No Future? Punk 2001 conference, Wolverhampton
No Future? Punk 2001 conference, Wolverhampton

To make available the full-text of the conference paper that I gave at the No Future? punk conference back in 2001, I’ve republished an archive web page of mine (from a putative anarcho-punk history web site that I worked up a few years ago).

To cite the original conference presentation: Rich Cross, 2001. ‘Yes that’s right, punk is dead: Crass and the anarcho-punk critique’. Paper given at the No Future conference, University of Wolverhampton, 21 September.

To cite this online version of the original presentation: Rich Cross, 2001. ‘Yes that’s right, punk is dead: Crass and the anarcho-punk critique’. Paper given at the No Future conference, University of Wolverhampton, 21 September, [available online], The Hippies Now Wear Black, http://urko.org.uk/hnwb/index.html (Accessed on access date).

ABSTRACT: As McLaren conjured up the myth of the Pistols’ “rock’n’roll swindle” he urged punks to “call all hippies boring old farts and set light to them.” In 1978, the release of The Feeding of the 5000 by the band Crass had signalled the emergence of a current within punk equipped with a more complex and subtle understanding of the hippy era. Anarchist, feminist and (initially at least) pacifist, anarcho-punk began as a critique of punk ‘as it had gone before’ and a celebration of punk ‘as it was always supposed to have been’. With Crass at its centre, anarcho-punk evolved into a distinct sub-culture of music, bands, labels and fanzines, organised by a network of politically mobilised activists fiercely protective of their own autonomy and anti-commercial practice. Crass’s own gigs were a testament to the aesthetic and political distinctions of anarcho-punk – with shows combining poetry, film and banner art alongside the relentless agit-punk music. Crass’s critique of punk found its own reflection in the hostile reaction of other sections of the movement, which rejected anarcho-punk’s claims of legitimacy outright. This paper re-assesses the political, musical, artistic and cultural significance of Crass and the movement they inspired, and describes how anarcho-punk’s awkward relationship with ‘mainstream’ punk rock might best be understood.

Access the full-text of the paper (there were no slides or other visuals).

The conference web site was taken offline following the event, but an archive of abstracts and other information can still be accessed through the Web Archive version of the site.

Many of the ideas explored in the conference paper were later included in an article in Socialist History journal in 2004, the full-text of which is also now available on this blog.