Maty’s Corner #20 Fuck Armageddon… This is Bad Religion (Re Mastered)

Maty’s Corner Issue # 20
Fuck Armageddon… This is Bad Religion (Re Mastered)

In the initial writing of this article it was kind of weak and I realized it could be much better. Without sacrificing the original content, here’s the re master of an article many of you enjoyed.
Bad Religion, the band that really got me into punk rock when I first bought 1998’s No Substance by pure happen stance. Bad Religion is into their 34th year of punk rockin’ it. They started up in 1979 in Los Angeles, CA. First show was November 11th 1980 in Burbank, CA. Back when the now widely known Epitaph Records was nothing more than a name and P.O. Box that Mr. Brett put on the album sleeves to say “yeah, we have a label.” Their music has been instrumental in shaping the sound of both the original hard core scene and the later melodic hard core genre. Greg Graffin himself who holds numerous advanced degrees in a variety of subjects and currently boasts 3 books covering religion, Anarchism, evolution and Naturalism has caused many a punk rocker to get educated whether by institution or self. It has definitely been instrumental in my own studies of varying subjects. They currently stand at 16 full length studio albums making them one of, if not the most prolific punk band along with 35 for years without any hiatus periods.


Bad Religion first graced us with a recording in 1981. This was their self titled EP. At only 6 songs it kicked in the door on what we knew of punk and hard core. This release set the precedent with punk that was both aggressive and the smartest thing we’d heard since The Clash. The playing was as fast as it was tight. It didn’t sound like teenagers with no real record label as of yet.


The following year, 1982, would bring us How Could Hell Be Any Worse? They were even more solid with an improved recording quality. At this point Graffin still had a raspy growl to his voice and they’d not started playing with harmonies yet. This record has been catching fire in the scene on a continuous basis since its initial release. It’s still as good 32 years later.

1983 was a… interesting year for the band. They released Into theUnknown. This was an apt title as it’s a weird keyboard driven album. Nothing like any of the band’s other releases. Still a great album, just unusual. It has become easier to find as time has gone on.


1985 gave us back the Bad Religion we all know. The well titled Back to the Known EP. This was the band back to hard core punk. Greg’s voice had changed for the better and it was the beginning of the “oozinahhs” that we’ve come to know them for. It was awesome to have this treasure of the scene back in the form we know and love.


1988 brought their next studio album. At a time when the punk scene had gone to sleep, this was a needed slap in the face to re ignite things. This was the real beginning of Bad Religion as we know them now. This was a 26 minute blast in the face of hair metal. Possibly the most necessary punk albums of the 80s. They had become a bit more melodic with multi part harmonies that only added more teeth to their sound.


1989 saw the release of No Control. This was faster and harder than Suffer without sacrificing the newfound harmonic ideas that had cultivated in Suffer. This contains a standout for me, the first Bad Religion song I’d ever heard, I Want to Conquer the World. I was 16 and this single song changed my life. This began my love affair with punk rock music and my quest to better understand a world I’d been developing opinions about.

Following this was 1990’s Against the Grain. This was more complex than any previous album. ATG was the first feature of the anthem like 21st Century Digital Boy. About half this album would fall onto a “greatest hits” comp.


1992 gave us Generator. BR was pushing their musical and lyrical complexity even further while staying the unrelenting punk maelstrom we’d com to know. Generator gave us BR’s first ever video single for the amazing track, Atomic Garden. The ideas expressed on the album would be the beginning of what we hear from them for the next 22 years.


1993 brought in Recipe For Hate which opened with one of the most aggressive title tracks in punk rock. Recipe also contained 2 video singles for American Jesus and Struck a Nerve. The blend of sonic and complex was becoming more apparent by now. The signature harmonies were fully solidified by this release. Recipe would be BR’s final pairing with Epitaph for nearly a decade.


1994 spat out a new album on a new label. Stranger Than Fiction appeared on Atlantic Records. It doesn’t sound at all like the major label boogey man had stolen any fight out of this unit. This put out 4 singles and videos, better unleashing Bad Religion on an unsuspecting world. There were some great collaborations with Wayne Kramer, Tim Armstrong and Jim Lindbergh. A lot of fans bitched about this album sucking; I think they just weren’t smart enough to get it.


1996 brought about The Gray Race, a more aggressive album than Stranger. Mr. Brett had left the band to solely concentrate on Epitaph. Filling his spot was Minor Threat’s Brian Baker. Much like the entirety of their Atlantic years, this was met with a lot of negativity that I don’t understand. Guess that’s what happens when people listen to the punk police instead of deciding for themselves. Fuck the rules and just be punk! This continued the formula of being pure amazing expressed through music.


1998 saw No Substance, the first BR album I bought. This is a front to back solid album. Still my favorite from the Atlantic years. It features a weird spoken word track, State of the Union at the End of the Millennium. It still rings as relevant today as it did in ’98. This was their least successful album, yet again, people just didn’t get it.


