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  • Editors' Introduction
  • Ann Larabee and Arthur Versluis

Over the past several years, JSR has featured several themes that stretched over multiple issues, but the most enduring theme has been anarchism. In this issue, we continue our series of articles on this important topic, which still offers many more possibilities to come. Allied with anarchism is the related subject of decentralization, which as it happens is also one to preoccupy some on the putative Right as well as the putative Left. An advantage of highlighting themes like centralization/decentralization is to encourage empirical analysis rather than reliance upon conventional, oft en amorphous political labels.

This issue begins with Carissa Honeywell's careful assessment of the influential work of Paul Goodman. Honeywell not only charts the recent scholarship on Goodman, but also offers her own analysis of the ways that Goodman's work influenced the New Left, as well as the 1960s and 1970s counterculture more broadly. Goodman's skepticism about centralized power in contemporary society was influential not only in these more well-known ways, but also later, in the subsequent emergence of libertarianism. By looking at the theme of decentralization, Honeywell's analysis cuts across some political categories and sheds light on both Goodman's work and his influences.

In our second article, Stuart Henderson provides a closer look at a particular countercultural environment, that of Toronto, Canada, and especially Yorkville—an area that has oft en been overlooked in the scholarship in favor of, say, San Francisco. But Yorkville in 1968 was a rich cultural, political, and [End Page vii] religious scene, as Henderson demonstrates, and it exemplifies in some respects how the anarchist decentralization championed by someone like Goodman played out "on the ground" in Toronto, so to speak. Henderson examines the film and other documentary evidence of the period, and emphasizes the conflicts between more ideologically driven forms of radicalism on the one hand and countercultural or hippie forms on the other.

In our third article, Matthew Worley looks at the development of punk music and the punk subculture in the late 1970s and early 1980s, paying particular attention to its anarchist impulses and how those played out against the apocalyptic or quasi-apocalyptic backdrop of the Cold War. Here again, the prevailing theme is decentralization against centralized power, but whereas the 1960s countercultural scene included musical and cultural creativity, the anti-authoritarian punk music of the early 1980s represented a much starker kind of counterculture, one fiercely opposed to and critical of capitalism and communism. Seen in the larger context of our other articles in this issue, the punk subculture of this period reveals a narrowing and darkening of vision from a decade before. Here, one might speak more accurately not of a counterculture, but of an anticulture, a subculture defined not by affirmation but by refusal.

Our fourth article, Evan Smith's survey of the Rock Against Racism phenomenon that began in the late 1970s, again could be argued demonstrates the attenuation of what "countercultural" had meant only a decade before, here into a much narrower ideological campaign not for new countercultures, but rather merely against particular right-wing political groups like the British National Party (BNP). This ideological opposition to particular bogey men of the Right had a relatively broad appeal, not least because it enjoyed the support of some popular musicians, but as Smith points out, it also was rather shallow as a movement. In some respects, the history here documents the decline of the earlier Marxist and Communist Left, which during this period and into the early twenty-first century lost much of what vigor and appeal it had once had.

Our conversation in this issue features Ann Larabee talking with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Outlaw Woman (2002), Red Dirt (1997), and Roots of Resistance (1980). Dunbar-Ortiz, who holds a Ph.D. in History from UCLA, herself has a long history of political and social activism. Participant as well as analyst and observer, Dunbar-Ortiz here reflects on her own history of [End Page viii] activism in a larger historical context, and not surprisingly given our larger theme in this issue, considers in unexpected ways the importance that decentralization of...


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