Punk as a means of social change.

The first concept in The Life and Death of Punk, The Last Subculture, that caught my attention was social change. When I read social change I immediately thought Gandhi. As I continued to read, I began to see that punk was a legitimate means of social change and that it had reshaped social norms and attitudes. I began to see “social change” the way punk intended. Punk, by no means, was trying to be like Gandhi, but they do have similarities. In order to follow my initial reaction, I kept Gandhi in mind as I read the article (and just to be completely sure I wasn’t way off base I did a Google search to see if anyone else had made the same connection. And I was not completely alone.) One of the things that came up in my search was An Anarchist’s Ethic. Gandhi quotes and sayings are found throughout the article. Most interestingly, which I did not think of as I read the The Life and Death of Punk, was the DIY connection. An Anarchist’s Ethic describes this relationship in point number 2: “Rely upon personal integrity instead of paternalistic authority.” Anarchy was mentioned numerous times in The Life and Death of Punk. Anarchy—a state of lawlessness and disorder (usually resulting from failure of the government)— was a founding ideology of punk. The anger and the rebellion of the youth all around the United States proved to be a culturally connecting ideology as well.

Unavoidable in society, consumerism attached itself to punk. In today’s society commodification, as Marx explored, is taking over and is in control. It seems to be a short matter of time before any given thing is picked up by consumer society. The target consumer is becoming younger and younger, but not to say that the older consumers have been forgotten. The United States relies on consumerism to maintain stability. When punk became packaged and consumerism brought it into the mainstream, it died. Or did it? The ideas of punk are still found if you look deep enough into any subculture. Having not grown up in the middle of true punk era I only see myself as an outsider to the real meaning of punk. Regardless, I can appreciate the outlet that was the subculture of punk from the troubles and inconsistencies of everyday life growing up. After watching part of American Hardcore in class, I believe founders and roadies of punk were doing what they loved doing. I think everyone can appreciate that, even if they don’t specifically love the music.

“It cannot be owned, it cannot be sold. It upholds the principles of anarchism, yet is has no ideology. It is called punk, yet it has no name.”


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