The Dictator observations thread.

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Marky Dread
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
17 Jul 2020, 7:55pm
Marky Dread wrote:
17 Jul 2020, 7:32pm
Yes 100% it is. Punk isn't about aggression or violence those are by products. Punk doesn't have to be played hard and fast or even on an electric guitar. Go listen to Patrik Fitzgerald.

And yet you can't deny that the punk aesthetic has been predominantly loud, fast, and hard. Hardcore's premise was on purifying that aesthetic to (at least to my ears) absurd degrees. It's the ones that sound more conventional—more commercial—that have to justify their punk values and intent because the aesthetic of something non-commercial is baked in. I agree that it should be a big tent, but those who fall outside a familiar "punk sound" have to justify their claim. I mean, I think you're arguing that punk is in the heart and mind—and I mostly agree—but there is an aesthetic that goes along with most of it that we can recognize. The Exploited are unambiguously punk; Billy Bragg is someone to argue about. I don't think we can get too clever to dismiss aesthetics altogether.
I not so sure it's an essential thing to play fast the Pistols were very slow compared to many yet they are considered by many as the punk band. It depends where you want to draw the line. For me the Stooges are punk there are plenty of slow mid paced songs. Ramones with the 1-2-3-4 approach still had stuff like "Locket Love" "Don't Come Close" Boyfriend" "Baby I Love You". It's an attitude thing for me over speed. Not so much how fast you play but how you put into what you play. Do you consider Motorhead to be Punk? They literally wipe the floor with most punk bands when it comes to speed.

Lyrics with attitude that actually say something and application. Blank Generation is such a great song but it's almost pedestrian compared to some. No I don't buy into the speed thing to be essentail.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Marky Dread wrote:
17 Jul 2020, 8:11pm
I not so sure it's an essential thing to play fast the Pistols were very slow compared to many yet they are considered by many as the punk band. It depends where you want to draw the line. For me the Stooges are punk there are plenty of slow mid paced songs. Ramones with the 1-2-3-4 approach still had stuff like "Locket Love" "Don't Come Close" Boyfriend" "Baby I Love You". It's an attitude thing for me over speed. Not so much how fast you play but how you put into what you play. Do you consider Motorhead to be Punk? They literally wipe the floor with most punk bands when it comes to speed.

Lyrics with attitude that actually say something and application. Blank Generation is such a great song but it's almost pedestrian compared to some. No I don't buy into the speed thing to be essentail
Less speed, I think, than rudimentary technique. Punk has a low entry fee, so to speak—the aesthetic of punk to me has always been that anyone can do this. Meaning, you don't need to be an expert or even competent on your instrument. If you can bang your way thru a couple chords, that can be sufficient—no one can dismiss you on those standards. Yet, the more accomplished and complex, the more the aesthetic strays from punk. Yet the attitude and lyrical content might still be recognizable as punk. That is, I don't buy the idea that being skilled kicks you out of the club, but it does create a divide between you and the idea that anyone can do this. It gets greyer. That's where people start raising their hands to object and that's entirely fair. Attitude—what's in your heart—matters, definitely. But alone that's a bit too open for me. I do require some boundaries, even if I can accept that we can argue about the boundaries and how they apply.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
17 Jul 2020, 8:36pm
Marky Dread wrote:
17 Jul 2020, 8:11pm
I not so sure it's an essential thing to play fast the Pistols were very slow compared to many yet they are considered by many as the punk band. It depends where you want to draw the line. For me the Stooges are punk there are plenty of slow mid paced songs. Ramones with the 1-2-3-4 approach still had stuff like "Locket Love" "Don't Come Close" Boyfriend" "Baby I Love You". It's an attitude thing for me over speed. Not so much how fast you play but how you put into what you play. Do you consider Motorhead to be Punk? They literally wipe the floor with most punk bands when it comes to speed.

