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When revolt has no object, it turns on itself, opposing all imagined foes in wanton destruction of imagined barriers. Most apparently since the advent of Romanticism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, revolt has often been focused on an object considered in more personal terms — the introspective rebel pitched against disinterested systems and in search of a soul divested of the stain of acquisition, the taint of the tangible. Yet, sometimes, all the rebel finds is empty space where identity used to dwell. And this is where we find ourselves in the West today, with open, democratic societies in the grip of revolt against rationalism and its accompanying pluralism.

Pankaj Mishra, in Age of Anger, asserts that Rousseau, a scion of Enlightenment thinking and one of its chief antagonists, saw the danger of shunting the religious, the provincial, and the irrational to the margins and the shadows. Rousseau asserted, after all, that social injustice originates not with the individual but with the existence of institutions. Despite this warning, more repressive forms of nationalism took shape and grew ominously over the next two centuries, culminating in Nazi and Soviet forms of totalitarianism. More… “The Blind Owl and the Underground Man”

Nicholas Cannariato is a writer and teacher living in Chicago.
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One day this month, 30 years ago, John Simon Ritchie, otherwise known as Sid Vicious, woke up dead. He had spent the previous evening shooting heroin in celebration of his release from Riker’s Island after an assault charge. Sometime during the night, his heart stopped. He was 21 years old.

No one can say exactly when Punk Rock was born and exactly when it died. Still, the death of Sid is as good an endpoint as any. Sid Vicious was punk. He couldn’t play the bass much and could barely hold a tune. He was a drunken dope fiend given to fits of violence who, most likely, killed his girlfriend — the now-famous Nancy — with a stab to the gut. In short, unbeatable credentials.

Sid’s swan song, his final fuck you to the world the rest of us… More…