Anarcho-punk

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Anarcho-punk (or anarchist punk) [1] is punk rock that promotes anarchism. The term "anarcho-punk" is sometimes applied exclusively to bands that were part of the original anarcho-punk movement in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some use the term more broadly to refer to any punk music with anarchist lyrical content, which may figure in crust punk, hardcore punk, folk punk, and other styles.

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels and other informal channels.

Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political philosophy that advocates self-managed, self-governed societies based on voluntary, cooperative institutions and the rejection of hierarchies those societies view as unjust. These institutions are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as distinct institutions based on non-hierarchical or free associations. Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Contents

History

Crass, shown here in 1984, played a major role in introducing anarchism to the punk subculture. Crass pete steve andy.png
Crass, shown here in 1984, played a major role in introducing anarchism to the punk subculture.

Before 1977

Some protopunk bands of the late 1960s had anarchist members, such as the German blues rock band Ton Steine Scherben and English bands connected to the UK underground, such as Hawkwind, Pink Fairies, The Deviants and the Edgar Broughton Band. These bands, along with Detroit's MC5, set a precedent for mixing radical politics with rock music, and established the idea of rock as agent of social and political change in the public consciousness. Other precursors to anarcho-punk include avant-garde art and political movements such as Fluxus, Dada, the Beat generation, England's angry young men (such as Joe Orton), the surrealism-inspired Situationist International, the May 1968 uprising in Paris, and the CND. Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys has cited the Yippies as an influence on his activism and thinking. [2] [3]

Ton Steine Scherben was one of the first and most influential German language rock bands of the 1970s and early 1980s. Well-known for the highly political and emotional lyrics of vocalist Rio Reiser, they became a musical mouthpiece of new left movements, such as the squatting movement, during that time in Germany and their hometown of West Berlin in particular. Today, after the band's demise in 1985, and the death of Rio Reiser in 1996, Ton Steine Scherben have retained a cult following and popularity in the related scenes. Recently, some of the remaining members have given reunion concerts.

UK underground British subculture

The British counter-culture or underground scene developed during the mid 1960s, and was linked to the hippie and subculture of the United States. Its primary focus was around Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill in London. It generated its own magazines and newspapers, bands, clubs and alternative lifestyle, associated with cannabis and LSD use and a strong socio-political revolutionary agenda to create an alternative society.

Hawkwind English rock band

Hawkwind are an English rock band and one of the earliest space rock groups. Formed in November 1969, Hawkwind have gone through many incarnations and they have incorporated different styles into their music, including hard rock, progressive rock and psychedelic rock. They are also regarded as an influential proto-punk band. Their lyrics favour urban and science fiction themes.

Post 1977

A surge of popular interest in anarchism occurred during the 1970s in the United Kingdom following the birth of punk rock, in particular the Situationist-influenced graphics of Sex Pistols artist Jamie Reid, as well as that band's first single, "Anarchy in the U.K.". However, while the early punk scene appropriated anarchist imagery mainly for its shock or comedy value or at best as a desire for hedonist personal freedom, [4] [5] Crass along with neighbours Poison Girls may have been the first punk bands to expound serious anarchist ideas. [4] The concept (and aesthetics) of anarcho-punk was quickly picked up on by bands like Flux of Pink Indians, Subhumans, Chumbawamba and Conflict. [6]

The Situationist International (SI) was an international organization of social revolutionaries made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, prominent in Europe from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972.

Sex Pistols British punk rock band

The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.

Jamie Reid British artist

Jamie Reid is an English artist and anarchist with connections to the Situationists. His work, featuring letters cut from newspaper headlines in the style of a ransom note, came close to defining the image of punk rock, particularly in the UK. His best known works include the Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols and the singles "Anarchy in the UK", "God Save The Queen", "Pretty Vacant" and "Holidays in the Sun".

Ideology

While anarcho-punk bands have been often ideologically varied, most groups could be categorized as adhering to anarchism without adjectives, in that it embraces the syncretic fusion of many potentially differing ideological strains of anarchism. Some anarcho-punks identified with anarcha-feminists (e.g. Poison Girls), while others were anarcho-syndicalists (e.g. Exit-Stance). Many anarcho-punks are supporters of issues such as animal rights, racial equality, gay rights, feminism, environmentalism, anti-corporatism, worker's autonomy, the anti-war movement, and the anti-globalisation movement.

