Why my Mohawk is important or why punk still counts

my names Dave... I'm from Wollongong, Australia and this is my first column....I had intend some deep insight spiel on Australia for the rest of the world but. But first I'll deal with another column on this page...one by Andrew Lance called '"Punk is nothing".. Andrew writes that his correspondence with me was one of the reasons that started his development to this position...fair enough.. but I thought I would throw in my Two bobs worth( for cultural fun I'll try to throw in as much Australian cliches as possible...so she'll be right cobber old mate) and continue the debate on the relevance of Punk...if the rest of the world is anything like Australia then debates on what is punk is frowned on by the self appointed High priests of spiky belts...but fuck them this is a sub-culture I care about.. they can get a dog up them. Punk is fucking important to me..it something I identify with and being a punk is something I consciously identify as on numerous levels, musically, fashion wise( next time you go to a gig and come across someone with a three foot mohawk and painted on bandage pants who tells you that "I only where what is comfy" smack then across face and ask the lying bastard why they are not wearing tracky-dackies and ugh boots------I told you I'm an Aussie..)..... But I think we should be realistic about what it is.... it's to me a fucking great subculture that provides to me and many others , great music , a place to belong, good friends, energy and commitment and a most importantly something to call your own... you stop being consumers of culture and start creating and interacting with a proud (if somewhat confused and often contradictory) twenty year old tradition... But it is not the solution to the worlds problems or the sole potent agent for change..

One difference from alot of political punks I know is that I define myself as a Marxist not an "anarchist" and I refuse to submit to that Crass inspired orthodoxy of Circle A patches. So for me the real force for change is the "proletariat" or working class...there is much argument over who this defines.. in my mind it is the vast majority of those who sell there labour (both blue and white collar) that the bosses then exploit to create profits. For this reason I disagree with Andrew that there is something wrong about being employed in a big company. As if having a job with Nestle as a receptionist is like participating in the selling of baby milk to third world countries. The receptionist is exploited as well and the difference between working for a company and facing each day being shafted and being a major share holder who profits from exploitation is massive (Note Lenin's theory of the aristocracy of labour conflicts somewhat with this.) The power of working class is the fact it creates the wealth , get shafted by the capitalists and must to improve conditions fight back, and that a point will be reached (maybe we are all ready there) when it will become necessary to overthrow capitalism entirely. However Marx also wrote much about developing "Class Consciousness" or in laymen's turms developing revolutionary ideas amongst the workers.This is where punk is important.

Punk is at the least a subculture based on rebellion and at best an anti-capitalist subculture. From school to work to third world exploitation to environmental destruction to organised religion punk has attacked all these situations and made itself an enemy of them. True often this conflict has only ever been on an ideas level through lyrics and the like... but that is fantastic. Much of the justification for the present system comes from mainstream art for example Rambo films gave much credence to capitalist imperialism in the Cold War. So since punk is primarily sub-culture it would be wrong to force on to it a task that go beyond sub-cultural restrictions.Creating a form off expression that challenges the basic assumptions of the system is fundamental to the continued fighting of the system. Shit even from a fashion point of view the creating of an aesthetic that is in defiance of what is considered "good and proper" is in itself a great step in destroying many other restrictions paced on our behave and efforts to make us all tame little workers.

Yet it is not perfect. As Andrew says the scene can be bitchy, divided, isolated and contain elements that are just money making unthinking fools. But that is reality.Other elements of the struggle are also problamatic. The entire revolutionary left is divided by sectarianism, unions are plagued with corruption and sell out union officials and the fight against authoritarianism within revolutionary organisations is far from new. This does not remove there value , it just makes us aware we have some cleaning up to do in our backyard.

So the big issue for me is embracing the great rebellious traditions and working against the negative divisive elements .....well that's what I reckon.

One bit of Andrew's thing I did not address was his claims that punk makes itself ineffective due to it's alienation from mainstream culture...Hmmmm.Well while I have always attacked elitism within the scene I do think being alienated from mainstream capitalist culture happens to all anti-capitalist movements are elements of struggle that challenge the status quo. Recently the media has savaged mineworkers who are opposing enterprise bargaining through month long strike action. alternative political theatre is also constantly ignored or vilified as are revolutionaries. I think the solution is rather than taming your self down for a media that will always reject you, we have to create and strengthen forums of our own...which to me punk is.... a bit circular heh?

Dave Eden

Back to daves Column Section

main | words | music | art