I Wasn’t A Teenage Anarchist

I wasn’t even a teenage Against Me! fan.

I did listen to punk and hardcore that’d be considered at least adjacent, if not directly related, to Against Me! though. I mean, whenever I went to AYP or Zipperhead there was this:

As well as this:

It seems to be agreed by some people that most outgrow their teenage selves, evolve into different people as they age, and lose whatever liberal tendencies and/or general recklessness they grew up on and become more conservative and self-preserving.

In some regards, I’ve found this to be true. For example, when I was a teenager I drove like a crazy person, had (have? do driving records expunge at some point?) a terrible driving record: multiple accidents, countless tickets, etc. Thirty year old me, however, drives much more cautiously, leaving ample stopping room between my car and the one in front of me, slowing and stoping at all necessary junctures, and generally making sure to be aware of other cars around me.

But, while I did outgrow my reckless driving habits, I’ve yet to rid myself of certain aspects of my teenage years, and beyond that there are certain aspects of my youth that have only intensified as I’ve gotten older.

Music has always been a constant for me and has always been something that I’ve enjoyed a variety of. Although I have gone through phases wherein I was either hoping to discover a liking for or trying force myself to enjoy something, because I perceived it as a thing smart people liked (Jazz), other times when I’ve thought to myself “Lots of people like this thing, and it’s influenced some of my favorite artists, so I should listen to some of the seminal albums and learn a bit about this” (Reggae), and then the far more shameful times when I’ve denied enjoying something because it wasn’t punk enough (regrettably, this was a position I once held against London Calling).

My point is that music has and likely will always be a thing that occupies my mind for large portions of the day, and that when I was younger I mostly listened to punk rock and that was my jam and I identified as a punk rock kid. But not verbally, cause that would be so not punk rock; instead, I dressed in such a way that it was clear that I was into punk stuff. My exposure to the real stuff came midway through high school. I’d owned and enjoyed …And Out Come The Wolves since I was about 13 and Dookie since I was 9, but junior year of high school was when I came to learn about bands like The Subhumans, The Buzzcocks, Oxymoron, Crass, Dead Kennedys. The punk rock with a strictly lower case p.

Between the ages of 21 to about 25, I didn’t really listen to much of that music at all. I went through an intense Radiohead phase, followed by a similarly intense Talking Heads phase, followed by a way more intense Joanna Newsom phase. Right around the time that Have One On Me was released, I bought a copy of Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and that sent me right back down the path that I’d been on in high school, minus the extreme alterations to my hair and clothing. Over the course of the past five years I’ve rediscovered my love for The Dead Milkmen and Leftöver Crack, taken seriously for the first time bands like Doom and Napalm Death, and discovered new bands like G.L.O.S.S. and Downtrodder.

What interests me about this is the fact that I’d never considered bands like Doom, Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror and the like punk rock. They were always something divorced from it, perhaps related, but not essential. Recently I put together a list of essential punk albums for my girlfriend’s brother, who’d expressed interest on behalf of a friend. These bands (Doom, Napalm Death, ENT) all made at least one appearance. It feels as though the older I’ve gotten, the deeper I’ve gone into the world of punk music, though not exactly abandoning other types of music by any means, and also generally expanding what my idea of punk rock consists of not only to include the more extreme grind type stuff, but also to include bands like Big Ups or Candelilla.

Similarly, though I had vague political notions as a teenager/young adult, I certainly was not nearly as informed as I am today. As a young punk I think I would have probably identified as an Anarchist, but on reflection, I can pretty definitively say that 18y/o me had no clue what true Anarchist thought involved. Furthermore, 30y/o me probably has only a little more than a tenuous grasp on the concept, but is also more interested in actively learning more about it.

As I read a variety of writers takes on Anarchism, I found that I have some questions. Most of which arise as a result of the writer’s attempt to answer the questions with vague and somewhat unclear response. For example, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon discussed how to deal with crime in an anarchistic society, and if I understood it correctly, his argument was in essence that we all rely on a social contract and whoever commits a crime should be removed from the community, exiled to be alone out there. Which I’m on the fence about how well this holds up. Take the scenario that someone kills another, and in turn receives what I reductively refer to as “the silent treatment,” but they then continue killing people. But clearly this is an extreme scenario, but still not an implausible one. Serial killers exist, though they are uncommon.

I’m still not an Anarchist, probably. I’m much closer than I was when I was 18. In terms of political thought, I don’t know what I am, just like I didn’t know what I was then. What I know now, though, is that I am Against Me! fan. I’ve seen them twice and they killed it both times.

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “I Wasn’t A Teenage Anarchist

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  1. The same day I read this I got in my car, turned on NPR, and Terri Gross was interviewing Laura Jane Grace and they played this post’s titular song.
    I’ve never been much of a fan of anarchism or punk anarchists in particular, but I did once tell my advisor in grad school that my politics/ethics could best be defined as “Christian Anarchism.” I’m not exactly sure what I mean/meant by that, though.

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