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Thread: Punk Rock, Diversity, and the Gonzo Conservatives

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    Default Punk Rock, Diversity, and the Gonzo Conservatives

    I was doing some punk rock research and happened upon this article that I quite enjoyed, so felt I should post it.

    By: Dave Smalley (from Down By Law for those not in the know)

    Punk Rock, Diversity, and the Gonzo Conservatives

    In 2004, punk rock fans don't have to all be the same. Sheep are the same. Lemmings are the same. But punk rock fans should never demand sameness, be it from the left or the right. A healthy democracy depends on a free thinking, engaged citizenry -- and a healthy punk rock scene should be the FIRST to welcome ideological diversity.

    I call punk rock conservatives gonzo conservatives. This is not your father's conservatism. Gonzo conservatives have done and seen things their fathers never could have imagined, and right alongside punks on the left. Gonzos are inked and scarred and concerned about problems in the world. They love the Bad Brains and the Sex Pistols, and grew up believing the very essential punk rock notion of "think for yourself." Some have been part of the punk rock scene for years, and helped it grow. Some are new to the scene and discovering that punk's ideals can lead to more than one way streets.

    Many have been on the left at some point and become disillusioned with it, and started to believe that the other perspective just might have some good points.

    Gonzo conservatives see some people who claim to be punk rock fans wanting to enforce a "one-mindset" mentality -- precisely the opposite of what we fought for all these years. Some punk fans don't see how anyone can claim to be conservative and punk simultaneously -- whereas gonzo conservatives don't see how anyone can demand conformity and still claim to be punk. Demanding conformity is the essence of fascism (or communism, which, depending on what political model one uses, can be seen as one and the same).

    In 2004, there are a growing number of gonzo conservatives. They don't like being told they're supposed to think like everyone else. They are not sheep, to be herded by others who would dictate in our community. They are human beings, deserving of common decency and respect. Gonzo conservatives believe that punk rock is about being smart, and caring, and changing the world -- but only when and where it needs it. "Being punk" does not mean hating the world, or the president, just for the sake of it. If something is good, support it. There are more than enough problems in America and the world to work on without reflex demonization.

    Punk rock means seeing the problems in the world and fighting (which sometimes means, well, fighting) to make it better. And if there is some disagreement about what is bad in the world, so be it: Gonzo conservatives see world government as wrong -- it makes slaves out of human beings. The problem with the Taliban, the former Soviet Union, the Saddam Hussein regime, et al, is that they tried to contain the human spirit. And the human spirit cannot be contained. Not forever, anyway.

    It is for that reason there is opposition to those in our own country who seem to want us to give up our rights to a poorly run, monolithic United Nations bureaucracy. And there is support for those who want America to act in our own vital interests in the world -- together with others when we can, alone if the cause is just. Consensus where possible, but action where necessary. These are words for a nation to live by.

    Gonzo conservatives see unnecessary taxes as another danger to the nation, to be opposed. Income taxes did not exist in the United States until Abraham Lincoln forced them onto an unhappy public to finance a war. Still they remain, sapping the economic lifeblood of working families and the very economic engine itself -- and some in America continually want to raise them.

    Gonzo conservatives oppose tax hikes as oppressive and demeaning to the human spirit. They're surprised when they see some punk rock fans -- often the same punks who argue that the government is fucked, fascist, etc. -- supporting the party that favors giving more money to the government -- taken from the wages of millions of working Joes. Let's be truly a fair society, and let people keep as much as possible of the living that they work so hard to earn.

    Gonzo conservatives see racial quotas as an Orwellian twisting of good intentions. Not hiring someone because of their color? Hiring someone because of theirs? It's racist, and illogical. Imagine if "affirmative action" extended to one's favorite band. The Beatles were four white men. Should they have had to hire "someone of color" to fill a quota? How about if the Bad Brains had to hire a white person on drums? If racial quotas seem like a poor idea for a band, it's an even worse reason for someone getting admitted to medical school. Let's be truly a colorblind society, and let all people's talents shine, regardless of the color of their skin. Where there is discrimination, we must fight it -- but we must not make the remedy one of discrimination itself.

