turns out that the sikh temple shooter was kind of a nazi punk rock star. for a little world, it's a world. the vid below is popping up with 2,500 hits: kind of surprising because i think wade michael page might actually be on stage?
i listened through a lot of fascist punk in the course of doing political aesthetics; here's a bit.
It is worth worrying about the use of fascist or Nazi symbolism in punk music and about explicitly white supremacist and anti-Semitic punk music of the kind issued by labels such as Die hard or Victory. When punks defined themselves as the opposite of hippies, they took on a right-wing politics by default, and many of the fundamental hardcore bands had moments that could be construed as right or white-wing. MacKaye talked about being a "white minority"; DC was Chocolate City. The song was later appropriated by European white supremacists. Black Flag did a song called "Guilty of Being White," in which they made fun of leftist guilt about racism. Seminal New York hardcore bands such as Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags flirted more enduringly with anti-pc themes, though they could not be termed fascist. The early LA hardcore band Fear featured hilarious and appalling racism and sexism - "the trouble today with women: the mouth don't stop" - and a back-to-back 'F' symbol that was a kind of fuck-you swastika, along with American/German eagles etc. Skinheads in Britain in the late seventies became associated with the anti-immigrant quasi-fascism of the National Front, ironic given the sub-culture's use of black Jamaican music as the source of its beat. At latest since the hardcore era (1980-84) there has been a world underground of racist or anti-immigrant punk music (already in 1983 the Dead Kennedys could sing "Nazi Punks Fuck Off"), distributed hand-to-hand, inbox to inbox in the old-fashioned DIY manner. Such bands have garnered predictable, occasional attention, and are sometimes prosecuted under anti-Nazi laws in Germany or Austria. Here is a lyric from the band Ethnic Cleansing, and though it is obviously repugnant, we also should begin to wonder about its possible parodic quality.
You know hardcore has gone to shit
When niggers and faggots are in the pit
Maximum Rock'n'Roll [a punk magazine] supports this crap
Says sucking dick is where it's at
I beg to differ, I disagree
Punk's for straights, people like me
Green Day's got AIDS and they piss from cunts
Cock-sucking Kikes who call themselves 'punk.'
Were I to try to give a serious reading of such material, it would go like this. It is parodic in the sense that it is not produced without an intentionality and distance that gives it the whiff of irony; it is specifically constructed or tailored as a provocation or an anthology of offenses, of forbidden words. On the other hand, the views expressed are not without effects, and one would be rash to say that the person who wrote this is not a potentially violent homophobe. The racism and the anti-racism of punk are spectacular; they are a matter of hyperbolic signs that reflect ambiguous or multiple intentions.
Really the audience for that lyric is probably ultimately left-wing anarcho-punks, as the reference to the leftist punk periodical Maximum Rock n Roll shows. Punk enacts a schism from the get-go or fragments into a million bits in a happier or less deadly recapitulation of what happens within the defeated liberation front in a third-world country. First the right broke with the left over the swastika and the hammer and sickle, then each side started splintering, with leftist anarcho-punk especially notorious for schism. This half self-conscious tribalism comes from reading Lord of the Flies in middle school and leads to various audible and visual cues of belonging and exclusion.
Without excusing the fascism of some punks (or of anyone else), I point out that one feature of punk is that it always avails itself of the most extreme possible symbolism. Early on, in the Pistols and their comrades, the point was simply the transgression, not the content, and putting swastikas on the Queen's eyes was almost nothing but a provocation. Anarchism and fascism, whether we consider them as related (through Georges Sorel, let's say, or even Mussolini) or as at opposite ends of the spectrum, have a similar preternatural ability to freak decent people out: a potency as word or symbol virtually unmatched in our vernaculars; they almost cannot be heard, which is why to use them has the flavor of raving meaninglessly. The Dead Boys tossed around the word 'schweinhundt,' but probably really didn't care whether they were anarchists or fascists as long as they weren't Democrats or Republicans. As well, the fascists in particular, as we have seen in spades, had a vivid symbolic repertoire of iron crosses and swastikas and lightning symbols: adapted by right punk as instant infinitely reproducible (xeroxable, stencilable) signs of transgression that everyone could read in shock. The punks availed themselves of the symbolism before they thought through the politics. And when they did, they split into camps, right and left punks, anarchist and fascist punks. In Britain the right railed against immigrants; in the US they tossed around supposed Klan affiliations. A few of the musicians or hangers-on who casually adopted the swastika on their torn-up leather jacket (in fact an early version of the Clash was called "London SS") eventually set up shop in secret revolutionary enclaves, Falangist squats (Clash: "Spanish bombs, they killed Garcia Lorca"), and militia camps; one rightist group adopted the name "Rock Against Communism," as though this was 1930s Germany, but with electric guitars. Fascism and anarchism have in common a global attack on the established order, which both regard as diseased and inauthentic. Punk - the musical style - expresses this critique perfectly, even as it avails itself of musical signifiers that were long in construction, such as Jamaican elements or militaristic drums. These elements function in immediate political expression, argument as beat.
Nevertheless, one might argue that the aesthetics of punk are more suited to an anarchist than a fascist use, and indeed Nazi and racist punk is a fairly small sub-genre, and far more frequently the politics are libertarian/leftist, in my experience; the ratio might be 90/10 with local variations. First of all, punk design and punk music are often what we would merely call anarchic, using the term not primarily in a political but in an aesthetic sense. That is, the material presented is apparently disorganized, purposefully disordered, undisciplined, arbitrary, or not rule-bound. Punk proceeds by collage and by at least the signs of improvisation. It is notoriously undisciplined, even where it becomes a convention or a fashion. That punk is anti-authoritarian is compatible with it being fascist in a situation wherein the power that it is responding to is not itself fascist, but, say, social democratic. It is hard to imagine the sorts of skinhead punks attracted to the right merging into a Hitler youth or a disciplined corps of soldiers or workers. Certainly right-wing punk never produced a Führer. But it not at all hard to imagine punks living without a state; many have tried to do so even in the midst of state power. In the course of researching this chapter, I've been a bit stunned by the pervasiveness and seriousness of the anarchism in punk: it's everywhere from Vancouver to Sydney, from magazines to album covers to lyrics to interviews. As you examine the politics of all the seminal bands, from the Pistols and Clash to Black Flag and D.O.A., from Dead Kennedys to Minor Threat, from Bad Religion to Anti-Flag, it's hard not to see the thing as a whole as an anarchist movement, the first in the West since the early twentieth century.