version of 4.4.00
Skinhead is about respect for working people, disdain for the bullshit of professionals, and the right to play hard and look out for your bros in a time when the state is out to regulate every moment of your life for your own good. It is about pride in self, your scene and your people, it is about loyalty to your brothers right or wrong, through thick or thin, its about getting drunk and rowdy, and listening to real music.
There is power that blocks, represses, and beats down. And there is power that builds and rebuilds, strengthens and upholds, and opens up room to move and grow.
Know what kind of power you wield and what kind of power you confront:
There is power that grows stronger when you wield it.
There is power that gets weaker, which you spend as you use it.
There is power that grows stronger when you resist it, that feeds on the force you throw at it, that mobilizes around a challenge, that becomes inoculated against similar attacks in the future.
There is power that gets weaker, that breaks down and crumbles when you resist it.
Then there are the fights you know are futile but you jump in them anyways, so future warriors can learn from your experience. So know when to sacrifice.
Violence may be personal: an outlet for tension, a testosterone boost, an act of rage, or it may be strategic: a consciously considered move in a bigger game.
Strategy is, among other things, about control of space: who has access to a particular spot. And it is about control of probability: what is going to be more likely or less likely to take place.
Violence is an ability we all have, whether we nurture it or not. I have no question that it is a Bad Thing to waste that ability and fuck up the lives of others. You are as much in charge of your community as anyone. If like a good anarchist you don't respect the right of the State to hold a monopoly on the use of force, then you are responsible for knowing how to handle it yourself.
Problems should end with you, not start with you. You must be strong enough to let stupid shit slide.
Words really are more effective than fists in resolving problems because so much of power and social life resides in language rather than in the body. But not all of it.
If you are feared without being respected, then a few people might yield to you, but the whole world will close around you and block your way. Skinheads who fight for the right to fuck with anyone without getting fucked with back should grow back their hair: they may be feared but they will not be respected.
The mistake of the skins back-in-the-day was to to tear it all down, like pissing in your own kitchen, and the scene collapsed not just because so many were incarcerated, but that they destroyed the places where they could hang. Venues would not be so crazy as to book a skinhead show.
So a scene that can grow and last for the long haul does not depend on skins being true enough to be skin for life, but rather on keeping enough turf to hold out on and keep the culture alive. Don't fuck up your own ground, your home, your work, and most of all your ability to stay strong.
Violence is like sex. Each is a break with routine that involves contact among body parts. Each is unimaginable without the customs concerning the right and wrong times and places for it, and the gender and age of those involved. These rules carry with them a program for the regulation of the life of a community, and like all other ways of running things they are prone to particular abuses. Those who have strong opinions about them call in the State to enforce them, or at least to curb those abuses. The result is that the State, that supposedly neutral entity that pretends to evenly and fairly apply its policies, overruns community-level regulation. Does it, too, really lack its abuses? Are the abuses of state-level regulation really more benign than those of the free citizens in a community?
For how to conduct yourself as a warrior,
read the old Viking poem the Havamal, which is in the Poetic Eddas.
For how to understand strategy, nothing beats the ancient Chinese:
Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", the game of Go, and for the measure of an action, the I Ching.
-- Marquis de Sade
"Act" is a pun. It is "Act" as in take an action that rebuilds the world, and it is also "act" as in being an actor, playing a role that a scriptwriter already set for you in a drama that merely entertains an audience using already-familiar themes. Politics is about acting, but it is too much the acting of actors and not enough the acting of taking action.
[Background: Goya's etching "The Sleep of Reason Produces Impossible Monsters"]
SKINHEAD is about loyalty. I stay true to my friends whether they are right or wrong. I stand by them over any abstract ideology. This does not mean I am apolitical. I think for myself and hold my ground in fighting for the room and the right to think for myself. I get wary when politics becomes just another badge of identity, sides to take for some kind of gang warfare with no greater consequence than soccer teams. When the group you belong to expects you to share the same political view, then you can't be sure who is really convinced of it and who is just trying to fit in.
You cannot shop for a social system the way you shop for food in a supermarket; you cannot just persuade (or even coerce) everyone to adopt some new ideal order. So it makes no difference what you or I believe, or whether you agree with me. I just want to provoke you to rethink everything, regardless of what your own views are, and maybe do my part in breaking through all the stagnation. When you are not the system's product, when you can't deliver the scripts, either give up or work hard to remake your world.
In America the usual dividing line is between liberalism and conservativism. Those are two tried-and-true scams for duping large numbers of people into voting for candidates who will put a happy face and a display of distracting drama over the steady erosion of their freedom and the mass extraction of the fruits of their labor.
Conservatives routinely fall for a bait-and-switch tactic: their aspirations for freedom and dignity are directed against some demon called "socialism" and then their votes are collected to back up politicians who aim to remove any breaks on the power of their employers to fuck them over and work them to death for wages they can barely survive on, with scant hope of minimal medical care.
Liberals' aspirations for freedom are channeled into buttressing a nanny state to protect them from the dark, thinking that laws against guns will protect them from their scary neighbors but the result is that the state holds a fuller monopoly of power immune from any challenge. They think that laws against hate speech will stop all those petty dictatorships of the abusive strong against the weak and oppressed but what they get instead is an erosion of community-level regulation while the State collects the legal precedents for extending its reach to regulate your very emotions.
Anyone who is determined to fight for freedom and justice is safely channeled into the Far Left or the Far Right. Whiners make sure the Left stays harmless, nutcases do the same for the Right.
