The New York Times weighs in on the conservative punk meme with a surprisingly insightful article in the Style section of all places.
The article quotes Thorsten Wilms of the website Fiend Club as saying, "You can't be a punk rocker and be right wing," committing the Danny Goldberg fallacy. If anything's not punk rock, it's the attitude, "You can't be a punk rocker and be x," because some punk rocker's going to do it for no reason other than to piss you off.
Young people tend to be rebellious. What's more, the authority figures young people are most likely to encounter are, in fact, more likely to be liberal than not. I don't believe that the Establishment is liberal but I do believe that there is a liberal establishment. Moreover, that liberal establishment's one undeniable stronghold is education, in which nearly everyone spends the first two decades of his life, i.e. his youth. Given the tendency of the young to question authority, it should not be surprising that more and more young people are questioning liberal orthodoxy.
Besides, the intellectual distance between anarchism and libertarianism is relatively small, as Johan Norberg's journey to Damascus demonstrates. I expect that the lack of traffic between the two is down to the narcissism of small differences more than anything else.
The article also quotes the founder of the website Conservative Punk, Nick Rizzuto, demonstrating the one respect in which the punk right clearly has it all over the punk left: "The biggest punk scenes are in capitalist countries like the U.S., Canada and Japan. I haven't heard of any new North Korean punk bands coming out. There's no scene in Iran." The punk right understands, in a way that I don't expect, say, Rage Against The Machine ever will, that punk is only possible in a state where the right to free expression is enforced and sufficient economic independence is possible for young people.
The conservative punk meme reminds me of the South Park Republicans meme that has been floating around the meme-o-sphere for the last several years. I never gave the idea of South Park Republicans much credence, mostly because in Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride, Trey Parker and Matt Stone violate Godwin's Law twice in the same line, "Uh oh, look out! It's the oppressors: Christians and Republicans and Nazis, oh my!" Conservative punks at least comprise an actively committed, though miniscule, movement.
While writing this post, I re-read some of the articles about South Park Republicans and came across this quote:
The GOP's hold on South Park Republicans could quickly fade. Their vote is clearly up for grabs. You never know what might be the straw that breaks SPR backs, between GOP spending hikes, tariffs, anti-smoking legislation, and the specter of "conservative" laws that might compromise privacy and liberty.
After all, Democrats could start making more sense (free trade, fiscal discipline, libertarian social policy), and Republicans could start making less (anti-vice legislation, federal marriage amendment, nationalizing healthcare under the guise of Medicare "reform").
GOP spending hikes? Check.
Federal marriage amendment? Check.
Anti-vice legislation? Wardrobe malfunctions, anyone? (The latest episode of 'Park
addresses this very issue and not in a way that makes the Bush Administration look good.)
"Conservative" laws that might compromise privacy and liberty? Can you say USA PATRIOT, bizznitch?
We hit the quinquefecta! Or is it pentafecta?
In the final analysis, the 1960s pulled the mainstream to the left though liberals will only grudgingly admit victory. (Complacency saps revolutionary will, y'know.) As a result, subsequent generations of children grew up with liberal authority figures. When the '60s left became parents and teachers, they probably thought that they could prevent adolescent rebellion if they renounced the use of power by one generation over another or some such quasi-Marxist theoretical underpinning, i.e. bullshit. My generation was only too happy to disabuse them of such notions. This would not be the first time the left has tilted at the windmill of human nature. (See also: Tilsammans/Together
. No really, see it
.) For a bunch of quasi-Marxists, the '60s left sure had a shitty grasp of dialectic.