Book Review: The Day the Country Died — A History of Anarcho Punk 1980–1984

  • Posted on: 27 July 2017
  • By: thecollective

From Freedom UK

There are many great things about Ian Glasper’s The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980–1984. First, it’s convenient and persuasive to be able to read about a number of related bands in the same book. Don’t have to search here and there for information. Second, it’s solid seeing an emphasis just on anarcho punk. Just like nothing can replace holding hard copy of a zine in your hands, nothing can substitute for a substantive book. Third, back in the day, if you were on the fringes of multiple scenes or were really localised, then there was no way to know all these bands. Yeah, you nodded your head, but there’s a difference between knowing names and knowing the sound and history.

Several decades ago, it was impossible — or very expensive — to find so much of the music covered in this volume. The sounds were limited to those who could find and buy the records, copy them to cassette, and/or live where the records were imported. Now they’re all on YouTube. Read a chapter, then go listen to them. That simple. I’ve heard more bands in the past ten days than I was ever exposed to. For accelerating anarcho punk history, literacy, and relationships, this book is great.

Plenty of interviews. Lots of pictures. Writing has personality and engagement; good tone, and accessible, like zines from the period — but seasoned with maturity and experience. This is a natural reference text. You can skip around, read about a band here or there, read from front to back, or read by region. Just plain solid work. Has a place in any political punk’s library.

Most vital point is there is actually a chapter on Oi Polloi! Long my favorite punk band (how can you not love “Boot Down the Door”?). Made the book for me, really. Sure, yes, you can find PDFs of the book online for free. But why not support the press PM Press, and the author. If we don’t support them, then who will?

Luther Blissett



Kevin Tucker slagged off Crass for performing a coal miners' benefit gig when Thatcher wanted to take down UK coal unions. Tucker found it hypocritical that Crass would support mining as it contravenes green anarchy. Crass played such gigs not in support of work and mining, but in solidarity and support of trying to keep tight-knit communities together by raising money for food etc, something one would expect Tucker to be supported of? If my memory serves me correctly, Tucker made his dig at Crass on Free Radical Radio. Big Man Big M A. N. Big man what a fuckin' joke. Crass were and still are essential, maybe more so these days. Peregrine. Who?

Their band logo was crypto fascist (a Celtic cross with the Nazi neopagan "S" over it). They also had early support from British nationalists and are rumored to have shared gigs with neonazi punks.

For real antifascist and anarchistic bands of the same era, Amebix, DK and Subhumans were the real stuff.

Yes, of course Crass were sell outs! Didn't they sign to CBS or was it EMI? And did you see the size of their tour bus, not to mention those big lavish gigs! Also, their Crass perfume and cologne, wtf. Many people made money from their logo. Rumours rumours rumours dear oh dear. No band can control who likes them. I went to skin gigs and there would be NF there because they liked the music and atmosphere. Many punks used to wear swastikas as a shock tactic. Crass could have made a lot if serious money but didn't. Crass supported many small projects. These are not rumours. Two people can design two similar logos or the same logo, this doesn't mean that the logo has to be linked to one meaning. I like the Crass logo and I have, in my younger days, worn it on tee shirts, and I am not a fascist or a Nazi.

"Two people can design two similar logos or the same logo, this doesn't mean that the logo has to be linked to one meaning. "

Haha... I wonder how would that naive liberal defense of yours would fly when applied to the bands using symbols based on swastikas and black suns? That's bullshit. But I think you may be trolling. Or just first-level dumb.

Sure, symbols are just signs. Like letters, and letters put together. The meaning is the part you unlikely can change because it is a social construct that is reified through collective use.

A cross with the elongated lower branch represents Christianity... A reverted pentacle is usually considered representative of Left Hand Path/satanists... A swastika in the West represents Nazism or neonazis... A Celtic cross used by non-Celts in some ways that are to express racist beliefs means White Supremacists... West Coast Choppers logo isn't inherently racist but could have been a crypto-fascist plot to make this racist symbol more widespread, in the same way as Thor Steinar in Europe...

Not the person you replied to but "naive liberal defence" <--- this is the moment where you're an asshole, just in case you eventually start complaining about any subsequent casual backhands.