Lyrics with attitude that actually say something and application. Blank Generation is such a great song but it's almost pedestrian compared to some. No I don't buy into the speed thing to be essentail
Less speed, I think, than rudimentary technique. Punk has a low entry fee, so to speak—the aesthetic of punk to me has always been that anyone can do this. Meaning, you don't need to be an expert or even competent on your instrument. If you can bang your way thru a couple chords, that can be sufficient—no one can dismiss you on those standards. Yet, the more accomplished and complex, the more the aesthetic strays from punk. Yet the attitude and lyrical content might still be recognizable as punk. That is, I don't buy the idea that being skilled kicks you out of the club, but it does create a divide between you and the idea that anyone can do this. It gets greyer. That's where people start raising their hands to object and that's entirely fair. Attitude—what's in your heart—matters, definitely. But alone that's a bit too open for me. I do require some boundaries, even if I can accept that we can argue about the boundaries and how they apply.
Yes indeed I agree with all the above to be very valid points. But the idea that not being competent at playing is also a very debatable thing. I think punk opened the door to not having to be proficient and the idea can be more important than the result. I'm thinking more along the lines of those small independent labels where band's released just a couple of singles. Some are brilliant and some instantly forgettable but punk helped with that approach. Although punk takes a lot more credit for that than it should. There have been small independent labels since forever and there were a load of groups from the 60s that released one off or small runs of singles. Where punk differed was it enabled those minor league players a place at the table. This got those small groups noticed and paved the way for a lot of the post-punk groups.

But it really is a grey thing to define if you look at Hell and Verlaine who started out with the Neon Boys then Television who were really competent players and released their independent single. America laid all the ground work for the English band's to follow. Punk worked much better here regards success it suited punk with England being a much smaller place than the US and the idea spread really rapid.

Once McLaren got his teeth into the situation and started to manipulate the press young kids up and down the country wanted a part of this (new) rebellious youth cult.

Then the American groups started to get the recognition they deserved. Did punk originate in the US or UK the answer is neither you can not invent attitude as you either got it or you ain't.

