Titus Andronicus And The Possibility Of Punk Patriotism

On one wall in my apartment, I have two things hanging: On the left is a large American flag that covers most of the wall, so big it took two people to hang up when we moved in. To the right of the flag is a notably less patriotic, more anti-establishment emblem: a poster I picked up at the Boston Anarchist Book Fair last year, reading “Capitalism Is A Pyramid Scheme,” picking apart the social and political injustices of the economic system that runs the US. It was made by the radical publisher CrimethInc. One night before a show at my house, a skeptical punk friend of mine commented on the juxtaposition, confused about how these two items could exist harmoniously on my wall. “Oh, that’s … funny,” he said. I knew what he was really wondering, though: How could I be hanging both so proudly? Because to most radicals, the ideals of flag-waving patriotism and anti-capitalist punk are polar opposites.

The next week, I was in my bedroom listening to the 2010 Titus Andronicus record, The Monitor — hearing the snippets of Abraham Lincoln speeches, the mentions of specific Civil War battles, the ultra-American Bruce Springsteen references — when I realized the identical tensions existed both on my complicated wall and in the complex punk patriotism of that album.

Over the past two years, The Monitor has grown into one of my favorite records. From start to finish, the album speeds up and slows down, bursting at the seams with unbridled angst and energy. It’s literate and poetic and full of smart reflections on the perils of modern life in suburbia, about saying “fuck the rules” and burning your own trail, metaphors searching for meaning in America and punk. “Punk” is a tricky, weighty word, but it is certainly one I feel confident using when discussing Titus Andronicus. Despite having a label, booking agent, publicist, and other un-punk connections, Titus keep their heads in a defiantly punk place; they’re hard-working, skeptical, self-aware, self-reliant, continuously connected with underground music, and generally resistant to typical “music industry” practices like corporate branding.

By most definitions, The Monitor is a blatantly patriotic record. The title of The Monitor references a Civil War battleship by the same name, and the record as a whole uses a running Civil War metaphor to tell singer-songwriter Patrick Stickles’ reflective narrative of internal struggles, inflicting bits of American history into an unlikely cultural space. The same year the record was released, the band was known to hang an American flag on their keyboard stand during live shows. In many ways, The Monitor turned Titus Andronicus into the most distinctly American band of their time. “Rally around the flag, rally around the flag, rally around the flag boys, rally around the flag,” chants Stickles on the opening track.

“I’ve read a couple of things that refer to some elements of ironic patriotism in our lyrics, which is completely off the mark,” Stickles told AOL Music in 2010. “I really think America is the greatest country that’s ever existed. Even though we have a lot of problems, we also have the best ideas. We still have the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and all [these] beautiful documents.”

I agree with Stickles. That’s why, earlier this summer, while out vintage-shopping with my mother, I purchased a sterling silver necklace with a large pendant, elaborately depicting the Founding Fathers crossing the Delaware with flags, and the numbers “1776″ engraved. My punk friends, though? Not so into it. “Hmm, I guess that would be cool if you, like, cut the pendant off and soldered it upside down,” someone said to me the first time I wore the necklace in public.

For the current generation of American teens and 20-somethings, a pure concept of patriotism has always been difficult to embrace; for us (as a 23 year old, I identify with this group), patriotism has been strongly associated with blind allegiance to conservatism, blindness to the costs of hyper-consumerist culture, the South and the Bush administration and cowboy hats. When we think of patriotism in popular music, we often just think of horrible country songs and “Proud To Be An American” and “God Bless The USA.” And on the flip side, historically, at its core, from its beginnings, punk has always been anti-nationalist — American or not. The roots of UK punk, after all, were in riling against the government — there’s not much patriotism in the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy In The UK” or “God Save The Queen.” Many of America’s seminal punk bands were rooted in a similar fuck-the-flag ethos, from the Dead Kennedys anti-government sentiments to Anti-Flag’s songs about class war and imperialism. Even this year, punk bands like Defiance Ohio continue to release songs with titles like “I’m Against The Government.” (“They’ll lock you up if you don’t play by the rules / Twist it out and beat it out of you in a padded room,” sings the Bloomington punk band. “I’m against the government, anti-establishment.”)

