Ruido Guerrillero: turning punk into a weapon for the people
The death of the hippie movement in the 60s gave way to the most unrelenting, uncontrollable rage and emotion from an acutely disenfranchised sector of the working class youth. The youth in the mid-70s leading up the 80s looked at the world with disgust, for it was dying before their eyes and saw that nothing of their future was theirs to take. The punk scene expressed the barbaric sounds of anger, distrust and the dystopian day-to-day lives as they saw the world around them crashing and burning as if to say, if it ends tomorrow I could careless – none of it mattered. Most of the early punk had a general but vague sense of itself as part of a proletarian reality. The music and the subculture would give many their first taste of organization and some sort of vision, even if it was tainted with a romantic deviation.
In the midst of all of this the two wealthiest western capitalist-imperialist countries were dealing with one of the biggest economic crisis since WW2; the US and UK, having reaped the benefits of war, did little to prevent the inevitable crashing of their respective economies. This only pushed the working class youth deeper into the punk scene, since the world offered them nothing and punk would let them vent their frustration at the world. Initially, the punk phenomenon was uncontrollable and raw. But like all things under capitalism, it too soon would eventually be swallowed, de-fanged and commodified.
By then – late 1970s and early 1980s – punk had hit almost every corner of the world and delivered the youth the same general formula to express their contempt for the world in their own respective view in their respective country.
As the world was reeling from the revisionist coups and capitalist restoration, one country dared to take the struggle for socialism even farther, hoisting the red flag even higher than before. Peru represented, in the 1980s, the beating heart of revolution and bravery. The revolutionary militarized masses of Peru pushed forward against revisionism and reactionaries. The Communist Party of Peru (In Spanish, the PCP) in 1980 began the greatest struggle against the state that would solidify them as the driving force against all exploitation and oppression, not just of the Peruvian masses but the international proletariat. The People’s War would gather and gain many victories for the masses and it was the only correct way to handle the contradictions between the masses and the state. The state did what it does best, to attack any and all genuine revolutionary movements that would pose a real threat to its moribund existence. The state would attempt to claw every inch of power back into its bloody paws.
State repression would not only push the adult masses but would push the youth even further into their hatred for the current state, further into the welcoming hands of the Communists. By 1983 the first bands began blossom out from the backlash of state repression, ignoring fascist curfews and playing wherever possible to express their anger. This would be known as “rock subterráneo Peruano.” More and more seeds of revolution began to blossom as they were being nurtured through the collectives that would do whatever they can to support all up-and-coming bands to help the scene grow. Even through all the police encounters, punks plowed through to keep the spirit of rebellion alive. The youth are almost always the first to rebel against the old world, to pave way for new things to come. With the People’s War going on, while they may know it or not, the culture being built by it was also influencing their rebellion, their anger towards everything that made them want to destroy the old society.
Crude and self-made magazines – zines – were circulated throughout the underground punk scene in Peru. The zines were published DIY(Do It Yourself) style and were handed out. This was the bands chance to really express who they were and state their politics. Coherent verses of thoughts about the state, police repression, the so-called “civil war” as though they were being careful calling it the People’s War that it was due to fearing even worse repression. While most were publicly claiming to be anarchist, the way even some of them spoke about the “civil war” was in total support. They understood and knew that this was the only “Just War” to change what was rotting in their land (many would differentiate between the global just and unjust wars, seeing their People’s War was a just war against the state). Among the punk zines and pamphlets, PCP leaflets would be consumed in revolutionary enthusiasm, with many beginning to better understand the full nature of the People’s War.
The State and media began creating propaganda and expressed how that rock subterraneo was just another Sendero plot and scheme to cause chaos to a restless youth who were already fed up with the bullshit. This was already historically done previously before by the state, during Juan Velasco Alvarado political reign they would ban or cancel rock and roll concerts due to it being a “threat to Peruvian Society”.
This, if not worse had been the case for the subte scene, as the state was not just dealing with any type of revolutionary group, but was losing it’s “Old Peruvian Society” to those building a new one.
The news had countless time questioned whether or not the scene was just some new craze or if it really was The PCP starting a mini rebellious movement in Lima.
Some of the punks from the underground scene such as Alfredo Marcus, Luis Ayala Balbin a.k.a. “Lucho”, Alfredo Tavara, Monica Feria Tinta, would not only fully support the PCP and the messages contained in their leaflets, but would later actually join the PCP. Monica Feria Tina was someone who had been arrested for her participation with the People’s Committees in Ayacucho. Another former punk youth, Ricardo Palma, AKA “El Chato”, was one of the people who was arrested with Presidente Gonzalo.