May 9th 2000 at punk fifteen in the morning Bad Religion’s final album on Atlantic was released. The New America was Bad Religion’s most personal album, some politics, but more sonic introspection. Mr. Brett was even coming back in as he co wrote a track. From here the crew would head back home to Epitaph.


2002 brought us BR’s most anticipated album in years. Mr. Brett was back and the band now had 3 guitarists. The Process of Belief is as amazing of an album as was expected. The Greg and Brett formula picked up as though it had never left off.


2004 Bad Religion released an album that pushed the boundaries and complexity even further. Empire Strikes First was a politically charged blast that showed even an overture can be punk rock. The 3 guitar attack had fully come into its own creating a wall of sound not previously heard in the genre. The hills of Los Angeles are still burning.


It would be a 3 year wait until New Maps of Hell arrived in 2007. This album was solid enough to be worth it. The band had made it to the 27 club. It features the most intricate guitar work of the band’s career and pulls it off without sounding the least bit bland.


In 2010 their 30th anniversary brought an album reminiscent of their older material, The Dissent of Man. It rocks similar to Generator. It was a breath of fresh air to see this punk monolith getting back to basics.


2013, exactly 11 years after Process of Belief Bad Religion released their most back to basics album, True North. It flows like No Control. This is the blast from the past it’s been hailed as. Sadly, Greg Hetson has had to leave the band following this due to personal problems. The Bad Religion story doesn’t end here as they’re working on a new album. 34 years isn’t enough!

As far as I’m concerned every album by these guys has been great. Even their “dark period” as Graffin calls it when Mr. Brett had temporarily left the band. My favorite album is still the All Ages compilation. 2nd album I got from them and it just blew my mind. Still hits me just right all these years later. This band has been attached to some of the best times in my life and been a soundtrack to getting through some of the worst. Other than the impact of the band themselves, Epitaph has been a force for putting punk on the map with a number of seminal releases in the 80’s and 90’s scenes. Also their sub labels of Hell Cat and Burning Heart have done the scene a lot of good. BR has been a driving force in my constant effort to keep up on the increasingly fucked world we inhabit. So, if you don’t know this band, research and hear now! If you’ve not listened in a while give ‘em another spin and see if the magic is still there.

-Maty Almost

Keep up

https://punxinsolidarity.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpWith Bad Religion

http://www.badreligion.com/

https://www.facebook.com/badreligion

Learn Something

https://punxinsolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/fast-food-and-the-music-industry-by-greg-graffin-2/

https://punxinsolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/web-surdites-by-greg-graffin/

https://punxinsolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/a-punk-synopsis-by-greg-graffin/

https://punxinsolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/a-comment-on-responsible-voting-by-greg-graffin/

https://punxinsolidarity.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/punk-manifesto-by-greg-graffin/

Common Punk Rock Ideologies And Philosophies

The Punk Rock Lifesgtyle

The Most Common ideologies and philosophies within the punk subculture.

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Punk ideologies are a group of varied social and political beliefs associated with the punk subculture. In its original incarnation, the punk subculture was primarily concerned with concepts such as rebellion, anti-authoritarianism, individualism, free thought and discontent. Punk ideologies are usually expressed through punk rock music, punk literature, spoken word recordings, punk fashion, or punk visual art. Some punks have participated in direct action, such as protests, boycotts, squatting, vandalism, or property destruction.

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Punk fashion was originally an expression of nonconformity, as well as opposition to both mainstream culture and the hippie counterculture. Punk fashion often displays aggression, rebellion, and individualism. Some punks wear clothing or have tattoos that express sociopolitical messages.

An attitude common in the punk subculture is the opposition to selling out, which refers to abandoning of one’s values and/or a change in musical style toward pop or more radio-friendly rock in exchange for wealth, status, or power. Selling out also has the meaning of adopting a more mainstream lifestyle and ideology. The issue of authenticity is important in the punk subculture, the pejorative term “poseur” is applied to those who associate with punk and adopt its stylistic attributes but are deemed not to share or understand the underlying values or philosophy.

Because anti-establishment and anti-capitalist attitudes are such an important part of the punk subculture, a network of independent record labels, venues and distributors has developed. Some punk bands have chosen to break from this independent system and work within the established system of major labels. The do it yourself (DIY) genre is common in the punk scene, especially in terms of music recording and distribution, concert promotion, magazines, posters and flyers. On religious issues, punk is mostly atheist or agnostic, but some punk bands have promoted religions such as Christianity, Islam, the Rastafari movement or Krishna.

