The Pollitical Economy of American Punk


Maximum False Consciousness

All work is honorable, yet art is just a job,

Let me spend a paycheck on a beer

No heroes no, no leaders, no artists, no gods

I’m a worker, you’re a worker,

Would you like to be a worker too?

— The New Bomb Turks, ‘Born Toulouse-Lautrec,’ 1992

The Cold War defense buildup created the economic infrastructure and cultural imperatives that gave birth to rock’n’roll. The affluence of the permanent wartime economy of the post-war period provided the largest generation in American history with the purchasing power to make rock the quintessential feature of modern mass culture, providing it with hegemonic possibilities lacking in all cultural mediums, except television. By the height of the war in Vietnam, the recording industry’s productive output reached an all time high that was not approximated again until Billboard magazine changed the surveying system by which it calculated the progress of new releases, and Nirvana and Pearl Jam reached the top of the charts in early 1992.

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