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Punk, Hardcore, and Other Social Movements that Empower Communities

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Let me get it straight here… first, I personally believe that punk movement has both positive and negative aspects. So to avoid confusion and to solve my own dilemma, I try to separate the music genre, the movement, and the individuality. For me, punk music (which is a genre that includes hardcore styles and contains different kinds of lyrics – love, hate, being anti-racist, being racist, being anti-sexist, being sexist, empowerment, powerlessness, spirituality, being gay, being whatever you want to be, etc. and has many kinds of musical styles applied) and punk or hardcore movement (which is also consist of different philosophies – anarchism, nazism, christianism, atheism, communism, veganism, feminism, etc.) are quite different from each other. In short, these are not necessarily the same and can never or should not be defined as one and the same thing. Also, it should be seen only as part of a person’s identity but not necessarily the person’s totality – his or her overall values, personality, outlook, philosophy, etc. This is because individuals vary and people can change anytime. Therefore, punk or hardcore is not a one-size-fits-all term or label.

Now, from different standpoints, let’s critically analyze and explain the proposition as carefully as possible. It is not an identity per se if you look at it from the perspectives of science (quantum physics for example) or also from the perspectives of some eastern philosophies (Buddhism for example). From these outlooks, there is no “real” identity because, according to these ideas, we are purely consciousness experiencing itself (thank you universe!) and that identification is just an illusion and attachment to the concept of identity is somehow inconsequential and doesn’t have real groundings. Also, physics and mathematics suggest that the universe is a hologram and that everything is a simulation. Perhaps, but I can’t be sure for now. However, let’s not dive into those areas for a reason that it’s not relevant to most people in the movement and quite “far out” for many. Or is it? Anyway, let’s just stick to what we all preferred as “reality”.

So what do people mean when they say punk or hardcore? If they’re not talking about the genre, they probably mean the movement; a very interesting social movement. It has evolved from the hippie movement that started during the early 1960’s (or late 1950’s?) youth culture or counterculture which defied American or Western foreign policies that support war, colonialism, brutal capitalism, and even terrorism towards Vietnam and other countries that doesn’t adhere to their power and authority. This so-called hippie movement has been empowered by the anti-war philosophies of the “beatnik generation” popularized by the beat poets such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, etc. and later by the influence of important folk musicians such as Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Bod Dylan, and other musicians promoting critical thinking, peace, love, respect, and individualism. But, it is important to note that the hippie movement is also composed of various artists and musicians that produced jazz, rock, blues, psychedelics, and other musical genres of this era that are not so known. And, the hippie movement is also composed of individuals with different philosophies. However, let’s just stick to the “positive aspects” as much as possible.   

Years after the rise and the gradual fall of the hippie movement, punk music was also created partly out of discontent from the previous musical styles and the politics associated with the hippie movement. It was like hating their parents out of dissatisfaction, so to speak. Later, it was clearly seen as a social movement. It was said that the MC5 (1968), Iggy Pop and the Stooges (1969), and The New York Dolls (1973) are some of the bands that started to play punk music. However, some also claimed that the Velvet Underground (1963), formed by Lou Reed, is the first punk band (which many so called punks of today has never heard of, ironically). At that time, it was regarded as an experimental music and not really defined as punk music. In addition, we cannot really say that some of these band members were not racist or sexist. Sorry about that. To defend my point, I am attaching links below for you to read. Though, as what I’ve said above, people can change!

According to some “punk historians”, the term “punk” has only been coined accidentally based on a magazine in New York City where the cultural movement was also said to have started. However, some claimed that punk movement started in London or Europe with bands such as the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Crass. Crass was also known to have started the term “anarcho-punk”, clearly suggesting that it carries the anarchist principle and politics. No matter what the truth is, these genres all came from folk and then later rock music – distorted, shortened, made faster, louder, obnoxious, and madder. Apparently. And then during the late 1970’s, hardcore music also began to surface as a sub-genre of the punk musical style. Then, hardcore has also evolved into a distinct movement in later years. The rest is history. However, punk and hardcore are different from one another but essentially, has so many similarities. It is both. And also, we cannot say that some of the individuals from the hardcore scenes are not racist or sexist. We really cannot tell so again, sorry about that. And again to prove it, I attached the links below this article.  And again, they might change in the future. 

Today many people are confused about the terms punk and hardcore and to avoid confusion or to escape from the burden of thinking, they don’t really talk much about it. This is understandable but however, sometimes, some people need answers to their questions which is, by the way, another point of “punk philosophy” – to question things and “authority”. So when we say punk or hardcore, we really mean to say more than one thing; first, it is a musical genre and then second is, it is a social (and political too!) movement. These two terms are different from one another, technically speaking, especially when we start to look at the essence of the individual. It should be; to avoid confusion and the very limiting generalization. However, there is no question that these social movements, through its positive philosophy, is very empowering when used or applied to one’s life carefully, properly, and intelligently. If not, its dangerous misconceptions will destroy people’s lives! Why? Vices, frustrations, angst, irrational hostility and pessimism, and loathing!

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But nonetheless, still existing and active all over the world today, punk and hardcore as social movements (without its negative, politically correct, and postmodernist features) is still very important and beneficial. Along with other positive social movements, these two can be used to help, enable, educate, and inspire many individuals and communities to live a life valuing freedom, peace, integrity, friendship, compassion, and as cheesy as it sounds, love. Let’s just hope (and do something too!) it will continue to improve rather than to deteriorate.   

Check out these links to dismantle your biases you son of a…..just kidding!

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