Crass Reflections


Preface to the 2016 Edition

To be honest, I really thought this book would remain forever on old floppy disc-drives and the original three hundred copies DIY printed and published twenty years ago. Many copies of which are now lost to the sands of time. There had been discussions with both Mike Dines and Rich Cross that we should reissue the book though, as with other plans, it was lost in the maelstrom of heavy teaching loads and numerous other writing projects. That was the case until I received two messages in a single day in early March 2016 regarding the book. The first was from a Punk Scholars Network member, Becky Binns, asking me where she could source a copy for her doctoral research on G Vaucher. The second message was from punk historian Matt Worley. Included in the message was a link to an eBay auction for the original book. After sharing a screenshot on Facebook and receiving loads of comments/memories of the book, my good friend and Punk Scholar, Mike Dines phoned me, suggesting we republish it. You are holding my response in your hands. Serendipity is indeed a strange beast. Sean Clark an academic, graphic designer and artist who has attended various Punk Scholars Network events contacted me in relation to speaking at the opening of his Leicester event, ‘Fight War, Not War: The Art of Crass.’ This presented a perfect opportunity to re-launch the book in June 2016.

The original word files were dragged and dropped off floppy-discs while the original art was sourced from a gutted version of the first version. In addition of two contextual essays from the time, I’ve added a lengthy introduction which discusses the broad motifs of my life as an early punk scholar; a broad discussion -though no way definitive version – of the often overlooked history of Crass members and their activities after their dissolution. Finally, when the original research was undertaken, scant information was available on Crass. This mystique is certainly no longer the case with large sections of their work now subject to public and academic scrutiny with most texts fully acknowledging their cultural and political value. Indeed, to coin the term ‘punk-studies’ in this preface seems appropriate. The rise in such punk scholarship over the last decade and the overstatement of Crass in such research at the general expense of a whole universe of global punk activities since 1984 now distorts the general historical punk narrative. There’s loads of other significant punk, historical or otherwise, worthy of equal scrutiny, discussion and documentation.

The original work was published with the DiY ethic at its heart. The present version is no different with a slight addition. This is an academic work dealing with long-standing philosophical debates regarding countercultural change and in the new edition, the general arguments – while not significantly altered – have been peer reviewed for accuracy. With just five corporations controlling the majority of academic research and knowledge trapped behind journal pay-walls and ridiculous tuition fees, publishing this book represents another act of rebellion: a new example of peer-reviewed DiY academic publishing. While a similar text from one of these academic ‘for profit publishing houses will charge over £60, this book will (hopefully) remain available at a low cost and represents the beginning of a new trend towards DiY control of peer-review, low cost, accessible, quality publishing.

I am eternally grateful to Mike Dines (Itchy Monkey Press), Rich Cross and Simon Mills for their belief and support in this project.

Up the punk scholars!

Alastair ‘Gords’ Gordon. April 27th, 2016

Purchase Crass Reflections from Active Distribution here