33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2000
The Philosophy Of Punk is an awesome look at the undergroundscene, philosophies, history, political and social happenings of thepunk movement. Craig shatters what the mass media portrays as punk and gives you the truth. No one can do it all but Craig does a pretty damn fine job. There are also some great pictures to boot. I can't say how good this book is. The Lithuanian authorities stopped the printers from distributing it in their country saying it was "a vile, rebellious, offensive document" so you know it is a good one. :-)
Here are the chapter headings (after forward and intro) to give you a small glimpse: *Why Punk: Background Comparisons With Previous Art Movements; Some Defining Characteristics of Punk. *Media Misrepresentation: How Television, Glossy Magazines, And Mindless Media Have Done Their Best To Defang The Beast. *Skinheads And Racism: Who They Are, Where They're From And What Do They Have To Do With Punk Anyway. *Intra Movement Communication: Fanzines-Communication From The Xerox Machine To The Underground. *Anarchism: An Alternative To Existing Systems. What It Is And Why It Is Embraced By Punks All Over The World. The Failure Of "Bought And Paid For" Politicians Has Ensured A Counterculture Receptive To The Idea That We Would Be Better Off Without These Vampires. *Gender Issues: Sexism, Feminism and Open Homosexuality. *Environmentalism And Ecological Concerns: The Ideas And Techniques Of Earth First, ALF and Others Have Found A Comfortable Home In The Punk Scene. *Straight Edge: A Movement That Went From Being A Minor Threat To A Conservative Conformist No Threat. *DIY
I couldn't believe it when I saw this book being sold on Amazon.com. Take advantage and get it. AK Press puts out some really good books and this one is truly a gem. I bought one for myself then I bought one for both my parents, and some friends and relatives. Share it with those who matter.
I got to see Craig talk at the Anarchist Book Fair 2000 in San Francisco. He's a really cool guy with lots of funny stories. If you want to know what he looks like then look at the back cover of the book. He's the far right guy in the foreground.
Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. A true sign of an awesome book.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2003
I certainly appreciate the intentions of this book, and wish that everything in it were true. However, the punk "movement" (if it can be called such a thing) is not nearly as disciplined or organized as this book makes it appear. As someone who believes in at least many of the platitudes displayed in _Philosophy of Punk_, I have to say that, though I wish it were different, the punk scene often does not live up to the image the O'Hara creates for it. The book is wildly enthusiastic, hardly ever questioning the scene's commitment to a leftist utopian vision. O'Hara seems to have either missed or omitted the fact that punk can have a distinctive reactionary element as well, that it is often dominated by males, that it can be quite hostile to homosexuals and that many individuals involved with it are downright ignorant. That's not to say that punk rock hasn't done great things for me personally or that it isn't a generally positive force in the world, but O'Hara clearly overestimates the movement's importance and clarity. Additionally, the book lacks any real academic credentials. O'Hara cites a handful of the more well known zines in order to underline some of his points, but has no real scientific tools to measure the feelings or beliefs of the punk scene, other than his highly personal (and thus, biased) experience in the scene himself. In large part because of this, the book lacks a real sense of introspection and seems to harbor no doubts about the righteousness of the scene. In my opinion, self-criticism is very punk, and it's complete absence makes the book hardly anything more than propaganda.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2001
This book was originally the author's college thesis. I can't imagine any reputable university accepting it, as it's written on a high school level. It purports to be an overview of the punk "scene," but is in fact a rather near-sighted idealist description of the author's hometown vegan peace-punk scene. The politics described within are indeed admirable, and I sincerely hope the junior high mall punks who read this book take them to heart. However, as a true depiction of what punk IS (versus what he thinks it should BE), it fails.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2003
In essence, Craig Ohara does nothing but reaffirm the obvious thought found in the punk rock movement. Because punk associates itself with 'no authority', its definition is almost impossible. Ohara is ONE type of punk. He espouses a method of writing that does not engage those whom he critiques, he just simply writes them off. His arguments for anti-authoritian anarcho-thought are groundless philosophically. Never arguing why tradition and authority are bad, Ohara leaves the reader wondering how he can consider himself an academic? I cannot recommend this book to any serious thinker attempting to construct a slight notion of punk. Regardless of Ohara's thought, it seems obvious that there is hegemony amongst punks who choose to be sectarian. The 'non-conformist' attitude of punk could be debated, but isn't in this book. Ohara often saves himself by ignoring relevant objections to his views by, first, noting the objections, then moving on to more of his own compartmentalized rhetoric of punk.
40 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2000
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Yet, another attempt to define the elusive state of mind that is punk rock. The first chapter on "Why Punk" and the last on "DIY" are quite good. In between, it's just the author's limited this is punk, this is not, punks don't do this, etc., etc. I was punk in '77 and did a lot for my scene. I also have an understanding of working within and beyond the system. I'm not sure this author does. I wonder what he would think of me buying this book on Amazon.com.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2002
An insightful account of the major discourses running through and holding together the punk rock subculture. O'Hara is obviously an active proponent of the scene, as his voice is intelligent yet empassioned. This does lend itself to a glaring lack of objectivity and some overgeneralizations, however, which may fuel his relegation of punk's more insidious views - i.e., racism, sexism, etc. - to an extreme minority status within the scene. Regardless, it is an excellent primer for the initiated, the unitiated, or anyone in between seeking the pulse of this vibrant, much maligned entity.