I read Hunter Thompson's Hells Angels awhile back and he captures the mostly a-political nature of social movements that aren't focused on politics. The original Hells Angels, according to him, were loosely affiliated based on an unconscious class dynamic but that's about it. Very few of the members had any sincere interest in neo-nazi ideology although most of the group was casually racist and reactionary.

When groups of people coalesce around a leisure activity, like motorcycles or music, the chances are that the majority of these people are a bunch of clueless fucking idiots. This is also true of political movements and people in general, but at least it's theoretically embarrassing to be participating in politics without any ability to explain them. Not true if you're only there for the motorcycles or music!

The swastikas being worn by different counter-cultural scenes likely reflected a shallow shock value more often than any serious fascist or racist ideology but did allow a minority of genuine fascists/racists to move easily through and recruit from those scenes, even though most of the phenomenon is a paper tiger, simply because most people don't give much of a fuck about political theory.

So it's probably safe to assume that any use of symbolism by any social scene or movement reflects a minority of people who have a sophisticated understanding of those symbols … and a whole lot of people posturing to try and identify with whatever.

Not sure whether Crass's logo was as much openly-provocative as the swastikas being used by idiot punks and bikers in the '70s, and some with a more serious political intent, like the latter Nazi punks who were a reality and not some interpretation by antifascists doing easy associations.

We're talking here about more obscure signs put together, in a way as to be fooling the mind of some antifas into thinking that represents the idea of being "anti-White Power", because it barely resembles a Celtic Cross with a bar over it. While the bar is in fact the Nazi "S", that's very significant of Nazis and Neonazis neopagan cult. So no, really not obvious like Lenny K's superficial Nazi dress up games, that were really just clownish subversion of authoritarian symbols, typical of another era.

Shall I ask you why I'm also wearing vandalized American hat (a.k.a as the cowboy hat), on Turtle Island, in a place with masses of cap-wearing punks and hipsters?

"most of the group was casually racist" That's it, that's it, I need to be 'casually' racist and maybe 'casually' sexist too? Sounds less 'ist' when I'm doin' it all oh so casually, you know, sort of "Hey man, chill the fuck out and be relaxed with your racism, know what I'm sayin'? Now that's crass!

Well … in the case of the HA, we're talking about the 60s in the US, so yeah, a lot of "casual" racism. I'm not making excuses for it, only saying it was more of a generic american reactionary position than a serious identification with neo-nazi ideology.

That's IF Hunter Thompson was accurate in his assessment, that most of the angels were clueless dumbasses who just liked motorcycles and getting fucked up but only a handful of them were interested in exploring those ideas.

"But I think you may be trolling. Or just first-level dumb." Wow, did you think this up all by yourself? Who's a big boy! Well that's that, a circle with the letter A can only mean, HAS to mean, anarchy. Fuck you! Symbolic dogma. A swastika in the West represents ONLY Nazism? That's final and can never be challenged. Maybe Jewish people (for example) could, may, one day, re-appropriate the swastika and apply another meaning? No no we can't have that... it's too confusing, let's keep it simple and fixed? The earth us flat I tell you, the earth is fucking flat!

According to Penny Rimbaud in the Crass documentary "There Is No Authority But Yourself" the Crass logo was designed by an art student and Dial House resident, Dave King. You should check it out if you haven't already. Here is the story behind the Crass logo.

I don't know exactly why you wrote what you wrote, but it is what it is: a bit of a slur. You heading "Crass are undisputably (sic) sellouts" had nothing to do with what you wrote or linked to.

The previous anon commenter has a point. Crass were pulling the serious Punk scene's proverbial legs. The symbol is far closer to a monochrome version of the Spectrum logo used in the 1960's Captain Scarlet series, a UK childrens programme. You can see it near the bottom right of the relevant Wikipedia page. Even that was called proto-fascist.

Now can we please start a thread on Autonomy and Politics of Gerry Anderson?

"Crass were crypto fascists." Legitimately have now heard it all. Like, even if Crass were outright neo nazis they did more for anti-authoritarian "politics" in punk and maybe within youth subculture generally during the time than much of anything else I can even think of. The best nazis we have ever had!

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