So, this post has been sparked by one of those facebook arguments that spiral out of control to 30-something comments. It was with a local ‘punk band’ from my area. To fill you in, one of the band members was caught trying to steal a kick pedal from the community centre where they practice and play (also a place where I work). In response to this, they posted on their facebook page that they needed somewhere to practice as they were ‘too punk’ for the community centre.
This got me thinking, as it is an attitude far too common nowadays. The young people ‘getting into’ this culture seem to have very skewed ideas of how they want to portray themselves, and in doing so they give a greater cause and culture a bad name.
Punk is a culture, involving music, fashion, social and political ideologies. Most notable beliefs among punks are anti-authoritarianism, anarchy, freedom of expression and non-conformity. All of these spheres are as important to me as the music and it frustrates me when they are not fully understood.
The main recipient of this ignorance is anarchy. Mainstream perception of anarchy is associated with an angry youth, taking to the streets to take down the monarchy through rioting and causing trouble. The recent London riots were a prime example of this. The violent protestors were labelled anarchists and many of them probably believed that they were. But they were not, the anarchists were organising the community clean-up operations seen over twitter.
Anarchy is simply a political concept whereby Government is removed. There are many schools of thought under this main principal, each with different solutions to various social problems and questions. The most common schools of thought within this are socio and communo-anarchism.
The focus of these teachings is that society will exist more fairly and function better in a situation where everyone is equal and no one is dictated over. There is heavy emphasis on the importance of communities working together to benefit the people. In fact, due to this thought, many anarchists (including myself) engage themselves in numerous charitable causes and projects within their communities.
So through this lens of thought, the London rioters were not anarchist; they lay waste to their own communities. And in the same way, the band I argued with were definitely not true punks for attempting to steal from a community centre.
So we have to ask ourselves, what is Punk? Of cause this is a vague term that can mean different things to many people. For me, it isn’t stealing from charities, smashing up the streets, or conforming to the mainstreamed images of a punk (Mohawk, crotch-restricting tartan jeans, chains etc.). Punk for me is being passionate about freedom of speech, supporting the community and actively getting your point across to people through peaceful, educated action. Education is critical; if you don’t know what you’re talking about then both you and your cause will suffer.