins Punks Out, Supports Bernie Sanders

    Huh, I thought he was dead.

    Seriously though – has *anyone* given a shit about what Rollins has to say for the last 20 years.

  36. Punks are basically spoiled children. Repo Man summed it up pretty well.

    Duke: The lights are growing dim Otto. I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am.

    Otto: That’s bullshit. You’re a white suburban punk just like me.

    Duke: Yeah, but it still hurts

  37. I used to love Henry Rollins as a teenager.

    He is a completely pretentious twat now, and in retrospect was, then, too.

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