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
"The Philosophy of Punk: More than Noise" by Craig O'Hara examines the underlying political ideals of Punk. This book is not a history of Punk or a discussion of Punk bands. The author's focus is squarely on the political philosophy behind the music. While many people understand that Punk contains an anarchic message, fewer people understand exactly what that means.
Author O'Hara attempts to present a cohesive philosophy of punk--and this is no easy task. Even the author admits that the exact date and birthplace of the Punk movement is "debatable." O'Hara notes that Punk is composed of an alienated group who either willingly reject themselves from society or find themselves "alienated from the mainstream." In this isolated societal position, punks form a subculture of their own
Punk is a movement that contains a message for "rebellion and change" and offers a "formidable voice of opposition" to mainstream culture. O'Hara notes that Punk has been "misrepresented in the media"--the media's image of Punk presents a character in a phase of insanity or rebellion. Naturally the message is that the Punk grows up and out of this stage--passing on to maturity and social responsibility. O'Hara's position is that one can be a Punk for life. The author also explains that many of the negative images of Punk as a violent movement can be blamed on Skinheads who are attracted to the music. A chapter is devoted to the differences between Skinheads and Punks, the original Skinhead music of ska, and the racist white supremacy basis of Skinhead beliefs.
Another chapter is devoted to the proliferation of zines (Punk fanzines). In fact zines are the primary source of quoted material in the book. O'Hara covers the birth of zines, major zines, and quotes liberally to establish the underlying political stance of the Punk movement. Issues most relevant to Punks are, he argues--homelessness, capitalism, classism, work place exploitation, sexism, the environment, and Pacifism. O'Hara also presents one of the best, deceptively simple definitions of anarchy I've read. He argues that the perception that anarchy is "chaos" is wildly incorrect. The rejection of government control is "the start of personal order." Quotes from Punk band members (with an emphasis on Anarcho-punk) are scattered throughout the text--including Ramsey Kanaan of Political Asylum, Subhumans, D.O.A, Oi Polloi, Crass, and Final Conflict.
Many people may read "The Philosophy of Punk" and feel that this is not the Punk they know. It's hardly surprising that people cannot relate to the political statements the author argues are the basis of Punk. After all, Punk--or at least some of it--has been co-opted, commercialized and sanitized. Before dismissing the book's claims that Punk includes the desire for radical social change, stop and think about Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols--considered by many the person responsible for the commercialization of punk. McLaren was deeply attracted to and involved with the Situationist International and Situationist theory just prior to moving onto managing the Pistols. Ask yourself what that was all about. While "The Philosophy of Punk" is not a perfect book, nonetheless it's a decent attempt to define a movement that defies a one-size-fits-all description--displacedhuman
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2004
Originally written as a college paper, this book takes the author's personal beliefs and poorly attempts to make them the entire history of a loosely defined set of musical and cultural styles that began probably long before the author was old enough to speak. He's a hippie punk with crusty leanings, which means love, peace, anarchy and not bathing too often, and the whole history of punk is redefined to the point of pretending most everything else doesn't exist.
It's hysterical reading his mental gymnastics when describing Anarchy as both violent and peaceful. This book is soooooooo poorly done. It's not a history at all, but an editorial steeped in wishful thinking and limited mental resources.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
O'Hara paid his dues in the punk rock scene and has given us a snapshot of what punk means to a subculture within a subculture. O'Hara would have you believe that a majority of punks in the "scene" are anarcho-punks. While punk means different things to different people, it would be false to try to characterize a majority of punks in this way. Too often in punk literature the author tries to paint the entire scene with broad brushstrokes ultimately failing to describe an over-arching philosophy and often describing one that can only apply to a small and often transient scene.
The difficulty of identification in punk lies in its nature. Constantly changing, meaning different things to different people at different times in different places. What O'Hara has done here is given us a glimpse into a small faction of punk rock and defined what it means to many of those participants. The book is a valuable read for anyone looking to gain a fuller understanding of the entire subculture of punk by studying each of its subsets piecemeal.
The bibliography leaves much to be desired and O'Hara lacks a fuller understanding of subcultural studies. He does however offer a rudimentary introduction to anarchist philosophy which could serve as a jumping off point for any interested in some hard philosophy.
This book is by no means an end in and of itself, but it should be on the book shelf of anyone interested in compiling a compendium of punk literature.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2003
O'Hara's personal feelings completely undermine any compelling argument he begins to make. He includes no evidence, other than a few random quotes from zines he's selected, for his accusations (against Straight Edge punks, against Oi punk, etc.). The book is a biased attempt at personal expression of his feelings about punk--not a comprehensive overview of what Punk means to so many people in the scene. And it isn't even well-written. Waste of money.