    Gonzo conservatives see the current state of public education in America as not just bad, but disastrous. Despite spending more per pupil than most other democracies, we come up short time and again in science, math and now computer programming competitions with other countries. The upper echelons of public education have been so co-opted and warped by politicized teacher's unions that millions of desperate parents of all colors and creeds are pulling their kids out, opting for private schools they can't afford, or home schooling. Statistically, very few politicians, including the ones of the "education party," send their kids to public schools. They must believe what so many are saying: too much dogma controlling the curriculum, too many schools filled with drugs and violence, with no discipline allowed, and a "teach to the bottom, never to the top" philosophy. Perhaps the most disturbing question: Why do the rich, mostly white politicians in the "education party" fight against school vouchers -- something that helps poor minority kids escape the chaos? Gonzo conservatives believe the true education party is the one fighting to make sure No Child is Left Behind. Real reforms, real results required.

    Gonzo conservatives know that there are thousands of excellent teachers out there -- but there are others who use their jobs to advance a political agenda over real learning. And that's wrong, and it has the potential of killing this country for the long-term. Let's be truly an educated society, one which teaches all points of views, but real history -- not try to use our teachers as ideological bullets in a dogmatic gun. When Harriet Tubman is given more ink than George Washington in the history books, there is a serious distortion of learning. Both were brave and noble Americans doing the right thing -- but one was the first and most influential president of the United States, whose decisions and actions set standards and shaped the world from that time onward.

    These are just a few of many issues where gonzo conservatives draw a line in the sand and fight for positive change. Gonzo conservatives are here to stay. Perhaps they have always been here and just feared to speak out. In the end, they are punk rockers who believe in the government staying as small as possible, keeping taxes low and acting when necessary to defend the country. They trust the people with their own money, and their own choices, within reason. They admire and respect the men who wrote the Constitution and Declaration of Independence -- documents that have served as the model for democracies the world over.

    And as punk rock fans, when they see intolerance in the world, or oppressive economic practices, or people afraid to speak out, they fight. They just don't let others pick the battles anymore.
    Last edited by Betty; 12-22-2004 at 11:20 PM. Reason: info about Smalley...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Betty
    Let's be truly an educated society, one which teaches all points of views, but real history.
    (Jesus)
    Then he probably wouldn't write this amount of bullshit, although i dunno what "real history" is.
    Anyway, more importantly does Break still like Down By Law?
    #N/A

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    I don't know, but he was a pretty big fan what...? two years ago? A theory I toyed with was that it had something to do with Samantha.

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    Wow! How some "punk rock research" led you to a fairly standard right wing political essay, I'll never know, but that's cool. I absolutely agree with Dave that punk rock means never having to share a brain. And that's not where our agreement ends either. I would back up alot of what he says here. I would also call him on a couple of points.

    Let's look at this first:

    "Punk rock means seeing the problems in the world and fighting (which sometimes means, well, fighting) to make it better. And if there is some disagreement about what is bad in the world, so be it: Gonzo conservatives see world government as wrong -- it makes slaves out of human beings. The problem with the Taliban, the former Soviet Union, the Saddam Hussein regime, et al, is that they tried to contain the human spirit. And the human spirit cannot be contained. Not forever, anyway.

    It is for that reason there is opposition to those in our own country who seem to want us to give up our rights to a poorly run, monolithic United Nations bureaucracy. And there is support for those who want America to act in our own vital interests in the world -- together with others when we can, alone if the cause is just. Consensus where possible, but action where necessary. These are words for a nation to live by. "

    As for this first paragraph, I would only add that a big part of the problem of those countries' regimes is that they killed a lot of people too. I think that is the most important issue. I mean FOX news is trying really hard to contain my spirit, but I'm fighting really hard to keep that from happening. At least they haven't killed me yet.

    In this second paragraph, Dave seems to make quite a leap from the Taliban, Stalin, and Saddam to the United Nations. The only poorly run monolith I feel I'm qualified to critique is that of the United States. But I love my country and absolutely agree that we must, "act in our own vital interests in the world -- together with others when we can, alone if the cause is just. Consensus where possible, but action where necessary." My Question would is; How does this apply to our invasion of iraq? I disagree that our cause was "just" and "necessary."

    I agree with Dave that, "the human spirit cannot be contained." I also know that Saddam's regime was on it's last legs before we invaded. The human spirit could have overcome Saddam without all the death and destruction that we've seen there these last 21 months. There were forces already inside Iraq, forces led by their "human spirit" that were working to depose Saddam and could have been helped by us, without all the chaos and bloodshed of war. There are far too many fewer human Iraqis than there were two years ago, and the spirirt of those that remain feel more contained today, not less. I just want an explanation as to why this was necessary. How is this just. If Dave believes so much in the human spirit, then why didn't he believe the Iraqis could handle Saddam without the full force of the American military machine?



