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greengalloway

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

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An academic anarcho- punk book?


On Thursday 3rd May spent the night partying on down with about 100 would be politicians (election count / Scottish election) in a big hall in Dumfries. It was ... chaotic. Still is. Spent too much time reading through Scottish Election blogs so did a search on 'anarcho-punk blogs'...

and found that Rich Cross, formerly of Exeter based Metro Youth and Sanction (not groups I know anything about) is writing another book on anarcho- punk.

Have to say I'm dubious - from description sounds like it will be a rather academic discussion and a bit Crass heavy.

Luckily , if you want a more interesting view, you can find it here

www.myspace.com/allthemadmenrecords

and here

www.myspace.com/kill_your_pet_puppy


and follow the 'friends' links to find more.

Meanwhile, here is the outline of Rich Cross' proposed book.

http://thehippiesnowwearblack.wordpress.com/

http://thehippiesnowwearblack.wordpress.com/about-the-author/

This blog will document the research and writing of a book, currently scheduled for publication in 2008, on the history, culture, politics and practice of the British anarcho-punk movement between 1977 and 1984. The book, provisionally entitled, The Hippies Now Wear Black: Crass and the anarcho-punk movement, 1977-1984 is being written by Rich Cross and will be published by AK Press. The Hippies Now Wear Black will be able to present a detailed account of the most important ‘restorative’ movement to emerge within punk, determined that its implicit world-changing potential should be realised.

Crass articulated arguably the most radical manifestation of the punk aesthetic, mobilising tens of thousands of youth in Britain and around the world and giving practical expression to the punk imperatives of ‘do-it-yourself’ activity and sub-cultural autonomy. Anarcho-punks swelled the ranks of the radical wing of the peace, disarmament and animal liberation movements of the 1980s; re-energised and reinvigorated the British anarchist milieu; and provided an unanswerable critique of the recuperation and evaporation of mainstream punk rock.

Crass’s uncompromising anarchist propaganda led to numerous prosecutions; the seizure of many of the band’s most ‘subversive’ record releases; ‘questions in the House’ about the group’s ‘scurrilous’ and ‘wicked’ anti-Falklands War single; and to political stunts that duped both the CIA and the KGB. Anarcho-punk inspired a new wave of anti-capitalist demonstrations in the City of London, and the establishment of new anarchist centres and squatted venues around the country. Behind the work of leading bands such as Crass, Poison Girls, and Flux of Pink Indians the movement was defined by the actions of a vast network of activists, writers, publishers and performers whose efforts came to life outside the confines of formal organisation and in defiance of the assertion that punk rock was a fleeting cultural distemper.

The Hippies Now Wear Black will combine an analytical history of the movement’s development, evolution and ultimate retrenchment between 1977 and 1984 with an assessment of the movement’s efforts to mobilise a new anarchist constituency and sub-culture. It will explore the movement’s efforts to give practical expression to its anarchist ambitions; examine the complex relationship which emerged between anarcho-punk’s assertion of punk authenticity and the claims of ‘mainstream’ punk; scrutinise the tensions between anarchist-punks and the anarchist movement’s traditional activists and thinkers; and assess the scope and limitations of anarcho-punk’s sub-cultural reach.

Primarily a cultural-political, rather than a musical, history of punk, it will argue: that, despite its contradictions, the movement represented the most authentically radical expression of punk rock’s innate potential; that anarcho-punk has itself contributed to its own marginalization in the historiography of punk; and that, in reality, anarcho-punk represents a highly significant attempt to fuse a distinctive autonomous sub-culture with uncompromising revolutionary ambitions: a political-cultural approach to building a radical-libertarian milieu which continues to resonate and be revisited in numerous contexts in the present day.
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1 Comments:

Anonymous Rich Cross said...

Hi Alistair

It’s good to learn that you’re interested in my book project.

It’s clear that you’ve already formed some strong views about the themes of the book, but I have to say it’s quite sobering for an author to see someone adopt such absolute opinions about a piece of their work when they’ve yet to read a single word of it!

It’s very possible that we have different opinions about the history and experience of anarcho-punk, but I think at this stage it’s fair to say that I don’t always recognise my own views in your descriptions of them.

For instance, I’m not intending to write a book "which makes everything revolve around Crass" and thus "rewrite our history" in the process.

I also think you may also be taking the intended (though still provisional) title of the book - The Hippies Now Wear Black - a little too literally. Of course, not all of those who saw themselves as anarcho-punks dressed in black and considered themselves hippy-punks (any more than everyone who dressed in black saw themselves as part of anarcho-punk). The title is actually a quote from Pete Wright’s contribution to A Series of Shock Slogans. I chose it because it helps to emphasise the counter-cultural continuities between hippy and anarcho-punk – something which the ‘Year Zero’ pretences of mainstream punk attempted to deny.

I am absolutely not intending to say anything so trite as: anarcho-punk = Crass = dress in black = hippy. I’m confident that you’ll find a bit more to my argument than that.

I’m hoping my own perspectives will become clearer as work on the book progresses, and I am able to bounce my own ideas off of other people – yourself (hopefully) included.

9:43 pm  

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