Thursday, July 21, 2016

Do Non-Left Politics Have a Place in Punk Rock? pt 2

Using music as a way to provoke people gave punk rock a new purpose (for me, at least).  I played in a hardcore band called PonyBoy that often dressed in drag, and our live shows were usually very confrontational.  Sometimes bordering on violence.  We would openly mock the bands we played with, as well as the audience.  We played a few shows in Victoria with some skinhead bands, and were threatened with violence for our provocateur-type antics on multiple occasions.  Shit, I miss those days.  Pushing the envelope was interesting to me.

So where do non-Left politics come into play?  Well, first of all, this hard delineation between the Left and Right is an illusion of sorts.  It's a false construct that stifles and divides the political discourse, although it does have some basis in reality.  I mean, there are core values at play in each that aren't compatible; planned economics will never be compatible with the free market, liberal social policies will never coexist with religious fundamentalism, and so on.  We have to draw the line somewhere, or the ultimate result is a nihilistic quagmire.

But to reduce punk rock to a specific set of ideals is a subjective activity, and always will be.  Doing so also fails to recognize that politics, in general, don't serve the masses.  Those without.  Minority groups.  Really anyone who feels powerless.  It succeeds parsimoniously in making large generalizations, but neglects the individual experience, which illusion or not is how we view the world.  The hazards of neglecting the individual experience are quite obvious to anyone that can assess things objectively (or at least as objective as we can hope things to be).  The recent tension between the police and black folks is one example, but you can point to the Great Chinese Famine or the 34+ million "unnatural deaths" that occurred under Stalin.  A friend of mine in Kazan, Russia, told me on Skype one morning that her grandfather succumbed to one of Stalin's purges, and that she readily equates communism with fascism.  Her words, not mine, are that those killings were a direct result of the idea that the individual did not matter.  

Therefore, obeying the party line (in my opinion) is antithetical to punk.  We need provocateurs, satire, sarcasm, and a certain level of nihilistic despair in order to have an honest discussion.  In order to not take ourselves too seriously.  If that involves ideas that aren't steadfastly "Left", then so be it; at least we have remained true to the idea that all things must be questioned, authority in particular.  And authority does not care what side of the spectrum you identify with.  The individual experience and creating an identity we are comfortable with is a part of the human condition, even if it is in flux.  

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