If you have ever thrashed around in a mosh pit while channeling pure reactivity and fierce expression of ones internalised rage rallied around anti-authoritarianism and disenfranchised futures – then you know that punk has never simply been about the music, but rather, the music is the antidote and nexus upon which intersecting layers of ideals converge in a ritualised, amplified environment. Punk music is as messy and complex as the systems which it seeks to defy. The riffs, rage and vocal arrangements are the soundtrack to a lifelong commitment to revolt and rebellion that pervades every aspect of one’s existence; should one choose to align to the visionary fight against icky, sticky white supremacist psychopaths guised as the Capitalist elite.
I learned more about the politically systemic paradigms of society growing up at gigs than anything my traditional (and by traditional, I mean elitist) education ever offered me. Ragged punk teachers, whether straight edge or siphoning brandy from the bar, continue to be my living examples of dedication to the cause; anti-establishment professors covered in venue filth raging against the inequity, racism, sexism and all the multitudes of systemic legacies of colonialism. Punk youth and elders are the unified voices screaming out and reminding the powers that be that we never gave our permission to invade, divide and conquer- and in doing so, drive our planetary home and each other into desperate and dire corners. However, it remains our responsibility — and I speak particularly of the white punks — to protect and fight for the dismantling of oppressive forces that marginalise and subjugate Black and Indigenous People of Colour.
To do as Rage Against the Machine echoed to us in “Know Your Enemy” – one of many sacred riot anthems;
Bringing on the fury
The choir infantry
Revolt against the honour to obey
Overthrow the effigy
The vast majority
While burning down the foreman of control
Silence is an enemy
Against your urgency
So rally up the demons of your soul
Photography by Kristin-Lee Moolman
The tenets of independence and authenticity govern punk ideals, and notoriety can only be gained through commitment to how far one will go for their values. Within the limitations of society’s chokehold on our freedom arises politically charged, protective and diverse expressions of the punk movements. Whether it’s grunge, psychedelia, hardcore and its innumerable other manifestations and counterparts.
The punk vision sees the seizing of consolidated authoritarian power as a fundamental obstacle for creating any kind of world resembling Utopia. And although it is most often known for expressing anarchic ideals – it remains paramount to note that any punk worth their steel plated Docs will fight tooth and nail to ensure the preservation of an anti-racist world in which BIPOC are elevated and protected. In saying that, I am reminded of a Varjayana Buddhist philosophy that states “anger is as pure an energy as love” and when yielded effectively it opens up the pristine pools of awareness and awakening of our racialised history, in which justice is and will continue to be served from us. In this present time, and with the culminating momentum of the global Black Lives Matter movement – we will not give up. This is a revolution; one amplified by our digital connectivity where claims of white ignorance ring like insult to the intelligence and work done by Black and Indigenous People of Colour towards their liberation.