The Far Left has discredited itself. Frustrated at their inability to lead the working class, leftists have resorted to laughing at it. Like many Utopian cults they have become like the Amish. Thinking they have the only truth that will save the world they became an isolated self-contained tribe marked by its own diet (Vegan) and language (PC-speak). Though they chant lots of slogans about human rights, they only take action on animal rights. How much do you have to trivialize humanity for animal rights to even make sense? Let's stop treating humans like animals before we start treating animals like people. They repeat over and over again demands that whites renounce their whiteness, and even all aspects of their specific cultures, as if nonwhites would live happier lives if all whites were busy reciting apologies. This breed of leftist forgets that the ability to make such a generous gesture as to renounce one's entire culture requires an extraordinary degree of either masochism or a sense of security and strength - call it privilege. No wonder that it is almost always the most privileged of whites, those who are the most removed from the realities faced by the poor and the vulnerable, who fall for this line.
The Far Right is so obsessed with blaming one particular ethnicity - the Jews - for all the worlds' problems that they don't notice that "the real enemy" is laughing at how effectively the blame got shifted away from them. The rightwingers mistake effect for cause, like a fool who blames a thermometer for the temperature. They blame gays for the collapse of their families, they blame blacks for the disintegration of their communities, and Jews for their experiencing the worst side of the class structure when they were taught that hard work should have been enough to get them ahead. In the absence of any convincing explanation of how things work today, they revert to nineteenth-century populists' beliefs about bankers.
Left and right are irrelevant now. They are relics of the French Revolution. Those who thought that cutting off the king's head was a big mistake became the Right, while the Left evolved from those who thought that the Revolution was such a good thing that the revolt against the aristocrats should be followed up with one against businessmen. Left and Right got a boost out of the cultural wars of the 1960s, but those were 30-40 years ago.
The world is very different at the turn of the millenium than it was in the 1920s, so I am skeptical - at the risk of complacency - of the urgency to refight the street battles of Weimar Germany. Those who are good liberals and conservatives in the words they use, but fascist in the real consequences of their actions, are a more immediate threat. And they threaten the causes they so cherish by discrediting them.
I am a man and make no apologies for masculinity, European blood and American soil. I respect all whose badly-paid hard work keeps the world going. I am not out to challenge anyone's claim to being human, or to bully the weak. There is already too much state power - formal and informal. And I'm not about to tolerate the tyrrany of any majority.
Class is at the core of my own politics. If you don't respect the people whose work you live off, I will slash the tires of your SUV. I won't try to stretch the meaning of 'working class' to fit me, but that is the side I am on.
My head is marxist, my heart is anarchist, my dick is fascist. But my hands and my feet just work to keep the more free and meaningful scenes of the real world going which is hardly so extreme. Marxism is merely a head thing, anarchism is just an anti-authoritarian instinct of the heart. And fascism is just a dick thing. It builds on the wish that one's gut impulses were in harmony with the ideal social order, which assumes that your gut impulses are more natural than those of whoever feels differently. Fuck the ideologies. I don't need to remind you that it is with the simple stuff - how we live, how we treat each other and look out for each other - that we make our impact on history. It is how we use our hands and our feet.
I am too serious to take politics seriously. I don't care how big your political view is it's how you use it. What you do matters to me more than what you say or what you are. Is it too much to ask that simplistic divisions between left and right, purity and taboo, good and bad, stay behind with childhood fairy tales? Send the serious Marxists to North Korea, the anarchists to the Congo, and fascists to Bosnia.
Politics are also about settling conflicts. You can say "FUCK POLITICS!" to vent a wish that those conflicts would just go away, and that differences are only misunderstandings. I see that kind of apolitical attitude as shirking one's duties as a citizen. Some differences may be settled rationally, but many are real contradictions, so either take a side or find a good referee and good rules for settling things, and make sure you are playing the best possible game. The problem is finding the right tactics and strategy, and knowing the right level - local community or the state - for resolving the contradictions or working around them.
Are the people who say they agree with you really your friends?
And are those who disagree with you really your enemies?
Frequently Asked Question #1: Are you a nazi?
Do fascist skins make your blood flow faster, in lust as much as fear? What is missing from the world that makes the brazenness of their resistance so intense, even if the specifics of the ideology are crazy, they threaten people you care for, are fighting for a world you would not enjoy living in, and you yourself may be a target of their violence?
Why is it that some of the most marginalized and least respected people around find so much hope in a central European dictatorship that led to catastophic failure over half a century ago?
Well, when the entire postwar power structure is built on antinazism, and in the last couple of decades based on loud and often-repeated slogans about racial equality, is it any surprise that racism and fascism might appeal to the victims of that world order?
Everyone is "anti-fascist". Good for them. But what is this fascism that they are all against? Is it just any exercise of power you don't like? Using fascism as nothing more than a term of abuse only trivializes it and risks making it more exciting than it really is.
Now any insecure fool fumbling for a way to be right - and everyone else wrong, anyone seeking to cover a sense of shame and guilt with a breastplate of righteousness, can latch on to antiracism. It is the same kind of weakness that brings others to latch on to Christian fundamentalism so as to distract their neighbors from their own secret sins, or for junkies to become vegans.
Now every government whose citizens have gotten too cynical to support it will present itself as the hero of anti-nazism, hoping to salvage what is left of their popular support. If you want to manipulate the masses just scare them with Nazis and you can impose as much power as you like.
Rulers using the old recipes for power have always sought sympathy and support by looking back to a time when their faction were the oppressed political prisoners. Communist dictators talked of martyred union organizers. Christians talk about the lions that devoured their forebears - a couple thousand years before. Israelis tell disposessed Palestinians about Auschwitz. The next dictators will talk about Martin Luther King.
"Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
"'Opposites,' said Naphta, 'may be consistent with each other. It is the middling, the neither-one-thing-nor-the-other that is preposterous.'"
