CRASS has been singing “Punk is dead”, a long time ago… If they already felt, at that time, the coming agony of a movement banned to be taken over, then it’s maybe high time for it to die, once for good, so that we can at last move on and start again, to invent and propose new exciting adventures.
So let punk die!
Where are we now? From NME-articles to Offspring on tour, some specific style departments in a major company, for every youngster their own Metal-crap, in collaboration with Holly Records-shit to Groove-fuck, then Rocksound and the special “Punk Department”, the special “Girl Department”… They’ve all got their cool demo-CD… Any band can propose its dead lousy page, compiling shit photos and (of course!) empty interviews. “So kid, tell me what you wanna make: punkrock, hardcore, some cool girl’s band? Make your choice, pick a market segment, turn it into big money, join the world…!” The small village band is desperately trying to make their first part for the big trendy hardcore band that dreams of a nice great label so they can wank watching their own records at the record stores, to taste what it feels to make a living off it, like those who actually do it and themselves dream to become the new Offspring this year… Motivated only by fun and party at the very beginning, it quickly becomes a business that needs to get optimised to ensure their success. What kind of success? The success to make enough money to buy enough advertorial space in specialised press, to support the sales and so to build some credibility for the producers and the big music market. “By the way, what was punk denunciating…?” “Fuck all…! It was just for the fun…” Well, sorry, but this kind of fun is not exactly what we are looking for. Originally, punkrockers were generating a reaction against the apathy of rock’n’roll: too bad it only took twenty years for this apathy to catch up those same punkrockers… Punk has been regularly attacked by the system that makes profit out of typical patterns like drunken punks, chaos, streetfights and coloured spikes and mohicans, in films and adverts… Absorbing and destroying their ideas… No, not all the punks are like The Exploited (or The Casualties)… The punkrocker has been reduced to the mohican-can-of-beer cliché, always shown on some urban war background to make it more credible. Telly adverts have spread world-wide from the punkrocker the image the market needs so much: vulgar, bad, stupid, unnable to express themselves properly and most of all frightening… A shitty suburban scum, an image like those imposed by movies like ” Class 1984″ . But the active punkrocker, the militant, the artist, the highly motivated speaker, the creations by Gee Vaucher from Crass, the lyrics and the philosophy of Conflict, the commitment of Oï Polloï, Jello Biafra’s verve, all this is of course hidden on purpose. And as sure as cops are perfectly able to infiltrate any union, punk and anarchy don’t seem to belong anymore to those who make them what they actually are. The result is the general assimilation of images of chaos, violence and fucked-up rejects… Because marketing managers definitely need the cliché-punks to support their sales, some modern symbol of rock’n’roll, something handy and easy to promote the way you want… You wanna give your life a meaning? You wanna become a threat? Just wear the right uniform, your look will be, for you and for everybody, the exact message you want to send, designed the same way official press honoured fascist skinheads and “pittpulled” scums on its front-pages… Many people still fight to build a real conscience among the music scene. Joining it should mean sharing our ideals and refusing compromises with this sick society that only offers us capitalism. This is nothing else but our way to say what we mean. If punk’s not a symbol of rebellion that enables us to develop a positive philosophy, then for what the fuck are we doing it for? We feel closer to Noam Chomsky than to the Casualties, closer to Huey Newton’s speech than to what Wattie says…
Let punk die!
It wouldn’t make sense, anyway, to ask for the death of commercial punk, of postcard-punk, of this cliché that keeps following our ass everywhere we go. Because we wouldn’t face the failures in our movement. In an article called “Abolish the white punk”, the Profane Existence book “Making punk a threat again” describes the average punk: a twenty years old white bloke. The lack of punk representation among foreign communities (maybe punk is the sound of revolt for whites, as reggae is for blacks, as people often say?), the fact that “girls” still have a lot to prove in a boys world, that bands like Cria Cuervos have to justify (Justify what…? To be girls…? Girls, who know, those strange beings without a cock…), the latent homophobia everywhere and especially in the hardcore scene… All of this is are our failures. Everyone tries to imitate what others do. So many people called us sub-Bérurier Noir… Well, why not afterwards?… But if we could agree on this influence, it remains a very restrictive description of what we are… I always thought that we were sub-Ludwig von 88… And how many of them are sub-Ramones, sub-Motörhead or sub-Exploited…? After all, all bands tend, in their own styles, to look like each other, while there should be only bands with their real own identity, while styles like punkrock, grind, crust, HxC, emo, straightedge, alternative, etc. should disappear. We should be more active together, instead of playing each of us our own game in our own cave… Has our movement became just a catalogue of hardcore music in which everybody makes their shopping and becomes a loyal shopper to a music cast, as they are loyal to McDonald’s or to C&A? Crusties stay within crusties, punkrockers within punkrockers… What a great illustration and a typical example of what we sing.
Let punk die!
In about ten years, old punks will be as pathetic as those old rockers enjoying a gig of the Rolling Stones. Today’s punk has maybe become what rock’n’roll was yesterday: daddy’s rock… In ten years, instead of Offspring, we will hear Extreme Noise Terror in supermarkets… In ten years, punk will be an old story.