Anarchism without adjectives, in the words of historian George Richard Esenwein, "referred to an unhyphenated form of anarchism, that is, a doctrine without any qualifying labels such as communist, collectivist, mutualist, or individualist. For others, [...] [it] was simply understood as an attitude that tolerated the coexistence of different anarchist schools".

Anarcha-feminism, also called anarchist feminism,anarcho-feminism, and/or anarchx-feminism, combines anarchism with feminism. It generally views patriarchy and traditional gender roles as a manifestation of involuntary coercive hierarchy that should be replaced by decentralized free association. They believe that the struggle against patriarchy is an essential part of class conflict and the anarchist struggle against the state and capitalism. In essence, the philosophy sees anarchist struggle as a necessary component of feminist struggle and vice versa. L. Susan Brown claims that "as anarchism is a political philosophy that opposes all relationships of power, it is inherently feminist". Contrary to popular belief and contemporary association with radical feminism, anarcha-feminism is not an inherently militant outlook. It is described to be an anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, anti-oppressive philosophy, with the goal of creating an "equal ground" between all genders. The term "anarcha-feminism" suggests the social freedom and liberty of women, without needed dependence upon other groups or parties.

Poison Girls band

The Poison Girls were an English anarcho-punk band from Brighton. The singer/guitarist, Vi Subversa, was a middle-aged mother of two at the band's inception, and wrote songs that explored sexuality and gender roles, often from an anarchist perspective. The original Poison Girls line-up also included: Lance D'Boyle (drums); Richard Famous (guitar/vocals); Nil ; and Bernhardt Rebours (bass/synthesiser/piano).

Anarcho-punks have criticized the perceived flaws of the punk movement and the wider youth culture in general. Bands like Crass and Dead Kennedys have written songs that attack corporate co-option of the punk subculture, people who are deemed to have sold out, and the violence between punks, skinheads, B-boys and other youth subcultures [6] [7] and within punk itself. Some anarcho-punks are straight edge, claiming that alcohol, tobacco, drugs and promiscuity are instruments of oppression and are self-destructive because they cloud the mind and wear down a person's resistance to other types of oppression. Some also condemn the waste of land, water and resources necessary to grow crops to make alcohol, tobacco and drugs, forfeiting the potential to grow and manufacture food. Some may be straight edge for religious reasons, such as in the case of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist anarcho-punks (see Anarchism and religion for more background).

Punk subculture Anti-establishment culture

The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, fashion, and other forms of expression, visual art, dance, literature and film. It is largely characterised by anti-establishment views and the promotion of individual freedom, and is centred on a loud, aggressive genre of rock music called punk rock. Its adherents are referred to as "punks", also spelled "punx" in the modern day.

Crass punk rock band

Crass were an English art collective and punk rock band formed in 1977 who promoted anarchism as a political ideology, a way of life and a resistance movement. Crass popularised the anarcho-punk movement of the punk subculture, advocating direct action, animal rights, feminism, anti-fascism, and environmentalism. The band used and advocated a DIY ethic approach to its albums, sound collages, leaflets, and films.

Dead Kennedys are an American punk rock band that formed in San Francisco, California, in 1978. The band was one of the first American hardcore bands to make a significant impact in the United Kingdom.

Although Crass initially espoused pacifism, this is not necessarily the case for all anarcho-punks. Despite the broader punk subculture's antagonism towards hippies, the ideals of the hippie counterculture were an influence on anarcho-punk. Crass were explicit regarding their associations with the hippie counterculture, [6] [7] and this influence has also carried over to crust punk.

Pacifism opposition to war and violence

Pacifism is opposition to war, militarism, or violence. The word pacifism was coined by the French peace campaigner Émile Arnaud (1864–1921) and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress in Glasgow in 1901. A related term is ahimsa, which is a core philosophy in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While modern connotations are recent, having been explicated since the 19th century, ancient references abound.

Direct action

Anarcho-punks universally believe in direct action, although the way in which this manifests itself varies greatly. Despite their differences in strategy, anarcho-punks often co-operate with each other. Many anarcho-punks are pacifists (e.g. Crass and Discharge) and therefore believe in using non-violent means of achieving their aims. These include peaceful protest, refusal of work, squatting, economic sabotage, dumpster diving, graffiti, culture jamming, ecotage, freeganism, boycotting, civil disobedience, hacktivism and subvertising. Some anarcho-punks believe that violence or property damage is an acceptable way of achieving social change (e.g. Conflict). This manifests itself as rioting, vandalism, wire cutting, hunt sabotage, participation in Animal Liberation Front-, Earth Liberation Front, or even Black Bloc-style activities, and in extreme cases, violence and bombings. Many anarchists dispute the applicability of the term "violence" to describe destruction of property, since they argue that destruction of property is done not to control an individual or institution but to take its control away. [8] [9]