"Is any given bombing in Italy the work of leftist extremists, or extreme-right provocation, or a centrist mis-en-scène to discredit all extreme terrorists and to shore up its own failing power, or again, is it a police-inspired scenario and a form of blackmail to public security? All of this is simultaneously true, and the search for proof, indeed the objectivity of the facts does not put an end to this vertigo of interpretation."
-- Jean Baudrillard
Ever hear the old Indian saw about walking a mile in a man's boots before judging him? The internet is good for that. If you go into a whitepower chatroom (if you can find one: AOL shuts them down as fast as they do the wilder men4men rooms) you will see a never-ending stream of "antiracists" coming in and informing the occupants that they must live in trailer parks, as if there were something wrong with being poor, working class, or rural.
The economy and social structure of rural "poor white" America is as fucked up and unraveled as any televised urban black "ghetto", maybe more so. Rates of drug use are much higher, and I would not be surprised if rates of incarceration, domestic violence, or any other indicator of social collapse are also high. Are they really just backward rednecks who deserve their fate?
Leftists have long recognized that racism works very well to split the working class, as the races are pitted against each other instead of the Real Enemy, and that may still be the case. But now, antiracism is doing that same job, too. So much for politics being easy. When anti-racism is used as a codeword expressing the prejudice of the urban against the rural, the northern against the southern, the college-educated against the rest, it is no wonder the left and the working class have gone in separate directions.
Anti-racism has degenerated into nothing more than a competitive sport among whites who use public displays of antiracism as a way of looking down on other whites, specifically those whites whose being trapped in deadend lives makes it possible for more secure whites to buy things cheaply. This status game has no real effect on the living conditions of actually-existing racial minorities in America.
Well-meaning Whites were once urged to look inside themselves and see how they were complicit with racism, and be upfront about it, under the assumption that by recognizing how they were racist they would be able to unlearn and overcome it. But those who naively follow that advice inevitably encounter a Person of Color who responds with: "see, he even ADMITS he is racist... throw him out of his job!" That of course puts a chill on things.
Who gains from silencing all who may be racist and barring them from public discourse? I am not so sure that even minorities would: the forces that destroy whole communities and stunt the growth of individuals are not easily pinned on specific individuals or groups. Races, peoples, sexualities and ethnicities don't act as units. Individuals act, not categories of them. Just because expressions of the "isms" remind you of how you were hurt does not mean that they are the actual causes of the ways that you have been held down. Pictures of chains are not real chains that can actually hold someone down. While antiracism does nothing to counter actual racism, that rare, isolated, and powerless breed of vocal white racists acts as a lightening rod for the anger of other subordinated peoples, that leaves the real sources of their problems untouched.
Easy to say as a white man? Does it make it less true? Some time ago I was denounced as a fascist for some very minor skepticism about a postmodern philosopher. The denouncer was so convinced of his correctness that he thought only a fascist could disagree with him. Rather than changing my thinking to please him I stopped letting such terms police me. If I look at the world and wonder how it is put together and my conclusions are "fascist" or even "white liberal" so be it.
In Latin American, and in other parts of my own country, fascistic street gangs do act as an unofficial extension of the cops, hired indirectly by the owners of the larger businesses to keep their employees too intimidated to demand that they get paid what their work is worth and enough for the survival of their own families. But here in those parts of America I am the more familiar with, they are the dregs of the labor market - those who are the last to be hired and the first to be fired - and are every bit as marginalized as any people of color, and the cops attack them at least as much.
For the same reasons that keep them from holding down a job, they cannot pull off a racial holy war. Just as they are shunned from the means of getting on in life they are removed from the means of making sense out of their own conditions and so cannot be blamed if they don't realize that there are much better explanations for their condition in life than "ZOG". If someone cannot impose his views on the world, even if he tried, does it matter that much to you what he believes in?
"The slave revolt in morals begins by rancor turning creative and giving birth to values-the rancor of beings who, deprived of the direct outlet of action, compensate by an imaginary vengeance. All truly noble morality grows out of triumphant self-affirmation. Slave ethics, on the other hand, begins by saying no to an "outside," an "other," a non-self, and that no is its creative act. This reversal of direction of the evaluating look, this invariable looking outward instead of inward, is a fundamental feature of rancor. Slave ethics requires for its inception a sphere different from and hostile to its own. Physiologically speaking, it requires an outside stimulus in order to act at all; all its action is reaction. The opposite is true of aristocratic valuations: such values grow and act spontaneously, seeking out their contraries only in order to affirm themselves even more gratefully and delightedly."
Television has re-enforced some bizarre expectations of skins, so when you are in gear anything you do will fuck with people. When you look fascist, you pleasantly surprise people when you are not a complete asshole while if you proclaim yourself to be progressive, the PC twits will swarm around and peck at you like a flock of ducks: "if you were really so radical you would not wear leather... peck peck peck".
"Fascism -- that is, the practical negation of historical materialism and, still more, the negation of democratic individualism, of the rationalism of the Enlightenment -- fascism is ... the practical affirmation of the value of the spiritual and historical personality (of man, the nation, humanity) as opposed to and in opposition to reason and the abstract and empirical individuality of the men of the Enlightenment, the positivists, and the utilitarians."-- C. PellizziWhen an enlightened, positivist, utilitarian form of social control regulates the community, self and body more thoroughly than any old-fashioned despot, where do you turn? Some want the state to regulate love (as in banning homosexuality) and some want it to regulate hate. Either way, they call in the State to rule your heart, head, and dick or cunt.
Because it has been drummed in our heads repeatedly that the concept of equality promises and recognizes the dignity of each individual, does not mean that it can't also work to disguise the reality that conditions of work may leave a lot of people dehumanized.
