Someone told me once that when punk 'began', it was to assist in giving the establishment a push in destroying the society that they already were destroying. It wasn't necessarily to 'save it', but instead a more nihilistic attitude was taken. How much weight this bears I don't know. This is just another's individual opinion. Certainly, from where I see things within the punk, ‘movement', the 'movement', for want of a better word, appears to be more concerned with 'saving life', 'society', ridding ourselves of capitalism, exploitation, racism, homophobia and many of the other 'wrongs' that western culture has constructed.
However, how we go about it does still seem to differ from one to another and no way would I call the punk scene united or unified in any one set of beliefs. I would not expect that either but the scene really does seem to go from one extreme to another in its ideology and concepts. To me, the punk 'scene' seems fragmented, directionless and in a disturbing way, quite conservative in its own beliefs and outlooks.
Conservative, in that the DIY attitude, although one I whole-heartedly believe in, is so against making a profit, enabling DIY groups, individuals etc, to get better instead of this endless obsession with punk being crap and therefore remaining in this 'ghetto' which it never evolves from. The messages, often many which are much more worth hearing from the 1000 press run of a 7" or a couple of hundred copies of a zinc, are belittled and ridiculed if a profit (dirty word), is even slightly hinted at. DIY, to me, is a set of principles. If you are successful in producing a product that lives up to and promotes these principles, then to expand and put forward your ideas, beliefs, outlook on life and society we live in to others without 'selling-out' these beliefs is, I think, something punks should support instead of bemoan. "Nothing happening", "No gigs", "That much for a zine?!" (whilst holding a pint that cost twice, if not three times as much). Surely the punk, scene' is more than this also. Yes, music is an integral part of our lives, as are records, zines and other forms of communication but I don't go to gigs to be 'entertained'. I go to gigs to meet people, talk to people, share ideas, profess concerns, watch bands who have something to say. If this is done in a DIY fashion and concept, then the principles and truths behind every bands ethics and beliefs will come to the fore. Punk has grown. It is now a capitalistic enterprise. Some labels now seem so big that their merchandise list appears longer than their record releases. Punk has joined the establishment. So much of what was considered 'punk' fashion is now accepted by the consuming majority. Not all of it however. Some still adhere to the DIY principle mentioned earlier but, as seen with the recent demise of Profane Existence, if they just ran the zine alone, the costs to produce it would have ended the Collective a long time ago. This is a real shame as zines, ( and I am biased here!), are to me the lifeblood of this scene. It is mostly zines that have influenced my ideas, challenged my thinking and stimulated my interest. Bands and their lyrics, attitudes too, but zines outweigh this by far.
I believe in trying to make things 'better'. I don't want to eat genetically modified food; so I grow my own or buy organic where I can. I don't want to live in an exploitative, racist world, so I express my anger when I'm confronted with bigoted attitudes. I don't want to live under authoritarian 'rules' I have no control over; so I try to use my brain to think and acknowledge alternatives.
Even in punk, toeing the line seems to be a set formula. Anarchy, another column altogether, is yes, a worthy idea, a food for thought, but what about after the revolution? What will happen to society? How will people 'stop' those removed from re-grouping and regaining power? Will 'leaders' break through from the masses? How will society be structured? Are human beings capable of large-scale co-operation and mutual aid or will the greediest work their way to the top again? Will society become just as stratified then as it is now? Exploitation of others again occurring. Do people think anarchistic ideas through? Do anarchists question their own beliefs or are their ideas too set in stone? Punk can be as ritualistic as any other form of music. Creativity at gigs seems so rare. The 'band' formula so rigid. Ideas can be as backward as they are progressive. Punk to me is only worth it if you live it. Resist and Exist! Create your own ideas and autonomy. Think for yourselves. Have an opinion! Don't be dictated to. Question. Put forth answers, solutions. Think about your arguments. Prove there is an alternative. Act on it! Yes, the world can appear to be a Nagasaki Nightmare but this is the only world we have, and I'm not going to let my whole life be down-trodden and formulated by those in authority forever. Unite with the oppressed of this world. Open the door of communication beyond the realm of 'punk'. Become involved in support groups, human rights, animal rights. PROTEST AND SURVIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!
This column may not be of Chris’ opinion (oh, but it is -ed), so any choice words or direct comments should be directed to moi, c/o Steve ANOF/ PO Box 2576/ Hardcore House/ Colchester, Essex/ CO3 4AY UK. Thanks! Take care.