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Anarcho-Punk
Anarchism And Left-Libertarianism
There is a complex and worldwide underground of punks committed to libertarian socialism or anarchism as a serious political ideology, sometimes termed “peace punks” or “anarcho-punks.” Whereas some well-known punk bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Exploited sang about general anarchy, they did not embrace anarchism as a disciplined ideology. As such, they are not considered part of anarcho-punk. Notable anarchist punk artists include: Aus-Rotten, Dave Insurgent, Crass, Dick Lucas, Colin Jerwood, and Dave Dictor.
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Apolitical Punk
Socio-Political Activist
Some punks claim to be non-political, such as the band Charged, GBH and the singer G.G. Allin, although some socio-political ideas have appeared in their lyrics. Some Charged GBH songs have discussed social issues, and a few have expressed anti-war views. G.G. Allin expressed a vague desire to kill the United States president and destroy the political system in his song “Violence Now”. Punk sub-genres that are generally apolitical include: glam punk, psychobilly, horror punk, punk pathetique, deathrock and pop punk. Many of the bands credited with starting the punk movement were decidedly apolitical, including The Dictators, Ramones (which featured staunch conservative Johnny Ramone alongside left-wing activist Joey Ramone), New York Dolls, Television, Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers, and Richard Hell and The Voidoids.

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Christian Punk
Christianity
Christian punk is a small sub-genre of punk rock with some degree of Christian lyrical content. Some Christian punk bands are associated with the Christian music industry, but others reject that association. Examples of notable Christian punk bands include The Crucified and MxPx. Some Christian punk bands perform after a religious sermon is preached at a sanctuary type setting.

Conservative Punk
A small number are conservative or right-libertarian, rejecting anarchism, liberalism, communism and socialism in favor of free market capitalism, a minimal government and private ownership of property. Notable conservative punks include: Michale Graves, Johnny Ramone, Lee Ving, Billy Zoom, Joe Escalante, Bobby Steele and Dave Smalley. Notable punks who have expressed support for voluntarism or anarcho-capitalism include Joe Young and Jeff Clayton of the band Antiseen, Exene Cervenka, Mojo Nixon and Barry Donegan. Some Christian punk and hardcore bands have conservative political stances, in particular some of the NYHC bands. Iggy Pop campaigned for Ronald Reagan.

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Islam Punk
Muslim
Taqwacore Punk a sub-genre centered around Islamic beliefs, its culture and its interpretation. The Taqwacore scene is composed mainly of young Muslim artists living in the United States and other western countries, many of whom openly reject traditionalist interpretations of Islam. There is no definitive Taqwacore sound, and some bands incorporate styles including hip-hop, techno, and/or musical traditions from the Muslim world.

Krishna Punk
In the 1990s, some notable members of the New York hardcore scene, including Ray Cappo (Youth of Today, Shelter and other bands), John Joseph (Cro-Mags) and Harley Flanagan (Cro-Mags) converted to Hare Krishna. This led to trend within the hardcore scene that became known as Krishna-core.

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Liberalism Punk
Liberal punks were in the punk subculture from the beginning, and are mostly on the liberal left. Notable liberal punks include: Joey Ramone, Fat Mike, Ted Leo, Billie Joe Armstrong, Crashdog, Hoxton Tom McCourt, Justin Sane, Tim Armstrong and Tim McIlrath. Some punks participated in the Rock Against Bush movement in the mid-2000s, in support of the Democratic Party candidate John Kerry.

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Neo-Nazism Punk
Nazi punk, White Power Rock, Rock Against Communism
Nazi punks have a far right, white nationalist ideology that is closely related to that of white power skinheads. Ian Stuart Donaldson and his band Skrewdriver are credited with popularizing white power rock and hatecore, or Rock Against Communism.

Nazi punks are different from early punks such as Sid Vicious and Siouxsie Sioux, who are believed to have incorporated Nazi imagery such as Swastikas for shock or comedy value.
In 1978 in Britain the white nationalist (White Nationalism), had a punk-oriented youth organization called the Punk Front. Although the Punk Front only lasted one year, it recruited several English punks, as well as forming a number of white power punk bands such as The Dentists, The Ventz, Tragic Minds and White Boss

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Nihilist Punk
Nihilism
Centering around a belief in the abject lack of meaning and value to life, nihilism was a fixture in some protopunk and early punk rock. Notable nihilist punks include, Iggy Pop, Sid Vicious and Richard Hell.
10278Socialist Punk
Socialism
The Clash were the first blatantly political punk rock band, introducing socialism to the punk scene. Some of the original Oi! bands expressed a rough form of socialist working class populism often mixed with patriotism. Many Oi! bands sang about unemployment, economic inequality, working class power and police harassment. In the 1980s, several notable British socialist punk musicians were involved with Red Wedge. Notable socialist punks include: Attila the Stockbroker, Billy Bragg, Bruce La Bruce, Garry Bushell (until the late 1980s), Chris Dean, Gary Floyd, Jack Grisham, Stewart Home, Dennis Lyxzén, Thomas Mensforth, Fermin Muguruza, Alberto Pla, Tom Robinson, Seething Wells, Paul Simmonds, Rob Tyner, Joe Strummer, Ian Svenonius, Mark Steel and Paul Weller.

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S. I. Punk
The Situationist International
This was allegedly an early influence on the punk subculture in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] Started in continental Europe in the 1950s, the SI was an avant-garde political movement that sought to recapture the ideals of surrealist art and use them to construct new and radical social situations. Malcolm McLaren introduced situationist ideas to punk through his management of the band Sex Pistols. Vivienne Westwood, McLaren’s partner and the band’s designer/stylist, expressed situationist ideals through fashion that was intended to provoke a specific social response. Jamie Reid’s distinctive album cover artwork was openly situationist.