The bend in the road in 92 took the wind out of the punk rebellion in Peru. The scene was down to just few real hardcore fans of the music and scene. But just like the PCP, punk is regaining life and rebuilding itself to what it once was.
Guerrilla Urbana: taking lessons of Peru’s rock subterráneo to the U.S. punk scene
Punk has withstood blow after blow, from reactionaries in the scene to its commodification and selling out. And, yet, every day there is a new punk band coming out of the backyard screaming “¡SOCIEDAD DE MIERDA!” constantly frustrated and exhausted by capitalism. This only proves the resilience in punk – that no matter what, it will always retain a proletarian aspect, even if it is dominated by its contradictory bourgeois aspect. The culture continues to influence different sectors of the working class everywhere in the country (the working-class youth more specifically), adapting to different conditions and particularities and subsequently changing its sound. From the Midwest emo and punk-inspired metal-hardcore to the East Coast and West Coast respective signature punk hardcore – and even going further deeper into punk changing with hyper-specificities of cities and neighborhoods, such as the gay scene in San Francisco with dance-based punk like The Screamers and the Subtonix or the skate scene in Southern California like the Adolescents and Agent Orange.
Punk is not some niche of a minority, but an actual discordant scream of the working class whether they are politicized or not. Some punk bands would literally speak on their day-to-day exploitation. All that is lacking in today’s era of punk in the U.S. is a highly-organized and disciplined organization – naturally I would argue that organizations must be a Communist Party – with Great Leadership and its Guiding Thought to give shape to the form and fan the flames of the proletarian fire within punk.
Punks have always been part of a close-knit community, whether they acknowledged it or not. But punks must step outside of their comfort zone. They must not be isolationist. They are part of the masses must better see their own links. The advanced section of the punk scene must unite with other class-conscious and rebellious punks to forge mass links and focus the scattered anger and frustration of the punks into a sharp weapon for People’s War. The intermediary section of the punk scene must be brought up by the advanced and then guided to bring up the most progressive sectors of the backward punks. Punk must be seen as an extension that can serve the construction of the Communist Party and the launching of the People’s War. Proletarian punks must turn the music and scene into a sharp weapon for the working class. Punk must be turned into a Support Area for the People’s War.
Punks have built their own communities out of nothing, completely trying to make their own new world. After all, in order for punk to reproduce itself, it needed to be a collective project. Punks aspired to belong to something bigger than themselves – even the isolationist petite-bourgeois nihilist punks sought out comrades. They have a very real sense of belonging, even when everything in the world has told them they don’t belong. Punks have fought tooth and nail just to maintain the authenticity of their scene. This, in addition to other qualities, makes punks a good ally to work alongside the masses. This isn’t to say we should put all of our time and effort into this project (this isn’t the principal sector we as Communists orientate to – that remains the hardcore of the proletariat and the most affected masses – but we should reach out and organize them nonetheless. They are not some special class, or a revolutionary subaltern as the academics and postmodernists would argue, but many do come from the very same working class we are organizing.
No longer should the punk scene just be an insular club. If punk wants to be heard and actually be a threat, they need to start doing the ground work. You can be antifascist, anti-racist and even stomp on fascists all day but it means nothing if there’s no articulate class struggle and mass character to it.
At the end of the day the masses don’t care if you have a Mohawk or you have 30 piercings or what vinyl collection youhave or how obscure or ironic or offensive the power-violence or crust band on your tattered shirt is. They care more about you struggling alongside them beating fascist, fighting against the pigs, serving the people, building revolutionary People’s Committees and self-defense units and really building political power.
Since it’s first origination Punk has always been in constant contradiction of itself, whether to maintain genuine in it’s view of the world in flames or to sell it’s soul and live off the supposed aesthetic of being called punk. From the Underground vs the Blondie’s and Sex Pistols, the D.I.Y. vs. The Blink 182’s, Punk had always been in constant Proletarian vs Bourgeois struggle, to the point that even in the Proletarian line that would fall into this elitism(I would even consider this left deviation) that would no longer be about creating this new punk world but just one to hoard for themselves. This elitism is no different than it’s hatred for the corporate sellouts, because it’s devoid of connection within those in the scene who still hold a very core understanding of punk and how it’s meant for the proletarian punk to continuously express its discontent for the world around them. Proletarian punk remains humble in its interactions both in and out of the scene, knowing full well that they aren’t the only ones who suffer and give what little they can to help those out. This has been common within scene even before the D.I.Y. Collectivism, it has always been present in combating the corporate lifestyle for the one of helping and growing the scene. It has always try and maintain an embracing attitude to those that have been discarded by society to come and make a home for themselves. With Guiding Principles and the proletarian attitude in punk, this can deal with the contradictions and antagonisms that plagued the scene.