Is the vocal racist denying the humanity of people of color, or is he struggling to hold on to his own humanity in a time when everyone is being reduced to interchangeable units to do shitwork, consume crap, and vote for conmen, and nothing more?
And does the loss of confidence in European high culture as well as the unmaking of the working class and its ways of life really count as progress?
Fascism is both a rebellion against uniformity and it is a desire for purity, and the wish that there was something absolute about such things as nation, race, sex, and how you should conduct yourself.
If you really want purity then smoke crack. Just as the fascist wants to assume that if you share an identity then the identity you share is identical for each other, a hit of crack will produce the same sensations and neurological effects on a man or a monkey. And just as the holocaust is the flip side of the coin of pursuit of Aryan purity, look at the stress that the purity of crack has on the rest of the crackhead's life. As they pursue that one pure moment, everything around them collapses.
Strength does not come from purity, but from flexibility. You must be flexible if you want to build your strength enough to stay effective, proud, and generous, while conditions around you change. Keeping a culture pure will hold back the creative energies of our people much more than it will release them.
Purity is impossible. If the white power skins ever do win a Racial Holy War, what will they do next? They will look at each other, trying not to puke at the stench of all the dead bodies, and say, "Oi! Isnt it great to be White? Wow now we are all White" then they will turn on each other, and the survivors will starve. They will have smashed all the means of keeping an economy going and producing the goods they will need. Hoping to live off the land, they will find they have burned all the seeds and destroyed even the means of making tractors.
The multiculturalists think that embracing diversity is the answer. There is something to be said for diversity: no single culture can force its rules on you. And, it is common sense among political scientists that a society will be more stable if its elites are recruited from all of the subpopulations it governs. If I were administering a large organization I would want to encourage a climate of "diversity" just to make that organization more governable. But why should we all take the point of view of administrators? Yes, TV shows and the rest of the propaganda apparatus takes that point of view, but must we all unflinchingly adopt it for ourselves? Why should we all consent to be so easily governable?
The multicultis are too fixated on a self-image of themselves as rebels and revolutionaries to notice how neatly their politics have come to coincide with the needs of administrators, bureaucrats, and the rich, and may even clash with the needs of other marginalized peoples.
The multicultis are as foolish as the crackheads and the fascists in pursuing their own form of purity. They look for one common language, and what to say that will offend the fewest as if you can make everyone happy. They really think that the world is only made out of language. They seek the pull us all down to the lowest common denominator. If they recognize class at all, they see it as nothing more than yet another chip on their shoulders to lovingly polish.
Their enlightened form of social control is more thorough and destructive of liberty and the well-being of individuals and communities than the worst of the old absolute monarchs.
-- Michel Foucault
The natural order of raw hierarchy and pack behavior among men that inspire sociobiologists as well as sadomasochists has a more complex relationship to social structure and class struggle than many realize. The NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) used the animal sense of order to justify itself, while now the dictators of the New World Order use the erasure of the mammal within to make themselves look good.
"Marxism", like "Skinhead," bears little if any relationship to what comes to most peoples' minds.
Marxism is the best starting point for knowing how society works, even if it is the very worst for doing anything about it. I agree with the Marxists that class struggle is the motor of history and that the ways our necessities are produced is the core of society, even as I recognize that Marxist parties have carried out history's biggest betrayal of the working class.
Marxism is NOT about state control of everyday life even though just about every government that has used Marx to justify itself has drastically interfered in people's lives and wrecked much of what it sought to build.
Marxism is also NOT to be confused with the PC leftists who mistake real social change with enforcing good manners. Idealism is a waste of time.We have to get from here to there and any new ways of organizing society will have to arise out of the present one. Audre Lorde was wrong when she claimed that "the master's tools cannot bring down the master's house". Engels (in "Socialism: scientific or utopian") made fun of the idealists of his century, whose ideas the crusty punks tediously reinvent. There is no escaping complicity with all the evils of the world and nothing is more foolish than renouncing your privileges and giving up your ability to get things done. I see that as squandering your ability to move around in the world and the resources you can use to rebuild it. When you are strong, you can protect the weak and strengthen them so they can protect themselves. When you can move, bring along someone who is stuck.
It is about class. The people who do the work should get its benefits. When wages stay low even while companies make the highest profits in years, something is fucked up. How the things we need are produced, how we are motivated to work, and what gets done with the proceeds of that work (does it go back to the worker, does it get reinvested in technology, or does someone else live off of it) shapes culture, politics, and what can and can't be done at any particular moment in history.
Class is not an identity even if it is easier to talk about it as if that was what it was. It is not voluntary. It is not whether you work but on what terms you must work. Because a few can move from one class to another, or the whole nature of work might shift, does not mean that everyone can always work to get ahead.
Class is like place, say a building with walls and passageways. The walls block you, the halls only go in fixed directions. The mistake of anarchists is to think that we will all be free if we would just blow the building up. Is there really freedom in a pile of rubble? Buildings are useful, they are a structure for living in, so maybe knock out a few walls and make better use of the space instead.
It is not about who you are or what you are, but rather about what you can use, what you can make, how you can survive, where you can move, how you are chained, and how everyone else's chains either hold you back, or pull you along.
The collapse of the USSR did not weaken Marxism as a way of making sense out of history. It was the contradictions in its relations of production that led to the 1989 revolution. Karl Marx wrote about three themes: English economics, German philosophy, and French politics. What he said about the latter inspired Lenin. And that is the Marx that has fallen. Marx the German philospher may interest you, but it is Marx the English economist that still provides a useful guide for understanding the current order because he grasped the nature of capitalism just at came to dominate the entire world.
