Some of Us Scream, Some of Us Shout: Myths, Folklore and Epic Tales of the Anarcho is the second in the Tales From the Punkside series. Whereas the self-titled first volume encompassed the wider punk scene, Some of Us Scream… brings together the stories, the artwork and the inspiration of the anarcho-punk scene from the 1980s to the present day. As with Tales… stimulus has come from the everyday, from those who were ‘there’ and from those who have personal accounts to convey. Too often a ‘scene’ such as anarcho-punk becomes defined by its canon, its key players. In this case they are often (amongst others), Crass, Conflict, Rudimentary Peni, the Subhumans and Flux of Pink Indians (of which, ironically, the editors would like to thank for the title of this book). The editors do not wish to detract from their stories but merely add to them, to document those who were inspired by the music, those who (in their own ways) further contributed to the scene.
Many would argue that anarcho-punk remains the apotheosis of the personal. It meant a way-of-life, a call-for-arms and a collectivity of musicians, artists, agitators and malcontents. It took as its standing point a diversity of the subversive. From so-called ‘new age travellers’ to the Animal Liberation Front; from Class War anarchism to the pacifism of Greenham Common; and from the women’s rights movement to the politics of freedom-for-all. Anarcho-punk meant an egalitarian approach to lifestyle. In addition, the underpinning political cause that united all these was the movement’s succinct critique of Thatcherism and the highly politicized 1980s in the UK. It is through this current volume that many of these tales are told.
In The Revolution of Everyday Life: The Perspective of Power (2012), Raoul Vaneigem notes that, ‘today there is not an action or a thought that is not trapped in the net of received ideas. The slow fall-out of particles of the exploded myth spreads sacred dust everywhere, choking the spirit and the will to live.’ For Vaneigem, ‘the most certain chances of liberation are born in what is most familiar…this commonplace creature roams naked in railway stations and vacant lots; it confronts you at each evasion of yourself, it touches your elbow, catches your eye; and the dialogue begins. You must lose yourself with it or save it with you’ (PM Press, pp. 7-8). With a personal fascination for the everyday I find some of this in Some of Us Scream… From the learning of Subhumans lyrics on the bus to the tragedy of squatting, and from the protests at RAF Cottesmore to the aesthetic backdrop of tortured animals and Falklands War survivors, these are tales from the familiar, the ‘known.’ The nakedness of expression and poignancy of the personal is evident throughout the anarcho. The homemade posters depicting laboratory animals, the cutback music production of songs about poverty, alienation and despair: anarcho-punk became a repository of reflection, critique and just plain desperation in the face of an oppressive and violent Thatcher government.
On an academic basis, I am fully aware of the issues surrounding oral history as being more ‘authentic’ or ‘real.’ Although oral testimony has become an acceptable source for much research in this area, I also realize the issues surrounding having such testimony stand alone as a source, let alone as a definitive narrative. As such, the reader must be aware that a construction of the narrative such as this book offers, is without problems surrounding neutrality and methodology. As this is not a purely academic piece of work, this should not impact on its reading or distribution. Yet the reader should also be aware of the editors’ intention in collating such a book. As anarcho-punk was accused for having overbearing ideals (you must be vegetarian, you must be a pacifist) so the reader is asked to be critical of anarcho-punk itself.
Indeed, without this critical self-reflection, anarcho-punk becomes stagnant. It becomes static, caught up in a wave of nostalgia that ironically wishes for the return of 1980s Thatcherism. It becomes a movement that is defined only by its discernable features (vegetarianism, anti-Thatcher, anti-vivisectionist viewpoints) instead of the dynamics of political dissent and the individual. It is highlighted in my own chapter that the term/label ‘anarcho’ seems, at times, almost redundant. The label is unable to reflect the diversity and dynamism of the movement whilst at the same time restricting its thoughts and ideas within a label. ‘Anarcho-punk’ is a useful way of formalizing what many of us did in the 1980s, but this was, and is, by no means the end of it.
Although I have written an introduction for this current volume, much of the credit of this work must go to Greg Bull. Indeed, it is a privilege to be called a co-editor next to an individual who did most of the legwork in this volume. The excellent design, painstaking collation of work and the obvious enthusiasm in these pages belong to Greg. I’m afraid I’m like a mere bystander. I would also like to thank Gords for the inspiration of the Punkside title; the connotations of which are not lost on those fluent in Japanese punk, and of course to Sam, Eric, Molly and Spike. And dedications? Shall I dedicate the book to those who were there? Shall I buck against the academic and be a romantic old sod? Why not. So yeah, I dedicate this book to those who were lucky enough to be part of the anarcho-punk scene. And for the future? In the inimitable words of Culture Shock, Onwards and Upwards!
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