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Anarcho-punk (sometimes known as peace-punk) is a subgenre of the punk rock movement consisting of groups and bands promoting specifically anarchist ideas.

Beliefs and origins[edit]

A surge of popular interest in anarchism occurred during the 1970s in the UK following the birth of the punk rock movement, in particular the situationist-influenced graphics of Sex Pistols artist Jamie Reid, and that band's first single, Anarchy in the UK. However, while the early punk scene appropriated anarchist imagery mainly for its shock value, the band Crass expounded serious anarchist and pacifist ideas, and were to become a notable influence within various late-twentieth century protest movements.

Many anarcho-punks are supporters of issues such as animal rights, feminism, the anti-war movement and are often pacifist (although some support organisations such as Class War) and tend to be in favour of direct action.

While no doubt participants would dispute having any leadership, it is difficult to imagine anarcho-punk existing without the influence of Crass, although Crass founder Penny Rimbaud has stated that it is a label he dislikes. He feels that the anarcho-punks were actually representative of true punk, while the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned etc. were in fact nothing more than 'music business puppets'.

The DIY punk ethic[edit]

Many anarcho-punk bands, especially at the local level of unsigned groups, have taken on what is known as a "DIY" ethic: that is, Doing It Yourself; indeed, a popular Anarcho-punk slogan reads "DIY not EMI", a reference to a conscious rejection of the major record company of that name. Many anarcho-punk bands were showcased on the Bullshit Detector series of LPs released by Crass Records and Resistance Productions Records between 1980 and 1994. There is an argument that despite promoting an anti-capitalist ideology, these were commodities sold in the market place and thus were inherently contradictory. It is however difficult to see how such groups could otherwise make their music and ideas available, although some anarcho-punk performers were also a part of the Cassette Culture scene. In this way an attempt was made to bypass the traditional recording and distribution routes, with material often being made available in exchange for "a blank tape plus self-addressed envelope". The anarcho-punk movement also had its own network of fanzines (sometimes called punk-zines) which disseminated news, ideas and artwork from the scene. Again, these were usually very much 'DIY' affairs, tending to be produced in runs of hundreds (at most) rather than thousands (although there were exceptions, such as Toxic Graffiti, printed on photocopiers or duplicator machines, and distributed by hand at punk gigs.

Identity politics[edit]

Anarcho-punk has been highlighted as one of the social phenomena which took anarchism in the direction of 'identity politics' (or 'lifestylism'). Some argue that style became an essential ingredient of the movement, sometimes obscuring other factors, although others would reply that the performers who aligned themselves with anarcho-punk in fact embraced a wide diversity of approaches in both format and ideas. This would appear to be borne out by the range of artists and performers listed below.

Some Anarcho-punk bands and musicians[edit]

See also[edit]

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