But from Titus’s perspective, everything isn’t so black and white — in their songs, connecting punk with patriotism doesn’t seem counterintuitive. On The Monitor’s opening track, the song begins and ends with quotes from Abraham Lincoln — the most punk rock of presidents. “I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice … I will not retreat a single inch and I will be heard.” They’re quotes from Lincoln on America, but they could just as easily be Ian MacKaye talking about anti-mainstream punk ethos.

“What we’re trying to do as a band is reclaim a sense of patriotism and have that be OK for other punks and young people to feel good about their country,” said Amy Klein — who was then the Titus Andronicus’s guitarist, but has since left the band — to DCist in 2010. “If not what their country is doing and has done, then the ideals that our country stands for. I think our generation grew up with the Right Wing having a monopoly on patriotism and that feeling of Americanism … We’re trying to take certain ideas about what it means to be American, the good ideas about equality and freedom that in theory we stand for, and we’re trying to give young people access to those and let them live their lives by those principles.”

Titus aren’t the only ones to stand up for the potential of America in recent memory. Dan Deacon — who, considering his years of self-releases, sleeping on floors, eating out of dumpsters, and speaking out against the system at large, can certainly be deemed “punk” — has also released a record this year, America, that’s a tribute to the US. The music itself is an inspired celebration of American geography, while the lyrics narrate frustrations with “where [American] culture is going in regard to corporatism and complete corruption and lack of faith in the government,” Deacon told NPR. “No one’s pumped on the American government or the direction of America right now,” he said. “You could talk to someone in Occupy or a Tea Party rally or someone who’s not even involved in politics and be like, ’So, do you think things are going well in the government?’ I don’t think anyone would be like, ’Yeah, man! It’s going great. I love what they’re doing. Love the Congress. Love the president.’” But while maintaining that skepticism, the record still recognizes the potential of American ideals, and embraces what is beautiful about America.

The connections between subversion and patriotism are often misunderstood. But any art made with the goal of directing one’s country toward justice and liberation believes in the potential of said country to better itself, to an extent. Was Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” patriotic? Some might say no — but in interviews, members of the Russian punk band have confirmed their love for their country. “I love Russia, but I hate Putin,” said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the youngest of the three Pussy Riot members jailed earlier this year, in an interview with the German magazine Spiegel. “It is very strange that in their reaction to our actions, the authorities completely disregard the historical experience of dissent,” said Maria Alyokhina, in her closing statements delivered on August 8 at the Moscow Khamovniki District Court. Dissent is an essential component of patriotism — of scrutinizing one’s country and feeling a fiery desire to raise consciousness of its shortcoming, sometimes using music to push cultural conversations in directions towards liberation. Some of America’s defining cultural movements have been born out of periods of subversion: the Women’s Rights movement, the Civil Rights movement. “I think that dissent and broadly defined subversion is a crucial historical strain in America,” said Tom Morello to The Progressive in December 2011, when they asked if about the possibilities. “All progressive change has come from that.”

The week before the presidential election presents an interesting moment to revisit all of these tensions between subversion and patriotism. Election season is a time when punks and anti-authoritarians everywhere proudly proclaim that they’re not voting. Because voting suggests that one believes in the democratic system, which gives responsibility and authority over to rulers, which is totally not punk. Actually, Ted Leo was just tweeting about this the other day.

In this context, Titus Andronicus’s complex breed of punk patriotism is compelling. Last fall, when Titus Andronicus played an Occupy Wall Street benefit with Ted Leo and the So So Glos at Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium, Stickles wrote a bit of a manifesto on the band’s blog outlining the reasons their punk band was playing an Occupy benefit: “BECAUSE our beautiful Declaration of Independence and our sacred Constitution have been dragged through the dirt by those sworn to protect them / BECAUSE in the America promised to us by our founding fathers, everyone gets a fair shake / BECAUSE in the America we were promised, there is no limit to how high you can rise with hard work, discipline, and ingenuity / BECAUSE with that freedom comes great responsibility ….”