DIY punk ethic

Many anarcho-punk bands subscribe to a do-it-yourself ethic. A popular anarcho-punk slogan is "DIY not EMI", a conscious rejection of a major record company. [10] [11] [12] Many anarcho-punk bands were showcased on the Bullshit Detector series of LPs released by Crass Records and Resistance Productions between 1980 and 1994. Some anarcho-punk performers were part of the cassette culture. In this way, an attempt was made to bypass the traditional recording and distribution routes, with recordings often being made available in exchange for a blank tape and a self-addressed envelope. The anarcho-punk movement has its own network of fanzines or punk zines which disseminates news, ideas and artwork from the scene. These are DIY productions, tending to be produced in runs of hundreds at most. The zines are printed on photocopiers or duplicator machines, and distributed by hand at punk concerts, in radical bookstores and infoshops, and through the mail.

Musical style and aesthetics

Generally speaking anarcho-punk bands are often less focused on particular musical delivery and more on a totalized aesthetic that encompasses the entire creative process, from album and concert art, to political message, to the lifestyles of the band members themselves. [13] Crass listed as band members the people who did their album art and live visuals. The message is sometimes considered to be much more important than the music. [6] [13] According to the punk aesthetic, one can express oneself and produce moving and serious works with limited means and technical ability. [13] [14] It is not uncommon for anarcho-punk songs to lack the usual rock structure of verses and a chorus, however, there are exceptions to this. For example, later Chumbawamba songs were at the same time anarcho-punk and pop-oriented. [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

Anarchism and violence have become closely connected in popular thought, in part because of a concept of "propaganda of the deed". Propaganda of the deed, or attentát, was espoused by leading anarchists in the late nineteenth century, and was associated with a number of incidents of violence. Anarchist thought, however, is quite diverse on the question of violence. In the name of coherence some anarchists have opposed coercion, while others have supported it, particularly in the form of violent revolution on the path to anarchy. Anarchism includes a school of thought which rejects all violence (anarcho-pacifism).

CrimethInc., also known as CWC, which stands for either "CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective" or "CrimethInc Ex-Workers Ex-Collective", is a decentralized anarchist collective of autonomous cells. CrimethInc. emerged in the mid-1990s, initially as the hardcore zine Inside Front, and began operating as a collective in 1996. It has since published widely read articles and zines for the anarchist movement and distributed posters and books of its own publication.

Punk zine a zine related to the punk subculture

A punk zine is a zine related to the punk subculture and hardcore punk music genre. Often primitively or casually produced, they feature punk literature, such as social commentary, punk poetry, news, gossip, music reviews and articles about punk rock bands or regional punk scenes.

Crust punk is a form of music influenced by English punk rock and extreme metal. The style, which evolved in the early-1980s in England, often has songs with dark and pessimistic lyrics that linger on political and social ills. The term "crust" was coined by Hellbastard on their 1986 Ripper Crust demo.

AK Press American independent publisher

AK Press is a worker-managed, independent publisher and book distributor that specialises in radical left and anarchist literature. Operated out of Chico, California, the company is collectively owned.

Anarchists have employed certain symbols for their cause, including most prominently the circle-A (Ⓐ) and the black flag (⚑), although anarchists have historically largely denied the importance of symbols to political movement. Since the revival of anarchism around the start of the 21st century and concurrent with the rise of the anti-globalization movement, anarchist cultural symbols are widely present.

Punk ideologies

Punk ideologies are a group of varied social and political beliefs associated with the punk subculture and punk rock. In its original incarnation, the punk subculture originated out of working class angst and the frustrations many youth were feeling about economic inequality and the bourgeois hypocrisy and neglect of working people and their struggles. It was primarily concerned with concepts such as mutual aid, against selling out, egalitarianism, humanitarianism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-consumerism, anti-corporatism, anti-war, decolonization, anti-conservatism, anti-liberal, anti-globalization, anti-gentrification, anti-racism, anti-sexism, gender equality, racial equality, health rights, civil rights, animal rights, disability rights, free-thought and non-conformity. One of its main tenets was a rejection of mainstream, corporate mass culture and its values. It continued to evolve its ideology as the movement spread throughout North America from its origins in England and New York and embrace a range anti-racist and anti-sexist belief systems. Punk ideologies range from left wing views to right wing beliefs or apolitical.

