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The Philosophy of Punk

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  510 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews

Introduction by Marc Bayard
Preface by the author
Why Punk: Background comparisons with previous art movements; some defining characteristics of punk.
Media Misrepresentations: How television, glossy magazines, and mindless mass media have done their best to defang the beast.
Skinheads: Who they are, where they're from and do they have to do with punk anyway.
Paperback, 172 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by AK Press (first published 1995)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,069)
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Mar 06, 2014 Bill rated it really liked it
All in all, this was an interesting read. I think the fact that it started as a zine-style photo copied booklet speaks to the quality of information the book has on punk culture.

Like most other "this is what punk is" writings that I've read, I feel like it gets a little preachy at times, but I still believe that if you consider the book as a sum of its parts, it's a really great read with an important message. Yes, you have to wade through some straight edge and vegan talk, and deal with a whol
Mar 06, 2009 Marshall rated it it was ok
Punk rock is more than a music style. It's a subculture, community, fashion, and philosophy. I've always felt a kindred spirit with punks, but never actually knew much about them. They seemed to stand for the same things I believed in, albeit noticeably more radical. So it was good to read a book that spelled it all out.

Insofar as punk rock, a totally disorganized movement, can be considered to have a philosophy, this book describes its elements: anarchism, radical feminism, eco-terrorism, anima
Apr 09, 2008 Dylan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people interested in punk who don't mind mediocre writing
This book could have been much better. The author, who was in the punk rock scene in D.C. since the eighties, certainly brought a good deal of first-hand knowledge to the subject, but his writing skills are poorly developed. The book was originally published as photocopied pages that were staple bound, and it was eventually published by AK Press, a major radical publisher. The writing is not really publishable, in my opinion, however.

Of course, in keeping with the punk rock tradition, the book d
Aug 11, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
In The Philosophy of Punk, Craig O'Hara draws from numerous punk bands and writings by punks to outline a general philosophy of punk aesthetic, ethics, and activism. He is clear to articulate that he is discussing a certain "brand" (my word) of punk rock: not generic, more consumption-oriented punk, but rather the more "authentic" punk of the late 70s and early 80s. This punk, he argues, was importantly about "tak[ing:] on responsibility" (39). While punk music involves rage, anti-authority view ...more
Dec 12, 2015 C M rated it liked it
Shelves: music, anarchism
The Philosophy of Punk aims to write punk's philosophy on the basis of the writings in punk zines. It is very US-centric, although there is due diligence to UK punk, particularly of the second wave (in particular CRASS).

The picture that Craig O'Hara paints of "punk philosophy" is largely the picture he wants to see, i.e. an egalitarian,tolerant, DIY type of anarchism free of capitalism, homophobia, racism, and sexism. He finds this mostly by exaggerating the importance of the writings that suppo
Aug 31, 2010 Sarah rated it it was ok
I feel somewhat bad ripping on this, because it is an interesting topic, and it was initially a photocopied, self-published labor of love, not a professionally edited and produced book. But the writing was just painfully bad throughout. The author also makes a lot of tendentious statements about how "no real punk believes x" that irked. Again, maybe I'm applying overly academic/professionalized standards to a work that wasn't intended as such. But overall it was just an irritating read.
Ben Thompson
Mar 10, 2016 Ben Thompson rated it it was ok
Shelves: music
Make no mistake, this book is written in nearly textbook style. The author makes a big point of this in the Intro & Preface. He is also very clear that this is not a history of punk music, but a collection of thoughts and ideas to represent "The Philosophy of Punk."

It is a difficult read if you're not used to reading and attempting to enjoy a textbook. O'Hara does a reasonable job at touching upon many of the major factors, ideas, opinions and philosophies of punk music (religion, vegitarian
Skut L
Jan 09, 2012 Skut L rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Less proselytizing and more punk please. This book might be more useful to an outsider of politically-oriented diy/punk/(whatever social milieu you want to apply) but I felt like I was reading a primer.
Apr 07, 2008 Mita rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: your mummy & daddy... ;)
Duh sbenernya sudah cukup lama sekali baca buku ini, potocopian pula hehehehehe...

It's always fun to see n' know something 'different' and it really happen...
Apr 14, 2013 Tiffini rated it did not like it
Disclaimer: This review is only examining one chapter of the book regarding skinheads.

Until I read that it was a self-published title reprinted by a leftist publisher, I was struggling to understand how it got published with such shoddy references and research. Anyone who grew up in the punk scene in the 1980s understood the political leanings of some of the larger fanzines and the bias towards skinheads (especially MRR). The reliance on fanzines and the opinions of the author does not create a
Aug 12, 2012 D'arcy rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, political
I suppose I 'found' punk when I was 14 or so, mostly through bands like NOFX and Ant-Flag. I grew up in a political household, and found the political aspect of punk appealing (though the fast and often jarring melodies were also appealing). As such, I search for books that would give me more information on the subject and, being 14, didn't really know how to look beyond some larger websites, as my friends were getting into it just like me. This is a book I had found online and ordered shortly ...more
East Bay J
I "found punk" when I was about thirteen, or over twenty years ago. As a result, I've found myself reading a truckload of books on the subject, some fairly lame, some fairly insightful.

