Punk rock has long been equated with the ever-shifting concepts of dissent, disruption, and counter-cultural activities. As a result, since its 1970s and 1980s incarnations, when bands in Britain-from The Clash and Sex Pistols to Angelic Upstarts, U.K. Subs, and Crass-offered alternative political convictions and subversive lifestyle choices, the media has often deemed punk a threat. Bands like Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, and Millions of Dead Cops followed suit in America, pushing similar boundaries as the music mutated into a harsher "hardcore" style that branched deep into suburban enclaves. Those antagonisms and ideals were, in turn, translated by another wave of bands-from Fugazi to Anti-Flag-whose commitment to community building was as pronounced as their taut, explosive tunes.
In The Politics of Punk, David Ensminger probes the conscience of punk by going beyond the lyrics and slogans of the pithy culture war. He paints a broad, nuanced, and well-documented picture of the ongoing activism and outreach inherent in punk. Creating a people's history of punk's social, cultural, aesthetic, and political features, the book features original interviews with members of Dead Kennedys, Dead Boys, MDC, Channel 3, Snap-Her, Scream, Minutemen, TSOL, the Avengers, Blowdryers, and many more. Ensminger highlights punk money's influence on philanthropy and community involvement and paints a contextualized picture of how punk critiqued dominant culture by channeling support and media coverage for a wide array of humanitarian programs for gays and lesbians, the homeless, the disabled, environmental and health research, and other causes.