Social historians and cultural commentators seem to feel that history stops at punk. But riot, revolt, imagination and utopias haven't disappeared, they have simply taken new forms. The last 20 years have seen an extraordinary rise in the numbers of young people living outside the moribund institutions of British society: travellers, ravers, tribes, squatters, direct-action protesters. This book is an attempt to survey and analyze these cultures of resistance, and to explore and celebrate their endlessly creative senselessness. George McKay looks at the legacies of the 1960s' hippies and 1970s' punks, and shows how those legacies have been subsequently transformed. His journey through the undergrounds of the 1980s and 1990s takes readers from the first Windsor Free Festival in 1972 to the Castlemorton Free Rave Megaparty of 1992, from the anarchopunk band Crass to today's still-spreading anti-road protests and to the huge opposition to the Criminal Justice Act. Assembled from the underground press, from record lyrics, interviews and diaries, and illustrated with photographs, posters and record sleeves, this book gives an account of these largely unrecorded countercultures.
At the same time, McKay offers his own answers to the questions they pose: what are their politics, what are their aspirations, what are their consequences? If there is resistance anywhere in Britain today to consensual politics and continuing social devastation, McKay argues, it is here, in the beat-up buses and tree-top barricades, that it should be looked for.