The chief vice and virtue of friendship come to the same thing: overestimation. In the narrow world of those who knew him personally, it seemed possible that Allan Bloom, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, author in 1987 of The Closing of the American Mind, should have been counted among the immortal thinkers. The sales of his book, and the millions of dollars it generated in profits, were the material proof of an intellectual project so strong and necessary that Americans craved it as wanderers in the desert need water.
The 29-year-old holding the microphone, Zack de la Rocha, is issuing calls, in only mildly metaphorical language and in quick succession, for war against capitalists, death to racists, justice for the oppressed, and possession by the workers of the means of production. He is backed by a guitarist and a rhythm section. He's watched by a sea of upturned faces. As the vocalist for the rock group Rage Against the Machine, de la Rocha has been making these demands for eight years with increasing sophistication and success.