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7515Straight Edge Punk
Straight Edge And Hardline Subculture
Straight edge punk, which originated in the American hardcore punk scene, involves abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use. Some who claim the title straight edge also abstain from caffeine, casual sex and meat. Those more strict individuals may be considered part of the hardline subculture. Unlike the shunning of meat and caffeine, refraining from casual sex was without question a practice in the original straight edge lifestyle, but it has been overlooked in many of the later reincarnations of straight edge. For some, straight edge is a simple lifestyle preference, but for others it’s a political stance. In many cases, it is a rejection of the perceived self-destructive qualities of punk and hardcore culture. Notable straight edgers were Ian MacKaye and Minor Threat who put the straight edge music movement on the map, Tim McIlrath, Justin Sane, and Davey are others who promoted the straight edge lifestyle.

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Havok Punk
Criticism Of Punk Ideologies
Punk ideologies have been criticized from outside and within. The Clash occasionally accused other contemporary punk acts of selling out, such as in their songs “(White Man)” In Hammersmith Palais” and “Death or Glory”. Crass’s song “White Punks on Hope” criticized the late-1970s British punk scene in general and, among other things, accused Joe Strummer of selling out and betraying his earlier socialist principles. Their song “Punk is Dead” attacked corporate co-option of the punk subculture.

4822Dead Kennedys front man and always controversial Jello Biafra wrote many songs criticizing aspects of the punk rock subculture and he once accused the punk magazine Maximum Rock n Roll of “punk fundamentalism” when they refused to advertise his punk rock label “Alternative Tentacles” records because they said the records “weren’t punk”. The Misfits’ Michael Graves, a right-libertarian who co-founded the “Conservative Punk” website, argued that punks have become “hippies with mohawks”.

VISIT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punk_rock

 

Maty’s Corner # 3

 Maty’s Corner Issue # 3
Fuck Armageddon… This is Bad Religion

10126Bad Religion, the band that really got me into punk rock when I first bought 1998’s No Substance by pure happen stance.  Bad Religion is into their 34th year of punk rockin’ it.  They started up in 1979 in Los Angeles, CA.  First show was November 11th 1980 in Burbank, CA.  Back when the now widely known Epitaph Records was nothing more than a name and P.O. Box that Mr. Brett put on the album sleeves to say “yeah, we have a label.”

10124Their music has been instrumental in shaping the sound of both the original hard core scene and the later melodic hard core genre.  Greg Graffin himself who holds numerous advanced degrees in a variety of subjects and currently boasts 3 books covering religion, Anarchism, evolution and Naturalism has caused many a punk rocker to get educated whether by institution or self. It has definitely been instrumental in my own studies of varying subjects.

10122They currently stand at 16 full length studio albums making them one of, if not the most prolific punk band along with 34 for years without any hiatus periods.As far as I’m concerned every album by these guys has been great. Even their “dark period” as Graffin calls it when Mr. Brett had temporarily left the band.  My favorite album is still the All Ages compilation.  2nd album I got from them and it just blew my mind.  Still hits me just right all these years later.

10123This band has been attached to some of the best times in my life and been a soundtrack to getting through some of the worst.  Other than the impact of the band themselves, Epitaph has been a force for putting punk on the map with a number of seminal releases in the 80’s and 90’s scenes.  Also their sub labels of Hell Cat and Burning Heart have done the scene a lot of good.

10125BR has been a driving force in my constant effort to keep up on the increasingly fucked world we inhabit.  So, if you don’t know this band, research and hear now!  If you’ve not listened in a while give ‘em another spin and see if the magic is still there.

Maty Almost

Punk Manifesto by Greg Graffin

Punk Manifesto

I have never owned a record label, nor directed a successful merchandise company, so I don’t pretend to be an expert on marketing. I have evolved through my craft as a songwriter, but others have labeled it and marketed it and made it neat for consumption.

Although I have made money from Punk, it is a modest amount when one considers the bounty that has been bestowed on the companies that promote Punk as some sort of a product to be ingested. It has always been my way to de-value the fashionable, light-hearted, impulsive traits that people associate with Punk, because Punk is more than that, so much more that those elements become trivial in the light of human experience that all punkers share.

Since it has been a part of me for over half of my life, I think the time has come to attempt a definition, and in the process defend, this persistent social phenomenon known as Punk. It is astounding that something with so much emotional and trans-cultural depth has gone without definition for so long, for the roots of Punk run deeper, and go back in history farther than imagined.

Even in the last two decades, it is difficult to find any analysis of the influential effect that Punk Rock had on Pop Music and youth culture. And rarer still are essays detailing the emotional and intellectual undercurrents that drive the more overt fashion statements that most people attribute to Punk. These are some of the wants that compelled me to write this. If my attempt offends the purists, collapses the secrecy of a closed society, promotes confidence in skeptical inquiry, provokes deeper thought, and decodes irony, then I have done my job and those who feel slighted might recognize the triviality of their position. For I have nothing to promote but my observations on a sub-culture that has grown to global proportions, and through visiting much of it, I have found threads of common thought everywhere.

