Anyone Can Do It: Empowerment, Tradition and the Punk Underground
For more than three decades, a punk underground has repeatedly insisted that 'anyone can do it'. This underground punk movement has evolved via several micro-traditions, each offering distinct and novel presentations of what punk is, isn't, or should be. Underlying all these punk micro-traditions is a politics of empowerment that claims to be anarchistic in character, in the sense that it is contingent upon a spontaneous will to liberty (anyone can do it - in theory). How valid, though, is punk's faith in anarchistic empowerment? Exploring theories from Derrida and Marx, Anyone Can Do It: Empowerment, Tradition and the Punk Underground examines the cultural history and politics of punk. In its political resistance, punk bears an ideological relationship to the folk movement, but punk's faith in novelty and spontaneous liberty distinguish it from folk: where punk's traditions, from the 1970s onwards, have tended to search for an anarchistic 'new-sense', folk singers have more often been socialist/Marxist traditionalists, especially during the 1950s and 60s. Detailed case studies show the continuities and differences between four micro-traditions of punk: anarcho-punk, cutie/'C86', riot grrrl and math rock, thus surveying UK and US punk-related scenes of the 1980s, 1990s and beyond.
'This is a history which deserves, indeed needs, to be told. That Dale has chosen to attempt to make sense of a subject so diverse and self-contradictory as this is laudable. If the anarcho-punk tenet ’there is no authority but yourself’ is to be followed, then he has admirably succeeded in proving his point - ’le punk est mort, vive le punk’. Penny Rimbaud, former member of Crass 'A long-needed study... promise[s] to become central to current research in the area of punk rock.' - North American British Music Studies Association Newsletter
“Dale’s study is theoretically informed and methodologically rigorous, mediating between close
readings of songs and historical, social, political and philosophical themes… The book is
commendably ambitious in its thematic range.” - Wilkinson, D., Worley, M. and Street, J. (2016) ‘“I Wanna See Some History”: Recent Writing on British Punk’, Contemporary European History