Last week, Titus Andronicus released their third album, Local Business, via XL recordings. (On the band’s blog, Stickles has written that he “respects capitalism in the context of local business.”) On this album, the straight-up Americana of The Monitor is missing; Local Business is more internally focused. There’s a song about Stickles’s eating disorder (“My Eating Disorder”), a song about life in Brooklyn (“In A Big City”), even a love song of sorts (“Tried To Quit Smoking”).

Still, even when Stickles veers away from American history to sing about more personal topics, like death and boredom and depression and drugs, they feel like commentaries on American culture. “He forgets if he felt oppressed or depressed or which one came first in this crazy mess / if he had taken too much, or not enough,” sings Stickles on the album’s opening track, “Ecce Homo”; he could be singing about himself, or any American getting drugged up for ADD or depression. There are honest images of “adoring every inch of this country through the same dirty windshield” and of “writing manifestos on Bank Of America receipts,” and highways full of self-centered Americans with “schedules to keep.”

Even when Stickles sings lines like “Don’t tell me I was born free … I never wanted to grow up to be some kind of social construct” on “In A Small Body,” Titus Andronicus still sound like a proudly American band. And especially so on the cyclical rhythm of “In A Big City” –- it feels like a foot-stomping all-American country song. Something about the Local Business concept of promoting “Main Street” seems idealistically American as well, right down to the red-white-and-blue scheme of the website the band has set up for fans to share info on local businesses to support in their town.

Local Business begins: “OK, I think by now we’ve established / everything is inherently worthless / and there’s nothing in the universe with any kind of objective purpose.” In interviews, Stickles has defended this as an optimistic opening: Yes, the world is meaningless, but in that void, each and every one of us has the responsibility to blaze our own path toward happiness and fulfillment. At their cores, each Titus Andronicus album has ultimately been about self-reliance, individualism, and holding oneself accountable for one’s destiny; about taking control, going with yourself, doing it yourself on your path towards liberation. Contextualize them however you’d like, but those are invariably values found in both punk’s fundamentals and America’s foundation.

Titus Andronicus know better than to end the conversation there though. They don’t ignore the ways in which over-indulgence, self-obsession, and greed seem to plague modern American life. In many ways, their take on defending America is a testament to how complicated and confused our country’s idea of liberty has become. With this sort of skepticism, punk patriotism in general doesn’t seem contradictory. It feels radical.

Comments (66)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  2. Lincoln’s Crackdown
    Suspects jailed. No charges filed. Sound familiar?
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history_lesson/2001/11/lincolns_crackdown.single.html

    Stefan Molyneux: The Truth About Voting
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igbBItLemsM

  3. Not meant as a personal attack, but I find it interesting you associated patriotism with purchasing an item. It doesn’t matter if it it was second-hand, just the very idea. This generation especially is probably the first to really become entwined in the messy idea of marketing defining the individual. The country once had a very specific brand image that I think people miss, which is why so many gravitate towards it now.

    The new embrace towards nationalism by punk and like-minded folks isn’t terribly hard to fathom. We’re in an era where the idea of the nation-state is nostalgic. Today countries go broke while the companies in them siphon off most of the money. America died as a concept somewhere in the last half of the last century, although, I don’t think I could give you a defining moment or a specific date because it was an intentionally slow death. It was intended to go unnoticed. But please don’t think I’m saying that another country “took our power”; they couldn’t, because that kind of power doesn’t exist anymore.

    People still think in terms of nations and much smaller states, provinces, etc. in them, so it easier to keep things in those terms. But countries exist today as spheres of economic power controlled and manipulated by their economic interests. Which means, the American Empire will never die, China won’t fall like Russia, India will stay relatively strong, and so on. Why? Because it’s easy to manipulate people in those prosperous places. People in those places will never truly “fight back”, as was the case with the Arab Spring. You’ll never see a full scale revolt in America or China. China can quash any political dissent by simply throwing people in prison. In America it’s a little trickier because there are a number of different things at play but, its people have become lazy and complacent with politics, and they’ve become accustomed to prosperity and privilege. They’ve been lulled in to the idea of a two-idea system where the two-ideas are slight variations on the same damaged economic policies. If you dropped the social issues from both parties’ platforms, there really isn’t much of a difference in the economic policies they’re advocating. But the social flashpoints, like gay marriage and gun ownership, are used as wedge issues to give the illusion of a divide between the parties. And Americans have been conditioned over the last thirty years to believe in an American Exceptionalism, the idea that somehow America is better.