    I'd also just like to make fun of the whole "gonzo conservatism" thing. It is exactly like my father-in-law's conservatism, except for the tattoos. My father-in-law even listens to some punk rock. I guess the word "gonzo" is designed to add some crazy, ballsy, I-will-really-fuck-you-up kind of attitude the the whole father-in-law kind of conservatism, but Zell Miller already did that, and he's supposedly a Democrat. Besides I just keep thinking about that blue, furry muppet character.

    I would like to address this more when I'm not so tired and drunk.

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    If there's something I've learned in the years I have listened to punkrock, surfed punkrock-related online communities and discussed things with "punks" or "punkrockers" from both all over the world online and from my own country offline, it is that punks truly are the most contradictive people I have ever known.

    On the other hand, it's all "Be yourself, do your own thing!" but fuck me, if anyone actually IS different from your standard punkrock crowd. Kill the motherfucker, kill 'im!

    I do sort of understand the idea that a punk cannot be right-wing or a conservative because punk has always been an ideology known to stand up against old values and such. This is just a traditional way of thinking. In Finland, most punks I've met have been activists and politically they have supported the Green Party. So I guess you could say there's a new group that exists nowadays, not so much left-wing or right-wing, eco-punks more than anything.

    It still feels rather weird to me. I remember a funny stunt by a singer of Finland's most popular punkrock group (okay, nowadays they're more rock, but whatever). He tattooed a symbol of the right-wing party on his butt cheek and tried to run for the EU parliament.

    I'm really iffy about people who not only critisize the UN but downright oppose it. Critisizing it is all good and well but I consider it quite alarming that someone would oppose the one international organization that's basically making sure there won't be a WW3.

    But then again I'm just a silly, scared teenager. :]
    and no wonder hearts and minds have been won

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    I've become v. interested in the whole punk-rock conservatism thing, because I'm definately a political moderate. The idea that to be into punk rock means that you have to be of the most left-wing mindset ever really alienated me, so I never really felt like I "belonged" in the scene in the same way that I hear people all the time going on about how the togetherness of the punk rock community at large saved their lives. It was honestly kinda nice to hear about other people into the same music as me that didn't think hating the president just for the sake of hating the president was particularly fun, or that the government was to be fought no matter what rather than working within the system to affect positive change.

    But like Noodles said, it still definately is one's father's conservatism underneath the liberty spikes. I agree with everything on which you called Smalley out. I'd also ask, though, since it's not addressed in the article, what about their stances on some of the real hotbutton issues that tipped the election like gay marriage and abortion? I don't see anything particularly punk rock about telling people who they can marry or what a woman can do with her body.

    Also, though I don't like the idea of a big powerful central government, we can't just cut the ropes of things like social security, education, university research, etc. and set them adrift in the private sector. Income tax has become central to funding many programs that really can't be run by private companies in such a cutthroat capitalist economy, an idea that doesn't seem to have occurred to Smalley.
    I am part of a degenerate elite
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    I'm left wing, therefore I believe in government intervention. It's not all bad though, it all depends on how you do it. Like in the 50s, without the Prime Minister Clement Atlee, Britain wouldnt have the National Health Service and free healthcare. Although if you are a power mad despotic dictator like mr Stalin, there might be a few problems...

    As for Punks and being non conformist, it can't happen, because they all have the same idea on how they're not going to conform, therefore conforming! Argh! It's a vicious circle. The only way to be a non-conformist is to be yourself. Do what you want (within reason obviously), say what you want, wear what you want etc. If some of your actions or the things you wear happen to conform to something or other, so be it. It will only be conforming in a superficial way so it doesn't matter.

    It's all good...

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    well...just take a look at this board...its a "im right, your wrong" all the time, especially in the political forum...and many here consider themselves punk...but if everyone truly believed in there is no wrong or right answer, such as there is no truth, then what is the point of even discussing anything or living or standing up for something or believing in something. what would be the point of the political forum even? of course punk is going to be contradictory and hypocritical, it just really depends on how much and on what. everyone is a hypocrite, it is inevitable, it really just depends how bad of one you are.

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    The art of politics is to see and understand both sides of the argument, and then put your side accross and make it sound the most attractive. I reckon what alot of people forget to do (me included alotof the time) is to aknowledge that you see where the other person is coming from. Everythings too adversarial all the time.

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    shut up, youre wrong, im right.

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