My article ‘There Is No Authority But Yourself’: The Individual and the Collective in British Anarcho-Punk is published in the Summer 2010 issue of Music and Politics journal.
The journal is an open-access, electronic journal – so the full-text of the article can be downloaded as a .pdf or read online.
The heartfelt conclusion to the fifth studio album by seminal British anarchist punk band Crass urges the listener to take up the challenge of personal freedom and responsibility. The exhaustion of vocalist Eve Libertine’s delivery serves to emphasis both the sincerity and desperation of the message. Taken in isolation, such a stark declaration of the “primacy of the individual” might suggest that the concern of anarchist punk began and ended with the agency of the single person. And yet, there can be little doubt that from its 1977 origins onwards, the self-declared role of anarcho-punk was to act as the catalyst for radical, collectivist opposition to the War State. Was there an unresolved tension between anarcho-punk’s concern to maximize the “rights of the individual,” free from societal interference, and its demand for mass mobilization against State power? Did this reveal a critical fault line in the movement’s anarchist manifesto? How could anarcho-punk’s celebration of individual liberty be reconciled with the movement’s “counter-cultural conformity,” as suggested by the critics? This article explores the relationship between the individual and the collective in the culture, politics, and practice of the British anarcho-punk movement, between 1977 and 1984.