Common thought processes are what determine the ideology that binds people together into a community. There is desire among Punks to be a community, but there needs to be some shape imparted on the foundations of the punk ideology, and where it comes from. The current Punk stereotype is scarred by mass-marketing and an unfortunate emphasis on style over substance. But these ills don’t destroy the Punk sentiment, they merely confound the education of the new generations of people who know they are punk, but don’t know what it means. It is a long road to understand what it means. This essay is part of the process.

PUNKS ARE NOT BEASTS:
Punk is a reflection of what it means to be human. What separates us from other animals? Our ability to recognize ourselves and express our own genetic uniqueness. Ironically, the commonly held view, among the marketeers and publicity engines, stresses the “animalistic”, “primitive” nature of punks and their music.

They assume that violence is a key ingredient in punk music, and this assumption is easily perpetuated because it is easy to market violence and news items about violence always get column space. This focus on violence misses a key element of what Punk is all about:

PUNK IS: the personal expression of uniqueness that comes from the experiences of growing up in touch with our human ability to reason and ask questions.

Violence is neither common in, nor unique to punk. When it does manifest itself it is due to things unrelated to the punk ideal. Consider for example the common story of a fight at a high school between a punk and a jock football player. The football player and his cohort do not accept or value the punk as a real person. Rather, they use him as a vitriol receptacle, daily taunting, provoking, and embarrassing him, which of course is no more than a reflection of their own insecurities. One day, the punk has had enough and he clobbers the football captain in the hallway. The teachers of course expell the punk and cite his poor hairstyle and shabby clothing as evidence that he is a violent, uncontrollable no-good. The community newspaper reads “Hallway Beating Re-affirms that Violence is a Way of Life Among Punk Rockers”. Spontaneous anger at not being accepted as a real person is not unique to punkers. This reaction is due to being human, and anybody would react in anger regardless of their sub- cultural, or social affiliation if they felt de- valued and useless. Sadly, there are plenty of examples of violence among punks. There are glaring examples of misguided people who call themselves punks too. But anger and violence are not punk traits, in fact, they have no place in the punk ideal. Anger and violence are not the glue that holds the punk community together.

IN UNIQUENESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF MANKIND:
Nature bestowed on us the genetic backbone of what punk is all about. There are roughly 80,000 genes in the human genome, and there are roughly 6 billion people carrying that genetic compliment. The chances of two people carrying the same genome are so small as to be almost beyond comprehension (the odds are essentially ½ 80,000 times the number of possible people you can meet and mate with in a lifetime! A practical impossibility)

The genes we carry play a major role in determining our behavior and outlook on life. That is why we have the gift of uniqueness, because no one else has the same set of genes controlling their view of the world. Of course cultural factors play the other major role, and these can have a more homogenizing effect on behavior and world-view.

For example, an entire working-class town might have 15,000 residents who are raised with the same ideals, work at the same factories, go to the same schools, shop at the same stores, and like the same sports teams. As their children develop, there is a constant interaction of opposite forces between the social imprinting their culture imparts and the genetic expression of uniqueness.

Those who lose touch with their nature become society’s robots, whereas those who denounce their social development become vagrant animals. Punk stands for a desire to walk the line in between these two extremes with masterful precision. Punks want to express their own unique nature, while at the same time want to embrace the communal aspects of their cookie-cutter upbringing. The social connection they have is based on a desire to understand each other’s unique view of the world. Punk “scenes” are social places where those views are accepted, sometimes adopted, sometimes discarded, but always tolerated and respected.

PUNK IS: a movement that serves to refute social attitudes that have been perpetuated through willful ignorance of human nature.

Because it depends on tolerance and shuns denial, Punk is open to all humans. There is an elegant parallel between Punk’s dependence on unique views and behaviors and our own natural genetic predisposition toward uniqueness.

THE BATTLE OF FEAR AND RATIONALITY:
The compulsion to conform is a powerful side-effect of civilized life. We are all taught to respect the views of our elders, and later when we realize that they are just dogmatic opinions, we are taught not to make a commotion by asking difficult questions. Many just go along with the prevailing notions and never express their own views, which is analogous to a premature death of the individual. Our species is unique in the ability to recognize and express the self, and not exercising this biological function goes against the natural selection gradient that created it in the first place. This complacency combats a fear of failure. It is easy to assume that if everyone else is doing something, then there is no way to fail if you just go along with it. Cattle and flocks of geese can probably recognize this advantage. But the entire human race could fail because of this mentality. Thinking and acting in a direction against the current of popular opinion is critical to human advancement, and a potent manifestation of Punk. If an issue or phenomenon is found to be true only because other people say it is so, then it is a Punk’s job to look for a better solution, or at least find an independent variable that confirms the held view (sometimes the popular view is just a reflection of human nature, Punks don’t live in denial of this). This ability to go against the grain was a major part of the greatest advances in human thinking throughout history. The entire Enlightenment period was characterized by ideas that shunned the dogma of the time, only to reveal truths in nature and human existence that all people can observe, and that are still with us today.

