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+3 votes
It seems as though the two are inseparable. Are they really?

1 Answer

+3 votes
It depends on where you look. Being inseparable certainly isn't the case globally, but it might appear that way in certain countries (or areas of those countries).

In Greece, for example, I've been told by people who live there that the punk scene isn't the only one that's anarchist-friendly. There are hip-hop shows and raves and parts of other social scenes that tend to get a lot of anarchist participation, as well as anarchist projects that don't have much to do with a single cultural identifier. Maybe "anarchist culture" or "radical culture" if anything.

On the other hand, my understanding is that certain areas have strong anarchist-punk connections because punk functioned as a way to keep anarchist ideas alive in a personal and cultural context when overtly political activity wasn't very strong or possible.

To look at the opposite side of this, it seems obvious that punk itself doesn't necessarily hold anarchism as an inherent component. There have been so many arguments about the definition of punk that it's hard to declare that there are any shared values within punk as a whole. Or even shared music tastes, a lot of the time.

In some cases, even the overlap between punk and anarchist circles is a little superficial. A lot of the classic "radical" figures in punk history are really just hardcore liberals (see: Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins) and it seems like, sometimes, the politics of punk and hardcore scenes have less to do with anarchy and more to do with veganism and animal liberation with some nods to anarchism.

I guess probably there are still a lot of connections between punk and anarchism because punk has a rebellious, anti-establishment, revolting youth sort of aesthetic that blends well with anarchism - but I don't think the two are inseparable, at all.

(That being said, even though I hate most punk music now, I did sort of come into anarchism through punk rock...)
by (8.7k points)
So, are you suggesting that anarchism is inseparable from music scenes? When was the point of no return? There was an anarchism before there was modern music. When was the point of no return? When was anarchism consumed by scenes, finding itself and inseparable from that point on?
@12characters: I don't know where in my answer you came to that conclusion. Specifically when talking about Greece, I mentioned that there are anarchist projects that have nothing to do with any specific cultural identifier (for example, a music scene).

I'm sure this is also the case in other places. Wherever overt anarchy and/or anarchist projects are strong, they're probably transcending the boundaries of a particular subcultural scene. Although of course there's also strength to the found in being pervasive within a certain scene/culture, but obviously that comes with the limitations of that scene/culture.
- But as a follow up comment, it's likely that anarchism first became tied up in particular subcultures and scenes at the same time that the rest of Western society did. At whatever point in time came the idea of identity and individuality being created through consumption and expression of certain cultural objects (music, clothing, etc).
Thanks for your responses! I do believe I misread your initial response, so I'm sorry for that. So, what would happen to punk if you removed anarchism from it? What would happen to anarchism if you removed counter culture influence?
Oh, no problem, for sure!

As for what would happen to punk if anarchism were removed: I think that's already played out in a number of ways. Punk has infamously been assimilated into capitalism via its status as a lifestyle choice/identity to be consumed through various products and symbols. I think there are already certain places where you can find "punk" that is altogether removed from any real cultural or political context and only exists as a vague aesthetic.

I think this probably emphasizes the idea that cultures and identities aren't /inherently/ conflictual, but rather (maybe) can be used as tools of relating conflict and strengthening ties of affinity.

As for what would happen to anarchism if counter-culture influence were removed - I'm not sure whether this is possible, actually. There are always bound to be cultural ties and influences at play, whether you regard these as "culture" or "subculture" or "counter-culture". I think maybe the concern shouldn't be with removing anarchism from any ties to culture, but rather ensuring that anarchism (or anarchy) isn't restricted to the borders of one culture in particular.