Jim Donaghey, Anarchism, Punk, Cultures of Resistance & that ‘lifestyle’ vs ‘social anarchism’ debate, 12 April, 12noon, Liberty Hall, Dublin, Ireland – part of the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2014.

Anarchism, Punk, Cultures of Resistance  - Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2014
Anarchism, Punk, Cultures of Resistance – Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2014


This talk & discussion at the 2014 Dublin Anarchist Bookfair will examine the supposed gulf between ‘lifestyle’ and ‘social’ anarchisms, with a particular focus on DIY punk’s contested siting within this false dichotomy. It will consider several strands of punk engaged with anarchism – especially contemporary manifestations.

Those who subscribe to ‘workerist’ interpretations of anarchism (syndicalism et al.) sometimes dismiss punk as a distraction from serious revolutionary struggle. Equally there are those from ‘punk-anarchist’ perspectives who dismiss labour struggles, and work itself, as out-dated (CrimethInc. etc.). But are these caricature polar-positions based on any reality? What were/are the tensions between an emergent ‘DIY-punk-anarchism’ and the ‘anarchist establishment’?

Punk straddles the fields of both cultural and material production. To highlight the material aspect (and in opposition to its detractors) the anarcho-syndicalist principles of Rudolf Rocker (and others) will be mapped onto DIY punk. Certainly the means of production are taken into the hands of the producers in DIY punk, and communality and cooperation are key – but what are the limits of DIY punk as anarcho-syndicalist praxis? To what extent can punk and punk activism be understood as direct action? Does it merely create a petit-bourgeois group of ‘punk entrepreneurs’? Is it revolutionary?

And to reverse the argument, it will be highlighted that even those struggles vaunted by ‘workerists’ today were/are in large part culturally driven. That, in fact, a major underlying basis for successful struggle is a culture of resistance, and that this is something that DIY punk contributes to in the contemporary anarchist milieu. Of course, punk culture is just one among many resistance cultures – but punk is very often a clear coming together of political/personal, cultural/material, and can be a vibrant expression of anarchist resistance.


About the speaker: Jim Donaghey joined the Irish diaspora nearly 3 years ago, to take up a PhD at Loughborough looking at the relationships between anarchism and punk. The research for that has involved asking awkward questions to punks and anarchists in Indonesia, Poland, and all over the UK. Jim used to play with Belfast-based bands the Lobotomies and Pocket Billiards, and is now playing with Die Wrecked in Leicester. He is also involved with local activist groups including Leicester Solidarity Group, Food Not Bombs Leicester, Anarchist Federation (fellow traveller), Leicester Critical Mass, and the anti-fascist football team FC Kolektivo Victoria.