Anarchism has long had an association with the arts, particularly with visual art, music and literature.

Gutter punk Punk subculture

A gutter punk is a homeless or transient individual who displays a variety of specific lifestyle traits and characteristics that often, but not always, are associated with the punk subculture. Attributes may include unkempt dreadlocks, nose rings, Mohawk hairstyles, and tattooed faces. Gutter punks are sometimes referred to as "crusties", "crusty punks", or "crust punks"; "traveling" or "traveler kids", "traveling" or "traveler punks", or simply "travelers"; and "punk hobos", "hobo-punks", or "hobos", among other terms. Some self-identified gutter punks may distinguish themselves from "crusties" or "travellers", and vice versa; however, there is considerable overlap between the groups, and the terms are often used interchangeably.

Christian punk is a form of Christian music and a subgenre of punk rock with some degree of Christian lyrical content. Much disagreement persists about the boundaries of the subgenre, and the extent that their lyrics are explicitly Christian varies among bands. For example, The Crucified explicitly rejected the classification of "Christian punk" while staying within the Christian music industry.

A punk house is a dwelling occupied by members of the punk subculture. Punk houses are similar to the hippie crash pads of the 1960s and the slan shacks of science fiction fandom. The Factory, an alternative living space founded by Andy Warhol as the home base of The Velvet Underground, is directly linked to the formation of punk rock in New York City. In the early 1980s, a few punk gangs developed around allegiance to certain punk houses.

A number of overlapping punk rock subgenres have developed since the emergence of punk rock in the mid-1970s. Even though punk genres at times are difficult to segregate, they usually show differing characteristics in overall structures, instrumental and vocal styles, and tempo. However, sometimes a particular trait is common in several genres, and thus punk genres are normally grouped by a combination of traits.

The following is a list of terms specific to anarchists. Anarchism is a political and social movement which advocates voluntary association in opposition to authoritarianism and hierarchy.

Anarchism is a political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful. However, others argue that while anti-statism is central, it is inadequate to define anarchism solely on this basis. Therefore, they argue instead that anarchism entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system. Proponents of this form of anarchism advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical free associations.

Animal rights are closely associated with two ideologies of the punk subculture: anarcho-punk and straight edge. This association dates back to the 1980s and has been expressed in areas that include song lyrics, benefit concerts for animal rights organisations, and militant actions of activists influenced by punk music. Among the latter, Rod Coronado, Peter Daniel Young and members of SHAC are notable. This issue spread into various punk rock and hardcore subgenres, e.g. crust punk, metalcore and grindcore, eventually becoming a distinctive feature of punk culture.

References

  1. Anarchist Punk | Music Highlights | AllMusic
  2. Vander Molen, Jodi, Jello Biafra Interview, The Progressive (Feb. 2002)
  3. Colurso, Mary (2007-06-29) Jello Biafra can ruffle feathers, The Birmingham News
  4. 1 2 Dines, Mike. "No Sir, I Won't: Reconsidering the Legacy of Crass and Anarcho-punk". Academia.edu. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  5. Savage, Jon (2002). England's Dreaming, Revised Edition: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 204. ISBN   978-0312288228.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Berger, George (2006). The story of Crass. London: Omnibus Press. pp. 67–68. ISBN   1-84609-402-X.
  7. 1 2 "...In Which Crass Voluntarily Blow Their Own..." Southern Records. Archived from the original on 2014-10-23.
  8. "César Chavez on the Pragmatics of Violence". Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP). Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  9. "Fringe anarchists in middle of violent demonstrations". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  10. "Maximum Rocknroll" (255). 2004: 14.
  11. "Peace News for Nonviolent Revolution" (2236–2259). 1985: liv.
  12. "DIY (not EMI) in 2010". Thee Faction. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  13. 1 2 3 allmusic quotation:
    ...its ideology of personal freedom (musical self-expression ought to be available to anyone, regardless of technical ability), and also that the message tended to be more important than the music.
  14. David Byrne, Jeremy Deller (2010) Audio Games, in Modern Painters , March 1, 2010 quotation:
    I think I embrace a bit of the punk aesthetic that one can express oneself with two chords if that’s all you know, and likewise one can make a great film with limited means or skills or clothes or furniture. It’s just as moving and serious as works that employ great skill and craft sometimes. Granted, when you learn that third chord, or more, you don’t have to continue making "simple" things, unless you want to. Sometimes that’s a problem.
  15. "Chumbawamba's Long Voyage". Jacobin.

Bibliography

Further reading