I don't think you can define punk and shove it in a neat little box. You can only admire it's attributes.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Marky Dread wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 5:47am
I don't think you can define punk and shove it in a neat little box. You can only admire it's attributes.
But we all do define punk. We might not have sat down and consciously sketched out its boundaries, but at some level we decide what we think is punk when we see/hear/read it and what isn't. More so, because punk is explicitly not passive—audiences aren't expected to just sit there—we're supposed to develop our own ideas and argue about them.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 6:36am
Marky Dread wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 5:47am
I don't think you can define punk and shove it in a neat little box. You can only admire it's attributes.
But we all do define punk. We might not have sat down and consciously sketched out its boundaries, but at some level we decide what we think is punk when we see/hear/read it and what isn't. More so, because punk is explicitly not passive—audiences aren't expected to just sit there—we're supposed to develop our own ideas and argue about them.
You can apply that thought process to just about everything in life. Is it black? Or is it just dark grey? Have you cut yourself? Or is it just a graze? ...you're going to see what you want to see. Yet virtually all the respected writers know best and we are all supposed to toe the party line and accept their wisdom. Not for me thank you. One of punks enduring aspects is to question everything and keep on questioning.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Marky Dread wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 6:49am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 6:36am
Marky Dread wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 5:47am
I don't think you can define punk and shove it in a neat little box. You can only admire it's attributes.
But we all do define punk. We might not have sat down and consciously sketched out its boundaries, but at some level we decide what we think is punk when we see/hear/read it and what isn't. More so, because punk is explicitly not passive—audiences aren't expected to just sit there—we're supposed to develop our own ideas and argue about them.
You can apply that thought process to just about everything in life. Is it black? Or is it just dark grey? Have you cut yourself? Or is it just a graze? ...you're going to see what you want to see. Yet virtually all the respected writers know best and we are all supposed to toe the party line and accept their wisdom. Not for me thank you. One of punks enduring aspects is to question everything and keep on questioning.
That's not at all what I was getting at. The preferred structure of rock music is that audiences look up to performers. They stand high up on the stage, they are great, they perform and we consume. They are better than us, confirmed by their celebrity and income. The star system. Punk is about tearing that down (tho in practice it regularly falls short). We're supposed to be more critical not idolize. I have no idea why you're talking about writers now, but if this is going to drift into anti-intellectualism, I'll withdraw.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 8:45am
Marky Dread wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 6:49am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 6:36am
Marky Dread wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 5:47am
I don't think you can define punk and shove it in a neat little box. You can only admire it's attributes.
But we all do define punk. We might not have sat down and consciously sketched out its boundaries, but at some level we decide what we think is punk when we see/hear/read it and what isn't. More so, because punk is explicitly not passive—audiences aren't expected to just sit there—we're supposed to develop our own ideas and argue about them.
You can apply that thought process to just about everything in life. Is it black? Or is it just dark grey? Have you cut yourself? Or is it just a graze? ...you're going to see what you want to see. Yet virtually all the respected writers know best and we are all supposed to toe the party line and accept their wisdom. Not for me thank you. One of punks enduring aspects is to question everything and keep on questioning.
That's not at all what I was getting at. The preferred structure of rock music is that audiences look up to performers. They stand high up on the stage, they are great, they perform and we consume. They are better than us, confirmed by their celebrity and income. The star system. Punk is about tearing that down (tho in practice it regularly falls short). We're supposed to be more critical not idolize. I have no idea why you're talking about writers now, but if this is going to drift into anti-intellectualism, I'll withdraw.
I only mention the writers because of your comment regards how "we all do define punk" and how a lot of people are only too happy to accept the written word. Not sure how you felt that's drifting into "anti-intellectualism". Anyway back to the point don't accept everything you are told and don't be narrow minded. You can not put punk into a straight jacket.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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JennyB wrote:
17 Jul 2020, 2:42pm
I just want to thank all of you for talking about this wave of antisemitism and standing up against it. It is much appreciated by this Jewess.
I'm trying to think of a way to respond to this that doesn't come off self-satisfied or like I'm patting myself on the back, but think it's important not to ignore either. Thanks Mrs. B, it's good to know even the discussion had some positive impact.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Marky Dread wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 9:20am
I only mention the writers because of your comment regards how "we all do define punk" and how a lot of people are only too happy to accept the written word. Not sure how you felt that's drifting into "anti-intellectualism".
Ah, okay. My fear was that whenever people who write books or articles about punk are brought up, it eventually leads to a condemnation of the entire practice. Punk does emphasize experience a lot as a way to validate "anyone can do this." That is, you don't have to be an expert. Which is its core virtue. But I've found it can also generate an unnecessary and corresponding rejection of reflection and intellectual engagement. I reject that as a principle in aspect of our existence, but given what I do for a living, I'm further opposed to a position that basically shits on how I make $85.57 a month.
Anyway back to the point don't accept everything you are told and don't be narrow minded. You can not put punk into a straight jacket.
I obviously agree with the first statement, but the second one makes punk so wide open as to be an empty category. Taylor Swift isn't punk. Ted Nugent isn't punk. Kajagoogoo isn't punk. Etc etc. We create boundaries out of necessity to actually contain meaning. That isn't being narrow-minded—it can lead to it, definitely, but it isn't automatically narrow-minded. What's fun is in arguing about how and why each of us create our boundaries.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Flex wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 10:17am
JennyB wrote:
17 Jul 2020, 2:42pm
I just want to thank all of you for talking about this wave of antisemitism and standing up against it. It is much appreciated by this Jewess.
I'm trying to think of a way to respond to this that doesn't come off self-satisfied or like I'm patting myself on the back, but think it's important not to ignore either. Thanks Mrs. B, it's good to know even the discussion had some positive impact.
Yeah, my kneejerk response to a compliment or expression of gratitude is a deflection of self-denigration, which would have been inappropriate here. These days a lot of pent up anger is emerging in sometimes horrible ways, and it's important that we draw from our moral code in response.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
17 Jul 2020, 6:58pm
Trangression takes many forms, and depending on where you sit ideologically, some are more valid than others. There are some who think yelling a slur is transgressive—that is, meaningfully so—and some who regard that as, in fact, reactionary or, as you say, theatrical. Fugazi (pretty much always the ideal that all others are measured against) transgress in ways quieter and more significant. Yelling fuck or some slur just isn't that shocking, but asserting themselves not for sale is. But that's a significant level above what most people think about in terms of rebellion.
I agree with this, I guess I'm not sure why one particular form of transgression (expressing bigotry) is considered an essential element of punk's transgressive ideal while actively rejecting bigotry in favor of a rejection of the state and capitalism isn't. seems to me if we're still embracing the transgressive ways of punk rock.
Yes, I'd say it's transgressive against the liberal norm—if the right has won the economic argument over the last five decades, the liberal-left has (mostly) won the cultural—but in support of the reactionary side. Trumpists et al aren't wrong when they see themselves as besieged on the cultural front. The normalization of mixed race and same sex couples in popular media suggests to me that the Culture Wars has been a losing proposition for the right, save as a political tactic. The whining about political correctness and cancel culture is an admission that in terms of cultural norms the right is fighting a defensive war. So reactionary transgression via antisemitism makes a lot of sense to me.
Again, I think the triumph of a progressive cultural vision is a little overstated - the highest rated news shows are explicitly white power programs on Fox News - and, to use one of your examples, it's interesting how issues like gay marriage are victories for progressives partly because gay liberation pivoted to the right to embrace the conservative institution of marriage vs a more diverse vision of human relationships offered by the radical queer left. I always find it interesting that gay marriage gets framed as a left victory in that context. Sullivan is very explicit that the best way to conform gay subculture to capitalist and conservative "family values" norms is by legalizing gay marriage. Anyways, slight digression.