The whole board has changed, and the answers to the fundamental marxist questions of who is doing the work and who is living off of it no longer coincide with the classic marxist answers. Marxist premises certainly do not support the old marxist conclusions. Where power lies and where real resistance could come from are not at all self-evident. It is time to rethink everything and get out of all the old ruts.
When firms can rapidly improve their technology they can afford to pay their employees better - and capitalism can only last if someone - who else but workers themselves? - can buy what is being produced. When no one can afford the products being made, then there is a depression. Great bursts of technological innovation, as with the development of the assembly line and now with computers, give capitalism a few more decades of life. Capitalism cannot last forever, at some point it will have to collape.
The working class is revolutionary in a way that other poor and trapped groups are not, because firms must cut corners on labor costs if they are going to compete, and working conditions bring workers together on a factory floor (in contrast to peasants and artisans who work on separate farms), and so those workers are motivated to throw off the bosses, they are able to do so, and they are in a position to continue running the factories without the bosses.
But with the breaking up of each step of manufacturing to different parts of the world, workers in one factory are not in a position to see the big picture. And management techniques today can prevent workers from organizing - such that wages are staying stagnant in the US even while employment is almost full. Radical political organizations have developed an impressive track record of using workers for their own ends and abandoning them when convenient, or setting up dictatorships when they can get away with it, that like the boy crying wolf if a competent revolutionary movement came along no one would take it seriously.
Marx would not have seen any revolutionary potential in skinheads. In the Manifesto he wrote:
"The dangerous class, the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue."
Even if the so-called lumpenproletariat is not necessarily and inevitably revolutionary, and it is arbitrary and accidental (and therefore contestible) which side it will take, do academic leftists, or even those sectarian parties, really have a better record of resistance?
My first encounter with the revolution was on a visit to a peasant commune in southern Portugal in 1980 during my wanderjahr. The peasants were doing very well with the land they had seized, though I read a few years later that the Portuguese government returned it to the original landowners. In 1985 I went to Nicaragua to pick coffee, and marched in Daniel Ortega's inaugural parade, and partied with the Sandinista directorate. Later, the solidarity movement looked suspiciously like old fashioned missionary work and it seemed like I was meddling in someone else's conflict and preaching to the converted. The academic left was more intent on distancing itself from the real working class than in expressing its interests and defending it. I switched to movements closer to home that hit me directly. The desolation in Eastern Europe just after the wall fell did not speak well of the great Leninist experiment. I have no illusions about the possibility or desirability of reviving the Soviet state structure and style of public policy.
The assortment of revolutionary movements out there is pretty fucking pathetic. Right, Left, or Third Position, they fall into the same traps. They know things are fucked up but are all too convinced of some hallucination or conspiracy, or think it is still 1917 or 1933. They are either vanguardist cults, or so egalitarian they bore new recruits away.
The extremists are right that any successful revolution will have to be global. That is a lesson of the past century; each local revolution was easily contained and crushed. Realistically, logistically, it can't be done. No movement of any stripe can rise off the streets to take over the world, although the combination that came together in Seattle in late 1999 to confront the World Trade Organization did give me hope.
We may not be able to spark a revolutionary transformation of the planet unless conditions change dramatically, though if they do I think catastophic collapse is far more likely than seeing capitalism transform itself into something better.
All we can do right now is damage control.
And when you see what new world order is taking shape, I think we must do that damage control, and build a firebreak against its bulldozers.
You are reading this, you must be on the internet. Notice:
These are the ingredients for mind control and government snooping into private thoughts on a far more intense scale than anything those old science fiction writers imagined.
And that is just whats over the net. Meanwhile in the "real world":
Each step is for a perfectly good reason, and those involved in implementing them think they are doing their best for their fellow himans, and reducing the risks that they face, lowering the chances of fatal diseases, stopping the traumatizing of future generations. But all these small steps taken together amount to a massive loss of freedom and I don't think it is worth the price.
Combine all that with the huge expansion of prisons in the United States, at the expense of higher education. With the development of private prisons, there is a financial incentive to increase the incarcerated population. Prison labor may be a better option for those who are locked up than laying around bored in a cage all day, and big institutions can save on their budget by buying cheap bulk prisonmade supplies, but now look at the big picture: a growing section of the economy involves making money because a big section of the population is coerced into working for what amounts to very low wages. Working conditions for prisoners are pretty damn close to slavery.
Latin American guerrillas established bases in the mountains out of reach of the government armies where they found support from local peasants and could quietly build up their forces until they were ready to strike at the capital and take over. These mountain bases were known as "focos".
The kind of damage control we are able to do now is to defend just about any remaining zone of freedom that is at all beyond the reach of the surveillance state and Hollywood propaganda. In these "focos" . In these focos, we can think for ourselves, figure out what is really going on, and organize a future resistance movement.
There problem is that they are wildly incompatible with each other: highway truckstops where gay men have anonymous sex, compounds for white power skinheads, squats of anarchist crusties, streetcorners of scruffy kids, chatrooms in the remoter reaches of cyberspace for all sorts of subcultures and fetishes, and so on and on.
A formal alliance among them is wildly unlikely. But each shares the same enemy even though that enemy goes by a different name. I may have some beef with some crusties, but I realize that if my boys crush them who really wins? Hollywood, Hilfiger, the Chamber of Commerce, the cops.
The punk scene is one of the more comically misguided of the 'focos'. But given the commodification of leisure time (everything that used to be free now costs money, thats one of those fundamental rules of capitalism: if they cant keep coming up with more things to sell to more people, the whole system will come crashing down) and the replacement of neighborhoods with shopping malls, I doubt that the ways that punks and skins contest it are really so pointless.
Knocking back, have another one... Drinking and driving is so much fun...