Let punk die!
And to those who may think that we’ve started a Great Crusade to save punk, we’ll answer that we aren’t that ambitious nor proud of ourselves to think that way… And also that we don’t give a shit! Many others said or did so, Crass 22 years ago!… And how about the graphic band Bazooka that mixed provocation and artistic terrorism, or Dead Kennedys’ “Chickenshit conformist” (LP “Bedtime for Democracy”, 1986)… Or Defiance’s song “Rip Off” (LP “No Future no hope”) aimed against Rancid and Epitaph… Profane Existence #35 (April ’98) printed an excellent cross-interview between Boycot and Epitaph… I could also name especially Active Minds and their EP “Dis is getting pathetic”, containing a.o. some strong critics towards the Disclone-phenomena… And say all my great consideration about what they do and the way they do it… Because even if, through an anarchist optimism we see everything in black, we have taken the decision to make this project and the zine because of them. Today, NOFX has reached the top. But tomorrow, when the wind will blow from another direction and when the kids will listen to something else, we will still be there. Let us brake what jails us and let’s try to look ahead.
Let punk die!
After about ten years of a punk life (… as fuck!), I still ask myself some questions. In the beginning, I enjoyed a certain way to be, through a specific style in complete opposition to what I knew until then. My political and artistic opinions have changed and got more refined, through the years. I met lots of different people who allowed me, through a fanzine, a gig or a band, to build my own militant culture and to move towards some other people or some other fights that have not often joined punk but that punk often joined (Chiapas, Black Panthers, etc). After nearly ten years, what’s left of it? And what should I remember? Unforgettable mohicans, incredibly pissed and pissing on one another in heavy gigs, friends with what I call a look, the whole thing in hallucinated atmospheres… Some of my best souvenirs of real friendship and other things, sure… But it is actually nothing but folklore and fun. It’s of course a lot, but of course it’s not enough. Above everything, I learnt how and mostly why to be a militant. Why to stop eating animals, why producing records nearly at cost price, why and how to make a punkband. And especially how to survive in this hostile world. Punk gave me weapons to protect myself. A kind of ghetto that remains at the same time open to everything we meet. We have no general answer to the shit we face, but we have no scruples, no feelings of guilt. We refuse Judeo-Christian tradition as much as tribal spirit. We only claim our right to open our mouth: we may not know much more than others, but we love to say what we want! Our message will certainly develop, but it will never change, whatever provocation’s we will have to face! And if you’re shocked by our provocation’s, remember that this is one of our very weapons, like self-derision. Provocation is a weapon to take on. When we say “Let punk die”, we write a text to explain with sincerity what we think. When we sung “Let cops die”, it was (paradoxically) much more difficult for us to justify. A short anecdote: for the sleeve of our previous release, I was planing to draw some nazi-like concentration camp with cops in it, guarded by punx. A great drawing and great provocation that I actually never made. It may not be completely useless to think, just for a minute, about the consequences of a sentence like “Let cops die”. It helps us to realise exactly what we say. We should take care of simple ideas and slogans… Like “Let punk die”, for example… Should it be understood like “Let cops die”? Well, I think that, if you are still reading this, you have understood what we mean. And for those who really think that we want all the punks to die, take care tonight: there might be some masked bogeyman waiting for you in the dark!
Let punk die!
Take a band like Rage against the Machine: a 100% commercial product, but a shit product that voices a militant opinion which actually is our opinion… And have you seen Zach during conferences supporting Mumia Abu Jamal ? The old myth of the change from the inside: to revolt or contest the system, in the system, never leads to anything else but to the assimilation of the very idea of “revolt” by the system itself. The system wants to create its enemies, its own bogies, to allow itself to federate, to swallow, to control and so finally to command (did I say “command”?) its enemies… To give them a social status that proves that they are no threat anymore for the system, but just some monstrous outgrowths from this very system. Those who could feel like contesting the system would then be swallowed by a Contestation only created to channel them, a kind of safety valve or fuse, allowing a much better control of revolutionaries. In “1984” Georges Orwell shows how Big Brother created his own resistance network, so that no one escapes from his control. The system thinks it has all the power, that nothing exists without it. The only existence outside the system, the existence of this very possibility, is the most solid threat that proves that its so-called omnipotence is nothing but a myth. So rebels of all backgrounds and all scenes have one single mission: to keep uncontrolled and undisciplined. The punk philosophy should not forget its own goals, because it tends to become nowadays a real shit circus. From its situationist legacy, punk has forgotten the essential notion of “total refusal”…
Let punk die…
The system creates labels and categories, to divide and control everything, just like a monstrous creature would swallow everything and everyone. Let’s refuse to join clubs or sects: that will be a revolutionary act. And let’s criticise those things we never question, let’s make more revolutionary acts… It won’t be a blasphemy: punk is no religion!
Let the punk die, let the system die.
Beginning of 2001
Translations by Laurent Urban Blight