WTF is “These Machines Kill Fascists”?


What does it mean? I’m often asked to explain the meaning of NABC’s t-shirts, which for several years have borne the slogan, “These Machines Kill Fascists,” alongside a graphic of brewing vessels.

For starters, it pays tribute to the iconic American folksinger Woody Guthrie (1912-1967). Guthrie came of age during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, twin economic and environmental catastrophes that defined a generation during the 1930s. His songs chronicled the hardships of ordinary people, expressing empathy for their struggles and support for causes he viewed as proper correctives: Worker rights, unionization, and racial and gender equality.

Guthrie was a leftist, and had he lived today, likely would not have voted for Mitt Romney. But he remained a patriot and a firm believer in the potential of America, an idealistic and hopeful vision not defined entirely by wealth and privilege.

During World War II, the United States fought against the military aggression of fascism in Germany, Italy and Japan. Guthrie viewed his music as an integral part of the war effort against fascism, and he wrote “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his acoustic guitar. It meant that anti-fascist songs and ideas are as much a weapon against fascism as guns and bullets.

“This Machine Kills Fascists” also was written on machinery in factories throughout the United States during the war, making the point that even those not actively serving in the military were contributing to the war effort.

NABC’s use of the slogan pertains to our own war effort, because brew kettles, mash tuns, fermenters and other brewery equipment are the “machines” we use to make craft beer, and our beer is what we use to fight against fascism in the beer world. Thus, we are making a firm and principled statement about the larger beer market and our place within it. Aggressive multi-national industrial beer producers like AB-InBev, SAB Miller and Molson Coors are the fascists, and smaller entities like us are the freedom fighters.

Brewing craft beer production “kills” beer fascists. Drinking craft beer doesn’t hurt, either.


5 Responses to “WTF is “These Machines Kill Fascists”?”

  1. Kevin GibbsMarch 31, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    Love It!! Keep it up and Keep it Real! Love Everything you guys are doing and Brewing!! I’m a long time customer of sports time pizza and rich o’s public house going back to the late 80’s.

  2. RonJanuary 15, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    Too bad you don’t know what fascism actually means. Too bad that Woody Guthrie was a self-righteous useful idiot who didn’t know what fascism was either.

    • Roger BaylorJanuary 16, 2014 at 6:08 am #

      The word fascism came to us from Italy (Mussolini), which was an ally of Germany (Nazism, Hitler); both declared war on the United States after Pearl Harbor, and Woody Guthrie supported the war effort against them. It would seem that Guthrie connected the dots quite effectively. But enough about beer — Roger

  3. AmyNovember 11, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    I’ve always wondered this, ever since John Green from CrashCourse and vlogbrothers had this on his computer

  4. Larry WolfDecember 30, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie where linked in many ways… what they wrote on their instruments… and their efforts to bring forth our humanity.

    “[Pete] didn’t want you to listen to his voice; he wanted you to hear your own, singing. His modesty wasn’t artistic; it was political. “This machine kills fascists,” his friend Woody Guthrie scrawled along the hips of his guitar. Seeger in kind wrote in a tidy script around his banjo: “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” For both men, music was a weapon, though Seeger might have winced at the term. A tool, then: utilitarian, but its purpose nothing less than liberation, the deepest kind of pleasure.”
    (The article on Pete Seeger is about half-way down the page.)

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