-- The Business
Oi! is the music that runs right into my blood. I don't expect the musicians I like to agree with me politically, but I respect that they focus a community. I listen to a lot of Cocksparrer, The Business, Condemned 84, Niblick Henbane, Dropkick Murphys, The Clash, Agnostic Front, The Oppressed. And those ska bands that are really oi! with a horn section: Inspecter7 and the Skoidats. Even some RAC like No Remorse. And Beethoven - not just cuz it's in Clockwork Orange - I like Mozart too. I'd rather hear fingernails on a blackboard than Madonna, disco, rap, house, dance, Madonna, hiphop, or Madonna.
If you've seen me at shows I'm one of those drunks yelling out something incoherent, (oi! is about as multisyllabic as I'll get) or else I am too fucking hungover. All I believe in is another beer, as the song goes. So if you want to know what I am thinking, read this website. Take me as I am, right or wrong, and I will return the favor.
I support the scene as one of the few surviving zones of freedom, and back up those who build it and put their necks on the line to keep it going. The punk bands in my town are making a valiant effort to bring life to a conformist wasteland. I wince at the vegan rants too many punx are prone to, and would like to see more guys my own age at shows, but I am glad to see that America's youth have not completely surrendered. A Talking Heads show in 1977, and Patti Smith's Radio Ethiopia got me started on punk. The 1980 Stonehenge festival shaped my sense of the scene. I had a mohawk around 1986. But now love of work, strength, and community (rather than society) put me well on the skin side of punk.
Some punk friends and I talked about starting a band.
We never got our shit together but here are some of the lyrics:
DI IS DEAD!|
Skinhead John/Mike Tommyrot
Princess Die was a Skrewdriver fan
Followed Ian Stuart right to the end
The bikers that loved her
shot loads on her corpse
Got smashed in the tunnel
beaten and bashed
DI IS DEAD
AND NO ONE CARES
IF YOU GIVE A FUCK
WE'LL BEAT YOU UP!
Miles of tearful Brits
threw flowers on the hearse
if you tried to eat em
fatal dose of daffodils
Now St Diana cures your cancer
so the tabloid ladies pray
DI IS DEAD
AND NO ONE CARES
IF YOU GIVE A FUCK
WE'LL BEAT YOU UP!
we are the punk rock army,
every one of us cares,
we all hate poverty war and injustice
unlike the rest of you...
Yeah we're all one
We're all the same inside (3x)
so cant we all just get along?
I dont wanna be like you!
You don't wanna be like me!
I dont wanna be like you!
You don't wanna be like me!
All we got in common
is we gotta take a leak.
Pissbuddies altogether now
The hell with the system
Pissbuddies altogether now
Where have all the crusties gone
Where have all the crusties gone
pealing the layers of crust
Rounded up and thrown in the van
pealing the layers of crust
Chomping on a great Big Mac
You're so easily wound up
You're all stuck on what you are
You're so easily wound up
Twilight Zone Stompers
HUSK OF A TOWN! (3x)
Twilight Zone Stompers
Cutesy little coffeeshops
HUSK OF A TOWN! (3x)
Here we are - out here
Age is one of those things that sounds simple at first but combines and confuses at least four separate things:
1) Changes in the body: the physiological changes that take place in an organism over time. The shape and appearance of the body change, and so do its abilities. Not all of those abilities expand during childhood and decline in old age. At some points the chemisty of the body makes it more active and reckless and at others, more mellow.
2) Experience: the expanding knowledge of the consequences of one's actions, and what the juicier possibilities in life are, and getting over fears of the world as one discovers what it is all about.
3) Involvement: the changing entangelments with various groups and institutions. When you are a kid you are entangled with that artifical hell called high school, and maybe with your family. Your parents pull you one way while your friends pull you in some other direction. Later you might get bogged down in raising a family of your own, and holding a job and being responsible for your own. In between you may have a little freedom, even to build a scene which gives your friends some options you make on your own, rather than being limited to those provided for you.
4) What is expected: the changes in what you can get away with. At different stages of life, different things are encouraged and re-enforced, or discouraged and punished. This is partly a matter of custom and partly one of law: violence may be normal in the school yard but among adults it is assault and battery. Sex goes the other way, the law constrains it among the young, and tolerates it more among the old.
Thanks to the drinking age, there is a sharp break between the social life of the young and that of the old. And gay life is especially broken up by age. The young don't have so many chances to learn from the old, while the old to often treat the young like meat to prey on, or at least the young fear that in the old.
There is little room for the old to look out for the young; if we dont have kids of our own we should at least help raise the new generation, looking out for those abandoned by their parents, protecting them from predators, even buying them a few beers. We should protect the scene, keep other adults from interfering and clamping down, and make it more balanced in age.
Everything that seems fixed about us is actually part of a changing body and mind within a changing social world. So it is strange that someone going through what is clearly just a stage in life can seriously believe that being a skinhead is just something they always were and always will be, and that anyone who moves on in life must never have been a "real" skinhead to begin with.
Age works differently for gays as for straights. High school life, more than just about any settings around, is organized around assumed heterosexuality. Queers are, or at least used to be, dead meat. So queer kids get left out of high school social life and socialization, though they too often think they are the only ones who feel such isolation and alienation. Since many do not get bogged down with raising families, they don't have to provide for someone. And if they want to keep getting laid they must work to keep their bodies up long after their classmates' bellies have sprouted and muscles long softened under their guts. So gays who were blocked from being adolescents while they were teens often make up for it later. The main rite of passage to adulthood - marriage ceremonies - are out of the question for gays. So there are sociological reasons for the prolongued and delayed adolescences of gay men.