Destruir para Construir
For too long the scene has been plagued by self-entitled individualism that has left the punks a drunken mess sitting in the corner wondering what happened. How did we get here? And is this really it?
A lot of this comes from the miserable dreams of nihilistic and individualistic anarchism that only serves to leave disenfranchised youth hopeless and jaded. This ideology is only leftist in word choice but it is capitalist in essence.
For many liberal-edgy-anarcho punks, we all had the same dream of building this hopeful world that everyone contributes to without having to need leadership. But in reality, like all things in the world, there needs to be leadership with guiding principles that have a democratic input but as well as centralized ideas and decisions. We need a proletarian ideology. The days of only finding principled unity and exclusively fighting fascists in the street is over. We need to develop one another and be more daring in our approach with actual goals to the new and younger punks and show them the political ropes of what it means to be a punk. We have to destroy the old ideas safe-guarding the bourgeois aspects in the scene. We need to build a better revolutionary lifestyle that doesn’t end in itself but exists in our mass links. Camaraderie is needed, not just within the scene but also in the community and internationally. Build revolutionary punk culture, propagate Maoism and revolutionary violence and a Maoist understanding of national liberation for those living in the prison house of nations – scores of which are in the punk scene. The Latino and Afro Punk scenes were the beginning culminations of taking punk more into the ghettos and barrios, even the reservations.
Challenge the oppression and backwards ideas that pollutes the scene like misogyny and sexism and push for the understanding and promotion of proletarian feminism. The scene has always been dominated by men and it has always been a challenge for women to even be around the scene let alone start a band. From early on to even now, women have to continuously combat the misogyny/sexism and many queer people have to deal with a fairly bigoted scene.
While the scene will constantly be fighting the most reactionary, and isolating those within in the scene that cause harm, we must not confuse the two with those that just haven’t developed yet. We should constantly work with those that come into the scene to fight their backwards ideas or thoughts. Fighting fascists isn’t the end-all-be-all. We need to be aware of our own contradictions and deal with them as a collective through criticism and self criticism, but also giving priority to the actual formations that would be created under the pre-Party or actual Party.
But nothing has been fully theorized. We need concrete plans, an overall strategy initiated by Communists and the masses, and the punks, on how to build revolution in the scene.
Broadening the push for a sober culture, countering to the recklessness of the hedonistic drunk-and-drug culture, has helped the punk scene, even saved some lives. But we need to go beyond the Straight-Edge Scene bro and develop revolutionary rehabs and understanding that being sober will only sharpen our senses to become strong leaders. For too long the scene has allowed loved ones to come and go because of heavy drinking or drug abuse, as if to say that it’s normal and we all need to just cope and die. But let’s replace the “fuck the world” mentality with “let’s destroy to create” or better yet, “it’s right to rebel!”
At the end of the day we’ve seen far too many good people leave us too young because we choose not to speak up, because we would look weak or too soft if we told someone, “Hey, maybe the drinking has gotten out of hand,” or “Maybe pissing blood isn’t a good thing.” The punk scene needs to stop bad-mouthing folks for not drinking especially when they try and emasculate men for not drinking enough or at all.
All of this has a basis in historical materialism. From the rise of anarcho-punk in the late 70s to the Oi! Scene, there has always been groups or collectives that try and take these steps toward class consciousness and even building a revolutionary movement. But now there needs to be a new breed, one with a Maoist analysis. There are few and far between who have claimed Marxism as their ideology like Gary Floyd of The Dicks or to an extent the REDSKINS in France and maybe even a few here and there in the international Red and Anarchist Skinhead Federation. There are even two RASH Collectives that are Communist-led: the Central Texas and Los Angeles chapters. We see this as a beginning of a push for the scene that desperately needs it. Let’s spread the proletarian ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism. Let’s gather their rage and correct cynicism in the contemporary capitalist state and its reactionary government and convert it into organized revolutionary-violent formations under the leadership of pre-Party collectives and eventually the coming Maoist Communist Party.