I do get your point it's generally considered impolite to spew racial epithets in polite liberal society (explicitly using some of these words is, in fact, the only metric some people use to consider someone racist) but I guess in a country where you have 30%-40% of the population who share this delight in racist transgression in the service of brutish capitalist power, how much of a transgression is this really?

Other thought, similar to above, certainly I've always gotten my best rises out of the polite, liberally sensed folks I'm around not by being vulgar but by expressing opposition to the state and capitalism as it's comprised. I dunno if transgression against a set of (increasingly contested) liberal cultural norms is the only, or even optimal, path to raising the ire of the squares.

I think back to my experience in punk, groups like the ARA were a major presence, but their radical vision of anti-racism was a turnoff to both the boneheads and the polite, squishy libs. Similar to antifa now. THAT seems much more in keeping with punk's transgressive ideals than just some ineffectual race-baiting and vulgarity of the kind guys like Milo Yianoppolis (sp?) made their living in.
Entirely! One of the scholarly questions I've had for a long time about punk is how an anarchist/socialist impulse can sit with a Nazi one. More so, how do we know that that anarchist/socialist one represents "real" punk? Why are the Nazi assholes the heretics? Is it just about numerical inferiority? The fascist impulse in punk—anti-intellectualism, aggression, righteous oppositionality—is that element that those of us on the "left" (or something like it) have to acknowledge. I just don't see it as a mutant deviancy, but that ugliness that haunts a punk perspective. The wiser figures within hardcore—MacKaye, Biafra—saw in the violence, even if it was therapeutic and performative, as something seriously problematic. But without that aggression, is it still punk? That's the conundrum for me in terms of taking punk as a philosophical outlook.
I'm not even sure I'd consider aggression and righteous oppositionality inherently fascist, those words describe Antifa (or previously, the ARA) just fine, with lots of ties to the punk scene there. It is interesting that, as I said the Marky, when Skrewdriver went racist they rejected the punk moniker and called themselves RAC - they obviously thought punk wasn't something that accommodated what they were trying to do.

I guess I don't see why punk has to have some fascist element by definition. Maybe aggression is a requisite, but aggression against the fascist elements in America seems fine and good.

