"We need more punk rock if we really want to make it to utopia"



Over at RealClearPolitics, Heather Wilhelm has a very thoughtful and positive review of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America ("a refreshing political book in that it kind of, well, hates politics….an important read with solid insight into today's political mess"). Wilhelm also has an accompanying interview with the authors. Excerpt from that:

Wilhelm: You celebrate the role of pop culture and its role in breaking down barriers and sparking political change. At the same time, you seem pretty blasé regarding the amazing proliferation of "choice" in online porn or in the "complicated and multilayered" sexual exploits of Tiger Woods. Are you concerned at all about the coarsening of culture that more freedom can bring, and how do you bridge this gap with religious conservatives?

Gillespie: There is no question that there is more graphic and sexual imagery available now than ever before. Some of this stuff wasn't even imaginable in, say, the '60s. But there is also no question that violent crime rates and sexual crime rates are also down. So it is clear as an empirical fact that an increase in the graphic imagery has not had the detrimental effect on behavior that most people worry about.

What this means is that people are able to sort more, which is a good thing. Of course Tiger Woods is not a hero; he has fallen from being a hero because of his behavior. But we do live in a nicer, safer, more respectful world now, even though we have a pop culture that trades freely in vulgar imagery.

That's about my limit!

Welch: It also comes down to who is imposing what on whom. I have no taste for ultra-violent movies—maybe "A Clockwork Orange," but when I think about it, I really don't feel like seeing that again soon—so my solution is that I don't see those movies. No one imposes it on me or removes my ability to see what I want.

You could say that religious expression is in the same way. There is more freedom to express your religious beliefs today, and that makes us as a nation far richer. With freedom, people can choose things that you dislike.

Gillespie: It's really to the shame of America that as the USSR and Cuba were censoring rock music and imprisoning people for playing that music, there were forces in the U.S. with a similar authoritarian impulse—burning records, etc. Pop culture, high culture and low culture have never been so vibrant as now, and violent crimes and sex crimes are down. We need more punk rock if we really want to make it to utopia.

Whole interview here. Much more at the freshly re-stocked Declaration2011 page.

NEXT: How Many Books Are "worth buying simply for the excellent account of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978"?

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  1. I love that they hung the flag upside down to protest; It’s so juvenile

    1. You say “juvenile,” they say “vibrant.” I don’t know who to believe! Regardless–and I’m serious here–we totally owe our freedoms to punk rock.

      1. US cultural freedom came from 50’s rock and roll.
        For the old SU, it was the Stones
        Now, it is just the internet itself

    2. The “Join or Die” chopped snake flag upside down would have made me smile.

  2. These days, I’m mostly into post-punk.

    but for a 90s flashback, here is the Beltones

    A few years ago I used to run PA for the local punk rock shows. The scene I was part of largely disintegrated with time but a new one is coming up.

    1. The scene I was part of largely disintegrated with time

      Isnt that the point. Sort of. If it hadnt disintegrated with time it wouldnt have been punk.

      1. Can’t you just safety-pin it back together?

    2. Wow. Just Add Water. I remember this song from one of their compilations.


  3. If Dominique Strauss Kahn (if that really is his name) can be a “socialist” there’s no reason to think Mick Jagger can’t still be a “punk”.

  4. “Mommy, what is punk rock?”

  5. As someone who generally believes pursuit of utopia leads to no good, does this mean I should advocate for punk rock levels remaining unchanged?

  6. Kubrick sucks.

    1. While I think almost everything is a matter of taste…

      …I pity your ignorance.

  7. There is more freedom to express your religious beliefs today, and that makes us as a nation far richer.


    Although I havent heard this sentiment shared widely amongst the libertoid hoi polloi

    1. There is more freedom to express your religious beliefs today, and that makes us as a nation far richer.

      I’m not aware that there have been government sanctions for expressing your religious beliefs in my lifetime, so I don’t see how this can be true.

      Unless, of course, you confuse “freedom” with “nobody says mean things about me”.

  8. I’m all for freedom of expression. But to say we NEED more self-righteous musical demagogues is kind of a stretch. I prefer my art without any blatant political message, even if I agree with it.

    1. If a band does nothing but talk about politics, it does tend to get tedious (e.g. the Clash, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion). However, I don’t see why it should be avoided entirely. Even with my differences with those bands’ politics, “Holiday In Cambodia”, “Police Truck” and the cover of “Police and Thieves” are great songs.

      Also: Suspect Device and (for the photo) Caught In My Eye. (I don’t think the Germs ever did a political song.)

  9. Speaking of A Clockwork Orange, for all you Seattle libertarians, it’s playing at the Cinerama theater this friday. They’re also playing a bunch of other Kubrick films.

  10. Kubrick sucks.

    “I’ve been to one World’s Fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a pair of earphones.”

  11. then why the fuck weren’t any of y’all at porcfest?

  12. Don’t we need more Todd Rundgren if we want to make it Utopia?

  13. So wait, he’s criticizing people for exercising their freedom of speech rights by burning records?

    Beyond that, it’s a dubious premise. Green Day is pretty much the final evolution of Punk Rock, combining preachy political speech with corporatism. It’s pretty much the antihesis of libertarianism…

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