"Gay and skinhead operate as polar opposites - as reminders of what men shouldn't be. They demarcate the unacceptable opposite extremes of masculinity. . . . That the two poles might actually converge in one single identity disrupts the dominant expectations of male behaviour... "
- Murray Healy, in Gay Skins :Class, Masculinity and Queer Appropriations
'Queer' and 'Skinhead' both mark revolts, one against class domination the other against the heterosexual dictatorship. Add the words and multiply the revulsion. You can no longer pretend all skinheads are straight, and the queer movement can't be so cavalier about regulating what it means if a man lusts for another man. How may queers think skins are just the cops for the heterosexual dictatorship, and how many skins think queers are just the pets of the ruling class?
Clue: being a skinhead is not about shaving your head! Nor is it about bigotry. And being queer is not about showtunes, wigs, or being a wimp. Gay culture was once a survival strategy and liberation movement and now it is just a marketing gimmick. Postmodern Pharisees try to force us to display political responsibility and good taste, so we fight for the right to be rude.
I think a lot of the hostility that many straight skins show toward the idea of skins being gay comes out of a fear that the cover skin provides for affection and friendship among men could be jeopardized if a hug between skinmates could be taken as a sexual come-on. A lot of guys growing up find that the people who get them hardest are other guys and they can't deal with that. They think being gay is being a wimp so they become as hard as they can, as masculine as they can, hoping that if it doesn't cure them of their homosexuality, at least no one will suspect. It doesn't work. Other guys still get them hard no matter how many tatoos they wear. And out gay men know that the guys who talk loudest about hating faggots are the same ones who come sneaking in the back door of the gay bar a few years later. This is as true of skinheads as it is of the US Marines.
Count me out as a 'queer skinhead'. There is a 'gay skinhead' scene organized around raunchy sex which barely overlaps with the scene I know and love that is organized around oi, ska and hardcore shows. Queer and Skin are like fire and water so I stopped trying to mix them. I am against colonizing the Skin Nation with the bloodless stagnation of gay culture. Too many gays like to preach and I don't know any skins that like to be preached at.
Out of respect for the scene I do not come out at shows. I check my sexuality at the door. Before you shriek about internalized homophobia, take a good look at life in gay bars, where guys do not give each other the time of day unless they intend to take each other home. I get pissed off at all the punks who use the words gay and fag to mean the opposite of anything hard and hardcore, not so much anti-queer, but anti-wimp. It only makes sense if the two - queer and wimp - are confused with each other. But when I stop by a gay meeting or bar, I see for myself that the confusion has a base in reality.
FAQ#2: Are you gay?
If you are asking about my culture, reactions to things, affiliations... then FUCK NO!
If you are asking about where my dick has been, then are you sure you really want to know?
If you are asking about who has a chance with me, well it depends on how many beers I have had.
If you are a closet case who fears that the only choices out there than either plunging into the discos, or pretending to be straight, suffering the disrespect and not getting laid, then damn right I am! Same goes if you are one of those willfully blind hets who don't realize what some of the people right around them really think and feel, and assume that gays are some kind of freak.
Homosexuality is neither what you are nor what you do. It is just a crude, inexact way of making sense out of such a vague, shifting, and contradictory thing as desire. But that does not mean it is merely imaginary because there are few better ways of making sense out of it. Once you realize how imperfect and inexact an approximation of the real world it is then you know how pointless it is to fret about fine distinctions in words, and to follow the constant shift in the PC term.
Homosexuality is unquestionably a part of the natural order. Human community is shaped by economic, social, and cultural processes, but has a biological base: we have evolved as a social species. One subspecies of chimpanzees settles its tensions with violence, while another, which is more closely related to humans, settles them sexually.
Just as the rules of grammar make communication possible, so the customs and instincts of gender and age (with regard not just to sex and violence but also division of labor) enable to the survival, reproduction, and regulation of human communities. The notion that gays should be direct objects of violence I think is more likely to be a recent consequence of the collapse of community (homophobia only really took off with the 1930s depression); homosexuality (as with capacity for violence) is part of our natural variation, and part of that grammar, part of that recipe for community maintenance.
Variation in our instincts, abilities, and capacities makes community possible, and denying those - whether you insist that there is no fundamental difference between males and females, or if you insist that everyone must be heterosexual - disrupts community as much as an excess of alcohol disrupts one's command of grammar.
I think it was Harry Hay who asked, in his call to form the Radical Faeries, what are we here for? What is our purpose? Sociobiologists have suggested that there is a gene for homosexuality that survived because kids who have unattached aunts and uncles who assist in raising and protecting them are more likely to survive. Consider today all those gay men and women who work in social service agencies. Others have found in a role in the traces of ancient history where it seems the shamans were all queer: that gays have a purpose in mediating between the male and female realms as between the material and spiritual. I guess that is why priests wear dresses. Whether it is a true interpretation of the distant past, a lot of gay men do spend a lot of energy translating between men and women, and also there is no lack of queers in the priesthoods of all sorts of religions. And/or, homosexuality has a purpose in building the bonds of a military force to protect a community: remember Sparta's army of lovers.
One of the characters in Plato's Symposium distinguishes between two kinds of love. One is governed by the goddess Aphrodite and it is the love of a man for a woman and it produces children. The other, the love of a man for a man, is governed by the muse Urania, and produces great art and contributions to the community as a whole. The nineteenth-century Germans who founded the gay movement called themselves the Uranians, though they saw themselves as being in between the genders. I feel more kindship with a rival group that gathered around the journal Der Eigene who celebrated their masculinity and built on the perspectives of Nietzsche. If we are not producing children of our own, we should be out there securing a future for our communities.
Whatever purpose it is that gays could have is wasted on gay culture in its current form.
