I came to punk late. It took a while for me to realize how much I loved certain bands, but also for me to reconcile with punk's negative aspects. I mean, sometimes they are really obnoxious.
I'm not really into that. One of the irritating things I remember from Our Band Could Be Your Life was one band - I don't remember which - that bragged about playing halls and people asking for something a bit more dance-able, you know, for the dance they were being paid to play. Mind you, that was an alternative band, not punk, but there was this attitude of looking down on these stupid ordinary people who don't get us that could have been very punk. I just remember thinking that they could have still played their music mixed in with other stuff. Maybe the audience would have liked them, given a chance.
Let me throw out some random things that I have read over the years, and I'll see if I can make it all fit together.
One was about the origin of the name. "Punk" is an archaic term for prostitute that got used more recently to describe the person who got used for sex in prison. It's a position where you are low and unsupported and therefore abused. To accept that title is to take being low and embrace it.
Another comes from Mad World, and their interview with Marco Pirroni. I have quoted this before, but it bears repeating:
"I was completely done with punk by the end of '77. It became an excuse to be stupid. It lost style; it lost subversiveness; it got really conformist. I thought the early punk thing was that old Oscar Wilde thing: 'We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.' Well, the second generation was basically just 'We're all in the gutter.' They never moved on. A lot of them still haven't."
Finally, I had started to learn some things about the DIY (Do It Yourself) aspects of punk culture, like gardening, but a lot of it clicked in while reading Billy Idol's memoir, Dancing With Myself. They were trying to be independent from mainstream culture. That could be done on a principled anti-establishment basis, but it was often practical due to a lack of funds. So growing your own food is a way of eating, and scavenging and thrift shops and the safety pin repairs are a means of survival as well as a protest. Punk fashion's form did indeed follow a function, and sometimes the function was to repel, but that wasn't the only function.
So here we are.
Growing your own food, storing it, regular preparations for the (non) zombie apocalypse - those are probably all good things to do. The economy has been dangerously tilted toward the upper level for a while, and that's getting worse.
Being able to accept a lowly status and then embrace it as your way of rising above it - that won't hurt you. Be ready to be subversive and to create and make a scene when needed. But also keep your eyes on the stars.
Being punk is being anti-establishment. There are always reasons for that, and it looks like there will be better reasons on the way. But it's not enough just to be against. There are politicians that define themselves by their opposition, and they tend not to improve anything. I want to make things better. For everyone if possible, but for one person at a time if that's the best I can do.
I need to be fighting for something, not just against.
I may not be completely punk rock. I am fully me.