Straying from socialism
in The punk rock politics of Joe Strummer
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Strummer strayed from the radical road he previously set out upon, best exemplified by his stoutly held sense of socialism in the early to late 1980s. He did not become right wing, in favour of neoliberal individualism, but he did become disillusioned with the prospects for traditional left-wing politics and the collectivism used to pursue these politics. So this chapter begins by examining the predominant messages Strummer dispensed in the last years of his life, before considering his views of ‘new’ Labour, neoliberalism and the ‘new’ imperialism, along with his alternative of decentralised, small-scale, ethical capitalism. The transition from socialist to non-socialist is explained by the move in his personal disposition from certainty to uncertainty occasioning a reorientation. This leads to assessing his views on humanism, opinions, freedom and liberty, and his national identity.

The punk rock politics of Joe Strummer

Radicalism, resistance and rebellion

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