    A country being better isn’t really something you can quantify. You can use things like the Infant Mortality Index, Literacy Rates, and things like that, but if so, then how is America exceptional? It lags behind in most of these categories. But this very idea has allowed America to be reshaped from a legitimate nation to simply an economic brand being sold by the companies that shape its economic policies. That’s why so many people today have clumsily lurched back towards the idea of patriotism. We’re finally buying it because it’s finally something that can be sold.

    • “If you dropped the social issues from both parties’ platforms, there really isn’t much of a difference in the economic policies they’re advocating.”

      Bingo. There really isn’t much of a difference in the foreign policy platforms of either party either. Romney supports the Patriot Act, Drone bombings, NDAA, Kill List, Iran sanctions—just like Obama.

      Divide and conquer through slightly esthetic differences between the right and left arms of the same rotten corrupt beast!

    • ysave the essay for your freshman political science class :)

  4. Correction: Andrew Jackson is the most punk-rock president.

    • If it is now considered “punk rock” to massacre Native Americans, you are correct.

      • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • This probably goes without saying for most people, but anyone who thinks Obama is committing genocide is completely disconnected from reality.

          • Correct, ~3,000 people killed in the drone wars wouldn’t be enough to qualify as genocide…I never said genocide anyway.

            Hard to tell the damage we are doing in Iran with the sanctions. The long running sanctions in Iraq were supposedly responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

          • Okaaay, you are apparently totally unable to differentiate deaths resulting from wars and sanctions from deaths resulting from a plan to exterminate a race of people, which is what people mean when they use the term “genocide.” One of the key ways to judge the value of an action is to determine the intent. Also, the US is not morally obligated to provide economic aid to every country, especially one that is run by someone insane. That was the reason for the Iraq sanctions, which were well before Obama anyway. The use of drones has resulted in the deaths of some innocent people and that is certainly a terrible thing, but I think in the grand scope there have not been that many such accidents and drones have generally done a good job of minimizing terrorist activity and the number of soldiers needed to combat it.

          • @Michael Hanna – sounds like you are arguing with yourself. I never said genocide, you did.

            Fact is, sanctions are an act of war. If a country breaks sanctions set by the US, we will initiate force against them. Of course we aren’t obligated to provide economic aid to every country. Are you suggesting that not having sanctions against a country is tantamount to economic aid? That is ridiculous man. I brought up Iraq sanctions because the warmongers in both parties are ramping up to war in Iran just like they did the war in Iraq. How did that turn out for us? You think we should initiate force against every world leader who is “insane?”

            Regarding drones…the fact of the matter is that they have a 98% failure rate in getting the bad guy. They will (and already have) create blowback, and are the next wave of terrorism recruitment tools. We have already used to drones to kill an innocent 16 year old American citizen who grew up in Denver. Why is this not huge news? Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to President Obama’s reelection campaign, said that Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s death can be justified because he should have a “far more responsible father.” Actual quote. Then why was he killed 2 weeks after his father was drone bombed, in a separate strike? There is NO justification for this. A Republican congressman Peter King was asked about this, and his reply was “that’s the breaks.”

        • cognitive dissonance. buzz you are right on the money.
          people don’t want their delicate sensibilities disrupted, even when confronted by mountains of truth.

  5. Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 30th, 2012 -2

    Nice read. It helped restore some faith in something called “rationality” that I think is dearly missing and needed in punk ethos these days. I really don’t think some punk people understand capitalism (when applied properly, as in the case of the Local Business website) and rebel against everything dealing with our country with a blind eye, refusing to see how it can benefit them or makes their lives not so bad if they use it right. There is this troubling idea in some punk circles that since money is the culprit behind many of the larger wrongdoings of our country and government, it should mean nothing to everyone. Shit like ordering merch from a band and them never sending anything back after waiting for three months, you having to file a claim and them getting ticked over it because you had the audacity to hand them your earned money to support them, expecting something in return for it. I mean, it just seems like with people running around calling themselves “punks,” no one wants to take accountability for themselves, wave the white flag instead of the American one and hope that’s good enough to trick people thinking that whatever pains them in life is beyond their control.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Problem with this point is that it’s not really clear what “Capitalism” is when you use it like this, Michael_. I mean, is my dad’s small business “capitalism?” Is “Local Business” in general capitalism? To me, that’s just “economics” period.

