The Plight of the Aged Anarchist

As I listened to various albums that have been released in 2010 in order to sure up my end of the year ‘best of’ list, I came across several albums that I hadn’t gotten around to listening to. The most “controversial” album was certainly Against Me!’s realease, White Crosses. I use the term controversial fairly loosely. There is nothing that should get this record banned from anywhere or anything like that. Perhaps it’s controversial only because it’s pretty much a straight forward rock album with lyrics that don’t quite have the bite of their earlier contributions.

You see, Against Me! was a band that called for anarchy. In their songs, front man Tom Gabel would bark out stories of protest and throwing objects through glass windows. It was a “fuck authority” mentality that had something behind it. It wasn’t just an angry person being, well, angry. It was a person who was angry and wanted the world to join him in anger. Burn down the walls collectively. It was a unifying mentality and along with the anger came hope.

So as I listened to the bands newest release it was hard for me to not take into account that this once angry do-it-yourself punk band now recorded their music for a major record label. That doesn’t seem like the same band that on their best album (one of the best punk albums ever) Reinventing Axl Rose yelled out lyrics like: It’s the FBI; it’s the CIA; it’s the ATF, the IMF, NBC, CBS, fuck you. Instead of those angry cries we are treated to Gabel singing of what was and what he has since grown out of. On the track I Was A Teenage Anarchist we find a once angry young man turned contemplative adult. As he sings out that the “revolution was a lie” you can’t help but hear a certain since of longing. Perhaps longing for a time where having ideals that seemed radical still felt within your grasp.

This seems to make sense to me. As I find myself stumbling through life in the “real world” I realize that many of those things that I believed in when I was younger simply don’t work. It’s basically how when I was in high school and decided for about a week I would call myself a communist. I read books on the subject and simply couldn’t figure out why this was such an unattainable concept. I originally wanted to align myself with the cause because it wasn’t mainstream. It was something that made me stand out from everyone else. I went along with learning about it to cement my stance.

The interesting thing is that apparently I was the only sophomore who really cared about concepts involving political theory. There was no doubt that my views were different from others in my class, but it was a losing battle. I tend to think that believing in anarchy must have had the same result.

Anarchy and other thoughts involving a utopian society where people help each other just because it’s the right thing to do are able to exist only in the mind of youth. The world is out there, but the full extent of it is not yet known. Eventually you realize that you have to get a job (even if you don’t like what you do) because you need to eat. You can’t grow your food because the land you own simply isn’t cut out for it so you have to do your shopping at a chain-grocery store because the mom and pop grocer’s products are simply too high priced. You have to pay taxes and while you can loudly gripe about your disdain for them you need a lodging with running water and heat. The list goes on and on and as it goes so does those ideals you had when you were younger.

While many people look at a full fledge anarchist remembering fondly the days where he just wanted to “set the world on fire” while also fronting a corporate logo as being hypocritical, I see it as something kind of beautiful. We all get older. We all lose those thoughts and beliefs we once held dear. Why not look back at them fondly? Take them for what they were. A moment in time that has now passed.

Afterall, everyone needs to eat.

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