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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Just noticed that my ramblings have inspired a discussion on Barbelith http://www.barbelith.com/topic/20747 about "counterculture" which seems to be part of ongoing discussions. Chaos magick comes in to the discussions , but I haven't got there yet from here. Look out for 1986 if you wanna know the score.

For your more academic- USA style- view of 'punk as subculture' (not counter culture) try this


Will see if I can track down author - who knows, he might chip in

Barbelith is't taking new members, so will just have to spectate. But as the Pop Group said "There are no Spectators". We all participate - there is no neutral in the conflict betwen the powerful and the powerless. But how powerful can we imagine ourselves to be?

I reckon the key word is the Situationist one "recuperation" . If any one cares to plough through the June 1st 2005 / International Times (written in June last year) blog I get on to the "Empire of the Panda's Thumb" which is a cut up/ sampled text from 'The Collpase of Chaos' by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart : Penguin : 1994 pages 322 to 324.

The theory here is evolutionary and mathematical - the survival of the fittest as an 'optimum' not the 'best possible'. A species can can continue occupy an evolutionary niche by dint of preventing competitor species getting a foothold.

But that isn't then end of the story. Continual random/ chaotic change means that a dominant species can get knocked off their perch (think dinosaurs and meteors on big scale, micro-habitat change on small scale) and so a spce is created into which anotehr species can move and adapt to become dominant in turn.

No doubt a gross oversimplification, but so it goes.

mainstream culture = consensus reality = the society of the spectacle = society as economic system/ economic system as society = everday reality.

It is the dominant culture and has got there through cultural competition/ evolution. It survives as dominant culture not becuasse it is so 'superior' or 'better' or 'necessary' but by dint of supressing culturally competitive rivals. By maintaining itself as 'the spectacle', the only show in town/ on planet. Or more, maintaining the illusion of being the only show in town.

But as with genetic evolution, the random processes of cultural evolution keep throwing up challenges - old cultures changing their spots, new cultures trying to emerge and get their place in the sun.

At 'revolutionary moments' (yer old paradigm shiftyness) the new breaks through and after liquidating counter-revolutionary elements establishes itself... but such moments are few and far between.

"The counterculture" is an ever shifting, ever changing, fluid, creative, chaotic, disorganised pool or current of latent cultural evolutonary change. It is always potential, never actual - since as soon as one of its memes or what ever you call 'em jumps paradigm, it becomes 'the culture' and ceasses to be countercultural.

Possibly. Just made the above up as I followed thoughts along their trajectory.

To get to the actual - the anarcho-goth-punk counterculture I have been exploring here was small scale, physically initimate, face to face and based on key participants immediate previous involvement in punk 76/78. It was surrounded by a much wider halo of interested parties - through gigs and records and fanzines, music press, John Peel which in turn had graduations from say the 20 000 folk who bought The Mob's 'Let the Tribe Increase' album in 83/4 to the 100 000 who bough Crass product to the million or so who bought Pistols/ Clash mainstream punk.

Spot the jump?

The original audience for the Pistols, of punk in London was reckoned at the time by Jon Savage to be only 200 or so in 1976... but by 1983 and after punk went suprnova and died back as fast, that era of punk was mainstream, was not 'countercultural' . And since it now turns out that the late Pope was a Catholic after all, look at Christianity - from small countercultural cult to state religion of Roman Empire in 300 years and world religion...

But in transition, in making the shift/ jump features of a counterculture get blurred and distrorted, get recuperated, become spectacular. Local example is wind power. 30 years ago, even 10 years ago, part of green counterculture, now here in Scotland, huge and massive developments which have created a counter-counterculture of anti-windfarm (and pro-nuclear) protestors. Ditto Fox-hunting in the UK (song by the Ex-Pistols) - in process of becoming a counter-culture?

Apologies to Barebilithites - gone way off your theme.


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