In March 1977, John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon of the punk band the Sex Pistols looked over the Berlin wall onto the grey, militarized landscape of East Berlin, which reminded him of home in London. Lydon went up to the wall and extended his middle finger. He didn’t know it at the time, but the Sex Pistols’ reputation had preceded his gesture, as young people in the “Second World” busily appropriated news reports on degenerate Western culture as punk instruction manuals. Soon after, burgeoning Polish punk impresario Henryk Gajewski brought the London punk band the Raincoats to perform at his art gallery and student club-the epicenter for Warsaw’s nascent punk scene. When the Raincoats returned to England, they found London erupting at the Rock Against Racism concert, which brought together 100,000 “First World” UK punks and “Third World” Caribbean immigrants who contributed their cultures of reggae and Rastafarianism. Punk had formed networks reaching across all three of the Cold War’s “worlds”.
The first global narrative of punk, Punk Crisis examines how transnational punk movements challenged the global order of the Cold War, blurring the boundaries between East and West, North and South, communism and capitalism through performances of creative dissent. As author Raymond A. Patton argues, punk eroded the boundaries and political categories that defined the Cold War Era, replacing them with a new framework based on identity as conservative or progressive. Through this paradigm shift, punk unwittingly ushered in a new era of global neoliberalism.
“Forget ‘the politics of punk.’ Punk is politics, even when Brygada Kryzys sang ‘I don’t trust politicians’ in Poland in 1981. But now we know, thanks to Punk Crisis, that punk was transnational politics, too. Transnational is nothing if it isn’t DIY, and Ray Patton shows us how to do it in this lively and valuable book.” — Padraic Kenney, Professor of History and International Studies, Indiana University
“By drawing attention to punkâs place in the Cold War, Punk Crisis reminds us of the shared spirit of ’77 across the globe and brings new players onto the stage for a rave-up. Patton gives both an ideal introduction for young punks and a new twist for the grizzled veterans who might not know the whole story. London calling, Warsaw calling, Kingston calling.” — Jonathyne Briggs, Associate Professor of History, Indiana University Northwest, Author of Sounds French About the Author
Raymond A. Patton is Director of Educational Partnerships and General Education at John Jay College of the City University of New York. He has also served as a professor and Director of the Global and Transnational Studies program at Drury University. He has taught courses on a wide variety of interdisciplinary topics, and once played saxophone in an obscure 3rd wave ska-punk band.