I wouldn't say that the boneheaded elements are unpunk necessarily, but I also don't think it's unpunk to synthesize the anger and aggression at those who run things into a more sophisticated attack on those with the actual political and economic power. I think it's fine to recognize that the anger and oppositionality inherent in punk can be used for bad ends, and that's why it's important to tell, er, Nazi Punks (to) Fuck Off (and surely that's as fine an example of a punk song as their is).
Last edited by Flex on 18 Jul 2020, 11:01am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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*double post*
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 10:40am
Marky Dread wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 9:20am
I only mention the writers because of your comment regards how "we all do define punk" and how a lot of people are only too happy to accept the written word. Not sure how you felt that's drifting into "anti-intellectualism".
Ah, okay. My fear was that whenever people who write books or articles about punk are brought up, it eventually leads to a condemnation of the entire practice. Punk does emphasize experience a lot as a way to validate "anyone can do this." That is, you don't have to be an expert. Which is its core virtue. But I've found it can also generate an unnecessary and corresponding rejection of reflection and intellectual engagement. I reject that as a principle in aspect of our existence, but given what I do for a living, I'm further opposed to a position that basically shits on how I make $85.57 a month.
Anyway back to the point don't accept everything you are told and don't be narrow minded. You can not put punk into a straight jacket.
I obviously agree with the first statement, but the second one makes punk so wide open as to be an empty category. Taylor Swift isn't punk. Ted Nugent isn't punk. Kajagoogoo isn't punk. Etc etc. We create boundaries out of necessity to actually contain meaning. That isn't being narrow-minded—it can lead to it, definitely, but it isn't automatically narrow-minded. What's fun is in arguing about how and why each of us create our boundaries.
Excuse me here I have no idea how the quote thing works.

No not a dig at your good self or your profession. But just a dig at those who say "well yeah that's how it happened so let's leave it at that".

When punk first started here I was heavily caught up in it. Living only 35 miles outside of London I could enjoy my local scene and when money permitted I could travel to the so called punk elite capital.

At this time the definition via the tabloid press was literally the dictionary definition of worthless, inferior etc. Now I realise it sometimes comes across as condescending when someone says "you had to be there" but when you have had to face down 5 fuckers who want to kick the shit out of you for the way you dress...well you get the picture.

So punk had to break free from that type of hatred. Not surprising punk sided with the marginalised and minorities. It could be bloody bad for your health at times. So speaking from experience it is sometimes very frustrating when I read certain books by people who were definitely not around but know exactly what being a punk was all about.

So these are the stereotypes and straight jackets they had to fight against. You can't be punk your hairs not right or your music is too slow and so on. It's why The Clash were so important they saw through the bullshit very quickly.

You can of course define punk how you see fit it's how the individual reacts to what they see, hear and feel. But I can only say how I see things and for me it's something that is ever changing in order not to simply stand still and be affected by what is happening personally and politically.

So JB damn those anti-semites and let's all live and let live.
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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I want to be sure that I don't sound like m anti-vulgarity either (just anti-racist). I think Bad Religion gets the pleasure of vulgarity just right:




Everybody needs a slogan in their pocket or two
It never hurts to have a strategy you can go to

Sometimes I have no sense at all
As most flawed men are won't to do

Just say fuck you
Pavlovian rude
A menace too
Pay homage to
Your bad attitude

You can even get cerebral if you want to
Make a radical assessment that sticks like glue

Sometimes it takes no thought at all
The easiest thing to do

Is say fuck you
Pavlovian rude
A menace too
Pay homage to
Your bad attitude

The reaction it brings, just one of those things
Your friends might not want you around
If the impulse is right you might get in a fight
Even though you can't hold your ground
But all rest assured, sometimes just a word
Is the most satisfying sound
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Re: The Dictator observations thread.

