Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Punk Rock Conservative?

Philosophical question: are punk and conservative antithetical or symbiotic?

As I continue to work on the idea of Henry David Thoreau as America's first punk rock poet, I have been reading through reflections and commentary on the rise of punk as a movement, and I'm pondering the political and philosophical implications. My starting point for the "what is punk" question is the Punk Manifesto, written by Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin. It's worth reading the whole piece, as well as checking out Graffin's book Anarchy Evolution. For, as many people will attest, punk is a social movement that is not just about the music or the fashion or the posture. It's an identity and belief system grounded in the integrity of individual identity amidst a world and society that pushes stifling conformity.

As I posed and discussed my question on social media, I heard many of the standard descriptors of punk as anti-establishment and even anarchistic. Yet, I want to probe deeper into those ideas. For example, is the primary focus "anti-establishment," or is it simply "pro-individual" and promoting individual liberty and self respect? That distinction is what led to my question about conservatism, as opposed to progressivism. Of course, anytime the idea of political ideology is broached, we must address the role of the Trumpian Republican party as well as the intrusion of Nazi-skinheads into punk at various times over the years. These forces are certainly problematic.

So, as I continue to ponder, I'll conclude with Graffin's summation:

PUNK IS: the personal expression of uniqueness that comes from the experiences of growing up in touch with our human ability to reason and ask questions.

PUNK IS: a movement that serves to refute social attitudes that have been perpetuated through willful ignorance of human nature.

PUNK IS: a process of questioning and commitment to understanding that results in self-progress, and through repetition, flowers into social evolution.

PUNK IS: a belief that this world is what we make of it, truth comes from our understanding of the way things are, not from the blind adherence to prescriptions about the way things should be.

PUNK IS: the constant struggle against fear of social repercussions.

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