Galileo fought the church, the church won the battle, by putting him in jail for life, but ultimately lost the war; few people today believe that the sun orbits around the earth, and thus God didn’t create the earth as the center of the universe. Francis Bacon insisted that human destiny is equal to understanding. If we deny this fundamental principle of what it means to be human, he reasoned, then we descend into the depths of mere barbarism.

Charles Darwin, wrote after the heyday of the Enlightenment, he nonetheless was directly influenced by its tradition, was trained as a theologian and yet still was driven to understand the underlying order that connected biological species he observed in his travels. His views threw into question many of the Bible’s tenets, yet his reasoning was sound, and through a process of self-improvement (the struggle in his own mind to understand) he improved mankind by establishing a new benchmark of human knowledge.

The dogma of the church was further marginalized. The fear of repercussion from the church was overshadowed by the wave of understanding that his views created in people, and by the truth to his observations.

The modern-day Punk thought process, driven by this desire to understand, is a carbon-copy of the Enlightenment tradition. The fact that so many historical examples exist that reveal a will to destroy dogma leads to a powerful tenet: It is a natural trait of civilized humans to be original. The fact that uniqueness is so rare reveals that our nature is stifled by an equally potent opposing force: fear.

PUNK IS: a process of questioning and commitment to understanding that results in self-progress, and by extrapolation, could lead to social progress.

If enough people feel free, and are encouraged to use their skills of observation and reason, grand truths will emerge. These truths are acknowledged and accepted not because they were force-fed by some totalitarian entity, but because everyone has a similar experience when observing them. The fact that Punks can relate to one another on issues of prejudice comes from a shared experience of being treated poorly by people who don’t want them around. Each has his/her own experience of being shunned, and each can relate to another’s story of alienation without some kind of adherence to a code of behavior.

The truth of prejudice is derived from the experience they all share, not from a written formula or constitution they have to abide by. Punks learn from this experience that prejudice is wrong, it is a principle they live by; they didn’t learn it from a textbook. Without striving to understand, and provoking the held beliefs, the truth remains shrouded behind custom, inactivity, and prescriptive ideology.

WHAT IS TRUTH?
Philosophers distinguish between capital “T” truth and truth with a small “t”. Punks deny the former.

Truth with a capital “T” assumes that there is an order prescribed by some transcendental being. That is to say that truth comes ultimately from God, who had a plan for everything when he created the universe.

Little “t” truth is that which we figure out for ourselves, and which we all can agree upon due to similar experience and observations of the world. It is also known as objective truth, from within ourselves, revealed here on this earth; as opposed to big T truth, which comes from outside and is projected down to us, specifically for us to follow. Morality need not be thought of as a product only of big “T” truth. Objective truth lends itself just as readily to a moralistic, spiritual culture.

PUNK IS: a belief that this world is what we make of it, truth comes from our understanding of the way things are, not from the blind adherence to prescriptions about the way things should be.

Punk’s dependence on objective truth comes from the shared experience of going against the grain. Anyone who has stood out in a crowd feels the truth of the experience. No one had to write a doctrine in order for the outcast to understand what it meant to be different. The truth was plain enough, and that truth could be understood and agreed upon by all those who shared a common experience.

WHAT IS FEAR?
The fears that drive people to conform have caused dismal periods in human history. The so-called Dark Ages, were tranquil and without upheaval, but also dismally quiet and pestilent, nary a contrasting view to be found. The pseudo-comfort and tranquility that the people of the Dark Ages experienced, by conforming to a rigidly enforced bureaucracy enforced by the king and church, was masked entirely by the misery they had to endure in their day to day life. Life is easy as a peasant, no direction, no purpose, just produce more goods and offspring for the benefit of the king. But using fear to control peasants (or modern-day blue-collar workers for that matter) is just a short-term foul exercise, because peasants have the same mental equipment as the royalty.

The deeply ingrained biological traits of self-recognition and the desire to express the self cannot be quashed for long. Eventually peasants realize that life without the practice of reason is as good as being a farm animal. Being controlled by fear is the same as being biologically inert, unable to take part in the human drama, merely wasting away. The fear that controls human behavior is learned. It is different from the immediate, reflexive, run-away-from-the- nasty-stimulus response that other creatures employ to stay alive. We have motor reflexes like these as well, but fear of failure, and fear of speaking out come from the limbic system.

The limbic system is a network of neurons in our brain that control our most deep-seated emotions. It connects two parts of the brain together: the midbrain, where sensory information is sent (i.e. sight and hearing stimuli) and the forebrain, where that information is processed. Although the forebrain has been around for at least 480 million years (it was present in the earliest vertebrates), it evolved special functions with the advent of humankind.

A specialized portion of the forebrain, called the cerebral cortex, is highly developed in humans. 95% of our cerebral cortex is responsible for associative mental activities like contemplation and planning. The other 5% is responsible for processing motor and sensory information. By comparison, a mouse (also considered a higher vertebrate), has a cerebral cortex with only 5% of its neurons devoted to associative functions, while 95% are devoted to motor and sensory functions.