      The definition of capitalism I find most convincing comes from Marx, which to paraphrase, means division of labor between workers and owners, which is the private ownership of the means of production, which leads to the reinvesting the capital gained by exploiting the working class into producing more means of production and more capital and so on… (As opposed to prior systems which basically pocketed the dough or spent it on luxury items or what-have-you.)

      An economic definition socialism on the other hand, means, (basically, I think), “social control of the means of production.” Just as capitalism has varying shades (consider the “liberal” varieties found at the state level in the US and UK, “social varieties in Western Europe and Scandinavia, or authoritarian ones like Singapore or Chile under the murderous dictator Pinochet), socialism can too, and “social ownership of the means of production” can mean different things.

      The problem is, at a state level, the only explicit socialism we see is of the kind we don’t like (authoritarian, state-owned), while more the more “liberal” or libertarian varieties get corrupted by their proximity to capitalist forces, OR they never make it out of the embryonic stage before getting literally destroyed by authoritarian forces from the right or left (research the Spanish Civil War for an off-hand historical reference). Furthermore, we so rarely recognize or acknowledge “socialism” on the small scale. By this understanding then, a small business owner can be a socialist because she’s both a worker AND an owner, even if she’s an IWW-affiliated coffee server at an infoshop. (Not to disparage the IWW, coffee servers, or infoshops by any means!) Think Ian MacKaye would disagree?

      • Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 30th, 2012 -9

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • “Yeah, like I’m really going to waste my free time doing that LOL. No offense, I didn’t read your response. Too many words.”

          Of all people to say such a thing….

  6. “I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice … I will not retreat a single inch and I will be heard.” is not a quote from Abraham Lincoln. The anti-abolitionist publisher William Lloyd Garrison wrote this in his own paper The Liberator. That’s why it’s recited by a different speaker from Lincoln.

    I cited it in a pretentious way, I admit, but it’s not that difficult an observation.

  7. THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN AND THEY WANT FOUR MORE YEARS OF BUZZ FLEDDERJOHN!

  8. On another note, where are all my patriotic Canadian bands at?
    The world needs more albums with snippets of Wilfrid Laurier, or Pierre Trudeau, or a drunk-ass John A. MacDonald.

  9. The mere concept of “the greatest country that’s ever existed” is very naive and simple minded though.

  10. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • This comment reads like it was written by someone who thinks it was perfectly coherent for Ronald Reagan to use “Born in the USA” during his campaign.

  11. “Judging by the comments most Stereogum readers and writers live in a leftist bubble, rarely if ever coming into contact with living breathing conservatives.”

    Thanks, but wrong. I grew up in, went to college in, and continue to work in areas where leftists are scarce. I won’t say that are there aren’t “liberal enclaves” in places like New York or LA or other urban areas, but I think you’re mischaracterizing this audience. There have been as many people here espousing the Libertarian concepts you seem to agree with as have been throwing around leftist ideas.

    I also suggest you read up a little more on Stickles. He was an ardent supporter of the Occupy movement and he’s been vocal in his support of leftist causes. I think your interpretation of the Constitution, and his, might not be the same. You’re both finding different kinds of beauty in the same thing, which I think is a good cause to see the value in an opposing view point.

    • I didn’t say all of them.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • I don’t think you were being disrespectful. As a left-leaning individual, I do believe in principles like self reliance and and responsibility, but I also acknowledge that when left unfettered industry/business/whatever your prefer has a habit of abusing its work force. So I believe that responsibility also entails protection of that work force; a responsibility not just to one’s self, but also those around him. That said, I don’t disagree on some Libertarian economic principles like across the board spending cuts. I just disagree that taxation is inherently evil and that we should dismantle most social welfare programs.

