Hurry up Harry…

Filed under: Ideology, Philosophy & Politics — Tags: , , — smurfpunx @ 16:02

[Brob: I keep asking people how they experienced and look back on the Smurfpunx-era (and the hardcore-scene of that time in general. One of the people who wrote me about that (without focussing on the musical side of things necessarily), is Harry. He is an old mate, a retired miner and organised many concerts in the Hasselt/Diepenbeek region (e.g. with the R.O.F. collective there)… It’s quite an analysis from this gentle, thoughtful man… He definitely got things to say, even though we might or might not agree with everything… Maybe he ought to write that book he was always talking about?]

I only have a few memories of what I’ve experienced at Smurfpunx-concerts. I recall more or less what bands I’ve seen. What I do remember is: the slamming, diving, T-shirts, wet and sweaty, getting to know about great bands, and of course … the divine music. Even though I was always in the ‘pit’, I felt I was more a spectator than a part of the hardcore-scene.

For me hardcore, on a musical level, was one of the many music-eras that I’ve experienced. My first concert was one by the ‘Small Faces’ in 1966. Since then I’ve been going to shows every week. Bands like ‘Deep Purple’, ‘Kevin Coyne’, ‘Led Zeppelin’, etc. I saw them perform for for an audience of a mere hundred people. I prefer the music to be fast and loud ‘cause that give me a kick. After the sixties the alternative music of the early seventies came along, then followed punk, then hardcore, etc. In the early nineties techno started, a completely different music-scene besides guitar-music. Nowadays, I mainly follow hardcore, crust, garage and in the dance-scene drum’n’bass and goa.

Apart from hardcore, to me the eighties were the saddest period that I experienced. Syrupy music à la ‘Simple Minds’ and New Wave. Not only was there an economic crisis but also the emergence of ultra-liberalism with Reagan, Thatcher and Jean Gol here in Belgium. Emotionally I tend to the extreme left (Maoist) but rationally I also know that the extreme left ideas mostly lead to nothing. I’m an enlightened leftist. I like hearing “burn the money and the churches” and “no masters”, but unfortunately enough it does not work. I can’t remember how many demonstrations walked from the mid sixties on. (I had to run from the gendarmerie a lot of times but at the miners’ protests it was usually the other way round.) The hardcore-scene in the eighties was a relief to me and one of the last refuges, where having a decent idea was still allowed.

But there’s always a but. Rational thought with its individualism that the Enlightenment proclaimed had, through the emancipation-movement in the sixties and seventies (think of the punk-movement) become a super-individualism. The left equaled each individual its equal rights to the max and no obligations. The super-individualism that the left proclaimed, fit the right-wing thinkers well, for them to justify the ultra-liberalism and its individual greed. The pendulum swung so far to the left that people (in accordance with the rational/leftist/materialistic thinking), were seen as rational creatures that only acted upon reward and punishment. People worked to possess material goods and were walking in line because they were forced to do so.

In such a world, on an economic level only an ultra-liberal policy is maximally efficient. But of course things don’t work that way: according to research, people are naturally herd-animals that are altruistic. Humans are social animals that want to cooperate and their incentive to act lies largely in what other people think about them. We want to do our best, not so much for the money or to put ourselves above other people, but because we get value and prestige because of it. This behaviour is evolutionary perpetuated because it is good for the group and therefore good for its members. Together we achieve a lot more than we could each by ourselves. We want to be socially safe in the group and that is our motivation to act. Belgium has high wages, no raw materials and yet Belgium’s wealthy against all liberal logics. We’re rich because here and in the West, altruism and cooperation are projected throughout society, unlike elsewhere things are restricted to the immediate circle or family. Elderly are generally supported and taken care of by the community and not by the family. We owe this general willingness to share and to do something for each to Christianity (and prosperity in Europe) that made a big family of society. For instance, over here a boss doesn’t want (in general) to take as much as possible advantage of his employer and an employee is willing to do his job as good as possible. Those who think rational/left don’t see it that way of course and promote a world where every individual acts for themselves egoistically. Another example of such leftist blindness, was the idea that a multi-cultural society could be nothing but good. To deny the human factor was the reason for the success of the right-wing from the eighties onwards. A person has, for example, not only rights but also duties. A laborer, in a leftist or a liberal state, finds him/herself at the bottom of the social ladder and is an object that deserves no respect. For the right-wing on the other hand, everyone is an equivalent part of society and each individual is valued for its contribution (if one meets the terms).

That leftist/rational thinking, that totally denied the human factor, lived within the hardcore-scene. For example: many people in the squat-community and the crust-scene lived of wellfare. They had all the right leftist ideas but working a job (and not taking advantage of others) is also still committing to society and others. The harder one works, the richer society becomes and the better everyone’s lives are (if it’s not a rational but a humane society).

The right-wing distinguishes and elevates itself on the basis of the material: own people first, the mighty decide, etc. The left-wing distinguishes and elevates itself above others based on the spiritual: I am more righteous, I own the truth, I have the right ideas, I want to share, I’m all for participation, I’m vegetarian, I am against high fees, I’m politically correct, etc. The ideas were right but many in the hardcore-scene used them to elevate themselves above, to feel themselves better than the others, for example ‘Fugazi’. That abuse of leftist ideas within the hardcore-scene bothered me. The blinding and egoistical left-wing thinking repelled people and stood in the way of a truly leftist better world because it actually paved the way for the right-wing.

When I balance the positive and the negative, the hardcore-scene was of course positive. Better to strive for the good in a clumsy way, than doing nothing or wanting to do nothing. The negative also deserves to be told for once, I think.

You asked me what I remember of that time and the above is what comes to me. But on a musical level these were fantastic times. The best music to cry out the injustice in the world. Smurfpunx have enabled the hardcore-scene and made concerts possible who were amongst the best I’ve ever seen. Thanks for that.

Henri ‘Harry’ Liebens


1 Comment »

  1. Well hey, Harry! Lots of great memories come to my mind regarding Smurfpunx. And lots of them have everything to with you, giving young people like us – wayback then, we WERE young :-) – the opportunity to get a lift to and from Aalst. Thanks for that. I will come back at this site to share some memories. Hadoch!

    Comment by Steven S. — 06/21/2011 @ 21:51

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