Edited by Gabriel Kuhn
Straight edge—hardcore punk’s drug-free offshoot—has thrived as a subculture since the early 1980s. Its influence has reached far beyond musical genres and subcultural divides. Today it is more diverse and richly complex than ever, and in the past decade alcohol and drug use have become a much-discussed issue in radical politics, not least due to the hard work, dedication, and commitment to social and environmental justice found among straight-edge activists.
X: Straight Edge and Radical Sobriety is Gabriel Kuhn’s highly anticipated follow-up to his critically acclaimed Sober Living for the Revolution. In this impressive volume, Kuhn continues his reconnaissance of straight-edge culture and how it overlaps with radical politics. Extensively illustrated and combining original interviews and essays with manifestos and reprints from zines and pamphlets, X is a vital portrait of the wide spectrum of people who define straight-edge culture today.
In the sprawling scope of this book, the notion of straight edge as a bastion of white, middle-class, cis males is openly confronted and boldly challenged by dozens of contributors who span five continents. X takes a piercing look at religion, identity, feminism, aesthetics, harm reduction, and much more. It is both a call to action and an elaborate redefinition of straight edge and radical sobriety.
Promising to inspire discussion, reflection, and unearth hidden chapters of hardcore punk history, X: Straight Edge and Radical Sobriety is of crucial importance to anybody interested in the politics of punk and social transformation.
“Straight-edge culture is very diverse, and parts of it always had a strong emphasis on emancipation and equality, also with regard to gender and sexuality. It’s good to have a book acknowledging this.” —Jenni Ramme, Emancypunx Records
“Forget the clichés—straight edge isn’t just about buff white dudes. Kuhn’s book shows that it’s a multifaceted social movement rooted in the intersection of DIY culture and political resistance.” —Lori Black Bear, Sprout Distro
“Sobriety has historically played an important—and often overlooked—role in many social movements. As usual, Gabriel Kuhn tackles his topic with breadth and finesse. He manages to simultaneously address internal issues in straight-edge circles as well as demonstrate the relevance of sobriety and straight edge outside of the relatively narrow confines of punk and hardcore scenes. Highly recommended and a great way to take necessary conversations about addiction and struggle for social justice to the next level.” —Anthony T. Fiscella, author of Varieties of Islamic Anarchism
“Kuhn once again brings a razor-sharp eye to straight edge, powerfully illuminating the gamut of liberatory possibility in the choice to not only reduce harm to oneself and this world but, crucially, experiment with caring, consensual social relations and spaces too.” —Cindy Milstein, editor of Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief
“Perhaps the greatest reason I am still committed to sXe is an unfailing belief that sXe is more than music, that it can be a force of change. I believe in the power of sXe as a bridge to social change, as an opportunity to create a more just and sustainable world.” —Ross Haenfler, professor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, author of Straight Edge: Clean-Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change
Gabriel Kuhn (born in Innsbruck, Austria, 1972) lives as an independent author and translator in Stockholm, Sweden. He received a PhD in philosophy from the University of Innsbruck in 1996. His publications with PM Press include Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy (2010; 2020); Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics (2010); Gustav Landauer: Revolution and Other Writings (2010); Erich Mühsam: Liberating Society from the State and Other Writings (2011); Soccer vs. the State: Tackling Football and Radical Politics (2011; 2018), All Power to the Councils! A Documentary History of the German Revolution of 1918–1919 (2012), Turning Money into Rebellion (2014); Playing as if the World Mattered: An Illustrated History of Activism in Sports (2015); and Antifascism, Sports, Sobriety: Forging a Militant Working-Class Culture (2017).