Woody Guthrie’s guitar slogan – This Machine Kills Fascists’ – An extract from the book ’53 and Imploding’ that I am currently rewriting.

Woody Guthrie’s guitar slogan – This Machine Kills Fascists’ – An extract from the book ’53 and Imploding’ that I am currently rewriting.

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Woody Guthrie Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Woody Guthrie Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Guthrie’s guitar slogan ‘This machine kills fascists’ is fascinating. First it highlights that a musical instrument is merely a machine and secondly it suggests that the power of reason is sufficient to change someone’s deep held views. I don’t know if that is true. Fascism is a corruption that spreads like pus from a burst appendix. It corrupts and degrades and produces the most terrible fevers and stench. It has to be disinfected or contained. Once it has caught hold it twists minds and eats away kindness until all that’s left is rancid hatred. Can love and reason turn that around? I guess you have to catch it young and educate those minds so that you inoculate them against this rancid cancer. It doesn’t stop me wanting to kill the bastards! I have to remind myself that violence begets violence, hatred breeds hatred and revenge merely creates cycles of revenge. As individuals and as a race we need to control our endocrinal urges and supersede them with cortex power – brain over glands – head over heart. Woody Guthrie knew that. He knew that you couldn’t kill fascism with a gun; you had to use education.

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