Maybe you heard today about the latest absurdity from Urban Outfitters? That "vintage" punk rock jacket, complete with poorly scrawled Sex Pistols, G.B.H., Crass, and Clash logos, that can be yours for the low, low, authenticity-conferring (not!) price of $375? One of a kind, though by "vintage" we mean it's actually from the '90s?
Yes, this is real, though it does seem a perfect symbol for the way capitalism and fashion absorb the elements of underground cultures and then resell them, thereby stripping them of any meaning. For more on this, let's check in with radical socialist Boots Riley of Oakland hip-hop outfit the Coup, who offered a thoughtful take on the $375 punk rock leather jacket on Facebook today:
[Suggested listening for this post:]
Punk and "Underground" Hip-Hop is simply indie capitalism. Indie capitalism is not an answer to our problems, even if it didn't develop in to this.
A rebellious aesthetic is not an actual revolutionary movement.
An aesthetic is always absorbed and used by the class which is in power.
This is why we must have a radical movement that builds its numbers for revolution by using mass direct action to make material changes in the lives of those involved, while making it clear that we are out to create a new system- showing the class structure of the current system, while teaching through example that there is power in numbers and that we can win.
Next up for urban outfitters: whatever revolutionary uniform we're wearing right now.
For more from Boots, see: The Coup's Boots Riley on Political Art and the Importance of Needing to Get Laid