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The punk movement started 1970s and challenged the social norms of society. Some would argue that the British punk movement came out of the recession in the mid 1970s, while others would argue that the New York City scene developed as a result of the idealism that the late sixties had created. Both arguments are probably correct on some level. However, what both of these two punk movements had in common was the ability to challenge the social the norms of society. The punk movement is one of anarchist origins that has chosen to fight for anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, environmental preservation, animal rights, basically anything liberal. However, the movement did not necessarily start off this way.

Originally the punk movement rejected conformity. As Craig O’Hara states, in The Philosophy of Punk, he claims that punks were more apt to “spit and swear” rather than to explain their political view points. He then goes on to state, “These were punks, not social activists, and their message was bleak. The Sex Pistols’ music was an outburst of hatred and despair. Face life as we see it, they cried frustrating, meaningless, and ugly. Scream it with us ‘There’s no future!’” (O’Hara, p. 27) The youths involved in the punk movement were reacting to their current social situation through music, clothing, and violence.

The do-it-yourself ideal in the punk movement was to create your own way. As stated on the Fashion page, Punk bands found themselves creating their own music. In Lipstick Traces, by Greil Marcus, thousands of punk bands were formed in a very short time span. Youths who barely knew how to play were forming bands and making “music”.

By the 1980s punk music had gathered enough media recognition and made it into the mainstream. The punk movement had begun to stagnate and the punk Hardcore and Straightedge movement began. This movement consisted of the idea staying “clean”, for example, no drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, and very often no meat. As Ian MacKaye from the punk straightedge band Minor Threat states in an interview in 1985, “I don’t feel there’s that much focus. Its like everyone is just here to party-I don’t need to go to any Punk Rock show for that. I want to go out and do something with my mind, and do something with some sort of direction-I want purpose” (O’Hara, p. 145). The idea behind this movement was to get back to the basics and it resembled itself in the music.

This movement paved the way for many social activist organizations to become involved in the punk scene. Although the movement did not start off this way it is still related to the do-it-yourself ideal. Grass roots organizations, such as the Anti-Racist Action coalition, fight for many of the same political causes that many punk bands, such as Anti-Flag, fight for. Even though many of the original punk bands sang about anarchy as a way to express social unrest at the time. Today punks still fight for same causes but have also created an outlet for social activists who are not musicians.


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