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

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Crass Commercial for my book

Penny Rimbaud of Crass finds enlightenment- photo by Tony Drayton
Tony Drayton (Ripped and Torn, Kill Your Pet Puppy) went along to a Punk Waltham Forest event 23 September 2016 which features a recreation of Small Wonder record shop.

Penny Rimbaud of Crass was there and Tony asked if he agreed with my assertion (in the booklet he is holding) that neither Penny nor Crass had much knowledge of anarchism before they started using the circled A symbol. Penny agreed.

Between 1979 and 1981, I spent many hours in Small Wonder, filling in time every Wednesday between finishing work at London Rubber at 4 pm and starting  Engineering evening classes at Waltham Forest College at 6. I became friends with Pete Stennett who ran the shop and a large part of my record collection was bought there then. It is also where I found a copy of Ripped and Torn 17

Pete also had a record label- Small Wonder- and the first release by Crass Feeding the 5000 was on Small Wonder which is why Penny was at the event.

The chapter Penny is reading in the photo is in this post

where I quote this quote by Penny from George Berger's book The Story of Crass

In all honesty I wasn’t aware of anarchism until about year one into Crass …We had got a peace banner to tell people we weren’t interested in kicking shit, and we had put up the circled A banner as something to get the left and right off our backs. It was then that we started getting people asking what we meant by that. I realised that outside of my own libertarian stance , I didn’t know what the fuck it was about. It was then I started looking at what it actually meant in terms of its history. I hadn’t had much interest in it and I can’t say I have now to be honest.

This is confusing since Crass are widely seen as the band that turned rhetoric of the Sex Pistol's Anarchy in the UK into the actuality of anarcho-punk. But if Crass didn't know much about anarchism or have much interest in it, where does that leave anarcho-punk and the popular/ academic accounts of the sub-subculture?

In need of major revision I suggest.

Such a revision will need to look much more closely at the intersection between punk and the more radical elements of the actually existing/ still surviving in the mid/later 1970s English counterculture. This counterculture drew on and absorbed many influences, including anarchism.

To use  posh words, the interaction was a dialectic between counter culture as thesis, punk s antithesis and anarcho-punk as synthesis. In about 1971, a history teacher at my school claimed that  Hegel had influenced Marx in a similar way so that  what Marx took from Hegel was the dialectical process where  feudalism = thesis, capitalism = antithesis and communism = synthesis.

I now know that Hegel never used the 'thesis/antithesis/synthesis' equation,  but would have said that capitalism was the negation of feudalism and that communism was therefore the  'negation of the negation' of feudalism.

The actual German word Hegel used was aufheben which has several, contradictory, meanings. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aufheben

One meaning is 'take a thing to a higher level'. So punk took the counterculture to a higher level and then anarcho-punk took it higher still.

Aufheben can mean preserve and abolish/ keep and cancel. So while punk seemed to abolish the counterculture - 'Never trust a hippy'/ 'We don't wear flares/ 'I hate Pink Floyd'/ Year Zero - it also, via Small Wonder/ Rough Trade/ Better Badges/Crass even Kill Your Pet Puppy which all had countercultural roots and/or influences - preserved aspects of the counterculture which re-emerged in/as  anarcho-punk.

Also see this post which includes the Stonehenge issue of KYPP and the 'festivalization of punk'


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