        I do agree that conservatives and liberals do have common ground, especially on social issues. Like I said, my problem with Libertarians is only with (most of) their economic ideas. I fully agree with and support their social policies. That doesn’t mean I think they’re stupid, I simply disagree.

        I also think your problem with Occupy is that you’re judging the entire group as one. One of the main things I took away from reading and listening to Occupy protestors is that it was a diverse group of people with varying, and sometimes conflicting, beliefs. There were Libertarians worked in there every now and then, but their voices tended to get drowned out by the mic checks and radical left provocateurs.

        This is why I wish more bands were like Titus, and why I’m thankful for this article. Indie rock tends to promote a very insulated world view. People tend to see it as over privileged, white liberals; and, rightly so. A lot of it is that. But I’m glad bands exist that at least challenge that idea, or bring in an audience that challenges that idea. Anything that challenges any status quo, whether I’m comfortable with that status quo or not, is a good thing.

  12. I am glad to see this “patriotic” radicalism making somewhat of a resurgence in the US, but I think it’s perfectly natural to be skeptical of it from an anarchist/libertarian-socialist perspective. Being proud of where you come from and working to make it better is obviously a great thing (at the heart of what being truly socially active and aware is I’d say). But the problem is it’s not such great leap from “patriotism” into nationalism and xenophobia, just as being anti-authoritarian can easily morph into the super-individualistic Ayn Randianism of so many self-proclaimed “Libertarians” in the US.

    Thinking about it in terms of musical taste also makes sense I think (conscientious ecleticism vs. dogmatic genre-worship vs. vapid bandwagoneering)

  13. If you don’t vote, then don’t bitch about your shitty government. Pretty simple.

    • ..but when they only give you a choice between Coke and Pepsi, there is no fucking point.

      Don’t bitch when Obamney gives you four more years of the same — I didn’t vote for either of them.

      • It’s not the politicians fault that we’ve got what Sen. Mcarthy once referred to as “a choice between obscenity and vulgarity”. If you want to look for the real culprit, find a mirror. It’s the apathetic “don’t blame me, I didn’t vote” chodes that got us into this mess in the first place by popularizing ignorance as some kind of third option.

        When politicians realized that the American people didn’t even care enough to exercise their right to vote, they knew they could get away with murder. They don’t have to worry about bipartisanship or working for the common good, because the direct beneficiaries of such a thing are too busy sticking their heads in the sand and declaring their vote doesn’t matter. So they pander to their core base. And then these idiots point at government and declare: “See? It doesn’t work. That’s why I don’t vote.”

        First you got us into the problem in the first place, and then when called upon to do something about it you throw up your hands in defeat, or even worse throw out some feel good ideological bullshit like the non-aggression principle, completely ignoring that the entirety of human history is based on one thing: force. The very land that you sit your fat ass on was taken by force. The laptop that I type this on was made with parts that were taken from resources that were taken from the original inhabitants by force. Force is the basis of the entire nation state system, and whether you like it or not its the system we all live under. So instead of working within the system to better it, you throw out some libertarian bullshit and wash your hands of the whole thing, claiming you’re too good for it.

        And while I’m on the non aggression principle, what about Kosovo? A president following the non aggression principle would have refused to support NATO airstrikes against the Serbian government in Belgrade because it would have hurt a few innocent bystanders. Meanwhile the Serbians under Milosevic were ethnically cleansing and murdering 100,000s of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, and under NAP (the most appropriate acronym of all time), NATO would have sat on their fucking hands and watched people die. Of course I would prefer if no one died at all, but if I have to choose between twenty dead Serbians or twenty thousand dead Albanians, I’m sending in the NATO jets (btw the airstrikes worked). But under NAP, there’s no such thing as the legitimate use of force, and those people would have been screwed.

        I know I’ll get downvoted like crazy, but seriously these “I don’t vote” douchebags are the worst.

        • I look at it quite differently. My decision to not vote is not based in apathy. I look at a vote as an endorsement of what the politicians are doing. In no way ,shape, or form am I going to endorse the endless wars and restrictions of free speech/civil liberties that is being championed by both major parties.