Craig O'Hara's The Philosophy Of Punk is one of the good ones. Covering all sorts of punk related topics from activism to racism to the Do It Yourself method of life, O'Hara does a fine job of examining where punk's been and where it's at now. Where it's going is anybody's guess. His task, to qualify and quantify
Tristan Goding
If you want to know about punk, this is a decent introduction to it if you want to know what it's all about. Craig O'Hara is obviously not a writer, nor does he need to be. This book felt very much at the fingertips of someone who is passionate about the punk lifestyle, and that shows. That's what's important.
Annie Combest-friedman
Apr 16, 2013 Annie Combest-friedman rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The punk era was an era of self-reliance and defiance against the status quo. This book would be a great book to teach about American and British history and art as well as a guide for students to think about their choices. Students could learn to differentiate between the public perception and the intended cause of the punk era. This book goes through the history of punk and its origins. It looks at the different types of punks and each groups viewpoints. This book would be targeted to students ...more
Laurel L. Perez
Oct 13, 2015 Laurel L. Perez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me be clear in my rating, this book is a great start to understanding the history & culture. It is not the be all, end all explanation. I love that other reviewers are all angsty, because there are so many factors to be considered, and let's be honest, punks get jacked up over what seems phony, and what cannot fully describe a complex issue, and certainly culture. So, if you need a place to start, even if it looks iffy, it is a start.
Feb 12, 2014 Raven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a goth with shades of punk, I found this book a very interesting read. O'Hara make s a good overview of the music as well as the ideals and motivations many punks share and embrace. Punk is not simply music or a state of dress but a philosophy and way of life, and this book tries to make that clear to it's readers.
Mar 09, 2013 Danno rated it liked it
I founded myself eating this book up over a decade ago. Sitting in my college dorm with a Mohawk, spiked leather jacket, and plaid bondage pants... At the time this was my early 20s manifesto, but looking back wasn't I just another product of consumerism?

The book at the time was already date focusing on the 77-87 times. The American punk and hardcore revival of the 90s that I grew up in was so different from the squatter days of Suburbia. I wish it had more on the current styles including strai
Rob Haas
Feb 13, 2008 Rob Haas rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is a pretty good overview of punk rock.

Apparently, they taught a course from this book at Stanford for a few semesters. It gives you a history as well as some of the psychology behind modern punk. I read it in a few sittings and loaned it out since then several times as well.

runs all the way from the start 1967 to the summer of '77 to glam to hardcore to modern pop punk, crust and anarcho punk to emo and indie touching on all sub-cultures in between.

It won't help you understand your rebelli
Ashley Adams
Jan 26, 2016 Ashley Adams rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, music
How I learned about anarchists.... oh, high school....
Feb 11, 2015 Todd rated it did not like it
The worst book about punk ever written.
Jul 04, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
I bought this from a table at an Ill Scarlett show benefiting World Vision. Overall, it was a very interesting look at the history of punk, as well as its place both in the larger culture, as well as in history. While there are some parts of what O'Hara discusses that I disagree with (anarchism, for example), it's an undoubtedly important part of punk history and culture.
Mar 06, 2007 Jack rated it liked it
This reads more like a quick history of punk than digging through the philosophical and social underpinnings of punk and the associated music. Nevertheless, it was an informative read and it did offer some insights into the movement(s) in the sixties and seventies up to the advent of hardcore.

Mmm... hardcore.
Mar 03, 2015 Timothy rated it liked it
Shelves: punk, non-fiction
It was better than I thought it would be. Had a fair amount of interesting historic information and did an alright job of not being terribly biased most of the time. The chapter on anarchy was disappointing but the rest was fine. Nothing especially profound or inspiring about it though.
Apr 24, 2011 abclaret rated it really liked it
Shelves: anarchism
Does exactly what it sets out to do; examining in detail some of the punk subcultures, such as, anarcho-punk, queer-core, straight-edge etc.. Gives you an exhaustive list of bands for you to wet your appetite and gives the Oi! and straight-edge scene a much needed critique.
Jan 29, 2008 Magdalene rated it really liked it
It helps define punk, not as it is defined today (thank god). Fo rthose who are truly interested in understanding what it is and not wanting to take what they see in popular media as the truth. A very good quick informative read.
Jun 26, 2012 Jesse rated it really liked it
Doesn't have the technical chops to come off as a formidable book of theory, but it does articulate, intelligently and legibly, a whole range of ideas and impulses that are behind the punk scene and subculture.
Ryan Mishap
Perhaps too short a book for the topic and "Of Political Punk" might be more accurate. It is a good introduction to political punk, if a little rosy glasses and all that.
Jun 01, 2009 Christine rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm reading this to help one of my students who is writing a paper on it. It's intersting, but I've been over "punk" since I was 22.
Kimberly De huff
Dec 30, 2012 Kimberly De huff rated it it was amazing
Great intro to the punk scene and delivers what the title says: a philosophy of punk. Thanks, Craig.
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“Anarchy does not simply mean no laws, it means no need for laws. Anarchy requires individuals to behave responsibly. When individuals can live in peace without authorities to compel or punish them, when people have enough courage and sense to speak honestly and equally with each other, then and only then, will anarchy be possible.” 20 likes
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