"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance"

--James Madison--

"The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians"

--George Orwell--

I Wanna Be

I am an antichrist
I am an anarchist
Don't know what I want
But I know how to get it
I wanna destroy the passer-by
'Cause I wanna be
"Anarchy In The UK" by the Sex Pistols.  All of the Sex Pistols' songs are credited as self-written, but I've always suspected that the late great Malcolm McClaren had a professional songwriter ghostwrite the music.  The lyrics are bad enough to be the genuine product of John Lydon and the boys.

Don't get me wrong.  I think that it's actually a very good album.  But the band was somewhat musically--challenged.  The lyrics are also a bit strained.  It was like they wanted to bring down scathing critiques against the system and the government, but didn't know enough about politics.  So the best they could come up with is espousing anarchy and calling the more or less powerless queen a fascist.

It was 1977.

I was 16.  A rebellious youth with not a hell of a lot to rebel over.  The war was over, Jimmy Carter was President, and weed had been seriously decriminalized already.  So we decided to smoke a whole bunch of it.

We laughed at the posers from England.  Punk wasn't like that.  The Pistols were a caricature of punk.  Iggy Pop was punk.  Iggy was from Detroit.

But the Pistols were symptomatic, really, of a generation that didn't really have enough to rebel against.  Punk culture emerged from boredom, basically.  No wars to protest, the economy wasn't great, but it wasn't that bad, either.  Especially if you were a teenager.

No reason to be mad at Wall Street in 1977.  Especially if you were a teenager and hadn't seen your investments stay flat for almost a decade.

The Cold War was a subject of some concern.  But no reason to march on the Capitol.  Those cruise missiles looked cool.  Who knew how the bills would add up?

So, lacking any serious focus of revolution, we decided to dress funny instead.   And use drugs.  And listen to loud music.

It's not like we weren't political.  Politics came up in conversations frequently.  Once in a while the subject of anarchy would come up.  All because of that stupid Sex Pistols song.  On at least one occasion, it was decided that a dictatorship would be better, as long as the dictator was somebody cool.

Maybe Iggy Pop.

In 1979, we had the Iran Hostage Crisis.  When the hostages were freed, a friend and I did 52 bong hits in their honor.  Reagan had been elected.  Some of my fellow punk culture/metalhead types had helped.  Just getting into our 20's, and a bunch of the rebels were already Republicans.  Actually a rather conservative bunch in a lot of ways.  Many mohawks had to be grown out.

In 1984, I DJ'd my brother's 16th birthday party.  His teenage friends were dressed like some caricature of the punk culture of just a few years earlier.  A bunch of them had an "A" in a circle on their jackets.  A couple of them looked sort of like the logo for the band Aerosmith.  Which confused me.  Aerosmith was washed up.  Then it hit me.  The Sex Pistols.  Anarchy.  Punk culture as dress-up costume.  Emulate big brother.

They bought the manufactured culture then, then a huge proportion of them became FOX News watching independent voters.  Independent because the Republican Party is far too liberal for them.

I guess the anarchy thing didn't really work out for them after all.

People a few years older than myself had Vietnam, the civil rights struggle, JFK, LBJ, RFK, MLK and LSD.  A time of true social upheaval.  Those of us born a few years later saw punk vs disco.

The hippies had more to rebel against.  So now, more of them are liberal than the general population.

People my age are more heavily conservative.  One of us is even President.  

The anarchy thing never did catch on.  Maybe the current generation will figure it out.


I've never considered myself either a boomer or an X-er.  Those of us born between maybe 1957 and 1967 grew up in a different world.  We were the baby busters, those born during the declining birthrate years.  We went to half-empty schools where everything was 10 years old.  Watching the protests on TV, too young to go, maybe more likely to accept our parents' assertions that the protesters were dirty hippies who needed a bath and a job.

Sounds familiar.

Our teachers were mostly pre-boomers.  After Vietnam, most boomers were otherwise occupied.  I remember at the State Capitol sit-ins in the mid to late 70's, which were about marijuana decriminalization and environmental issues, particularly Rocky Flats, which the state really couldn't do anything about, the participants were mostly pre-boomers (old enough to already have established careers) and busters (we were still in K-12 at the time).

Not as many boomers, 'cause they were finishing college and establishing careers.  But there were plenty of them at the few larger demonstrations at Rocky Flats.

I guess a larger point is that the political leanings of large groups are highly influenced by lifecycle position relative to political problems.  A lot of us were badly affected by the war, losing male relatives, including fathers and brothers, left and right.  But we weren't old enough to do much of anything.  By the time we were, the war was over, and social upheaval had been largely replaced by a boring stability

The X-ers came along with that next birth boom that started in the late 60's, and my brother is one of them.  They're now in their mid-30's to mid 40's, and probably the most conservative generation since my parents'.  My dad turns 75 today.  There's a lot of conservatives his age, and a lot in that sub-55 age group.  It looks like today's 20-somethings are the next generation that will have a larger liberal contingent.

I'm not blaming pre-fab British pretend punk on any sort of cultural decline.  Just a symptom.  I was just surprised to realize that, as the X-ers reached back to try to build their own culture, they latched onto the Sex Pistols rather than, say, MC5 or the Ramones.  It was the same as if someone had tried to reconstruct 60's pop culture around the Monkees.