Magnificent Failures Collide

This essay revisits a time when both Punk and Situationism flourished in the UK. When a whole generation of radically different artists emerged as outsiders, amateurs, and the lower classes found cultural empowerment as an agent for social change. Their varied practices critiqued the societies they lived in, questioning the authority and authenticity of established politics, language, history, music, and film.

The phrase ‘anyone can do it’ was widely used within the punk underground and decades since. This simple philosophy reached a mass of individuals and groups who no longer accepted the given order of the day. They found solidarity and established tools to claim cultural territory, creativity, and social context on their terms.

It takes us back to the violent beginning as part of the Gordon Riots in 1780. The emergence of King Mob and similarly motivated riots in the late 20th century, linking them with the British faction of Situationists in the 60s and 70s and Malcolm McLaren and Punk.

It also asks what is a failure in terms of individuals and groups actively struggling to build agency in a world ruled by the privileged, and what can we learn from these passionate, dedicated, very creative people pathing the way for us now to build our own independent and grounded intentions today?

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