Such creative forms of kinship as the gay ghetto and skinhead crews are necessary because family and community fail.
[Background: Goya's painting of Saturn eating his children]
"Have you ever wondered... why being gay is like being a member of a religious cult, except not so open-minded?"
- - from dust jacket of Simpson, Anti-Gay
Why does such blatant bullshit fly around the word "gay"? I don't know which is sillier, the paranoid fantasies of the people who try so hard to pretend gays don't exist and try to disqualify them from work, family and fun, or the smug proclamations of queer nationalists. The straights who lose it when they are reminded that homosexuality is a natural and ordinary part of life are too easy a target for this page, so I will just make fun of the gay scene and write my letter of resignation from that stagnated attempt at community.
Insert animated gif of a burning rainbow flag here...
Or a photo of the one I actually did burn at the Folsom 97 festival in San Francisco, with a few skins. The flag does not represent diversity - it represents uniformity, at least in the way that I see it used
Not that I have anything against the rainbow flag or what it is supposed to stand for. Its display, and especially its display all over certain neighborhoods, is a kind of territorial pissing that marks queer turf, just as a wolf will piss around the perimeter of its territory. If you want wolves to respect you, piss around your own territory and the wolves will understand. The gay neighborhoods are fortresses that defend those of us who live far from them. The ability of gays to mobilize in collective self-defense deters the attacks that homosexuals used to suffer more routinely.
But at the same time the rainbow flag is a gimmick to sell things to a captive and enthusiastic audience. No, I have nothing against making a buck. It is just that these things are not sold on their own merits - the objects of gay culture are mediocre and gays settle for insipidity, while thinking that just because Da Vinci and Michaelangelo were gay that the productions of contemporary gay artists must be of the same quality. Gay bars take their customers for granted: overpriced watered-down drinks, surly service and uninspired music. This consumer has taken his business elsewhere.
Gay politics rarely rise above organized whining. They reject strength, ability, and reason. Attempts at a "postgay" identity have only made for worse, starting with the army of drones who insist that every usage of the word "gay" be accompanied by "lesbian, bisexual, transgendered". Or those shrieking twits who condemn "assimilationists" as if that word really meant anything.
I would join the line to bury the word 'gay' but for one thing: it is just about the only word for the tribe that was made by the tribe itself; it was not one of those imposed from outside, from psychologists and others who would regulate our lives for us, it was not an insult that we reclaimed.
As it stands, if you ask if I am gay, I am lying whether I say yes or no, because I no longer see any connection between what makes me hard and what kind of a man I am and how I live my life and see the world. When I do walk into a gay bar and hear that discothumping, I get a reminder that I don't belong in there, they are not my people.
I got a letter from someone who thought he had put his neck on the line so I could be free to be gay, and have places to go, and be able to put up pages like this, and that I had no right to complain. As if the only reasons one could possibly be critical of gay culture were homophobia, or being freeloaders expecting that it would all be provided for you by generous all-knowing omnipotent activists. Well I've been there, and been one of those hardworking activists frustrated with the demands of those who want it all perfect, meeting every imaginable need, without figuring out how they could put their own energy into resolving the problems. I was a gay activist because I thought I should leave a campsite in better shape than I found it. I've struggled for and built gay turf, paid my dues, done my time, I earned a right to complain. The slogans of the movement miss the mark, erase the guys I get off with, and make little sense where I live. What I helped to build turned out to be a monster.
To Establish the Right and the Possibility for Anyone to Say Anything.
And to Laugh at What They Come up with.
This leads to some of the great internet sports: Sick Puppy Bingo and Loonwatching. Find the craziest things that people do say.
Once upon a time the only place with true freedom of speech was a bathroom wall. Now there is the internet.
Resisting the Commodification of the Net
The great exception in the preservation of free speech: fighting spam. No right or possibility to transform the use value of the net into exchange value without building it into something better.
The Old Guard vs the Swarms of Clueless Newbies
Studies of the internet got into a dreary habit of lamenting the snobbery of longtime computergeeks and their oppression against the newly arrived AOLers and, lately, the customers of WebTV. Why don't they just invite homeless crackheads into their bedrooms?
Too late! The old internet underground has gone even further underground. Enjoy the popup ads, a marketing target is all you will ever be!
Fantasy vs Reality
Some use the net to act out their craziest fantasies, and others use it as an extension of their real life, as just one more arena for socializing. But where exactly do you draw the line? And which standards do you use to interpret the words you see on screen? Which rules apply - local custom, or the government?
Underground in a Fishbowl
You can meet up with people who share your most secret fetishes, and organize among the likeminded, even if you are isolated in a small town. And now all of the most underground movements are in plain view of the most judgemental, repressive, prudish foks alive, and have the backing of their legislatures.
All non-quoted text on this site, and any original photos Copyright 1996-2000
It is a basic law of capitalism that more and more things are turned into commodities to buy and sell, simply because of the necessity of finding new and creative ways to earn a living, and for firms to keep up with the competition. So it was inevitable that this vast domain that has opened up out of nowhere would be turned into something marketable. And that the state would be called on to regulate it and to find what offline analogies would most appropriately work to resolve possible disputes.
Free use of the images floating around the internet then could be a rebelliious gesture, a reminder of a time when songs were sung and passed on without any concern for licensing fees. Art was the property of a culture. I would rather have confidence in the honor of my equals on the net than appeal to the state, or even recognize that I have any relationship to it.
The American legal concept of 'fair use' gives me some room to bring in quotations of text and pictures and music, for a larger collage that is its own thing: a piece about contradiction, cynicism, ambiguity, resistance and transgression. What I mean by it changes as I grow, as history moves on, and as the point of the site evolves. I mean it as crafstmanship to be proud or embarrassed about.