          Regarding the non-aggression principle…most of history has revolved around the repression of women, human bondage, hatred, and force. Thankfully we have begun to move past some of these. Just because that’s always how it’s been, doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. Here at the apex of the information age, we should be willing to give non-aggression a chance. It has a better chance now then ever before, where the internet and flow of information is able to hold everyone accountable for their own actions.

          Before slavery was abolished, people wrung their hands and asked, “but who will pick the cotton?” Even if there wasn’t a clear cut answer to this question at the time, it didn’t mean that we should continue slavery.

          The initiation of force without coercion is always wrong, and even if we don’t have all the answers on how to solve some of the problems that might stem from this, we need to try to evolve as a species and move away from violence!

  14. I think you’re wrong about Anarchy in the UK, there was a lot of nativist pride in that song. Consider the verse:
    Is this the MPLA (Angola’s MPLA)
    Is this the UDA (Ulster Liberation Alliance)
    Is this the IRA (Irish Republican Army)
    I thought it was the UK
    Or just another country

    Punks have always made conflicting statements about patriotism. you are too, by saying uncomplicatedly that the US “is the greatest country that’s ever existed”. also, your iteration of anarchism sounds like a ridiculously naive cliff notes version. there’s nothing “unpatriotic” necessarily about anrachism as an ideology. Only some varieties of anarchism are vehemently anti-state.

  15. Alternate title for the article: “How hipsters can still listen to punk, while engaging in this ‘Made In USA’ fashion trend.”

    • This comment ranks 93% on the Jaded Meter.

    • If you ask me I think that punk rock defeats itself. You have to work within the system in order to change it, all punk rockers seem to do is yell about how bad the system is and then really do nothing about it. When someone pays attention they begin to talk about how not “punk” they are. In terms if the Made in USA fashion “trend” it isn’t about fashion and it isn’t a trend. Are you paying attention to the presidential election and the conversation regarding moving sending jobs to China? Does that seem like a trend to you? It’s not about fashion it’s about corporate greed, you know, that thing punk rockers hate but do nothing to change because they think that getting drunk and being a loser is “punk”. At least some people are smart enough to know that unless you’re intelligent and unless you change things from the inside out you won’t change anything at all. A lot of punk rockers act like they have the cure for the world but really they’re far too elitist to ever change anything. What is wearing leather and spikes and getting wasted going to change? Nothing. They aren’t even a threat.

  16. Buzz, what an astoundingly ridiculous way to look at things. I don’t want to get drawn into some sort of war-for-your-soul over this (which is what this thread is becoming), but your motivations for not voting are purely symbolic. It doesn’t matter if you FEEL like your vote is an “endorsement” – that’s strictly between you and yourself.

    Few (if any) of us align with any candidate in totality, but most voters realize that the value of politics is in the implementation of what’s possible — and children being denied health coverage or the supreme court getting two more conservative justices would weigh more on our conscience than “symbolically endorsing” other policies we disagree with and are powerless to change.

    • A vote is an endorsement. I don’t see how you could see it any other way.

      Obamacare was based on Romney’s healthcare plan for MA. So… Also, Obamacare’s deciding vote in the SCOTUS came from a Dubya appointee…so there’s that.

      Both parties are the same. I doubt Dems really want to federally legalize Gay Marriage, just as the Repubs don’t want to federally ban Abortion. They would both lose their most powerful divide and conquer political footballs.

      • Again, this is all symbolic rubbish. What does it matter to someone who gets dropped from his health-coverage if the deciding vote to uphold Obama’s plan came from someone who Bush nominated to the supreme court? Is the chemotherapy he’d get under the new plan somehow tainted by Justice Roberts? That’s pure nonsense.

        But, I can’t argue with someone who knows the Dems and Reps desires better than they know them themselves.

  17. Patrick Stickles looks inward and outward with a similar paradoxical mix of disgust and pride. I think it’s what makes their songs so interesting.

    This was a good read.

  18. Yeah, but who can say “possibility of punk patriotism” five times fast??

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