The highly developed limbic system is at the core of what it means to be human. We differ from other animals in the amount of time we spend planning, contemplating, and expressing ourselves. Our limbic system is very powerful. It can over-ride primitive emotions, and suppress deep desires. Anyone who has ever seen a sad movie with friends, and willfully held back tears because they didn’t want their friends to see them crying, employed the power of their limbic system. They contemplated the repercussions of their friends reaction to crying, and shut off the emotional cascade that would have brought the tears.

In the same way that rationality is the product of the limbic system, fear is also centered in the same neurons of the limbic system. Fear is usually rational behavior, based on irrational thoughts, and it can freeze the processing power of the cerebral cortex. Denial and fear go hand in hand, and both are examples of how our limbic system can suppress obvious stimuli and promote behavior that is safe and conforming.

The limbic system is like any other organ in the sense that it can operate unchecked to produce detrimental results. Being in touch with our bodies leads to overall general health, and the limbic system needs constant attention in order to master it. To overcome fear, one needs to be in touch with their limbic system, and recognize when it is suppressing the obvious.

Etiquette and “being nice” are forms of limbic-system repression, necessary at times, but ultimately demeaning of human originality. Lying is the ultimate form of limbic-system repression. It is a denial of the obvious. Truth-tellers, those who are authentic and trustworthy, have learned to master their limbic system. They recognize the desire to lie, but rationalize the futility of advocating something that is not true. Liars, on the other hand, are slaves to their limbic system, out of touch with their most basic mental capacities. Their behavior is guarded and shifty because they let their flawed reasoning, to cover up the obvious, control their entire makeup. They eventually have to give in to the truth and concede defeat, but only after every possible avenue of deception and twisted logic has been advocated in the interest of hiding their fear. Politicians, Clergymen, Business leaders, and Judges are masters of twisted logic and promotion of fear. They make good intellectual targets for Punkers because they don’t respect people who have learned to master their limbic systems. And Punkers are not afraid to point out that which is obvious, even if it means their social status might be jeopardized.

PUNK IS: the constant struggle against fear of social repercussions.

THE PUNK MOVEMENT:
I have tried to enumerate some of the factors that make Punk a movement, in the cultural sense. The typical stereotype of a feeble-minded ruffian vandalizing, destroying, stealing, fighting, or arguing in the name of some empty, short-lived cause is no more punk than the pretty-face-empty-head image of today’s pop stars.

Because it is so easy for record companies to sell images of violence, sex, and self-importance, many bands have taken the bait and portrayed themselves as Punks, without realizing that they were actually perpetuating a stereotype of conformity that is wholly un-punk.

The “come join us” attitude that seeks to attract followers, usually results in a rabble of weak people who think that their power lies in the large numbers of like-minded clones they have compiled. There is no strength in numbers however, if the people are glued together by a short-sighted, self-serving, fear-induced mantra that promotes factions and exclusionary principles. Strong ideologies don’t require a mob, they persist through time, and never go away, because they are intimately connected to our biology. They are part of what it means to exist as Homo sapiens. Punk typifies that tradition. It is a movement of epic proportions, that transcends the immediacy of the here-and-now, because it is, was, and always will be there-and-forever, as long as humans walk the earth.

As we enter a new era in the voracious march of culture, Punks will have their day. The internet has allowed people to communicate directly once again. On the web, human behavior is interactive, like it was before the advent of mass-media.

People now focus on ideological discussions and lifestyle issues, as opposed to the classic 20th century behavior of closing oneself off from cohorts, and adhering to a network’s, or commercial’s prescriptive code of acceptable behavior. The lies, and mysteries of elitism will erode quickly as the global conversation that transpires daily on the web invades more people’s lives.

The world population will be more receptive to alternative ideologies because they will be creating them. People will be less receptive to ideologies of out- dated institutions because the holes and flaws in their logic will be ever more amplified when they are broadcast instantly around the world as they become revealed.

The “Strength-In-Understanding”, and “Knowledge-Is-Power” ethics that Punks maintain will become the norm. The rigidity, brutishness, and futility of secret agendas will be made obvious, paving the way to an appreciation of human uniqueness, and a new era of originality.

WHO IS PUNK?
Everyone has the potential to be punk. It is much harder for someone who comes from a placid, un-challenging, ignorant upbringing, because they don’t see the value in questioning or provoking the institutions that gave them such tranquility. But such examples of carefree existence are rare in today’s shrinking world.

Eternal questions still burn in the minds of most people. What it means to be human is becoming more clear every decade. Sometimes, people are trained to follow the safe path to an early grave by consuming and repeating the dogma of a fearful aristocracy.

On the other hand, the human spirit is hard to kill. Punk is a microcosm of the human spirit. Punks succeed with their minds, not their brute force. They advance society by their diversity, not their conformity. They motivate others by inclusion, not domination.

