In reading Jerry z. Muller’s The Mind and The Market, I was struck by the following passage about the ideological context from which one of Germany’s proto-Nazi intellectuals emerged:
[Fascist theorist and future anti-Hitler conspirator Hans] Freyer’s main reference group during his university years was the youth movement, one of the most extraordinary phenomena of early-twentieth-century Germany. The Jugendbewegung, as its name implies, was a loose federation composed mostly of children of the educated middle class (Bildungsbürgertum). The members of the youth movement were disaffected by what they saw as the ascendancy of materialistic values and the prestige accorded to wealth in the culture of Wilhemine Germany. They were critical of rote patriotism, swore off the hedonism and anti-intellectualism of the fraternities, and tried abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, and meat. Through nascent counterinstitutions they sought to minimize contact with the fraternity student, the bourgeoise, and the bureaucrat. …Freyer shared their yearning for an intense emotional commitment to a community of purpose that they found lacking in contemporary Germany.
If the description above included something about “hating hippies,” it would describe in spooky exactitude the hardcore punk scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. That scene served as a sort of ideological Galapagos, in which “communities of purpose” evolved into a baffling array of sub-subcultures, marked by increasingly subtle differences in music and politics.
For good and ill, the romantic Jugendbewegung left its fingerprints all over German culture for generations hence. Hardcore certainly hasn’t had the same impact, but its communitarian intuitions might die hard among its alumni, who are old enough to be in the business of shaping opinions today. Are there any examples of hardcore’s suburban tribalist 12-step program evolving into a more sophisticated social critique? Any writers or critics on the right or left whose perspectives bear the hardcore punk pedigree? Just wondering.
(Gorilla Biscuits photo courtesy of Flickr user IMAGORA Editions and a Creative Commons license)