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Flex wrote:
18 Jul 2020, 10:55am
I agree with this, I guess I'm not sure why one particular form of transgression (expressing bigotry) is considered an essential element of punk's transgressive ideal while actively rejecting bigotry in favor of a rejection of the state and capitalism isn't. seems to me if we're still embracing the transgressive ways of punk rock.
Did it seem like I was suggesting that bigotry was an essential element of punk? Poorly expressed on my part, if so. More a case of punk rejection of conventional behaviours/attitudes lends itself to that. That is, that "I'm an equal opportunity offender" attitude that generates debasing comments even if there's no purposeful intent beyond being "rebellious."
Again, I think the triumph of a progressive cultural vision is a little overstated - the highest rated news shows are explicitly white power programs on Fox News - and, to use one of your examples, it's interesting how issues like gay marriage are victories for progressives partly because gay liberation pivoted to the right to embrace the conservative institution of marriage vs a more diverse vision of human relationships offered by the radical queer left. I always find it interesting that gay marriage gets framed as a left victory in that context. Sullivan is very explicit that the best way to conform gay subculture to capitalist and conservative "family values" norms is by legalizing gay marriage. Anyways, slight digression.
I think that's a misreading of the achievement. There's nothing about it that says homosexuals *must* get married, in the same way that they were *prohibited* before. Eliminating an unfair restriction of personal choice seems a good thing.
I do get your point it's generally considered impolite to spew racial epithets in polite liberal society (explicitly using some of these words is, in fact, the only metric some people use to consider someone racist) but I guess in a country where you have 30%-40% of the population who share this delight in racist transgression in the service of brutish capitalist power, how much of a transgression is this really?
But don't most(?) of them know, at heart, that it's a transgression? They know that the general culture has moved so that using sexist and racist slurs is less unconscious and more an act of bravado or rebellion against the PC police, etc. It's why so many, when caught, immediately back down and offer fake apologies. They know that they've committed a secular sin in a way that decades earlier wouldn't have caused offense.
Other thought, similar to above, certainly I've always gotten my best rises out of the polite, liberally sensed folks I'm around not by being vulgar but by expressing opposition to the state and capitalism as it's comprised. I dunno if transgression against a set of (increasingly contested) liberal cultural norms is the only, or even optimal, path to raising the ire of the squares.
Sure. But I don't believe I was arguing that that wasn't valuable. I'm not arguing against transgression itself. I'm saying that it's been used in the dumbest ways that encourage laziness and don't actually challenge norms that dehumanize. Being, for example, an equal opportunity offender as a way of supposedly exposing bigotry isn't all that clever or useful. Perhaps it once was when society was more easily shocked, but social relations are much crude, more transactional, so that kind of demonstration doesn't have much value.
I'm not even sure I'd consider aggression and righteous oppositionality inherently fascist, those words describe Antifa (or previously, the ARA) just fine, with lots of ties to the punk scene there. It is interesting that, as I said the Marky, when Skrewdriver went racist they rejected the punk moniker and called themselves RAC - they obviously thought punk wasn't something that accommodated what they were trying to do.

I guess I don't see why punk has to have some fascist element by definition. Maybe aggression is a requisite, but aggression against the fascist elements in America seems fine and good.
Leaving my pacifism aside and ideological rejection of violence as a legitimate political tool, the anti-intellectual component is pretty important there. The idea that violence in and of itself is a virtue. That's the central principle of fascism. If Antifa groups also came out and asserted that violence is cleansing and liberating, and that critical thought was a disease, then I'd see no difference. But Antifa's use of aggression has a greater purpose.
I wouldn't say that the boneheaded elements are unpunk necessarily, but I also don't think it's unpunk to synthesize the anger and aggression at those who run things into a more sophisticated attack on those with the actual political and economic power. I think it's fine to recognize that the anger and oppositionality inherent in punk can be used for bad ends, and that's why it's important to tell, er, Nazi Punks (to) Fuck Off (and surely that's as fine an example of a punk song as their is).
Right. And that's what separates people like MacKaye from the bozos. Realizing that there has to be a moral core and intellectual discipline to it all. Anger and aggression left on its own turns pointlessly destructive.

At this point, I'm not sure how much we're disagreeing here, and if we are it's because I didn't express myself as well as I could have. My point is that the same virtue of punk that encourages a sense of liberation from conventionality and of action can and has led to stupid behaviour when it's not disciplined with a humanist perspective and critical mind. Punk necessarily means the former, but the latter is something that people have to work harder for. That's the poison pill embedded within punk.
Back off, or I'll blow the roof off—with sound!

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