They are at the front lines of self-betterment and by extrapolation can improve the complexion of the human race. They adhere to unwritten universal principles of human emotion, obvious to anyone, and shun elitist codes of behavior, or secret agendas. They embody the hope of the future, and reveal the flaws of the past. Don’t tell them what to do, they are already leading you.

PUNK IS: the personal expression of uniqueness that comes from the experiences of growing up in touch with our human ability to reason and ask questions.

PUNK IS: a movement that serves to refute social attitudes that have been perpetuated through willful ignorance of human nature.

PUNK IS: a process of questioning and commitment to understanding that results in self-progress, and through repetition, flowers into social evolution.

PUNK IS: a belief that this world is what we make of it, truth comes from our understanding of the way things are, not from the blind adherence to prescriptions about the way things should be.

PUNK IS: the constant struggle against fear of social repercussions.

A Comment On Responsible Voting

Voting is a privilege. As such it requires responsibility. Irresponsibility when coupled with license can lead to social tragedy. If one is to feel good about his or her vote, it is necessary to have an agenda to use as justification, and also to adhere to some sort of ideological protocol for casting a particular vote. Too often in the past, our generation has voted and formed opinion based on self-serving interests. I know what is good for me, and I don’t really care about what is good for others, I will vote for the candidate or issue that benefits me the most is a common way of thinking. This is an example of the simplest possible voting convention. It doesn’t require much worldly knowledge or social concern, it is simply a selfish desire for personal gain. This will probably typify most people’s thinking on their way to the polls this year, as it has in years past. But it does not make for a better society. Voting offers us a way to responsibly improve society. If you don’t care about such a goal, then voting isn’t a privilege for you, its just a routine behavior that happens every four years, or worse, a way to implement evil policies that further degrade the lives of the careless and powerless. If you don’t care about improvement, you better hope that those who do go to the polls advocate your interests.

Societal improvement is a somewhat nebulous concept because change is rarely teleological and it rests in the whims of the populace. Most people think that a candidate who wins an election can make the world a better place. This has rarely happened in history. It is the people, or the ruled, who make the world a better place by behavioral changes, and the ruler is usually only a by-product of this collective phenomenon. The process of voting, because it demands sharing of information, requires people to gain knowledge about their world. It offers an opportunity to question whether they accept the tenets of their representatives and of their society. When this occurs, people get informed, people can communicate their distastes, and their hopes. They feel useful and acknowledged by their fellow citizens. And through communication comes action, and eventual abatement of the stigmas that cause suffering and misery. An informed person is a content person. An informed society is a strong society, supportive of its citizens, aware of, and compassionate to those less advantaged. Finally, an informed vote is a responsible vote. It goes far beyond the election in question. The knowledge is carried through the life of the possessor, and it shapes the way that person views his/her position in society and communicates with others. All of this is a contribution to a better community and a more meaningful election.

AN UNORTHODOX PROTOCOL FOR CASTING A MEANINGFUL VOTE:
1. Determine whether you care about the general well-being of society (If you do not, skip to step 7, if you do, continue on)

2. Determine whether you are a privileged citizen (If you are not, then proceed to step number 6, if you are, read steps 3, 4, and 5 only)

3. Examine not how well you will fare if a given issue is voted into law, but how poorly the under-privileged will suffer (no matter which laws pass a vote or who is voted into office, you will probably always still be better off than the people you fear you’ll become, namely the under-privileged).

4. Create an ideological balance-sheet that details how much better you will fare, as a percentage of your current comfort level, versus how much worse the under-privileged will drop in their current comfort level (for instance, as a very banal example, a mere 2% drop in your current income, could provide a tremendous relative rise in an under-privileged household’s income).

5. Vote for the issue or candidate that promises to balance the disparity between the privileged and the under-privileged classes, even if it doesn’t make you richer or if it provides a small compromise in your day-to-day comfort.

6. Vote for the issue or the candidate who will make your life better.

7. Abstain from voting

Finally, remember voting started out as a way for concerned citizens to play a role in creating a society that was good for all. Over time it evolved into the monstrosity it is today which is no more than a vehicle for selfish partisanism, and worse, a voice for those who want the law to preserve and increase the disparity between needy and privileged. This unfortunate turn of events has made us a hostile, hopeless people. We should remember that history is relevant, and can help us gain a perspective on our current situation. NO civilization persists without a strong sense of social welfare. The British empire expired once its subjects learned that through unity and enlightenment of the underprivileged came a new power structure and a new sense of national community, one strong enough to turn away any possible oppressors. We are headed in the same direction as the failed British empire as our privileged class increases in wealth yet shrinks in population, and our underclass grows in population and shrinks in wealth.

Your vote is meaningless if it merely bolsters the selfish desires of a small privileged minority of citizens. A meaningful vote depends on the passage of issues or election of candidates that help to create a better scene for everyone, not merely the rich elite, and not merely provisional support for the poor. If you follow these guidelines, we will have a less polarized, more enthusiastic underclass, and a less greedy, more compassionate upper class; and the quality of our social fabric will be drastically enhanced.

-Greg Graffin, Bad Religion