Punk is a term applied to a child or teenager who acts in an antisocial way. Punk
music is a form of rebellion, and it turned against all other musical forms and influences at
its time of creation. Punk music is as much cultural as it is musical. It is anarchic, against society, and
against everything in established order. Patrick Goldstein’s article, “Violence Sneaks into Punk Scene”, is
about one man’s observation of the experiences with violence
and aggressive nature of youth’s rebellion. In the author’s opinion, “The accounts of
senseless violence, vandalism, and even mutilation at some area rock clubs read like a report from a war
zone.” Throughout Goldstein’s article, Freudian theory can be utilized to explain the aggressive nature of
the punk movement and youths involved in it.
There are many different theories as to human nature. One of these theories exists under the
thoughts of a prominent philosopher, and founder of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. His deductive
argument entails his conclusion that man is bad, or as Freud explains it in his book, Civilization and Its
Discontents, “Homo homini lupus.” This phrase literally means man is a wolf to man. Freud felt all men
are innately evil and his aggression lies within him as part of human nature.
Freud felt aggression can be hidden deep in our subconscious and explode in certain situations. In
Goldstein’s article, there are many examples to show Freud’s opinion to be true. As one punk rocker stated,
“It’s no wonder there are so many fights . . . these idiots kept punching us in the back. Finally I got fed up
and started hitting these guys, even though they were bigger than me.” Another was quoted as saying, “All
they want to do is fight. And next time I’m going to be ready to give’ em one.” When we have provoked
someone with any form of aggression or violence, the first reaction, even if it is not considered normal for
their particular behavior, is to show aggression in return.
Aggression does not have to be subconscious in nature. It can be on the surface of
our behavior and in constant use. Our inclination to aggression is apparent in one’s relationship with their
neighbors and apparent in what they see as every day, casual behavior. One manager of a club remembered
a situation dealing with two young women from a local punk band. “While one was talking to me, the
other went into the girls’ room and broke a bunch of beer bottles in the sink and ran her hands through the
glass. Then she came out to talk to me,
blood steaming down her arms.” Others reported situations where several girls would carve
X’s into their arms with broken glass in support for a local band. Self mutilation in a show
of aggressive behavior can come with positive outcomes and continues to reaffirm violence
Freud also believed aggression is another human instinct that brings us joy and happiness.
However, civilization refuses any acts of violence, it oppresses this need of aggression deep in our
consciousness. The first thing we do when no one is watching is anything civilization refuses to allow us to
do. Goldstein, in his article, describes the dance craze called the Slam. He believes it is, “an organized
gang of punk youths, leading to numerous incidents of violence at many area clubs.” On the contrary, a
member of an area band the Germs who would be considered a participant observer feels, “If they’re doing
that (Slam), then I
know they are having fun.” Freud’s opinion of releasing aggression, bringing about happiness and going
about it by defying civilization and cultural opinion, is the underlying reason for
the punk movement.
As seen through the classic examples of aggressive behavior in Goldstein’s article, Freud’s
argument comprises factually correct statements, for both his time and the punk movement. His arguments
conclusion is well supported and his premises meet the conditions
of a deductive argument with relevance and ground. This means that wherever we come
from, whatever our culture is, we are aggressive by nature. From that sense, civilization
steps in with a beneficial purpose, as it tames the human nature. However, civilization creates human
source of worry and distress, and oppresses our basic human instinct.